Michelle Young

Fighting plagued Young marriage, sister says

Posted June 8, 2011 11:47 a.m. EDT
Updated June 9, 2011 2:20 p.m. EDT

— Testimony began Wednesday in the murder trial of a Raleigh man accused of killing his wife nearly five years ago with his sister-in-law detailing the couple's troubled marriage as well as how she discovered the body.

Michelle Young, 29, was five months’ pregnant when she was found brutally beaten to death in her Wake County home, at 5108 Birchleaf Drive, on Nov. 3, 2006. Her daughter, Cassidy, then 2, was in the house at the time.

Jason Young has said he was out of town on business at the time and has denied any involvement in his wife’s death. More than three years later, on Dec. 14, 2009, he was indicted on a first-degree murder charge and arrested. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

Michelle Young's sister, Meredith Fisher, testified that the couple often fought and that the arguments got to a point that the Youngs asked her, a graduate student studying counseling, to step in as a mediator.

"I felt like their problem had escalated at that point (and) that they needed to see a professional," Fisher said. "But I felt it was a good stepping stone  for them (hopefully)  to continue on to a professional."

But there was never any resolution, she said. Fundamental issues weren't resolved, and the couple didn't know how to "fight productively."

"It was like a high school relationship when it came to learning how to argue and try to resolve things," Fisher said. "The fight would start about picking up the kitchen, and it would escalate into 10 other issues."

The predominant conflicts in the marriage, Fisher said, were Michelle Young's relationship with her mother, Linda Fisher, with whom Jason Young had a relationship that "was tense at best," and a lack of sex in the marriage.

Jason Young, Fisher said, confided to her at one point that he wanted to "throw in the flag" on their marriage but that it would "be even more difficult being divorced from her."

He would "play the divorce card" when the couple fought, but Michelle Young, who grew up in a home stricken by divorce, wanted to make it work, Fisher said.

"She didn't want Cassidy growing up with divorced parents. She wanted to at least give it a good effort, beyond no repair,” Fisher said.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Beck Holt said Tuesday during opening statements that Jason Young never wanted to be married but that the couple wed in October 2003 when Michelle Young found out she was pregnant.

Their priorities as a couple differed when Cassidy came along, Holt said. Although Michelle Young also liked to have fun, her attitude changed when she became a mother, and she wanted her husband to become responsible, the prosecutor said.

"His plan was to murder his wife and get on with his life, on his own terms," Holt said.

Fisher said she had stopped by the Young home after noon on Nov. 3, 2006, at Jason Young's request to pick up some printouts he left regarding a Coach purse he was thinking about purchasing for his wife as a belated anniversary present.

Fisher said she knew things weren't right when she arrived at the home – lamp posts by the driveway usually off in the middle of the day were on; the couple's dog, Mr. G., was whimpering loudly, and Michelle Young's car was parked in the garage.

Upstairs in the home, she found her sister facedown in a lot of blood.

"It just wasn't processing," she said. "I thought it was a joke. I didn't know what to think. I started to panic."

She found her niece in her parents’ bed.

"Cassidy looked up out of the bed from underneath the blanket and just kind of stared at me," Fisher said. "She climbed up off the bed and just kind of hugged me like a koala bear."

"I tried to put her in her bedroom, but she didn't want to go in her bedroom," Fisher added. "She kept trying to pull me to get Band-Aids and a wash cloth. She said, 'Mommy has boo-boos everywhere. She needs a wash cloth.' She kept on asking for Band-Aids to help mommy and her boo-boos."

Dr. Thomas Clark, a former state medical examiner, testified that Michelle Young died as a result of blunt force injury to the head and that there were signs of strangulation. She had multiple cuts and bruises, defensive wounds, a jaw fracture and her teeth were knocked out.

"There had to be at least 30 blows and were probably more than that," he said, adding that it was difficult to determine exactly how many because of the bruising and number of wounds. "(The injuries) couldn't have been inflicted in less than 30 blows."

Fisher also testified that Jason Young returned from his trip later that day but refused to talk with investigators. She said she served as the go-between when detectives arrived at her house that night wanting to talk to her brother-in-law.

Fisher testified that Jason Young appeared to cry on her back porch during a conversation with her while detectives were there but that it didn't seem sincere. There were no tears, and his eyes weren't red, she said.

"Although I didn't voice those opinions right away, I had my concern and opinion about what could have potentially happened," Fisher added.

Defense attorneys admit that Jason Young wasn't a good husband but asserted that he did not kill his wife. Forensic evidence, defense attorney Mike Klinkosum said during opening statements, points to someone else as the culprit.

"Jason Lynn Young did not murder his wife. He did not murder their unborn son, and this case has not been solved," he said.

Jason Young never cooperated with police, Klinkosum said, because friends had told him as he was driving back to Raleigh from his parents' home in Brevard, N.C., that investigators were already looking at him as a suspect and that he needed to retain an attorney.

He did, and he promised Fisher that he would talk to investigators with his attorney, she said. But he never did.

That bolstered those thoughts and concerns that she said already had.

"I thought he killed my sister," Fisher said.