Friend details night before Michelle Young's death
Testimony Thursday morning in the murder trial of a man accused of beating his wife centered on the couple's relationship and the events leading up to her death nearly five years ago.Posted — Updated
Shelly Schaad, a longtime friend of both the victim, Michelle Young, and the defendant, Jason Young, told jurors that she last saw Michelle Young during an evening visit to her home on Nov. 2, 2006, that included dinner, watching an episode of "Grey's Anatomy" and catching up on Schaad's recent honeymoon to Italy.
Five months' pregnant, Michelle Young had also just learned that she was having a baby boy and had been on cloud nine, Schaad said.
Jason Young, who was leaving to go out of town for a business meeting in Virginia the next morning, was still home when she arrived around 6:30 p.m. He left about an hour later, having exchanged with his wife a quick hug and kiss before he left, she said.
Schaad said that, after Michelle Young put her 2-year-old daughter Cassidy to bed, they talked about plans for the new baby, which included her mother, Linda Fisher, moving from New York to help care for him.
They also talked about an argument that Michelle Young was having with her husband about Thanksgiving plans and how Jason Young didn't want Fisher spending time with his family at Thanksgiving. Christmas plans were also unclear, Schaad said.
"It was no secret that she (Fisher) and Jason did not get along," Schaad said. "I don't know that they were (ever) fond of each other. There were certainly a lot of fights."
Fisher was an ongoing source of conflict in the couple's marriage, Schaad testified. Another issue was sex.
"Jason made it very well known that he was upset about the lack of sex in the relationship," she said. "The tension just grew."
By 10:30 p.m., Schaad said, it was time for her to leave to go home. Michelle Young walked her outside to her car. The two hugged. Schaad left. It was the last time she saw her friend alive.
The next day, Michelle Young was found brutally beaten to death in her bedroom. Cassidy, unharmed, was hiding beneath the covers on her father's side of the bed.
Scott Earp, a patrol deputy for the Wake County Sheriff's Office who was first to arrive at the scene, testified Thursday that he remembered walking upstairs in the Young home and seeing blood smeared on the bathroom wall that, based on the distance it was from the floor, appeared to be from a child.
"It really sank in, and I had to take a deep breath and continue my search," Earp, a father of a 5- and 6-year-old at the time, said.
Inside the bedroom, former Wake County paramedic Scott Hughes testified, Michelle Young was beside her bed, as if she had rolled onto the floor. Her legs appeared to be tangled in the comforter, and blood was everywhere.
"She had lost a copious amount of blood, so I could tell she was more than likely deceased. She had no pulse, and she was cold to the touch and somewhat stiff as well," he said.
Schaad said she found out later that day what had happened. After talking to investigators and gathering with a group of friends to search for answers, she rushed to see Jason Young, who was back in the area at that point, and to see for herself that Cassidy was OK.
"He said, 'I'm so sorry,'" she recalled of seeing Jason Young. "I think he was in as much shock as the rest of us – or appeared to be."
Detectives had asked her a lot of "tough questions" about the couple's marriage, Schaad said she told him. They were difficult to answer, she said, because the answers "painted not a good picture."
The couple often argued about trivial things, she said, even before they married in October 2003.
"They both seemed to – I don't know – try to one up the other. (They were) very childish in their arguments," Schaad said. "I think a lot of times that we were caught in the middle. They were very vocal and caught everyone up in them."
One time before they married, Schaad said, she tried to convince Michelle Young to end the relationship after finding a pair of panties in his bed.
"They fought constantly. It seemed like there were more bad days than good days," she said.
Authorities arrested Jason Young on a first-degree murder charge in December 2009.
Defense attorneys admit that Jason Young wasn't a good husband and that he cheated on his wife, but that does not make him a killer. They contend that forensic evidence found at the crime scene suggests that two people possibly could have been involved.
But prosecutors say Jason Young didn't want to be married and that he killed his wife so that he could live life as a bachelor, going to parties and football games and getting drunk with friends.
Schaad testified Thursday that Jason Young was known for his party antics and had a tendency to wait until the last minute to do things and opting to do what was more fun. Michelle Young, on the other hand, was a planner.
"He and Michelle were as extremely as opposite as they could be," she said.
On a dare one night at a party in September 2006, she said, he peed his pants while drunk.
"The next thing I knew, he was standing in my living room, and he urinated right on my rug," Schaad said.
Her fiancé at the time, Ryan Schaad, put him in the shower, only for him to run out of the bathroom and sit down naked.
"It wasn't unusual for him to expose himself like that in mixed company," she said.
Schaad took a photo, she said, and sent Jason Young an email a few days later, joking that she would be sure to save the photo for when Cassidy got older.