Michelle Young

Young prosecution focuses on hotel stay

Posted June 9, 2011 6:37 p.m. EDT
Updated June 10, 2011 12:04 p.m. EDT

— An employee at a hotel where a Raleigh man accused of murder checked in the night before his wife was found beaten to death testified Thursday afternoon that he discovered a security camera unplugged and an emergency exit propped open on the morning of her death.

Keith Hicks said he was working third shift at the Hampton Inn in Hillsville, Va., the morning of Nov. 3, 2006, when he noticed a rock keeping an emergency exit door from fully closing.

It was around 5:50 a.m., he said, when he called a maintenance employee to restore power to the nearby camera. About 15 minutes later, he said, he noticed that the camera had been directed toward the hotel ceiling and away from the emergency exit.

But he never saw anyone messing with the camera, he said, and he reported it to his manager when she arrived at work that morning.

"It gives you an uneasy feeling when you're working third shift and something like that happens," he said.

About eight hours after the camera incident, Michelle Young, 29, was found facedown in a pool of blood in her Wake County home. Her husband, Jason Young, 37, who was in Virginia at the time for business, was charged with first-degree murder more than three years later.

Daniel Morgan, another hotel clerk, testified Thursday that Jason Young checked into the Hampton Inn shortly before 11 p.m. on Nov. 2, 2006.

Elmer Goad, a maintenance employee at the hotel, said that, when he checked the electronic key access log for sheriff's detectives days later, records showed Young’s room had been accessed only once using the key. That was shortly before 11 p.m., and it wasn't accessed again until the next day by housekeeping.

Prosecutors say he propped the emergency door open and unplugged the camera before leaving to return to Raleigh to kill his wife.

"His plan was to be able to say that he was in Virginia. His plan was to go in and kill her, and get back out so that he could say he wasn't there," Wake County Assistant District Attorney Becky Holt said during opening statements on Tuesday.

Defense attorneys contend that Jason Young did not kill his wife and that there is no evidence that he did. There was DNA evidence, however, of two unidentified males found in the couple's home.

"This young man did not kill his wife," defense attorney Mike Klinkosum said in his opening statement to jurors. "He was not one of the attackers who brutally murdered her and his unborn son, and this case is not solved."