Michelle Young

Shoes matching Young crime scene prints never found

Posted June 16, 2011 3:15 p.m. EDT
Updated June 16, 2011 6:39 p.m. EDT

— Detectives were never able to find two pairs of footwear with the same markings as shoeprints found in the bedroom where a Raleigh woman was beaten to death, investigators testified Thursday in her husband's first-degree murder trial.

Karen Morrow, a latent prints examiner with the State Bureau of Investigation, said that she found impressions from a pair of size-10 Franklin athletic shoes and a pair of size-12 Hush Puppies on pillows, bedding and papers collected from the home of Jason and Michelle Young.

Michelle Young, 29, was five months’ pregnant when she was found dead in her home, at 5108 Birchleaf Drive,on Nov. 3, 2006. Jason Young, 37, who has said he was out of town at the time, faces life in prison if convicted of her murder.

"This case is very interesting in that I didn't have the original shoes," Morrow said, adding that she couldn't draw any positive conclusions about the shoeprints.

Tom Riha, Hush Puppies global director of men's product development, testified that only three styles of shoes used the specific outsole that left the prints, and that they had all been discontinued. One pair, called the Orbital, was sold exclusively to DSW Shoe Warehouse, he added.

SBI agent Greg Tart testified that investigators learned through the Youngs' purchase records that they had bought a pair of Orbitals from DSW in July 2005.

But neither the Orbitals nor Franklins were found in subsequent searches related to the investigation, including searches of the homes of Jason Young's mother and sister and a storage facility near where they lived in western North Carolina, Tart said.

Investigators were also unable to find several pieces of jewelry and other items reported missing from the Young home. They also were not able to find the clothes that Jason Young was wearing in a surveillance video recorded hours before his wife was killed.

Prosecutors say he checked into a Hampton Inn in Hillsville, Va., shortly before 11 p.m. on Nov. 2, 2006, and was seen an hour later in different clothes on a surveillance video. They say he left the hotel and drove approximately three hours to Raleigh, killed his wife and then drove back to Virginia.

Defense attorneys maintain that Jason Young did not kill his wife and that there is no physical evidence to prove it. Instead, they say, forensic evidence belonging to at least two unknown people was found in the house.

DNA from a hair on a picture frame didn't match either Jason Young or his wife and has not been identified, and two cigarette butts found at the house had DNA belonging to two unidentified males, experts testified Wednesday.

There was evidence, they testified, that contained Jason Young's DNA and fingerprints, but defense attorneys said in opening statements that it was expected to be inside the home because he lived there.