Michelle Young

Witness: Two people left Young home on day of slaying

Posted June 21, 2011 4:22 p.m. EDT
Updated June 21, 2011 7:23 p.m. EDT

— Defense attorneys for Jason Young called nine witnesses to testify on his behalf Tuesday, including a woman who said she saw a minivan pulling out of the driveway of the Youngs' home on the morning that Michelle Young was killed.

Cindy Beaver, a resident in the Enchanted Oaks subdivision where Jason and Michelle Young lived, said she was driving to work around 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 3,2 006, when she noticed the vehicle with two people – a male driver and a passenger that she presumed to be a woman – pulling out of the driveway.

About eight hours later, Michelle Young, 29 and five months' pregnant with her second child, was found beaten to death in her bedroom. Her daughter, Cassidy, then 2, was found unharmed hiding under the covers of her parents' bed.

Jason Young, who was arrested more than three years later, has said he was out of town on business when his wife died. If convicted, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Newspaper carrier Terry Tillery also testified Tuesday that she was in the neighborhood around 3:30 a.m. and noticed that the Youngs' house was "lit up and brighter than ever" and that she thought that there had been a party at the house the night before.

"That jumped out at me because normally it was dark," Tillery said.

A light-colored, medium-sized SUV was parked outside the home, and a minivan was in the street, she added.

Several other witnesses also testified Tuesday, including Jason Young's friends and family.

Gerald McIntyre, Jason Young's stepfather, testified that he and his wife told Jason Young about his wife's death at their home in Brevard, N.C., on the afternoon of Nov. 3, 2006, when he arrived at their house after his business meeting for an overnight visit.

"I told him, I said, 'Jason, Michelle is dead,'" McIntyre said. "He just about went to the ground. If I hadn't caught him, he would have went plumb on the ground."

Pat Young, Jason Young's mother, testified about how her son said goodbye to his slain wife on the day of her funeral – testimony that had Jason Young crying in court.

"He touched Michelle's hand, and then he reached over and rubbed his hand on that little mound that was his baby," Pat Young said.

Jason Young's sister, Heather McCracken, also recalled the day of the funeral.

"He was in pain. He was pale. He was crying. His eyes just kept on tearing up," she said. "His body – he was just there, but I think, mentally, he was just shutting down."

Prosecutors spent nine days trying to prove that Jason Young killed his wife because he didn't want to be married or have a family and that he wanted to live life on his own terms – drinking, partying and spending time with his friends.

Witnesses testified over the course of the trial that the couple often fought in front of others and that they didn't know how to resolve conflict.

Josh Dalton, a longtime friend of the couple, said Tuesday that the arguing, at times, caused him and his wife to discuss whether they should invite the Youngs to social events.

"At times, it could be volatile," Dalton said on prosecutors' cross-examination. "They had very heated arguments and were not scared to do it in public."

Dalton also said that he didn't think the Youngs would have married if Michelle Young had not been pregnant.

"I think most of us in our group felt (that way)," he said.

When it came to the possibility of the couple ever divorcing, Dalton said, Jason Young was concerned that he would never be able to see his daughter again.

"He had made a statement, at one time, that he was afraid if he ever got a divorce that Michelle would take Cassidy and move back to New York," Dalton said.

Defense attorneys contend that their client was not a good husband, having had two affairs, but that he did not kill his wife and leave his daughter alone in the house.

There was no forensic evidence, they have said, not even a drop of blood, linking their client to the crime, and there were two sets of adult shoeprints – a size 10 and a size 12 – near Michelle Young's body.

DNA samples from a hair found on a picture frame and jewelry box in the couple's bedroom, as well as two cigarette butts found at the house didn't match Jason Young's DNA.

Prosecutors say Jason Young left town for a business trip on the evening of Nov. 2, 2006, traveled to Hillsville, Va., checked into a Hampton Inn, and drove 169 miles back to Raleigh to kill his wife.