Michelle Young

Young jury appeared to be leaning toward acquittal

Posted June 28, 2011 10:25 a.m. EDT
Updated June 28, 2011 4:25 p.m. EDT

— Jurors in the first-degree murder trial of Jason Young appeared to be leaning toward a not-guilty verdict before sending the judge a note that they were deadlocked in an 8-4 vote.

That's according to a copy of the note made public Tuesday, a day after Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens declared a mistrial in the nearly 5-year-old murder case of Michelle Young, who was five months' pregnant when she was beaten to death inside her Raleigh home on Nov. 3, 2006.

Jason Young, her husband, was arrested in December 2009 and charged with her death.

Jurors deliberated for more than 12 hours before foreman George DeMartz sent Stephens a note saying that "the current 8-4 situation that we find ourselves in leads us to believe that we will make no further headway in this matter."

Under the "8" were the letters "NG" and under the "4" was a "G."

DeMartz, as well as other jurors, declined to comment about the trial Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said in an email Tuesday that, in the coming weeks, his office will re-evaluate the case against Jason Young and speak with jurors, if they are willing, to get their feedback before deciding how to proceed.

Prosecutors could try him again, reach a plea deal or dismiss the murder charge.

Jason Young, 37, remains in the Wake County jail, where he has been since his arrest. His attorneys have indicated that they plan to seek bond for him at a hearing next month.

Jurors first told Stephens Monday morning that they were "immovably hung" at a 6-6 vote, but the judge instructed them to continue deliberating. They returned several hours later with an 8-4 vote.

Jason Young has maintained that he was out of town on business when his 29-year-old wife was killed. His testimony during the trial was a rare move, which legal experts say could have been a factor in the hung jury.

The state contended during the nearly three-week trial that Jason Young and his wife argued frequently and that he didn't want to be married but didn't want a divorce.

He checked into a Virginia hotel on the night of Nov. 2, 2006, and drove 169 miles back to his home, killed his wife and drove back to the hotel, prosecutors claim.

Michelle Young's sister discovered her body and the Youngs' 2-year-old daughter, who was unharmed, inside the home after getting a voicemail from Jason Young asking her to go to the home to retrieve some documents from a printer.

Defense attorneys argued that someone else, possibly two people, killed Michelle Young, noting DNA evidence found inside the house didn't match Jason Young.

There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime, his attorneys said. He didn't have time to commit the crime, and even circumstantial evidence showed that he didn't do it, they said.