Jason Young pleads not guilty, trial next month

Jason Young appears in a Raleigh courtroom

May 18, 2011 9:00:00 PM PDT
A Raleigh man set to go on trial next month in the beating death of his pregnant wife more than four years ago was in court Thursday afternoon in a Wake County for a formal arraignment.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens also heard motions.

"You're not going to spend two to three months trying this case," Smith told attorneys.

Jason Young was arrested in December 2009 and charged with murdering his pregnant wife, Michelle.

In court Thursday, he entered a not guilty plea.

Young's case has drawn heavy public interest and plenty of media coverage over the years.

What investigators say they saw the night Michelle Young's body was discovered her home south of Raleigh in 2006 has been well documented by both civil and criminal court records.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison has said in interviews he was especially bothered by the fact that Michelle's killer left her then 2-year-old daughter Cassidy unharmed with her mother's body for many hours.

Investigators haven't offered a motive for the killing, but in search warrants, they have described the couple's marriage as a "volatile" relationship that included violent arguments. Prosecutors have alleged the Young's were having serious financial and marital problems and that Jason was cheating on Michelle.

Jason Young - who worked as a pharmaceutical salesman - told investigators he was on a sales trip in Virginia the night his wife died. But in search warrants filed in the case, investigators said a side door at the Hampton Hotel where Young stayed in Hillsville, VA was left propped open. A security camera in a stairwell was also unplugged.

Young is seen in video from another camera walking through the hotel lobby. Detectives said the clothes he was seen wearing have never been recovered.

There was an insurance policy on Michelle's life, but Jason never tried to collect. Not long after her death, he put their house up for sale and took their daughter to the North Carolina mountains where his mother lives.

At every turn, investigators say Young refused to talk about the case, even when Michelle's mother sued him in civil court for wrongful death and custody of Cassidy.

A civil judge declared Jason Young his wife's murderer and another judge gave custody of his child to Michelle's mother and awarded her family more than $15 million.

Young's murder trial is set to start May 31 - about two weeks later than originally planned.

Defense attorneys say they want to block the testimony of a convenience store clerk who allegedly sold Young gasoline on the day Michelle Young was killed.

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