Mistrial declared in Young murder case

Jason Young listens to testimony in a Wake County courtroom.

June 27, 2011 2:50:19 PM PDT
A jury of 12 men and women told a judge Monday that they couldn't reach a verdict in Jason Young's murder trial.

A morning note from the foreperson said they were split six to six and "immovably hung." Judge Donald Stephens sent them back to the jury room to try again, but shortly after 4 p.m., the jury said it was at an impasse and Stephens declared a mistrial.

It wasn't immediately clear if prosecutors would seek a retrial. Young's attorneys said they would not seek to have him released on bail straight away. Young, 37, has been in jail since his 2009 arrest.

Judge Stephens said the case would be re-calendared and the next status hearing is scheduled for July 20. He said any motions on Young's status could be addressed then.

Neither Young's family or Michelle Young's family had any comment.

Jason Young claims he was away on a business trip in Virginia on November 3, 2006 when his wife Michelle was beaten to death in their south Raleigh home.

Michelle was 5-months pregnant when she died. Prosecutors said the couple had a long history of marital problems and Jason had affairs with multiple women in the months before the murder. The Young's daughter Cassidy - who was 2-years-old at the time - was found unhurt next to her mother's corpse. Investigators said her tiny bloody footprints were tracked throughout the upstairs floor of the home.

In an unusual move for a murder trial, Jason took the witness stand in his own defense. He admitted he was a less than perfect husband, but said he was working on his marriage and didn't kill his wife. He said he was asleep in a Hampton Inn in Hillsville, Virginia when the murder occurred. Prosecutors said he had time to drive back to Raleigh, kill Michelle, and then drive back again.

They put a clerk from a gas station between Hillsville and Raleigh on the stand who claimed Young drove up in his white SUV and cursed at her when she refused to turn on the pump unless he prepaid. Young's lawyers tried to challenge the woman's credibility, saying she couldn't identify him before detectives show her a picture.

In his closing arguments Thursday, Young's lead defense attorney went so far as to say his client could not have killed his wife. Mike Klinkosum called the case purely circumstantial and said the evidence showed there was a fight in the Young home and Jason had no marks on him afterwards.

"His hands were clean, no marks, no cuts, no bruises," said Klinkosum. "There was not a mark on Mr. Young. There was no indication he had been in a fight."

Klinkosum said investigators did not find any blood on Jason's clothes, in his car, or in his hotel room in Virginia.

"You would have expected to find blood on him ... It does not add up ...," he said. "Jason Young did not kill his wife and this case has not been solved ladies and gentlemen."

In search warrants filed in the case, investigators said a side door at the Hampton Inn where Young stayed was left propped open and a security camera in a stairwell was also unplugged.

However, Young was later seen in video on another camera walking through the hotel lobby.

"If he is such a genius to pull off a murder like this, and move the hotel camera, why would he go in front of another camera and then in front of a witness?" Klinkosum asked.

But in their closing arguments, prosecutors said they were confident the evidence shows Young killed Michelle.

Prosecutor David Saacks questioned what intruder would continue to beat a victim so savagely, but decide to leave the other witness - Young's daughter - unharmed?

"The evidence clearly shows this was a targeted murder," Saacks said.

He pointed out that only Michelle's wedding bands and two jewelry box drawers were taken, but the jewelry inside was left behind. He added that money, credit cards, and various electronics were also not taken.

Saacks ending with telling the jury that Jason Young stood up on the witness stand and said he loved his wife and daughter, but Saacks said "he has a twisted version of the definition."

"You have to wonder how much he loved Michelle as he was bludgeoning her to death ... Michelle had no other enemy other than the person she shared her bed with ... You have to wonder how much he loved Cassidy when he suddenly gave her up ... ladies and gentlemen this case is solved," Saacks said.

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