Witness places Young outside hotel room

Gracie Calhoun told jurors she saw Jason Young come to the gas station where she worked on the night of his wife's murder.
February 9, 2012 2:22:24 PM PST
Thursday, Jason Young's defense team got its chance to cross-examine a gas station clerk who said she saw him in North Carolina on the night his wife was beaten to death.

Gracie Calhoun testified she was working in a gas station in King, NC - just south of the Virginia border - at 5:30 a.m. when he came in to buy gas. She said she remembered him because he had to come inside to pay for the gas and he lost his temper.

Young, 37, is on trial for the second time in the death of his wife Michelle. She was 5-months pregnant when she was found beaten to death in her south Raleigh home in 2006. Prosecutors have said Young faked a business trip to Hillsville, Virginia and returned in the middle of the night to kill her. Young's defense has maintained he never left a Hillsville Hampton Inn.

It's Young's second trial. The first ended last June with the jury deadlocked at eight-to-four to acquit.

Young's lawyers have challenged Calhoun's testimony in several ways. Thursday, attorney Mike Klinkosum pointed out that Calhoun never picked Young out of a suspect lineup. Instead, detectives showed her a single photo of Young and she identified him.

Questions have also been raised about Calhoun's medical history, and how it might affect her memory. In a hearing Wednesday outside the presence of the jury, she testified she was hit by a delivery truck when she was 6-years-old that left her with brain trauma. She said she has drawn disability payments ever since.

In front of the jury Thursday, Calhoun explained to the jury.

"Sometimes I remember and sometimes I forget," she said.

Klinkosum probed Calhoun's shifting testimony between Young's first and second trial - including statements about whether there were cameras at the gas station and her description of Young's height and hair color.

Prosecutor Becky Holt asked Calhoun if she's needed any medical treatment since her childhood accident for her injuries. Calhoun said she has not.

Holt also asked her how she could be so sure it was Young two days later when detectives came to speak with her. Calhoun said she has a history of abusive relationships and doesn't forget a person who gets angry with her.

"I don't forget anyone who cuss me like that," said Calhoun.

Calhoun previously testified that Young got angry that he had to come inside to pay, and threw a $20 bill at her.

It's not clear if Young plans to testify in his own defense. At his first trial, Young took the witness stand and admitted he and Michelle were having problems, but said he was working on his marriage and didn't kill his wife. He said he was asleep in his hotel when his wife was murdered.

The prosecution has alleged someone unplugged a surveillance camera near an exit at the hotel and propped the door open to allow someone to pass in and out unseen. Young's defense said he did not have time to be in all the places prosecutors say he was in the night of the murder.

"This case has not been solved, ever," said Klinkosum in his opening statement Monday.

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