Closing arguments over in Young trial

Attorney Mike Klinkosum makes his closing argument
March 1, 2012 3:35:30 PM PST
Jason Young's attorneys were first up Thursday to make their closing arguments to the jury who will decide his fate.

Young, 37, is accused of beating his pregnant wife Michelle to death in their south Raleigh home in 2006, but attorney Mike Klinkosum said his client is innocent.

"Jason Young did not kill his wife Michelle Young and their unborn son," said Klinkosum. "This case remains unsolved."

Klinkosum called the prosecution's case circumstantial and weak.

"He could not have committed this crime and the wrong man stands accused," he told jurors.

Klinkosum went on to list 10 points he said show Young's innocence. He said the manner of Michelle's death proves there was a struggle in the home, yet Jason had no marks, scratches, or bruises on him afterward.

Earlier in the trial, a medical examiner testified Michelle was hit in the head at least 30 times and there was a large amount of blood. Klinkosum said it would have been impossible for Jason to have committed the crime and not transferred any blood to his SUV or clothes examined later by detectives.

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

At his first trial - which ended with a deadlocked jury last year - Young took the witness stand and claimed he was away on a business trip in Virginia on Nov. 3, 2006 when Michelle died. 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 when the murder happened.

Young did not testify at his second trial, but his testimony was replayed in video for the jury.

Later in his closing arguments, Klinkosum spoke about DNA traces taken from Michelle's jewelry box that was not matched to her or her husband. He said it was highly unlikely anyone else would have gone into their master bedroom unless the real killer was someone else.

"There is something not right with this crime scene," he offered.

He also pointed to fingerprints in the home that also didn't point to Jason or his wife.

"It's a big deal," said Klinkosum.

But in her closing argument, prosecutor Becky Holt said Jason Young killed his wife.

"He is guilty of first-degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt," she told jurors.

Holt described the Young marriage as a pressure cooker.

"Jason is in a marriage he didn't want to be in," she said. "He doesn't want to live that life. He doesn't want that responsibility."

Holt went back through the state's evidence, saying Young had plenty of time to drive from Virginia back to Raleigh to kill his wife and return. She said video cameras in the Hampton Inn showed Young left his room about the same time another camera at an exit was unplugged.

She also pointed out that Young had access to all the police reports and evidence before testifying at his first trial, so he could craft his alibi. Holt said even with that, his story doesn’t add up.

"Your reason and common sense should call foul," said Holt.

Holt said Young clearly had a plan to kill Michelle and asked how he could be "so lucky" - when he was in a marriage he wanted to leave so desperately - that his wife just happened to be murdered.

Prosecutor Howard Cummings picked up where Holt left off - attacking the defense's arguments.

"It is not a stranger that did this," he said. "This was an act of domestic violence."

Cummings took on the issue of the lack of blood in Jason's SUV - pointing out there was no blood trail from the upstairs of the Young home by anyone - showing the perpetrator likely cleaned up before leaving. He also said a shirt Young is seen wearing in surveillance pictures has never been found.

Cummings also mocked the defense theory someone else was responsible - saying there was no sign of forced entry at the Young home, there was no evidence of sexual assault, and the killer left obvious things that would have been stolen in a robbery, such as Michelle's purse, that was in plain sight.

"If this was a theft or a robbery, that pocketbook would have been taken," said Cummings.

He also said because Michelle was strangled and then hit in the head 30 times, that it was obviously a crime of anger.

"If you’re a stranger, why do you feel the need to over kill somebody?" Cummings asked.

The judge will give the jurors instructions Friday morning before they begin deliberations. They will have three options: not guilty, guilty of first-degree murder or guilty of second-degree murder.

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