Credibility of witness questioned in Young case

Jason Young listens to testimony. (Shawn Rocco)

February 9, 2012 4:04:20 AM PST
The judge in the Jason Young murder trial held a hearing Wednesday outside the presence of the jury. Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens said he wanted to hear about the medical history of one of the state's key witnesses.

The witness was Gracie Calhoun - a gas station clerk who said she saw Young on the night his wife was murdered.

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 say Young faked a business trip to Virginia and returned in the middle of the night to kill her.

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

At his first trial, Young took the witness stand in his own defense. He 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 a Hampton Inn in Hillsville, Va. when the murder happened.

The prosecution alleges 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.

One of the state's most important witnesses that placed Young outside the hotel on the night of the murder in his first trial was Calhoun.

She 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's defense has tried hard to discredit Calhoun. At the first trial, it pointed out she identified him from a photo showed to her by investigators - not a proper lineup.

This time around, questions have been raised about Calhoun's medical history. 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.

Judge Stephens ruled the information was relevant and lawyers could bring it up before the jury.

Sister finishes testimony

Also Wednesday, Young's defense team continued to press Meredith Fisher about what she saw and how she acted on the day she found her sister beaten to death.

It was the third day of testimony from Fisher, who called 911 Nov. 3, 2006 after discovering Michelle beaten to death on the floor of her bedroom in her south Raleigh home.

Fisher said her sister's body was lying next to her bed. She said the Young's daughter Cassidy - who was 2-years-old at the time - was in the bed next to her mother.

On the stand Tuesday, Fisher talked about Jason's demeanor after Michelle's death. She testified that Young's emotions did not seem genuine when he appeared to cry.

"I did not see one tear fall," she said.

But under cross-examination Wednesday, the defense pointed out Fisher's lack of emotion during the 911 call she made upon finding her sister's body.

"I want to know. Were you crying?" asked defense attorney Bryan Collins.

"No, I was not. Not initially," Fisher responded.

Fisher maintained she was trying to stay strong since Cassidy was wandering around the house. The little girl had left her baby doll by her dead mother and a trail of small bloody footprints upstairs.

"She'd been through enough. She didn't need to hear it," said Fisher.

Lawyers also asked Fisher about asking Cassidy if she had seen anything. Fisher said Cassidy mentioned her father, but was not specific. Later, when questioned by a child psychologist, Fisher said Cassidy shut down and didn't have any more information.

First deputy on the scene

Also on the witness stand Wednesday was the first deputy to respond to the Birchleaf Drive home after Fisher called 911. Scott Earp testified that while he saw a child's bloody footprints on the floor, and bloody smear marks at about a child's height on a bathroom wall, Cassidy's hands and feet were clean as if someone had cleaned her.

Roommate testifies

After Deputy Earp, Michelle Young's college roommate was called to the witness stand.

Shelly Shaad testified that Cassidy Young knew how to put her own socks on at age 2 - a possible explanation for how the child's feet were not bloody when deputies arrived at the murder scene.

She also testified about the Young's relationship - calling it rocky.

"They were not shy about fighting in public, pulling us into the middle of it, to the point it was uncomfortable at times," said Shaad.

She said Jason was also not shy about complaining about the lack of sex in his marriage, and she said Jason's behavior was often inappropriate and flirtatious around the Young's circle of friends. She even recounted an incident where he urinated on the floor of her home during an NC State tailgate party.

Young's defense has not disputed that his behavior as a husband was not model, but in his opening statement Monday, Young's defense attorney Mike Klinkosum said his client did not kill his wife.

"This case has not been solved, ever," said Klinkosum

There's no word if Young will take the stand in his own defense this time around. The trial is expected to last about six weeks.

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