Prosecution rests in Young trial

Attorney Mike Schilawski testified Friday

February 24, 2012 7:36:21 PM PST
The prosecution called its final witness Friday in the murder trial of Jason Young.

Young, 37, is accused of beating his wife Michelle to death in their south Raleigh home in Nov. 2006. Their daughter - who was just 2-years-old at the time - was found next to the bloody corpse.

Prosecutors allege Young returned from a business trip in Virginia in the middle of the night to kill his wife and then secretly went back to his hotel room in Hillsville. Young maintains he never left the hotel, and his lawyers have said he did not have time to be all the places prosecutors claim he went.

On the witness stand Friday, a family law attorney testified about the custody dispute between Young and Michelle's family after her death.

The prosecution maintains Young gave up the legal fight over his daughter in order to avoid answering questions about the murder.

Attorney Mike Schilawski testified Friday he was hired by Linda and Meredith Fisher - Michelle's mother and sister - because Jason cut off visitation to Cassidy Young.

When Young refused to sign a visitation agreement, they sued for custody. That lawsuit that would have required Young to answer questions under oath.

"What would you have asked him?" prosecutor Howard Cummings asked Schilawski.

"I would have asked him whether or not he brutally murdered his wife," Schilawski responded.

Schilawski said soon after the lawsuit was filed, Young's family law attorney called and the two met.

"The result was that Mr. Young was agreeing to change custody to Meredith and Linda," said Schilawski.

While the prosecution used the testimony to try to show Young's guilt, his defense pointed out how expensive it would have been for him to fight a legal battle during its cross-examination of Schilawski - money they said he didn't have.

But prosecutors shot back - pointing out that the custody suit was only filed after Young refused to go along with an initial visitation agreement.

"This idea of a full-blown custody battle and how expensive that was - that could have been avoided if he had just signed that one document right there so that the visitation schedule could have been in writing?" Cummings asked.

"That's true," said Schilawski.

That visitation agreement would have allowed Young to keep custody of his daughter for at least a year.

It's Young's second murder trial. His second ended last June with a deadlocked jury. 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.

We will learn Monday if Young's defense plans to call witnesses. It's not clear if he will take the stand a second time.

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