RALEIGH — When prosecutors and defense attorneys in the murder trial of Jason Young agreed on one man for the jury panel, they were unaware that he might be a bit of a Web personality, too.
On Wednesday, defense attorneys asked Wake County Superior Court Judge Don Stephens for permission to ask more questions of a man they contend posted to The Wolf Web, an unofficial N.C. State University message board, that he and another woman in the jury pool would be "the worst jurors ever."
That woman was rejected by the defense. But the man is among the 10 people that prosecutors and defense attorneys had agreed on as suitable for the jury in the retrial of Young.
Now defense attorneys are having second thoughts.
Bryan Collins, Wake County's chief public defender and one of the attorneys representing Young, asked the judge for a second chance to question the man who could decide his client's fate. Jury selection is particularly sensitive in this case. The first trial ended in a hung jury when jurors deadlocked 8-4 in favor of acquittal.
During the lunch break Wednesday, the defense attorneys were alerted to a Jason Young trial thread on The Wolf Web, which is found at thewolfweb .com and also called TWW or T-Dub.
Young, a medical software salesman, is accused of killing his pregnant wife in November 2006. Jason Young and Michelle Young, whose bludgeoned body was found in the master bedroom of the couple's Wake County home, were NCSU alumni.
TWW posters followed the Young's first trial. They have a thread going for the retrial.
The posts that concern defense attorneys started a little more than a week ago when dozens of men and women were sent to a jury room in the Wake County courthouse as possible jurors for the Young retrial.
The posters used grammatical mistakes and misspellings common to online message boards and abbreviated text messages, such as "LOL" for "laughing out loud" and "Mmk" for "OK."
"Guess who is sitting in jury selection for this RIGHT NOW," a poster who uses Sayer as an online identity alerted the message board at 8:50 a.m. Jan. 17. "This guy. Pretty sure I saw Begonias in here too."
Begonias posted at 8:54 a.m., "aaaand guess who has jury duty today. if I get picked for this and it lasts six weeks, I'm going to cry."
Sayer responds, "HA! I was right, that was u."
Begonias comes back with, "I'm in the back room sitting in a cubicle. Come be my fraaaaan!"
"Mmk, one second," Sayer responds.
Other posters tell the two to "have fun guys!" and to show court officials the trial thread "when they ask you about having any knowledge that would bias you or whatever ..."
Then at 10:17 a.m. Jan. 17, Sayer posts, "Lol we're going to be the worst jurors ever."
Other posters suggest that the two blog from the jury box.
At some point that morning, though, Stephens instructed all in the jury pool not to talk about the case with anyone or to do any research on their own. All potential jurors were given questionnaires that asked about any previous knowledge of the case. Because the first trial was highly publicized, many potential jurors have acknowledged knowing some details.
Sayer posted a few more times on the 17th.
"Confirming we are trying to drink our way out of jury selection," went up at 2:02 p.m.
Begonias then adds, "3 margaritas later I am ready to not get selected."
Beethoven86 then cautions the two posters:
"Have y'all gone to the courtroom yet? Or are you just waiting in the jury lounge? In all seriousness, you really shouldn't post anymore in this thread. If you are placed into the jury pool for a trial, some judges would hold you in contempt for posting online."
Sayer responds at 2:30 p.m., "I'll stop posting when/if I get selected. Until then ..."
Begonias posted this week, "Dismissed!!!"
The defense dismissed her and two others Monday, and she had few kind words for Collins' line of questioning.
The post said, "He questioned me for about 30 minutes and was so rude I was thisclose to going (expletive) you buddy, I'm not on trial here, peace out."
Collins told Stephens that he wanted to talk with the juror he contends is Sayer because he thinks he did not respond truthfully to some of his questions. He wanted to ask more about the website, too.
"Some of these bloggers are saying, 'Wow, we have a member of our group on this jury, yee haw,' " Collins told the judge.
Stephens told Collins he could address that issue once the entire panel of 12 had been seated.
Jurors are not officially on a jury until the entire group has been impaneled.
The presentation of evidence is set to begin Feb. 6.