RALEIGH — "One thousand, six-hundred and ninety three days."
Assistant District Attorney Becky Holt told the eight women and four men on the jury for the retrial of Jason Young, that was how long the medical software salesman accused of killing his pregnant wife waited after her bludgeoned body was found to offer an account of his whereabouts.
Young has pleaded not guilty, and Mike Klinkosum, one of his attorneys, told jurors in his opening statement his client was not guilty of murdering his pregnant wife.
Young, who is being retried for murder eight months after a jury of seven women and five men could not reach a unanimous verdict on his guilt or innocence, testified during the first trial.
While on the stand then, Young testified that he did not kill his wife or have any involvement in her death.
He said he was in Virginia on a business trip on Nov. 2 and 3, 2006.
Prosecutors contend Young drove to a Hampton Inn in Hillsville, Va., on Nov. 2, 2006, checked in late that night, changed clothes and then left the hotel, an exit recorded on a security camera in the lobby close to midnight. They argued he headed back to Raleigh, bludgeoned his wife to death, then returned to Virginia.
Young declined in the days, weeks, months and years after his wife's death to talk with law enforcement officers, family or friends, based, he said, on the advice of a lawyer.
Young testified that he checked into a Virginia hotel late Nov. 2, went to his room, changed clothes, then went outside to smoke a cigar, propping open hotel doors so he could get back to his room without using a keycard.
"One thousand, six-hundred and ninety-three days later," Holt said. "That's what he tells. How, in any way, would that have been incriminating?"
The retrial opened this morning with Judge Donald Stephens impaneling a jury of eight women and four men and seating two men and two women as alternate jurors to hear the case and be ready to step in if any of the panel of 12 cannot serve through the deliberation process.
Before the prosecution and defense team gave opening statements in a trial expected to last a month, Judge Donald Stephens urged the men and women to avoid using social media during the weeks of the trial.
Stephens dismissed two men before the impaneling. Prosecutors and defense attorneys had agreed the men would be suitable for the jury, but they were released before that happened.
One man was heard in a Garner restaurant discussing the case. The other had posted to The Wolfpack Web, an unofficial N.C. State University message board, that he and another woman in the jury pool would "be the worst jurors ever."
Stephens told the man, upon dismissing him, that Wake County needed the "best jurors ever."
"Please do not post, please do not tweet," Stephens told the jury.
Holt's opening statement was similar to the one she gave eight months earlier to the seven women and five men who could not come to a unanimous decision as a jury.
Prosecutors contend Young killed his wife Michelle Young on Nov. 3, 2006, in their Wake County home.
Holt described Young as a philandering free-spirit, an adventurous, immature and irresponsible man who liked to be the life of the party.
The Youngs marriage, Holt contended, was in trouble from the start.
Prosecutors contend Jason Young beat his wife to death,after trying to strangle her while their 2-year-old daughter was home.
They argue that Michelle Young put up a struggle with an attacker who landed at least 30 blows to her.
"It was a brutal personal beating," Holt said.
Young, Holt argued, planned the killing at a time his marital troubles were mounting.
Prosecutors contend Young, who was involved with another woman then and upset about the possibility of his mother-in-law moving to North Carolina to help with child care once the new baby arrived, hatched a criminal plan.
Mike Klinkosum, the defense attorney who gave the opening statement for Young during the first trial, offered a similar statement, too.
"Ladies and gentleman," Klinkosum said, "Jason Young did not murder his wife and his unborn child. This case has never been solved."
Defense lawyers pointed out that Young had no visible bruises or injuries when examined by investigators the day after his wife's body was found, though the bludgeoning death was violent enough to break her teeth and send blood splattering onto nearby walls.
"You're going to hear he acted like an obnoxious jerk," Klinkosum said. "It was not a good marriage, there's no question it was not a good marriage. He acted like a jerk. But what you've got to remember, ladies and gentleman, is we don't convict people of murder when they've acted like jerks."
Klinkosum argued that Young would not have had time to do what prosecutors contend. He urged them to listen to facts, not rule on emotions.
The prosecution's theory that Young killed his wife, who received 30 blows, according to medical examiners, received no bruises and tracked no blood into his vehicle.
"It doesn't make sense," Klinkosum said. "This puzzle that the prosecution talks about, Jason does not fit into it."