Jason Young, the medical software salesman convicted of killing his pregnant wife, could be back in Wake County Superior Court soon to try to persuade a judge that his attorneys were ineffective during his murder trial.
The N.C. Court of Appeals opened the door, with an order from the clerk on Tuesday, for Young to argue that he should be granted a new trial because his attorneys failed to lodge an objection about evidence entered in his case.
The decision this week adds another twist in a murder case that has been to a jury twice, seen the conviction vacated by the N.C. Court of Appeals and the order for a new trial halted by the N.C. Supreme Court.
Young, 41, remains imprisoned in Alexander Correctional Institute as attorneys argue about whether he should get a third trial.
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A jury found him guilty in 2012 of the bludgeoning death of his wife, Michelle Fisher Young. Michelle Young was 29 and pregnant when she was found lifeless in 2006 in the bedroom of the couple’s Wake County home.
The guilty verdict, in March 2012, came nine months after a first trial resulted in a mistrial after the jury was divided over whether prosecutors had proved murder.
The guilty verdict was appealed by Young.
In April 2014 a unanimous Court of Appeals panel ruled that prosecutors went too far when introducing evidence at the murder trials about rulings from civil proceedings in which Young had not participated.
The appeals court panel did not rule on Young’s claim that he deserved relief because of ineffective assistance of trial.
Wake County Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings said on Thursday that once Young had been been appointed counsel for the latest twist in his case and a judge had been assigned to preside over the matter, he hoped to schedule a hearing to consider the motion for appropriate relief.
The order for a hearing comes six months after the N.C. Supreme Court found that Young and his attorneys failed to lodge an objection at trial to the introduction of evidence about the civil proceedings.
Michelle Young was found on Nov. 3, 2006, severely beaten to death. Cassidy, the couple’s toddler daughter, wriggled out from the covers of the bed close to her mother’s body when Meredith Fisher, the victim’s sister, discovered the bloody scene.
Prosecutors contended at the two trials that Young was a cold-hearted killer who brutally and relentlessly beat his wife, leaving his daughter, just 2 1/2 at the time, alone with her mother’s body.
Young has maintained that he did not kill his wife, that he was away on a business trip when she died.
In the weeks, months and years after Michelle Young’s death, Jason Young declined to speak with investigators.
He also did not respond to a wrongful death suit and custody battle brought by his in-laws, civil proceedings that resulted in default rulings.
In 2008, a Superior Court judge ruled in the civil proceeding that Young was responsible for his wife’s death after he failed to respond to the claim – a default judgment that does not declare innocence or guilt.
The appellate defender who represented Young post conviction argued that allowing such evidence into criminal cases not only would have an impact on how prosecutors get and present evidence but also would allow the civil justice system to be “used as a pawn.”
State prosecutors, dissatisfied with the ruling granting a new trial, asked the N.C. Supreme Court to review the case. The state’s highest justices did not rule on the substance of that issue, instead focusing on the procedural side of the appeal.