NC Supreme Court agrees to review Jason Young case

Jason Young listens as his lawyer Mike Klinkosum makes his opening remarks during his retrial on February 6, 2012.
Jason Young listens as his lawyer Mike Klinkosum makes his opening remarks during his retrial on February 6, 2012. 2012 News & Observer file photo

The N.C. Supreme Court has agreed to review the Jason Young case.

The justices issued a list Wednesday of petitions for review allowed.

The decision came almost four months after the N.C. Court of Appeals vacated a 2012 guilty verdict and ordered a third trial for Young, a Cary medical software salesman accused of bludgeoning his wife to death.

The three-judge appellate panel ruled unanimously that evidence about a wrongful death lawsuit and custody proceedings from civil court had hampered Young’s ability to get a fair trial.

Young, 40, is incarcerated in Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville.

Michelle Young was 29 and pregnant when she was found on Nov. 3, 2006, beaten to death in the master bedroom of the Wake County home she shared with her husband and their toddler daughter.

Cassidy, the couple’s daughter, wriggled out from the covers of the bed close to her mother’s body when Meredith Fisher, the victim’s sister, made the gruesome find.

Young has maintained that he did not kill his wife, that he was away on a business trip when the violence upended many lives.

Prosecutors contended at two trials – one in 2011 that ended in mistrial with a jury deadlocked 8-4 for acquittal – that Young was a coldhearted killer who brutally and relentlessly beat his wife inside their home, leaving his daughter, just 2-1/2 at the time, alone with her mother’s body.

On March 5, 2012, a jury of eight men and four women found him guilty of first-degree murder. The crime brings an automatic sentence of life in prison without possibility for parole.

Judge Donald Stephens, the chief resident Wake County Superior Court judge who presided over the criminal proceedings, also presided over civil lawsuits brought against Young before police arrested him on the murder charge.

Those civil proceedings, a wrongful death suit and a custody battle brought by Young’s in-laws, were the underpinnings of the N.C. Appeals Court ruling released in April.

Young never responded to the civil proceedings. He would have had to respond to questions under oath from attorneys representing his wife’s mother and sister, who suspected he was involved in the violent death of Michelle Young.

In 2008, Stephens 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.

At the second trial in 2012, prosecutors presented evidence about those proceedings.

The 58-page appeals court ruling written by Judge Robert N. Hunter Jr., who was just appointed to the N.C. Supreme Court by the governor, stated: “This evidence also severely impacted Defendant’s ability to receive a fair trial.”

Appeals court Judges Donna S. Stroud and Chris Dillon also signed the ruling.

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