Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jason Young: Verdict Watch

Testimony in the trial of Jason Young for the first degree murder of his pregnant wife, Michelle Marie Fisher Young, wrapped up yesterday.  Defense attorneys and prosecutors presented their closing arguments to the jury today, and the fate of Jason Young is now in the hands of twelve jurors. 

As fate would have it, the forum we have been using to discuss the trial is down for maintenance.  In the meantime, I've opened a Verdict Watch thread at our original forum.

Original Forum:  Friction Powered Information Exchange
Alternate Forum:  FPX II (temporarily down for maintenance)


FPX II is back online.  We'll continue the discussion there.  Sorry for any confusion. 

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Jason Young Trial

Discussion of the trial has been moved to FPX II due to ongoing technical difficulties at the original FPX.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Jason Young Trial: Opening Statements

The FPX forum is on the blink and WRAL is having some technical difficulties.  I'll post updates in the comment section of this blog entry. 

FPX Forum Poll

The original FPX forum is still having technical difficulties.  Vote at the following link whether to remain at the original FPX and hope the problems are worked out or move permanently to the Alternate FPX:

For those of you not already registered there, it is NOT necessary to enter a phone number.  Just click the PASS button a few times until it stops asking you.  I will activate your account as soon as I see your registration, and you will be able to log in and post.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jason Young Trial: Jury Selection

Jury selection begins today in the First Degree Murder trial of Jason Young who stands accused of murdering his pregnant wife, Michelle Young, in November, 2006.  The process is expected to take about three to four days with Opening Statements to follow.  WRAL will stream live coverage of the trial on their website.
I have begun to assemble a dedicated page to facilitate following the trial as it progresses.  The page will be updated as necessary.  Click the link below or in the sidebar to access the Michelle Young Case page.

Michelle Young Case

Discussion of the case and trial coverage is being hosted at the original Friction Powered Exchange forum.

If you are still having trouble accessing the forum, please leave a comment on this blog entry.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jason Young Arraignment

Jason Young will be arraigned in a Wake County, North Carolina, courtroom today for the 2006 beating death of his pregnant wife, Michelle Young.  Also on the agenda is an evidence hearing regarding a witness sighting of Jason Young at a King, North Carolina convenience store during the early morning hours of November 3, 2006.  Proceedings are scheduled to begin at 2:30.  Local poster, RPD, plans to be at the hearing and post his observations. 

Because of problems at our regular forum, Friction Powered Exchange, I've reopened the alternative forum, Friction Powered Exchange II.  If you haven't already registered there, I would encourage you to do so.  There have been so many problems with FPX lately that I'm not sure we'll be able to rely on it for the duration of the trial.

The original forum appears to be back up and running, although some people still report having trouble accessing the threads. Hopefully, all will be resolved soon. In the meantime, some posters are still using the alternative forum. There are links to both in the sidebar under "Discussion Forum" and in the second paragraph of this blog entry.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Alternative Forum

I don't know what the problem is with FPX, but if it's still down tomorrow, we'll use the alternative forum.

Link to FPX:

Link to Alternative FPX:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Michelle Young Murder: King's to you, Jason.*

The trial of Jason Young for the 2006 murder of his pregnant wife, Michelle Young, is quickly approaching.  Yesterday, a status hearing was held in preparation for trial.  Normally, this would have been a rather mundane event.  However, yesterday's hearing produced some interesting news.  Jason Young's defense counsel used the opportunity to raise issue with a witness for the prosecution.  Gracie Bailey, a convenience store clerk in King, North Carolina, identified Jason Young as a customer who made a cash purchase of fuel at her store at 5:27 am on November 3, 2006. 

The significance of this is that it places Jason on the route between his Raleigh home and his hotel in Hillsville, Virginia, during the hours that he was supposed to have been innocently spending the night at the hotel halfway to his business meeting destination of Clintwood, Virginia.  Until this piece of evidence was made public, we knew only that there was surveillance video from the hotel indicating that he had left his hotel around midnight and a witness statement describing the presence of a vehicle similar to Jason's 2004 Ford Explorer in the driveway of the Youngs' home between 4:00 and 5:00 am.  And we knew that, in order to make the return trip to Raleigh in the middle of the night to kill Michelle, he would have needed more fuel than provided by the documented purchases at the Handee Hugo in Raleigh at 7:32 pm on November 2 and the Get-It Market at 12:06 pm the following day.  With this witness's testimony, the State will be able to show, not only that Jason Young could have returned to Raleigh in the middle of the night, but that he did, in fact, make that murderous drive.

Clicking on the map will link you to the interactive Bing map for greater detail and exploration.

According to RPD, a Raleigh local who attended yesterday's hearing, the defense's motion to suppress Gracie Bailey's testimony will be heard on May 19.  The defense alleges that WCSO procedure was not followed in procuring the witness's identification of Jason Young.  The trial is scheduled to begin on May 31.  Thanks for your updates, RPD.

The timeline calendar has also been updated with this new information.  Click the following link to direct your browser there:

Michelle Young Murder Timeline

*With my gratitude to the Count of Monte Cristo.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Nancy Cooper Murder Trial

I've never blogged about the Nancy Cooper case, but I've followed news reports of it since Mrs. Cooper was reported missing in July 2008.  Her body was discovered in an undeveloped cul-de-sac a couple of days after she went missing in Cary, North Carolina.  Her husband, who claimed that she went out for a run on July 12 and never returned, was arrested about three months later, on the heels of lengthy depositions he gave during a custody fight for the couple's two daughters, Bella and Katie.  Mr. Cooper's trial began on March 9, 2011, and is expected to last several weeks. is providing a live stream of the trial, archiving the recordings, Tweeting about testimony that cannot be aired per judge's order, and maintaining well-organized case coverage on their website.  You'll find links to all on the Nancy Cooper Murder Trial page on this blog.  Additionally, there is a forum for discussion of the trial at Friction Powered Exchange.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Jason's Journey: Extra Fuel and the Lost Highway

Note:  For those of you already familiar with the case, pardon me while I recap.  For those not familiar, there is a great deal more to read about this case in the search warrants and in previously posted blog entries on this site.

Michelle Young was murdered in her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, on November 3, 2006, sometime between midnight and 6:00 am.  The pregnant mother was attacked in her bedroom and beaten to death with a blunt object.  Cassidy, the Youngs' 2 1/2 year old daughter, was left unharmed in the home.  The murder was discovered by Michelle's sister, Meredith Fisher, who was sent to the scene on an errand by Michelle's husband, Jason. Jason Young's alibi is that he was out of town on a business trip when his wife was murdered.  Nevertheless, a grand jury indicted him on charges of first degree murder in December of 2009, and he is due to stand trial in May of this year.

Jason Young left home on Thursday, November 2, 2006, stopping at the Handee Hugo convenience store where he fueled up his Ford Explorer at 7:32 pm before setting off.  His meeting was scheduled for 10:00 am the following morning at Dickenson Community Hospital in Clintwood, Virginia.  After driving about 80 miles, Young stopped to eat a late supper at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Greensboro, North Carolina.  At approximately 10:50 pm, Young rented a room for the night at the Hampton Inn in Hillsville, Virginia.  About an hour later, Young is seen again in the hotel lobby, this time in different clothing than he was wearing upon arrival.  Search warrants indicate that investigators believe Young tampered with a stairwell security camera, a side exit door, and the door to his room before leaving the hotel around midnight to return to Raleigh and commit the murder. 

As previously stated, Jason's Thursday morning meeting was scheduled to begin at 10:00 am.  However, he arrived more than half an hour late at 10:35 am.  A cell phone ping indicated that he was just southwest of Wytheville Virginia at 7:40 am -- approximately 112 miles from his destination.  Using Bing Maps calculations, he should have arrived at Dickenson Community Hospital by 9:50 am -- a couple of hours later, yet it took him nearly three hours.  Reportedly, Jason told friends the reason that he was late was because he got lost.  This lost time translates to perhaps 30-50 additional miles of driving.

The following images show a possible scenario for Jason's lost time and mileage.  On the map, the route A-E-C is the route Jason should have taken from Abingdon, Virginia, where he left I-81, to Dickenson Community Hospital in Clintwood.  Missing the left turn at marker E would have sent him off his intended route.  Depending on how long it took him to realize his mistake, he would have had to work his way back toward Clintwood on the E-D-C route.

[Click to enlarge]

The missed turn

As you can see from the above image, it would have been easy for someone unfamiliar with the area to mistakenly continue on through the intersection rather than turning left here, as it appears that turning left would have resulted in traveling southwest whereas the direction (as the crow flies) to Clintwood is northwest.

Credit card receipts found in Young's vehicle indicate that he purchased fuel at the Handee Hugo in Raleigh on Thursday evening and again at the Get-It Market in Duffield, Virginia, on Friday at 12:06 pm.  The route that Young would have traveled from the Handee Hugo to Dickenson Community Hospital and on to his fuel stop in Duffield is approximately 363 miles.  You could argue that this distance is doable on one tank of gas in a 2004 Ford Explorer, but you would have to ignore both the mountainous terrain that would surely have reduced his fuel efficiency and the extra miles Jason would have added to his route during the time that he was lost en route to Clintwood.  This gas mileage discrepancy supports investigators' belief that Young made at least one additional fuel purchase between 7:32 pm on Thursday and 12:06 pm on Friday for which there is no documentation. 

Now, if you're doing the calculations in your head, you've probably figured out that he needed only a few extra gallons of fuel to complete his route.  However, it would have taken almost an entire extra tank for Jason Young to drive back to Raleigh from Hillsville in the middle of the night to murder his wife and return again to the Hampton Inn the next morning -- approximately 344 roundtrip miles.  The question arises, where and when did he refuel?  It probaby won't surprise you to learn that I've been studying maps and satellite images and have come up with a theory.

Question: How do you purchase fuel without investigators being able to track down the secret fuel purchase later? There are four things that you would need to consider:

  1. Use cash or a prepaid card to avoid producing records that could track the purchase to you.
  2. Purchase the fuel at a location where you aren't likely to be recognized by someone who knows you or remembered later by someone who happened to see you there.
  3. Pick a location that wouldn't be immediately checked by investigators.  In other words, don't buy gas near the murder scene nor near your hotel.
  4. Cover your tracks.  Your cell phone pings will tell on you. 

I've long been bothered by Jason's late evening stop at the Cracker Barrel restaurant.  It's always seemed odd that he declined to eat with Michelle, Cassidy, and Michelle's friend, Shelly Schaad, prior to leaving home, opting instead to stop and eat at a restaurant little more than an hour down the road at such a late hour. 

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Restaurant

I've come to believe that the real purpose for the Cracker Barrel stop was to mask an extra fuel stop.  If investigators later wondered why his cell phone records indicated that he stopped in Greensboro, his meal at the Cracker Barrel would have been a reasonable explanation, and investigators would have had no reason to suspect that he bought more fuel again so soon after the Handee Hugo purchase.  Mind you, it would have taken only about five gallons of gas to top off his tank at that time.  However, it would have enabled him to get at least that far away from Raleigh after the murder before he needed to refuel again.  That's the important part.  Keep in mind that during the post-murder fuel stop, Jason would not have needed to worry about covering his cell phone tracks because he had either turned off the phone or left it in his hotel room ... perhaps both.

Greensboro stop:  (1) Cracker Barrel, (2) Sheetz

Incidentally, if Jason had left this location with a full tank of gas after the murder, he would have had enough fuel to make it all the way to his meeting in Clintwood and on to the Duffield fuel stop even if he had gotten lost and added an extra hour onto his drive.  At exit 124 in Greensboro (the exit Jason would have used to get to the Cracker Barrel) there is also a big convenience store that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Sheetz convenience store

Sheetz convenience stores offer a prepaid gift card in denominations of $10 to $100 in $5 increments.  The Sheetz Z-Card can be used to pay for fuel at the pump.  Being able to pay at the pump rather than going inside to make a cash purchase would have been to Jason's great benefit in covering his tracks.  Recall that Jason's mother, Pat Young, relayed to Wake County Sheriff's investigators that a wallet with $500 cash was missing from Jason's closet after Michelle's murder.

Z-Card can be used to pay at the pump 24/7.

If my theory is correct, Jason would have made a small purchase of gas at the Sheetz store some time between 8:45 pm and 9:30 pm on Thursday evening and a much larger purchase the next morning between 5:00 and 5:45 am.  There are a few alternatives to consider regarding these purchases:
  1. He used cash at the register on Thursday evening to pay for the gas and also to buy a prepaid Z-Card to use for the post-murder refuel.
  2. On both occasions, he used a Z-Card at the pump that he had procured prior to November 2.
  3. He used cash at the register on Thursday evening but reserved the previously procured Z-Card for the post-murder refuel. 

Store records should be examined to look for cash and Z-Card purchases during those times.  If the same Z-Card was used to make both purchases, it would add to the pile of circumstantial evidence already in the hands of prosecutors.  If a Z-Card was purchased with cash at the time of the 5-gallon refuel and then used the next morning to purchase around 20 gallons of gas, this would also be evidence that would implicate Jason Young.  And if the Z-Card was purchased on another date at another location, it's possible that other records -- credit card, cell phone, etc. -- could be used to place Jason at that location on that date thereby tying Jason to the Z-Card purchases.