We have now heard from a few of the jurors in the Jason Young case. I must say I’m very concerned with the feedback they provided. From the WRAL article:
“While we were deliberating, we started naming all of these coincidences,” said juror Anthony Fuller. “It was like, ‘How do you just have so many coincidences?'”
Two key pieces of the puzzle helped the jury make its decision, said jury forewoman Tracey Raksnis: The clothes and shoes Jason Young was seen wearing on surveillance video the night of his wife’s murder were never found and, though Cassidy Young left bloody footprints around her mother’s body and throughout the house, the toddler’s feet and pajamas were clean by the time Michelle Young’s sister discovered her body.
“She was cleaned up. I don’t see anybody else (but Jason Young) doing that,” Raksnis said. “If this was just a robbery, I don’t think you pay that kind of attention.”
Juror Melissa Axline agreed, asking why a stranger would take the time to clean a child.
“I am 150 percent, absolutely positive that Jason Young did it. Michelle Young had no enemies,” Axline said.
If you click on the video at the link to the article, you can listen to Raksnsis state “the lack of the shoes, the lack of the shirt, the fact that he didn’t talk….” While it’s nice to hear feedback from jurors, what we’re hearing is extremely disturbing. They have the belief that a defendant must produce evidence to prove his innocence. The law is quite clear that the person on trial DOES NOT have to prove his/her innocence. How is it that we’ve transgressed from “innocent until proven guilty” to “guilty until proven innocent”? A very dangerous line has been crossed when a person has to prove their innocence in the courtroom.
The jury instructions from the Judge were clear:
The defendant, Jason Lynn Young, has entered a plea of “not guilty” to the charge of murder in the first degree. The fact that the defendant has been accused and indicted is no evidence of guilt. Under our system of Justice, when a defendant pleads “not guilty”, the defendant is not required to prove the defendant’s innocence; the defendant is presumed to be innocent. The State must prove to you that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
I want to take a little bit of time explaining the “missing” shoes and shirt that so unfortunately convicted Jason Young. I’ve heard many people bring this up again and again and this must be addressed. Jason was seen in a surveillance camera at the Hampton Inn in Hillsville, VA just before midnight the night before his wife was killed.
CCBI confiscated his vehicle and all contents the following afternoon, November 3, 2006. The suitcases were handed over to the WCSO (Wake county sheriff’s office). Some time later, investigators went through the contents of the suitcases. There never was an inventory log recorded or photos taken of the contents.
In August, 2008, almost three years after the murder investigation began, police filed an affidavit for a search warrant to try to locate the shirt that he’s seen wearing in this photo. The shirt was never found, but should Jason Young be accountable for it? Is it not possible that police may have lost the item? Remember, no blood was found anywhere in his vehicle, on his clothing or at the Hampton Inn.
Police have a theory that Jason tampered with one of the security cameras in one of the stairwells. Does it even make sense that he would tamper with a camera so as not to be seen leaving the hotel and then minutes later walk right up to a different camera in the lobby, wearing clothing that he planned to wear to commit the murder? No, it does not! Why did police wait so long to search for the shirt? They knew within days that he had taken that trip to Virginia.
Two bloody shoe prints were found at the murder scene. One, a size 10 Franklin athletic shoe and the second, a Hushpuppy of undetermined size and undetermined style. A DSW store record indicated that Jason purchased a pair of Hushpuppy shoes in 2005. Because a print was found that *could have been* a Hushpuppy, the jury believed that Jason Young should have presented those shoes in court to clear himself of this crime. It is absolutely astounding that he was expected to present these. Everyone is still saying “where are the shoes”? Imagine being accused of a crime you didn’t commit and everyone demands that you present one of your belongings years later to prove your innocence. Imagine! Are we supposed to keep everything we’ve ever owned because one day someone may request it? And the only way to maintain your freedom is to present it? Jason had two pairs of shoes in the Explorer in addition to the shoes he was wearing, and this was for a two day trip. The one pair was similar to the Hushpuppies he had purchased in ’05. Clearly he had replaced them. Little did he know a jury of his peers would one day convict him because his wife donated his old shoes to Goodwill.
I also want to address the facts pertaining to the condition in which Cassidy was found. The Young’s two year old daughter was found alive and well in the home by Michelle’s sister, Meredith at approximately 1:30PM. She was described as “shockingly clean” and was allegedly found in the master bedroom under the blankets. Michelle’s time of death was estimated to be between midnight and 6AM. This means that the little girl was alone in the home for 9-10 hours and there are indications that she possibly witnessed the murder and at the very least was at the scene, beside her mother because small bloody footprints were found in the bathroom.
The most likely scenario, according to investigators is as follows: Cassidy was sitting next to her mother on the floor after the murder took place. She got blood on her pajamas and her feet and she was wearing socks at the time. Someone picked her up and carried her to the bathroom and closed the door, possibly to try to clean up the scene and figure out what to do. They then removed her socks and took her out of the house to clean her up. The conclusion that she was likely removed from the home and cleaned up was drawn because there was no blood found in the sink or shower drains and when Cassidy was found she was “shockingly clean”. Even though the murder scene was quite bloody, no blood was seen on her pajamas and oddly she was not wearing a diaper or underwear.
Why are the clean pajamas and absence of a diaper important? First, it appears with certainty that someone laundered the pajamas because the blood that was present on the seat of the pajama pants was not visible to the naked eye but the crime lab later detected blood through chemical testing. Secondly, Cassidy was not night-time potty trained so Michelle certainly would have put a diaper on her before bed. No dirty diaper was found at the scene, so a likely scenario is that someone removed her from the home, took her somewhere and washed her clothing and cleaned the blood off her, but they did not have a diaper with them. When she was found she was wearing only the pajamas, no diaper or underwear.
The police believed this to be true so much so that they searched Michelle’s car for the presence of blood and they checked to see if Jason Young possibly caught a flight back to Virginia because washing the clothing would not have allowed him enough time to get back to the Hampton Inn in time by car.
I’ve thought about this quite a bit and I can’t think of any possible way that Jason Young could have washed the pajamas and still had time to get back to the hotel. Additionally, he would have had no reason to wash the pajamas. He could have simply disposed of the bloody pajamas along with his bloody clothing and dressed her in fresh clothing. The only logical explanation for the pajamas appearing to be clean and no blood present in the sink and shower drains IS that she was removed from the home, pajamas washed, cleaned up and then returned to the home. Although the jurors believe that only Jason would have taken the time to clean Cassidy up, I believe Meredith Fisher also could have done this. She was there, she was out drinking the night before and all of her time was not accounted for since she claimed to have been hanging out in the parking lot of the Ale House “sobering up”. It’s not my intention to unnecessarily accuse anyone of involvement in this horrific crime, but one needs to consider all possible scenarios, and to state that “only Jason would have cleaned her up” and therefore committed the murder is not true.
And one final point about the pajamas – if Jason Young cleaned her up and somehow managed to wash her pajamas and redress her, how did 9 hours pass and she didn’t get one spec of blood on her? Remember, she was found in the master bedroom, according to Meredith. It’s not logical.
People need to understand that when they convict a person because they didn’t prove their innocence or because they opted not to testify, it’s not only taking away the defendant’s freedoms, this affects all of us. This mindset is dangerous. How can we throw away “innocent until proven guilty” and expect to maintain our liberties? We are one step away from doing away with trials all together because what is the purpose of the trial and jury process if not to force the State to prove the accusations against us? This is the reason people are so upset about the comments from jurors in this case. We are NOT required to prove our innocence in a trial. And it IS the right of the defendant to choose not to testify and it is not an indication of guilt.
In order to convict Jason Young, the jurors had to disregard key pieces of evidence that pointed away from him and it’s difficult to understand how they were able to do that.
The gas mileage correlated precisely with his gas receipts. Some say “well, maybe he stopped for gas and paid cash”. Again, the state must prove this. And remember, they were up and down that route and checked out every gas station possible. Don’t you think they would have found him on camera if he stopped somewhere and paid cash? And how could he possibly have calculated this mileage and gas fill-ups so accurately?
Another point worth mentioning is the alleged incident at 4 Brothers, where Gracie identified him after being shown a single photo. The only reason he would be upset about the pumps not being turned on would be if he was attempting to pay by credit card. Are we to believe that he would do that, when that would ruin his entire alibi? Everyone knows that you always have to pay in advance with cash. So why did he cuss at Gracie and throw a $20 at her and then cut the gas off at precisely $15 and drive off?
Jason’s mileage/gas receipts
11/2 Filled up at Handee Hugo
Drove to Cracker Barrel 84.8
Drove to Hampton Inn 83.9
11/3 Drove to Clintwood, VA for mtg. 165.0
(got lost, adding 20 miles)
Drove to Duffield, purchased gas 46.6
380.3 miles traveled , 19.452 gal/gas purchased 19.55 mi./gal.
Drove to Transylvania 137
Drove to Brevard 5.8
Drove to Burlington (filled up) 218
360.8 miles traveled, 18.44 gal/gas purchased 19.5 mi./gal.
The gas mileage on the trip is consistent.
State’s alleged mileage
11/2 Filled up at Handee Hugo
Drove to Cracker Barrel 84.8
Drove to Hampton Inn 83.9
Drove back to Raleigh 169
Back to 4 Brothers 121
458.7 = 20.38 mi/gallon
He would have run out of gas 18.8 miles before arriving at 4 Brothers
Assuming he somehow made it to 4 Brothers:
$15 worth of gas was allegedly purchased @ 2.16/gal. , 6.94 gallons of gas
Drives to Hampton Inn 48.8
Drives to Clintwood 165
Drives to Duffield 46.6
260.4 miles on 6.94 gallons of gas?
That is 37.5 mi/gal and that is impossible
I also want to discuss the security camera and the allegations that Jason propped open an exit door so he could avoid having to use his key to enter the building the next morning. For starters, how was he able to reach the camera? He would have certainly needed a ladder and the State never offered an explanation for how he was able to accomplish this. Also, how did he know he wouldn’t be seen in the very camera he was unplugging, since the camera views appear on the monitor in a certain order/time? And finally, how did he know how to disable the camera? Does he have a background in this field that we aren’t aware of?
Regarding the rock that propped open the door, I was shocked when I saw a photo of this “rock”. It was a tiny stone and if someone planned to prop open a door for several hours as a critical part of their alibi, surely they would have found something more secure than this.
But let’s assume Jason did tamper with the camera and did prop open the door. Why would he bother with any of this at all, when the glass door adjacent to the steel exit door opens at 6AM. It is assumed that he entered through that very door because the “rock” had been kicked out and the door was secured sometime before 6
AM. This was nothing but a red herring used to indicate guilt but there is no substance to this and no proof that Jason did any of this! How are people so easily convinced of such things that make no sense at all?
In addition to the timing not adding up, and the mileage records, and the ridiculous camera and door allegations, the jurors also had to disregard the following:
- Unidentified DNA found on the jewelry box (a blend of 2 sources of DNA)
- two sets of footprints, two different styles of shoes
- unidentified fingerprints at the scene
- A hair that was forcibly removed that was found on the wedding photo
- the fact that no fibers from the Hampton Inn were found at the murder scene
- No blood found in his car, on his clothing and he couldn’t have washed it off at the scene because no blood was found in the sink or shower drains
- A neighbor saw a car leaving the residence at 5:30AM with a man and woman inside. It couldn’t have been Jason due to the timing.
- A fingerprint was found on the camera at the Hampton Inn that did not match Jason Young’s.
To be honest, it’s quite shocking to me that the majority of people commenting on this case believed that the State proved their case. I watched the entire trial and I was unconvinced. The long list of circumstantial evidence that everyone continues to reference is not an indication of guilt.
The North Carolina SBI is currently investigating the jurors in this case due to allegations of juror misconduct. It’s possible that information was being leaked during deliberations. It should be interesting to see how this all turns out. Citizens of Wake County should be very afraid of the type of justice that’s being handed out in the courtrooms. I hope this article will enlighten people. We must demand fair trials or we’re all at risk.