tv Dateline MSNBC August 11, 2019 1:00am-2:00am PDT
my angel of light." my mother called and says, "michelle's dead." how is that possible? >> a young mother found brutally murdered. her little girl left to wander in her mother's blood. police had a suspect and they say he had a motive. >> we had an intimate relationship. >> we ended up having sex. >> but could they prove he was the killer? >> it was a circumstantial case. >> except for that witness. the girl who left those footprints. >> we will never know what cassidy saw and what she didn't see. >> maybe she couldn't tell detectives who the killer was, but maybe she didn't have to. >> the fact that cassidy was
spared, would that mean anything to a jury? >> the person that killed the mother cared about cassidy. hello and welcome to "dateline michelle young had a smile that but her husband was away on business and untraveling this complicated case would take years. here's keith morrison. >> i think i paused for a second and had to take a deep breath. and just the reality of what was going on would sink in. >> reporter: those who saw the footprints will not forget them. they were tiny and they were bloody.
>> i had to get my composure to finish searching this house to make sure there was nobody else in the house. >> reporter: it was the third of november 2006, early afternoon. scott earp was the wait county sheriff's deputy dispatched to a quiet leafy neighborhood called enchanted oaks on the outskirts of raleigh, north carolina. here because of the 911 call from this place, on birchfield drive. >> i think my sister is dead. >> tell me what happened. >> i have no idea. >> the caller was meredith fisher. she had just discovered on the floor of the master bedroom the savagely beaten body of her elder sister, 29-year-old michelle young, a woman who in death was about to be famous. >> listen to me, ma'am. i'll tell you what you have to do. you need to calm down so we can help you. you said there's blood everywhere? listen to me ma'am.
>> i'm listening. >> is she breathing? >> i don't think so. >> have you checked? >> no. she's cold. >> okay. >> reporter: as she spoke, meredith was cradling her 2 1/2-year-old niece, cassidy, who crawled out from under the bed clothes on her parents' bed, just feet from where her mother lay. cassidy's voice chattering to her aunt was caught on the recorded call. >> she's got booboos everywhere. >> had cassidy witnessed the murder, awakened alone to find this? >> you just picture a small child walking around in this blood and tracking it across the hallway over into the bathroom. >> reporter: by now, wake county investigators were descending on the house. and having secured the crime scene, earp's job was done. but on his way out he saw cassidy again. she was still in her pink pajamas, still in meredith's arms. he asked meredith a question. >> i looked over at the child. i didn't see any blood. so i asked her, did you clean
the child? and her response was no. i thought it was kind of odd because i was expecting her to say yes, i guess. >> reporter: somebody did? >> yeah, somebody did. >> but who? was it the same person who murdered the little girl's mother? on this november day, all they had were questions. rich spivey, then a sergeant with the wake county sheriff's office, probably knows the case better than anyone. >> i mean, this was just a brutal, vicious beating. there was a lot of time and energy invested into this assault. >> reporter: why do you say a lot of time and energy? >> i think the medical examiner told us there was over 30 blows with some sort of blunt object. >> reporter: so detectives started investigating the victim and everyone else around her. michelle young was born and raised on long island, new york. >> she was smiling all the time. and she was the life of the party. >> reporter: stacia grossman knew her from childhood. >> she didn't like being the center of attention, but she
liked creating a great atmosphere for everyone to have a great time. >> reporter: michelle was a cheerleader in high school and a straight-a student. jennifer powers felt drawn to her. >> she had this kind of bookworm side to her where she was very studious and goal-oriented. i mean, she was also just a great person to be around, a fun, happy spirit. and, you know, someone i wanted to spend a lot of time with. >> reporter: lots of people did. and when she chose a college far from home, north carolina state, she was soon surrounded again by an admiring group of women friends, best friends, buddies. fiona childs was her sorority big sister. >> there is this one picture. and it's like -- it just came out beautiful. we liked it. because we felt like we kind of looked like charlie's angels, posed, without intentionally doing that. >> reporter: it was sometime in 2001 when friends started hearing about michelle's new guy, a fellow student named jason young, heard how he'd grown up in the north carolina mountains, how he loved to camp, how he was the life of tailgate parties. michelle fell hard and fast.
>> they seemed like a good couple. he was different from other men she had dated in the past. he wasn't as serious about a career as she was. he was a little bit less sophisticated than michelle was. but she seemed to be very happy with him. >> reporter: michelle and jason married in october 2003. the day after the wedding they shared their big secret. michelle was pregnant. their daughter cassidy was born early the next year. >> mwah! >> i love you, mommy. >> i love you too, cassidy. ♪ twinkle, twinkle >> reporter: and when she came along it was love at first sight. ♪ how i wonder what you are >> yay! >> reporter: michelle was an enthusiastic mother. >> huh? >> huh? >> huh? >> huh? >> by all accounts, jason was a good dad. >> he was a great playmate. he knew how to sit on the floor
and play with his daughter, you know? >> reporter: the youngs moved into the big fine house on birchleaf in 2005. both of them worked. he a salesman. she a financial specialist. in the summer of 2006 michelle got pregnant again. they kept the news to themselves, but it was clear something good was happening. >> the comment he said to me was he's excited to have another baby. not implying she was pregnant. but he was excited at the prospect of it. >> but just a few months later michelle was dead. jason was 170 miles away in virginia on a business trip the night of the murder. he heard the news the next afternoon and returned to raleigh. stacia grossman got word from her mother. >> my mother called and says "michelle's dead." i said, "michelle who? some celebrity? like what are you talking about? what do you mean, how is that possible? what happened?"
>> reporter: the very questions that wake county investigators were asking themselves. >> as the investigation gets under way, a security camera provides a critical clue. it's not what it caught. it's what it missed and why. >> coming up -- >> there was a camera there that had been unplugged. >> really? >> yes. it was one of the side exits of best friends. advantage ii, kills fleas through contact all month long. i mean he's a wreck without me. advantage ii, fight the misery of biting fleas. oh, come on. flo: don't worry. you're covered. (dramatic music) and you're saving money, because you bundled home and auto. sarah, get in the house. we're all here for you. all: all day, all night. (dramatic music) great job speaking calmly and clearly everyone. that's how you put a customer at ease. hey, did anyone else hear weird voices while
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>> reporter: the facts were stark and ugly. one night in november 2006, while her husband was away on business, michelle young was attacked in her own bedroom and brutally beaten to death. her body discovered the next day by her sister meredith along with her 2 1/2-year-old daughter cassidy, who had been left to wander in her blood. for the investigators who set out to find her killer, no way to get those little footprints out of their minds. sergeant richard spivey, lead investigator. >> those of us that work in law enforcement, this is our profession, but we're also parents. that certainly strikes a different note with you when you see something like that. >> michelle's husband jason, a medical software salesman, was 170 miles away the night of the murder. even so, investigators had to look at him. >> we know he was the last person to talk to michelle that night. and he was also the reason why she was found.
he called meredith fisher to go to the house. >> reporter: jason young's business trip that night was routine. security tape showed him getting gas, 7:30 p.m. as he left raleigh. two hours later he was seen on tape at a cracker barrel restaurant in greensboro. later he checked into this hampton inn in hillsdale, virginia. this is him front desk. about 11:00 p.m. and him again at midnight. he also made a phone call around midnight. and that was the last time anybody heard from jason young until he made another call at 7:40 the next morning. >> a normal person would look at this and say he was 170 miles away. he's got an alibi. >> that sounds like a great distance, you know? but 170 miles you can get between the crime scene and the hotel in about 2 1/2 hours. >> reporter: perhaps. but there were curious anomalies at the crime scene. couldn't explain them. a jewelry box was missing two drawers. so was it a bungled burglary? then there were footprints near the body that seemed to eliminate jason. an obvious print on the pillow was a size 10. but jason wore a size 12.
but this was weird. there was another partial footprint. it defied easy identification, so they began calling in shoe experts. and now they wondered were there two attackers? of course, investigators discovered early on michelle and jason's marriage was strained. and in the last weeks of michelle's life, things were not good. >> at our friend shelley's wedding he was so drunk. just really out of it. when we got to the wedding, our friends were letting us know that michelle and jason were fighting and they were referring to it as world war iii. >> jennifer powers told investigators about another fight that october. michelle wanted her mother to stay with them for the holidays. and jason, who had a tense relationship with his mother-in-law, wanted to limit her stay.
and said so in an e-mail. along with another nugget. >> he wrote, "our marriage has seen better days and i don't see it trending up." i remember that really striking a chord with me. because i didn't know that their marriage had seen better days. >> reporter: so of course investigators wanted to interview jason young. maybe he could tell them something. but he refused to talk to them. >> he talked to the lawyer. and then under the advice of counsel he declined to speak with us at all. >> reporter: didn't ask about it? didn't ask how his wife died? >> no. >> reporter: perhaps, investigators thought, that business trip deserved a second look. so they want to the hotel, poked around and discovered some odd activities that night in a stairwell near an exit. >> there was a camera there that had been unplugged. >> really? >> yes. it was one of the side exits for the hotel. one of the fire stairs that go down to the first floor. >> reporter: was there any other tampering done?
>> the door that was adjacent to where the camera was located, that door also had been propped open that night. >> how do you know that? >> the gentleman working as the clerk that night found a rock that had been placed in the door to keep the door from closing. >> well, then they plugged the camera back in, so it's now working again. and at about 6:35 that morning suddenly that camera is pointing straight at the ceiling. >> same camera? >> same camera. and it's tampered with yet again. >> reporter: if that was jason young's work, is it possible he did make the 340-mile round trip? could he have killed his wife and cleaned up his daughter all in 7 1/2 hours without ever being seen? to find out, investigators played a hunch. they visited every gas station along the route. showed jason's photo, talked to the night clerks. and came across a woman named gracie doms in a tiny place called king, north carolina.
she took one look at that photograph and recognized it instantly. he was the foul-mouthed customer, she said, who came into the store to complain that the pumps were locked. and what time was it? 5:30 a.m., morning of the murder. >> there was actually an altercation between the two of them. so you have a reason why she would remember him as opposed to any other customer that may have just happened into the store. >> reporter: if that attendant was right, investigators may have undercut jason's alibi. still, it wasn't enough. so they plodded ahead, painstaking work, took time. and then, years after the murder, they finally got a match for that partial footprint. >> the state bureau of investigation and the fbi were able to eventually identify that shoe as a hush puppy orbital shoe, size 12, which was the same size that he wore. >> reporter: throughout the investigation, jason steadfastly maintained his silence.
and rather than face a legal battle where he'd be asked some tough questions, spivey said, he even gave michelle's family custody of his daughter. >> everyone that we spoke with, all of them talked about how much he loved cassidy and what a great dad he was. to just turn over primary custody, that was -- that was very surprising. >> reporter: investigators had heard enough. they believed they had a case. circumstantial, but a case. and three years after michelle young's body was found on the bedroom floor, jason young was charged with her murder. investigators and prosecutors knew that very little pointed directly toward jason young, but so far nothing pointed away. coming up, the case against jason young as an alleged killer and as a cheating husband. >> we basically just hung out at
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>> the defendant had a plan. his plan was to murder his wife. his plan was to get away with it. >> reporter: with no murder weapon found, the prosecution's case was built on that partial shoe print. they knew now that jason once owned a pair of hushpuppies like these that matched the print. they were now missing. they also told jurors about the early morning visit to the gas station and the suspicious activity at the hotel, but the thrust of their case was this. jason young was trying in the most violent possible way to get out of a troubled marriage. >> were you aware of tensions in that marriage? >> yeah. i was well aware. >> reporter: meredith fisher, michelle's sister, lived near the couple. and for a period was cassidy's nanny. as the youngs' fights intensified, she took on the role of marriage counselor too. >> what would you say were the main issues? >> michelle's main issues were jason being more responsible, understanding her more, and his main concern was their lack of sex life.
>> reporter: prosecutors called friends to the stand to paint a picture of a marriage that was unraveling, out loud and in public. >> jason made it very well known that, you know, he was upset about the lack of sex in the relationship. >> reporter: and at parties, said fiona childs, jason's x-rated tricks were famously over the top. >> i never observed it myself. i would just hear about it. and you know, he would expose himself and do what he thought was these funny tricks. and i was always just rather embarrassed for michelle. >> he never settled down. it was as if he was still living the single life, that he never bought into the marriage. what that -- what all that meant. >> reporter: in october 2006, when michelle was four months pregnant, jason became deeply involved with another woman. and not just any woman. michelle money was one of michelle young's close friends from college.
one of those charlie's angels. in early october, days before his third wedding anniversary, jason flew to florida to see michelle money. she testified they both knew it was wrong. >> we basically just hung out at the house and we had an intimate relationship for the two days that he was there. >> reporter: jason was crazy about her. his friend josh dalton said. >> he basically told me that he thought was in love with her. >> reporter: michelle's mother, linda fisher, testified in the final weeks of michelle's life she could see the toll the failing marriage was taking on her pregnant daughter. >> she had her head on my lap. and she was lying down. and i was stroking her hair. and -- and she was empty. >> what did she tell you? >> things weren't working out with jason. >> reporter: two days before she
was murdered, michelle phoned her sister meredith to report yet another blowup with jason. >> she was just, "i've had it." she said, "you know, more than one time, i just can't do this anymore." >> reporter: jason was telling one of his close friends the same thing. and prosecutors said just days before michelle was murdered, he had indulged in one last transgression. a casual hook-up with an old friend named carol ann sauerby in his own living room. michelle was away at the time. >> cassidy was put down to bed. and had a couple drinks. just were talking. and we ended up having sex. >> reporter: but divorce was
apparently not an option for jason. >> he had made a statement at one time that he was afraid if he ever got a divorce that michelle would take cassidy and move back to new york. >> and did he indicate to you that he would have concerns about ever being able to see cassidy again? >> correct. >> reporter: one question remained. was a good time guy like jason young even capable of murder? genevieve cargol was engaged to jason in 1999 before he met michelle. she took the stand to testify about a fight they had over jason's excessive drinking. >> he became agitated. he said something to the effect of if i'm going to make such a terrible husband then give me my ring back. >> did you give it to the defendant? >> no. he began trying to pull the ring off. and it wouldn't come off. he was throwing me from one bed to the other and jumping on me
with all his weight and pinning my arms, both of them, behind me. >> reporter: prosecutors hoped to convince the jury it all added up to a motive for murder. so how would the defense counterattack? with a witness who could refute every charge. coming up, jason young finally breaks his silence as he takes the stand to testify. >> did you kill your wife, michelle? >> no, sir. >> were you there when it happened? >> no, sir. ♪ protect your pet with the #1 name in flea and tick protection. frontline plus. trusted by vets for nearly 20 years. is skincare from around the wobetter than olay? olay regenerist faced 131 premium products, from 12 countries, over 10 years. olay's hydration was unbeaten
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the business of criminal defense. and it would take a true artist to repaint the prosecution's dark portrait of jason young. so what could defense attorney mike clinkelson do? well, to begin with, he told the jury, he agreed with the prosecution. jason young was not a good husband. >> he acted at times like an immature jerk. but that does not make him a killer. >> reporter: the defense was not about to make any more concessions, mind you. that jewelry box in the bedroom, there was dna on it. didn't match either michelle or jason. the suspicious activity at the hotel? there was a fingerprint on that camera and it wasn't jason young's. and there wasn't any forensic evidence that tied jason to the crime scene. there was no blood in his car. there was not a scratch on him. >> ladies and gentlemen, jason lynn young did not murder his wife. he did not murder their unborn son.
and this case has not been solved. >> reporter: who better to make the argument than jason young himself. but so far, remember, he had never said a word to anyone about that november night. and almost five years silence. >> it is always a big decision for defense attorneys whether or not to call their clients. >> reporter: beth carris is a former prosecutor and legal analyst. she covered the trial. >> this is a case that really begged for jason young to testify. if he is innocent. >> reporter: after all this time. >> if he is truly innocent, get on the stand and tell the story. >> we call jason young. >> reporter: with his mother in the front row, jason young prepared to do just that. defense attorney brian collins hit it hard off the top. >> did you kill your wife, michelle? >> no, sir. >> were you there when it happened? >> no, sir. >> reporter: what about jason's missing hushpuppies that match the partial shoe print? he no longer owned them, he said. >> are those the shoes you had
on on november the 2nd? >> no, sir. >> reporter: they were all ratty-e said. told michelle to give them to goodwill. as for the night of the murder, after he checked into the hotel, he left his room twice. the first time to get a power cord for his laptop. >> i was going over the sales call i had the next day. >> reporter: the second trip he testified was to smoke a cigar. >> i had to go outside to smoke the cigar. i also wanted to look at some sports schedules and some standings and so i wanted to see if i could pick up the "usa today" as well. >> reporter: that newspaper run explained why he was seen at the front desk he said around midnight. >> between the time you smoked the cigar, went back upstairs and went to sleep, did you leave that room until the next morning? >> no, sir. >> reporter: the next morning after his sales call jason testified he realized he'd left some ebay printouts sitting on the computer printer at home. they showed purses. he was thinking of buying one for michelle as a belated anniversary present.
>> i realized i didn't bring the papers. >> why was it important to you somebody get the papers? >> because i wanted it to be a surprise. a surprise to michelle means so much more than anything. >> reporter: so around noon november 3rd he called his sister-in-law meredith from the car to ask if she'd go to the house and get those ebay papers. >> friday november 3rd. >> he left meredith a voicemail. >> could you go over there and see if you can find them on the computer? >> reporter: then he headed to his mother's place in the mountains nearby. and it was there, he testified, hours later that he learned michelle had been murdered. >> i just fell. i just -- i just broke on the inside. i just broke and i didn't believe it. >> reporter: family members drove him back to raleigh. during the drive, he said his friends called. >> ryan and josh had said that the investigators were asking really ugly questions and pointing their finger at me and doing things like that.
they said you don't need to talk to anybody. you need to got a lawyer before you talk to anybody. >> reporter: and then the explanation for his long silence. >> the lawyer that i got after talking with him, he actually advised me to not go talk to the police. >> did you take that advice? >> yes, sir, i did. >> did he also tell you not to talk to anybody about that? >> that's exactly what he said. he said don't talk to anybody about anything. >> the defense also addressed the motives prosecutors had laid out that jason wanted to escape a bad marriage and keep custody of cassidy and spend time with his new love. >> did you have any designs in your own mind of leaving michelle young for michelle money? >> no, sir. >> describe why not. >> i think we both knew it was wrong. i don't think either one dreamed
that it would ever be found out. >> pushing me around. >> as for the violent episode with his ex-fiancee, jason had an explanation for it. >> did you throw her around on the bed like she said? >> no, sir. what i did was wrong. i did pin her down and i took the ring. >> okay. what was your level of intoxication at that time? >> i was very intoxicated. but i don't feel like that is an excuse for what i did. >> reporter: and they questioned him about the most important woman in his life. >> did you want to stay married to michelle? >> yes, i did. i wanted to have -- have another baby and i wanted the family to grow. >> reporter: he also explained why he gave up custody of his daughter without a fight. >> were you able to afford a lawyer for a full-blown custody battle? >> no, sir, i had -- due to the media and some of the internet website, the job that i had, i lost it. >> reporter: his testimony
lasted three hours. >> jason young was a very good witness. he understood what he had to do when he was on the stand. >> reporter: so he didn't come off as contrived or phony? like he had put this together very carefully in order to account for all of the evidence that they had? >> he had access to police reports. all of the discovery. he knew the state's vulnerabilities. and so he could arguably tailor his testimony to fit with an innocent explanation. >> reporter: how did jason young do? 12 jurors were about to decide. coming up, the prosecutor gets her chance to go one-on-one with jason young. >> coming up -- >> were you working on your marriage when you were having sex with carolyn sauerby in your home? ah, it ended to soon. help protect your pet, home, and yard. with the advantage fleaction plan.
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>> reporter: it was riveting. almost five years of silence about his wife's murder broken here in this courtroom. >> i love cassidy. and i loved michelle. >> and then he went to murder his wife. >> reporter: now prosecutor becky holt began pulling apart a story she was just hearing for the first time. >> were you working on your marriage when you were having sex with caroline sauerby in
your home less than two weeks before your wife was murdered? >> no, ma'am, that was not the way to work on a marriage. that was very detrimental. >> were you working on your marriage when you called michelle money? >> michelle and i confided a lot in each other. and we talked about my issues with my wife. and she talked about her issues with her husband. >> so is the answer yes, when you had an affair with michelle money that you were working on your marriage? >> no, ma'am. having the sexual intercourse and having the intimacy was very detrimental to that. >> reporter: the cross-examination lasted a full hour. and the next day the case went to the jury. >> retire to the jury deliberation room. >> reporter: it soon became clear jurors were having trouble. >> bailiff indicated that y'all have not yet reached a unanimous decision. >> reporter: the jurors were split 6-6. the judge sent them back to try to make it unanimous. >> everybody else remain. jurors leave first. thank you. >> reporter: but hours later they were back.
and courtroom 3c was still. >> it appears that they are hopelessly deadlocked at this point. >> reporter: eight jurors had voted for acquittal. four voted guilty. judge stephens declared a mistrial. was serious consideration given to dropping the case? >> i think there was serious consideration as to is there more we can do. >> reporter: so the prosecutors decided they would try again. but this time with the one thing they didn't have the first time. jason's own story. the second trial began in february 2012. this time howard cummings led the prosecution, hoping to use jason's own words to convict him. >> put your left hand on the bible, raise your right hand. >> reporter: but first prosecutors called that night clerk at the gas station, gracie, who remembered jason complaining about the locked pumps. >> when he came in to pay, he started cussing and raising cain. >> what time did this happen? >> that was about 5:00, 5:30 in the morning. the time jason said he was at the hotel.
>> call your next witness. >> reporter: then prosecutors had new witnesses and new testimony. they wanted jurors to hear about cassidy, whose bloody footprints they contended made her a silent witness to murder. >> when i got to cassidy, i said what are you doing? >> day care worker ashley pomentier took the stand. >> i noticed what she was doing. >> reporter: she told jurors she watched cassidy playing alone, days after her murder was murdered. >> she had the chair and the doll in her hand together. and then the mommy doll in the other hand. and she just hit them. >> reporter: as unsettling as it was, the prosecutors wanted jurors to know the killer had left a silent witness behind. a witness he would never harm. the fact that cassidy was spared, did that mean anything to you? or would that mean anything to a jury? >> certainly. it meant that the person that killed the mother, we felt, cared about cassidy.
>> i do. >> thank you. you may be seated. >> reporter: fiona childs took the stand. prosecutors pressed her about a life insurance policy jason arranged. >> it did raise a red flag -- >> reporter: and michelle questioned. >> that she brought up specifically her life insurance. she brought it up several times, asking me did i think a million dollars was too much and did they really need that. >> reporter: after michelle died, fiona found out the true amount of the policy was actually $4 million. >> i was just like in total shock. that is incredibly excessive. >> reporter: and prosecutors also told the jury about civil lawsuits against jason brought by michelle's mother and sister. one was a wrongful death case filed in 2008, a year before he was charged with murder. over the defense's objection, court clerk lauren freeman testified about that lawsuit. >> there is an alleged paragraph, paragraph 6, again reading verbatim from the record, "in the early morning hours of november 3rd, 2006, jason young brutally murdered
michelle young at their residence." >> reporter: freeman went on to testify that jason never responded to the allegations. and that led to a default judgment against him. that judgment said jason killed his wife. >> a default judgment does not mean the facts alleged in the civil complaint are true. it does not mean he's guilty. and the judge at the criminal trial told the jury that in his instructions. however, when you hear the statement "jason young brutally murdered his wife but that doesn't mean he's guilty, folks." hello. you know? >> reporter: and the prosecutor made sure the jury heard just who signed that ruling. >> i'm reading from this judgment which is signed actually by judge stephens. >> reporter: judge stephens, the very judge sitting before them in this trial. >> the jury hearing that, it's
just something that's going to carry a lot of weight. >> this is the complaint that was filed in december seeking custody of cassidy. >> reporter: prosecutors also called the attorney involved in that custody case over daughter cassidy, and those same allegations were repeated yet again. >> the jury heard several times through these two civil complaints that jason young brutally murdered michelle fisher young. >> reporter: but the headline came when prosecutors played jason young's entire testimony from the first trial -- >> i wanted her to have that. >> reporter: -- and began to rip it apart. >> i don't remember. >> reporter: prosecutors tried to show that jason's call to meredith to pick up those e-bay printouts was merely a ploy to get her to discover the body and find cassidy. why else would he print an e-bay auction ad leave it on the printer and hit the road where he couldn't bid during the actual auction? they called sergeant spivey to the stand. >> that auction was going to end 8:00 p.m. eastern standard time.
>> what day was that? >> that was on november 2nd, 2006. >> reporter: just hours before the murder. now prosecutors tried to prove jason lied about his reasons for leaving the hotel room. >> i didn't pull the door all the way -- >> reporter: in his original testimony, he told the court he left the first time to get a power cord for his laptop. >> why was it that you wanted to look on your laptop? >> i was going over the sales call that i had the next day. >> reporter: but special agent mike smith took the stand to say young didn't use his laptop for work that night. >> this is an internet site dedicated to sports. >> reporter: jason said he went out a second time to smoke a cigar. but prosecutors contended jason was a fierce anti-smoker and the weather that night was freezing, windy. >> can you tell me whether or not there was ever any substantial outerwear that the defendant either had in his luggage or was wearing? >> no, sir.
there was a suit jacket. >> okay. >> that was the only outerwear that i'm aware of. >> reporter: jason chose not to testify this time. but the defense fought back of course. they argued the gas station attendant's memory couldn't be trusted because of a childhood brain injury. >> i've had memory problems since '06 because i've been through a lot with myself and my kids and my ex-husband. >> reporter: the defense also argued the case really wasn't solved. that there was no physical evidence to prove jason was the killer. >> there wasn't one scratch on mr. young. >> reporter: that he never would have had time to make the trip and commit murder, that he didn't have the mind-set of a killer. and that cigar, it showed that jason young actually owned a humidor and he'd once made a purchase at a cigar store. >> you have ample evidence before you that jason young is not guilty. >> reporter: and then it was over again. and time for another jury to consider whether jason young would go to jail or walk out of court a free man.
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and friends had been waiting for answers. who killed their pretty pregnant michelle? many thought they knew. >> it was him. you know, i didn't know all the evidence. i didn't know half the things i know now. but i felt that way. >> one jury failed to decide. and now attorneys were making their final arguments to a second jury. >> be mad at him. hate him if you want to. but when you look at the physical evidence in this case, it does not match up. it does not match up to jason having killed his wife and unborn son. >> 30 blows? that's not from a stranger. that is a mad, mad domestic abuser. >> reporter: soon that jury was behind closed doors in the wake county superior court. after two days, they were back with a verdict. >> we the jury by unanimous verdict find the defendant jason lynn young to be guilty of the first degree murder of michelle >> reporter: guilty. first-degree murder. jason young didn't flinch. behind him his mother was equally stoic.
on the other side of the court, michelle young's bereaved mother and sister wept. fiona at home got the news from a friend. they said, "he's guilty." i was like, "what? what?" >> reporter: jason young received a life sentence. chose not to address the court. even as the bailiffs led him away, he remained expressionless. the prosecutors were, they told us, relieved. >> i was very emotional. you have family members there who you've been working with for 5 1/2 years. and they finally had justice, you know? >> we have been telling them for years, just trust. just trust that it'll be the right result. >> reporter: but was it? a year and a half ticked by. and then this. >> attorneys for jason young demanding a new trial saying the trial that led to his conviction
had significant errors. >> reporter: december 2013. jason young's new attorneys launched his appeal. >> who is the killer? is jason young the person responsible for ms. young's death? and you know, it seems fundamentally unfair. >> reporter: what was fundamentally unfair? remember during the trial, the attorney pointed out, the prosecution introduced testimony about those civil cases against jason brought by michelle's family. they accused jason of murder. >> jason young brutally murdered michelle young. >> the defendant brutally murdered michelle marie fisher young. >> reporter: way out of bounds, said the attorney. the jury should not have been allowed to hear about any of that. outside the court, michelle's sister meredith predicted the appeal would be thrown out. >> the jury came to the right verdict. we are confident it will stay. >> reporter: but she was wrong. >> a raleigh man is getting a third trial in the death of his pregnant wife.
>> reporter: in april 2014 the north carolina court of appeals granted jason a new trial. but a year later the state supreme court reversed the appeals court decision. and in 2017 yet another attempt but a year later the state supreme court reversed the appeals court decision. and in 2017 yet another attempt by jason young to get a third trial, this time on grounds his defense team was ineffective, was also denied. >> i love you, mommy. >> i love you too, cassidy. >> reporter: but children know little of the arcane world of motions and appeals. cassidy has grown. her father, her mother, snatches
of memory, ever farther away. >> that's all for this edition i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. thank you for watching. thank you for watching ♪ god, no! please, no! this can't be real! >> a teenager home alone in a night of terror. >> the windows. and trying to figure out how scared she must have been! >>t on her body like a signatu a hand print in blood. >> it was a crime of passion. theree was a lot of anger involved in this. but hang on! because that hand print doesn't belong to the man the police put in