A toddler's emotional reaction to her mother's death. An exchange of emails in a troubled marriage - and a sharp contrast between an exchange of emails between the husband and his lover.
And more details on the crucial evidence that will decide if Jason Young goes to prison or goes free.
It all played out Monday in Wake County Superior Court as the murder trial of Jason Young entered its third week with a full day of testimony that was riveting at times, wrenching at others - and revealing as the trial moves toward conclusion.
Here is NBC-17's live blog:
5:08 p.m.: Two closing points as agent Greg Tart of the SBI concluded his testimony Monday.
Tart testified that he could not find the newspaper carrier that Gracie Dahms Calhoun said was in her store the night she said she identified Jason Young.
Defense attorney Mike Klinkosum, on cross examination, got Tart to say that Calhoun couldn't recall any specific details about Young when he talked to her about a year later. Calhoun's testimony is critical because if her testimony is true, then Young's defense can not be true.
Klinkosum pressed Tart on the fact that Wake County Sheriff's Deputies had not seized some of Young's clothes - for example, the clothes he was wearing when he returned to Raleigh Nov. 3, 2006. In theory, Young could have been wearing the shirt and shoes that were missing that day.
3:50 p.m.: SBI agent Greg Tart said his investigation into has not found the dark shirt with a stripe that Jason Young was wearing among midnight Nov. 2, 2006,.
He also said he has not found a Hushpuppy shoe that Jason Young purchased on July 4, 2005, nor has he found a Franklin athletic shoe that left footprints at the crime scene.
Tart investigated the Young home and Pat Young's home in Brevard, as well as Jason Young's sister's home and a storage unit near Brevard.
3:17 p.m.: SBI agent Greg Tart said investigators learned Jason Young bought a Hushpuppy shoe on July 4, 2005.
“The Hushpuppy he bought had the same sole design as the sole design in the crime scene,” Tart testified.
2:57 p.m.: The defense had only a few questions for CCBI agent Beth Whitney. Defense attorney Bryan Collins got her to testify that there were other emails in the computer that expressed love between Jason and Michelle Young.
Whitney also testified that there were searches on the computer for purses. On Nov. 3, 2006, of course, Jason called Meredith Fisher and asked her to go to the house to grab a printout he had left on a bag he had ordered for Michelle.
1:39 p.m.: A long series of emails between Jason Young and Michelle Young, and between Jason Young and Michelle Money, painted a dramatic picture Monday of a flailing marriage and Jason’s infidelity.
CCBI agent Beth Whitney, who examined the Youngs’ home computer, read a long exchange between Jason and his wife dated around Oct. 24, 2006.
In that exchange, Michelle Young sent Jason a long email, and he interspersed his comments after hers. The depth of their troubles is clear as they discuss counseling, her mother, and his desire to have time to be with his friends.
“Our communication is something I hope we can really improve upon in counseling,” wrote Michelle Young.
Jason, in a response, said he was “not opposed” to going to a counselor, but felt that she had to resolve issues on her end first – including a sexual assault that happened in college, and her parents’ divorce.
“After that if we need to see a counselor for you and I, then fine,” Jason wrote.
(Michelle did, in fact, see a counselor Oct. 27, 2006 and cried the entire hour).
Michelle wrote, “We argue over little things and they turn into big things.” She said she is “def[initely] a person that craves attention,” and Jason responded, “Craving attention is one thing, but making things up to get it is TOO much …
“When you thrive on ‘drama’ so much that you lie to create that drama, that is not being genuine and people see right through it whether you realize it or not.”
The stress between the two over the issue of Linda Fisher, Michelle’s mother, was obvious. Fisher had been planning to move to North Carolina to help with their second child.
“I agree that we need to figure out a balance with Mom,” Michelle Young wrote. “It’s just a delicate issue. I know you don’t think I don’t come down on hard on her but I do.”
Jason responded with firmness that he did not want her mother living with them, and spending long amounts of time with them over the 2006 holiday season.
“I am not spending my entire holiday season with my mother in law at my house,” he said. If Linda Fisher were there often, he said, “then I will spend my Christmas elsewhere.”
Money wrote him on Oct. 28 that she “would change things if I could but I can’t … I love that we are open and caring and loving and sharing with each other. I feel so lucky that I have all that from you and have you in my life. ILY [I love you].”
In reply, “Missing you so much. Got a nice beer buzz.” He went on to say he Meredith Fisher had done some counseling between him and Michelle Young, and he appreciated how level-headed Meredith was.
“Thank God for Meredith,” he wrote.
But he also lavished praise on Michelle Money, saying, “Your combo of being completely sexy and hot and being so cool is so rare.
“I don’t know how this all happened but I know how it will end up. Two broken hears. But I don’t care. You are so amazing and you don’t even know it. You make me a better person and this world a better place.
“Y always. JY.”
Money wrote back, “Missing you so much,” and referenced her difficulties in her own marriage.
“I am sad for you and Michelle that it not a good mix. I wish things were different for all of us,” she wrote. Referring to her husband, she said, “Around Steve, I feel like Man, I can’t make this guy happy.”
12:11 p.m.: Beth Whitney, a computer forensics expert for CCBI, said she examined the Youngs' family computer. She noted four searches in particular:
* "Anatomy of a knockout" in Yahoo.com
* "Head trauma blackout" in Yahoo.com
* "Head blow knockout" in Ask.com.
* "Head trauma" in Webmd.com.
She said she could not tell when those searches were made. She also said they had been deleted in the computer but the computer retained a record of them.
11:14 a.m.: The prosecution put two of Cassidy Young’s day care workers on the stand Monday morning, trying to demonstrate to the jury that Michelle Young’s 2-year old daughter had seen the murder of her mother.
Brooke Bass, who was one of Cassidy’s co-teachers at the Country Sunshine facility on Avent Ferry Road, testified that Cassidy was a “very smart” student at the time.
“Her verbal skills were very advanced for her age,” she said.
Cassidy, for example, was already potty trained and was a social child who generally hung out with friends.
Michelle Young was found dead on Friday, Nov. 3, 2006. Cassidy returned to day care on Monday.
“She kind of kept to herself a little bit more than she normally did,” Bass testified. “She loved her friends and was very social. She kept to herself more. That’s the only thing I noticed.”
On Thursday, the children were playing outside when Bass and her co-teacher, Ashley Palmatier, saw Cassidy playing with two dolls.
“I was walking around, asking what are you doing”” Palmatier remembered. “I just asked Cassidy what are you doing?”
Cassidy had a doll with long brown hair in one hand, one she referred to as the “mommy doll.” The other doll was an older woman with white hair.
“She was striking one doll with the other doll and the chair,” Palmatier said. “And she said mommy has boo boos all over her.”
She added, “While she was hitting the doll, she said, ‘Mommy is getting a spanking for biting.’ And when she laid the doll down, she said, “Mommy has boo boos all over.’”
Palmatier said Cassidy would use the term “boo boos” to describe an injury that involved blood.
After seeing that, Palmatier said, she tapped Bass on the shoulder so she would see it, too.
“I didn’t say anything to her,” Palmatier said of Cassidy. “I continued to watch her hit one doll with the other. I tapped my co-worker, Brooke, on the shoulder so she could see as well. I witnessed her place the one doll on the bed face down - the doll with the brown hair and the pony tail.”
The prosection and defense clashed over what the older doll might represent. Cassidy had gotten the dolls from a bucket with about 10-12 dolls, and the only other larger doll in the group was a male doctor with scrubs on.
Prosecutor Howard Cummings pointed out that the “mommy” doll had long brown hair like Michelle, and that the other doll, while a female, was larger and might represent Jason. But the defense objected to that question, and judge Donald Stephens sustained. He had told the jury previously they could only use the day care workers’ testimony to determine whether Cassidy had witnessed the murder.
Palmatier had testified Friday with the jury out and Stephens ruled she could testify to the jury.
Defense attorney Mike Klinkosum, in his cross examination, pointed out that Cassidy had identified one doll – the mommy doll – by gender and called it the mommy doll. He asked if Cassidy identified the other doll, and Palmatier said no.
Prosecutor Howard Cummings followed up, asking if Cassidy identified a gender for that doll at all, and Palmatier said no.
It’s a subtle, but important, point – the prosecution sought to suggest that the older doll, which is bigger and sterner looking – could represent Jason, or least an assailant, while the defense is suggesting the play action doesn’t tie Jason to the scene.
The day Cassidy used the dolls was her last at Country Sunshine. Palmatier called police investigators at nap time and explained what had happened.
Later, she said, media outlets were at the day care. She said Jason Young did not bring Cassidy to the day care after that.
The day care workers made two other points about Jason.
Bass remembered speaking to Jason and congratulating him on Michelle’s pregnancy. She was pregnant with a boy at the time she died.
“He replied that that was the only way he could get Michelle to have sex with him,” she said, remembering that comment distinctly.
And Palmatier remembered being at a memorial service for Michelle.
“He was in the hallway rather than by the casket,” she said. “He wasn’t crying. He didn’t seem as sad as one would expect.
9:56 a.m.: The state of North Carolina plans to call some of Cassidy’s care givers to the stand.
One will be Brooke Bass, who worked at the day care in Raleigh where Cassidy went.
Judge Donald Stephens just gave the jury instructions on what may be considered.
“The testimony with regard to people who observed the child is going to be limited for your consideration,” Stephens said. “The testimony of the child’s conduct and statement will be allowed for one purpose only. If you find the testimony of these witnesses is accurate and true, you may consider their testimony in determining whether the child witnessed some part of the assualt on their mother.”
Stephens told the jury, “You may not consider this evidence for any other purpose.”
Stephens told the jurors they could not use the testimony to consider the identity of the assailant.
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