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Former WNC man convicted of killing pregnant wife is trying to get 3rd trial

Jason Young, who moved to Etowah following his wife's death and had family in Brevard, was convicted during his second trial in 2012 -- after a hung jury in his first trial. Now he's trying to get a third trial. (photo credit: WTVD)

A man with mountain ties who was convicted of killing his pregnant wife inside their Cake County home is trying to get a third trial.

Jason Young, who moved to Etowah following his wife's death and had family in Brevard, was convicted during his second trial in 2012 -- after a hung jury in his first trial.

Now a Wake County judge is deciding whether Young's attorneys botched the case.

Before either of Young's criminal trials, his wife's family sued him in civil court for wrongful death and custody of the couple's daughter. He didn't respond to those suits and was declared the killer by default.

In his second trial, prosecutors used that ruling against Young.

Young's trial attorney - now a judge - took the stand Thursday and said he concentrated on arguing against the appropriateness of the evidence. He admitted neither he nor his co-counsel researched the legality of civil judgments as evidence in criminal court.

"I didn't look for cases or statutes or anything like that. I tried to come up with an argument that prejudicial effect of this evidence substantially outweighed its probative value because that's all I could think of," Bryan Collins said.

Young was convicted of beating his wife Michelle to death in 2006 and leaving their toddler daughter in the house with her mother's body.

A high-profile defense attorney hired by Young's new defense team said, while both of Young's trial attorneys were excellent lawyers, they messed up in this case.

The hearing wrapped up Thursday afternoon. The judge's ruling, which may determine whether Young gets a third trial, will come later.

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