Civil Court Rules Man Killed Wife Despite Lack of Criminal Charges

More than two years after Michelle Young was found bludgeoned to death, her young daughter in bed nearby, her relatives have received a measure of justice -- though not the kind they were ultimately hoping for.

A North Carolina civil court judge has ruled that Michelle Young's husband, Jason Young, killed the 29-year-old mother in November 2006, even though no criminal charges have yet been filed in the slaying.

"Jason Lynn Young willfully and unlawfully killed Michelle Marie Fisher Young," Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens wrote in his ruling. He also barred Jason Young, 34, from receiving any life insurance money or assets from his wife's estate.

Jason Young, who declined to comment for this story, is still free and living in North Carolina with his young daughter.

The wrongful death lawsuit against him was brought by his wife's mother, Linda Fisher, in October, shortly before the two-year statute of limitations on such suits was to run out.

When Jason Young didn't respond to the civil suit, the judge granted a motion for a default judgment in Fisher's favor.

Paul Michaels, Fisher's lawyer in Raleigh, said they are hoping the civil court ruling will spur the criminal probe of the case. Jason Young has not been named as a suspect.

"Something had to be done," Michaels told ABCNews.com. "The main reason this was done was Linda Fisher believed Jason killed Michelle."

At least one police investigator agrees.

Included as evidence in Fisher's lawsuit was an affidavit from Wake County Sheriff's Office criminal investigator R. C. Spivey III, a lead investigator in the case.

Spivey wrote in the affidavit: "I am familiar with other items of fact developed during this investigation that have not been placed in the public record to support a search warrant and, in my opinion, this evidence … indicates that Jason Young was the perpetrator."

When asked why no charges had been filed against Jason Young despite a signed affidavit from the department's investigator naming him as the likely killer, Wake County Sheriff's Office public information director Phyllis Stephens had no comment.

"It's a continuing investigation for us," she said.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings said that explaining why Jason Young has not been charged would require revealing evidence that he's not allowed to comment on.

Cummings said Stephens' ruling would not further his office's investigation into Jason Young because it was based largely on police statements, which the District Attorney's Office has already reviewed. He also declined to comment on when or whether charges in Michelle Young's murder would be forthcoming.

'She Shined'

Michelle Young, described by friends and family as the quintessential American girl, was found beaten to death on the floor of her bedroom in her home outside Raleigh Nov. 3, 2006. Her 2-year-old daughter, Cassidy, who police believe may have been drugged, was found in bed near her mother's body with clean feet despite child-size bloody footprints found elsewhere in the house.

Michelle Young was five months pregnant with the couple's child, a son to have been named Rylan.

"I think she truly became a total, whole person when she became a mom," Fisher told ABCNews.com. "Because she shined through that."

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