GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The case of a father accused of helping his son cover up the dismemberment of a woman is in the hands of a jury.
They will decide whether James Chance, 77, is guilty or not guilty of perjury and being an accessory after the fact in the dismemberment of Ashley Young, who Chance’s son, Jared Chance, was convicted of murdering.
Jurors deliberated for more than four hours Friday before the judge sent them home for the day. The seven women and five men will return to the courthouse Monday morning to attempt to reach a verdict.
Friday’s proceedings started with impassioned closing arguments from attorneys for both sides.
Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Lawrence Boivin argued that James Chance, who was a police officer for 24 years before retiring in 1989, used his experience to help his son cover up the crime.
“Of course he has a motive. That’s a no-brainer. His motive, ladies and gentlemen, is to help Jared get away with Ashley’s mutilation,” Boivin told the jury.
He said James Chance omitted details about stops the family made between Grand Rapids, where Young was killed in late 2018, and the family home in Holland. Some of Young’s remains and other evidence were in his vehicle at the time. Boivin said James Chance’s failure to tell investigators everything that happened hindered the investigation and may have prevented the recovery of Young’s body parts.
He said that the family’s Dec. 2, 2018, visit to the Grand Rapids Police Department after Chance’s son confessed to his parents was a ruse to buy time. Boivin said James Chance could have simply told police what happened and that he had the evidence — but he didn’t. The family ultimately left police headquarters because James Chance insisted on having an attorney present and police would not provide one because no arrest had been made.
“The moment he walked out of GRPD and his wife put the car in drive and they left, that evidence was tampered with and moved and it was done so with the purpose to help Jared,” Boivin said.
He also alleged that James Chance “damn well knew” that part of Young’s remains were in the cardboard box his son had put in his car. In a December 2018 interview with police, James Chance said he did not think any remains were in the box.
The prosecutor went on to imply to the jury that James Chance himself disposed of Young’s head in the trash at his home — a theory Boivin had previously presented to the judge without the jury in the room, though no evidence to that effect was put forth during two and a half days of testimony this week.
“He got rid of evidence that was at his house. He lied to us under oath about where he went. He lied to us about what time he went back. All in calculated effort to try and help his son get away with what he did to Ashley,” Boivin said.
When it was her turn to give a closing argument, defense attorney Laura Joyce said any omissions in her client’s interviews with police were the result of a faulty memory, not a deliberate lie.
“He has to sit here today and suffer the indignity of being pointed at and called a liar. He’s not a liar,” Joyce said. “He’s confused about time and, yeah, maybe he forgot that (his wife) went and bought a pot pie at Costco.”
She reminded jurors that her client told investigators his son should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, that he tried to give helpful information and that he delivered his son to police.
“Jim Chance has the courage to bring his son to the police department,” she said, adding he did more than he was lawfully required to do to aid authorities. “How dare the prosecutor allege that they (the Chance family) took two hours to figure out some sort of different plan? How dare he? He took his son to face the consequences for murder.”
She said prosecuting James Chance was “unconscionable, irresponsible” and “unbelievable.”
The partial remains of Young, 31, of Oshtemo Township, were found later Dec. 2, 2018, in the Grand Rapids house where Jared Chance was renting an apartment. During an investigative subpoena interrogation with James Chance in December 2018, James Chance told investigators that his son said he had dumped other parts of Young’s body in trash cans around metro Grand Rapids. Her head, hands and feet have not been recovered.
—News 8’s Barton Deiters contributed to this report.