Testimony wraps in GR murder, dismemberment trial

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The fate of the man charged with murdering 31-year-old Ashley Young and dismembering her body will soon be in the hands of a jury.

Testimony in the Jared Chance trial ended Thursday afternoon before a long shot attempt by his defense attorney to get the case thrown out for a lack of evidence.

While prosecutors called numerous witnesses and shared a stack of evidence during the three days of testimony, they couldn’t tell jurors for certain how Young died because her head, hands and feet are still missing. The defense says that prosecutors don’t have any direct evidence actually proving Chance killed her.

The defense never called a witness during the trial, focusing only on vulnerabilities in the investigation, including the DNA of others found on crime scene evidence and why police didn’t test DNA from witnesses who testified in the case.

However, lead Detective Erika Fannon remained steadfast about their police work, describing the hundreds of hours spent on the case against Chance.

Much of Thursday was spent focusing on DNA and autopsy evidence. Forensic pathologist Dr. David Start testified Young died from something that happened to her head, not drugs, alcohol, heart issues or any other natural cause. He said the blood and tissue on Young’s hooded sweatshirt recovered from a dumpster near Chance’s apartment indicates she died from either blunt force trauma or a gunshot to the head.

Start said the Oshtemo Township woman was dismembered with a saw after she died.

Ashley Young 120218_1543797265615.jpg.jpg
An undated courtesy photo of Ashley Young.

Detectives also traced the movements of Young, Chance and Chance’s mother using cellphone tower data. Grand Rapids Police Department Detective Tim DeVries testified Young and Chance’s phones showed they moved together until the morning of Nov. 29 when her phone stopped working.

On Dec. 1, data showed Chance and his mother’s phones intersect. That’s the same day Chance’s family picked up him and some of his things from his apartment, visiting Costco and their home before bringing Chance back to his apartment, according to earlier testimony.

Wednesday, Chance’s brother told the jury he recalled a cardboard box was among the things they picked up and dropped back off on the landing area of the stairs leading to Chance’s apartment. A crime scene technician testified to finding a box on the stairs and that it contained human body parts which tests showed belonged to Young.

The jury also heard nearly two hours of testimony Thursday from Michigan State Police DNA expert David Hayhurst about what investigators discovered at the homes of Chance and his parents.

Hayhurst told the jury that Young’s DNA was found on molding in the kitchen of Chance’s home on Franklin Street, as well as on a saw blade and a hoodie taken from a dumpster where Chance had been recorded dumping items.

Young’s DNA was also found on a saw found beneath a couch at the Holland home of Chance’s parents, who are charged with perjury and being an accessory after the fact in the mutilation and disinterment of a dead body.

The jury also heard from Grand Rapids Police Department Lt. Pat Merrill who talked to Young’s mother when she tried to report her daughter missing.

A day later, Chance would come to GRPD headquarters with his father, a former police officer, to claim that he was the victim of harassment on Facebook by people who knew Young, according to police.

Chance’s father stopped him from talking to Merrill without an attorney.

Defense attorney Andrew Rodenhouse questioned Merrill about why he didn’t detain Chance then. Merrill said the exchange with the Chances lasted less than a minute and he had no ability to detain Chance because there was no active case and Chance asserted his right to remain silent without an attorney.

After rejecting a plea deal earlier this week, Chance faces charges of second-degree murder, mutilation of a dead body, concealing a death and three counts of tampering with evidence. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Closing arguments in the case will start Friday morning before jury deliberations begin.

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