GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Despite a plea offer that could have shaved decades off his potential sentence and a huge stack of evidence against him, accused killer Jared Chance chose to go to trial for the murder and dismemberment of Ashley Young.
It was a surprise to many, including his lawyer, that Chance turned down the plea offer Monday. But this is a man who police say bragged that he could get away with murder.
The prosecution says that on the night of Nov. 28, Young, 31, of Oshtemo Township, and Chance, 30, went to Mulligan’s Pub and Billy’s Lounge in Grand Rapids’ Eastown neighborhood before going back to his apartment on Franklin Street SE near Dolbee Avenue. Days later, one of Chance’s neighbors discovered Young’s tarp-covered torso in the basement, leading to Chance’s arrest.
Prosecutors have cellphone records, video, blood and DNA evidence that they will convince a jury that Chance killed Young. The prosecution will also show the grisly crime scene photos of the torso. But the prosecution will not be able to tell jurors for certain how Young died because her head, hands and feet have not been found.
As he heard the evidence against him laid out during a morning hearing, Chance remained seemingly unmoved as he has throughout all his court appearances — and told the judge quietly that he would be going to trial.
The prosecution will pursue convictions for second-degree murder, mutilation of a body, concealing the death of a person and three counts of tampering with evidence as a habitual offender. Sentencing guidelines call for between 27 and 87 years in prison as a minimum and up to life as a maximum. The deal Chance rejected would have capped the minimum at 31 years. That sentencing decision would be made by Kent County Circuit Court Judge Mark Trusock, who is known for his lengthy sentences, which made Chance’s decision even more surprising.
If Chance had taken the deal, he would had to tell authorities exactly what happened to Young, including what happened to the missing remains.
The decision not to go for first-degree murder was likely made because of a lack of evidence regarding the manner of death and intent.
“We will not be able to present evidence of photos of her hands because he disposed of that. We will not be able to show the jury photos of her feet because he disposed of that. Nor will we be able to show any photos of the head where the cause of death is because he disposed of that,” Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Lawrence Boivin said.
To get a second-degree murder conviction, the prosecution has to prove that Chance killed Young before he used a saw to dismember her body and dispose of the parts, likely in a dumpster that would have been sent to an incinerator.
Boivin said in addition to 26 witnesses, he will present the jury with 260 exhibits. That includes video of Chance buying ammonia from Miss Tracy’s Liquor Store near the scene of the crime on Franklin Street SE. The ammonia bottle was later found in the back of Chance’s parents’ Honda.
Chance’s brother Konrad will say he saw his parents and Jared loading things — including a mop that smelled awful — into the Honda.
Police say they found a reciprocating saw with blades covered with Ashley Young’s blood and tissue at Chance’s parents’ home in Holland. The parents are both charged with perjury and being accessories after the fact in the case.
The jury will also hear from Chance’s neighbor Mario Nelson, who found the torso and who said Chance tried to get him to lie about Young’s whereabouts.
“The defendant would go on to tell Mario about how he knew how to get away with a murder, he knew how to clean up a scene. Prophetic, unfortunately,” Boivin said.
The trial is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. The jury seated Monday includes 11 women and three men. Two of those people will be dismissed before deliberation starts.