Testimony in murder, mutilation case concludes

Jared Chance (left) appears in court on Sept. 12, 2019 in Grand Rapids, Mich.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Testimony has concluded in the trial of a man accused of murdering a woman and then mutilating her body.

Prosecutors wrapped up their case against Jared Chance on Thursday, which was primarily focused on forensic evidence in the death of 31-year-old Ashley Young.

Among the people who testified were a Grand Rapids police detective, a medical examiner and a forensics expert.

From the start, Chance’s defense attorney has focused on a lack of an official cause of death, which hasn’t been determined because Young’s hands, head and feet still haven’t been found.

On Thursday, Kent County Deputy Chief Medical Examiner David Start said it is unlikely she died of natural causes.

While holding up Young’s sweatshirt filled with stains, prosecutors asked Start if he thought the shirt would look like that if she died of natural causes.

“No, in particular, if that substance — it seems to be consistent with dried blood or tissue or both,” Start responded. “And if someone had a stroke I wouldn`t expect to see that degree of blood and or tissue on that shirt, no.”

Chance’s attorney asked Start if he could rule out the possibility that Young’s death was accidental. Start said he could rule out a drug overdose but said there’s a number of ways she could have accidentally died from a head or neck injury.

“But again, considering the overall circumstances of the case, I’m certainly not comfortable with this being an accidental death,” he said.

Grand Rapids Detective Tim DeVries took the stand Thursday and was questioned about the signal from Young’s cellphone, which disappeared after 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 29. It was last pinged near Kalamazoo Avenue and 28th Street near Chance’s phone, DeVries said.

Less than 30 minutes later, Chance’s phone moved south to 44th Street and Kalamazoo Avenue, but Young’s phone wasn’t recording data. Her phone hasn’t sent out a signal or been found since.

Closing arguments will be delivered Friday morning and then the case will be handed to the jury for a decision. A verdict could be decided by the end of the day.

Chance is facing charges of second-degree murder, mutilation of a dead body, concealing death and three counts of tampering with evidence. He could be sentenced to life in prison after rejecting a plea deal earlier this week.

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