Jury finds Jared Chance guilty of murder, mutilation

Posted at 3:13 PM, Sep 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-13 18:21:09-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A jury has found Jared Chance guilty of the murder of a Kalamazoo County woman.

The case was handed to jurors around 11:30 a.m. Friday following closing arguments. Around 3:10 p.m., the judge delivered the verdict: guilty on all counts.

Chance was charged with second-degree murder, mutilation of a dead body, concealing death and three counts of tampering with evidence in the death of 31-year-old Ashley Young.

He will be sentenced Oct. 10.

Young’s body was found in the basement of Chance’s apartment late last year after his neighbor found blood in a shared basement and called police. Officers found parts of Young’s body in a tarp and box in the basement, but are still searching for other pieces.

During closing arguments Friday, prosecutors told the jurors that Chance had repeatedly lied throughout the investigation.

"Like any good liar — really good liars — ladies and gentleman, they'll pepper the truth in with their lies so the beginning of the story matches up," said Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Lawrence Boivin.

Boivin said Chance deceived investigators to avoid getting caught.

"Why do people lie? Why do kids lie when they've got cookie crumbs on their face and there's no cookies in the cookie jar? They're lying because they don't want to get caught," he said. "They're trying to deceive you."

Throughout the trial, Chance's attorney tried to convince jurors that he didn't kill Young because there is no concrete evidence or motive. Medical examiners have been unable to determine an official cause of death because Young's hands, feet and head haven't been found.

"I've heard no motive and motive is not something that the prosecution has to prove, but for what purpose?" said Andrew Rodenhouse, the defense attorney. "You saw the text messages 'I just kissed him.' He admitted he liked her ... So did he intend to kill her? They have to prove that. I can't prove otherwise."

Prosecutors offered Chance a plea deal that would have allowed him to avoid the possibility of a life sentence by making a full confession that included saying where the missing body parts are.

Instead, Chance told the judge to go to trial.

On the first day of testimony Tuesday, Grands Rapids Police Sgt. Greg Alcala testified on what he saw when he entered Chance’s basement. He told jurors the basement had the smell of death.

Mario Nelson, the neighbor who called police, also testified Tuesday and said Chance was acting strange in the days leading to Young’s death — touching a revolver and claiming he knew how to cover up a crime.

Young’s mother Kristine Young also talked about the difficulty she had been having getting in touch with her daughter.

In the second day of testimony Wednesday, an acquaintance of Chance took the stand and said he had been asked to lie to Kristine Young about interacting with her daughter.

Last to testify Wednesday was Chance’s brother Konrad, who said there were a lot of details he couldn’t remember. He did recall going to Grand Rapids from Holland with his parents after Ashley Young disappeared.

Konrad Chance testified his brother seemed upset and their family helped him load some items into a vehicle and remove things from Ashley Young’s vehicle.

Chance’s parents, Barbara and James Chance, are facing charges for allegedly helping their son cover up the murder.

The primary focus during the final day of testimony Thursday was forensics. Among the people who took the stand were a medical examiner, a forensics expert and a Grand Rapids detective.

Kent County’s deputy chief medical examiner said he couldn’t rule out the possibility Ashley Young died to natural causes — like Jared Chance’s defense attorney argued through the trial — but said it was highly unlikely her death was natural.