Thursday, January 24, 2002

Jailed since 2000, accused acquitted

Hamilton woman was killed in 1999

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — A complex murder case that relied mostly on circumstantial evidence ended in an acquittal Wednesday.

        After nearly three hours of deliberations, a Butler County Common Pleas jury of four men and eight women found Randy Young, 38, not guilty of three charges: murder, felonious assault and abuse of a corpse.

        The charges stemmed from the April 1999 death of Tammy Esther McClellan, 36, of Hamilton, whose body was found in Crawford Woods Park.

        She died from the combined effects of cocaine use and a physical attack that left marks on her neck and left her right eye swollen shut. She also had a piece of wood jammed in her mouth.

        “I told everyone in the beginning I didn't do it, but they didn't believe me,” Mr. Young said after the verdict.

        Mr. Young, was the last person seen smoking crack cocaine with the victim before she died.

        He has done state prison time for burglary and testified that he had a long-time drug habit.

        Jailed as a suspect in the case since September 2000, Mr. Young pressed his palms to his forehead and wept after Judge Keith Spaeth read the jury's unanimous verdict in a retrial of a case that had left another jury deadlocked last August.

        Court officials said acquittals in murder cases are rare in Butler County.

        “I had a lot of attorneys — who are older and wiser — tell me I would never get an acquittal on a murder case,” said Melynda Cook-Reich, a court-appointed lawyer who says she worked hundreds of hours on Mr. Young's defense. “I honestly believe Randy Young did not do this.”

        Assistant Prosecutor Lee Oldendick, jurors and Ms. McClellan's distraught loved ones left the courtroom without comment.

        Ms. McClellan's mother, Shirley Simpson of Hamilton, attended both trials and has said she was convinced of Mr. Young's guilt. Ms. Simpson has seen two of her four children slain. Her son, Clayton Adams, 21, was found shot to death in a Fairfield Township ditch in 1974 — a case that remains unsolved.

        “For Randy Young, justice has been done,” Ms. Cook-Reich said. “For the family (of Ms. McClellan), there's still someone out there — and it's not Randy Young.”


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