Woman admits to shooting husband 23 times Donna Marie Young pleads guilty to 2nd-degree murder in March slaying PASADENA

September 22, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A Pasadena woman admitted yesterday to killing her husband last March by taking some practice shots in the back yard and then pumping 23 shots into him as he slept -- stopping only to reload.

Donna Marie Young, 32, of the first block of Margaret Ave., pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. She quietly admitted to Circuit Court Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. that she killed her 42-year-old husband, Henry Young, a short time after he returned home from work the morning of March 21.

Mrs. Young could be sentenced to as long as 30 years in prison. Sentencing has been tentatively scheduled for Nov. 8.

In court, Assistant State's Attorney Cynthia M. Ferris said Mrs. Young admitted to neighbors that she had a lover, was in financial straits and wanted her husband killed for the $331,000 insurance policy he carried through his job at the National Security Agency.

In the months before the murder, Mrs. Young approached two neighbors and asked them to kill him, offering to split the insurance money in one case, Ms. Ferris told Judge Thieme.

"This became a constant source of conversation, that she wanted her husband killed," she said.

Mrs. Young also told her children's baby-sitter that one of her three children was not the offspring of her husband of 11 years, but was her lover's child, Ms. Ferris said.

The three children are now living with maternal grandparents, Mr. Weathersbee said.

Ms. Ferris said that Mrs. Young spent the night before the murder "reloading shells" into the 10 mm handgun that she used. After placing her children in the family car, Mrs. Young tested the gun, which belonged to her husband, by shooting into a backyard compost heap.

Autopsy results showed the victim likely woke up after the first few shots were fired, putting his hands up in an attempt to shield his body from the bullets before he fell out of bed, Ms. Ferris said.

After the murder, Mrs. Young drove her children to a launderette, then drove home, called 911 and told police an intruder had killed her husband.

The two officers who responded were struck by Mrs. Young's calm demeanor, Ms. Ferris said. "While a little nervous, she was not hysterical, she was not particularly upset and she was not grief-stricken."

When later confronted by a police detective with the evidence and asked about her husband, Mrs. Young responded by asking him, "Would you want him?"

Police were later directed by Mrs. Young to where she hid the weapon, which she had wrapped in a paper bag and dumped under trash in a garbage bin.

Mitchell A. Greenberg, Mrs. Young's attorney, said Mrs. Young's statements to neighbors about wanting her husband killed would have been called into question if the case had gone to trial. "I think it could've been shown that . . . there was a strong possibility that she could have been joking," he said.

Mrs. Young had been scheduled for trial yesterday on first-degree murder charges, but agreed to plead guilty when Ms. Ferris offered to accept a plea to second-degree murder.

First-degree murder carries the possibility of a life sentence, but to win a conviction a prosecutor must establish that the murder was premeditated. A second-degree murder conviction does not require premeditation.

State's attorney Frank R. Weathersbee said evidence from defense attorneys that Mrs. Young was a battered spouse created the possibility that a judge or jury could decide on a manslaughter conviction, a lesser offense than second-degree murder.

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