Far too many people are wrongfully charged and convicted in the United States each year. One studyreported that as many as 10,000 people are wrongfully convicted every year. Once a wrongful conviction has occurred it can be extremely difficult to overturn. Despite this, the Innocence Project has exonerated 280 people based on solid DNA evidence. Society has an obligation to ensure that law enforcement on all levels apprehend the correct people and that convictions are based on solid evidence and not just circumstancial evidence that ignores other likely suspects.
And this is why 15 year old Josh Young needs your help. After he was indicted for murder, Josh'sdefender told the media that "the defense had a witness it wanted to present to the grand jury that indicted Young last week, but jurors chose not to hear the testimony 'for whatever reason." It is unfortunate they refused to hear all testimony pertaining to Josh because there is another person involved in this case with the motive, the opportunity, and the criminal background to suggest potential involvement...
In May of 2011, 14 year old Trey Zwicker was murdered. He was found by a group of students in a ditch behind Liberty High School in Kentucky. Trey had reportedly been beaten to death, though it is unclear how long he was in the ditch or if he was actually murdered in that area.
15 year old Josh Young has been charged as an adult for the murder even though Josh's grandmother hasnamed her own son (the father of Josh Young and the stepfather of Trey) as Trey's real killer. She told the press that Josh's father "knows the whole truth about what happened that night" and has left "his son hanging" for the crime. She told the local news, "Big Josh told me at first he did it, and that's who they need to be looking at." She referred to her son as a "monster". Even Trey's own family believes that Josh's father was involved in the murder.
Despite suspicion from his mother and Trey's family, as well as an extensive criminal record that includes a kidnapping charge, assault, and a number of protective orders, the stepfather of Trey and biological father of the accused has not faced criminal charges in relation to the murder.
Instead, Josh Young was arrested after Trey's mother filed a protective order against Gouker (click here to read contents of that order) and he fled the area with his son. Before the two left, members of Trey's family contacted social services with concerns that Gouker would leave town with his son, Josh. Sure enough, the two did leave town and Gouker was subsequently arrested for kidnapping a woman and forcing her at gunpoint to drive for an hour and a half before dropping off Gouker, his son Josh, and Gouker's girlfriend. Shortly after Gouker's arrest, 15 year old Josh Young was arrested and charged with first degree murder and evidence tampering after the father implicated him in Trey's murder.
There are many problems with this case. First, Josh is being tried as an adult for Trey's murder and faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. Second, Trey's own stepfather has a criminal record, is suspected by multiple family members of being involved in the crime, and fled town after the murder. Why is a 15 year old child facing adult charges when the evidence suggests his father perpetrated the crime? If convicted in adult court, Josh could be sentenced to the maximum penalty of life in prison.
Josh Young has no criminal record. He had only been living with his father for a short time after his dad got out of prison when his stepbrother Trey was murdered. By existing accounts, Josh and Trey got along. There is no motive for him to have committed this crime and he has no history at all of violent behavior.
We, the undersigned, are asking for two things:
First, we ask that the prosecution drop their prosecution of Josh Young in adult criminal court. He is a 15 year old child without any history of violence. He is not an adult.
We also implore the state of Kentucky to avoid wrongfully prosecuting and convicting a minor child in adult court and to do everything in its power to ensure true justice for every person involved, including Trey Zwicker, Trey's family, and Josh Young.
To find out more about Josh's case and other cases involving juveniles charged in the adult criminal justice system please visit www.justice4juveniles.com.