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Minister’s Case Goes To Jury After Closing Arguments

March 4, 1987

PORT ANGELES, Wash. (AP) _ A jury on Tuesday deliberated the fate of a minister accused of shooting his wife to death in a parsonage and making it look like a bungled burglary.

The trial of the Rev. Grady Young went to the Clallam County Superior Court jury Monday following three hours of closing arguments from defense attorney Craig Ritchie and Prosecutor David Bruneau.

Judge Gary Velie gave the case to jurors late Monday, after they listened to three hours of detailed closing arguments from defense attorney Craig Ritchie and Prosecutor David Bruneau. The jury ended its deliberations for the day late Tuesday afternoon.

Young, 61, is charged with first-degree murder in the Aug. 9 shooting death of his 55-year-old wife, Elva Mae, who played piano and taught Sunday school at the church.

Prosecutors contend Young ambushed his wife at the mobile home that serves as the parsonage for Hillcrest Baptist Church because he was tired of being married, but didn’t want the possible scandal of a divorce.

If convicted, Young could face a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.

The killing caused a sensation in Port Angeles, a mill town on the Olympic Peninsula and Strait of Juan de Fuca, about 60 miles northwest of Seattle. Velie’s courtroom played to a packed house throughout, and nearly a dozen citizens camped in the courthose Tuesday so as not to miss the verdict.

In his closing Monday, Bruneau hammered on the theory that Young quietly bought the .22-caliber murder weapon in Seattle and then set up the murder scene to make it appear his wife stumbled on a burglar who killed her.

″This is the man that would live the lie and have people believe he didn’t like guns,″ Bruneau said. ″I submit Elva found out (the truth) just moments before her death.″

Ritchie countered that what might appear to be strong circumstantial evidence - such as Young’s fingerprints being found on a plastic bag in which the murder weapon was wrapped and hidden - actually speaks against his committing the crime.

″It is inconceivable that a person of average intelligence would not believe in a homicide investigation there would be a search,″ he said.

″If Grady Young committed this crime and was trying not to get caught, it would not be a good idea to leave fingerprints on it.″

Bruneau countered that Young was counting on his position as a minister to protect him from any serious investigation.

″He was probably shocked at the thoroughness of the search,″ the prosecutor said.