SHELBYVILLE -- The former Marshall County High School student who was charged in the 2007 shooting death of a car salesman here pleaded guilty this week and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Jason Young, 21, of Lewisburg will be nearly 47 years old when he might be put on parole, District Attorney Chuck Crawford said of the last of three defendants to be convicted for the murder of Bill Ross on Valentines Day 2007.
Young's 30-year sentence was handed down Monday in Bedford County Circuit Court by Judge Robert Crigler. It stems from Young's agreement to turn state's evidence against Ashley Cook who was convicted on Oct. 15 by jurors selected in Lynchburg because of publicity surrounding her first trial that ended in a hung jury.
"He accepted full responsibility for what he'd done by testifying in the Ashley Cook trial," Crawford said of the woman who shot Ross three times while he lay asleep in bed at home on Wartrace Pike just outside of Shelbyville.
By pleading guilty to second-degree murder, Young accepted a 30-year sentence, the prosecutor said. The youngest of the three culprits becomes eligible for a parole hearing after serving 85 percent of the 30 years minus all the "good time" he might deduct because of rules administered by the Tennessee Department of Corrections.
"His testimony was very helpful to the state," Crawford said. "If someone was going to get help from the state in this case, it couldn't have been the woman who hatched the plot or the woman who shot Mr. Ross three times."
The car salesman's widow, Kimberly Ross, pleaded guilty of first degree murder during a November hearing in the Marshall County Courthouse where she was sentenced to life in prison for plotting her husband's death.
She was engaged to an Oklahoma man who'd been wiring her money to cash counters in Lewisburg, according to case file information.
Cook testified early last week that the defendants handed the gun back and forth to each other several times before Kimberly Ross pushed the gun on Cook who then turned and shot the sleeping salesman.
Assistant District Attorney Mike Randles presented Young's plea agreement to Crigler, according to the district attorney who praised his prosecutor for doing a "phenomenal job" during Cook's trial.
Randles "eviscerated" Cook's testimony, Crawford said. Media at the trial noticed the jury's reaction when Cook was caught in a lie, thereby foreshadowing the guilty verdicts.
Cook is to be sentenced by Crigler during a hearing scheduled for Nov. 17.
The Ross couple lived in Cornersville for a few years after they married. They'd been childhood friends where they grew up in another state. Beyond his sales career, Bill Ross was a volunteer fireman. The couple moved to Lewisburg where their home became something of a gathering place where visitors referred to Kimberly Ross as "Mom."