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Judge: Photo of Ashley Young cannot be used during trial of her convicted killer's father

Judge Paul J. Denenfeld ruled Monday that the prejudicial value of the photo outweighed its relevance.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A photo of a woman, who was murdered and dismembered, will not be shown to jurors during the trial of her convicted killer's father. 

James Chance's trial began with jury selection on Monday, and opening statements will begin Tuesday morning. He's facing charges of perjury and accessory after the fact. Police say James and Barbara Chance helped their son, Jared, cover up the Dec. 2018 murder and mutilation of 31-year-old Ashley Young. Among other evidence, investigators say the saw used to mutilate Young was found inside the parents' Holland home.

Read more: Jared Chance’s mother pleads no contest to charges

After a jury was selected and released for the day, defense attorney Laura Joyce objected to the prosecution's first proposed piece of evidence. A photo of Young smiling. 

Joyce said the photo sought to 'inflame the passions of the jury' and generate sympathy. 

Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Lawrence Boivin said he wanted the jurors to be able to put a face to Ashley's name. 

"This isn't a murder trial," Kent County Judge Paul J. Denenfeld told Boivin. 

"No, I understand that, but this is about the defendant helping his son get away with her mutilation," replied Boivin. 

Read more: Jared Chance gets 100 to 200 years for 'reprehensible and heinous' murder

The judge agreed with the defense. He said any potential relevance of the photo was outweighed by its prejudicial value. 

Jurors will likely be shown photos of Young's mutilated body throughout the trial.  

Opening statements begin at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. 


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 Emma Nicolas is a multimedia journalist. Have a news tip or question for Emma? Get in touch by email, Facebook or Twitter.

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