GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The father of convicted killer Jared Chance “did nothing wrong’’ in the days after the murder of Ashley Young, and even took his son to police, his attorney told jurors on Tuesday.
“James Chance did nothing wrong,’’ defense attorney Laura Joyce said Tuesday. “He didn’t help his son dispose of a body. He didn’t help his son evade capture. He didn’t lie to try to throw off an investigation. He did nothing wrong.’’
James Chance, 77, is on trial for being an accessory after the fact to a felony and two counts of perjury, a potential life offense.
The defense and prosecution gave opening statements to jurors in Kent County Circuit Court before testimony got underway. The trial is set to resume on Wednesday.
James Chance and his wife, Barbara, were both held on perjury and accessory charges following the arrest of their son in December of 2018 after parts of Young’s dismembered body were found at the Grand Rapids home where Jared Chance was living.
Chance, 30, was convicted last year of second-degree murder; he was sentenced to between 100-200 years in prison.
His mother, 64-year-old Barbara Chance, on Monday pleaded no contest to the charges against her. Advisory sentencing guidelines call for a year in jail; she returns to court for sentencing next month.
James Chance opted for trial.
Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Lawrence Boivin told jurors that James Chance, a retired police officer, helped his son following Young’s murder.
The elder Chance also lied about what transpired after family members picked up Jared Chance in Grand Rapids and headed back to Holland on Dec. 1, Boivin said.
“The defendant made a false statement regarding the time of day that he and his family returned to Holland,’’ Boivin said in opening statements. “And the second one is closely connected; the route they took to get back to Holland.’’
Jared Chance called his parents on Dec. 1 and asked that they come get him. The parents and another son drove to Grand Rapids and got Jared Chance from his rental home on Franklin Street SE.
Several items were loaded in the father’s Honda, including a reciprocating saw later found beneath a couch at the parents’ home in Holland, Boivin told jurors.
“And Ashley’s limbs, in one of those cardboard boxes, loaded into the back of the defendant’s Honda CRV,’’ Boivin said.
The next day, James Chance learned about Young’s death and mutilation. Jared Chance was returned to Grand Rapids; he and his father also stopped at the Grand Rapids Police Department.
James Chance told his son: “You’ve got to deal with this and you’ve got to face the consequences of what you’ve done,’’ Joyce told jurors in opening statements.
The pair were greeted at the front desk by police interns and eventually spoke with a police lieutenant, who started asking questions. That’s when James Chance said his son should consult with an attorney before talking, Joyce said.
“Jared Chance the adult walks out,’’ Joyce said. “My client, frustrated with how that interaction went, says ‘you’re missing an opportunity here’ and he follows his son out as well.’’
Hours later, Jared Chance was arrested after a downstairs neighbor discovered a bloody tarp in the basement of their Franklin Street home.
“There is one person who is responsible for the murder of Ashley Young,’’ Joyce told the jury. “That one person is Jared Chance. Either knowingly or unknowingly, he destroyed his own family.’’
More on 13 ON YOUR SIDE:
- Judge: Photo of Ashley Young cannot be used during trial of her convicted killer's father
- Appeals court upholds another murder conviction for Jeffrey Willis
- Jared Chance’s mother pleads no contest to charges
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