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Update From HLN NEWS for Wednesday: The prosecutor began her opening statement in the Josh Young trial Wednesday in a Louisville, Kentucky, courtroom by detailing the gruesome injuries 14-year-old Trey Zwicker suffered as he was being beaten to death.
“Zwicker was afraid of the dark, and it was in a dark ditch where he was brutally murdered by Josh Gouker and Josh Young. Where he was found face down covered in blood. Where he was found with his face smashed in and teeth chipped. Where he was found with his skull bashed open,” said prosecutor Erin White. “His head and neck being struck multiple times, maybe with a bat, maybe with a metal pipe.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, on the night of May 10, 2011, crossing into the very early morning of May 11, 2011, Josh Young — along with his father Josh Gouker — murdered Trey Zwicker and then he got rid of the evidence. That is why he is charged with complicity to murder and tampering with evidence,” White said.
And so it went Wednesday morning in the trial of Young, a 17-year-old who is being tried as an adult in a case that has gained national attention. Young kept his head down during most of the morning’s proceedings, whispering intermittently to his attorney.
Five days earlier, his father, Gouker, was sentenced to life in prison for Zwicker’s murder. White told the jurors that Gouker will testify during the trial, but she is unsure what he will say. She reminded the jurors that the trial at hand is for Young, not Gouker. During the initial stages of the investigation, Gouker accused Young of killing Zwicker, but he eventually changed his tune.
After issuing his guilty plea on May 10, Gouker told the court he became enraged after his stepson, Zwicker, stole some food and a lighter from him. He said he hit Zwicker with a pipe.
“I just snapped. I hit him. He went down,” Gouker testifed. “Before I knew it, it was over.”
Gouker said he had only meant to teach the boy a lesson.
“[Gouker] either threw [Young] under the bus to deflect the attention from him or he took him under his wing and taught him how to commit murder. Ladies and gentlemen, we believe the evidence supports the later,” White said as she finished her opening statement Wednesday.
Defense attorney Peter Schuler painted a different picture of Young during his opening statement Wednesday. Schuler blamed Zwicker’s death solely on Gouker , and went as far as calling Young an “innocent victim,” and the “fall guy.”
Schuler said Gouker tried to frame his son for Zwicker’s murder and implored the jurors to look closely at the evidence and find his client not guilty.
“Do not convict him for something his father did,” said Schuler. “I think this is all planned. Everything is planned by Gouker. Everything. Down to the last detail.”
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