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UPDATED: Johnson City man found not guilty in 2016 shooting

Becky Campbell • Sep 26, 2019 at 7:12 PM

Michael Young pumped his fist in the air in victory and a widow sat nearby crying silently as a jury foreman read “not guilty” verdicts Thursday after a four-day trial.

Young, 49, was acquitted of first-degree murder and all lesser included charges — second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and criminally negligent homicide — in the shooting death of his 45-year-old neighbor, Jose Mijares, in what investigators called a road rage incident near their homes on Lambeth Drive Feb. 13, 2016.

After the verdict, Young’s lead attorney, Matthew Spivey, said there was no real victory in a case like this.

“No case like this is a victory for anybody,” Spivey said. “This is how the criminal justice system works. Anytime somebody loses their life it’s a tragedy. This was a tragedy, but wasn’t a crime from our perspective, and the jury spoke. I’m sorry for the Mijares family, but Mr. Young is not guilty.”

Testimony ended Wednesday, but the case was in limbo and came close to an outright dismissal after defense attorneys, Rick and Matthew Spivey, discovered during the trial that there was potentially helpful evidence they never received.

From the beginning the case was threatened as the Spivey/Spivey team obtained a trickle of discovery not turned over by the state. In the state’s defense, however, some of that evidence wasn’t turned over to the DA’s office by the Johnson City Police Department in a timely manner.

Two key witnesses in the case turned out to be Young — who described prior incidents that he said made him fear Mijares — and Mijares’ son, Jesus Mijares, now 18, who was with his father at the time of the shooting.

Both witnesses seemed unflappable and believable.

Jesus Mijares said he and his father were going to get gas and coffee that Saturday morning when their neighbor’s green pickup came up on them fast on Lambeth Drive, then passed on the right side and stopped at the intersection of Lambeth and North Roan Street.

The younger Mijares testified that his father got out to see what the problem was and why Young was driving in that manner. Mijares didn’t hear the shot, but saw his father stagger back to the vehicle and collapse in the road. He went to his father’s aid and saw that his father had been shot.

During his testimony, Jesus Mijares pointed to Young as the person who shot his father.

But the fact Young shot Mijares was never an issue. The defense acknowledged Young shot and killed Mijares, but said all along it was self-defense.

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