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Monday, May 2, 2016

Life in prison

Thursday, January 18, 2007

LIFE BEHIND BARS: William Young, center, stands outside the Sharp County courtroom where he was sentenced to two terms of life in prison for the murder of Stephen Furr and robbery of Furr's home.
Sharp County jury finds Young guilty of capital murder

"We didn't believe any of it," jury foreman Butch Harmon said in regards to hearing William Young's account of what happened Jan. 2, 2006.

William Young's capital murder trial began Jan. 9 in the Sharp County courthouse. Young was accused of the stabbing death of Stephen Furr, 38, of rural Cave City.

A jury of nine men and three women took just one hour to convict Young of capital murder, aggravated robbery, residential burglary, two counts of theft and attempted arson Jan. 11. He received an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole for the capital murder conviction. The jury sentenced Young to another life sentence for aggravated robbery, 20 years and a $15,000 fine for residential burglary, 10 years and a $10,000 fine for one count of theft and 20 years and $15,000 on the other count of theft. All terms are to run consecutively.

"Everybody pretty much wanted the maximum," Harmon said. "The only question was the aggravated robbery for me."

Juror Karen Chandler said the testimony of the defense's two witnesses -- Young and his wife, Leslie -- sealed her decision. Leslie Young was tried in July of 2006 for her role in Furr's death. She, too, was sentenced to life in prison.

"I was feeling sorry for him until he testified," Chandler said. "He changed his story twice on the stand. I think I had more sympathy for the wife than for him. I think he kind of conjured her into it."

Leslie Young was the first to take the stand as a defense witness. Her case is currently on appeal. When she took the stand she smiled a slight smile at her husband and later mouthed the words "I love you" to him.

She said the couple met Furr for the first time the night of Jan. 1 in the parking lot of Curia Creek Apartments in Cave City where the Youngs and Devonda Furr, Furr's ex-wife, lived. After drinking and visiting other friends, the Youngs and Furr went to Furr's house on Buck Lane near Cave City to retrieve a bottle of whiskey, she said.

Once they arrived Furr put William Young to work repairing his computer, Leslie Young said. Furr then came over to where she was sitting across the room. She said she had been flirting with Furr earlier in the night and had even "flashed" her breasts to him, she admitted. At his house Furr told her she was beautiful and sexy and then unbuttoned her pants, she said. When she began to object he began to choke her, she said.

Young heard his wife's struggle and came to help her, Leslie Young said. She said she saw Furr grab something off the table. Young and Furr got into a fight and she saw her husband stab Furr twice. She said she watched as Furr fell over across a chair. She said she then went outside and waited in Furr's truck as Young had instructed her to do. She said she didn't know if Furr was alive or dead.

"I was scared, very scared," she said. "He was choking me."

In William Young's testimony he said he was acting in self defense. He said Furr tried to stab him.

"I never hurt anyone in my life," he said. "It was my belief he had every intention of killing me and raping her. I knew that I had made a bad mistake."

Young said he took the TV and computer and accessories from Furr's house because he knew his fingerprints would be on them. He said he and his wife were at Furr's house less than 30 minutes.

Young said he never attempted to burn Furr's house down despite officers' testimony that a broken gas line was spewing in the home, a wall heater had been torn off the wall and a bag of dog food had been partially burned.

Young said the grate of the wall heater caught on his pants during the struggle with Furr and was ripped off the wall. He said he didn't try to set the dog food bag on fire to cause an explosion and destroy the evidence.

"I never attempted to do anything to cover my tracks except take the TV and computer," Young said.

After the killing William Young, who has taken EMT classes, did not render aid to Furr. Young said he didn't know if Furr was alive or dead when he left the house.

Police were called to Furr's home on Buck Lane the evening of Jan. 2 after Devonda Furr called 9-1-1. She had taken her two sons to their father's home to retrieve a game they received for Christmas. The youngest boy, Douglas, then 9, went inside and thought his father was passed out. The oldest boy, Chase, then 12, went inside with Douglas and found their father stabbed to death, lying in a recliner in the living room with the knife and screwdriver used to kill him left underneath him.

Dr. Adam Craig, forensic pathologist with the Arkansas Crime Laboratory said Furr had 12 stab wounds to his body including two on his head, one on his neck, one on his shoulder, five on his chest and three on his arms. He also had cuts on his face, arms and hands. He had 22 bruises on his chest that appeared to be inflicted with the end of a flathead screwdriver.

Craig said Furr's alcohol level was .17 percent, more than twice the legal limit.

He said of Furr's injuries, two stab wounds were defensive in nature and three or four cuts were defensive as if Furr was trying to fight his murderer off.

Three of the stab wounds punctured his chest, two punctured his lung and one punctured his liver.

The Youngs immediately became suspects after authorities spoke to Devonda Furr.

Young said after the stabbing he and his wife left the trailer in Furr's truck. They then went to their apartment to pick up their children.

"My two little boys were there and I was trying to get back to them," Young said.

The Youngs then went to a friend's house in Southside. They stayed the night there along with Jimmy Doug Simpson. On Jan. 3 Simpson took Furr's truck to Simpson's house but took Furr's things out of the truck, Young said. Young said Simpson claimed to know the Furr family.

Young said he wanted Simpson to take him to Cave City to his home, but Simpson didn't have enough gas money. Young said it was Simpson's idea to pawn the items to pay for fuel, which Young did. However, Simpson never took the family to Cave City. Instead he dropped them off at a doctor's office in Batesville where a friend had an appointment. While waiting in the friend's car outside, they were both arrested.

The testimony of the Youngs didn't change the opinion of the jury.

"I don't think their intent was to hurt him, but I think they intended to rob him," Chandler said. "The wounds were too much for self defense."

Furr's family said the Youngs lied on the stand and said Furr was an upstanding man.

"We can't get across enough what kind of man Steve was," said Gwenda Furr, Furr's youngest sister. "He was not only there for us and his kids but our kids, too."

"He really meant so much to us," said Lisa Furr, Furr's sister-in-law. "He was the fun in the family."

Furr's mother, Anita Reeves, said the outcome of the trial was an "empty victory" for her family. Soon after leaving the courtroom, Reeves fainted and required medical attention. She complained that her head hurt but refused medical transport.

Furr's ex-wife, Devonda Furr, said the family was happy with the verdict and the sentence.

"It was awesome," she said. "It was the biggest you could get. It's great."

Young's public defender, Scott Nance of Newport, refused to comment after the trial.

"Of course, I'm please with the verdict," said Third Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce, who represented the state with Deputy Prosecutor Tom Garner. "The jury obviously didn't have a whole lot to argue about."

Boyce thanked the Sharp County Sheriff's Office for working quickly to collect evidence and find the Youngs.

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