Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Strange Case of Josh Young

Josh Young of Louisville, Kentucky is 15 years old and potentially facing life in prison without parole for his alleged role in the murder of his 14 year old brother, Trey Zwicker.

On May 11 of 2011, the body of Trey Zwicker was found in a ditch around 1pm in the afternoon. He was discovered by a group of students behind a local school. The police reported no solid leads as to what happened to Trey. His father, Terry Zwicker, made a plea in the media, stating, "somebody knows something."

Nearly a month passed with little word in the media about the events surrounding Trey's murder. However, on June 12, the media issued a report regarding an emergency protective order taken out by Trey's mother against her live-in boyfriend, Josh Gouker. Details contained within the protection order were released to the public, including the claim that Trey's mother feared "for her daughter's life" and that Josh Gouker was "suspected in her son's murder".

Two days following the release of this information, the media reported that Josh Gouker and his 15 year old son, Josh Young, were missing. An amber alert was issued for the younger Josh as the police and members of the public suspected the two had fled the state.

On June 17, Gouker and his son were reportedly found in Alabama. A man who claimed to know Gouker told the media that the man was "running for his life...he knows he's guilty." Suspicion swirled around Gouker in reference to Trey's homicide as the man had lived with Trey and his mother for a period of time following his release from prison. Despite having a lengthy criminal record, Gouker obtained custody of his son shortly before the murder. Josh had spent a significant amount of time in foster care prior to returning to his father's care.

On June 22, more information was released about the activities of Gouker in Alabama. Josh and his father were arrested on weapons charges and Gouker faced a kidnapping charge in reference to his having held a woman at gunpoint, forcing her to drive to a hotel.

The following day the media reported that 15 year old Josh Young had been arrested for the murder of Trey Zwicker. The public was shocked at the unexpected turn of events and anticipated that Josh's father would be arrested for the murder as well. He was never arrested in connection with the crime. Moreover, the prosecution has not yet released any information about why Josh was charged or what evidence was obtained to suggest his involvement.

Gouker was held in Alabama on charges stemming from June until he was released in September. Information spread that he was released by mistake, but officials denied this occurred. Gouker was again taken into custody in Kentucky in October. He was held based on a felony fugitive warrant.

In November of 2011, Josh was indicted on charges of murder and evidence tampering. Because the indictment took place through a grand jury the public had no access to any of the evidence the prosecution allegedly had against the 15 year old. However, Josh's attorney informed the media that the grand jury refused to hear testimony in support of the boy, suggesting the hearing was anything but impartial.

In late November, Josh was formally arraigned on charges in adult criminal court. Gouker's mother, Josh's grandmother, told the media that it was her son who committed the murder. She revealed startling information that her son had confessed to her about the murder shortly after it happened.

The Assistant Commonwealth Attorney, Elizabeth Jones Brown, countered Gouker's mother's claim by saying the police had investigated the case thoroughly.

Further information about Gouker's possible motive for committing the murder was contained in a statement by his mother. "Jessie says her grandson, better known as Little Josh, was set up by her son Gouker, better known as Big Josh. She says Gouker admitted to her that he killed his stepson right after it happened to get back at his mother. 'Him and Amanda were having really bad problems. She aborted two of his kids in 2000 and one of their marriages and he felt like it was a child for a child."

To date the prosecution has not released the evidence they have against Josh Young. They have not given any explanation about why his father, Josh Gouker, was not arrested in connection with the murder.

A petition urging the prosecution to further examine the potential involvement of Josh Gouker in the murder of Trey Zwicker may be found here. The petition also asks that 15 year old Josh Young be tried as a juvenile instead of an adult.

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