NEW PORT RICHEY — Donna Young had one son.
This week he's on trial, accused of killing her.
Authorities say Ryan Young, 26, of 7005 Potomac Drive, Port Richey, went to his mother's house in the Oaks at River Ridge subdivision in New Port Richey in April 2007 and held her pillow to her face, using both hands until she was dead.
The matricide trial started Tuesday in the courtroom of Circuit Judge Michael F. Andrews. Attorneys Mike Halkitis and Dean Livermore used the day to pick a jury: 12 jurors plus two alternates, six men and eight women altogether. Halkitis, the prosecutor, and Livermore, the public defender, are set to give their opening statements this morning.
Young is charged with first-degree murder. He faces life in prison if convicted.
Donna Young was a devout Catholic. She was a regular at her neighborhood meetings. She worked at Parkwood Oxygen & Medical Equipment in Port Richey.
She had multiple sclerosis and had to use a cane or a walker or a wheelchair but insisted on loading her wheelchair into her car by herself. People who knew her call her proud and determined and inspirational. She was 52.
Ryan Young was a clerk at a 7-Eleven. He got married in 2005 but got divorced shortly thereafter. He said he was gay. He had a partner.
He spent most of 2006 in bankruptcy and borrowed more than $5,000 from his mother from April 2006 to March 2007. That's when his mother said no more.
A month later, according to his arrest report, he went to her house at 8030 Hathaway Drive to steal one of her rings to trade it for cash. She was in bed. He held the pillow over her face for at least a minute.
Then, according to authorities, he cut the screen and opened some drawers, trying to make it look like a burglary gone bad.
Ryan Young was the one who called 911. The call came in at 11:38 a.m. The dispatcher asked him to do CPR.
He said no.
She was already dead.
He talked to detectives early that afternoon about his mother's murder. He said he didn't do it.
He talked to detectives later that afternoon. He still said he didn't do it.
He talked to detectives early that evening. That time, he sobbed and cried, and he said, over and over, that he "didn't mean to do it."
But also: "I was happy she was dead."
"And then he admitted that he was angry when he did it," Dean Quinlan, the lead detective, said in his deposition in October 2007. "He elaborated that he was angry because of her feelings about him being a homosexual. He said that he did it accidentally.
"I then told him he was under arrest for murder."
On Tuesday in court, attorneys asked more than three dozen potential jurors questions to gauge their relationships with and feelings about the criminal justice system.
Had they ever been victims of a crime?
Had they ever had a family member arrested?
One woman told the attorneys that her husband had been arrested recently and now was on probation. She was asked if that was going to influence her ability to be an impartial juror.
She said no.
"If you make a mistake," she said, "you've got to pay for it."
Michael Kruse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6244.