Young’s Fate Now in Jury’s Hands as Deliberations Begin
SAN ANGELO, TX -- Juror’s in John Young’s forgery, theft and money laundering trial began deliberations at 8:52 a.m. Friday morning.
Judge Brock Jones read the charge to the jury Thursday evening and they chose to return Friday morning to begin deliberations. Before the jury was called into the courtroom, defense attorneys asked the judge if each juror could have a copy of the charge because the case is so complex.
Judge Jones agreed to give each juror a copy and they would be taken up at the end of each day. Jurors were instructed to read the charge aloud again and then select a foreperson to begin deliberations.
Young is facing two counts of forgery, one count of theft and one count of money laundering. Young inherited the estate of John Sullivan in June of 2014 based upon a handwritten holographic will found by Ray Zapata in Sullivan’s home. Zapata was Sullivan’s bail bondsman and Young was his attorney.
Sullivan was charged with online solicitation of a minor and possession of child pornography in March of 2014. Zapata and Armando Martinez combined to post Sullivan’s $2 million bail. Sullivan hired Young as his defense attorney.
Sullivan was found dead in his home on June 4, 2014 by Zapata and Martinez. Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace J.P. McGuire pronounced Sullivan dead and didn’t order an autopsy.
Testimony indicates Zapata took a Catholic missal prayer book from Sullivan’s home before police arrived. There were 30 phone calls that day between Young, Zapata and Sweetwater attorney Chris Hartman.
Zapata said he witnessed Sullivan write a will in the back of the book. That is the centerpiece of the trial and gave Sullivan’s estate to Young. Young hired Hartman to file the probate of Sullivan’s will.
On June 16, 2014 County Court-at-Law Judge Ben Nolen probated Sullivan’s will giving Young the $8 million estate which included cash, investment accounts and real estate.
San Angelo attorney Joe Hernandez contacted Texas Ranger Nick Hanna and told him Ray Zapata forged the will. Hanna began the investigation that led to Ray Zapata being convicted of forging the will and landed Young in court facing the four charges.
Testimony in Young’s three week trial showed that Hartman lied to the first grand jury about a $65,000 check he wrote to Zapata. Hartman was given immunity by prosecutors to testify before a second grand jury.
On Tuesday, defense attorneys called San Angelo financial advisor Greg Estes to the stand. Estes showed jurors photos of Sullivan signing a handwritten holographic will in his office in 2013 prior to knee replacement surgery.
Prosecutors contend Sullivan wouldn’t have handwritten a will and that Sullivan wanted to leave his estate to the Society of Saint Pius X and one of the boys he was accused of molesting.
Defense attorneys presented witnesses and evidence that Young was unaware of the will being forged and money transactions between Hartman and Zapata through Dallas attorney Juan Marquez.
Zapata was found guilty in May 2017 of two counts of forgery, one count of theft and one count of money laundering. He was sentenced to six months in jail and five years probation and was ordered to pay $1.8 million in restitution to the Sullivan estate.
Judge Jones informed jurors that they would not be deliberating late or on weekends, so if they don’t reach a verdict Friday afternoon, they will resume deliberations Monday morning.