Young survives cross examination on stand

Lead Staff Reporter

In the ongoing fraud trial of John Young, the defense called the Sweetwater attorney to the stand to testify on his own behalf. Under relentless cross examination by prosecutor and Assistant Attorney General Jonathan White, Young spent much of the day answering questions.
Young is accused of forgery, theft and money laundering related to the late John Sullivan’s estate. Young was Sullivan’s criminal defense attorney at the time of his death. Sullivan was facing charges stemming from alleged sex crimes against children.
The State contends that Ray Zapata conspired with Young and forged a handwritten will. Sullivan’s will purportedly gave all of Sullivan’s $8 million estate to Young. Zapata was found guilty of forging Sullivan’s will in May. He was sentenced to serve six months in jail. Zapata is currently appealing his conviction.
This was not to say that Zapata wasn’t far from the court’s mind. Defense attorney Frank Sellers approached Judge Brock Jones about calling Ray Zapata to the stand. Zapata had limited immunity that Zapata’s attorney Mark Snodgrass said was too narrow for him to allow his client to testify.
The immunity his attorney had hoped for was gone by 10 a.m.
Prosecutors withdrew their motion for offering immunity. The judge approved the motion.
Without immunity, Zapata most likely not be asked to testify.Defense lawyers, however, believe his testimony is a critical component of their case. The fact that Zapata wasn’t given full immunity to testify may very well have an impact on the defense’s closing argument.
Last week, Michael Deadman, the temporary administrator of John Sullivan’s estate, testified under oath that a court order was signed in January 2015 when defendant John Young was ordered to turn over all assets.
The purchase of a new BMW, bank notes and debt payments were just a few transactions made just months after he inherited the estate.
Young is currently on trial in San Angelo facing forgery charges stemming from a handwritten will.
Prosecutors attempted to lay out financial responsibilities of Sullivan’s estate. This is a crucial duty that the state says was overlooked by Young when swearing to a non-debt agreement.
A handwriting expert from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Sarah Pryor, had been brought in and took the stand. Pryor concluded her testimony last week saying that in her analysis, there are similarity traits in handwriting that connect co defendant Ray Zapata to the handwritten will.
Her testimony was followed by the testimony of San Angelo criminal defense attorney Joe Hernandez.
If the prosecutors were hoping for a bombshell, they didn’t get one. Towards the end of the morning’s testimony, the jury appeared restless. The body language of the box spoke of a jury seemingly tiring of the exhaustive cross examination. Young survived without faltering in the trial. Young appeared respectful and deferential throughout the questioning.