Avon teen stabber sentenced to 20 years

Andrew Young was 18 when he carried out the attack in May

Randy Wyrick
Vail Daily
Andrew Young, 19, was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for stabbing an Avon woman while she was jogging.

EAGLE — A local woman is not dead because she acted quickly.

According to police, Andrew Young tried desperately to kill her on the morning of May 31, 2018, on a recreation path in Avon. He hit her on top of her head with a Pinnacle Cutlery kitchen knife, then stabbed her five times so hard the blade broke. When she ran for her life, sprinting while gushing blood and praying to see her children one more time, he chased her.

Police know the facts of what happened, but why has been much harder to pin down. Avon police determined it was a random attack.

Young will spend the next 20 years in prison, sentenced Tuesday afternoon by District Court Judge Russell Granger. Young was 18 when he carried out the attack in May. He turned 19 in the Eagle County jail.

The victim bravely speaks

The victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, spoke bravely through tears in the courtroom on Tuesday, recounting in more than 20 minutes of testimony what Young’s attack put her and her children through — so far. She says she doubts she’ll ever fully recover.

She was on her early-morning jog along a recreation path in Avon when she sensed that things weren’t right.

She continued running. Maybe everything would be OK.

“It was very, very far from OK,” Deputy District Attorney Stephen Potts said.

She jogged past Young, skulking beside the path. She could hear above her earphones his heavy running behind her.

He passed her and she stopped for a moment, but soon she started her run again.

As she began to move, he plunged the knife all the way through her shoulder and out the back. Then he kept stabbing her.

“He had a dark and frightful determination, on his face,” the victim said through her tears. “The only reason he stopped is that he broke the knife while he was penetrating my chest.

“Each stab was as powerful as the first,” she said.

When he stabbed her in the arm, Young broke off a chunk of her humerus bone. The surgical repair was one of five surgeries in six months, two within hours of the attack to stop internal bleeding caused by bone fragments the man had chopped loose.

Even stabbed, shocked, gushing blood, she managed to break free and run.

“I ran for my life and he chased me down. He was showing no mercy,” she said.

While she was being stabbed, the woman said she thought of her children, hoping that she would like to see them one more time, she said.

She sprinted for 75 to 100 yards. Young ran after her, she said.

“I ran with all of my might. He was right behind me. He was not lethargic and the only reason he stopped was because we reached the Westin hotel,” she said.

Two “nice men” at the Westin helped her. Avon Police Chief Greg Daly says their quick actions helped save her life.

“I called 911 to make sure someone knew what had happened to me,” she said.

‘I lost all quiet moments’

Young claims he has faced some adversity in his 19-year life, but nothing that would lead to this kind of violence, Potts said.

“This is not a case where he was abused and locked in a cage by his parents,” Potts said.

Before the brutal murder attempt, the victim said she was living like everyone else: juggling school, her children and a career. Her physical and emotional damage is with her constantly, she said.

“The joy was crushed in my grieving tears. I lost all quiet moments, the quiet and peace. I’ve lost my life,” she said.

Her children are profoundly impacted

“My heart breaks at the sadness in their eyes,” she said.

When she looks in the mirror, the “red, ugly scars” look back at her.

“Every day when I see and feel the lumpiness across my chest, it’s like the scars are taunting me; physical signs that I will never be the same again,” she said.

Her nights are haunted.

“It’s an exhausting existence,” she said.

The blood so visible during the attack returns to her mind when she sees the scars, she said.

“I resent that I will never be able to enjoy the outdoor activities that we once had, and that I will never be able to enjoy basic experiences with my kids,” she said.

Her morning workouts have been replaced with trying to generate the courage to walk to her front door, she said.

“Every sound, every sudden movement, even a stranger’s casual glance are terrifying triggers,” she said.

She left a career she enjoys because walking through the parking structure to the hospital is too terrifying. She constantly scans everyone to validate her safety, she said. Even seeing a hooded sweatshirt — like the one the man was wearing — can be a trigger.

‘I would have supported him’

Young was someone his neighbors and friends would have helped through whatever he was facing, she said.

“I would have supported him. Instead, he hunted me down and attempted to kill me,” she said.

He left his hometown of Red Bank, New Jersey, and moved to his mother’s Avon condo, just a quarter mile from the victim’s home and immediately began planning a murder, the victim said.

“His mother knew something horrific had happened but attempted to conceal it,” she said, referring to Young’s mother washing her son’s bloodstained clothes.

‘That’s what he is’

The victim was a world-class gymnast and coach. Now there is rarely a day she doesn’t cry, a friend said during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing.

“This sweet woman is experiencing a nightmare that may never end,” he said.

The attack wasn’t robbery or rape, it was a premeditated murder attempt, he said.

“This coward … that’s what he is … viciously stabbed her several times, then ran away leaving her for dead,” he said.

“That morning he was a predator on the hunt for a kill,” he said.

The man turned and spoke to Young directly at the defendant’s table, where Young sat quietly with his head down, his long dark hair shorn and short.

“Andrew Young, you’re a failure. You’re a coward. There is a lot I would like to do to you, but don’t need to. I’m going to let the prison population take care of that. You’re a coward and you deserve everything you’re gonna get.”

Three members of Young’s family were in the courtroom. His father, Andrew Young Sr., spoke to Judge Granger and the victim during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing.

“On behalf of my entire family how sorry we are and that we pray every day for your recovery. I hope, I pray that we can begin to heal as a community and a family. God help us,” he said.

Young’s 20-year sentence is longer than he has been alive, public defender Thea Reiff said.

Young’s sentence will end. His victim’s may not, her friends said.

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