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VERIFY: Can Josh Young be tried again for the murder of Trey Zwicker?

Is this a case of double jeopardy? Also, what does Young's confession letter mean for his father? We sought to answer your legal questions.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In a four-page written confession, Josh Young says he's 'ready to get the truth out' of the 2011 beating death of his step-brother Trey Zwicker.

Zwicker's body was found behind Louisville's Liberty High School.

In his letter, Young says he acted alone in the murder - a similar claim his father, Josh Gouker, made during his 2013 plea.


Does this fall under double jeopardy and can Young be tried again for the murder of Trey Zwicker? Is there anything else Young can be charged with in this case? And will the confession letter change his father's sentence?


Yes, this situation does fall under double jeopardy, meaning no, Young cannot be tried again for the murder of Zwicker after a jury already acquitted him of the murder charge. But that doesn't mean prosecutors won't look for another way to charge him. Yes, he can be charged still, but the only other charge he can likely face is perjury. People question the motives behind Young writing a confession letter, but ultimately yes, the letter can possibly change his father's sentence. Although, it's tricky and complex. 


We turned to criminal defense attorney Brian Butler to understand the law surrounding this situation, in light of Young's confession letter. Butler said there is nothing prosecutors can do relating to the charge of murder. There are no loopholes or ways around it. But, Butler said prosecutors could still charge him with perjury. To understand that, Butler pointed to another Louisville case. Mel Ignatow was acquitted of torturing, raping and murdering his girlfriend. Later, pictures were discovered in his home that showed evidence of those charges. Ignatow was then found guilty of perjury after lying during previous testimony. The catch with Young's case is that he never testified during his and his father's trials. 

"Since he didn't testify, it wouldn't be a perjury particular to him, it would be a conspiracy, which is an agreement to do something that is unlawful. In this case, the unlawful thing being the testimony that 'it was all me, it wasn't Mr. Young," Butler said.

So can that happen to Young? Yes, it technically can. But Butler said the commonwealth's attorneys will need to decide if it makes sense to go through that process with Young. 

People have speculated Josh Young's wrote his confession letter as a way to get his father out of prison. But the letter might not necessarily change Gouker's sentence. He can work with his attorneys to challenge his conviction and ask for another trial. 

"I suspect the government would hotly contest that and argue the whole motivation behind this is to undo that conviction," Butler said. 

Butler said that would be a tricky process for Gouker to embark on, and believes it's unlikely to happen. 

Essentially, there's a lot of possibilities within the legal process that could come as a result of Young's confession letter, but they're not necessarily likely to happen. 

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