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Real Name: Frederick Levon Young
Case: Appeal
Location: Greensboro, North Carolina
Date: June 9, 1993

Case[]

Details: Twenty-six-year-old Frederick “Fred” Young claims that he was wrongly convicted of several armed robberies, one of which occurred on June 9, 1993, at a motel in Greensboro, North Carolina. That night, five young friends were gathered in one of the motel’s rooms. At midnight, one of them went to get ice. When she returned, she knocked on the door and was let inside. As she entered, two heavily armed men came in behind her. They forced everyone down on the floor and took cash and jewelry. It was all over in a matter of minutes.
Based on eyewitness testimony from one of the victims, police arrested two men. One was Fred, then twenty-two. He was convicted of the motel robbery and two others that same night. He will be in prison until his 91st birthday. Like many other convicted felons, he claims he is innocent.
But Fred’s claim may hold more water than most. He says his case is one of mistaken identity. Incredibly, he insists that the real robber was his identical twin brother, Cedric “Ced” Young. That accusation has forced their mother, Shirley, to make an impossible choice: which son to support? And indeed, she supports Fred, the son in prison.
Fred says that he and Ced were very close when they were younger. They always dressed alike and did almost everything together. Fred says there was a bond between them, and it was much greater than the bonds between them and their friends and other family members. Ced was born four minutes before Fred on December 29, 1971. From the start, it was virtually impossible to tell them apart. Their relatives still have a tough time – even their own mother, Shirley.
Shirley says the twins’ cousins, aunts, uncles, sisters, and brothers all have trouble telling the two apart. She says, “If you don’t see them when they do something, you don’t know who did what.” She says she knows that no one else can tell them apart because she cannot even do it.
On June 10, 1993, the night after the motel robbery, luck was not on Fred’s side. Everything that could have gone wrong for him did. That evening, two police officers pulled him over after noticing his license plate light was out. He acknowledges that he had a history of trouble with the law (which included convictions for larceny, breaking and entering, and assault). Otherwise, he might have acted differently. When the officers asked to see his license, he said he had left it at home. When they asked him for his name, he said, “Cedric Young.”
Fred says he gave the officers Ced’s name because he did not have a driver’s license, and he knew Ced did. At the time, it seemed like a good idea to use Ced’s name instead of his own. It turned out to be anything but. Moments later, one of the officers told Fred to turn around and put his hands behind his back. He asked what the problem was, and they told him that his (Ced’s) license had been revoked. He was then arrested for driving under a suspended license.
At the same time, the officers asked Fred if they could search his car, and he said yes. Things were about to go from bad to worse for him. When one of the officers searched the passenger’s side, he found a bag. Inside the bag was a shotgun. The officer asked Fred what the gun was doing in his car. He told them that he had never seen the gun before. That same weapon was later linked to the robberies.
At the police station, Fred came clean about the mix-up with Ced’s name. He also told them that he had an alibi for the night of the robberies: he had gone bowling with his mother, sister, and Ced. But it was too late. An incriminating chain of events had been set into motion. Fred was charged with six counts of armed robbery. So was his alleged accomplice, Chris Ross, a childhood friend of the twins. Fred’s trial got underway in February 1994. During the court proceedings, it would come out how the sawed-off shotgun got in his car. It was just one of many revelations to come.
The first “jolt” was the testimony of Deborah Haney, one of the motel robbery victims. She claimed she recognized Fred during the holdup. She testified that two of her friends, Buster and Tina, were in the bathroom when the robbery started. Chris opened the bathroom door and held a gun on them. At the same time, Fred entered the main part of the room, where Deborah was with her friends Larry and Veronica. He ordered them to lie down on the bed. She said the whole thing took between five and ten minutes.
The prosecutor asked Deborah if she knew Chris and Fred beforehand. She testified that she learned their names afterward. But she said that Fred’s face was familiar to her. She said she had seen him around in various places in Winston, North Carolina. When asked if she saw Fred in the courtroom, she pointed to him at the defense table.
Fred says that when Deborah pointed directly at him, he began to realize that Ced was the actual robber. He believes she mistook him for Ced. He says that it hit him “like a bolt of lightning.” Until then, it had never occurred to him that Ced might have been one of the robbers. Another robbery victim also testified and identified Fred as one of the robbers.
Meanwhile, Fred says that the picture was becoming crystal clear in his mind. So was his belief that his attorney, David Tamer, was not doing a good job. Fred’s family had hired Tamer to represent him. Fred says that while they were in the courtroom, he told Tamer to subpoena Chris. Tamer responded by saying that he could “handle it” from there. But, according to Fred, Tamer did not do anything to help defend him other than have his family testify about his alibi.
Not long after the trial, Tamer would have his license to practice law suspended for various violations, including neglecting his clients’ cases. The twins’ mother, Shirley, feels that Tamer misrepresented him. She says that he never called Fred or wrote him any letters while he was awaiting trial. She says he never even accepted any calls that came from Fred. Fred says he did not see Tamer until the day of his trial.
According to Fred and Shirley, it was a case of mistaken identity that led to a miscarriage of justice. Chris has since freely admitted that he put the shotgun in Fred’s car without Fred’s knowledge. Chris says that it was his shotgun, and he put it under the car seat. He claims he did not come forward with this information before the trial because no one had tried to contact him or asked him to give his side of the story. He says that Fred was accused of something he did not do.
Chris plea bargained and received a twenty-year sentence. Fred, insisting he was innocent, refused to plea bargain and was found guilty on six counts of armed robbery. He was given a separate sentence for each conviction, for a total of sixty-eight years. His current attorney, Walter Johnston Jr., says that the way Fred was sentenced, even if he was guilty, was “out of whack.” He says that it is even worse since Fred is not guilty.
According to Detective Sam Jones of the Greensboro Police Department, Fred never said that he was innocent or that Ced did it until he went to trial. Detective Jones believes that when the trial did not go as Fred had hoped it would, he decided to “throw the blame” at Ced. However, Fred says that he had no idea that Ced committed the robberies until the witness pointed directly at him.
A year after the verdict, in July 1995, Fred asked the courts for a new trial, saying that he did not get proper representation at his first one and had evidence that Ced committed the robberies. The Court of Appeals agreed to consider new evidence. Chris took the stand, hoping to straighten out the “Ced vs. Fred” predicament once and for all. He admitted that he and Ced committed the robberies. To this day, he insists that Ced was the one who was with him, not Fred. He says that Fred only got arrested for the robberies because of the gun in his car.
Shirley testified that Fred did go bowling with them that night. She also said that she believed Ced was the actual robber. Fred says he is willing to take polygraph tests and do whatever else is necessary to prove that he is innocent. However, a polygraph test has never been done.
Chris’ uncorroborated testimony failed to persuade the judge. The district attorney claimed that Chris lied on the stand. He noted that Chris never said anything about Fred being the wrong man at the time of Fred’s trial. In the end, Fred was denied a new trial. The judge said that Fred’s trial was fair and that Tamer’s ethical violations had no effect on it. He also said that Chris may have lied on the stand to help Fred.
With his legal options limited, Fred took his case to the court of public opinion. On The Geraldo Rivera Show, a national talk show with millions of viewers playing jury, the question was put to Ced: are you the guilty party? He denied it. He said that if he were in Fred’s shoes, he would say the same thing. Fred asked Ced why he was lying and making Fred suffer for something Ced had done. Ced said that if he were rich and had the money, he would spend all of it to get Fred out of jail. He then began crying.
Is Fred languishing in prison for crimes Ced committed? Or is it simply a desperate ploy to gain freedom at all costs? As far as the courts are concerned, the case is closed. But if the twins’ mother, Shirley, were the judge, the verdict would be very different. She hopes that something will come out that will lead to Fred being released and Ced being punished. She hopes that Fred, once released, will be able to go on with his life. She says that Ced has caused a lot of hurt for her and everybody else.
Extra Notes:

  • The airdate for this case is unknown; it is believed to have aired in the tenth season, possibly the April 17, 1998 episode.
  • It was also featured on The Trail Went Cold podcast and The Geraldo Rivera Show, with the latter show's episode titled "Twin Horrors: The Horrible Things Twins Can Do to Each Other."
  • Some sources spell Fred's first name as "Fredrick".

Results: Unresolved. On March 19, 2016, Fred was released on parole after serving over twenty-two years in prison. He and Shirley maintain his innocence.
Meanwhile, Ced has been in and out of prison for several years, convicted on several offenses, including larceny, breaking and entering, and child abuse. He was recently sent to prison as a habitual felon and released on August 22, 2022.
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