Jury hears from wife in alleged hatchet attack

Defendant details troubled marriage

Posted 6/21/23

The woman accused of attacking her sleeping husband with a hatchet and telling him it was just a dream took the witness stand in her first-degree assault trial Thursday.

Anna Young, 61, was …

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Jury hears from wife in alleged hatchet attack

Defendant details troubled marriage


The woman accused of attacking her sleeping husband with a hatchet and telling him it was just a dream took the witness stand in her first-degree assault trial Thursday.

Anna Young, 61, was arrested Nov. 2, 2021 after she went to the Port Townsend Police Department roughly eight hours after the alleged assault and told police her husband had tried to kill her.

Prosecutors, however, say Young’s husband, Ronald Stephens, was asleep in the couple’s Port Townsend home that early November morning when Young started hitting him with a sheathed hatchet.

The attack continued, authorities claim, after Stephens, 74, awoke confused and Young yelled, “You’re in a dream. You’re in a dream.”

The assault allegedly continued throughout the home until Stephens tried to defend himself with a cast-iron frying pan, and when Young took that away, a hammer he had retrieved from the garage.

Stephens later drove himself to Jefferson Healthcare Medical Center, where he was treated for multiple head wounds and other injuries. He was eventually taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment.

Young entered a pleading of “not guilty” at her arraignment and is claiming self-defense.

Last week in Jefferson County Superior Court, Young detailed a marriage that was troubled from the start.

The couple married after a brief courtship that started when they met on Match.com, an online dating site, in early July 2019.

Young said she had been looking for highly educated people on Match.com, and saw Stephens had been an electrical engineer.

She said they traded messages, and said Stephens lied about his age, saying he was 68.

He also wasn’t truthful about the number of times he had been married.

“When we started dating I asked him,” she said, adding that he had already asked her about prior marriages.

“He said he married twice before,” Young said. “A couple weeks later, he apologized to me. He said, actually he married four times before me.”

Young said she asked him why he lied: “He said he was afraid of losing me if he told me the truth.”

She said Stephens called her nearly every day and also emailed her, and they married less than three months later.

The couple married after they took a trip to Niagara Falls, and tied the knot in mid-October 2019.

“I felt good about him,” she said.

Young described a controlling relationship that followed after she moved into his home in Port Townsend.

Stephens told her what time to go to bed at night and would get upset when she didn’t go to bed at the same time that he did, at 9:15 p.m. every night.

“That was very surprising. I never had anyone who required me to go to bed at a certain time,” Young said from the witness stand.

“I said OK. I didn’t realize that was an order,” she added.

Young didn’t understand right away that it was a requirement of their marriage.

She recalled one instance, where she had cooked, did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen, then got ready for bed, but came to bed two minutes late.

“He was very upset. He didn’t talk to me,” Young added, and said she thought he was expecting to have sex. 

She recalled apologizing, and added, “He still was not satisfied with that answer. He told me in the future, please come to bed at 9:30.”

At the start of the trial, prosecutors alleged the hatchet attack came soon after Stephens had raised concerns over money that he had put in a bank account for Young in case they ever got divorced.

Under questioning from her attorney, Julie St. Marie, Young recounted that she had come into the marriage with more than $50,000 in her bank account.

Young said she agreed to sign a prenuptial agreement before they married, but said she didn’t understand the legal document.

By August 2021, she said she felt confused and lost in the marriage. She described her husband’s behavior as “weird,” and said it left her sad and confused.

“I was mostly speechless; I don’t know what to do,” she said.

“He threatened divorce at least seven times,” Young said. “At least.”

She also said Stephens threatened to get a divorce just two weeks after they married.

“I cried,” she said, and asked him what she had said or done wrong.

They sat down, Young continued, and Stephens had a list of criticisms of her that he had made on his computer and printed out. Two-thirds of those complaints were wrong, she said, but she apologized for what was true.

“I wanted him to stay calm. I told him I loved him,” she said.

Young recalled telling Stephens: “We are adults. We’re just married. Don’t separate. This is not a children’s game. This is marriage.”

“Marriage to me is sacred,” she said.

“It’s not a children’s game. It’s sacred,” she said again, and started to cry.

When asked by her attorney what was on her husband’s list, one complaint was that she liked to buy expensive luxury items.

“Not true,” Young said.

She recalled a walk in downtown Port Townsend, and in one gallery, they both admired a painting on display.

“And I looked at the price; it was $400! So expensive,” she said.

“I didn’t say buy it. I said it looked really nice,” Young said. “He said, ‘Yeah, I agree.’”

“Later, one of the things on the list, he said I like to buy luxury things. Painting; $400,” Young said. “I didn’t say buy it.”

Young’s trial on first-degree assault, which also includes an allegation of interfering with a report of domestic violence, continues this week. Young was expected to again take the stand.