Joshua Young is charged with complicity to murder for the 2011 beating death of his step-brother Trey Zwicker.
The 17 year old is being tried as an adult in the Jefferson County Circuit Court in Louisville, Kentucky. He is also being charged with complicity to tampering with evidence.
Young's father and Zwicker's step-father Josh Gouker has plead guilty to the murder and was sentenced to life in prison last week with the possibility of parole after 20 years.
Gouker originally said his son was the killer, but later changed his story. He thought if his son took the blame as a minor he would get a lesser sentence. "It was just one murder, not like three or four, so I did not expect them to make such a big deal of it," Gouker told WHAS.
Young's childhood nonetheless was far from ideal. He had been in and out of foster care several times, his mother died of a drug overdose in 2010 and his biological father had been convicted of 23 crimes dating back to the year 2000.
Psychotherapist Robi Ludwig, Psy.D told HLN this week, "I could totally imagine a situation where this young kid Josh says, 'Gosh, I don't want my father to leave me. My mother died. He's the only father I have. Part of being a man means I have to please him ... I need to prove that I am worthy enough to be his son so he can be proud of me and love me.'"
She added, "There are also many studies that show that if you have a father who's been incarcerated, many of those children internalize a sense about themselves that they are bad themselves."
Opening statements in the Josh Young trial took place Wednesday morning. The prosecution began by detailing the horrific injuries 14-year-old Zwicker suffered as he was being beaten to death. HLN is covering the trial gavel to gavel.