Zernon Gray.tif

Vernon Gray pled guilty to murder and arson, 2nd degree just before his trial was set to begin

A former Jackson County man accused of murdering Lawrence Sizemore on July 13, 2015 has pled guilty to charges of murder and arson. Zernon Gray, 50, (now of Powell County) was arrested on March 31st, 2018 and indicted for murder and arson, 1st degree over the death of Lawrence Sizemore on Sexton’s Creek near the Owsley County line. Gray allegedly shot Sizemore then set fire in the home with intention of destroying the evidence, the indictment reads.

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Lawrence Sizemore, 68, was found dead in his home in the Sexton's Creek area of Owsley/Clay County

Gray agreed to plead guilty to the murder and an amended charge of arson 2nd degree in the case, according to Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Harold Rader. There was some contention regarding the charge of arson, 1st degree raised by Gray’s legal counsel. Gray’s attorney, Kristen Bailey, had maintained that a state medical examiner’s report would show that there was no smoke in Sizemore’s lungs and the charge should be reduced. Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Harold Rader said that Gray told a Kentucky State Police detective that he “freaked out and caught the home on fire” following the death of Sizemore. However, Gray’s attorney maintained that testimony from a state medical examiner could determine whether or not the charge of arson, 1st degree charge would be reduced.

Moments before jury selection was to begin for the trial scheduled to start last Tuesday, Gray agreed to plead guilty to the murder and an amended charge of arson 2nd degree in the case, according to Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Harold Rader. Rader says the agreement was satisfying to all parties involved.

“The family was well-pleased with this agreement and so are we,” he said.

The murder had gone unsolved for 3 years prior to the arrest of Gray in March 2018. After Gray was arrested, Sizemore’s daughter, Taylor Kuhn said, “Been a long time coming. I am happy we are moving in the right direction.”

Family members said Sizemore and Gray were friends. “He gave Zernon a shelter over his head. He gave him food to eat. Took good care of him. Something went wrong. He was gone,” said Sizemore’s sister, Gerry Asher.

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