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Court reverses conviction in arson, death case

Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - A southern Kentucky man will get a new trial on complicity to murder and arson charges after the Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday found that the jury instructions in his case were faulty.

The unanimous court's decision overturned the conviction and 25-year prison sentence of 26-year-old Jonathan Young stemming from the death 68-year-old Thomas Max Martin and burning of his body on Aug. 25, 2010, in Monroe County.

A co-defendant, 25-year-old Jessie Parke, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in January to 30 years in prison.

Police say the pair shot Martin in the head and set his house on fire.

Young, who is housed in Green River Correctional Complex in Central City, argued that the jury instructions for complicity to murder were flawed because the panel wasn't required to find he acted with the intent to kill Martin. Prosecutors acknowledged the flawed instructions, but said any error was harmless because the evidence left no question about Young's guilt.

Justice Mary Noble, writing for a unanimous court, turned away the prosecution argument.

"This court ... cannot affirm in the face of an instructional error where the jury has not found that the appellant acted with a required mental state," Noble wrote.

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