On January 22, 64-year-old Leitchfield resident Russell Mercer was sentenced to ten years in prison for arson and insurance fraud.
According to a press release, on November 10, 2010, Mercer had hired his ex-brother-in-law Tom Lashley, 46, to burn some property, after which the two men would share the insurance money.
After an investigation by Kentucky State Police Post 4 Arson Detective Terry Scott, Mercer was arrested on May 12, 2011.
According to court documents, Mercer was charged with arson in the second degree and was assigned a public advocate for his defense.
These same documents also read that Mercer originally pleaded not guilty at the pre-trial conference on June 21, 2011; however, he changed his plea to guilty on November 20, 2012.
Judge Robert Miller presided over the trial and found Mercer guilty of arson in the second degree (the penalty for which is 10-20 years in prison) and fraudulent insurance acts of over $500 (the penalty for which is 1-5 years in prison).
Mercer’s sentences for arson and insurance fraud were recommended to run concurrently, and his total sentence will be ten years’ incarceration, according to the court documents.
Lashley pleaded guilty to arson and was sentenced to ten years in prison on February 7, 2012. Kim Willis from the Grayson County Detention Center (GCDC) said Lashley was moved from the GCDC to the Hardin County Detention center on the same day.
Willis said Mercer was moved from the GCDC to the Kentucky State Reformatory on March 19, 2012.