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Man accused of murdering three kids will get new trial


LESLIE COUNTY, Ky. - (WKYT) - They say they've been through so much pain and heartache already.

But family members of five people killed in a fire say they'll soon have to relive the nightmare once again because the man convicted in the case will receive a new trial.

The State Supreme Court overturned Clayton Jackson’s murder conviction from Leslie County, saying a juror in his trial was a friend of a victim's brother.

He had been convicted of killing the three children who died in the fire; their parents also died.

Nearly one decade ago, Rebecca Smallwood and Linda Roark got news no mother or grandmother ever wants to hear.

“Every mother thinks they can protect their children or grandchildren from everything in life that is bad. On that day we found out that we couldn't,” Linda Roark said.

It was on that day in February 2004 when Linda’s son, Chris Sturgill, and Rebecca’s foster daughter, Amanda Sturgill were killed alongside their three kids in a house fire.

In 2011, Clayton Jackson was convicted of killing the three children and sentenced to life behind bars.

The jury never agreed on a verdict for the parents, who were allegedly shot with a bow and arrow.

“Emotionally it's been one roller coaster ride after another,” Rebecca Smallwood told us.

But the ride isn’t over yet.

The State Supreme Court recently granted Jackson a new trial, instilling new fear in the victims’ mothers that Jackson will walk free when it’s over.

“I worry he will get out, that he will walk and get to live a life that my son, her daughter and our grandchildren don't have anymore,” Roark said.

More than anything, the two of them hope the new trial will reveal more truths about that tragic night.

No court dates have been set at this time.

The State Supreme Court said the judge should have granted a juror's wish not to serve in the case since he was a friend of the victim's brother.


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