Jury recommends 12 years for business owner convicted of arson - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Jury recommends 12 years for business owner convicted of arson

Susan Lukjan leaves the courtroom after hearing the jury's sentence recommendation Susan Lukjan leaves the courtroom after hearing the jury's sentence recommendation
Thomas Clay Thomas Clay
Leland Hulbert Leland Hulbert

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email   
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – A St. Matthews businesswoman convicted on arson charges has heard from the jury that convicted her on what sentence she should receive.

On May 21, a Jefferson County Circuit Court jury convicted Susan Lukjan on three charges – 2nd degree arson, burning personal property to defraud insurer and fraudulent insurance acts over $300 - for setting her business, Campbell's Gourmet Cottage, then located on Sherrin Avenue across from Trinity High School, on fire August 16, 2006.

After deliberating for 2 hours and 40 minutes, jurors recommended that Lukjan serve 12 years in prison on the arson charge, five years on the burning personal property to defraud insurer charge and five years on the fraudulent insurance acts charge. The jury recommended the sentences run concurrently.

According to Thomas Clay, Lukjan's attorney, his client was devastated after hearing the sentence recommendation. Clay said he will file an appeal and file a motion for a new trial. Clay believes he proved reasonable doubt.

"I was very skeptical about the evidence and the quality of proof the prosecution put on," said Clay. "I thought the evidence of the cause of arson in this fire was very suspect. I think when it was held up to scrutiny, by scientific standards, it was sorrowly lacking, but obviously, the jury disagreed."

The man who prosecuted the case, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Leland Hulbert, said he believed the case played out the way it was supposed to.

"I think it's fair," said Hulbert. "In some cases we will ask for the maximum.  We didn't do that in this case. We just let the jury decide. They've head this case for two weeks. They know as much about it as we do."

Judge Audra Eckerle will sentence Lukjan on July 23.


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