LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Less than 24 hours after being released from the Daviess County Jail, the woman convicted of setting her business on fire is trying to get her life back.
A judge granted shock probation for Susan Lukjan on Friday, which means she was released after only serving six months of what was supposed to be 12 years behind bars. "It's just overwhelming. It still hasn't sunk in," Lukjan said.
"I did go into the trial with these rose-colored glasses that I thought everything would come out and everything would be fine," she said.
Instead of walking away a free woman, a jury found Lukjan guilty of setting Campbell's Gourmet Cottage on fire in 2006 to collect insurance money. During the trial, Prosecutors argued Lukjan was the only person who could be responsible for it. A jury favored the prosecution, sending her to prison for second degree arson, burning personal property to defraud insurer and fraudulent insurance acts over $300. She has been behind bars for the past six months.
"I started working out. I got a prison job. I worked on the tree farm so I now can say I worked for the Department of Forestry, but I worked out a lot. I tried to keep my mind straight by working out and walking and things like that," Lukjan said.
She said she missed her children tremendously. "My children -like for most mom's -are the most important thing in my life and to think missing out on their lives is pretty devastating," she said.
But, now that she has been released she said she is thrilled to pick her life back up again. Lukjan is working to clear her name. She maintains her innocence, saying to this day she does not know how the fire started that destroyed her business.
"I don't know. I'm not a fire investigator, but our fire investigator will be able to hopefully testify at the retrial. He wasn't allowed to testify at the original trial," she argued.
Lukjan's attorney is appealing the case, citing errors during the trial. They hope it will be retried.
"I know in my heart I have a lot of people who still believe in me, but I know there will always be those people who doubt. But, I have to focus on the ones that believe in me," she said.
Lukjan said she has been offered a couple of jobs, already, including one under her friend's business (Cooking at the Cottage). She said she may help out there for a short period of time, but will be looking elsewhere.
Lukjan said she is scheduled to meet with a probation officer on Tuesday.