Lukjan conviction overturned, but new trial is possible - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Lukjan conviction overturned, but new trial is possible

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Susan Lukjan Susan Lukjan
Thomas Clay Thomas Clay
Leland Hulbert Leland Hulbert
Audra Eckerle Audra Eckerle

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Kentucky Court of Appeals has overturned the 2010 arson conviction of Susan Lukjan, the St. Matthews woman who was convicted of burning down her business.

Lukjan, who has been released on shock probation, told us a few months ago that she planned to fight to clear her name even if it meant a new trial and the risk of going back to jail.

In the first move to try and prove that she didn't burn down Campbell's Gourmet Cottage, which was located at the time on Sherrin Aveniue across from Trinity High School, Lukjan won big. The Appeals Court ruled that Lukjan's key defense witness at trial, a nationally known fire scene expert, should have been allowed to testify.

Lukjan said she found out about the ruling Friday morning on the Kentucky Court of Appeals website and was very happy about it.

"I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome today," said Lukjan. "Today is my one year anniversary of being released, so Friday the 13th is a good day." 

Lukjan went on to say that she is glad they were going to have time for the truth to come out, something she is looking forward to.

Thomas Clay, Lukjan's attorney, told us trial judge Audra Eckerle was wrong in forbidding the expert's testimony. Clay claimed that Eckerle showed clear bias against his client throughout the trial.

It was a great day because what happened at the first trial," said Clay. "We're looking forward to the second trial that does not include those errors and the jury will get to hear the whole story."

"I think where I find the frustration is speaking with the jurors," said Leland Hulbert, the Assistant Commonwealth Attorney who prosecuted Lukjan. "I mean they're the people that didn't know anything about this case and sat there for over two weeks and listened to every witness. You know we had our side, they had their side. T. Clay cross examined every witness we had to death they had that and still found her guilty. Now those 12 people will not have any say in the outcome of this case."

Clay wants Eckerle removed from the case. When I spoke to her Friday afternoon, Eckerle said if Clay makes a motion she will consider it. But Eckerle said she did nothing wrong and was only following the law when ruling not to allow the witness testimony.

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