Lukjan stands trial, risks prison time - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Lukjan stands trial, risks prison time

Posted: Updated:
Susan Lukjan Susan Lukjan

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Would you risk your freedom to clear your name? Former Louisville business owner Susan Lukjan is doing that, standing trial for a second time and risking time in prison. The cost of not doing it, she said, is just too high.

Almost seven years after her St. Matthews kitchen business, Campbell's Gourmet Cottage, burned, Lukjan listened as prosecutors argued once again she lit the match.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Lukjan ready for 2nd trial]

"Now she couldn't sell the stuff, that's pretty obvious, so how else is she going to get paid for this inventory? Burn it. Burn it all," said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Leland Hulbert.

Three years ago, the jury bought the story prosecutors told: a failing business, an owner looking for a way out. It's the same case they are laying out again.

"She was late on her rent, late on her utilities, late on just about every vendor she had," Hulbert said.

In 2010, Lukjan was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison. She got out after six months. Now, she risks going back a second time in a second trial.

"Susan Lukjan should not have been charged in the beginning," said Lukjan's Lawyer Thomas Clay.

Even after she was released from prison, Lukjan fought for an appeal.

This week she said prosecutors offered her a deal. It's called an Alford plea. She could maintain her innocence but admit the evidence could convict her.

"I've said it from the beginning, I'm not taking a plea under any circumstance," she said.

So if her gamble fails, if she's sent to prison again, Lukjan said she doesn't believe it will happen, but she's willing to risk it.

"Anybody would be afraid to go back," she said Monday. "It's easy to do the right thing when it's easy but it's when it's hard that counts."

Lukjan is hopeful expert testimony not allowed in her first trial will clear her this time.

Copyright 2013 WAVE News.  All rights reserved.