Lukjan sentenced to five years probation for St. Matthews arson
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The woman convicted of setting fire to her St. Matthews business to collect insurance money has been sentenced to five years probation -- and she offered no apologies on Tuesday.
Susan Lukjan's business, Campbell's Gourmet Cottage, was destroyed by fire in 2006. Lukjan was convicted in 2010 of arson in the fire. Prosecutors argued Lukjan needed the money because the business was in financial straits.
Lukjan was found guilty of two other charges related to the fire, including burning personal property to defraud an insurer and fraudulent insurance acts over $500.
In the first trial in July of 2010, a jury found Lukjan guilty of arson, and she was sentenced to 12 years; her conviction was later overturned when the Court of Appeals ruled that testimony from an expert witness for the defense was improperly excluded.
Lukjan then had a chance to walk away with no jail time, but she wanted a second trial to clear her name.
After being found guilty in the second trial in June of 2013, Lukjan told WDRB reporter Tamara Evans that "the jury got it wrong.
"It's nothing but a game on who plays the best cards and who can out deceive the other. It's nothing but a deception," Lukjan said.
Lukjan also said the trials have taken a toll on her.
"Sometimes you gotta give up," Lukjan said after her second conviction. "You know, I loved it, this store's my life. I continue to say I didn't do anything wrong, but it just -- sometimes you just gotta give up. It's OK. Life will go on."
On Tuesday, Lukjan offered no apologies.
"I wasn't an effective business person, but that doesn't make me an arsonist," she said. "I didn't burn my building."
"It's wrong that I've lost everything -- above all, my name in the community," she added. "It's been a learning experience about our system. I used to think naively that our system was about justice and finding the truth. I understand now it's about who can out-wit and out-maneuver the other. If you're lacking in speed, thinking or education you don't have a chance."
Those accusations didn't sit well with judge.
"In the court's mind, for you to make comments about how the system is unfair is unfair in itself, because it's not unfair," said circuit judge Frederic Cowan. "It made not have achieved the results that you wanted to, but you did receive a fair trial."
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Leland Hulbert, the prosecutor, was also miffed by Lukjan's comments.
"This country -- everybody prides that you're innocent until proven guilty, and she was proven guilty twice," Hulbert said. "She doesn't want to accept that. She doesn't have to."
Lukjan says she's moving forward. She's recently started a food truck business and wants to patent a kitchen gadget next.
Lukjan was sentenced to 15 years on all three charges, but prosecutors agreed she would only serve five years probation. On Tuesday, a judge accepted that sentencing recommendation, meaning Lukjan will serve no jail time.
As part of the deal, Lukjan waived her right to any future appeals.
"Tomorrow's another day," Lukjan said.
- Susan Lukjan accepts plea deal on sentencing
- Susan Lukjan found guilty of arson
- Jurors deliberating in Lukjan arson case
- Opening statements begin in second Susan Lukjan trial
- Jury hears evidence on fire investigation in Susan Lukjan trial
- Defense begins its case in Susan Lukjan arson trial
- Susan Lukjan's conviction overturned
- Susan Lukjan granted shock probation
- Susan Lukjan sentenced to 12 years
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