Woman sues Kentucky State Police over alleged wrongful arrest, c - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Woman sues Kentucky State Police over alleged wrongful arrest, conviction in murder case

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Susan King, who spent more than six years in prison for a murder she claims she didn't commit, has filed a federal lawsuit against Kentucky State Police, arguing the department conspired to cover up evidence of her innocence.

King claims state police failed to investigate other possible suspects in the 1998 slaying of Kyle Breeden, used false evidence to convict her and then covered up other evidence showing she was innocent, including a confession to the murder from another man.

"In the 40 plus years I've been doing this, this is one of the most reprehensible things I've seen in the criminal justice system, where a woman who was obviously innocent was coerced into pleading to a crime she didn't commit," said Louisville attorney Thomas Clay, who represents King.

A year ago, the commonwealth's attorney for Spencer and Shelby counties agreed to dismiss the charges against King after the state Court of Appeals reversed her conviction.

King, who was facing life in prison, had pleaded guilty in 2008 to manslaughter, though she continued to maintain her innocence.

During a separate 2012 investigation of a man named Richard Thomas Jarrell Jr., for firing a shotgun into a house, Jarrell told Louisville Metro Police Officer Barron Morgan and other detectives he'd killed Breeden and described details about the murder.

Morgan, with permission from his supervisor, former LMPD Lt. Richard Pearson, contacted the Kentucky Innocence Project on behalf of King.

A spokesman for the Kentucky State Police declined to comment.

Breeden's body was found on Nov. 5, 1998 by two fishermen on the border of Henry and Owen counties. He had been shot in the head, his legs bound with cord. The case went cold for eight years until Det. Todd Harwood picked it up in 2006, according to the suit. Harwood and several other officers are named as defendants in the federal suit.

Harwood determined King was responsible for the murder and through an investigation fraught with mistakes and intimidation, obtained a conviction, the suit claims

But King could not have killed Breeden, in part because she weighs 108 pounds and her left leg was amputated at the hip, leaving her either on crutches or in a wheelchair.

"Harwood could not have possibly believed that a one-legged woman was able to drag a 187-pound man out of her home, place him into the trunk of a vehicle" and throw him off a bridge, the suit says.

After Jarrell confessed to Morgan and other LMPD officers that he had killed Breeden, Harwood interviewed Jarrell on May 11, 2012, according to the suit.

But Harwood "intimidated Jarrell into recanting his prior confession," the suit claims. A recording of the interview with Jarrell and Harwood went "missing" and has never been found, according to the suit.

But based on the initial confession, the Kentucky Court of Appeals threw out the conviction on July 14, 2014, and sent the case back to circuit court.

A Spencer Circuit Court judge dismissed the case last October.

The lawsuit is seeking unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

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