LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Louisville man police say was targeted by his ex-girlfriend in a murder-for-hire plot spoke with reporters late Friday afternoon.
In an emotional address from Louisville Metro Police Headquarters, Brad Sutherland described how he felt when authorities told him that his ex-girlfriend, Laura Buckingham, was trying to have him killed.
"In all honesty, I thought it was a joke," Sutherland said. "In all honesty we all thought we were being punked…”
"It was crazy..." he said.
"When he initially told me, I laughed and I thought they were joking," he added. "Then they brought in the phone, and told me that this was the district attorney’s office in Knoxville…"
The district attorney's office explained what authorities have now made known to the public: police say 29-year-old Laura Buckingham, a former New Albany business owner, hired and paid another person to kill Sutherland, the father of her 3-year-old son. She was arrested Wednesday on a charge of attempted murder.
Buckingham is the former owner of Bread and Breakfast in New Albany.
The couple was sharing custody of their child. Police say Buckingham recently moved to Tennessee and has been driving to the Louisville area every Sunday for her son.
LMPD's homicide unit was notified about Buckingham's plan to have her ex-boyfriend killed.
Police say the couple's son is now back in Indiana with Sutherland.
At times breaking down with emotion, Sutherland told reporters that he only has one question for Buckingham: Why?
"We've always had a very civil relationship -- and the fact that it came to this…it blows my mind," he said. "I don't know why she did it. I don’t know."
Sutherland said he'd been in a relationship with Buckingham for two years. When asked why it dissolved, he deferred the question.
"She's not here to defend herself," he said, "I don't want to smear her name in any way…" beyond the criminal accusations she is currently facing.
"She's still the mother of my child," he said.
Police say Buckingham was turned in by her new boyfriend, Joseph Chamblin. He's one of the former U.S. Marine snipers caught in wartime video urinating on the dead body of a Taliban fighter.
Chamblin told police he feared for his own safety as Buckingham was pressuring him to make her ex "go away." We're told she wound up giving an undercover officer $300 to make the hit.
When asked about Chamblin and his checkered past, Sutherland was quick to come to his defense.
"Joe's a great guy," he said. "His name has been smeared enough. He's an amazing guy, and I owe him my life. I'm very thankful."
When it's all said and done, Sutherland says he's just glad his son is okay.
"When it comes down to it, it's all about my son," Sutherland said. "It’s all that really matters. I don’t care what she did, I don’t care how she did it…the fact of the matter is, I still have my son."
Buckingham is being held on a $150,000 bond.
People who knew her from her "Bread and Breakfast" business in New Albany, say they couldn't be more surprised.
"It's shocking and tragic and when I heard about it, I said, 'Oh my goodness, I hate it for her,'" said Ronald Carter of Carter Management Company.
Carter owns the complex across the street from where Buckingham pulled out of her business, mid-renovation.
"I know she's had some issues because of the war," Carter said. "She's a veteran and we love her for that...but we could tell some things were happening...so we thought the best thing to do was let her out of her lease and move on."
She also lived in Underground Station. Neighboring business owners say they also saw odd behaviors.
"One day she would be like, 'Oh hey!' and the next day, just look hateful, like she hates the world," said Brittany Enoch, owner of Underground Classic Cuts and Barber Shop.
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