Jury deliberates in 2nd trial for Susan Lukjan


by Gene Kang


Posted on June 20, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 20 at 12:42 PM

 LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Closing arguments were presented Thursday and a jury is set to being deliberations after a lunch break in the second arson trial for Susan Lukjan.

Jurors must find beyond a reasonable doubt that Lukjan torched her St. Matthews store to prove her guilty of arson. The prosecution said the motive was financial stress.

"She was the last one in the building with keys and the last to leave. It was a financial motive. She  closed down her store early and lied to investigators," prosecutor, Leland Hulbert, said.

Closing arguments went into the late morning. Lukjan is accused of burning down her business, Campbell's Gourmet Cottage, in 2006 for insurance money. She served six months of her 12 year sentence from the first trial, but that conviction was overturned.

Prosecutors argued she set fire to her business after a mountain of late bills, utilities and vendors while dealing with a double mortgage. No matches or cigarette lighters were found in the basement and investigators could not determine an exact cause and source of the fire.

If found innocent, Lukjan could retrieve at least $250,000 in insurance money or up to half-a-million dollars.

Lukjan and her lawyer said this is about clearing her name.

"He knows if he determined this fire was arson as early as September 2006 it would violate every principle of... that calls for an objective evaluation of this case," Lukjan's attorney, T. Clay, said.

Jury deliberations are expected to take hours and could last through Thursday afternoon.