$450k goes to LMPD officer who alleged retaliation

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by WHAS11

WHAS11.com

Posted on April 16, 2014 at 6:43 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 17 at 10:19 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- An LMPD officer has accepted a nearly half million dollar settlement from the city for what he said was retaliation against him.

He said he suffered on the job because he was trying to prove a woman's innocence.

WHAS11's Karma Dickerson has more, click on the video player above.

**Previous Story**

A Kentuckiana woman is working to clear her name after spending years in prison for a crime she said she didn't commit. Susan King was sentenced to prison after she was convicted of killing her ex-boyfriend, but since her conviction another man has confessed to the crime. King was already behind bars when the man confessed and now the officers who made sure that confession wasn’t ignored say LMPD is retaliating against them.

Flash forward to 2013, two weeks before Thanksgiving and King's home is already decorated for Christmas.

“That's my first Christmas tree in seven years, so I put it up early," King said.

After years of spending holidays in a prison cell, she’s making up for lost time, indulging in the little pleasures that remind her of what her life was, before it all fell apart. One of her favorite pastimes is signing and playing the guitar which gives her a sense of freedom.  Ironically that hobby is one of the reasons used to put her behind bars.

King was tried and convicted after Kyle Breeden was found floating in the Kentucky River at the Henry-Owen County line in October 1998. The initial Kentucky State Police investigation included a long list of suspects, and King was one of them. King and Breeden had an "on again off again" relationship.

No arrests were made after the initial investigation, but seven years later a detective came knocking.

"He scared me to death," King said.

King had lost her leg in a car accident five years before the murder. Her amputation was so high she couldn't fit prosthesis, but that didn't stop KSP cold case investigator Todd Harwood from zeroing in on her as a suspect.

“They said I picked him up and put him over a bridge,” King said.

Harwood alleged the 100 pound woman killed Breeden in her Mount Eden home and got the 40-year-old, who was almost twice her size, into her car.  Though she can laugh about it now, the former hair stylist said she was terrified of the investigator.

“He yelled at me he screamed at me, he threatened me, he lied to me,” King said.

Harwood took his claims to the Spencer County grand jury, citing evidence such as bullet holes in King's floor, her volatile history with her ex-boyfriend, and the fact Breeden had been tied up with guitar amplifier cords.  The grand jury indicted the then 46-year-old for murder and King was arrested in April 2007. 

She said Harwood and her court appointed attorney had her convinced she'd been convicted at trial.

“I was outnumbered and outsmarted," she said.

She also said she was persuaded to take an Alford Plea for second degree manslaughter - conceding there was enough evidence to put her in jail but not actually admitting to the crime.

“One of the hardest things I've ever done is stand up there and take that Alford plea when I knew I was innocent," King said.

In October 2008, King was sentenced to 10 years in prison. She lost nearly everything - her home, most of her possessions and her dogs - but her family, as well as attorneys with the Innocence Project, stood by her. However, there was no new evidence that could lead to a new trial, that is until last spring.

"When they told me that guy had confessed I dropped my head down on that table and I cried and I cried," she said.

Richard Jarrell Jr. was arrested in connection with a shooting in Louisville Derby Weekend 2012. He admitted not just to that crime but to the one that put King in jail.

“The dude that I killed his name is Dean ... we called him Deanie," Jarrell said during an interview with to LMPD detectives last May.

A confession from a man whose name had never been brought up in previous KSP investigations.  Jarrell would later recant the  confession, but he gave intimate details of the 13-year-old crime.

Jarrell apparently knew where Breeden was the day he was killed, what he was wearing and what drugs he had in his system.

“He walks up to the fence and I blow his f*** brains out and he falls down and I hit him one more time in the back of the head,” Jarrell said in the interview.

Jarrell said he drove Breeden to the Henry-Owen County line and threw him over what used to be the Gratz Bridge. Under the direction of his superiors, Metro police detective Barron Morgan referred the confession to KSP, the original investigators and King's attorney's at the Innocence Project.

It was July 2012 when the Innocence Project took the new information before a judge.  Spencer County Circuit Court Judge Charles Hickman wrote the confession was so compelling it would have likely influenced the verdict, but his ruling came down to a technicality.  He couldn't grant King a new trial because she never had a trial in the first place. In taking the Alford Plea, a form of guilty plea, she lost almost all rights to appeal.

"I just couldn't believe it, that judge should have let me out, the prison had already packed up all my stuff," she said.

King was paroled last November after serving a little over half her sentence.

"It's still tagged on me, ex-convict," she said.

A label she said she fears will follow her the rest of her life. A life she's doing her best to rebuild with her recently adopted dog. 

The two can relate in more ways than one.

“She was kept in a cage all day while they were at work, and we just don't believe in being kept in cages all day," King said, teasing her dog.

A kindred spirit in her furry friend that proves King still has reason to sing despite all that she has endured.

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