EKU professor, fire expert testifies in Susan Lukjan arson trial


by WHAS11 editors


Posted on June 19, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 19 at 6:30 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Susan Lukjan took the stand Wednesday in her second trial after she her first conviction was overturned.

Lukjan denied burning down her St. Matthews business, Campbell's Gourmet Cottage, despite claims she wants to collect half-a-million dollars in insurance money.

Prosecutor, Leland Hulbert, said: "You sent out a mailer to all your customers that you were excited about a new location. You sent that out in June 2006."

Lukjan: "Yes sir."

Hulbert: "You were going to move in April 2007?"

Lukjan: "It says spring of 2007, yes we're going ahead and telling people we were moving."

She was questioned by the prosecution and said she was excited to relocate her business.

The prosecution pointed to her debt - late on payments for utilities, bills and vendors with a double mortgage - and claimed that was the motive for arson.

William Hicks, an EKU professor and fire expert, said:  "Just because you appear to be in debt that does not prove anything about the cause."

Hicks believes Metro Louisville arson investigators were not thorough. It took 10 months for an electrical engineer to examine the store. Hicks says no matches or cigarette lighters were found in the basement. He believes the fire could have been caused by lightning or faulty electrical equipment and that a conduit with frayed wires wasn't checked properly.

"We don't get an electrical engineer for ten months... the information about being in debt should come way after you prove the cause of the fire. This has serious consequences."

Testimony wrapped up, Wednesday. Closing arguments are scheduled for 9:00 a.m., Thursday.