Friday, August 9, 2013
GEORGETOWN S.C — A Georgetown woman who was charged with killing her husband in 2003 — and was later found not guilty — has filed a lawsuit against the City of Georgetown, Police Chief Paul Gardner and former investigator Glenn Kufen.
Keri Pope accuses the defendants of malicious prosecution, slander and negligence.
Pope was arrested in 2008. Also arrested was her cousin, Chris Miller. Both were charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of Joey Pope in the Popes’ Highmarket Street home.
In July 2011 the case went to trial and, after all the testimony was presented, Judge Steven John issued a directed verdict indicating Pope was not guilty of the charges. Miller was convicted of conspiracy and is still in prison. He will be eligible for parole in November.
Pope centers her lawsuit around statements made by John as he was issuing his “not guilty” ruling. John said the state “failed in its responsibility to produce evidence that a jury could use to find her guilty.”
He said the jury would be “engaging in pure speculation to do so.”
Pope, in the lawsuit, alleges Kufen — with Gardner’s knowledge — “offered illegally and improperly an inmate at the Lieber Correctional Institute monies to include payment for gas for his wife and a long form birth certificate for his children and that further he (Kufen) would line up visits so that the inmate could see his kids in return for his testimony.”
During preliminary and pre-trial hearings in the case, it was revealed Kufen wrote a letter to prison inmate Jody Ward.
“I am taking an unprecedented step by writing to you on official Georgetown Police Department letterhead,” Kufen noted in the correspondence to Ward. He then promised to help get the birth certificate he requested as well as $75 so his family could visit him in exchange for the information.
Pope, in the suit, says the charges were levied against her because the defendants were negligent, reckless, willful and wanton” in several areas including: Tainted testimony, failing to properly investigate the charges, using shoddy police practices, and attempting to obtain illicit and illegal testimony.”
Pope says she still suffers “severe emotional distress” because of her arrest.
She is not seeking a specified amount. She has asked for a jury trial and is asking for “actual” and “punitive” damages as well as court costs.
The Georgetown Times sought comment from Gardner and Kufen.
“There will be no comment on this issue from Glen or myself,” Gardner responded in an email.
Mayor Jack Scoville said the case “will be assigned to attorneys to handle and will be resolved through the judicial process.”
Pope is being represented by Gene Connell Jr. of Surfside Beach.
By Scott Harper