A jury in Turks and Caicos has confirmed that a Long Island attorney who was found strangled died of a homicide – after police closed the case claiming she died of an accident.
The jury convened in two weeks to re-examine officials’ original theory that Mary Kuhlna, 61, was responsible for her death at a Club Med resort in Fall 2018.
“The Kuhnla family thanks the wise jurors of Turks and Caicos who spent 2 weeks honestly weighing all the evidence in this case,” Abe George, lawyer for Mary Kuhnla’s family, told The Post on Wednesday.
“The jury’s decision clearly rebuts the joint theory of the Royal Turk Caicos Police Department and Club Med that Ms Kuhnla accidentally killed herself,” he said in an email.
“The family prays that the commissioner reopens the case and arrests the responsible party,” George said, although it was not immediately clear whether local officials were planning to reopen the case.
After the jury reached the verdict, the woman’s son Rick Kuhnla Jr. told Fox News that “it’s a small step, but it’s a victory for us.”
He continued: “We are hoping this will put pressure on the police department to make the arrest, as their own court system rejected their claim that his death was accidental.”
The latest development comes after George cited new evidence to suggest that Kuhnla, an attorney with the Suffolk County Legal Aid Society, may have been sexually assaulted.
According to a new lab report, which was handed over to her family’s legal team, Vantagh had semen on the woman’s underwear when her mutilated body was discovered in the bushes at the Club Med resort in 2018.
George told WNBC on Tuesday: “It’s a blast because Royal Turks & Caicos Police and Club Med were arguing after Mary’s death that the incident was a result of Mary herself – that she essentially caused her own death.” “
“They are hiding evidence that it was a deliberate assault, a deliberate sexual assault that led to her death,” he said, adding that “they essentially suggested that Mary Kuhnla slipped and fell into the sand.” , and killed himself.”
The family, which is suspected of a cover-up, filed a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit in 2020 after hiring private investigator Eddie Dowd, who said it did not appear that Kuhnla walked away from that resort where his body was found.
As part of a new investigation after the trial, the judge handed over the body to his family. Dowd told Fox News that it showed he had broken ribs, had bruises on his inner thighs, and had been partially dislocated.
The wrongful death lawsuit, filed in Nassau County, also accuses Frank Yakulow—a former Club Med employee who Kuhnla’s friends say was last seen with him—of killing her and covering up the crime. Support.
According to Fox News, officers found the DNA of a woman in the room of a Long Island man, but it was not a match for Kuhnla.
WNBC reported that Yakulo was initially detained for allegedly apprehending a friend of hers, Helma Hermans, but was later granted bail and returned to the US.
“I was not the first to complain and I was not the last. There were many complaints about him and he did nothing,” Herman said, according to the outlet.
When reached for comment by WNBC, Yakulo denied any involvement.
Medical examiner Dr. Michael Steakbauer told the outlet that he stood by his decision to kill by strangulation by hand.
On Tuesday, Turks and Caicos Police Commissioner Trevor Botting accused the media of sensationalizing the case, claiming such inquiries were routine and describing the investigation as a “review” of previous findings was wrong, according to Fox News. told.
“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, as in the United Kingdom, it is customary and best practice to conduct investigations at the conclusion of a murder investigation or where all avenues of investigation or any related offender have been exhausted. The court proceedings are over,” Boating said in a statement.
“Otherwise, any police investigation or fair criminal trial runs the risk of being compromised by a premature investigation, potentially leading to denial of justice to the deceased and their loved ones,” he said.
But George called the top cop’s statement “crazy”.
“There is nothing routine about this proceedings,” he told Fox News.
A Club Med spokesperson told WNBC: “The safety and well-being of all of our guests is our top priority. We continue to cooperate and cannot comment further on the lawsuit.