Thursday, October 18, 2012

Kelly Soo Park: Pretrial 7

 Juliana Redding, date unknown.
Prosecutors allege Park strangled Redding to death in her 
Santa Monica apartment on March 15th or 16th, 2008.

October 17th, 2012
When I arrive on the 9th floor, both ends of the hallway are filled with people wearing juror badges as well as counsel waiting to get inside their courtrooms.  As I get to right outside Dept. 109, I see a familiar face.  It's a young, pretty reporter from local ABC Channel 7 named Christina, who I first met at the last Lois Goodman hearing in Van Nuys.  She's wearing her gold Channel 7 pin on her blouse. Standing next to her is a cameraman.  I ask her if Judge Kennedy approved taping this morning and Christina tells me that they put the request in, but the order hasn't been signed yet.  The TV show "Inside Edition" is also requesting to film.  (You can see Christina's story on the hearing HERE.)

Kelly Soo Park is standing with a group in the middle of the hallway that includes her defense counsel, George Buehler and Mark Kassabian. She's wearing an all black pantsuit with a silky looking light blue top underneath.  Park's relatively new fiance, recently retired Oxnard Police Watch Commander, Tom Chronister, is dressed completely in black and sitting with an older gray-haired Asian woman.  Oxnard Police initiated an investigation of Chronister just days before he retired.

Right around 8:30 AM the courtroom opens and people slowly start to drift inside to find a seat. Again, there are many people here to support Park. Some of the media sits in the second bench row, the rest take seats in the back near the door.  Park and her fiance, sit in the third row next to the aisle.

I believe it's Judge Kennedy's clerk, Lori (sp?) who informs the requesting media that Judge Kennedy signed the order for filming, but clarifies that only one camera can be inside the courtroom.  When a judge grants the media to have a camera inside the courtroom, they become the "pool" camera.

8:36 AM DDA Stacy Okun-Wiese arrives.  Defense attorney Kassabian confers with Okun-Wiese for a moment.  The defense hands a paper to Okun-Wiese stating, "Here you are."  "Thank you," she replies and then asks, "Is this my copy?" "Yes," the defense counsel responds.

As I look around the courtroom, I notice that there is a piece of artwork hanging on the wall behind Judge Kennedy's desk right where the sidebars are usually held.  It's unusual.  It's a series of lines in a wide "V" pattern \ /; alternating white, red and blue lines that start with red at the top, fading to light blue then dark blue.  I'm positive this piece of art was not here the last time I was inside Dept. 109.

More counsel arrive in the well for another hearing.  An Asian looking DDA sees Stacy and they exchange smiles and a quick hug.  Stacy is wearing a dark gray pantsuit with a black top underneath.  The jacket is short and fits her frame nicely.

The ABC Channel 7 cameraman sets up his tripod inside the jury box.  A dishwater blond defense attorney enters and sits at the defense table to change her shoes.  I'm drawn to the large crystal pendant hanging from a long cord around her neck.  Right next to the crystal I see a tiny silver cross.  To me, she looks a bit disheveled.  Her black pants and jacket are very form fitting; the stretchy gray top underneath presents a layered look since it's longer than the short-waisted jacket.

Okun-Wiese and Kassabian continue to confer over some papers.  Then Stacy and one of the defense attorneys go over to the clerks desk to review a large stack of documents.

More Park supporters arrive. When they enter they stop to give Park a hug.   A tall balding black man, obviously an attorney, enters Dept. 109. As he passes Chronister sitting on the aisle, he shakes his hand.  I'm guessing that this is probably the court appointed attorney, instructed to advise Park on her rights and the potential conflict of interest with keeping her current counsel that are being paid by Dr. Munir Uwaydah, Park's former employer.  (Uwaydah fled the country when Park was arrested back in June 2010.)  The bald headed counsel is wearing a light griege suit with a faint plaid pattern.

Stacy and George Buehler chat.  Kassabian and the new counsel go over a paper that appears to have come from the prosecution.  The black attorney hands a single sheet of paper to Park and says, "Take a look at this."  Park stands in the aisle beside this new counsel, takes the paper and they chat for a moment.  I see the attorney point to something near the bottom of the paper with his pen.

People chatter in the well.  Lori calls out to the blond attorney, "Ms. Greenberg, what's the status?"  The black attorney and Park's counsel go over the paper at the defense table.  I overhear a discussion, something about "time to reflect."  The black counsel calls out to Park in the gallery, "Can we meet Monday or Tuesday?"  Park, Buehler and the black attorney chat.

8:57 AM More people arrive to support Park.  Again, there are greetings and hugs.

Okun-Wiese and Kassabian go over possible scheduling dates for the next hearing.  Now I believe they are talking about Eric Harmon's appointment to the bench.  Several conversations are going on at once in the well.  The blond defense attorney and the Asian DDA; Okun-Wiese and Kassabian and the black attorney and Buehler.  In the row behind me, I can her Park and Chronister whispering with Park's supporters.

9:04 AM We're still waiting for Judge Kennedy to take the bench.  CBS 48 Hours Producer Greg Fisher arrived a bit earlier but only stays for a short moment.  If he came back in, I didn't see him.  Now, Judge Kennedy comes out from her chambers and chats with her clerk Lori for a moment.  Now the court reporter comes out and takes her seat at her machine. It looks like we're ready to start.

Another matter is called before Park's case. The blond defense attorney and the Asian DDA are up.  The defendant is not in the courtroom.  Judge Kennedy asks about the Dept. 95 status and it appears there is a backlog in that court.  Judge Kennedy states the criminal matter is suspended and held over until October 31st.  And that's it for that case.

Judge Kennedy asks if the next case is ready.  Park's case is called.  Counsel state their names for the record.  The tall black attorney is Franklin Peters, Jr., who was appointed by the court to advise Park on the conflict of interest issues.  Peters tells the court, "I met with Ms. Park in the hallway and went over (the) conflict matters .... and provided some (disclosure? discovery?). ... She has signed a waiver that I prepared."  Peters then states he was given today, a waiver that was prepared by DDA Eric Harmon.  The waiver prepared by Harmon comes directly from case law, but there is an additional statement (in that document) that Peters would like to go over with Ms. Park.  So, Peters is requesting more time to do that.

Judge Kennedy asks about the court calendar.  It's 15/30 as of today.  The next date that is agreed upon, Wednesday Oct. 24th, would set the court calendar at 22/30.  Judge Kennedy advises counsel that at the next meeting, they will need to do something about setting the court calendar.

The prosecution's motion to admit the non-charged 1101(b) witnesses, the defense is working on an opposition motion to suppress, but they indicate they will deal with that motion closer to trial.

And that's it. Outside in the hallway, I see local ABC Channel 7's Miriam Hernandez. I thought she missed the hearing but she and Greg Fisher must have been sitting in the back of the courtroom.  Miriam, Greg and myself chat a bit about the case. Greg tells me he has already written two stories for CBS Crimsider on the Park case.  When I heard the date, Oct. 24th, I originally thought there was a hearing in the Michael Gargiulo case on that date, but I was wrong.  Lonnie Franklin, Jr., the "Grim Sleeper" has a pretrial hearing on that date, also in Dept. 109, so I'll be able to attend both.

When I got home, I watched Good Morning America (GMA) because Christina indicated there was a story on local KABC Chanel 7, and I figured there would also be one on GMA.  Legal analyst Dan Abrams was talking about the case and he referred to Ronnie Chase as Park's "husband."  It's my understanding Parks and Chase were a couple at one time, but they were never married.

Now, the mainstream media is all a buzz about the motions that the prosecution filed at the last hearing, most notably, the motion to admit 1101(b) witnesses of other conduct. It's in this motion where the prosecution finally lays out what it believes to be the motive of Redding's murder.  I had these documents up on my SCRIBD account within a day of the last court hearing.


Note from Sprocket:
I am now "finally" all caught up with my pretrial hearing notes.  If I can get caught up with responsibilities around the house, I hope to have some time to work on a few other stories about events I attended.  I attended the DA's 2012 Annual DNA Awareness Forum (where DDA Shannon Presby and DDA Paul Nunez gave a presentation on the Stephanie Lazarus case).  In August, I attended one of the LAVA events at the Crime Lab where my favorite scientist, Dr. Lynne Herold gave a complementary lecture to author John Leake's talk about his latest book.  And I haven't forgotten about the story I promised from the perspective of people who knew Stephanie Lazarus.  I also have a surprise story planned related to the Lazarus case, centered around a little known member of Sherri Rasmussen and John Ruetten's family.  Only a few words were spoken about this beloved member at the trial.


ritanita said...

Hey, Sprocket!

Thanks for all the latest posts. I've read them all, and it's obvious you have been one busy lady!

Thanks for updating the Kelly Soo Park case and including the motion. I just spent a good amount of time reading it and it helped get me back into the case.

I was thrilled to see the Spector case being cited!

Sprocket said...


I felt the same when I read the Spector case references too! I thought, I painstakingly read through those hundreds of pages of appellate motion arguments AND the appellate decision!

There are a two additional Park motions uploaded on the Quick Links Page.

Anonymous said...

I just read your update, Sprocket. I am very interested in this case. Anything related to the Spector case gets my interest as well!


Sandy said...

Thank you for your diligence in keeping us Trial Watchers up to date... has anyone ever heard any more from Katfish Ponders? It has been over a year since she posted and she was also a very dutiful court watcher and reported. Just curious.

This unrewarded task takes it toll on some as we saw with The Hinky Meter, too. But just wanted to let you know I appreciate your work.

Sprocket said...

Thank you very much for all your thoughts Sandy. We appreciate hearing from our readers.

I'll ask Katfish to chime in on why she hasn't been active on her blog.

katfish said...

Hello Sandy and Sprocket (or anyone else who has wondered where I've been)
Thank you for asking about my blog. I do love attending trials and writing about the experience....and occasionally a case that sparks my interest even if I didn't personally attend.
It has been a year since I blogged last....I developed tendinitis and arthritis as well as had personal obligations with sick relatives.I have left my blog up because I do hope to be able to get back to it. (Labor of Love)

I still have tons of notes from the Casey Anthony trial (I only attended the one day and wrote about the morning.)Old news..don't know if I'll ever update that, although I do have some pics of the prosecution I would like to share.

I also have TONS of notes from the Stacey Barker trial. Even though Tori and I spent hours on the phone each day during the trial. It turned out I wasn't able to blog the info Tori shared so Tori did try and summarize each day in the comments.

I attended a lot of the Nicolas Sheley trial but only wrote about the 1st day :/. I just couldn't do it.
Jury selection starts tomorrow for Sheley's second trial. His next 2 trials are in Whiteside County (about 90 minutes from me). The testimony is scheduled to start on Oct. 27. I want to attend opening and closings (at least) but hope to be able to follow on live stream or In Session. This trial is the 1st in IL to allow cameras! Thanks again for asking about katfishponders....I hope to be able to do some writing soon! :)