Short Synopsis: Prosecutors allege Park strangled Redding to death in her Santa Monica apartment on March 15th or 16th, 2008.
UPDATE: for spelling, clarity
Thursday, February 28th, 2013
It's 8:57 am when I finally get inside Dept 109. I knew Judge Kathleen Kennedy rarely takes the bench before 9:00 am but I wasn't expecting the gallery to be this full. I take a seat in the third row on the end near the door. At first I think the packed house is because of the deliberating jury in the Bell City Counsel corruption scandal but I'm wrong. The second row is filled with victim Juliana Redding's family and friends. Redding's parents, Greg and Patricia Redding are sitting directly in front of me. Kelly Soo Park and Tom Chronister (reportedly recently married) along with many of Park's supporters are jammed into the third and fourth gallery rows. Over on the far right in the second row is the other blogger, Lonce LaMon. Behind me are Lisa Tomaselli from ABC's 20/20 and NBC Dateline's Luz Villarreal (who I first met at the James Fayed trial).
I was late getting started and chose to drive into downtown today instead of taking the train. I'm not even sure I can properly follow the proceedings today. When I came down with a severe upper respiratory infection I missed two hearings and I don't feel prepared.
DDA Stacy Okun-Wiese is at the prosecution table with a gray haired DDA I've never seen before. As I squint to see what Stacy is wearing today (gray suit with patterned stockings) I note the harsh fluorescent courtroom lighting washes out her auburn hair. Behind Okun-Wiese is the slender Asian attorney for the City of Santa Monica. To my left is a pretty, dark-haired young clerk that I believe is with the DA's office. She's sharply dressed in an all black pantsuit wearing black framed glasses. Not long after I sat down she moved to the other side of the aisle, often called the 'defense side' and chats up a sharply dressed gentleman.
I note that Judge Kennedy's bailiff is still 'Sean' (sp?) and Lori (sp?) is still her clerk. As we wait, deliberating jurors continue to file by us and disappear into the jury room. George Beuhler and Mark Kassabian are not at the defense table, but in two chairs directly behind the table, back up against the wall separating the well from the gallery and directly beside the bailiff's desk.
A group of older robust, suited gentlemen enter and congregate around the chairs by the inner doors. I'm making a guess that these are probably attorneys for the Bell City Counsel defendants. More jurors file in.
Judge Kennedy steps out from her chambers and is speaking to her clerk. She's wearing a black scoop necked top with a silver and black cardigan, buttoned up. Is it possible she's lost even more weight? Way to go Judge Kennedy. The bailiff addresses the room to ensure that every one's cell phone is turned off. I remembered to turn mine off in the hallway. A defendant is brought out in a bright jail orange jumpsuit and at 9:06 am, Judge Kennedy takes the bench. Judge Kennedy calls the case, People v. Pedrosa, (sp?) and asks counsel to state for the record. The gray haired DDA sitting next to Okun-Wiese stands for the people. There's a 1050 motion in the Pedrosa case.
And then Kelly Soo Park is called. Park gets up from her seat in the back row to join her counsel at the defense table. I can see what she's wearing for the first time. Black pants, a white blouse and the familiar hip length camel jacket.
Judge Kennedy states she wants to deal with the Pitchess motion first. I'm guessing this is where the defense believes they should be allowed to see documents from the City of Santa Monica and Santa Monica has been objecting to this request. Judge Kennedy rules, "I'm inclined to go in camera with the city attorney [and the custodian of records? to] review documents and see... ... The law under Pitchess has gotten so liberal ... I think the defense has met it's burden."
For the record, Judge Kennedy states that her court reporter and the named parties will go in chambers for her to review the documents in camera. At 9:11 am, Judge Kennedy is back on the bench and on the record. Judge Kennedy rules that, "There are no records that fall within what the defense was seeking." So, nothing falls within the Pitchess motion. Judge Kennedy orders the court reporter that the transcripts for the in camera meeting are not to be transcribed. The Santa Monica attorney and the custodian of the records are excused.
The next issue that is litigated is the people's 1101b motion. Judge Kennedy states she has reviewed the prosecution's motion, the defense rebuttal motion and the people's response to the rebuttal motion. Unfortunately, I only have the initial motion, and not any of the others. I'm betting that Judge Kennedy has already made up her mind and these oral arguments are just a formality.
Okun-Wiese reads from the appellate ruling on People v. Spector as to the admissibility of 1101b evidence. She adds that the defense motion calls for there to be a nexus link between the witnesses and acts charged. "The defense position is that Dr. Uwaydah pulled out of the deal first. ... But the defense motion did not include the letter[s] from Greg Redding's attorney and Dr. Uwaydah's attorney."
Kelly Soo Park is turned towards Okun-Wiese and appears to be intently listening to her arguments.
Okun-Wiese continues, "What better way to get to someone than through their child." Okun-Wiese mentions what was played out in the media, regarding Christopher Dorner. (Dorner, in retaliation against Randal Quan, shot and killed Quan's daughter Monica and her fiance Keith Lawrence.)
Buehler then argues the defense position. "First, it's all speculative that Dr. Uwaydah had any desire to retaliate against [Redding]. ... [Regarding] Jerry Lukiewski, I'm not aware of anybody, Kelly Soo Park or anyone else, did any threat or anything [threating] towards Mr. Lukiewski. ... The prosecution has a gap in it's evidence and want to take some conversations with Mr. Lukiewski and apply it to this case." Judge Kennedy fidgets a bit on the bench. Buehler continues to argue that there are no similarities in these alleged prior incidents and this case. "In Spector, you had seven prior incidents where Spector pulled a gun. ... If prior uncharged acts are allowed in, then we should be allowed to all the evidence relating to the Jerry Lukiewski issue and Dr. Uwaydah. ... we're entitled to. ... So we should get all the evidence. ... The Aaron Kelly matter involves an alleged incident in 2006 .... doesn't involve Dr. Uwaydah but Kelly Soo Park. ... So, at minimum, we would be entitled to that evidence and the time to review it. ... I think that opens up [to the defense] all the evidence the people have in the Dr. Uwaydah matter. ... I think the people are way off base. .. I don't think the people should be able to bring this in ... in order to fill a hole. ... That's not appropriate."
It looks to me like Judge Kennedy is patiently waiting for Buehler to finish. Okun-Wiese then argues one more time. She mentions that the initial falling out of the business agreement was initiated via a letter from Mr. Redding to Dr. Uwaydah, calling him out on illegal activities. Okun-Wiese continues arguing the facts of the Lukiewski issue and the actions of Ronnie Case. Okun-Wiese tells the court that all the evidence regarding the Lukiewski matter has been turned over to the defense. "The only link between the defendant and Juliana Redding is Dr. Uwaydah. ... The reason there wasn't another incident [Lukiewski]... Santa Monica Police arrested the defendant before she could get to him."
Judge Kennedy finally rules. "I don't think the people have met their burden." She adds however, that may change if (the defendant? defense witnesses?) testify or present evidence. "It seems clear to me the people have not met their burden. ... The only other issue is renewal of the wiretap. ... The Hobbs* material did not change anything about the wire tap and that issue continues to be denied."
Judge Kennedy mentions that she has another subpoena. The defense states that it's theirs and asks that it be turned over. The prosecution has no objection. Then Judge Kennedy speaks to the room about how disappointed she is that this case is still not ready to go to trial at the prior date they discussed. "I don't know what shenanigans or foot dragging [the defense] has done..." Buehler responds, "There has been no shenanigans..."
Buehler explains that another case in Federal court has delayed this case. That case is going longer than originally scheduled. Buehler adds that the defense DNA testing reports have not come in yet. In a very angry and irritated tone, Judge Kennedy tells the defense she doesn't understand 'why' the defense waited until this late date to test the DNA. Buehler tries to explain that earlier they were trying to get a handle on the case and were doing a lot of investigation.
It seems to me like Judge Kennedy is getting more angry just listening to the defense excuses. Judge Kennedy tells the defense that their client changed counsel, and that's her right but that's not an excuse to delay. Buehler wants to push the case back to April. Okun-Wiese tells Judge Kennedy she has many witnesses she's subpoenaed. (I think she mentioned something like 65 witnesses.) She tells Judge Kennedy that the victim's family is in court today.
In an accusatory voice Judge Kennedy tells Buehler, "I think you did this intentionally!" Okun-Wiese offers to the court, "I was told the DNA reports would be in tomorrow. ... When Mr. Buehler and Kassabian took over the case, they said [regarding] the DNA ... they were not going in that direction."
Buehler is in trial across the street. (On Monday, I was in the Federal Courthouse, checking on something for a friend and had lunch there. I happened to see George Buehler in the fourth floor cafeteria around lunch time.) Judge Kennedy blasts Buehler again. "You have come in [here] repeatedly [stating] you're ill ... another trial ... DNA! ... I want this case to go to trial! ... [The defendant] changed lawyers three times! ... I don't think you ever wanted the case to go to trial."
It's obvious Judge Kennedy is angry, but it's just yelling, nothing more. She doesn't lay any sanctions on the defense.
Okun-Wiese tells the court that their DNA expert is out of state from April 25th to May 10th. "The DNA is my case," she adds. Judge Kennedy understand that the people are not willing to start their case without their star witness and asks her how soon she can start. After a bit of back and forth and clearance with the clerk, Monday, May 13th is selected. The case clock is set at zero of 10 on that date. Jury selection will start on that date. Judge Kennedy asks about pre-screened jurors. If they do pre-screened jurors, May 13th is a firm date.
And that's it. Judge Kennedy is off the bench. The bailiff goes over to the victim's family and explains the issue of limited seating during jury selection. Another friend of the victim's family arrives late to court and many hugs are exchanged. The court clerk calls the attorneys back to her desk before they try to leave. I clearly hear Lori tell counsel, "You can't change this date because the jury will be here."
When everyone slowly files out of the courtroom, a few in the media try to hand their cards to friends of the family but no one will take them.
Out in the elevator bay, it's a long wait for an elevator going down. I try to stand back and give the family their privacy. Juliana Redding's mother, Patricia, and some of the family supporters have left the hallway and are in the elevator bay, while others are still in the hallway. Patricia, seeing her friends still in the hallway, heads back through the security exit door to speak with them. A sheriff calls out to her, Mam! Mam! You can't go back there! The sheriff tells her she had to go through the security checkpoint again, if she wants to reenter the hallway. I don't know if she heard them or ignored them. The sheriff goes up to her, grabbing her hands and placing them behind her back. I'm wondering if he's going to arrest the mother of a murder victim, but he doesn't. Holding onto her arms, he guides her back to the elevator bay.
Note: This case is a DNA case. The 1101b evidence the people fought to introduce would have gone to show the jury the people's alleged position on motive, basically 'why' the victim was murdered. Although juries like to hear motive, it's not a requirement of law that the prosecution provide one. In court documents, the prosecution alleges that Park's DNA was found in many areas of the apartment as well as around Juliana Redding's neck.
It's entirely possible there may be more motions filed once the defense DNA reports come in. I will periodically check with the court clerk to see if any more pretrial hearing dates have been scheduled. Sprocket.
*Hobbs To me, it appears Judge Kennedy was referencing the case, People v. Hobbs (1994) 7 Cal.4th 948, 973 -- in relation to earlier defense motions to get the people's wiretap evidence ruled inadmissible. Sprocket.