Kelly Soo Park, May 13th, at Opening Statements
UPDATE: AT 3:22 PM A VERDICT HAS BEEN REACHED!
Jurors return today for their 7th day of deliberations. So far, I've calculated the jury has deliberated a total of 26 hours and 20 minutes.
In other news, Stephanie Lazarus's appeal for her first degree murder conviction may be in default. The case docket at the California Courts of Appeal indicates her court appointed attorney missed a filing deadline.
I'll update when I reach the 9th floor of the Clara Shortridge-Foltz Criminal Justice Center, in downtown Los Angeles.
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I'm on the 9th floor. The Redding family, Greg, Patricia and their son are sitting on the benches directly across from me. Everyone is wearing a pink ribbon on their lapel. My eyes start to well up when I see a small silver heart over the ribbon Patricia Redding is wearing. I have no idea why that affected me so much. I'm sure my lack of sleep doesn't help.
The bailiff unlocks the door to Dept. 109 and people start to file in. The camera crew sets up their equipment. The court clerk and court reporter are chatting at the clerks desk. The bailiff is at his desk. The Redding family sits in the first seating row.
In Judge Kennedy's courtroom, there are four long bench rows on the right side of the gallery and two short bench rows on the left behind the bailiff's desk. The first right side row is kept empty so jurors can easily enter the jury box. So seating is from the second row back. The seats on the left are reserved for court personnel, officers, and counsel.
The well of the court is crowded. There is a long continuous table for the defense and prosecution. In the table center is the projection equipment for exhibits. The screen for the projection equipment is mounted on the wall above the clerk's desk. The court reporter's desk is directly in front of the witness box. There is very little room between the counsel table and the court reporter's desk. Up against the little wall that separates the gallery and the well, there are seats for additional counsel and staff. It is this extra seating that makes the well a bit cramped for walking space.
Park and Tom Chronister enter Dept. 109. As I was walking north on Broadway from my parking lot, I saw Park and Chronister ahead of me. Although I believe they park somewhere on Temple Street, I believe they walk through Grand Park to Broadway so they can enter the building from the rear.
It's very quiet. The tapping of my keys on my laptop seem especially loud to me today, even though I have a keyboard protector that dulls the sound a bit.
A few jurors enter in groups of one and twos, heading back to the jury room.
Park's mother Irene enters and greets Park and other family members. DDA Okun-Wiese enters with her staff and greets the Redding family with hugs. Detective Thompson is with them. I believe Detective Thompson brought Patricia a rose that she just pinned to her lapel.
The alternate jurors enter and let the court clerk know they are here. "Okay. Thank you," the clerk tells them. They exit the courtroom.
The gallery has a flurry of conversation for a moment. I believe the bailiff checks on the jury and quickly returns. He stops by the clerk's desk. I believe the clerk is sharing with him some family photos.
BUZZ! The jurors are all present and deliberating.
Several members of the media have arrived. Lisa from 20/20 is back, along with Sue from 48 Hours. Lonce from Adjuster.com, a few more faces I know and a few I don't.
All of us are in the back row near the door.
There is an attorney at the defense table. I'm guessing that the bench trial will resume shortly.
DDA Okun-Wiese, Detective Thompson and their clerks are sitting in the very first row. The bailiff comes over to sit down and chat with Okun-Wiese.
TYPO!!! I meant to write, "heart" instead of "heard". I've made the correction.
The prosecutor in the bench trial arrives. A cameraman leaves the courtroom. The defense investigator, Linda Larsen is sitting in the gallery, reading pages from a print out. There's a bit of rustling of newspapers in the gallery. Park reads a magazine. Chronister, along with many others in the gallery, is focused on his smart phone.
The prosecution team leaves the courtroom.
The clerk asks if the bailiff is ready. (To bring the defendant out.) The defense attorney asks to hold for a minute. Judge Kennedy takes the bench. I will step outside to publish. I won't be able to publish inside the courtroom while Judge Kennedy is on the bench.
Counsel and the judge are discussing having the defense call a medical doctor to testify about their client's mental health.
A bench trial is one where the defendant has chosen to have their case heard by a judge only, and not a jury. The judge hears all the evidence and renders a verdict.
People are patiently waiting. Most are engrossed in their reading material. I cannot say that there is an observable level of tension in the room.
I had to step out for a moment earlier to return a phone call and I missed when Park and Chronister exited the courtroom.
The court report and the prosecutor in the bench trial are having a pleasant conversation.
A casually dressed man in jeans and a T-shirt enters and asks what the case is about. I try to quietly inform him. He thanks me and then leaves.
The court clerk enters from the back area and asks the room, "Are we ready?" I believe the defense attorney responds "Yes." The bailiff gets up to collect the defendant. He's brought out.
A prosecution witness takes the stand. A doctor. He is an emergency medicine physician. He works at LA County Medical Center. I'm betting he treated the victim.
I will step outside to publish since Judge Kennedy is on the bench.
Chronister and Park reenter the courtroom.
The doctor is describing the wounds to the victim's body.
Luz from Dateline enters Dept. 109.
Greg Redding and his son appear to be paying attention to the bench trial.
Looking over at Park, she appears to be listening to the bench trial also. She then pulls her fingers through her hair and goes back to reading her magazine.
An officer is now on the stand, testifying about the arrest. When he searched Mr. Thomas, he recovered a knife. It was in two tan socks, then that was slid down his pants into his waistband.
Bench trial is in recess for a moment. Judge Kennedy is off the bench.
It's all quiet in the courtroom now. Everyone is back to whispering as quietly as they can. Patricia Redding and her so have left. The gallery has thinned out a bit.
The bench trial.
The prosecution rested it's case. There are defense witnesses still to testify. Counsel for that case have left.
One of the reporters leaves to get a snack. Another reporter asks if they can bring back some water. It's now back to the tedious waiting with nothing going on except whispers and echos from the hallway outside.
Parks sister Kim arrives. Smiles, hugs and kisses are exchanged.
Answering a question. There have been a few times where I have seen a contemplative expression on Parks face. I don't believe I can say that she looks worries all the time. She is obviously happy to see her family that come to support her.
Park and Chronister reenter the courtroom with another supporter I've seen before. Currently, the bailiff is out of the courtroom. The beautifully tall girlfriend of Juliana's who testified, Kelly Duncan enters and hands a card to the Redding family.
The bailiff enters and sits back down at his desk. The only sounds are coming from the clerks desk as she works on her computer.
Answering a question. Yes. We still have another hour before the lunch break is called.
Again, thank you to everyone who has generously made a donation to my trial coverage costs. My husband and I so appreciate your support. All the donations, no matter the amount, help to cover my costs in providing this public service. I know I am behind in writing my personal thank yous to those of you who have donated in the last few days but I will get to them, I promise.
If anyone wishes to write me privately, I will honor your request for confidentiality.
There has been a lot of speculation in the comments that the jury is hung. I don't see it that way. I hold out hope that the jury is still trying to reach a unanimous verdict. The jury isn't hung unless they tell the court they are hung. It's that simple.
The jurors 'could be' taking a break and not leaving the jury room. That is theoretically possible.
As of now, they have deliberated 2 hours this morning.
There are supporters here for both sides. I would say there is a full bench row of supporters for each side. Kelly Duncan is the only witness who testified who is currently in the courtroom, waiting.
One of Park's more senior supporters appears to be playing a game of solitaire on a ThinkPad or iPad device.
I update about every five to ten minutes or so. Cher Brooks, a stunningly beautiful black woman who testified for the defense enters. Dept. 109. It looked like she had a cup of joe or tea in her hand.
I stepped out into the hallway to stretch my legs for a moment. It's not easy to sit still, keep my computer on my lap and type.
There are a few people from each side of the case relaxing in the hallway. In the hallway, Detective Thompson is chatting with two gentlemen I'm not familiar with. There are also several reporters hard at work on their laptops or smart phones.
A new reporter face I've not seen before enters. Some in the gallery complain about the chilly courtroom, myself included. Friday it was too hot, today it's like an icicle.
Cher Brooks is Juliana's friend. She spent the night at her house on the evening of March 14th. The defense called her as a witness to testify about spending the night with Juliana. They shared Juliana's bed. Not as lovers, but as two friends. I personally don't see anything wrong with that.
Answering a question. Everyone in the courtroom will be able to hear the jurors when they "buzz." It's quite loud. It usually makes my heart race when I hear the two buzzes, because I keep anticipating hearing a third that indicates there is a verdict.
Commenting on a comment. The law views circumstantial evidence with equal weight as direct evidence (eye witness testimony). There is no difference between the two. This case did not have DNA evidence alone. This case also had fingerprint evidence. There was evidence presented that linked Park to the victim through a common individual, Dr. Uwaydah. All of that testimony is evidence beyond just the DNA evidence.
Let me see if I can explain a bit about witnesses called by a defense attorney.
In a case, the defense is given discovery by the prosecution. From that discovery, they learn about the investigation. They learn about the people who knew the victim and who was with the victim during critical times, or relevant times. There may be LE interviews with witnesses that the defense receives.
The defense, reading discovery, may want to call an individual to the stand to present testimony about their interaction with the victim or the defendant. They may have a trial strategy, where they believe what that individual will say may help their case. Individuals who were interviewed by police are not obligated to speak to defense representatives before trial. The defense would have to subpoena the individual they want to testify, to ensure they appear for court. I hope that answers your question.
Please be kind and respectful to each other in the comments. Sometimes, people are leaving comments from their cell phones, and for me, I'm not the best typist even on my laptop. I often have spelling errors, too.
Years ago, in 2009, the Spector verdict was reached at 11:45 AM on a Monday.
When you only have the written word, so much of our unspoken communication is lost. Facial expression, tone of voice, body language... make up 90% of communication.
Park is sitting quietly, reading a magazine. The few times that Park has looked in my direction she has smiled and I've smiled back.
I have not personally observed Park exchanging direct looks with the Redding family. It's my impression that both sides politely give each other space.
Direct evidence is eye witness testimony. It is the testimony of someone who has personally observed an event. Everything else is considered circumstantial evidence. Understand that often times, circumstantial evidence is more powerful that direct evidence. It's misleading, imho, for people to say "there's only circumstantial evidence" as if, it has a lesser value than direct, eyewitness testimony.
In the eyes of the court, direct and circumstantial evidence is equal. One is not better than another. They both have equal weight in the eyes of the law.
Not all cases have an eyewitness (direct evidence) to a murder. Like I said, circumstantial evidence can be very compelling evidence.
The bailiff heads back to the jury room to inquire.
The jurors went to lunch. I'm at lunch. There is no verdict yet. Back at 1:30 PM. Thank you everyone for reading T&T!
Up on the 9th floor. My lunch was a "working" lunch on another project.
I had ground turkey & white onions spiced with hatch New Mexico chilies (Mr. Sprocket's favorite spice). I added a small salad from the cafeteria to get some greens.
I'm up on the ninth floor, waiting. It's a balancing act to stand, hold my laptop with one hand and type with the other.
I'm inside Dept. 109 in my favorite seat. From where I'm sitting, I have a good view of the well of the court. People file in and take their favorite seats.
The Redding family are not inside the courtroom yet, but a few of their friends and other family members are.
There's still a bid of loud conversation in the gallery at the moment.
The bench trial.
The defense attorney is here. He tells the bailiff he will step out of the courtroom for a moment and will be right back.
BUZZ! The jury is deliberating.
Kim Park exits the courtroom.
Counsel for the bench trial are both here. When that goes on the record, my time in-between postings will be a bit longer. The bailiff asks counsel, "You guys ready to go?" He then goes to collect the defendant.
I try to sit back, get comfortable, cross my legs and balance my laptop on my crossed leg. Judge Kennedy takes the bench. The defense goes out to collect his witness.
When the bailiff walks by me to shut the inner courtroom doors, I notice there is this huge brass like key hanging from the front of his belt. It's very unusual looking with spines on both sides of it. It looked like it was at least five or six inches long. I've never noticed this key before.
Out in the hallway are members of Juliana's family. Also hanging out in the hallway are DDA Okun-Wiese and Detective Thompson.
Members of Juliana's family and friends enter the courtroom as a group.
Thank you to Anon @1:56 PM who explained the large brass like key.
Although I've been told the names of a few of the people who have come to court to support Juliana and her family, I will only publish names that are part of the public record (via testimony). The reason for that is, I do not have permission to use their names. I forgot to answer a question earlier. Patricia is the name of Juliana's mother.
Sounds like the locks that fit the key are huge.
Park appears to be listening to the testimony in the bench trial. There is an RN who is testifying as a defense witness about an event in a hospital where he encountered the defendant in a specific hospital unit. There are notes in a patient file that the witness is referring to. Currently, the witness is under cross by the prosecution.
Judge Kennedy asks the witness where he was being housed. It was in an individual cell. So sounds like he was in custody at the time. From the notes the witness has, the defendant was not violent in the RN's presence.
The bench trial.
The defense attorney tripped over a rolling cart in the well as he was exiting to retrieve his next witness, another mental health RN who worked in the jail.
Here's how the court process works.
First, you have a trial. The jury deliberates and reaches a verdict. The verdict is read in open court. If the verdict is guilty in a murder trial, the defendant is taken into custody, if they are not already in custody. Formal sentencing does not happen immediately. It's usually scheduled for some time in the future. It can be a few weeks, a month, etc. It depends on several things.
Once the defendant is formally sentenced, it's my understanding that's when a defendant would usually file an appeal. If I'm remembering correctly, the California Penal Code states that after sentencing, a convicted individual must be transferred to the Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation within 30 days.
Filing an appeal.
An appeal takes time to wind through the legal system. It would take an attorney time, to go through the entire case file record, find points of law that were ruled on and present arguments to the appellate court that the rulings at the trial (or before trial) were in error.
Once the appeal is finished and filed, then the State of California has the opportunity to present their brief to counter the defendant's appeal. This brief is prepared by the State of California. The case is no longer with the various counties that prosecuted the case.
After that is filed, the defendant has the ability to file a counter brief to the people's brief. When all those briefs are filed, then the appellate courts review the moving papers. The appellate court gets everything. They get a copy of the complete case file. They get copies/lists of the evidence presented at trial. Once the judges have reviewed the case then a date is set for oral arguments. This is usually just a formality. The judges by this time, have close to made up their minds. Oral arguments are a very short amount of time. Like 20 minutes per side or less. In eight weeks or less, the judges publish their ruling on the case.
Judge Kennedy calls a brief break in the bench trial. She leaves the bench and the defendant is taken back into the holding cell.
Answering a question. I have not attended that many trials in full. Just a few really. The list of trials I've attended are on the right side of the blog, except for one, Robert Blake. Phil Spector 1 & 2, Cameron Brown 2, James Fayed, Stephanie Lazarus, Kelly Soo Park.
There have been two instances where I did not provide beginning to end coverage. Phil Spector 1 and Cameron Brown 2. In Cameron Brown 2, I became ill during the defense case and I missed several of the witnesses. In Spector 1, I left near the end of the case for personal reasons. I came back for the reading of jury instructions.
I attended the Conrad Murray preliminary hearing, not the actual trial.
I forgot to answer the question! This is not the longest number of days I've sat on verdict watch. I think the Spector 2 jurors deliberated over 9 days, but less hours.
The defense attorney comes back and says, "I'm ready." The defendant is brought out.
Judge Kennedy takes the bench and court is in session.
A defense witness is on the stand, another RN who has worked her whole career at the Men's Central Jail.
A group of Park supporters enter the courtroom. The bailiff admonishes the gallery to be quiet.
Answering comments. I do not know if I will attend a potential retrial. It would depend on when it happened, and if I was already attending another case.
There was no DNA expert that testified "1 and 20,000 chance it isnt hers.." That is incorrect. The DNA analyst testified that to randomly find the exact same profile, as the one found at the crime scene, they would have to test one-trillion people to find an exact match, to the DNA found at the crime scene and on Juliana. That's what the DNA expert testified to. In essence, the DNA profile that was found at the scene is unbelievably rare.
Parks counsel enter the courtroom. Park gets up from her seat and sits with Buehler in the row of seats behind the bailiff's desk. Kassabian is sitting two seats over to my left.
Buzz Buzz Buzz! We have a verdict.
People start to file in and it makes too much noise, since a witness is on the stand in the bench trial. The bailiff tells the people entering to wait outside, that there is a trial going on.
From the bench, Judge Kennedy tells the bailiff that they have a right to be here. That we cannot exclude people from the courtroom. They can enter but they have to sit down.
Park and Chronister exit the courtroom with Park's counsel a minute earlier.
Park reenters the courtroom and sits next to her mother.
Chronister enters and sits next to his wife.
A cell phone goes off in the courtroom. Judge Kennedy addresses the gallery, "Is there anyone else who needs to turn their cell phone off?"
Another person enters and their cell phone makes a noise.
Detective Thompson enters. She motions to the Redding family. Patricia, Greg and their son leave the courtroom.
More deputy sheriff's arrive to keep order. There are three deputies in the courtroom. Our bailiff is off somewhere. Now a fourth deputy enters Dept. 109.
Our bailiff comes out of the juror area. Jane Robison from the DA's office arrived but I don't see her now. DDA Gary Hearnsberger, head of Major Crimes was entering the ante chamber as I was exiting the courtroom to publish.
Kathy from the Public Information Office arrives. Greg Fisher from 48 Hours arrives along with LA Times reporter Jack Leonard.
No one told the Reddings to leave. Detective Thompson wanted to speak to them. It is not unusual at all for this many deputies to be in the courtroom when a verdict has been reached and the courtroom is packed. This is normal.
Judge Kennedy ends the bench trial for the day. She asks for the prosecutor in the Park case. DDA Hearnsberger tells Judge Kennedy that she is in the hallway.
The defense attorney's enter. The courtroom is packed with people. Judge Kennedy stands. Parks defense counsel enter the well and sit at the defense table. The prosecution is at the people's table.
The clerk is getting papers for the judge.
Judge Kennedy asks that park step up and take a seat next to her lawyer.
Judge Kennedy moves papers at her desk. I want to just caution everyone in the audience, whatever the verdicts are, please contain your response, what ever your repsonse. There are things that have to be done, on the record. Please keep your responses (calm).
Bailiff. Please keep all cell phones turned completely off.
The jury enters. The alternates enter.
Will just wait now, for the verdict.
On the record.
Juror #4, I understand the jury has reached a verdict. It was the banker, jury foreman.
The AP reporter arrives.
Have been unable to reach a verdict on the lesser offense. Have reached a verdict on the greater offense.
There are a couple of jurors that are not following the court's instructions.
With reference to the charge on the lesser included offense. Do you think there's anything further than can be done to reach a conclusion... You say the jurors are not following the instructions.
Obviously, if jurors have a difference of opinion,... but if they are not following the courts instructions, I may need some more information. I don't want to know about deliberations, but I'm unclear about what you mean that the jurors are not following the courts instructions.
Are they refusing to deliberate, I don't care what the courts instructions are.
We have heard comments along those lines?
Do you feel that there is anything the court can do, to instruct the jury that.... however, it is the law that all the jurors follow the instructions of the court.
Judge Kennedy speaks to the jurors. It's not the courts rule, to tell any juror, how they should come to a conclusion. But it is a law that all jurors follow the instructions of the court.
Is there any additional information that the court could provide.
Going to ask that you all go back, to write a note to me, as to what instructions are at issue, and see if you can come to further (deliberations).
If you feel that there is an instruction that you feel is being disregarded... at least for the moment, going to ask that you go back into the jury room, and the alternates step back outside.
We'll wait to hear from them.
Buehler asks to see the note. Judge Kennedy leaves the bench.
Park appears visibly shaken.
I am quite confused because I thought there was only one charge. I didn't realize there was a lesser charge.
We have received clarification from Jane Robison. It appears that the jurors have come to a decision on first degree, but cannot reach a decision on second degree.
Court transcripts are not available online. You can however, purchase a personal copy from the court reporter. They are not cheap.
The only people who know the verdict on the greater charge, (1st degree) is the judge and the jury at this point. Everyone else hears the verdict when it is read in open court.
Buzz! Buzz! The court clerk goes to investigate.
The courtroom gallery fills back up again. Park is at the defense table. Waiting on Judge Kennedy and the jury.
Five deputies inside the courtroom.
The cameraman adjusts a microphone at the clerk's desk.
A commenter is correct. IF the jury has acquitted on the first degree charge, Park could not be retried on first degree.
Buzz! Buzz! The bailiff investigates. He comes out with a paper and heads directly to Judge Kennedy's chambers
Court is in session.
Received the following note, we request the following and enhanced definiton of second degree murder. 520, of the instructions.
What we are going to do, because it is 4:15 is let the jury go.
But it does not appear the jury has reached a verdict. and until the court has a chance to have a measured discussion.
The defense asks that the verdict for first degree be read. Judge Kennedy states she is not taking any verdicts at this time.
The alternates enter.
The jury enters.
Once again on the record. I'm in receipt of your note, juror #4 foreperson. You're asking for an enhanced instruction on second degree, and a definition between first and second degree. And for information on page 10 (of jury instructions).
It doesn't appear to me that the jury has not reached a verdict. We are going to discuss this with counsel, we are going to do that tomorrow. Going to be excusing you and the alternates until 9:00 tomorrow. Admonishes the jury not to watch the news, use the Internet.
The jury exits.
Judge Kennedy leans down low to speak to her bailiff privately while on the bench.
All jurors have left the courtroom.
#4 of 520 reads as follows. Judge Kennedy reads the 520. My inclination is, to allow limited of period of time of further argument to the jury. The difference between first degree murder and second. Each side to address the jury for 10 minutes. The prosecution can divide it all up or address at all one time.
Will make copies of this question and order
Buehler asks to see the verdict forms, and Judge Kennedy denies the request. He is making an objection to the way the court is handling this proceding. He objects strongly.
The comment that is written on the verdict form is ambigous.
Buehler, feels that verdict should be taken now. He continues
Contrary, there is a note on this form that two jurors were not following instructions. At this point we are adjourned until tomorrow. Judge Kennedy will give the defense the written note, but not the one on the envelope of the finished jury forms.
4:23 PM We are in recess.
Counsel is ordered back at 8:30 AM tomorrow.
Defense attorney George Buehler is speaking to the press in the hallway. He believes the court is in error for not taking the verdict on first degree at this time.
I am not home yet. I had to stop by Mr. Sprocket's current work project and help with a difficult part of the job.
You know, what a helper would do. Hold this just like this and don't move an inch.. Move that over there there. Now wait until I get on the other side. Don't move yet. Keep steady. I'm inbetween helping to hold things at the moment.
I'm wearing one of Mr. Sprocket's spare work shirts. I'm in a dirty, dusty commercial building basement. I often call it the dungeon. I have very sketchy Internet connection at the moment. However, I will try to answer the most important question now.
Here is my opinion at this point.
In jury instructions, the jury is instructed to tackle the first degree murder charge first.
There are two possible outcomes.
1. HYPOTHETICAL: They jury come to a guilty verdict on first. Their job is done.
2. HYPOTHETICAL: The jury reaches a not guilty verdict on first. They then move onto second degree.
The jurors have reached a verdict on the greater charge. They have not reached a verdict on the lesser charge.
Once I get home, I will try to answer everyone's questions.
Here is LA Times reporter, Jack Leonard's report on what happened in court this afternoon.
I will gather all your questions and see if I can answer them as a group. Please be patient. I still am trying to unwind from a long court day.
Thank you T&T readers for your support. It's so appreciated.
I apologize that I am too tired to get to your questions tonight. I'll be back at court at 8:30 AM tomorrow, to report on what remedy Judge Kennedy and counsel agree upon for fulfilling the jury's request for more detailed instructions on first and second degree murder.