Thursday, August 8, 2013

Kelly Soo Park Trial Synopsis: Part III, Additional Arguments to Jury

Prosecution exhibit of Juliana's bedroom floor. 
Circle outlines blood underneath Juliana's right foot.

This is T&T's continuing synopsis of the Kelly Soo Park trial, Part III, closing arguments. Sprocket.

Continued from Defense & Prosecution Closing Argument....

June 4th, 2013
The jury's verdict on the lesser count, first degree murder is read in open court: Not Guilty. The jury had not reached a verdict on second degree murder.

Immediately after, the jury returned to the jury room and Judge Kennedy reviewed with counsel the jury's questions regarding further instruction on second degree and first degree.

Judge Kennedy ruled that each side would get an additional 10 minutes of argument to address the jury. The defense objected.  Defense counsel George Buehler objected to that procedure, arguing that the jury did not ask for "more discussion of the evidence." Buehler expanded on why he thought this was an error the court was making. "... and I fear that again, the message that will go to the jury is the court is not happy with the way they have done things so far; they need more help. And I don't think that's appropriate. I think it becomes coercive for whatever minority of jurors have a different opinion from the majority. And particularly when they haven't asked for it."

The court explains that what counsel will be allowed to argue is the differences between first and second degree murder.  Buehler objects. He's not sure that's what the issue is with the jurors. Buehler argues to the court, "So I don't see how the court can impose any real structure on what counsel and I can argue. So I do object, your honor."  Judge Kennedy responds, "Okay." It's not clear if she ruled she agreed with Buehler or if she just acknowledged his objection. The state had the option to split up their time into five minutes before the defense and their remaining five minutes after.

When the jurors are brought out, Judge Kennedy tells the jurors they will hear an additional 10 minutes each of argument on the issues the jury raised regarding the difference between first and second degree murder. Judge Kennedy also references page 10 of jury instructions, instruction 520, which also related to those same issues. When the additional arguments are over, she asked them to return to the jury room to continue their deliberations to try to reach a verdict.

DDA Stacey Okun-Wiese speaks to the jurors extemporaneously. She doesn't use any notes at all. She starts off by explaining to the jurors that all murder in California starts at second degree. There are two ways to get there: expressed or implied malice.  First degree murder requires expressed malice and premeditation and deliberation.

Okun-Wiese then moves back to explaining second degree murder and the elements that need to be proven to convict.  "There are two separate ways that the law recognizes that a jury can find the defendant guilty of second degree murder. The first way that a jury can reach a finding of second degree murder is when there is an act that causes the death of another individual. In this case it is the act of strangulation. In addition to that act there has to be what is called malice aforethought."

Okun-Wiese then talks about jury instruction 520. "This instruction tells you that element one, the defendant committed an act that caused the death of another person; and two, when the defendant acted, she had a state of mind called malice aforethought."  She then gives detailed examples of expressed malice and implied malice to the jury.  Okun-Wiese explains expressed malice as going up to someone and saying, "I'm going to shoot you," and then proceeding to shoot them.  Implied malice may not be that clear from the evidence.  "..sometimes the circumstances are such that it is not that clear by the actual evidence that the person had the intent to kill, but the person's action suggest that they shouldn't be getting away with this act that they committed just because they come in and they say, 'I didn't mean to kill her.'  So what the Law does is, it lays out four elements for you which are listed in jury instruction 520."

Okun-Wiese then details those four elements for the jurors.  The defendant's strangulation of Juliana, placing her hands around her neck, cutting off her blood and air flow that caused her to die, that meets the first element.  "Stopping the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain causes loss of consciousness, brain damage and/or death," Okun-Wiese states meets element number two, which state the consequences of the act were dangerous to human life.  "Again, you look at the facts in this case. The defendant placed her hands around Juliana's neck. That was an act that the probable consequences would either be serious harm to the body and/or death."

Element three requires that at the time the defendant acted, she knew the act was dangerous to human life. Element four, the defendant acted deliberately with conscious disregard for human life.

"Now you have sent a question asking what conscious disregard for human life means. And here is what it means. You know what you are doing could cause serious injury to another person and/or death, and you do it anyway. You do it because you don't care. You understand that there is a risk you could harm somebody, and you simply say, "I do not care" and you do it anyway," Okun-Wiese tells the jury.

Okun-Wiese then brings up further evidence of Park's disregard for human life "...when she turned the stove on and left the gas emanating through the apartment building. It could not have only caused an explosion in Juliana's apartment; but it could have caused an explosion throughout the whole apartment complex."

Okun-Wiese argues to the jurors, "If you are going to turn on the gas, there is a reason why you are doing it. It is to cover up your crime and to create  it so there is no evidence left at the scene."

Okun-Wiese tells the jurors, "It' is the people's position that when the defendant placed her hands around Juliana's neck, the defendant intended to kill her. She beat Juliana up prior to putting her hands around her neck. We know that from the testimony of Dr. Louis Pena. She had numerous hemorrhages in her head from being hit or banged against the wall. This strangulation occurred after that beating. When she placed her hands around Juliana's neck, it is clear that she wanted Juliana to die."

Okun-Wiese continues, "And if you are not satisfied that there is an expressed intent, an express malice, then look to implied malice. The defendant knew he act of placing her hands around Juliana's neck could cause death or serious bodily injury, and she did it anyway because she just didn't care. Thank you."

The court informs the prosecution that the used their entire ten minutes.  Then George Buehler gets up to present his additional ten minutes.

Buehler first thanks them for their hard work in the case. He then makes the point that what they just heard is argument. "The district attorney has no authoritative word on what the instruction about malice means. Ultimately each one of you is to make your own judgement by reading the instructions, and make your own judgement about what that instruction means as applied to the facts as you find them.  The prosecutor has given you her version of the facts and her version of what that should mean under the instruction."

Buehler then explains there is a difference between first degree and second degree murder.

"But second degree murder still requires a very high state of intent, of criminal intent. It does require malice. And the fact about this case, I submit to you ladies and gentlemen, is that there is a whole lot of uncertainty, a lot of unanswered questions s to what happened in the apartment the night that Juliana Redding was killed."

"Even if the prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Kelly Park was there, there are a whole lot of questions as to what actually happened there, who else might have been there, what other people might have done. You have very little evidence about what actually happened."

Buehler goes onto explain that the prosecution relied heavily on the DNA to place his client in the apartment and to place Park's hands around Juliana's neck.  "But you know, because you heard the evidence, that that DNA evidence leaves a lot of questions unanswered."  Buehler reminds the jury that it wasn't an expensive expert that talked about transferred DNA, " was the prosecution's expert. It was the prosecution's expert who said that there are -- there is a lot of uncertainty in the science of how DNA gets places and how it can be transferred, and that she could not give an opinion, as an expert, on whether or not that DNA got transferred to somebody else rather than coming from Kelly Park."

Buehler states that it is a question why Park's fingerprints were not found all over the apartment if she were handling things.  He states there was no investigation of the alibi of Brian Van Holt.  Buehler tells there jury there are many unanswered questions in this case.

"And if there are questions that aren't answered, whether it is a question about the meaning of an instruction to where you collectively cannot come to an agreement on that; you have differing judgements, differing intuitions perhaps -- sometimes decisions we make are made on intuition, our gut.  If you have different views and you can't come to a clear answer that everybody can agree to on the meaning of an instruction or on the facts of what happened that night, then there is one instruction that controls: You go back to the early instruction 220, Page 2, that says, "A defendant in a criminal case is presumed to be innocent." And that presumption holds until such time as the prosecution has satisfied all of you, beyond a reasonable doubt, that under the instructions and under the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant is guilty."

"I submit to you that there is no such level of evidence in this case. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen."

The jury then went back to the jury room to deliberate again.

To be continued in Kelly Soo Park Trial Synopsis, Part IV....


Anonymous said...

Any thoughts on why her body was moved to the bedroom?

Sprocket said...

Unless a murder is thoughtfully planned out in advance, you have to ask yourself, did the murderer plan out every detail of what they were going to do, when? Were they calm throughout the entire event?

We don't know if this murder was preplanned or not. We don't know if this was a confrontation that went out of control. The prosecution theory of the crime, never stated in any moving papers that this murder was preplanned.

There are some things we will never know.

Taking all that into consideration, my best guess would be post event staging/ cleanup.

If the apartment had blown up and destroyed the evidence of the attack in the living room (the missing plates, the missing cover on the sofa cushion, the twisted table leg, the spilled oil under the tray, the broken gold chain), it might have looked like (to the investigators) that Juliana was killed in bed.

That might have pointed investigators in a different direction.

Anonymous said...

If the investigators had thought Juliana was killed in bed, they might have assumed it was an intruder who was a career criminal or a predator of some kind.

David In TN

Anonymous said...

we know who the murderer is...she got away. justice is in God's hands and he will bring it to bear.

NancyB said...

To Anonymous:
From your mouth to God's ears.

Anonymous said...

Let's see what 48 hours has to say tomorrow!!