Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Kelly Soo Park Case: Former DDA Alan Jackson Comments & Reader Polls

Like I said yesterday, there are no winners here, regardless of the verdict.

Former Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson, who was the initial prosecutor assigned to the case, had this to say about the verdict:
"As a former deputy DA who prosecuted Kelly Soo Park from the beginning, I am intimately familiar with the facts and evidence in this case.  I am appalled by yesterday's verdict.  My first priority was always to seek justice for Juliana's memory and for her family. With yesterday's tragic verdict, it feels like the Redding family lost their daughter all over again.  I am heartsick at the grief they must be enduring, and I grieve along with them.  After 18 years as deputy DA, I can tell you this:  good prosecutors and cops toil every day to see to it that the justice system works.  But it's a human system, and sometimes it falters.  Yesterday, when Kelly Soo Park walked out of that courtroom, the system failed Juliana, failed her family, and failed us.  The Redding family, God willing, will heal.  But Park will forever have to live with the knowledge of what she did, and with her conscience--if she has one."
I know there are many T&T readers that do not understand how the jury came to their verdict. In the next few days, I will give a detailed synopsis of the testimony and arguments presented at trial, as well as the evidence that was ruled inadmissible by Judge Kennedy for both sides.  So look for that upcoming entry on T&T.  Please understand that I will not be giving an opinion on the evidence or arguments, just presenting them in an understandable manner so that T&T readers can come to their own conclusions.

Today, I have lots of emails to return as well as finish my thank you notes to every single reader who donated to my trial coverage costs.  In the mean time, I've put up two polls for T&T readers to vote on.

Please keep in mind T&T's comment policy that can be found on the right side of the blog, under Contact Us.  I've repeated it below:

All comments are moderated. T&T is not obligated to publish your comment.  All we ask is that you be respectful. 

Below are two polls for T&T readers to consider.

Who Proved Their Case?

How Would You Have Voted?

Note: All this time I had an incorrect spelling for the first name of DDA Stacy Okun-Wiese. All entries have been corrected where her first name was mentioned. I apologize for the error. Sprocket

Second Note: I corrected the wording on the poll to accurately reflect the law. A defendant is never required to "prove" their case.  I apologize.


Anonymous said...

I believe that a jury is entitled to all the evidence. When a judge, a prosecutor , or the defense rules that the jury cannot have certain evidence, that amounts to jury tampering. I also believe that the jury should be allowed to question the defendant and the defendant must take the stand.

Anonymous said...

Well #1, these rules exist for a reason. You may not respect them but you might do some research on the reason and rationale for evidentiary rules before deciding that simply having rules of evidence amounts to "jury tampering."

Anonymous said...

I think Mr. Jackson's statement is very well put. I hope it is posted somewhere that it will be noticed publicly by the media and others on a larger scale, like a national news site or something of that nature. Please let me know if it is. This must be a difficult time for you. Hard to scrape off the crud and move forward. I think Mr. Jackson is right...Ms. Park, and those around her, have to live with this....

Anonymous said...

I am in FULL agreement with Former Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson comments regarding the trial. I personally feel it was a travesty of Justice yesterday in that Court room. The Judge also is to blame as well as the Jury. She should have allowed more evidence to be presented by the Prosecution. I feel terrible for that family (that Jury failed them terribly.) I hope they as well as KSP and all who were involved can sleep at night...

Anonymous said...

It is very easy to judge - but we were not on that jury. It seems to me they took their job very seriously and did not look for an easy way out. Evidence was not allowed in for both the prosecution and the defense. We are very lucky to live in a country where jury's decide the fate of their peers.

Anonymous said...

Let us not forget Jackie Lacey, had she done the right thing, Alan Jackson would have continued on with that case. We should have known there were problems with the entire jury when they buzzed three times and they did not have a verdict..... but a question. Then they split the verdict as if she was being tried on two separate charges, she was charged for MURDER. I have never heard of a jury doing what this jury did. Did anyone of them ever serve on a a jury before? I wonder it they went home and read up on the entire case and now feel really bad as they let a guilty individal walk free.

Sprocket said...

Anon @3:18 PM
This is incorrect. There was a single charge, 187 felony murder.

In California, felony murder can be first degree or second degree. The jury decides which degree, the single charge is.

Initially, the jury reached a verdict on first degree (which they are required to do first) but were hung on second degree. After more argument by both sides, the jury reached a verdict on second degree.

Everything was above board and according to the law.

Anonymous said...

It seems that by Finding the defendant not guilty of First degree, but still needed to deliberate about second degree, that they must have come to a consensus that she did the deed
What were they thinking? And what about the two jurors that were not following instructions?

Anonymous said...

So what now? Park rides away into the sunset - never to be prosecuted again. If you accept the jury - not guilty - that means someone else is guilty. Do the police start again - maybe look at other possibilities? I'm always amazed that it just ends. I feel for the Redding family: either they are embittered at the verdict and they live with the injustice OR they conclude that perhaps the guilty party is still out there and NO ONE is looking for them. Either's a hard hard thing to digest. I'm starting to seriously wonder about jurors after the Jodi Arias jury and now this one. It used to be a rush to judgement and guilty all the way. Now it seems no jury wants to take responsibility. Sure glad I'm not a criminal either way. Excellent job Sprocket - as usual. Many thanks for your reporting and insights.

Anonymous said...

I am curious about your poll asking whether the "Defense proved their case." I know that you try to do unbiased reporting, but after being in court every day and reading your blog, the degree to which you present facts and evidence seems to be slanted in favor of the prosecution. Again, I know you are trying to be unbiased, but your leaning is clear. I could provide several examples, but your poll is an easy one. Why ask whether the Defense proved its case when the Defense has no obligation to prove anything? If the Prosecution doesn't prove it's case, the verdict must be Not Guilty. The Defendant need not testify or present any evidence or make arguments whatsoever. For legal accuracy, the poll should read "The Prosecution proved its case (Beyond a Reasonable Doubt)", or "The Prosecution failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt." That more actually reflects the real issues in this case. Regardless, appreciate all your hard work on the case. In the end, we all have biases, and no matter how hard we try, we cannot fully prevent them from influencing our perspectives. Maybe that is one of the key lessons of this case.

Anonymous said...

I like to tell my students that the American justice system often will cut loose guilty defendants in the hopes that an innocent man iis never condemned to death. It is this
abundance of caution and restraint that juries tap into, often to the detriment of public saftey. In this case we have a defendant who clearly should be housed in the ladies death row but instead is free to see the light of day. The jury got it wrong as they often do, but on
balance our democracy protects the innocent from getting railroaded.

Anonymous said...

I apologize if someone else has already raised the issue, but what jumps out at me is a defendant being acquitted despite DNA evidence. I understand there was also a fingerprint in the apartment belonging to Kelly Soo Park.

Off the top of my head, the only defendant I can recall being acquitted with DNA against them was O.J. Simpson.

Stephanie Lazarus was found guilty because of DNA from a bite mark. Wasn't some of the DNA on the victim's neck traced to Park?

David In TN

Sprocket said...

Anon @ 4:16 PM
You are correct that my wording in the first poll selection is not accurate to what is truly the prosecution's burden. I own the fact that I did not think through my wording choices.

It's undeniable however, that even though Park is not required by law to present any defense, Park chose to put on an affirmative defense.

Anonymous said...

That is precisely the nuanced point I was hoping to make. Our biases exude unintendedly, and often unconsciously, especially when we must work quickly, under pressure, or without fully "thinking things through" which is the environment you had to work in throughout the trial, and is the environment that jurors must work in. It fully explains why 12 jurors who feel they can be fair and impartial may still see the evidence and interpret the law in ways that differ from the commentators here. (this, in addition to the fact that they were actually present to observe the evidence and arguments and have not been influenced by biased media reports.) Park's attorneys presented very little in the way of an affirmative defense (be it that they were prohibited from arguing or presenting evidence on 3rd party culpability). In fact, sitting here, I can't think of any affirmative defense that was presented (i.e., alibi, evidence pointing toward a 3rd party). Rather, the defense was moreso poking holes in the prosecutions case, creating doubts, exposing lack of evidence and lack of motive, and ultimately saying, "We can't tell you what happened, but the prosecution failed to prove its case." And that is the essence of this verdict. Your poll is well intentioned, but like all media in this case, it sends a biased message to readers, who lack understanding of the laws the jurors are asked to apply, and leaves readers walking away with the impression that a Defendant should have to prove his or her innocence. In the end, these jurors understood that, and they understood that "probably did it" and "most likely did it" are not enough in our system. The Defense poked enough holes and raised enough questions to give a level of doubt that the jury just wasn't comfortable convicting with. Couple that with the fact that these jurors come from different backgrounds and perspective than you and the people reading this blog, and I think you have a decent explanation for why the jury decided as they did. Just some food for thought :)

Anonymous said...

what is an affirmative defense?

Becky said...

Sprocket- fantastic reporting as always. I read every entry re Lazarus and Soo Park and I'm shocked at the different outcomes. In fact, I think there is more evidence for problematic DNA in the Lazarus case than there was here. That being said, I'm a lawyer and I believe in our justice system. Sometimes mistakes are made.

Sprocket said...

I'm sorry. I misspoke regarding the term "affirmative defense." Affirmative defense is not the correct term. I don't claim to be a legal scholar. I acknowledge when I get my terminology wrong.

The defense put on a defense. They called five witnesses. They called a phone expert who testified the phone was turned off. They put on a witness who testified Park and Juliana had met one time at Uwaydah's home.

Sprocket said...

Definition of Affirmative Defense

Anonymous said...

Do you know what form of DNA was found at the crime scene? (hair, skin, sweat) Was that ever mentioned? or merely that swabs were taken and DNA was detected by the swabs? Maybe the DNA came from sweaty palms of a nervous person doing s crime cover-up.
When Police said DNA was found on the stove gas knob then why the firefighter’s DNA or prints not detected as well? Remember the fire fighter testified he turned off the gas knobs. Even if fire fighter was wearing gloves that which would still compromise the evidence.
Seems like the Jury thought the police might have planted the DNA it was mentioned the police did surveillance on KSP and collected DNA samples from glasses or discarded cigarette butts and the fact that the evidence gathered at crime scene was removed from the locker of the original forensics investigator locker at some point (because she held on to it long after the crime scene investigation and was fired…but later reinstated).
I think the prosecutor should have emphasized that Munir had fled the country as soon as KSP was arrested….that is incriminating behavior.
It just seems the Jury questioned the integrity of the DNA evidence or had a mistrust of the investigators, that’s the only way for me to comprehend their verdicts. Its not that these jurors are ignorant people because the jury foreman is a banking executive and another juror is a retired engineer….Go figure!

Sprocket said...

Anon @ 6:40 PM:

Type of DNA.
Off the top of my head I don't recall, but I'm certain it wasn't hair. The coroner's criminalist indicated they "swabbed" various areas for DNA (neck, tank top, cell phone). So whatever the DNA was, it was either shed skin cells or sweat.

Stove knob.
The forensic analysts testified that we don't always leave detectible DNA behind when we touch something.

When Uwaydah left the country was ruled inadmissable by the court.

I'll be working on a synopsis of the case where I will address the evidence presented, closing arguments as well as the evidence ruled inadmissible.

Anonymous said...

At the time of the court room craziness, I assumed there were a couple jurors who couldn't go with guilty, but now I am wondering if, since the verdict(s) were unanimous, if there were some holding out strongly for guilty, who couldn't go with not guilty...I guess we won't know unless someone on the jury goes public.

Sprocket said...

Anon @ 7:13 PM

Several reporters covering the case had the opinion that after the verdict was read, the two non-compliance jurors (that the foreman wrote on the 1st degree verdict form were not following jury instructions).... were probably hold-outs for guilt.

Anon said...

Reports in the paper were mostly inaccurate or entirely untrue. If they were true, the facts would have been used by the prosecution. Also on that note, there was basically one article written, and every news outlet and website copied and pasted it. There was never any kind of investigative journalism, ever..

Interesting that everyone talks about Munir fleeing the country. Do we have any proof that he has? Or that he has not been back since? And why would the PD not arrest him before or at the same time as Kelly? Especially knowing he was so wealthy and a potential flight risk... (also never charged him with a crime) and they had two years to do it!

I would like to also point out, Julianas mom did not call the police because she was worried about her daughter. She had been contacted by Julianas ex boyfriend JG who could not reach her, then called police.
Another strange statement by LE was they collected DNA from 50 or so suspects, some willing to cooperate, some not. Who refused to cooperate and why?

Anonymous said...

I had not realized that Alan Jackson had brought the case originally to the Grand Jury. I must admit that I utterly trust Mr. Jackson and, if he believed in the guilt of KSP and felt the evidence supported the charge, I would have had a very hard time following this trial and remaining neutral! Actually, if I had been in the jury pool and knew that Alan Jackson was associated with this case, I would have had to request removal from consideration!


Sprocket said...

Anon @ 5:23 PM

I do not agree with your statement that my reporting is biased in favor of the prosecution. I strive to report as objectively and neutrally as I can.

I cannot say that I agree with your interpretation of the jury's process. I know that I don't agree with your assessment that "all media" is biased.

Anon said...

I agree, your website and reporting is biased in favor of the prosecution. I have tried to post comments several times in favor of Kelly and not one has been posted..

Sprocket said...

Anon @ 7:52 PM

I rejected too many comments to count that were filled with negative, hate spew directed at Park.

In addition, many comments included information that was completely wrong about what happened in the trial.

I just got to the point that I stopped approving comments.

Anon said...

Thank you Sprocket. I understand you are working very hard to remain neutral and to keep things civil. I appreciate your effort and will make sure my comments are appropriate, concise and truthful.

Anonymous said...

I submitted a statement after the verdict was reached citing than I did not think the prosecution proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt and it was not posted.

Anon said...

I have tried to post this before, i will try again.. Det. Karen Thompson was given an award from the SMPD for solving this crime in Sept. 2011. Whether you believe the defendant is guilty or not, i would hope people would find this to be preposterous, inappropriate, and un-american. The accused should be entitled to their day in court before the police start congratulating one another by handing out medals and promotions.
here is link to article and video.
Sprocket, please delete link before posting if you do not approve. I would appreciate the rest of the comment posted. Thank you

Sprocket said...

To the commenter who asked that I post "part" of a comment if I didn't approve, the problem is, Blogger's platform does not give me the option to edit the comment itself.

If I could do that, I would have been able to publish many of the comments yesterday.

I am publishing your comment and I will give an opinion.

When police solve a case, they do not consider it pending until a trial occurs and a verdict is reached. When they catch a suspect, their job is over.

The case then passes to the district attorney.

Anon said...

Concerning Karen Thompson post:
"When police solve a case, they do not consider it pending until a trial occurs and a verdict is reached. When they catch a suspect, their job is over."

How can police say they have solved a case when a suspect is still a suspect. If this is acceptable, and awards are handed out for "solving" crimes, i can see why police could be tempted to tamper with evidence for personal gain and promotion.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

To Sprocket, I posted about the hold outs maybe wanting a guilty, if it's true, then it seems to me the majority of the jury was probably leaning towards not guilty from closer to the beginning, again, we'll never know unless they speak about it themselves, but, as a spectator, it just seems even more bizarre. You know, I guess it just shows how, isolating a jury as we do, and restricting them to only the evidence presented...can paint an entirely different picture of what happened, and I think the way we do it is just, even if we feel the verdicts are not always. It makes me think that the jurors and us observers have different takes on the crime far wider than I imagined. Also, do you think there will be a civil suit, and if so, will you cover it or be able to let us know?

Sprocket said...

Addressing an unposted comment.

The wonderful thing about jury service in the US is, that a juror's anonymity is protected. That information is sealed by the court.

To suggest that, just because the verdict did not turn out the way that some expected, is proof or evidence that every single juror on the panel was bought off, is, in my opinion, wild, unfounded speculation, and a slap in the face of the integrity of these jurors who obviously worked hard to reach a unanimous verdict.

There is no evidence, of any kind to accuse these jurors of misconduct.

It makes no difference what Uwaydah is accused of, at this time there is not one shred of evidence that all 12 jurors were corrupted by Uwaydah.

Anonymous said...

I assume you addressed that at myself who said the juror were probably paid off by Uwaydah. This is not because of the verdict I say this its because of his past. All you have to do is read up on him and you can see that is what he does. Also of course there is no shred of evidence that they were paid off because nobody is checking. Not that this happened for sure, I was just making an opinion for what he's done in the past. Sure they worked hard they had to miss a regular good paying job and spend time on this. I'm sure it was not fun

Anonymous said...

Sprocket, let me ask this question, is this common in a murder case that a jury come in with a verdict, read it and then go back and deliberate for the lesser charge (i.e. 1st degree vs. 2nd degree)? Then 45 minutes come back with another verdict? I thought it was all done at the same time?

Anonymous said...

From what I understand the only DNA left behind at the scene was the murderer's (Park) and Juliana's.... How will they arrest someone else? Unless a confession happens (highly unlikely)... This will be a "cold case." Which is absolutely ridculous.

Also I don't understand why the witness who heard a woman's scream for 4 minutes straight and furniture crashing did not call the police? I don't know if they would have been there in time to save her life, but Park would not have had as much time to clean up evidence and attempt to blow up the apartment.

I wonder where that couch cushion cover and keys ended up... Probably sadly in a random trash can, never to be seen again.

Maybe just leave a glove behind that is too small for your hands and that is enough reasonable doubt.

OJ did lose his civil trial.... I hope the Redding family files a suit... Sprocket is there still a chance of this happening? I am not sure what the statute of limitations are...

I am curious if Park has already fled the country to avoid a civil suit.

Anonymous said...

@ Sprocket

Your 8:13 AM post -- and the discussion at the top of these comments -- hits the nail on the head.

A lot of the comments here express bafflement that the jury did not convict given the physical evidence. What these comments fail to take into account is that real life is not CSI and, while the DNA was certainly suggestive of Park's guilt, the prosecution gave the jury essentially nothing else to credibly suggest what happened there (killing the daughter because dad dropped out of a business deal? killing juliana by sending a thin, wiry woman to strangle her -- that's not a great way to ensure that your contract killing is taken care of.) In most cases, the DNA is not enough -- the jury will want to know WHY before sending someone to prison for the rest of their life. When there is no why, or the proffered why makes little sense, it is not surprising that the jury would find the prosecution did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

I agree the jurors worked hard and did their duties diligently. While this case conceivably could have come out the other way, a rational jury could certainly have looked at the lack of motive, considered the defense's explanations for other ways the DNA could have gotten there, and reach the result they did.

Although more information about Uwaydah might have tilted the verdict more in the prosecution's favor, this also gets dangerously close to "guilt by association" when Uwaydah has not (yet) been charged with anything -- something our system properly frowns upon.

Sprocket said...

Anon @ 9:38 PM:
We will have to agree to disagree on this point.

Anon @ 12:12 AM:
Thank you. Approving comments is a thankless job. It's a balancing act where someone will always be unhappy that their comment wasn't approved.

As tensions rose from waiting so many days on verdict watch, I had to consider each comment. Was it respectful? Were the statements accurate of way off base? Did it promote discussion, or could it be perceived as inflammatory by either side.

After awhile, I virtually shut comments down, just so I wouldn't have to deal with the task.

This is directed at no specific person in general.

On biased reporting.

My friends in the mainstream press have complemented me for my unbiased reporting of the facts, not just on this case but also on the Lazarus case. I'm honored to have earned the respect of fellow journalists.

Anon @7:19 AM
The Evidence Code have been tested time and time again. 1101b evidence and the 3rd Party Culpability statutes are on firm legal ground.

Prejudicial vs. Probative will forever be a balancing act.

Civil Suit.
I do not know if the family has filed a civil suit against Park and/or Uwaydah. I am under the impression that victims have 2 years after the event to file a wrongful death. I will try to find out.

Anon @ 8:52 AM
I don't know who "you" are. There was more than one comment left, wondering if the 12 jurors were financially compensated by Uwaydah. If you left them all, then yes, I guess I am talking to one person and not several.

Making this suggestion is, by association, implying all 12 jurors took a bribe. IMHO, you can't accuse Uwaydah without also accusing the jurors.

Anon @ 9:16 AM
The verdicts.

I believe Judge Kennedy handled things correctly. Was it unusual? I haven't seen that many trials to say. You have to understand, that Judge Kennedy received a signed verdict form that had additional information on it. The accusation was made by the jury foreman that two jurors are not following the jury instructions.

When the court asked for more clarification, the information that was sent out with the next note was ambiguous. It's why Judge Kennedy then asked them to clarify their verdict one more time. They did so. She then took the greater count verdict.

I honestly don't see how anything was done improperly by the court.

Anon @ 9:35 AM
The next door witness who heard the screams did not hear screams lasting 4 minutes. The few screams she did hear occurred over a four minute period. That's a big difference.

Civil Suit.
I will try to find out if the family filed a wrongful death suit within the allotted time period.

I do not know if Park left the country. She is free to go where ever she pleases.

Anon @ 9:56 AM
Until the jury speaks, we will not know what their thought process was. We can speculate until the cows come home what we think they were thinking, but it will only be just that, speculation.

Case synopsis.
Please give me some time to get caught up on my real life responsibilities. I do plan on writing up a synopsis of the case that I heard. (Remember, the 12 jurors and 3 alternates heard all the evidence I heard as well)

I will also summarize the closing arguments that were presented.

Then, I will talk about evidence that was excluded from the trial on both sides.

I will provide this information to everyone, but I will not give my opinion on what it means, or why I think the jury came to the conclusion it did.

Last, I will also talk about the Detective Thompson's sworn statements in the Charging Document & Statement of Probable cause. This is the only document that I will make comments on.

Any other questions you want to ask about the case, or to further respectful discussion, please keep your comments coming.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure there were 4 alternate jurors not 3.

The two jurors who were accused of not following the courts instructions were the two that voted guilty. Unfortunately, for fear of repercussion or because they got convinced otherwise, they decided to change their votes. I can't see myself doing that in the name of justice.

And also, I do not agree with why the jurors reasoning for saying that she is not guilty.

Sprocket said...

Anon @ 7:54 PM

There were four alternates at the beginning of the trial, true. However, one juror, Juror #12 became ill and an alternate replaced him, leaving three alternates. See?

My understanding is, the jurors did not speak to the press. They requested to be taken out of the courtroom privately to avoid the press.

If you have an article where jurors spoke to the press, please let me know where that is, so I can read what they said.

Anonymous said...

I believe that when you review your blog and prepare your synopsis, then you will realize that you did not publish the majority of the case that was put on by the defense....but you spent a lot of time talking about the prosecutor, detective and judges clothing and appearances. I think once you actually report the defenses case, your readers will have a better understanding of the jury's verdict

Starbright said...

Anon @10:36:

I have been following Sprocket's blog for a long time. The color commentary she gives is what makes her blog so real life. Most of us are not attorneys, nor are we jurors. Sprocket gives us a good feel for the trial. She is not a court reporter, nor has she ever claimed to be. I am completely happy with the information that she does give.

Perhaps you would have been better served watching this on TV. Oh, that's right, it wasn't televised. Or maybe you would have been better served going down to the courthouse every day and watching it live. Oh, what's the matter, you don't live in LA or even close? Well, that is the case for most of us. And, personally I would rather read Sprocket's blog than watch ANY trial on HLN, where it seems you get totally biased talking heads and often times misinformation.

So, I will continue to read Sprocket's blog and be satisfied with the coverage AND color commentary. That's just the way she rolls.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sprocket,

I look forward to your review. We just had another trial in my city where some of the public disagreed with the acquittal. I've learned a lot from you and can begin to appreciate how these things work. Especially helpful was the comment that said our system favors risking a guilty person going free rather than an innocent person being convicted, so the level of proof is high. As exasperating as this might feel, what I see on PBS of other countries is mind boggling, so I'm now prepared to accept our system with gratitude.

Anonymous said...

Re: Anon at 11:35. That was an excellent observation & something we all should keep in mind, although it probably doesn't offer much comfort to J's family. However, I wonder how much comfort it really wld have been to them if KSP had been found guilty. Nothing changes the fact that their daughter is forever gone. It's the horrible reality that is their life now. I am so, so sorry for their loss.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has ever prosecuted a case knows that a straight out acquittal in a case with this much evidence is ON THE PROSECUTOR. What a disaster. I am confident that if Alan Jackson had prepared, briefed and argued this case, this woman would be on her way to prison right now.