Saturday, June 1, 2013

Kelly Soo Park Q & A III

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The jury will continue their deliberations on Monday, June 3rd.  In the mean time, if you have questions about the trial, or evidence presented at trial, rulings, or what will happen when a verdict is reached, I will try to answer your questions.

CORRECTION. I previously reported that a defendant convicted of murder will serve about 85% of their sentence. I now believe that is incorrect.  I am still reaching out to sources to confirm that individuals convicted of murder do not receive good-time credits while in custody or in prison.  When I have more information, I will update. It is my understanding that Park will receive some credit towards her sentence for the time she spent in custody.

UPDATE 6/2: In the above sentence I meant to say, if Park is convicted, she will receive credit for the time she spent in custody. I apologize.

I have verified with an experienced criminal attorney that individuals convicted of 187 felony murder are not eligible for good time credits.  Defendants convicted of murder will serve all of their sentence until they are eligible for their first parole hearing.

I will give my thoughts on a statement left in a comment yesterday that was not published.

Think about it, Juliana was murdered by being strangled/beaten, right? Why would a women in her 40s murder someone that way? She wouldn't.

Do T&T readers see the fallacy of this reasoning/argument?  The argument is, a woman in her 40's would not murder someone by strangling them.  That women in their 40's, do not beat and strangle other women.  The argument implies, that a woman in her 40's would not logically choose to murder in this way. The implication is, that women in their 40's would make the conscious decision to murder in other ways besides beating and manual strangulation.

The one thing I have learned from reading about murder since my late teens is, violence is a logical response for the individual who chooses violence.  Individuals who choose violence have incorporated violence as an acceptable behavioral response to situational events.

I don't believe you can successfully argue that a specific type of violence is illogical, for someone of a particular age or gender to commit.  People commit all types of violent acts, across all age ranges and gender. There are very young children who commit murder. I know of no studies that have shown women of a certain age never commit a specific type of crime. 

I highly recommend reading Why They Kill: The Discoveries of a Maverick Criminologist, by Richard Rhodes.  It's about the groundbreaking research of Dr. Lonnie Athens, Ph.D., into why individuals become violent.  Dr. Athens himself grew up in a violent household, and he wanted to understand why people became violent.

I'm currently reading The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime by Adrian Raine. (Special thanks to Jeff Alexander of Pantheon Books who sent me an advanced copy. Sprocket.)

T&T reader asked these questions via email:
1. If there was a first degree conviction, could the sentence later be lowered to second degree if the defendant cooperated with police trying to convict another individual?

2. What is the average sentence of first degree vs second degree murder in California?

3. Do you know the average murder conviction rate for a woman vs man in the state of California?

4. Could the defendant's gender be helping her?

1. I asked an attorney with many years of criminal trial experience this question.  They indicated that in very very rare circumstances, a life inmate could be called back to court for a reduction in sentence based in a motion by the prosecution in exchange for cooperation. It's possible, but rare.

2. I can't say that there is an "average" sentence.  The sentences for first and second degree murder is written into the law, under California Penal Code section 190.a. By law, the judge must impose those sentences.  First degree murder is 25 years to life.  Second degree is 15 years to life.  The death penalty comes into play for first degree when the crime has certain elements.  Those elements are written into the law.  The DA's office is not able to request the death penalty on every single murder charge.  There must be elements present, before they can seek death. For example, one element can be multiple murders.  Another element can be murder-for-hire, like the James Fayed case.  There are others.  (In this case, the people did not allege in their moving papers that Juliana's murder was a murder-for-hire.)

3. & 4. I do not have an answer to these questions.

Anonymous @ 9:54 PM asked:
1. Park never asked for the officer to show his badge or other proof to feel assured to give her fingerprints. If she has a lot of experience working with attorneys and legal affairs wouldn't she have asked for proof beyond the warrant that the officer gave her?

2. I also notice that a lot of evidence that involves him (Dr. Uwaydah) is not presented to the jury. Would they withhold using evidence on Park that might be saved for a trial with Munir. I don't know much about law but I was curious as to whether evidence in one trial can be used in another trial to convict someone of the same crime.

1. True. I feel you answered your own question but I will review the testimony.

Detective Bambrick testified that he showed Park his badge as well as the search warrant.  The defense challenged Bambrick on this issue, crossing him on the fact that he didn't make any statements referencing his badge when he served the warrant.  In redirect examination, DDA Okun-Wiese had the Detective demonstrate to the jury how he showed Park his badge. The witness testified that other officers present could verify his actions.  I don't recall DDA Okun-Wiese asking the witness if Park asked to see his badge, but she may have. The audio recording transcript does not reflect Park asking Bambrick to see his badge.

2. The short answer is yes. In cases where there are two defendants that are tried separately, evidence collected can be introduced at both trials. The decision not to use specific evidence in one case is, in my opinion, trial strategy.

In pretrial motions the prosecution has stated that Dr. Uwaydah is a possible co-suspect, or co-conspirator in the murder.  They also stated the investigation into Dr. Uwaydah and his business practices is ongoing. It's why the court required Park sign a conflict of interest waiver. It's my understanding that the prosecution traced the funding for Park's current counsel to Dr. Uwaydah.

If you would like your other questions answered privately, please feel free to email me in confidence.

Anonymous @ 10:19 AM asked:
Sprocket, great job on the live reporting. I was just wondering if you could turn back time, would you go into the field of being a defense attorney or a prosecutor? If you have any kids, are any of them lawyers?

Thank you so much.  I always appreciate hearing how I'm doing from T&T's readers.

I married Mr. Sprocket late in life. Although I've had a life time interest in true crime and criminal prosecution, I have no regrets regarding the journey my life has taken. I have distant cousins in the legal profession, but I haven't seen them since childhood.

In a prior career, I spent 17 years in the financial sector.  The last eight of that was as an internal auditor. I performed audits of branch and departmental risk analysis, compliance procedures as well as investigating internal theft/losses.  Based on that experience, I believe I would have been a good detective.  You can read more about how I got my start writing on T&T's ABOUT Page.


Anonymous said...

Sprocket, great job on the live reporting. I was just wondering if you could turn back time, would you go into the field of being a defense attorney or a prosecutor? If you have any kids, are any of them lawyers?

I can imagine everyone is getting impatient in the courtroom to have to show up everyday and wait wait wait. That's like watching paint dry.

Anonymous said...

I think you'd make an AWESOME Detective or a PI!!!!