Saturday, November 23, 2013

Kelly Soo Park Trial: Synopsis Part IV -- Non-Admitted Evidence via Pretrial Motions

 Juliana Redding, undated photo


UPDATE: spelling, clarity
On June 4th, 2013, a jury found Kelly Soo Park not guilty of the murder of Juliana Redding.  Redding was found strangled to death in her Santa Monica apartment on March 16, 2008. Park was arrested for Redding's murder over two years later.

Juliana Redding's living room where prosecutor's believe 
Juliana fought for her life.

After the trial was over, I promised T&T readers that I would present a synopsis of the trial to help them understand the jury's verdict. Many readers did not understand the verdict when the state presented evidence that Park's DNA was found on several items, including the victim. Criminalists testified at trial that Park's DNA was found around Juliana's neck, on the T-shirt Juliana was wearing at the time of her death, on her cell phone left on a bedside table, as well as on a stove knob in the kitchen.

This is my last post in a four part series, that gave a detailed, post-trial analysis of the case. Part IV covers pre trial motions argued before trial, as to the admissibility of evidence one side or the other, wanted to introduce.

Special thanks and shout-out to my fellow journalist Lonce LaMon of for her assistance in purchasing motions as well as photographing the evidence once the trial was over. You can see more of the exhibits in the Part III posts. I have purposefully not published a photo of Juliana as she was found out of respect for her family and friends.

Tonight, CBS 48 Hours will profile the murder of Juliana Redding and the trial of Kelly Soo Park  who was charged with her murder. All three major networks had producers who attended pretrial hearings and attended most or some of the trial. (T&T was the only source for daily updates on the trial. T&T also reported the verdicts before any other news source. Sprocket) Journalists for NBC and CBS worked together to try to get Judge Kennedy to approve video taping of witness testimony. For the court to agree to that request, Judge Kennedy wanted the network to mount cameras on the wall.  The problem is, those cameras are not something the networks readily have at their disposal, and the daily cost of one camera is several thousand a day. Consequently, only opening statements and closing arguments were video taped.

I knew something was in the works when respected LA Times reporter Jack Leonard sent out this tweet:

Leonard is an excellent journalist and that was most kind of him. (It's a good bet that CBS has an arrangement with the LA Times to feature their journalists on cases they profile.) Not long after, former prosecutor Alan Jackson made a post about the upcoming episode on his Facebook Page.  The initial prosecutors, Jackson and his co-counsel at the time, Eric Harmon (now Judge Harmon),  probably know the case facts as well as DDA Stacy Okun-Wiese, who prosecuted Park.

I will be most interested to see if CBS producers were able to track down any of the jurors and get them to appear on camera. After the verdicts were read in court, the jury asked to be escorted out of the courthouse via a private elevator.  Back on June 13th, a T&T reader left a comment with information about the jury's verdict. Since the commenter asked that I not publish the comment, I have honored that request.

Throughout my coverage of the trial, several people who knew Kelly Soo Park over a significant portion of her life, contacted me and shared what they knew about her. Unfortunately, every single person spoke off the record and were not willing to share this information publicly.

Kelly Soo Park Trial Synopsis
Part I Opening Statements
Part II Prosecution Witnesses 1-10
Part II Prosecution Witnesses 11-18
Part II Prosecution Witnesses 19-21
Part II Final Prosecution & Defense Witnesses
Part III Prosecution Opening Argument
Part III Defense & Prosecution Closing Argument
Part III Additional Arguments to Jury

Before the trial even started, both sides presented motions to admit or exclude evidence at trial. Here's brief review of some of the more significant motions. 

James Bond Girl - Defense Motion to Exclude
From the moment Park was arrested, news agencies were reporting that Dr. Munir Uwaydah --the only connection between Park and Juliana-- had bragged to Juliana's father, Greg Redding that he had an enforcer, a female "James Bond" who would do his bidding. The public heard about this alleged statement but the jury didn't.

Dr. Uwaydah was not on trial; Kelly Soo Park was. Judge Kennedy ruled that Dr. Uwaydah's statement to Greg Redding could not be admitted because it was hearsay.

1101b Evidence People's Motion to Admit Other Conduct -- Defense Opposition Motion
The people alleged "The defendant has a history of threatening and intimidating individuals who have an ongoing dispute with her employer, Dr. Uwaydah." The people had two instances of this type of conduct they wanted to introduce at trial.  This evidence would have supported their theory of the case that Park was acting on the orders of Dr. Uwaydah because of the failed business venture with Juliana's father, Greg Redding.

Judge Kennedy ruled that this evidence was inadmissible. With this ruling, the people lost their ability to present to the jury their theory of Park's true relationship with Dr. Uwaydah. In closing arguments, the defense told the jury that there was no evidence presented that Park had any personal desire to harm Juliana, or that she had the murderous heart, capable to carry out such a violent act.

Dr. Uwaydah's Alleged Criminal Conduct -- Defense Motion to Exclude evidence of Uwaydah's Departure -- Defense Motion to Exclude Evidence of Fraud
The defense filed a motion to excluded references to alleged criminal conduct by Dr. Uwaydah. Dr. Uwaydah was not on trial, so it was not surprising to me that Judge Kennedy ruled this evidence was inadmissible.  The defense also argued to exclude references to when Dr. Uwaydah fled the country. Judge Kennedy ruled that there could be more than one reason for why Dr. Uwaydah fled, so that evidence was also excluded.

Drugs Found in Park's Possession During Arrest -- Defense Motion to Exclude
When Park was arrested with Ronnie Case, police "...found several bottles of prescription drugs in the bed of the truck [they were in when arrested], carrying the names of various doctors and various patients." Judge Kennedy ruled for the defense and this evidence was not admitted at trial.

John Glimore's Alleged Conduct & Statements --
Defense Motion to Admit Evidence of Third Party Culpability
The defense tried to present evidence to the jury that John Gilmore could have been the individual who killed Juliana Redding.  Gilmore was an on again, off again boyfriend of Juliana. Witnesses allegedly had seen him become violent against objects (furniture, etc.) when he argued with the victim.  The defense argued to have another girlfirend of Gilmore's, "M.A." testify about alleged violent conduct against her (choking) and statements he made to her about Juliana.  The defense also argued to present evidence of other acts by John Gilmore to show his violent nature.  The defense also filed a supplemental statement by defense counsel Mark Kassabian to support the 3rd Party Culpability evidence.

Judge Kennedy ruled that this evidence did not meet the standard of 3rd Party Culpability, and was excluded at trial.


Anonymous said...

Sprocket, In your opinion, IF all the excluded evidence had been allowed in by the Judge, would it have made a difference?

Sprocket said...

That's a lot of "what if's."

Do you mean motions presented by the defense and prosecution?

Long time readers know that I no longer give opinions. I try to stay neutral. With that being said, I will state what I believe the motions would have done.

1101b - Prosecution Motion, prior uncharged bad acts (of Park).
This would have bolstered the prosecution's case that Park had similar behavior of threatening and intimidating individuals who went into business with Dr. Uwaydah. It would have shown a different type of relationship between Park and Uwaydah than the defense presented in their closing arguments.

3rd Party Culpability - (John Gilmore).
This would have given the defense another suspect to paint the finger at. It was clear from the many pretrial motions that the defense worked hard to get this alternative suspect theory before the jury. It could have cast more reasonable doubt.

Another defense motion, (that they won) arguing to prevent the prosecution from mentioning to the jury that Dr. Uwaydah fled the country 48 Hours after Park was arrested.

If the defense lost this motion, that evidence would bolster the prosecution's case that there was more of a nexus between Park and Uwaydah.

I can't even begin to speculate what would have happened in jury deliberations if all of this evidence would have been included.

The evidence favorable to the prosecution would have supported it's case.

The evidence of 3rd Party Culpability would have, as Judge Kennedy ruled,( and I'm greatly paraphrasing here) created a trial within a trial, chasing down John Gilmore's statements and actions to John Gilmore's other girlfriend.

I clearly remember Judge Kennedy stating something to the effect that, if you had asked the girlfriend how she felt about Gilmore on Wednesday, she would have said they were getting married. If you asked her on Thursday she would say they hate each other. She then commented on this type of behavior, that, it appeared to be normal for them, and they lived their lives like that.

I'm sorry if I haven't been more helpful in answering your question.