Opening statements were heard Wednesday in a downtown LA court room in the trial of 47-year-old Kelly Soo Park who is accused in a murder-for-hire plot against aspiring model Juliana Redding in Santa Monica.
Park pleaded not guilty at her arraignment July 6, 2010 for killing the 21-year-old who had moved to LA from Arizona.
Redding’s body was discovered in her Santa Monica apartment on the 1500 block of Centinela in March 2008.
Park allegedly entered Redding’s apartment and physically assaulted her, causing her death. Park was arrested at her home in Camarillo on June 17, 2010.
Prosecutors allege that Redding previously dated Park’s boss, Dr. Munir Uwaydah, and he was close to launching a pharmaceutical business with Redding’s father, but the father backed out of the deal.
According to court documents, Park allegedly acted as a type of enforcer, using threats, intimidation and bullying on behalf of Dr. Uwaydah. Park was said to have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Uwaydah before her arrest.
Prosecutor Stacy Okun-Weise (Deputy District Attorney) told the jury on Wednesday, “A woman she did not know, a woman who beat and strangled her until she had her last breath of air.”
Okun-Weise said it took two years to find a suspect, adding investigators first tested the DNA of 40 women Redding knew, but there was no match.
Okun-Weise said detectives then turned to Uwaydah’s associates.
“Through cigarettes, through swabs, and she submits those to the crime lab,” Okun-Weise said. “And guess what, all of those samples are eliminated except for one person – the defendant.”
Park’s attorney said his client had no motive.
“They have no evidence, and you’ll see that there’s no evidence, that shows that Kelly Park would have any reason to commit a brutal crime like this,” said Defense attorney George Buehler. “Forensic evidence, the DNA evidence, fingerprints, are not conclusive. DNA evidence doesn’t tell you when it got there or how it got there.”
Dr. Uwaydah has since moved to Lebanon and was never charged in the case.