Against The Odds: Acquittal For Kelly Soo Park


In March 2008, 21-year old Juliana Redding was murdered in her Santa Monica apartment. At 9:52 PM on the night of her death, Ms. Redding dialed 911, but was unable to complete the call. An ensuing fight left Ms. Redding dead with cuts, contusions and crushed neck bones from the grip of the person who strangled her even as Ms. Redding clawed her own skin away to break the grasp of her attacker.

Prosecutors allege:

  • The assailant tried to clean up evidence and left the premises after lighting a candle and turning on an unlit gas stove.
  • The anticipated explosion did not occur and evidence recovered included genetic material heavily implicating 45-year old Kelly Soo Park, a sometime acquaintance of a Marina Del Ray doctor involved with Ms. Redding months prior to her death.
  • The doctor, Munir Uwayda, fled the country.

DNA material matching Ms. Park was recovered from the scene, the clothes, neck, skin and cell phone of Ms. Redding as well as the knob of the stove. The fingerprints of Ms. Park were found in the apartment as well.

Despite testimony concerning genetic material found in the apartment and on the body of Ms. Redding, Ms. Park was acquitted of murdering Ms. Redding.

Throughout the trial, defense counsel for Ms. Park argued the genetic evidence was circumstantial and was transferred to the apartment on objects from the house of Mr. Uwayda, a common acquaintance, with whom Ms. Redding had lived until months earlier. As noted by the defense, the presence of DNA material did not explain how it came to be there.

In this case, the jury was swayed more by solid criminal defense work than by the advances in analysis of DNA evidence.

Posted in Criminal Defense