While legal wrangling delays her trial, murder suspect Kelly Soo Park is a (mostly) free woman
(CBS) LOS ANGELES - In a new motion, prosecutors put Dr. Munir Uwaydah behind the scenes before Kelly Soo Park allegedly murdered aspiring model and actress Juliana Redding, and claim the wealthy doctor continues to exert his influence with her trial defense.
Recently, prosecutors released an explosive new motion alleging that Los Angeles real estate broker Kelly Soo Park was working as hired "muscle" for wealthy doctor and businessman Uwaydah in a string of strong arm style, shake downs.
This bombshell finally explained how prosecutors allege Uwaydah is connected to the case: employing Park to use "tactics of threat and intimidation to facilitate favorable terms" for disputed business deals. Allegedly, one of these floundering deals involved Redding's father, Greg Redding.
The motion revealed that Juliana Redding briefly dated Uwaydah and introduced him to her father, a pharmacist. According to prosecutors, the two men began negotiating a deal for Greg Redding to manage one of the doctor's businesses, Golden State Pharmaceuticals a facility owned by Park.
Greg Redding soured on the deal, prosecutors say, and notified Uwaydah that he "was withdrawing from the proposed agreement" over concerns that "Golden State was not operating legally."
Days later, prosecutors allege Uwaydah dispatched Park to "confront and intimidate" Juliana Redding. On March 15, 2008, they say , Park beat and strangled the 21-year-old to death during a confrontation. Park pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.
At an Oct. 2 pre-trial hearing, the Los Angeles District Attorney alleged that Uwaydah, the same man who, they say, sent Park to "threaten, intimidate and harass" Redding, is also paying for Park's defense in the alleged murder that resulted.
Prosecutors claim that Uwaydah allegedly paid Park's current defense attorneys a total of $150,000 this year. A similar allegation, with regard to an alleged $100,000 payment made from Uwaydah to the first law firm representing Park in 2010 ultimately led that firm to withdraw from the case.
Uwaydah has not been charged with a crime, but prosecutors allege he "fled to Lebanon" within 48 hours of Park's arrest. His attorney did not return phone calls requesting comment. Prosecutors indicated that for the purposes of the motion at this time they were "not seeking to prove that [Park] murdered Ms. Redding at the direction of Uwaydah," only that the doctor dispatched Park to intimidate and threaten Redding.
However, prosecutors also mentioned that Uwaydah remains a suspect under investigation for "his possible involvement in the murder [of] Ms. Redding." That fact, coupled with the allegation that he is paying for Park's defense could "compromise a jury's verdict in the future," they argued.
Prosecutors are not seeking to have Park's current attorneys disqualified. They want a waiver signed by Park so she cannot use a conflict of interest argument at a later date to appeal a possible guilty verdict.
Park's attorney, George Buehler, insists his firm will continue to represent Park and has resolved any "potential issues to his client's satisfaction." He also denied that Park ever acted as an "enforcer."
Sitting on the specially secured 9th floor of the Los Angeles Criminal Courts building Park cuts a rather unusual figure for a defendant accused of murder. In Los Angeles County, most accused killers at pre-trial hearings are shackled in the iconic LA County "blues" or jail jumpsuits and led into court through jail holding cells by armed Sheriffs Deputies.
Not so for Park, who is out on $3.5 million dollars bail wearing a discreet electronic monitoring ankle bracelet. During the economic recession she cut a deal for considerably less than the standard 10 percent bond with Beverly Hills bail bondsman Josh Herman, who catered to rap-stars like Snoop Dogg and Tupak Shakur as past clients.
Out on bail, Park is free to roam the hallways at pre-trial hearings, where she sits comfortably dressed in understated but stylish civilian clothing with friends and supporters easily shifting between fluent English or Korean; even chatting with the gaggle of news media covering her case.
While Park respectfully declines to discuss the facts of her case, she expresses exasperation at the charges against her, or the indignity of the time she spent behind bars before Herman helped her post bail more than two years ago.
That's where, Park explains, she struck up a jailhouse friendship with another unlikely female murder suspect, decorated LAPD Detective Stephanie Lazarus - both of whom stood accused of killing other women.
DNA evidence found on a bite mark on Lazarus' victim, Sherri Rasmussen, enabled police to reach back more than two decades for a conviction in the 1986 murder. Authorities allege DNA will also make the case against Park claiming she left her DNA on the victim's neck while strangling her, as well as other areas of the crime scene.
Standing tall in the courtroom at 5'10", with fine features, long jet-black hair, and manicured nails - Park is educated, demure, coiffed, and stylish. So, it is decidedly incongruous to put her at the center of that disturbing crime scene in Juliana Redding's Santa Monica apartment.
"Beaten and strangled to death inside her apartment...Kelly Soo Park, used her bare hands to kill Redding as Redding fought for her life," prosecutor Alan Jackson told the grand jury two years ago.
A trial date remains nebulous as a remarkable revolving door of trial attorneys has cycled through the case since 2010. Another Deputy DA was recently assigned to take over the prosecution's case, and Park is on her third defense team.
Now, Judge Kathleen Kennedy has assigned an independent third party attorney to advise Park on the potential conflict issue regarding Uwaydah - nearly the same issue that was already litigated one year ago. In court on Oct. 17, Park's attorneys indicated she intends to sign the waiver which will be considered at another hearing on Oct. 24. This latest development is just one more holdup in a stream of delays that keep the case treading water, despite more than two years elapsing since Park's arrest.
Greg Fisher is a producer for 48 Hours. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter twitter.com/cbscrimefish
- Fla. girl, 18, charged over underage same-sex relationship
- Jodi Arias Lawyer: Defense won't call more witnesses
- Cops: Hosftra student was killed by officer's gunshot
- Report: Dogs removed from kidnap suspect Castro's home
- Arias returns to court for penalty phase of trial
- 3 teens charged with raping girl, 12, putting video on web
- Police: Ex-cop once hailed as hero charged with rape
- Sources: Husband ordered cyanide before wife's death
- Meeting Jodi Arias: First impressions never lie, or do they?
- Jodi Arias: A timeline of a sensational murder case
- Cops: NYC man dead after "anti-gay" hate shooting
- Colorado mob attacks man thought to be sexual predator
- Report: Boyfriend charged in murder of Conn. college coed
- Authorities search for missing URI student
- Ariel Castro's lawyer says he'll plead not guilty
- Creighton Univ. professor, wife, found slain in Omaha home