Juliana Redding Murder Case: Confession...or gibberish...on videotape put forth by Kelly Soo Park's defense?

Juliana Redding
Persnal photo/CBS
Juliana Redding
Personal photo/CBS

(CBS) LOS ANGELES - As jury selection proceeded in the trial of Kelly Soo Park for the murder of aspiring Hollywood model Juliana Redding, Park's lawyers pleaded with the judge to let them cast suspicion on their supposed "alternate suspect" John Gilmore, a former boyfriend of the victim.

PICTURES: Kelly Soo Park accused of murder

The defense contends failure to do so could violate Park's constitutional right to put on a full and fair defense.

Prosecutor Stacey Okun-Weise insists that Gilmore's alibi was cleared by police and he is not a suspect. His DNA was not recovered at the crime scene, and according to Weise, Park's blood, fingerprints and DNA were at the scene where Redding was strangled to death - including on the victim's neck.

The defense would like the jury to consider Gilmore as an alternate suspect demonstrating that he has a history of domestic violence and that he was engaged in a cell phone argument with Redding on the evening of her murder, even though in her final text Redding invites Gilmore over to her apartment to watch Seinfeld.

In a surprise twist late last week the defense also claimed to have a smoking gun: a confession on what they called an "enhanced" video tape made by the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD).

John Gilmore actually called police to the crime scene, Redding's apartment, on March 15, 2008, when he and Redding's parents had not been able to contact her. When police discovered Redding had been murdered, they brought Gilmore in for questioning that day.

On videotape an SMPD Detective asks Gilmore to remove his clothing, and the tattooed surfer readily complies. The detective notes Gilmore has no visible scratches or bruises.

Based on crime scene photos released for the first time last week it is clear Redding put up a considerable struggle against her attacker. Redding sustained substantial injuries to her face, legs, feet and elsewhere. There was also substantial damage to her finger nails.

On the SMPD videotape, the detective leaves the interview room to fetch a photographer to document Gilmore's lack of injuries, but the tape continues recording. Gilmore breaks down and begins crying and whimpering at the shock of Redding's death.

The defense claims that there is a confession concealed in this segment of the police interview which only an expert can extract.

Greg Stutchman, whose website offers "expert enhancement and analysis in audio, video, and photographic imaging forensic science since 1992," testified last week that a careful enhancement of the audio reveals a confession that might not be obvious without his forensic analysis.

The defense claims Stutchman's enhancement reveals that Gilmore says, "'Yes. I found you with someone," and also, "I did it."

Prosecutor Okun-Weise clearly thought the claim was outrageous and last week urged Judge Kathleen Kennedy to listen to the "enhanced" tape submitting it to the court, at which point Judge Kennedy ordered the defense to bring Stutchman into court.

Stutchman testified to some relatively standard software techniques used to attempt to isolate exactly what Gilmore might be saying amid his whimpering. He also explained that he is an expert at what he called, "critical listening," a forensic skill in which he claimed to be a trained expert.

Judge Kennedy expressed deep skepticism to Stutchman about "critical listening" claiming to have never heard about the forensic concept previously.

"When I first listened to the tape it sounded like gibberish," Kennedy explained. Stutchman played his enhanced tape in the courtroom, as he mouthed along to the words - that apparently only he and the defense could hear.

After listening to Stutchman's enhanced audio recording, the judge came to a similar conclusion, saying, "It still sounds like gibberish." Stutchman's testimony and audio recording failed to convince Judge Kennedy to grant the defense motion to introduce evidence of Gilmore as an alternate suspect.

The judge has said opening arguments may begin as soon as Wednesday. The defense filed a series of motions Monday insisting that Kelly Soo Park's constitutional rights will be violated if the defense's opening argument does not mention John Gilmore as a potential suspect, but the judge later determines evidence to that effect may be admitted elsewhere during the trial.

Complete coverage of the Juliana Redding case on Crimesider