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Woman Acquitted of Strangulation Sues City of Santa Monica

Kelly Soo Park alleges her reputation was damaged during her murder trial of aspiring model Julianna Redding, who was killed in her Santa Monica apartment in 2008.

Kelly Soo Park. Credit: Santa Monica Police
Kelly Soo Park. Credit: Santa Monica Police
By City News Service

A woman who was once described as a "female James Bond'' and who was acquitted of the strangulation of an aspiring model sued the city of Santa Monica today, alleging her reputation was damaged by the case.

Kelly Soo Park also contends in the lawsuit that a Santa Monica police detective intimidated a key defense witness to prevent her from testifying.

Santa Monica officials could not be reached late today for comment on the lawsuit.

Park was acquitted in June of the March 15, 2008, killing of 21-year-old Juliana Redding, who once appeared in Maxim magazine.

During the trial, a prosecutor argued that Park or her company had received more than $1 million in an 18-month period from a company belonging to Dr. Munir Uwaydah, who had been romantically involved with Redding.

Redding's death occurred five days after her father pulled out of a potential business deal with Uwaydah, who was not charged in the case. In court papers, prosecutors contended that Uwaydah had described Park as a "female James Bond.'' He left the country and was believed to be living in Lebanon.

Prosecutors claimed that DNA matching Park was recovered from the crime scene, including on the victim's neck, tank top, cell phone, front interior door and a knob on the stove, which had been turned on apparently in an unsuccessful attempt to cause an explosion.

Park's attorney countered, however, that there was no proof about how her DNA wound up in the apartment, and much of it could have been carried to the crime scene on items that she touched in Uwaydah's home and were later moved to Redding's apartment.

In her lawsuit, Park contends that Santa Monica police Detective Karen
Thompson intimidated at least one key defense witness -- a woman who dated Redding's ex-boyfriend after the model's death. According to the lawsuit, the potential witness would have testified that Redding's ex-boyfriend choked her on several occasions and stated, "You want to see how she (Juliana) felt?''

"A jury acquitted Ms. Park of all charges based on the lack of evidence against her, but her reputation and business continue to suffer,'' Park's attorney, Ron Kaye, said. "Detective Thompson deliberately interfered with Ms. Park's right to a fair trial, and the world can now know what was hidden from the jury's view.''

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