Santa Monica Lookout
B e s t   l o c a l   s o u r c e   f o r   n e w s   a n d   i n f o r m a t i o n

Acquitted Murder Suspect Sues Santa Monica Police Detective

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau


By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

January 16, 2014 -- A Santa Monica Police detective is facing a lawsuit over alleged misconduct in the trial of Kelly Soo Park, who was accused of the 2008 murder of 21-year-old aspiring model Julianna Redding.

Park, who was found not guilty last summer of the brutal murder, claims that SMPD Detective Karen Thompson “intimidated” witnesses who would have testified in Park's defense during the 2013 trial.

The complaint, which attorneys representing Park filed with the U.S. District Court Wednesday, also claims that Thompson's interference violated her constitutional rights and prevented testimony that would have proved the identity of Redding's real killer.

“In early 2013, a few months before the trial, the defense obtained powerful physical and testimonial evidence that the murder was actually committed by the victim's then-boyfriend,” according to court documents.

That evidence came in the form of the testimony of Melissa Ayala, who dated the victim's boyfriend after Redding had been murdered.

According to court documents, Ayala was ready to testify that Redding's ex-boyfriend had confessed to Redding's while choking Ayala.

“When Defendant Thompson heard of this evidence, rather than investigate the boyfriend, she intimidated witness Ayala and lied to her to prevent her from testifying,” court documents said.

SMPD officials declined to comment on the allegations adding that Thompson had not been served with the lawsuit, a fact that was confirmed by Park's attorney, Ron Kaye.

In the complaint, Park also claims that Thompson -- whom the SMPD awarded a Medal of Merit for her work on the case -- and others, working for the Santa Monica Police Department, had interfered with her defense.

Park “continues to be branded a murderer and suffer damages as a result,” court documents say.

Park was arrested as a suspect in the murder two years after Redding, an Arizona native, was found strangled in her apartment on the eastern edge of Santa Monica.

Investigators argued that Park was involved in a murder-for-hire scheme. Prosecutors alleged that Park had been sent to talk to Redding about a failed business deal between Redding's father and a local doctor.

In the ensuing confrontation, according to prosecutors, Redding -- a former Maxim model -- was beaten and strangled.

Then, according to the prosecutors' allegations, Park tried to get rid of the evidence by turning on a gas stove and lighting candles in an attempt to destroy the apartment and all the evidence within.

When the trial started in May, it grabbed national headlines. Prosecutors argued that “overwhelming” DNA evidence placed Park at the scene of the crime.

But Park’s attorneys argued that Park had no motive and that her DNA could have gotten to the scene any number of ways, including being brought there by the victim herself.

Less than a month after the trial started, the jury of six men and six women found Park innocent of the charge of first degree murder.

If she wins, Park hopes to get a declaration that her constitutional rights were violated, unspecified punitive damages against each defendant and to have the cost of the suit and lawyers’ fees paid.

Back to Lookout News copyrightCopyright 1999-2014 All Rights Reserved. EMAIL Disclosures