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Woman acquitted in model's death sues Santa Monica

Kelly Soo Park, found not guilty in 2013 of the murder of a 21-year-old aspiring model, is shown in court on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012. Park is now suing the city of Santa Monica.

January 15, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
A woman, who was found not guilty in the strangulation murder of an aspiring model, is suing the city of Santa Monica.

Kelly Soo Park claims her reputation was damaged by the case. She is accusing Santa Monica Police Department Detective Karen Thompson of intimidating a key defense witness from testifying on her behalf.

"As a result of Defendant Thompson's conduct, and her interference with Ms. Park's ability to present critical evidence, Ms. Park, despite being acquitted of all charges by a jury, continues to be branded a murderer and suffers damages as a result," Park's complaint states.

Juliana Redding, 21, of Los Angeles was found dead in her rented condominium on Centinela Avenue in Santa Monica in 2008.

Prosecutors said Park's DNA was found on Redding's skin, clothes and cell phone. They accused her of strangling and beating the model to death.

Prosecutors contended the killing was carried out in response to a failed business deal between Redding's father, an Arizona pharmacist, and a doctor for whom Park worked and Redding had dated.

Prosecutors alleged Dr. Munir Uwayda paid Park more than $1 million for the murder before he fled the country. Redding's death occurred five days after her father pulled out of the potential deal with Uwaydah.

Park's defense attorney countered that the DNA and fingerprints were not conclusive and that Park simply wasn't strong enough to kill someone with her bare hands.

Investigators first tested the DNA of 40 women Redding knew, but found nothing. Then detectives turned to Uwaydah's associates, and Park was linked to the murder through DNA evidence. It took two years to identify Park as a suspect. She was found not guilty last June.

The Santa Monica Police Department says it does not comment on pending litigation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.