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Acquitted Murder Suspect Sues Santa Monica For Ruining Her Reputation

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A woman acquitted of the 2008 strangulation murder of an aspiring model Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Santa Monica saying the city damaged her reputation.

Kelly Soo Park, who was once described as a “female James Bond” and the muscle for a revenge hit, was often the subject of network TV crime shows.

Her lawsuit also contends that a Santa Monica police officer intimidated a key defense witness to keep the witness from testifying at trial.

City News Service said Santa Monica officials could not be reached for comment.

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

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, at one point had been romantically involved with Redding.

Redding’s death occurred five days after her father pulled out of a huge business deal with Uwaydah, who was not charged in the case. In court papers, prosecutors said that Uwaydah had described Park as a “female James Bond.” He left the country and is 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 or when her DNA wound up in the apartment. The attorney said the DNA 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.”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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