LOS ANGELES — Five years after an aspiring young model and actress was strangled and beaten in her Santa Monica home, the woman accused of killing her is going on trial.
Jury selection began Monday in the trial of Kelly Soo Park.
Park has plead not guilty to killing 21-year-old Juliana Redding, who was slain in her apartment in 2008 while calling 911 for help.
Grand jury transcripts say DNA matching Park was found on Redding’s skin, clothes and cellphone, and her fingerprints and DNA were found around the apartment. Park has been free on $3.5 million bail.
Prosecutors say Park killed Redding when a wealthy doctor sent her to “intimidate” the young woman. Redding’s father and the doctor, Munir Uwaydah, had reportedly planned to go into business together, but Redding’s father backed out of the deal out of concern that Uwaydah’s business was not operating legally.
Park was “dispatched” by Uwaydah to “confront and intimidate” the younger Redding on March 15, 2008, according to court documents, the date police said she was murdered. According to court documents cited by the Los Angeles Times, Park officially worked as Uwaydah’s real estate broker and financial assistant but was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to also serve as an enforcer for the well-heeled doctor.
Defense attorneys are trying to pin the murder on one of Redding’s former boyfriends, who police said was cleared as a suspect.
Court documents last year said Uwaydah fled the U.S. shortly after Park was arrested in 2010 and has since been living in Lebanon.
Uwaydah has not been charged with a crime. A court motion filed last year specifies that prosecutors are “not seeking to prove that [Park] murdered Ms. Redding at the direction of Dr. Uwaydah,” only that he instructed Park to intimidate and threaten the young actress.
Redding, who moved to Santa Monica from Arizona, had a role in a small 2005 movie, and appeared in Maxim magazine.
Jury selection is expected to continue for several days.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.