LOS ANGELES (CN) - Kelly Soo Park, acquitted of the high-profile murder of an aspiring actress, sued the lead detective, claiming she accepted an award for "solving" the case years before the trial, and intimidated defense witnesses to seek conviction.
In her federal lawsuit, Park claims that Santa Monica police Det. Karen Thompson received the Medal of Merit for "solving" the 2008 murder of Juliana Redding - a former Maxim model - by pointing to Park as the killer.
"Far from acting as an impartial law enforcement officer, defendant Thompson's bias against plaintiff, her resulting commitment to having plaintiff found guilty at trial at all costs, and her need to justify the Medal of Merit already awarded to her for 'solving' this case, caused defendant Thompson to interfere with plaintiff's presentation of evidence in support of her criminal defense," Park says in the lawsuit.
Redding was strangled in her Santa Monica home in March 2008. After the investigation went cold, Thompson received permission from the Santa Monica Police Department to investigate the case on her own time, according to the complaint.
In 2010, Thompson matched DNA found on Redding's body to Park, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office charged Park with the murder, Park says in the complaint.
"In September 2011, a year and a half before the trial commenced, and during the ongoing investigation, defendant Thompson was awarded a Medal of Merit by the Santa Monica Police Department for 'solving' the murder of Ms. Redding by matching DNA found on Ms. Redding's body to plaintiff," the complaint states.
At the time, prosecutors said that Juliana Redding's father, Greg Redding, had backed out of a business deal with Dr. Munir Uwaydah, who sent Park to persuade Juliana to get her dad back on board. Prosecutors claimed Park strangled Redding during the confrontation, according to news articles from the time.
Park claims in her lawsuit that Thompson refused to properly investigate the possibility that Juliana Redding's boyfriend, John Gilmore, was the killer. He had a history of domestic violence, had previously assaulted Redding, and "had a history of breaking into and destroying property in Ms. Redding's home, including the day before Ms. Redding was murdered," Park claims.
"Despite this information, defendant Thompson persisted on pursuing plaintiff as the sole suspect of the crime," Park says in the complaint.
Gilmore's alibi for the night of the murder - that he was at a party until 12:30 or 1 a.m. and left with friends - was refuted by text messages revealing that he had actually left the party at 10:30 p.m., according to the complaint.
Park says that her investigator met with the girl Gilmore dated after Redding's death, Melissa Ayala, who said that Gilmore had choked her on at least three occasions.
"On the first of these occasions, prior to his choking of Ms. Ayala, Mr. Gilmore stated: 'You want to see how she [Juliana] felt?' This threat occurred during a conversation in which Ms. Ayala had brought up Ms. Redding's death. On the second occasion, while choking Ms. Ayala, Mr. Gilmore stated that he was: 'Going to show you how [Juliana] felt.'" (Brackets in complaint.)
Gilmore was convicted of a domestic violence offense for choking Ayala and had been violent toward her a number of other times, Park claims. Ayala agreed to testify for the defense about Gilmore at Park's trial.