Juliana Redding had the world at her feet. She was young, bright and gorgeous. Her beauty opened many doors for her but it also may have been the very thing that caused her untimely death. This is her story.
Juliana was nineteen years old when she moved from Tuscan in Arizona to Santa Monica. Like many young and beautiful women, her dream was to become a huge actress and model. She seemed to find her feet in Santa Monica and was getting a bit of modelling work but the work wasn’t steady so she worked as a hostess in a restaurant while attending college during the day. Despite her modest income, Juliana enjoyed the ‘high life’ and frequently went on holidays and drove a white range rover. Everyone who knew Juliana expected her to go far.Nobody predicted that she would be brutally murdered at the age of twenty one.
Her body was discovered in her bedroom in her Santa Monica bungalow in March 2008. Her friends rang her mother in Arizona to tell her they had not seen her and she missed an appointment and it was her mother who notified police. When police arrived at her house and entered the premises, there was a strong smell of gas and a candle was burning. The stove had been turned on. The bungalow was completely thrashed and it was clear there had been a vicious fight. Juliana’s body was found in the bedroom. Her face had been smashed into the ground a number of times, she had been savagely beaten and strangled. Police were convinced that whoever attacked Juliana, planned that the house would blow up afterwards. The plan didn’t work as the house was so old that the gas didn’t concentrate enough to explode.
Her father gave a statement to police early on in the investigation. Greg was a pharmacist and still lived in Arizona. He told police to question John Gilmore. Juliana was in an on/off relationship with John and he had a violent past. Police questioned John but quickly ruled him out as a suspect as he had a water tight alibi. Police found a large amount of DNA at the scene of the murder. They collected DNA from a plate in the bin, on the stove, on the door knob, on Juliana’s tshirt and even on Juliana’s neck. It took three months before the results came back from the Crime Lab. All the DNA recovered from the scene belonged to a female.
As police began to delve further into Juliana’s past, they discovered she was seeing an older man. She dated Dr Munir Uwaydah for a few months. Dr Uwaydah was a top Surgeon and owned expensive real estate in numerous countries around the world. He was incredibly wealthy and when he saw Juliana working at a restaurant, he knew he wanted her. He offered her a job as an assistant in one of his medical practises and gave her a great salary. Soon after, they began dating and he moved her into a lavish Beverley Hills home. He lavished her with gifts, cars and money but friends claimed that Juliana didn’t like his obsessive side. Dr Uwaydah was obsessed with Juliana and was willing to do anything to make her stay with him. Before her 21st birthday he offered to buy her a Lamborghini but she found all the attention too much and she moved into a bungalow in Santa Monica that her father paid for. Dr Uwaydah then turned his attention to Juliana’s father Greg. He told him he would give his daughter the world and offered him a job in one of his practises with a salary of almost half a million dollars per year. He told him he would move him to Beverley Hills and he could have any car he wanted. Greg told him he would give it some serious consideration.
Around the time of the business negotiations, Juliana agreed to go to Las Vegas with Dr Uwaydah for her 21st with some friends. They all got a chartered flight to Vegas but when they arrived, Greg called and told Juliana that he found out Dr Uwaydah was married and had a wife and three children in Beirut. It was the final straw for Juliana. She booked into another hotel and flew home the next morning and cut all ties with Dr Uwaydah.
Friends of Juliana claimed that Dr Uwaydah didn’t stop there and Juliana saw him driving past her house regularly and showing up at places where he knew she’d be. She felt very uneasy about his behaviour but her own father Greg didn’t seem as concerned and he continued negotiating a business deal with him. When the deal fell through, Juliana was found dead five days later. Police thought there may be a connection and began looking at those close to Dr Uwaydah. They quickly learned he had a ‘female enforcer’ working for him. Kelly Soo Park received $10,000 per month and police believed it was her job to sort out any business ‘issues’ he was having. When police tested a sample of her DNA from her cigarette butt, it was a match to DNA found at the crime scene. They also learned Dr Uwaydah gave her over a million dollars after Juliana was found murdered.
Kelly Soo Park was arrested in March 2010. She pleaded not guilty. Her $3.5 million bail was posted by someone who police believed was Dr Uwaydah but they couldn’t prove it. Two days later, he left the country. Her Trial began in 2013 and Prosecutors were not allowed to tell the Jury that Kelly was a ‘female enforcer’ for Dr Uwaydah as they didn’t have enough evidence. It was the Prosecution’s case that Kelly was instructed by Dr Uwaydah to attack Juliana following the breakdown of the business deal. They relied on the DNA evidence found at the scene to prove it. The Defense claimed Kelly was never in Juliana’s home and she didn’t know who Juliana was. They claimed that the DNA found in the home may have been transferred by another party. Astoundingly the Jury found her not guilty.
Sometimes people like Dr Uwaydah look at aspiring young models like Juliana as being disposable. They sometimes feel that because of their huge wealth, they can make any problems that arise simply vanish even if the ‘problem’ is a human being. Juliana was let down by her own father too. He too was swayed by the promise of wealth and gifts and even though he knew a little of Dr Uwaydah’s past, he continued to negotiate business terms with him. It is interesting to note that the Defense in this case hired a ‘Jury Consultant’. They aren’t the only team to hire a Jury Consultant, it’s quite common to do so but it takes away from the very essence of what a Jury is supposed to be. A Jury is supposed to be an impartial panel from the community who approach a case based on the evidence presented in Court. The Jury Consultant in this case asked questions to try to determine what kind of person the potential Juror was and based on their answers determined whether that person would be more pro Defense or pro Prosecution. It’s certainly something that I think goes against the true nature of jury selection. Either way the Jury found Kelly not guilty which is incredible as the DNA evidence was so strong. Kelly now manages a restaurant and Dr Uwaydah is living ‘happily’ with his wife and children in the Lebanon. He is being investigated for fraud. Justice was certainly not served in this case and I wonder whether the verdict may have been different if there was no Jury Consultant involved.