More than five years after the death of aspiring actress-model Juliana Redding, who was found strangled in her Santa Monica apartment in 2008, the trial of her accused murdered got under way Wednesday.
Redding, who modeled for the magazine Maxim, was calling 911 for help just before she died, authorities have said.
The police officer who found Redding’s body was the first witness.
He described a gruesome scene inside the apartment where prosecutors alleged Kelly Soo Park strangled the victim with her own hands and then turned on the gas stove and lit candles, hoping to blow the place up.
DNA evidence linked Park to the scene, accorind to grand jury transcripts.
Prosecutor Stacy Okun-Wiese, in her opening statement, had described Redding, pictured below at right, as fighting for her life.
Defense attorney George Buehler disputed the forensic evidence while delivering his opening statement.
"I think you will find the forensic evidence, the fingerprint and the DNA is not conclusive," Buehler said.
Prosecutors said Park, who is 46, worked for a wealthy doctor as a debt collector, as someone who intimidated people. The doctor had dated Redding.
That doctor, Munir Uwaydah, was not charged in the case although records show he paid Park $250,000 before the murder. He bragged that Park was a "female James Bond," according to the Los Angeles Times.
Park’s attorneys said she had no connection to Julianna Redding and they hinted that Redding’s boyfriend at the time may have been responsible for the crime.
Park was arrested two years after Redding's death.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.