By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Should Guest and Park have known their "evidence" was actually meaningless? Although the detective did not disclose it until forced to on the witness stand in the winding days of the murder trial, Molina had used a red pen to underline sections of the assigned story. The prosecution team never bothered to ask Molina's high school teacher about the paper or the assignment.
Crimes Are Like Puzzles
In her closing statement to the jury, a smiling Park casually referenced Perry Mason and then opined, "Crimes are sort of like puzzles."
But in 22 months of a supposedly "excellent investigation" (Park's words), neither the Orange County Sheriff's Department nor the DA considered an important piece in that puzzle: Dr. Naomi Uchiyama, Armani's pediatrician. Statistically, an overwhelming number of infants murdered by their parents have already suffered a history of physical or mental abuse. A pediatrician might provide important clues. But even after the defense listed the doctor as a witness, Park was oddly uninterested. She didn't place a single telephone call to Uchiyama.
Why they might have skipped the pediatrician became abundantly clear during the trial. Uchiyama testified for the defense that Molina was a "caring and loving and appropriate" mother who never missed an appointment and that her baby was "thriving . . . alert and active and happy." Importantly, the doctor also said she never saw evidence of bruises or trauma during the baby's life.
The pediatrician's testimony was devastating to the DA, who had strongly (and wildly, as it turned out) suggested during the trial's opening statement that a sociopathic Molina had planned to murder her child even before conception. Rather than try to downplay Uchiyama's testimony, an argumentative Park tried to discredit and confuse her. But the doctor would have none of it. At one point, the DA tried to bury an incorrect premise in a long question, saying that there were "records of bruises and injuries" for the baby.
"There were no bruises," the incredulous doctor fired back. "Are you trying to imply that there were bruises?"
An ashen Park demanded that the judge reprimand the doctor. Froeberg lamely acknowledged that a witness shouldn't interrupt a prosecutor but left Uchiyama's retort on the record.
After several minutes of further inane, contentious questioning that elicited sustained "asked and answered" objections by Lampel, a visibly befuddled Park quickly scribbled something on a yellow legal notepad and flashed it to her investigator:
"Anything else? HELP ME!"