July 29, 2009
Prosecutor Says Father Threw Daughter Off Cliff to Avoid Paying Child Support - An In Depth Look At The Murder Trial Of Cameron Brown
I invited Loretta S. to report on this story for The Weekly Vice, because of her commitment and dedication to following this case. Thank you Loretta for providing our readers an in-depth look at this case. - Danny Vice
Los Angeles, California (Loretta S. Guest Reporting) - If Lauren Serene Key were alive today, she would be turning 13 at the end of August, entering seventh grade, trading gossip with her gaggle of girlfriends, perhaps updating her MySpace page with silly photos, and taking the first tenuous steps toward young womanhood.
Instead, according to District Attorney Craig Hum and the People of California, Lauren was thrown from the top of a 120-foot cliff to her death at the tender age of four on November 8, 2000, by her reluctant and resentful father, Cameron John Brown.
Opening statements and testimony in the second trial of Cameron Brown commenced July 27 in Los Angeles Superior Court. The retrial is the result of a hung jury in the first trial that took place in the summer of 2006.
The defense moved for and received a change of venue from Torrance Superior Court and Judge Mark Arnold has been replaced by Judge Michael Pastor. Other notable changes include the loss of celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos, despite his claim that he would not abandon his client. In his place is Pat Harris who was co-counsel to Geragos in the Scott Peterson murder trial in San Mateo County in 2004.
Brown is charged with first-degree murder with special circumstances: lying in wait and committing a crime for financial gain. If he’s convicted, Brown faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Brown has already spent almost six years behind bars in Los Angeles County Jail since his arrest in November 2003; apparently his defense has been unable to obtain his release on bail pending the retrial.
In the first trial, Hum presented the People’s case that Brown murdered his daughter partly to escape the financial strain of the $900 per month child support obligation, and partly to punish his ex-girlfriend, Sarah Key-Marer, with whom he had a contentious relationship since first discovering she was pregnant when they were dating back in 1996.
Whereas motive is not a probative issue in a murder trial, Hum will attempt to demonstrate with science, the injuries described in the autopsy report, and anecdotal evidence that Brown deliberately took Lauren to a dangerous and secluded spot at Inspiration Point in Rancho Palos Verdes with the intent to stage an “accidental fall” that would kill her.
Several important issues were raised in the first trial that will likely resurface in the coming days: That Brown and his then bride, Patty Kaldis Brown were thwarted in their attempt to file for full custody of Lauren because of the low probability of success. That Brown had subjected Lauren to other dangerous situations that constituted negligence or abuse; that his behavior (based on recordings of the 911 call) after Lauren’s fall was aberrant; that the injuries Lauren sustained could only have been the result of a long fall and not from rolling down the side of the cliff as if she had tripped while “throwing rocks” as the defendant claims; and that Brown and his wife held a vendetta against Sarah Key-Marer.
As in the first trial, opening statements by Pat Harris tried to show that Brown was a caring father who doted on his daughter, that he had no financial or personal motive to murder her, and that Lauren’s death was the result of a tragic accident.
For trial updates and analysis, please subscribe to the RSS feed on: http://cameron-brown.blogspot.com
Reporting by Denise Nix at http://dailybreeze.com.
Cameron Brown Trial
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Posted by Danny Vice at 2:05:00 AM