Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cameron Brown Retrial: Opening Statements Part II

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Afternoon session

Prosecution Witnesses:

#1 Sarah Key-Marer (mother of victim, Lauren Sarene Key)

Before the morning session ended, Juror #9 was asked back into the courtroom after the panel was excused for lunch. Pastor was trying to see if it was possible to reschedule the time for an exam that this juror was scheduled to take on Thursday morning. Arrangements were made for the Judge to talk to the juror's professor.

1:15 pm: The family and friends of the victim are now all sitting in the front row. Personally, I think this is where they should always sit, but that's just me. I'm guessing it's Sarah who decides where she and her supporters will sit every day.

The underage girl is not here but there are some other female faces in the gallery. The defendant's wife, Patty, is on the left side benches (I often will call those the "defense" side, because they are right behind the defense table and where the defendant sits.) The jury enters via that back row, and all the counsel stand and face the back of the courtroom as they file in.

From the bench Pastor states that he got a note from Juror #7. He says, "I can tell you are a medical doctor. I can't read this." There's a bit of laughter in the gallery after that. I believe they will address this at the break or at the end of the court day.

The first witness is called: Sarah Louise Key-Marer, and Craig Hum presents the witness. I had already figured out which woman was Ms. Marer during the morning session as well as guess which individual was her husband.

Judge Pastor takes the time to talk directly to each witness. He as a set speech of instructions, telling them to relax and to adjust the microphone in front of them. He also reminds them to try to wait until a question is finished before answering, in essence, not to talk over each other.

Sarah Key-Marer in 1995 was known as Sarah Key. She married Gregory Marer September 12th, 1997. Her birthday is December 25th. She is 40 years old. She was born in England and came to the US in November, 1993.

I try to think how to describe her. She's a slender woman with blond highlighted hair. Her jaw line and hair coloring immediately reminds me of an older Fawn Clarkson, Lana Clarkson's sister, but her accent is distinctly British.

Ms. Marer identifies Cameron Brown. She met the defendant at a bar in Newport Beach in November 1995. It was a Saturday, maybe the 4th of November. Hum immediately clears up a discrepancy from the first trial. Since that time, she came across an old photo, a Polaroid that was dated. She remembered that the photo was taken the night she met the defendant at "The View" atop the Marriott Hotel.

Previously, she had made a sworn declaration that she had met the defendant months earlier. When she discovered the photo she brought it to Hum's attention. She states that previously, she honestly thought that she had met the defendant months earlier.

At the time she met the defendant, she was working at the Countryside Inn, at the front desk in Costa Mesa. She was living with a roommate, Linda Peterson. Marer states that when she met the defendant she was single and she did not date anyone else. She only dated him.

She doesn't recall if she told him she wasn't dating anyone else. When they were introduced, he told her he worked for American Airlines as a pilot. Marer used to be a flight attendant, so she thought they would have conversation in common. She thought that he would be familiar with certain terms (in the industry) that he should know. She later found out he was a baggage handler.

The went to dinner a few times; they played pool. They went out to dinner approximately four or five times. The went out alone and with each others friends. When they first met, the defendant was residing on a boat in Harbor Beach. They went surfing, hiking along the beach and cliff edges near Redondo. They went to La Jolla together.

On (I believe) their first outing together, he took her to a beautiful spot along the bottom of the beach. Marer testifies, "He told me a story that two children had fallen from the cliffs that we had just (walked) past. [...] It upset me. It turned my stomach. Then he just carried on."

(Pat Harris) PH: Objection!

JP: Overruled!

SKM: We went to Las Vegas to see his grandparents. [...] We went over the weekend and stayed with his grandparents. We went to Colorado over a weekend break and flew. We stayed approximately three nights. [...] We stayed with his friends.

They stayed in Denver the first night then Breckenridge, and stayed with friends there. She was introduced to all his friends. She doesn't remember their names. Marer continues, "He showed me around because he used to live there."

The defendant borrowed a vehicle (so they could drive around). They skied. "He showed me where he used to live and the things he used to do. [...] We had dinner with his brother and I was introduced to him."

Marer states she eventually met his parents but not while they were dating. (This must have been later.) He verbalized to Marer that he hated his parents and that they lived in Pennsylvania.

PH: May we approach?

JP: Denied!

Marer testifies that it was a few weeks of dating before they had sex. It occurred on his boat in Kings Harbor. They used birth control, but the condom broke while they were having sex.

Craig Hum (CH): Did you make any comment and what did you say? Hey that's....

SKM: It's at a time in my menstrual cycle that could be a little bit dangerous.

PH: May we approach?

There's a sidebar. When there is a sidebar in Pastor's courtroom, he gets off the bench and goes to a little area to the right of his bench, beside the clerks desk. He's standing at the same level that counsel are when there is a sidebar. When there is a sidebar in Fidler's court, he remains on the bench and the attorneys approach his bench. Interesting how each Judge runs his courtroom.

From what I'm observing, it appears Hum is arguing his position pretty passionately with Judge Pastor. I have a note in my book, a rhetorical question. How does one sit on the stand and recall these painful events?

Now it appears that Harris is passionately arguing his position. From where they are standing, I can't hear a word. In Fidler's courtroom, once in a while I could hear what they were saying. Not here.

In the gallery, I see that Patty is whispering with a youngish blond haired woman in the third row. I don't know who this woman is. She doesn't appear to be a friend of the family. I note that the underage pretty girl is back inside the courtroom again.

1:40 pm: The sidebar is over.

CH: Do you remember your exact words?

SKM: No I don't remember [...] but that's the gist. [...] I don't remember his response at all.

CH: Did you spend the night.

(I don't have Ms. Marer's response to that question in my notes.)

CH: Did sometime in December you learn that you were pregnant?

SKM: I was feeling fatigued and I missed my period.

Ms. Marer did a home pregnancy test and had it confirmed by a doctor. It was relatively soon after that that she told the defendant. Ms. Marer testifies that it was before Christmas when she told the defendant.

SKM: I was 25 years old. I think he was 39.

CH: Were you trying to get pregnant?

SKM: No.

Marer testifies that the defendant was "shocked." He had a previous girlfriend where she terminated the pregnancy. (At first, the defendant was) "kind of cool" with the news. Apparently ten years ago (was when the prior girlfriend became pregnant.) The defendant indicated to Marer that he could have had a child by now. Ms. Marer testifies that she thought he took it (the news) well.

That Christmas, Ms. Marer traveled to Seattle to spend the holidays with her family. Before New Years, she spoke with the defendant again. It was a few days after getting home from Seattle.

SKM: His whole demeanor was different about the pregnancy. [...] He'd been thinking that he wasn't ready to have a child. [...] He spoke of abortion. [...] I made it clear I wasn't for that and I wasn't going to go that way. [...] I seemed like he was for it (the pregnancy) before and now he was (in a) completely opposite way.

They continued to date, but it was different. Awkward. She then got a new job at Travel Max in Newport Beach. She gave the defendant the number and where to reach her.

SKM: We would do the same activities, but we didn't discuss the pregnancy. [...] But it was all I could think about and how was I going to cope. [...] He would shut down and he wouldn't talk about it. [...] One time, walking along The Strand, I started talking about names. He just left me. Abandoned me.

She had to try to find her way back to the boat. She didn't know the area. She didn't have any cash on her and no way to hail a taxi. There were other instances where she tried to talk to him about the pregnancy. (Each time, he would shut down and not discuss it.)

There was one time, where they passed a Goodwill store and she saw a baby swing. It was $13 ($14?) dollars and she only had ten. She asked the defendant to borrow the balance and he wouldn't lend it to her. Marer goes onto describe that evening, they went to an In & Out Burger. While he was out of the vehicle, she took 25-cents from a change drawer to make a phone call. She told the defendant that she borrowed the money and that she would pay him back. He responded with the comment, "All I wanted was money from him."

Sometime later, he asked her to go to counseling. It was his therapist he was working with through his insurance company, Kaiser. He came to pick her up to go to the session.

SKM: I thought it was going to be a session to discuss the next step. [...] I could see that he had a tough time of it. [...] The therapist conducted the entire meeting. (It was a woman therapist.)

CH: She talked about pregnancy and options?

SKM: She mentioned abortion and I made it clear that I wasn't going to go that route. [...] (She mentioned) that in America, it was quite different (than in England) [...] it's a very easy procedure. [...] The defendant rarely spoke. [...] Only me and the therapist spoke.

Prior to the meeting she had made it clear (to Brown) her position on abortion. He was very quiet during the session. She doesn't remember how he reacted. She doesn't remember the actual conversation or the drive back.

Hum asks her if there was any conversation.

SKM: Sure there was but it was awkward.

The relationship continued to deteriorate.

CH: Why did you continue to go out with the defendant if he didn't want to talk about it?

SKM: I was confused; scared. [...] I thought he might warm up to the idea.

They eventually stopped seeing each other.

She needed a car and didn't have one. (During a phone conversation) She said that he offered to drive her around to help her shop for a car. (She didn't have enough for a car at the time. It was a few days ~or weeks?~ until her next check.) She wanted to borrow between four and six hundred dollars, maybe less to get a car. Marer testifies, "He threw the phone on the ground and never picked up the phone."

They no longer dated but she continued to hear from him. She received messages from him at work on her voice mail. One message he left he said, "Are you still there?" And afterwords he snickered and chuckled. She was "...shocked that he would leave such a scary toned message."

Marer admits that she was not in the country legally. She came to the US in 1993 on a visitors visa and overstayed. She had told the defendant she was not in the country legally.

After some time had passed, she found out the sex of the baby and she called the defendant to tell him the sex of the child. It didn't matter that he went to immigration the day before to turn her in for deportation.

SKM: I was very scared. I had visions of someone coming to my door to take me away. [...] I was afraid of that and that I was afraid of him and couldn't believe that he would do such a thing.

She was scared all the time and afraid she would be fired from her job.

A month before the baby was due her company had an event/function that she had invited him to. He agreed to go. She assumed they would talk about the pregnancy. He didn't want to talk about the pregnancy at all. He was reluctant to talk about anything to do with the baby.

On August 29, 1996, Lauren Serene Key was born. She spent two days in the hospital. After Lauren was born, she lived in Newport Beach with a roommate, Gina. She was still working at the same place. She never received any calls from the defendant. When Lauren was six or eight months old, she moved to Costa Mesa. She still worked for the same company, Travel Max. In Costa Mesa, she had a roommate, Carol (sp?). After Lauren's birth, she was off work for two months. She had the same phone number at Travel Max. She received no calls from the defendant.

CH: What was the reason you didn't call him?

SKM: Not only had he made it clear he didn't want to be involved in the pregnancy, I was here illegally and I was afraid of what he was capable of.

Judge Pastor then gives the jury a limiting instruction about the next bit of testimony. He instructs the jury that the testimony is limited to state of mind of the witness. It is not offered for the truth of the matter.

From the following incident, this was also one of the reasons she did not contact the defendant. Marer states that the Human Resources Department called her in and told her an accusation that someone made that she was stealing from the company. It was a person with a phone number from Cameron Brown's grandmother's house. "I was afraid I was going to be fired," Marer continues.

CH: Your Honor, may we approach?

It's 2:10 pm.

Terrie Keith from City News and another reporter (I later find out is Greg Risling from the Associated Press) are here.

CH: After you told the defendant you were pregnant, and you were still dating, did the defendant ever question you if the baby was his?

SKM: No.

CH: After you stopped dating, did he ever question (whether or not the baby was his)?

SKM: No. [...] Not that I remember, no.

After she returned to work, a friend, another single parent, Leigh Ann Ormes watched Lauren. She had a son who was 2 at the time.

She met her current husband, Greg, at a single parents group through church. They started dating and eventually married. Greg had a son, Joshua (sp?) who is 18 years old now.

In April of 1997, she contacted the Orange County District Attorney's office.

CH: Why?

SKM: To raise child support.

(My notes here are not clear as to who is speaking, whether it's Hum asking a question or Marer answering.) Single mother, struggling financially, having known how he felt....

Marer states she thought it would be a way to keep the door open [...] somewhere down the road for him to have a relationship with her. Friends suggested to Marer to ask for child support. Marer states she got a letter from the OC DA's office acknowledging that she had filed for child support. People's exhibit #81 is entered into evidence. Marer testifies that she made notes on the letter.

When she filed her request for child support, she was still working at the same place. The defendant did not contact her.

On May 21st, 1998, she received notice that the defendant was contesting paternity. Lauren and Marer had blood samples drawn for DNA analysis. Brown doesn't call Marer. In February, 1999, she went to (family?) court and the defendant was there. The District Attorney was there from Orange County. Marer had to file an income report and she saw one that was filed by the defendant. (The court ordered payments.)

Initally the amount was $620.00 It was later changed to $952 plus arrears, and came out to $1,032. a month. Marer testifies, "I was shocked it was such a high amount."

She said she never requested a specific amount from the defendant. The defendant never asked to meet or see Lauren. About a month later, his wages were garnished by the DA's office and she got a check every two weeks.

CH: Did the defendant request to meet Lauren then?

SKM: No.

The defendant then filed a request for 32% visitation and joint custody. He'd never asked to even meet Lauren when he filed the paperwork. She continued to go to court many times and the court ordered mediation. They (court) wanted to start a plan for reunification process. The schedule offered by the court was an instant plan. She was opposed to (instant) immersion. She wanted a "slower" plan. They started off once a week so Lauren could be monitored.

CH: Did you object?

SKM: No. I just wanted it to be at her pace.

CH: You reached a graduated visitation plan?

SKM: One hour a week, then one-and-a-half then two hours. Then went to unsupervised. Brown first met Lauren on November 17th, 1999. [...] They first met at Huntington Beach Park. [...] It went well. I wanted to clear the slate with Cameron and forgive him. [...] I also wanted Lauren to get to know her grandmother.

CH: How did the defendant react (to Lauren meeting her grandmother)?

SKM: He changed his tone and didn't want the relationship to happen. (He said) His mother was a bad woman and didn't want it to happen. [...] I believe he called her a bad lady. [...] I think it was very derogatory (term). [...] He sounded very passionate (about the issue).

PH: Objection!

JP: Sustained!

Pastor addresses the jury and explains exactly which testimony is allowed and which statements are stricken. He does this throughout testimony.

(The issue with the grandmother) It was awkward for her and she wanted to know why. She wanted to make her own determination (about the defendant's mother).

SKM: I called the house. [...] He was living with her at the time.

The defendant's mother's name is Lynn (sp?).

SKM: She seemed happy to hear from me. [...] She seemed like a very nice lady.

Lauren and Marer met Lynn at Lynn's house. They met about four or five times.

SKM: It went very well. She was living on The Strand in Hermosa Beach on the waterfront.

At the second visit, she saw Brown there. Lauren wanted to see the grandmother.

SKM: We were inside the living room and he was working on his motorcycle in the yard. He knew they were there.

The defendant didn't agree with Sarah and Lauren meeting with his mother. He didn't want them to have a relationship with his mother. He said she was a bad lady. "He said this in front of Lauren," Marer states. Marer testifies she asked him not to say that in front of Lauren. "He just took off." That ended the visit short by about ten minutes.

A visit is described where Lauren and Sarah come to visit the defendant (home? condo) where there was a swimming pool.

SKM: He invited us to his complex pool. Lauren and Brown sat in a hot tub for a little while. Then he (suddenly?) got out of the hot tub and threw her in the pool. "He thought it was amusing," Marer states. It was how he learned.... [...] She told him that Lauren did not know how to swim. In December of 1999 she specifically told the defendant that Lauren could not swim.

CH: After visits began with the grandmother, did your relationship start to change?

SKM: I was noticing things about him that I didn't like. [...] The way he spoke and other things.

Unsupervised visits began in 2000. He would pick her up from school at 12:30 pm for the first few times for a couple of hours and he would drop her off at her house. Graduated visitation was gradually increased.

SKM: Once they (the overnight visits) started I noticed a change in Lauren. [...] She was becoming nervous and anxious. [...] She didn't want to go with Papa Cameron.

The name of "Papa Cameron" is explained. Lauren's stepfather was called "Daddy Greg." Marer came up with the name Papa Cameron for Lauren to call the defendant.

SKM: When she (Lauren) came home from a visit she didn't want to talk about what they did or where they went. [...] The more she asked, Lauren started to scratch herself very vigorously and put her hands over her ears. [...] This was behavior that was not like Lauren before. [...] I'd never see her do this before. [...] She was usually a very talkative, happy-go-lucky and playful child. [...] She would go on a visit, and it would take a few days for her to come back to normal. [...] Her unusual behavior increased as the unsupervised visits occurred. [...] She verbalized more that she didn't want to g on hardwood floors. She insisted she be carried. [...] She wouldn't walk on hardwood floors.

CH: Did you ever do anything to discourage her?

SKM: No. [...] I always upheld him in front of her. [...] Always encouraged her, that she would have a good time with Papa Cameron.

The afternoon break is called. I chat a bit with the accredited press from the other papers (Denise Nix, Terri Vermeulen Keith from City News) and listen while they talk shop. The reporter from the LA Times, Jack Leonard, tells me he remembers meeting me at Spector. The jurors hang out in the hall during the break. I note that the little gate between the jury box and the well area is taped open for easy access by the witnesses.

With the break over, testimony resumes.

CH: Going back to when you came back from Seattle. Did he say at any time that he thought it was not his child?

SKM: No.

CH: Did you ever tell anyone that you wanted to get pregnant to stay in the US?

SKM: No.

The unsupervised visits are discussed.

CH: In early 2000, did you go to court and the issue of child support was raised again?

SKM: He (the defendant) said he needed a reduction in child support. He said he had a workmans' compensation back injury and he was not receiving his full pay. [...] The Judge ordered him to provide proof.

Marer was there when he was ordered back to court. She doesn't think he was able to provide the proof. The issue of adoption was discussed (with the defendant) that her husband Greg would adopt Lauren. "He (Brown) was all for it," Marer adds. "He seemed agreeable at the time."

She suggested he talk to someone. Talk to Patty. She suggested that he might want to speak to Patty. (She can't remember exactly what she said.) Marer identifies Brown's wife Patty as, "Lady in the second row with the blue blouse."

(On the next visit they went to a play place with the children. From my notes it's not clear who all the children were. Possibly her stepchild, Joshua and Lauren.)

He insinuated to her that Cameron wanted to go ahead with the adoption. She got the kids situated and she and Cam talked about adoption. Cam talked about it.

SKM: (He told her) They were making plans to get married (Patty & defendant). They were going to move up north and start their own family. [...] And if Lauren wanted to visit, he would be agreeable.

CH: At some point after that conversation that he ahd spoken to Patty...

SKM: He stated that she had a month "to do it." [...] She didn't know that he meant literally a month. [...] If I didn't do it within a month, it was all off.

She later learned that something happened.

CH: Did he tell you about an event later? A month later?

SKM: He'd gone to get married with Patty in Hawaii approximately a month later.

At the time, requirements for adoption was different that the requirements for visitation. Hum asks, "Was that still ongoing in family court?"

(My notes here are not clear as to the exact question Hum asks Marer.)

After adoption (discussion) did you file a declaration with the court opposing? Hum presents an exhibit for the court, people's #2.

The document, filed with the court in Orange County, regarding support and visitation and also wrote about the conversation she had with the defendant about adoption. (She) mentioned it.

Also wrote in there the lack of interest in Lauren's everyday life. Also wrote the defendant's thoughts in regards to his family.

In March, there was another hearing in family court after that filing. Did defendant...

SKM: He said I was just like his mother and he was upset by what I'd written. Upset after the hearing in the hallway. It, the conversation was nasty. He was angry, aggressive, scary.

CH: What did he tell you?

SKM: He told me to never speak to him again. [...] He said, "What goes around, comes around."

CH: Did he make any other threats?

SKM: I believe he said, "I'll get you for this."

CH: After all these threats, did he ever speak to you again?

SKM: Only if he absolutely had to.

She never spoke of the adoption again. "I was afraid of him. The way he turned," Marer testifies.

It had an effect on the unsupervised visits. They weren't communicating. The court mediator suggest they communicate with a notepad. Marer states, "I was willing to speak to him but he wouldn't speak to me."

The relationship deteriorated. He (the defendant) would make comments in front of (the?) kids.

There was one incident where he (Brown) dropped Lauren off, and Patty was in the (Volkswagen?) bus. Joshua almost got his head torn off as he pulled away; [...] He just laughed.

His demeanor: sarcastic, derogatory, name calling. Not very nice.

CH: Have you previously described it as vindictive and spiteful?

SKM: That would be an accurate (description).

After a few visits with the mediator, they would go in separately. He wouldn't meet with her anymore. That was Brown's idea; not her idea. There were instances where there was a scheduled visitation and he didn't show up. That was in the spring of 2000.

Sometime after, he said he didn't have the gas (money?) to come get her and that's why he couldn't come.

SKM: I called him back and offered to pay the gas money to keep the visitations consistent.

CH: What did the defendant say to that?

SKM: "Sometimes plans don't go that (way?) [...] It was just the way it is."

Lauren's behavior deteriorated. She verbalized more that I was the wrong mother. She asked me why was I stealing money from Papa Cameron; that I was going to jail. She was becoming more fretful and anxious.

SKM: Her Papa Cameron told her that I was going to jail and.... (I don't have the rest of the sentence.) [...] She wouldn't want to wear her underwear and socks. It was difficult to get her ready in the morning.

This was new behavior verses the supervised visits.

SKM: She said, "Papa Cameron was going to take her away to live with them. (Patty and Brown)

Marer retained an attorney to help her deal with the system. She was asking friends how to help her. She called the police (on Brown) a couple of occasions. She was just looking for help. She called social services.

SKM: The mediator heard all of my concerns.

CH: Why did she call the police?

SKM: On one occasion, his wife (Patty) came to pick her up. It wasn't in the court order that Patty could pick her up.

(My notes are not clear here about the boat issue.)

(He?) Took her on the boat, and the court issued an order for him not to take her on the boat. I was afraid he wouldn't put a life jacket on her.

She spoke to an officer who said this was just normal behavior.

SKM: I tried to talk to a psychologist to set up a play therapy to see if something was going on with her.

There was a "seven-thirty" (730), psychic evaluation in the court orders for any part associated with the child. "They would take each of us and interview (and observe) so he could assess. [...] Brown was supposed to pay for it," Marer testifies.

The evaluation did not take place.

CH: Did you want the evaluation?

SKM: Yes because a psychiatrist would see the behavior as to how Lauren was with Cameron and Patty and how that changed in that respect.

The overnight visits are explained to the jury. Every other week (the defendant) would pick her up from the house at 4:30 pm and drop her off 24 hours later. On alternate weeks, he would pick her up 12:30 pm from school and drop her off at 7:30 pm at her home. The day visits were Wednesday, the overnight visits were on Tuesday. Those days were the defendant's days off from his job. He was still working as a baggage handler.

On June 22nd, 2000, Marer spoke with mediator Jan Mueler (sp?). The defendant made an allegation that I was physically and emotionally abusing Lauren. She had to report it to social services.

CH: Were you... (missed the rest of the question).

SKM: No, I was shocked. Very upset. [...] I said to her, "You're kidding?" She replied, "Well, I'm mandated to report it." I was petrified of this whole scenario.

She took her child to a pediatrician to have her evaluated and wanted someone to document that the things, (small bruises?) were normal things that a child has. There was an investigation. (By Joanie Dodge ? sp?) They took Joshua in a separate room. (To interview him?)

CH: The allegations the defendant made were determined to be unfounded?

SKM: Yes they were.

(My notes are not clear here.) Patty came to pick up Lauren.

CH: What else happened?

Patty came to the doorstep. In one hand she had court papers. She was smiling. She bent down on one knee and said to Lauren, "Come to Mommy." Lauren froze. She didn't have that relationship with Patty.

After the overnight visits started, Lauren wouldn't share any information as to where they went and what they did. It appeared to get worse. (

CH: Was there anything else that Lauren refused to communicate with you about?

SKM: No, Just that one area.

CH: Did you ever do anything to discourage these visits?

Marer states she stuck by the court order.

August 29th, 2000. Lauren's fourth birthday. Hum places a photo of Lauren up on the bulletin board. It's a photo taken of her on her fourth birthday, standing on a sidewalk.

(Throughout the trial so far, I'm frustrated that both parties don't use the overhead screen projection to put up photos. They place them on poster board, and put an easel in front of the jury, very close to them. It's difficult to see these photos even from where I'm sitting, which is close to the jury box.)

Not long after Lauren's fourth birthday, she went to England with Lauren. Lauren was a bridesmaid in a wedding. Once Lauren got to England, she was back to her normal self. Her troubled behavior, being sad, fretful, seemed to disappear. They returned to the US on October 31st, 2000. For Halloween, she made Lauren a princess outfit.

CH: Did she dress up on Halloween as a princess?

Afterwords, the defendant picked Lauren up for her court ordered visit with Patty. Marer was waiting outside on the lawn. There was a neighbor waiting there with her. (IIRC, the neighbor's child was on the lawn also.) The neighbor's name was Mick DeGraff (sp?)

Lauren wanted to talk about her outfit. She was excited about Halloween and trick or treating. (When she saw Brown), her demeanor changed. She hadn't seen him for three or four weeks.

I look over at the jury and they seem attentive to the testimony.

The type of car the defendant and his wife came to pick up Lauren in was a small type car. A Honda or a Datsun. (I believe Marer states that Patty got out of the front seat.) The defendant told Laurent to get in the front seat of the car.

SKM: I had told him prior, that she was to sit in the back of the car in a car seat. [...]

(My notes here are not clear who makes the following statements.)

He tells Lauren to get in the front seat? No.

SKM: I said no. No reason to sit in the front seat.

PH: Objection!

JP: Sustained. No is the answer. Everything after is stricken.

SKM: She seemed afraid. She knew what she was supposed to do.

CH: Did the defendant make any comment to Lauren at that time? [...] Did he tell Lauren to tell you to shut up?

SKM: I don't remember.

Lauren did get in the back seat. Marer came over to her and told her everything would be fine.

CH: Did the defendant's wife say anything?

SKM: Patty said, "What else do you do when you're not smacking your kid around?"

CH: The neighbor, Mic DeGraff was present?

SKM: He witnessed all of it.

CH: When the defendant dropped Lauren off the next day...

SKM: I always made sure I was there to receive her.

An event that happened on November 1st, 2000 is described. (When the defendant dropped Lauren off) He didn't pull up to the curb. The car was a little ways out in the street. Lauren exited the car and came to Sarah. Cameron put Lauren's suitcase in the street and told her to come get her suitcase. Lauren ran back to the car into the street. Marer yelled at her to stop. The defendant laughed; found it amusing.

PH: Objection!

The defendant found everything else amusing.

Lauren told Marer she didn't want to go with him anymore. She asked if she could hide under the bed. She was very emotional. A day or two after this visit, she was still upset. Her behavior deteriorated. She still hadn't calmed down. The next (family) court date was November 30th to establish custody. There was to be a trial.

Marer asked her attorney if there was anyway they could get some type of hearing to stop the visits until the court hearing.

PH: Objection! Hearsay!

JP: Accepted only (for state of mind) not for truth of the matter.

SKM: My attorney told me to continue with the plan and to hang in there.

CH: Why were you so distraught?

SKM: I was afraid for Lauren. I didn't know if Cameron was emotionally abusing her. [...] She was becoming so traumatized, so timid; and I was willing to do anything just to stop it.

It's established that Marer kept a diary of her daughter's visits with her father.

CH: Were there positive and negative comments in there (about the visits with the defendant)?

SKM: Yes, there were.

CH: Did you go through those visits and add up the number of hours she was with him (from the time he first saw her)?

She went through her log.

SKM: It was approximately sixteen days.

Wednesday, the following week was a 12:30 pm to 7:30 pm visit. She took Lauren to school that day. A photo is put up on the rolling bulletin board and presented as people's #1.

CH: Was that how Lauren was dressed?

Marer testifies that she made her daughter lunch that day. It was a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich, cheese sticks, yogurt, chips and fruit. That morning, she had some issue with her underwear. Marer was anxious about telling her about her visit with Cameron. She told Lauren about the visit two blocks from school. After Marer told her, Lauren said she didn't want to see him today.

SKM: We were singing songs one minute and then she became upset by the time she got to school. She was almost crying. [...] I kept telling her she could [...] by the time we were at the school, she was crying. She clunk to me. She didn't want to walk. I carried her into the school. She didn't want to leave me.

She dropped Lauren off at 8:15 am, 8:30 am. She was still crying.

SKM: She was saying, "Don't go, Don't go!" as I was walking away. [...] I told her I loved her. She told me she loved me.

CH: Was that the last time you ever saw Lauren?

Marer answers in a soft voice, "Yes."

Marer states that she lived ten minutes from the school. She called the school at 11 am to see if Lauren had calmed down. She also was going to call back at noon. When she called the school she found out that Lauren had not calmed down. She hadn't eaten her lunch. At recess she ran away. (This is not clear as to what she actually did. I'm guessing that she hid on the playground.) The school put Lauren on the phone. While she was on the phone with her daughter, she was whimpering, crying.

SKM: I kept reassuring her that she would have a good time. I told her I loved her and she said she loved me back. Then I told the teacher; I decided I was going to go get her and to me it wasn't worth any court order. That's when the teacher told her that Lauren's father came early (to pick Lauren up).

Marer knew she wouldn't be able to make it in time to get there because the teacher said she saw the defendant pull up. (It was Marer's understanding that) the defendant was supposed to bring her to Huntington Beach.

SKM: I was sitting by my window at 7:00 pm. At 7:15 pm, I started to get concerned. [...] At 7:30 pm, her husband thought to call to see if there were any accidents to delay him coming back.

(That maybe there was an accident and traffic was backed up.)

SKM: I called Cameron's mother. I called Greg's parents to come to the house. (To watch Joshua.) [...] We thought that maybe he'd kidnapped her.

CH: Did you try to call the defendant's house?

SKM: There was no answer. [...] Brown didn't give her a cell phone number.

The defendant had her number (but there was no call from Brown) and no answer at the house.

Her in-laws watched Josh. Marer and her husband thought he'd kidnapped her. They just had a bad feeling. They got in their car and headed up the 405 Freeway towards LA. Greg was driving. During the drive, Greg contacted the local police station in Rolling Hills. He was on the phone for some time.

CH: Why? (Did you call police)

SKM: To see if we could get a police escort. We didn't know what to expect.

While her husband was on the phone with police, he was transferred around to other stations. He was told to get off the freeway and go to the nearest splice station.

SKM: We were in a panic; frantic. We had no idea what was going on. But we were not told why. [...] But it was obvious the police knew something.

When the arrived at the station, the person the were to meet wasn't there yet, so they waited in their car. They did not receive any calls from the defendant or Patty as to what happened. They called Brown's mother back to see if she had heard anything.

SKM: She said something about a car accident, but she didn't seem to know anything.

Marer and her husband were told to go inside. It was a lady officer who met with them in an office. The officer sat down, and on the table she placed a leather pouch.

SKM: And it said "HOMICIDE" on it. I knew what it meant. I was confused. I kept looking at it.

Marer is trying to hold back tears while she is testifying on the stand.

SKM: I remember how she told us. "Lauren is dead." [...] I couldn't believe it. I couldn't connect the words.

Marer openly sobs on the stand.

Testimony is over for the day. Pastor very sternly addresses the jury. "Do not speak to anyone. Don't read newspapers, blogs, or speak to anyone involved in the case." There's more he says to the jury, but I don't get it all written down. He tells the jury to return at 9 am, Tuesday morning.

The jury is excused but Pastor has some personal issues with two jurors that he addresses. The first juror, #7 is brought in. "Ms. Gifford, the (juror) would like the Judge to contact his colleague at work." The juror works for Kaiser. The juror states he is not worried about the financial burden (there is some issue that Kaiser only pays for a certain number of days and that was not adequately discovered during voir dire) but that they will take his job. Pastor addresses that with the juror and said he would speak to his superior. Legally, the juror cannot lose his job for jury service. The juror stated he will use whatever jury service time and personal time he has coming to serve on the jury. Pastor says something to the effect, humorously, "Or this juror will own Kaiser."

Juror #9 is brought in. The number the juror gave for his professor is wrong. He will email his professor tonight inquiring if he can take the exam this Thursday at an earlier time.

Pastor asks counsel to be back in his courtroom by 8:45 am.

There are (for me) interesting differences between Pastor's courtroom and Fidler's. It was a rare occasion for court to start on time at 9:30 am in 106. Pastor is a stickler for starting right on time. As I remember it, Fidler would run through his instructions to witnesses pretty quickly, and every witness was subject to recall.


ritanita said...

My heart goes out to Sarah. It must be so difficult for her to have to relive her experiences with Brown and the death of little Lauren... especially since this is the second time she has to testify.

Sprocket, thank you so much for covering this trial.

Anonymous said...

I was an alternate on the first trial from Torrance Superior court and am very interested in your blog - keep up the good work! I wish I were there...

Unfortunately I did not get the chance to convict Cameron Brown. No doubt in my mind of his guilt. What a Freak!

Sprocket said...

Thank you MR for writing.

Can you share with T&T's readers what was the most compelling piece of evidence that convinced you of Brown's guilt, or was it the totality of the evidence?

I'll be closing this entry but you can post on one of the more current entries, or if you do not wish to do that, you can email me directly.