Thursday, August 13th, 2009
# Victor Rendon (American Airlines employee who presents Brown's employment records; testimony complete)
# Jane Ngo (DDA, CPA and financial forensic investigator who presents the financial data: testimony complete)
# Thomas Fortier (LA Co. Sheriff's Dept. HIgh Tech Task Force; examined the Brown's computers; testimony complete"
# Anke Raue (Coordinator of public walks in Rancho Palos Verdes; testimony complete)
# Dr. Ogbonna Chinwah (LA Co. Coroner's Office; performed Lauren's autopsy; testimony complete)
When I arrive in 107, Judge Pastor is advising a defendant on another case. Pastor is directly addressing the defendant, who is in handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit.
JP: ....to look at the big picture and what is facing you. Ultimately it's your decision. You've got two lawyers. They are committed to you. [...] Talk to your family; talk to your friends and consult with them. But no one ultimately makes the decision... it's you.
There are three clean cut young men sitting in the row behind me. I can tell immediately they are with the DA's office. Short hair, clean cut look, long-sleeve shirts, tie. (No jackets.) I turn around and ask if they are interns or clerks. Clerks, for the DA's office, they respond.
Pastor stays on the bench while the attorney's set up. Brown enters and starts to put on a tie. Ted was here when I arrived, sitting in the front row. The jury is called and we get started at 9:34 am.
The prosecution calls VICTOR RENDON.
Rendon is an American Airlines employee who is what is called a "lost time" manager covering all types of lost time such as injury, late/tardy, workman's compensation and family leave. When an employee calls in sick, upon their return they are interviewed by a lost time manager.
Rendon explains regular duty, transitional duty (coming off an injury such as workman's comp), restricted, return to work (can't lift over 20 lbs), and transitional from being off to full capacity. Rendon explains that employee personnel files are called "P" files and details all the types of documents that would be in the P file: work history, disciplinary actions and any type of injuries. For timekeeping, back in 2000 they had paper documents. Today, that's all computerized.
CH: Do you know the defendant?
VR: Yes I do. [...] He worked for American Airlines. I supervised on occasion.
Rendon reviewed Brown's personnel file. He started work for AA on August 28th, 1989. In November 2000, his job title was fleet service clerk. This is someone who loads/unloads luggage off to planes. He explains a "cut team" position where employees take luggage from "tail to tail." Hum asks about bags going from LAX to Hawaii, and Rendon agrees that's basically what the job entails. It also entails driving trams, physically moving the bags from point (plane) to point (plane). The job requires that employees are able to lift 75 pounds while bending over within a cramped space of an airliner (cargo hold).
In November of 2000, Rendon verifies that the defendant's days off were Tuesday and Wednesday and that he was listed as regular duty. He was not listed as injured or in transitional duty. A document is presented to Rendon who states he identifies it.
VR: It is an employee attendance record.
CH: Does it reference (the) work hours for the early days of November, 2nd, 200? [...] Did the defendant work?
VR: Yes he did.
CH: Regular duty, transitional or something else?
VR: Regular duty.
I'm not positive but I believe the document is put up on the overhead screen.
11/3 Regular duty
11/4 Regular duty
11/5 Regular duty
11/6 Regular duty
11/7 Day off
11/8 Day off
CH: Are you familiar with AA's policies when an employee has an injury on duty?
VR: First, the employee needs to let management know. Then the injury needs to be assessed and the employee sent to medical right away.
Then an injury counselor would advise the employee of his benefits.
CH: Was there an "injury counselor" back then? (2000)
VR: Yes there was. [...] Back then, the injury counselor would discuss with them what the employee's options were.
The employee would be given an document that explains all the options and benefits in regards to the employee injury policy.
CH: What was AA pay policy?
VR: Allotted 80 days off where they were paid their regular salary, then 50 days transitional.
Rendon clarifies that's 80 scheduled work days.
CH: Full salary base for 80 days?
This was 80 day per specific injury. Back then, (2000) the employee could be off 80 days from a back injury, come back to work injury the knee and get another 80 days paid. Rendon also clarifies that this generous injury policy AA had had changed since then. The witness states the employee is required to keep their doctor's appointments and they can check in with their injury counselor over the phone. They don't need to physically come into work to check in.
CH: Can a doctor at some point clear them for transitional duty then clear them for full duty?
VR: Yes, they can do that.
The next document is People's #43. It's an AA document from Brown's personnel file regarding an injury he claimed on 1-19-1999. The document is the employee on duty injury letter. It's signed by the defendant under the above statement:
"I have read and understand the information above."
Line #7 on the document. "Detail pay policy. AA will continue to pay your full salary for 80 days. If (you) are still injured beyond that (time0 you will receive workman's compensation.
The witness reviewed the personnel file of Brown and states there are 11 or 12 times in the file where the defendant claimed an injury while on duty.
People's #80 Another injury on duty letter dated 11-18-99. It's a repeat of People's #43. Brown signed the document that he read and understood the above. The same #7 paragraph reads the same AA policy of full pay for 80 days.
CH: Did the defendant return to full duty?
He returned to full duty on February 28th, 2000.
CH: Did the defendant claim any other injury on duty?
VR: No, he did not.
CH: Did I request that you review his pay stubs from the year 2000?
VR: Yes you did.
CH: Back in 1999-2000, how frequently were employees paid?
VR: Every two weeks.
The first pay stub that's presented is one dated 1-7-2000. The gross pay was 1599.20 for two weeks. There are various deductions on the check, including one for child support. The net pay was $433.42.
The next pay stub is reviewed, dated 1-21-2000. The gross pay was $1599.20 for two weeks. That was full, base salary. The net pay was $440.93 and the child support was $491.00
The next pay stub is reviewed, dated 2-4-2000. The gross pay was $1599.20 for two weeks. The child support was $491, and the net pay was $439.16.
The next pay stub is dated 2-18-2000. The gross pay was $1599.20. The child support deduction was $125.00. The net pay was $804.17.
The next stub is dated 3-03-2000. The gross pay was 1604.80. The child support deduction was 83.33. The net pay was $864.22.
The next stub is dated 3-15-2000. The gross pay was 1986.78 for two weeks. There was no child support deduction out of this check. The net paycheck was $1,110.01.
The next stub is dated 3-31-2000. The gross pay was $1619.85 for two weeks. The child support was 83.34 and the net paycheck was $892.42.
The next stub is dated 4-14-2000. The gross pay was $1610.42 for two weeks. I think I have the amount wrong for child support for this stub at only $125.00 with the net paycheck being $554.48.
The next stub is dated 4-28-2000. The gross pay was 1644.92 for two weeks. The child support was $491.00 and the net pay was $430.94
(And as I'm looking at this, I'm seeing that there have to be some other type of deductions coming out of his bi-weekly check that are pretty hefty because I can't understand how it could just be government taxes, SDI and withholding that are taking such a huge chunk of his gross pay.)
Hum asks the witness if overtime was available to the defendant back in 2000. In order for an employee to get overtime, they would have to sign up for it on their day off, or sign up at the beginning of the shift. Seniority did play a part on who was first awarded overtime. Overtime was paid at 1.5 the base pay. Rendon also explains "CS time" At the change of shift an employee can pick another employee's shift to work at regular base salary. CS time is "completely voluntary." The agreement to work a CS shift can be a verbal agreement between two employees or sometimes can require a management signature.
(This witness totally invalidates the defendant's claims in Family Court that he was on disability and not earning his full salary. It also invalidates the defendant's claims in Family court that he did not know who was paying him while he was injured.)
Harris gets up to cross the witness. Harris verifies that Mr. Hum subpoenaed the records and had this witness review them. He reviewed pay stub documents from 1-7-2000 to 12-31-2001.
Hum puts up a detail earnings statement on the overhead screen. Unfortunately, I can barely read what's there. He does have the witness explain the various areas and codes on the statement. Medical coverage, life insurance, dental, eye care are all before taxed deductions. After tax deductions would be credit union dues, child support long term disability, 401K. Those are all voluntary deductions.
Verifies again that Hum provided the witness with 2 years pay stubs. Every category that's listed on the earnings statement is gone over and the witness verifies if the category is a voluntary deduction or not. (The list is long, and I won't bother transcribing what I have.) There is also a category on the stub called NRSA. This is a category where, if an employee travels and takes someone with him via his benefit of free travel, there 's a fee for that. (I'm betting these are taxes that must be paid.) Or if there's someone on his list who travels on his benefits, the employee pays some sort of fees.
PH: If at any time, he could have decided not to have these voluntary deductions?
VR: Well, I'd debate that on the union dues. [...] Insurance can only be declined once a year in October.
PH: Other things, could he choose not to have deducted from his paycheck?
Now Harris goes over every pay stub from November 10th, 2000 to May 25th, 2001 and the child support payments that Brown made to the victim's mother, Sarah. I'm not sure if I have all the figures correct, so bear with me.
11-10-2000 412.85 child support; arrears: ??
11-24-2000 475.26 child support; arrears: no
12-06-2000 78.14 child support; arrears 25.00
12-08-2000 412.86 child support; arrears: 25.00
12-22-2000 491.00 child support
12-22-2000 nothing (is this possibly a bonus check?)
01-05-2001 491.00 child support; arrears 25.00
01-19-2001 491.00 child support; arrears 25.00
02-02-2001 491.00 child support; arrears 25.00
02-16-2001 491.00 child support; arrears 25.00
03-02-2001 327.33 child support; arrears 16.67
03-15-2001 327.33 child support; arrears 16.67
03-16-2001 no child support
03-30-2001 327.34 child support; arrears 16.66
04-13-2001 491.00 child support; arrears 25.00
04-27-2001 491.00 child support; arrears 25.00
05-11-2001 491.00 child support; arrears 25.00
05-25-2001 491.00 child support; arrears 25.00
(The big question I'm left with is, who initiated the termination of the child support payments? Was it the OC DA's office when the inter-office paperwork was finally got input into the system over six months later so that Brown didn't pay anymore? Was it Sarah? Or was it Brown? IF this question is answered via this witness or earlier witnesses I totally missed it.)
Harris now asks the witness about different job positions: baggage handler; cut team; expediter. An expediter is someone resolves luggage issues when a passenger gets on a plane but their luggage doesn't make it. The witness states there are 3-4 times a year where employees make bids for certain positions.
PH: At one point was he (Brown) an expediter?
The witness states that he would have to look through all the paperwork bids to determine that. He can't determine from the documents in his personnel file if Brown was an expediter or not.
Harris asks if the employee has a pre-designated doctor on file, if they can go to their own doctor.
VR: Initially, the employee still has to go to the AA doctor referral first, they then can treat with their own personal physician.
Harris now asks about those 11-12 injury report letter and if the witness looked at each individual one to determine what each one was.
VR: No, I just looked at the number of them.
PH: You can't tell if some of these were where he was back at work the same day?
VR: No. Just looked at the injury report letter (in the file).
Harris goes over the injury report letter dated 1-19-1999, and Brown's statement regarding the injury.
"I was bending down vacuuming when I bumped my head on an overhead bin latch."
PH: Can you tell if he missed any work?
VR: It doesn't look like he missed any work.
PH: Some of these were injuries where he missed work and some of those were where he didn't miss any work?
(I don't have the witness's answer.)
The witness states he doesn't remember when the pay went to direct deposit. He thinks that back then, the checks were either mailed or picked up by the employees.
The following codes are explained. SK= sick; PE= personal emergency; PV= paid vacation borrowed from next years.
There's no redirect of this witness and the next witness is called.
I note that the microphone at the witness box is not working right. If you touch or move it, it has a terrible noisy re verb to it. It doesn't help make the witness more understandable.
The witness is a Deputy District Attorney with LA County. She's a supervising investigator and auditor. Since 1997 she's worked on her own cases. Before that she was a corporate examiner for corporations and did regulatory audits. She supervises four staff members.
In 2004 she was an investigative auditor. She would transfer information for the DA and investigators onto spread sheets for analysis. She gives more of her CV. She's also a CPA and a forensic accountant, doing analysis for court purposes.
In March, 2004 the DA's office provided her with the finances for Cameron Brown and Patty Kaldis Brown. The witness states what bank records she received.
She received bank account records from May, 2000 to June, 2001. She also received payroll info from January 2000 to May, 2001. She also received credit card reports for Cameron Brown and Patty Brown from reporting agencies. Several agencies generated reports for as of May, 2000. She analyzed all this material and presented her findings to Hum.
She reviewed seventeen months of payroll information from Brown. January 7th, 2000 to May 25th, 2001. In that group, there was a 2 week period dated 5-26-2000 missing.
The witness states the defendant's gross pay (for this period?) was $64,187.56. That's what the employer agreed to pay him. Hum has the witness go over various deductions. One was child support and one was arrearages in child support. There was also a deduction into a savings (?) account $1,782.20 (total deduction).
CH: Did I ask you to calculate all the deductions excluding child support and arrearages, and taking into consideration the savings account? [...] With that, what was the net pay without those deductions?
JN: After: $40,002.61.
The witness also calculated his take home pay.
Brown's child support was 38.3% of his net pay.
Hum asks her if there were any days where the paycheck information indicate the net pay was more than the child support.
JN: Out of 36 pay periods, there were 13 pay periods where child support was greater than net pay.
Hum asks the witness to calculate how much child support the defendant would have paid (at the current rate) if Lauren had lived to 18 years old.
JN: $148,132.84, if the amount remained the same.
The witness examined the records for four bank accounts for the defendant. (I believe one account was opened after the death of Lauren so it was not included in calculations.)
B of A Savings: Opened in 5-1-2000 with $6.00. The last statement she reviewed was 5-21-2001 and the account had a balance of $6.14. That's the highest amount that account ever had. The .14 cents was interest earned. On November 8th, 2000, the balance in that account was $6.07.
B of A Checking: On 5-1-2000, the balance was $424.44. ON May 31st, 2001 the balance was $304.87. The highest balance occurred on September 5th, 2000, at $1,937.53. On November 8th, 2000 there was a balance of $86.14.
CH: How many times was this account overdrawn?
JN: 31 times.
On 11-15-2000 there was a negative balance of $ -42.28.
The witness also received records for an American Airlines, Federal Credit Union account. With each paycheck, $50.92 was deposited directly into that account. There were withdrawals on that account.
Credit Union Acct: On 5-9-2000 the balance in the account was $59.91. On 6-22-2001 it was $74.10. The highest balance was on 3-2-2001: $123.25. On November 8th, 2000 the balance was $4.00
The witness states that on this account, there were a number of ATM transactions that were denied, for a total of 13 denied transactions.
The witness was asked to add up the balances in the three accounts in November 8th, 2000. That information is presented on People's #73.
$ 6.07 B of A Savings
$ 86.14 B of A Checking
$ 4.00 Credit Union Acct
$96.21 Total bank account assets on 11/8/2000
The morning break is called. During the break, Harris gives Judge pastor a document.
JP: I think he needs to give the "pace form."
Harris and Hum are still shuffling around in the well area during the break. As I get up from my seat to go get a snack, Harris has an impish grin on his face and says (I believe) in Hum's direction, "I don't know hat you're making such a big deal about. That's ($96.21) not much more than what I have." As I walk past that area of the well on my way out of the courtroom, I say to Harris, "Oh I doubt that."
11:06 am: Break is over.
The witness now testifies about several items that have been charged off that appear on the defendant's credit report. Some of the items don't have dates beside them as to when they became bad debts. These items appeared on a May 2001 credit report.
12/1995 $61.00 (B of A?)
08/2000 $148.00 (American Agency?)
04/2001 $161.00 (American Agency?)
07/1997 $52.00 (CWLTH)
?????? $167.00 (Metro Adjustment Bureau?)
04/30/2000 $561.00 (Area? Finance?)
2/1999 $53.00 (AFNI, Inc.?)
1/1999 $1,358 (? Agency)
There are some California tax liens also listed three items but I miss some of the information.
There was a repossession from Nissan Motors in August, 1996 for $12,974.00
The witness also reviewed a credit report for Patty Brown. There appeared to be two charge-offs by creditors.
The debt for this individual reflects a mortgage with Countrywide on 3/20/2001 of $176,518.
There is some kind of past due debt with ABCO (?), a date of 2/99 of $5,000.
There is some kind of payment/charge off (?) in ?/2000 of $67.00 with NACC (?).
She reviewed the balances on (I believe?) credit cards.
AA (?) $24.00
Union Bk $5,737.00
There is a document the witness reviewed that showed Mrs. Brown was fired from her Hermosa Beach job on February 22, 2000. When she was fired, she had already taken advance vacation days. She owed the city more than she had earned when fired.
Patty Brown's W2 forms:
1999 gross: $37,657.83
1999 net: $29,313.48
2000 gross: $7,926.45
2000 net: $6,2363.23
(I have some other figures listed but I can't figure out what my notes are trying to say.)
In June of 2006 she was asked to look at additional accounts by Patty Kaldis Brown.
CH: Were there any joint accounts?
Patty Brown also had real estate holdings. There were three properties she owned and two were sold. None of the properties had the defendant's name on them.
CH: Reviewing the additional documents your received in 2006, did that change the amount the money the defendant had in his account?
That's the end of direct and cross begins.
Harris starts with Brown's credit report. I have in my notes at this point that Ted left before the break. Then Harris moves onto Patty's credit report. He asks the witness about bad debuts and if the credit report tells you when the account (debt) was charged off. Some of the charge offs were in 1996, 1997. From 1995 to 1997, Brown wasn't paying child support.
JN: I was only provided (the information) from (the time frame indicated?).
There are a few questions about the child support that my notes are not clear on. Harris brings up the old tax liens. There were repossessions (?) all before Brown started paying child support.
PH: From you experience, (in reviewing the credit documents) that Mr. Brown was someone who cared about his finances?
Harris asks the question a slightly different way and it's objected to and sustained also. Third time is the charm and the witness finally gets to answer.
Harris asks her about when she first started reviewing the documents, and when Mr. Hum sent her a memo, the prosecution was looking at the financial income. Harris asks her at what point she was asked to analyze this information.
PH: Were you aware that he had already been arrested?
JN: No, I was not aware of when he was arrested.
She was given documents and she generated a report. Mr. Hum allegedly requested a review to determine if financial gain was a motive, in March, 2004. She was requested to look at the finances of both Brown's because they were married.
Harris goes over with the witness what documents she was provided by Hum.
PH: They didn't provide you with payroll or bank account information for Mrs. Brown?
The witness states that they didn't do that until later.
PH: Based on just the information you had, you testified before the grand jury, all you had was her credit report, not her bank accounts?
Hum provided that information eventually in June, 2004.
PH: Did he tell you how he had gotten the information? [...] From the defense?
JN: I believe so.
PH: They filed with a joint tax return in 2001? [...] Provided a 2001 (tax return)? [...] They also provided a copy of 2000 joint tax return.
JN: I couldn't confirm. They (the documents) weren't signed.
Harris asks her why didn't she obtain the Federal tax returns.
JN: It's very difficult to get IRS records. I have not personally been able to get one for work (in the scope of doing her job).
Harris asks the witness if Mrs. Brown had three properties, and if she sold one on April 21, 2001. He asks her if Patty brown walked away with a profit of $73,000 from that sale.
ON November 8th, 2000, she owned the house (sold) at that point. Harris asks her about an equity line of credit. That's when the value of the property exceeds what you owe.
Harris mentions again that Patty Brown made $73,000 profit off of the sale of that home. Harris brings up that prior to that, she purchased a piece of property in Torrance, in 1996. She sold in in December, 1998 and pocketed nearly $70,000. Patty Brown also had a retirement account.
PH: You can access the funds if you wish?
JN: With a penalty.
The retirement account on November 8th, 2000 held $48,445.53.
PH: She also had checking accounts on November 8th, 2000?
JN: She had four bank accounts.
Added up? I have a figure of $14,553.84.
JN: I don't know if they were checking accounts. They were bank statements.
Harris goes over the charge offs of a couple of credit cards.
PH: Do you know of a procedure where you can pay off a credit card after it was charged off?
JN: I didn't get that far.
Harris then presents that Patty had credit cards with high "available" balance credit limits. I believe he mentions that on the MBNA card, she had an available line of $26,000 and on her Discover card, she had a $7,500 credit line with $3,760 available as a cash advance.
PH: And that's something she could instantly get cash out of?
Patty Brown also had a Credit Union account with, South Bay Credit Union. A deposit was made in June, 1999 of $9,000. That balance was still in that account on November 8th, 2000.
More of Patty's credit is gone over as well as the sums she pocketed free and clear from the sale of two properties.
PH: Did you see how much the mortgage was? [...] Do you know who was paying it?
PH: Did anyone as you to try to determine if they were living together?
PH: No one had you look at there (?) to see if they were paying (expenses) together?
JN: I didn't see it coming from his account.
PH: They had a mortgage?
JN: SHE had a mortgage.
PH: You saw Mr. Brown wasn't paying the mortgage? No one asked you to find out who was paying that?
PH: Do you have.... testified in prior proceeding?
PH: You had the case for five years?
PH: AT any point did anyone ask to find out if their finances were apart?
JN: She had her own bank accounts.
PH: Any information she was not providing help to the marriage financially?
I don't have the last answer.
Cross ends and redirect begins.
Hum brings out on redirect that the bank statements were separate and the mortgage was separate.
CH: Did any of Cameron Brown's accounts have his wife's name on them?
CH: Did any of her accounts have Cameron Brown's name on them?
There were no accounts or assets that showed joint ownership.
Redirect is over and recross begins.
Unfortunately, my note is not clear as to what Harris asks. He does get on the record that the Brown's were married in the Summer of 2000. I believe it's on recross that it's established that all of the bank accounts were opened before they were both married except for an "AA" account, (credit card?) that was opened in April, 2001.
PH: Did anyone ever ask you to go out and investigate that?
JN: I don't investigate.
PH: No one provided you with any information that they had joint accounts? [...] You have no way of knowing if they shared any expenses?
JN: But I received documents in 2004. The defense didn't provide me with any joint accounts.
I believe the witness agrees that she didn't know if Mrs. Brown was willing to pay for things for her husband.
The testimony of this witness is over and the afternoon break is called a bit early I think. Judge Pastor reminds the jurors that it's Thursday, Farmer's Market Day on the grounds of City Hall. Counsel are ordered back by 1:15 pm.
(The question I would ask is, why didn't they have joint accounts? Why? It doesn't matter if they did share in expenses like Harris suggested in his cross. What's clear is that their assets were separate and Patty controlled the major money in the marriage. I suspect that if there were any joint accounts, the defense would have presented them.
As I listened to the testimony about Patty Brown's finances, they don't appear that impressive. She had some investments and almost $50,000 in her retirement account but she wasn't overly wealthy. She didn't have "hundreds" of thousands of dollars. What I think of her finances doesn't matter though. Whatever she had at that time, it was significantly way more than Brown himself had, and a witness testified that Brown stated he married Patty for her money.)
At 1:12 pm, I'm back inside 107. Brown is getting his tie on. There's a bit of pleasant banter in the well. Patricia McNeal, (the other court reporter in 107) went to the Farmer's Market with Mrs. Benson and lucked upon getting a free sandwich there. Judge Pastor jokes with his reporter and clerk.
JP: So that's what you were doing, scrounging around?
Judge Pastor appears to have a good rapport with his staff.
1:17 pm: The jury files in. Judge Pastor asks his jury about their lunch.
The next witness is THOMAS FORTIER. I know this officer also testified in Spector.
Fortier is a Detective on the High Tech Task Force. He was trained by the Dept. of Justice. He gives his CV. He's been with the Sheriff's Office for 25 years.
On 1-3-2001, he was asked to review reports in the search warrant. On 1-22-2001, he did a forensic exam on two computers, a Dell Tower computer, and an PC clone, with no manufacturer's name. The Dell Tower computer model sits on the ground. It's about 1.5' tall.
CH: As opposed to the laptop?
The witness testifies that he removed the hard drives and made copies of the hard drives. He then puts the information from the hard drive on a secure server in the Sheriff's Office. He followed his standard procedures for that. The PC clone had two hard drives and the Dell Tower had one hard drive. He used a specific program called END CASE to copy the drives. END CASE is a specific program that just makes copies of information. It cannot write to the drives or make any changes. After making the copies, he put the hard drives back inside the respective computers.
He then did an analysis of the computer hard drives. He checked the internal clock of both computers and found them to be accurate. There is a little (lithium ion) batter that keeps the time and date accurate.
CH: Both computers time and date accurate?
The witness explains how data is stored on a hard drive. He explains how deleted emails are not really "deleted." It just means the area where that data is stored is now considered part of the unallocated area. Fortier states that 80% of unallocated area data is retrievable.
The witness reviewed the computer hard drives for their Internet viewing history.
CH: Did you find various documents on the computer?
TF: The resume of Patty K. Brown was on the PC clone computer.
This document is introduced as People's #51.
CH: Did you find any other documents?
TF: Some emails
The witness details the emails that he found on both computers and who they were to. Some of the names are of people who I've seen testify. David Banister; Jon and Lisa, and other's I've not heard of such as Tom Lovejoy and Joe Crennan. The witness made a printout of the Internet history of both computers. It's a 99 page document, People's #52. There is Internet search history there covering November 8th, November 9th and November 10th, 2000. There was nothing in the Internet history on the PC clone; it was all on the Dell Tower.
Hum introduces a 3 page, Internet history from the Dell, People #75. The witness verifies there was no Internet web site activity on November 9th. It was all on November 8th and November 10th.
CH: What information can you tell from the Internet history?
TF: The address of web site visited, for how long and when the last time it was visited.
CH: What is a "push" program?
TF: It's a program that you set it up if you want news sent to your computer. It pops up for you.
CH: There was no "push" program on the computer?
CH: Any viruses?
TF: On the Dell Tower, there was one virus.
CH: Can you tell if it was an active virus?
TF: Yes. [...] On a certain date it would turn the computer off and reboot.
Hum verifies with his witness that the only way for this computer to visit a web site was for someone to click on that web site and visit it. The witness explains what type of Internet access the computers had built in. The Dell Tower was using a modem. The PC clone had either a modem or a network card. The Dell Tower used a modem that used a phone line to connect to the Internet. (What some of us would call "dial-up.)
CH: The Dell had no USB, it had a modem dial-up?
The witness is asked to explain what "favorites" (or "bookmarks") are.
CH: Was one of the favorites on the Dell Tower "Surfline"?
Direct is finished and cross begins.
Harris starts off saying that he really loathes (?) "Because I'm computer illiterate."
(I hate it when attorneys say statements like this and then go onto to do competent job of cross examination of a subject they just said they know nothing about.)
Harris asks about the hard drive and how long it stores information, and there is a detained discussion about how that can vary. The witness states he wasn't the one who went and looked for Internet websites.
PH: Did they ever ask you if there was a place called Inspiration Point? [...] Or running website close to Ranch Palos Verdes Cliffs? [...] They never asked you?
TF: I was asked to get all the Internet histories.
The witness states that if you are using a modem on you phone line to access the Internet, it will ring busy, unless you have a third party device attached.
PH: Did you ever discuss with Detective Leslie or Smith what the charge was on the morning of the death?
It's stated that on the morning of Lauren's death, someone was on the Internet looking up surf reports.
Cross is finished and redirect begins.
Hum gets the witness to verify that on the morning of November 10th, someone was on the Dell Tower computer looking up surf reports.
PH: Were you aware that Mr. Brown was actually home that morning?
And that's it for this witness. It's clear he was just put on the stand to get the Internet history print out introduced into evidence. I'm sure it will be used sometime later.
The next witness called is an older, slightly hard of hearing witness named ANKE RAUE.
Ms. Raue is a volunteer. She works for the Ranch Palos Verdes Land Conservancy, for the land of the Palos Verdes peninsula. She's volunteered since 1991. She's been the coordinator of public walks since 1996. She's also a member of the Land Conservancy board. There are a total of 15 board members. She coordinates and sets up walks in that area.
In 2000, there was approximately a walk a month set up for every second Saturday. That year, they still had a "Children's Walk."
CH: Are there more than 12 walks?
AR: I have a list of over 30 walks and I try to add more.
CH: Was there a walk to Sacred Cove?
She describes the walk to Sacred Cove. That it starts at the Abalone Cove parking lot, goes past the gate house and then there's a trail head. Walk goes along Palos Verdes South, then a trail head along and down to Sacred Cove. Part of the walks were called Y2K (that year).
There are other organizations that have walks in the area. The city docents conduct walks also. She is familiar with what that group does but basically it's pretty much what her group does.
AR: Some walk leaders that are with them, joined us.
She describes another walk from Abalone Cove to the beach and onto Portuguese Point.
CH: Did you ever sponsor a walk or hike onto Inspiration Point?
CH: Why never IP?
AR: I'm told it's too dangerous. [...] I've been told it's not safe for a public walk.
Direct is finished and cross begins.
Harris has her view a document that she states is an "old version of our walk flyer's."
Harris asks her if they walk to Sacred Cove.
He then asks her to describe the route and the distances. The witness is not willing to give distances. She says she's terrible on distances. The brochure for the Y2K walks is gone over.
AR: It's a moderate to strenuous walk with a couple of steep sections but is a nice walk for children. (Sacred Cove).
Harris asks her about another walk, Bluff Cove.
AR: That's in Palos Verdes Estates.
Bluff Cove is up toward LAX. Harris asks her how far, and she takes a guess of 3 to 5 miles.
PH: Is this a nice area, Bluff Cove?
AR: Yes. [...] Surfer's spot.
Harris asks her about a children's walk to Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. She states it's a 1.5 hour walk. It includes a lot of standing around and talking about the interesting things to see on the walk.
Cross is finished and redirect begins.
CH: Taking that walk, 2 to 2.5 hours (Sacred Cove walk) would that (be 2.5 hours of solid walking)?
AR: (No.) That would include spending time at cove, talking all the time, stopping at specific spots on the trail and on Palos Verdes Drive. [...] So there's a lot of geology and we let people explore.
Redirect ends and recross begins.
PH: There's a lot of standing?
AR: Yes. [...] And a lot of talking.
This witness is finished and the coroner is the next witness up. I'm happy that I'm not missing the coroner, but that means that I will probably be missing Dale Falicon tomorrow morning.
I think the girl I met a few days ago who said her father is an attorney is back. She's a very slender young woman dressed much more casually.
DR. OGBONNA CHINWAH is called to the stand. He is a tall, slender black man and speaks with an accent. (As I'm typing out my notes, I search the Internet in vain trying to find something that will tell me the heritage of the name "Chinwah." I wonder if Dr. Chinwah is from Trinidad.)
Dr. Chinwah went to Loma Linda Medical School. I believe he did his residency at USC. He gives his CV. He's board certified in pathology and works for the LA Co. Coroner. He's also board certified in forensic pathology. He describes forensic pathology as the branch of medicine that deals with the medical sciences as related to legal issues. I've never heard forensic pathology described this way. Dr. Chinwah speaks very slowly to the jury. He was board certified in pathology in 1974. (So he's been around pathology a while.) He describes his continuing education, the seminars he lectures at and he has trained younger doctors as various hospitals. He's a clinical assistant professor and USC medical school. He's performed about 8,000 autopsies. He's testified as an expert witness in Federal, criminal and foreign courts.
He explains that the coroner's office assigns each case a unique number and that number appears on all documents. Lauren's death in the coroner's office is #2000-07890. Dr. Chinwah describes the five different MOD's (manner of death) classifications that are available to him. 1. Natural; 2. Homicide; 3. Suicide; 4. Accident; 5. Undetermined. He explains each category to the jury. Homicide is a death at the hands of another. Undetermined would be after the examination of the body, all toxicology microscopic exams, when all put together there's no clear cause of death.
Of the 8,000 autopsies he's performed, they have all fallen into one of those five categories. Dr. Chinwah classified Lauren's death as a homicide.
CH: And homicide is a death at the hands of another?
His conclusions are recorded in an autopsy report. Dr. Chinwah explains an autopsy. Hum asks if he records into a microphone while performing an autopsy.
Dr. C: We don't have that luxury yet.
He takes notes throughout the exam and makes notations on diagrams. After the autopsy is finished he goes off to his office to dictate a report. The report is then sent in to be transcribed. It's reviewed and corrections are made until the report is correct.
Hum presents a 17 page autopsy report of Laren Key Marer, 2000-078900, People's #33.
CH: Is that the autopsy report (you prepared)? [...] Does that contain dictated portions?
Dr. C: Yes:
CH: Does that contain notes and diagrams?
Dr. C: Yes.
CH: Does it contain other doctor's findings as to cause of death?
Dr. C: Yes.
CH: Were photos taken of Lauren's injuries?
Dr. C: Yes.
CH: Were photos taken during the autopsy?
Dr. C: Yes.
CH: Were specimens taken?
Dr. C: Yes, and preserved for a later time.
CH: Did you review the autopsy report prior to testifying?
Dr. C: Yes, I did.
CH: What was the cause of death (COD)?
Dr. C: Multiple injuries.
CH: Due to what?
Dr. C: Blunt force trauma.
The afternoon break is taken at 2:35 pm. At 2:50 we're back on the record but the jury isn't back in the courtroom.
JP: May I see counsel for just a moment? [...] Were the people in the courtroom aware of what's coming up?
There is a discussion about who will, will not get to remain in the courtroom. Hum wants the family to remain. Harris I think is arguing the opposite. The photos are going to be enlarged and mounted on foam board. They will be on the easel directly in front of the jury.
PH: I think they (the victim's family) could see them. The photos (are) extraordinarily graphic.
JP: If they want to remain they are entitled to. Motion to exclude is unfounded at this juncture.
During the break, Hum explains to his witness that they are not using the word "trial" only "prior proceeding." I sit where I can see the exhibits better.
Back on the stand Hum has the witness describe Lauren's injuries.
Dr. C: Multiple abrasions, contusions, lacerations on the head/skull area. [...] Blood in the chest cavity on the right. [...] Spleen is lacerated. (There are abrasions on the) chest and abdomen. [...] There's an extensive skull fracture. [..] The next is partly dislocated from the head.[...] There is a fracture and dislocation of the right wrist.
Hum has the witness explain the terms.
Dr. C: Abrasion: scrape on the surface of the skin. [...] Contusion: bleeding inside of soft tissue of the body, caused by a blow or impact; bruise. Laceration: tear. Where there is a break in the skin or tissue from a break or force.
Hum: That's not the same as an incision or cut?
Dr. C: No. (It's) not caused by the same thing. [...] A cut is by an instrument.
Dr. Chinwah details more of Lauren's injuries.
Dr. C: On the face and forehead extensive abrasion, laceration and contusions. Abrasions on chest, abdomen, and a few abrasions on the arms.
CH: Any other breaks or injuries to her face?
Dr. C: I felt some fracture of (the) cheekbone.
Dr. Chinwah looks at his notes to refresh his memory. Sarah has her eyes closed. I can't see Ted's face.
Dr. C: Left side of face. [...] The forehead injuries are more pronounced on the left side.
CH: (Was there) a dislocation of the neck?
Dr. C: That's correct. [...] The first cervical vertebrae and where it attached to the occipital bone, that attachment was loose.
CH: Where the skull meets the spinal cord?
Dr. C: Yes.
CH: What would cause that?
Dr. C: Blunt trauma.
There were injuries to her lungs and other internal injuries. Contusion of the liner of the lungs. A bruise you can see on skin or internal tissue. There was bleeding into lunch and liver due to trauma. Her spleen was lacerated.
CH: What would case this blunt force trauma?
Dr. Chinwah details the skull fracture.
Dr. C: Massive, extensive skull fracture. ....forehead and extends to the left side towards the back of the head. [...] The right wrist had a fracture.
CH: Did you notice whether any water was in the lunch?
Dr. C: No, I did not.
CH: Any lacerations on the left side of the brain?
Dr. C: Yes, from the fracture. Laceration and trauma to the left brain.
Dr. Chinwah explains that internal lacerations would be from an external source transmitting force, inside the body. [...] Severe external force.
CH: Was it from more than one or two?
Dr. C: It was consistent with a single application of force.
CH: All injuries consistent with a single impact?
Dr. C: Yes.
Another question and Dr. Chinwah states there were no broken ribs.
CH: Did you find that unusual?
Dr. C: Not unusual from my experience and from the age of the child.
Lauren's height at the time of her death was 42 inches and she weighed 44 pounds.
CH: Was Lauren breathing when she went into the water?
Dr. C: No.
The diagrams are presented to the jury. Ted gets up from his seat and goes over to the far right of the courtroom so he can see the enlarged coroner's diagrams from the autopsy report. Sarah is looking straight down at her lap.
The diagrams indicate there were red areas on her head and red areas on her upper chest. Dr. Chinwah explains what all his markings on the diagrams mean, and where the areas of abrasion occurred.
The forehead abrasion extend over her nose to chin and to the upper part of her chest. Left wrist abrasion. Minor abrasions on things and knees. Small abrasion on left side of her abdomen. There are other small injuries but it's hard to discern on the diagrams.
Now a diagram of the head is being shown, coroner's document #22; People's exhibit #54. There's red showing on her forehead, her face, showing areas of abrasions and contusion on the face. More towards the left than right side.
People's #54. These are black and white diagrams, blown up documenting the skull fractures. I recognize these diagrams from my anatomy books. The skull fractures are long. One goes more than half way around the skull. Dr. Chinwah explains to the jury the views of the skull that are on this diagram. One is as if the top of the skull came off and you were looking straight down inside. Another view is the bottom of the skull. All the dark lines are fracture lines, all around the edge of the skull. The large, main fracture starts from the top of the left eye socket, goes around the parietal to the occipital bone. That's huge. Ted returns to his seat.
There are more fracture lines on the skull but they are hard to describe. I have in my notes that the big fracture goes across the front of the frontal bone just above both eye sockets and continues around to about where the ear is and then to the back of the head. (Her head was almost cracked open like a walnut. That would not have happened with a slip down the cliff face.)
People's #57. These are the photos. There are four. Photo A: The entire left side of her face is very bloody. It's completely red. Photo B: On the left side of her head and upper chest there are abrasions. Dr. Chinwah explains what a specific mark is on the body that's circled in the photograph. That's where the liver temperature was taken. Photo C: On the back (of the?) left and and wrist, and left hip and thigh there are red abrasions. Photo D: This is of Lauren's legs and the small abrasions on her knees.
Juror #6 doesn't appear to look at the photos. Sarah keeps her head down. It takes all my resolve not to cry seeing these images. I have to commend the prosecution for keeping the images to a minimum. Alternate #3 covers her face.
Dr. Chinwah testifies that he did go to Inspiration Point and to the end of the point. He went on March 26th, 2001 with other people. He went with the chief ME from the office, Dr. Lakshmanan and a number of detectives and a consultant pediatrician, Dr. Berkowitz. He went with chief coroner. He went with Detective Leslie. He examined the top of Inspiration Point at the edge of the cliff.
Hum asks him to explain the terrain on Inspiration Point.
Dr. C: Pretty rough area. Rough plants all over the place. IT was just rough.
CH: The area over the edge, was it flat, sloped?
Dr. C: The edge was irregular; it was sloped and there were plants all over the place.
CH: Were those injuries consistent with a drop from a height? [...] They were not consistent with an accidental fall?
Dr. C: No.
Dr. Chinwah explains that if anyone were to fall from there, they would be rolling down that area. I would expect to find scrapes on arms, legs, abdomen, and expect to find cuts from part of cuts, or there would be gravel, on parts of the body.
Dr. C: In my experience, the person would have abrasions, contusions all over the body.
Dr. Chinwah explains that the scrapes on Lauren's body are very minor scrapes. The injuries would be so extensive by rolling down edge of that point where we were. Dr. Chinwah states that he also examined her clothing.
Dr. C: You would expect to find that even on clothing, the rocks, on the pants. [...] She was wearing very flimsy, light material.
CH: You would expect to see those injuries through those clothing?
Dr. C: Yes.
Dr. Chinwah inspected her hand and nails. There was nothing on hands or fingers. He states if she had rolled down, he would expect to see (scrapes, etc.) on her hands.
Dr. C: I would expect to see someone actually falling to try to stop their fall, that (they are trying to) grab things that are around that individual.
CH: You would expect to see that even in a four-year-old?
Dr. C: Yes.
CH: Did anyone pressure you to make the death a homicide rather than an accident?
Dr. C: No.
CH: Did you speak to Dr. Lakshmanan regarding this case? [...] Did you review with Dr. Lakshmanan?
Dr. C: Yes I did.
CH: Did you tell him your conclusion MOD was homicide.
Dr. C: Yes, I did.
CH: Did Dr. Lakshmanan agree with you?
Dr. C: Yes, he did.
It's noted that Dr. Berkowitz's opinion as a pediatric physician, her report is attached to the autopsy report.
CH: Would your conclusion still be a homicide regardless of what Dr. Berkowitz's (opinion?) is?
Dr. C: Yes.
Hum asks Dr. Chinwah if he has performed other autopsies where someone has fallen from a great height. He states he's performed about 50.
CH: Have you ever seen these (type of) abrasions....this type of injury, that you would expect to see if she had fallen from a great height? [...] Lauren's injuries were discrete.
Dr. C: That they were limited to certain areas.
CH: Would discrete also mean localized?
Dr. C: Yes.
Hum details all the injuries.
CH: Are those all consistent with a single impact?
Dr. C: Yes.
Hum asks about Lauren's injuries and the difference between a multiple velocity impact set of injuries.
CH: Have you seen other cases someone who has injuries from multiple severe impacts, hitting more than once?
Dr. C: Yes.
CH: Are those injuries different from what you observed on Lauren?
Dr. C: Yes.
CH: Taking everything into account, the location Inspiration Point, her injuries, are her injuries consistent with an accidental fall?
Dr. C: No.
CH: Are they consistent with being forcibly thrown from that location?
Dr. C: Yes.
Direct is finished and Harris gets up to cross.
Harris immediately points out that the autopsy was performed on November 9th, 2000 and that Dr. Chinwah observed and knew about these injuries on that date.
PH: You looked at those injuries and whether she was thrown verses fall, and your manner of death, of that based on injuries?
Dr. C: It was based on all information.
PH: You didn't make a determination (MOD) until five months later?
I believe Dr. Chinwah states, "That's correct."
Harris goes over this again and again, that Dr. Chinwah knew her injuries the day of the autopsy. Dr. Chinwah explains that the case was not concluded on that date.
PH: Your testimony is with all your experience, you didn't make that determination on November 9th? [...] IN this particular case you had the ability to write a preort on November 11th... [...] And you wrote a report and left MOD blank.
PH: You went with Dr. Lakshmanan, Dr. Berkowita and Detective Leslie and you wrote in your report "appears to be child endangerment..."
Dr. C: It doesn't say that.
PH:: Conclusion after visiting the site. Child endangerment, therefore MOD is homicide.
Dr. C: You are quoting me out of context! [...] What that sentence means, "Further given the circumstances...
PH: IS there a reason you can't answer?
DR. C: I have answered!
(Harris won't let him explain the sentence in his report.)
Juror #3 takes no notes. Juror #6 doesn't appear to be watching the witness or Harris.
PH: What else referenced to child endangerment? [...] Upon what circumstance?
Dr. C: This was a child who was in school, had been crying.
CH: Objection! Non-responsive.
Dr. C: There was information that the father was coming to take her. [...] She cried for a long time. [...] The child reluctantly went with the father. [...] There's supposed to be a picnic area at the bottom. [...] Then (they) proceeded to another place and then proceeded to (Inspiration Point). It was a difficult long journey. [...] Some of us couldn't do it. The pediatric (doctor) was a jogger. [...] It was not a place of fun. And finally ending up.... [...] It looked like a God forsaken place. [...] (It was) scary for me. [...] And that she had been playing... [...] Now four-year-old kind go through all that... [...] For child to go up there. [...] She was very tired, she was fatigued...
PH: Were you given that information (that) she didn't want to leave? [...] Were you given that information? [...] Were you also given the information from (DA?) child services that that was very normal? [...] That that was very normal?
(I miss the ruling.)
PH: These were all the circumstances that.... all that goes into your decision? Whether (she was crying or not)? [...] Were you given that information?
Dr. C: No.
PH: You just said one of the factors you were given in this case.... [...] You knew Dr. Berkowitz. [...] Did anyone tell you they didn't know the path?
Dr. C: I know they didn't get there by helicopter!
PH: Did anyone give you that information that for part of the trip they were traveling along the road, Palos Verdes Drive South?
Dr. C: No.
PH: Did anyone provide for you a point of departure, where Lauren fell off?
CH: Objection "fell off!"
JP: Point of departure (stays). Objection sustained.
PH: Did anyone tell you where Lauren went off? (general area) [...] A specific path?
Dr. CH: No.
PH: So these were the things that you were referring to in child endangerment?
Dr. C: Yes, because that was a dangerous place.
PH: Did anyone ever tell you that day that she was rolling down hill?
Dr. C: I didn't say anyone told me. That area. [...] They don't have to roll; there's likelihood of rolling, slipping.
PH: Mr. Hum asked you wouldn't there be major (?) (I "believe" Harris states the next sentence.) Based on the possibility that she may have rolled off?
Dr. C: In an accident, in that location, I would expect to see...
PH: If you didn't and tripped and fell over...
Dr. C: Fell over "what?"
In that area, there's no possibility that you could just "fall over cliff" [...] and we were shown where this incident [...] fell over this place...
There's more back and forth between Harris and Dr. Chinwah about if Lauren could have "fallen over" the edge of the cliff and Dr. Chinwah insists she couldn't have. Harris then moves onto the wrist fracture. He suggests that Lauren could have put her hand/arm out to try to break her fall and that could have broken the wrist. Dr. Chinwah insists that the break is "not that kind of break." Harris then confronts the witness that "he" didn't take the x-rays personally. (I don't know why defense attorney's do this. There are staff to do that; take x-rays and they "know" this.)
Dr. Chinwah stands his ground that the wrist fracture occurred from "landing on it" and not what Harris is suggesting.
Dr. C: If you're going by something, you're not landing on it! It's the type of fracture that someone lands on it.
Harris continues to argue that a four-year-old, the wrist was fractured from breaking the fall.
Dr. C: My expertise, the wrist fracture was not consistent with that.
PH: Did you also read reports of what the father said?
Dr. C: I don't remember if I did. [...] I believe I may have heard something like that.
PH: Do you remember talking to Mr. Brown's attorney, telling him that the injuries were consistent with an accident?
Dr. C: I don't remember that!
(I think I am going through Deja vu. I clearly remember Doron Weinberg in the Spector retrial, trying the exact same type of question of Dr. Pena...."Don't you remember telling (my associate) Ms. Mattros.....")
PH: When you did the autopsy, what detective was present? [...] It wasn't Detective Leslie?
Dr. C: Let me check my records. [...] He was not there. It was Detective Smith.
PH: You're saying someone who was thrown same as someone who jumped?
Dr. C: I believe so.
Ted has a coughing fit. There is a question as to whether or not Harris is finished. Hum asks to approach. Judge Pastor indicates we will go a bit longer. Harris and Veretsian whisper.
PH: In the autopsy report itself, you note there's a fracture on the right hand and there's not a fracture on the other hand?
I guess there is some discrepancy on which wrist she had the fracture!
Veretsian gets up to speak to Harris at the podium.
Harris now goes over every abrasion on every part of her body and asks Dr. Chinwah about them. With each question as to where there were abrasions or lacerations, Dr. Chinwah answers, "Yes."
Veretsian comes to the podium again. They have a bit of a long whispering session.
PH: And based on that, based on your looking at those injuries and and (?) on the back of the arm, they were still consistent with someone being thrown?
I believe Dr. Chinwah states "Yes." And that's the end of cross. Hum gets up to redirect.
CH: Was it important to you in making the determination as to MOD, to actually seeing the place where Lauren died?
Dr. C: Yes.
CH: Just based on the injuries and no knowledge of the scene, would you have been able to make a determination, based on just that?
Dr. C: No.
There's no recross and the jury is ordered back at 9:00 am tomorrow.