Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Prosecution Witnesses, afternoon session
#1 Sarah Key-Marer (mother of victim, Lauren Sarene Key)
I’m on the North Hollywood train that leaves at 12:38 pm. I’ll have just enough time to make it inside 107 and maybe grab a soda for the caffeine in the cafeteria.
When I get up on the 9th floor I see Ted, which is Brown’s brother-in-law, Patty’s brother.
1:30 pm: Inside the courtroom, counsel is at the bench with Pastor and off the record. I note that Sarah Key-Marer is still on the stand. There is no other press that I’m aware of in the courtroom. Ted is sitting in the third row. Patty is sitting in the front row. Interesting that the Judge doesn’t have the victim’s family sitting in the front row, like Fidler’s courtroom across the hall.
Hum, Harris and Judge Pastor are at that little side area between the bench and the court clerk’s desk. I’m trying to look at the three calendars hanging behind the clerk’s desk to see what day’s court is dark in August. August 6th, 7th, 10th, 19th and the last week of August are blocked off.
I’m guessing that Marer was under cross in the morning session. Brown occasionally looks back at the gallery.
Harris continues his cross examination of Marer. I don’t know if this is a continuation of the first cross, or if this is one of several re-crosses he has performed. Harris confronts her about one of her declaration statements, in relation to something “continuing normally.” I’m sorry that I don’t have the question exactly. He also addresses her on her immigration status.
Harris confronts her with her grand jury testimony where she apparently stated she wanted to stay here (in the US).
PH: That you came here with the intention of staying… […] Number of stories you told of your time with Mr. Brown. […] Redondo Beach story. […] Where were you exactly?
Marer replies that she can’t remember exactly where she was. Now Harris confronts her about her story where Brown allegedly abandoned her.
PH: How did he walk away?
SKM: I assumed he was walking faster. […] I just remember that he walked away. […]
There is another question from Harris as to how that happened.
SKM: I don’t remember.
PH: He didn’t get into a car?
PH: H didn’t run?
SKM: I don’t remember.
Harris now addresses the story of the quarter taken from the car at In & Out Burger.
PH: Do you remember if Mr. Brown ate red meat?
SKM: I don’t remember.
(I can’t tell if the next note is a statement or a question.)
There was some fight….
Harris is now crossing Marer on the car purchase.
PH: Do you remember telling Officer Leslie that he offered to loan you money for a car?
SKM: At this moment, no.
Harris now addresses the counseling session; the counselor she met at Kaiser. Harris asks her something to the effect of, didn’t the counselor go over several different options?
SKM: All I remember about the meeting was Mr. Brown didn’t say much at all. […] And the talk about an abortion and how it would be if we had a child. That’s the gist of it.
PH: She talked about adoption and foster care?
SKM: I don’t remember.
PH: You felt ambushed?
SKM: That’s how I felt.
PH: You filed a number of papers with the Orange County court. Child custody and financial issues. […] You’ve written several declarations and partial declarations and drafts?
Harris confronts her with a declaration where she stated the only topic the counselor talked about was abortion.
SKM: I don’t remember.
PH: That wasn’t really true, was it?
SKM: I wrote what I thought at the time.
After that time, she stated they never spoke again.
PH: But you did continue to speak to him?
SKM: Yes, that would be incorrect.
PH: Do you remember a time where you went out with Mr. Brown and he had a cast on his foot?
SKM: I don’t recall.
PH: Do you remember MR. Brown ever saying to you, “I want nothing to do with this child?”
SKM: No, he did not.
Harris confronts her on INS (I’m not sure what I meant by this initials. Possibly insurance, or immigration.) And that she wasn’t paying taxes.
Marer states that she had a social security number. She was paying taxes. She testifies that the SS# card had an instruction on it.
SKM: I just remember the card said, NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT over the top of the card.
I note that Harris is drinking a canned soda at the defense table. Judge Pastor must be allowing this.
Marer confirms that she was afraid after Brown threatened to report her to the INS. Harris then asks why she invited him to a company function, after that incident.
SKM: We’re talking from April to July and I had a change of mind. […] It was a company function and there would be people there.
Harris moves onto the stealing accusation. He asks Marer if she ever tried to contact the supervisor. Harris asks Marer if the supervisor ever testified at the prior proceeding. Harris goes over with her, her daughter’s birthday, August, 1996 and when she met her husband; late January, 1997.
Harris asks her about the first time she ever filed for child support was when she met her husband. (I think he asks if her husband was the one who was pushing for her to ask for support.)
PH: Was your husband one of them?
SKM: No. […] Not pushing. Some people suggested it to her.
PH: Your husband was paying child support for a child? […] Do you recall that when you filled out (the paperwork) for expenses, (you listed) 100.00 a month that your husband was paying for support.
SKM: It’s possible.
Harris presents her with the document.
PH: Did Mr. Brown ever question to you about the paternity of the child.
PH: Do you remember Mr. Brown bringing up these issues at the counselor meeting?
Harris confronts Marer with the document she had to fill out to request support from the father, Brown. He confronts her on her declaration of past salary average of 12 months and current salary.
PH: You wrote, “Average 2,056 (per month) then $1,240. Now your salary was ½ that.
SKM: My job position has permanently changed to part time, 20 hours a week.
PH: At the time, you worked for your husband’s brother?
Marer states that she was paid through Tempest Travel but she worked for Innovative (sp?)
PH: Your husband had $6,000 in arrears in child support?
Harris now confronts her on her Federal Taxes filing as single, not married. Marer agrees that’s what the document says.
Harris asks her about how Brown looks, and how he was different when she first met (him).
SKM: He was more muscular.
Harris now shows the jury two photos of the defendant with Lauren. (I’ve seen these photos before. Both of these photos are on a Cameron Brown web site. )
Harris is now going back and forth from his files on the defense table to his notes on the podium. Brown appears to look over at the jury.
Harris asks Marer about the overnight visits with his client. From July to October, Brown had overnight visits. And, the time Brown spent with Lauren was increasing over the summer.
PH: Do you recall telling the District Attorney that his visitation was decreased?
SKM: No, I don’t recall that.
Harris confronts the witness with another declaration she made. After Marer looks at the document she states it doesn’t refresh her memory.
Harris verifies her prior testimony where she testified that she never tried to reduce the amount of time Brown had with Lauren. (I don’t remember that being the exact question that Hum asked her. From what I’m remembering from yesterday, Hum should have objected.)
Harris confronts her with a note she supposedly wrote her attorney stating the goal was to change the visits to supervised and no overnights.
SKM: I wrote that in the notes to discuss it with “JR,” her attorney.
PH: That wasn’t the only time you talked about it?
SKM: I don’t know.
PH: You faxed a letter to your attorney about getting visits back to supervised?
SKM: That was after the child abuse allegation.
PH: You did that on June 26th?
SKM: I didn’t look at the date (on the paper she was just handed to look at).
Marer admits that on three separate occasions she was attempting, looking into limit Brown’s visitation.
Harris and his co-counsel go back and forth with each other.
Harris asks her about her journal of visits, and that “In the beginning, November, December, January, February, they were positive?”
PH: Is there anything in your journal, where you noted he said anything derogatory about you?
SKM: I’d need to look at my notes.
PH: Do you recall, at the end of February (2000) there was something that you filed, a declaration that Cameron Brown was an unfit father.
SKM: Well, he appears to be an uninterested parent into her interests or her schooling.
2:48 pm: The afternoon break is called.
At the break I add a more detailed note. The issue that happened in February 2000, she filed a statement that Cameron Brown was an unfit parent showing no interest in her daughter, her activities or her school. That’s supposedly when his behavior towards Sarah changed with derogatory statements.
3:05 pm: The break is still going on. I see Hum speaking to whom I believe is Sarah’s husband in the ante-chamber. This is a little room between the 9th floor hallway and the actual courtroom. Patty Brown, wearing a bright pink matching sweater and top, is leaning back on the front row court bench, with both her arms also resting on the bench. I note that the co-counsel, Lara Veretsian is wearing another bright, form fitting suit. Lara has long, very curly dark hair, almost black in color. Her suit jacket is waist height and a bright yellow, with a white top underneath. Her skirt, also yellow, is a long, calf-length A-line piece.
3:10 pm: Harris asks Hum, “Do you know when we can start up?” Marer is in the jury room during the break, looking over her journal notes. Hum replies, “She said a few more minutes. She’s in the jury room.”
There’s a tiny bit of bustle in the well area of the courtroom. I am guessing that since Brown is in custody, he and his wife are not allowed to come together to speak at the breaks. He goes back into through the door into the jail area right beside the bailiff’s desk at the breaks and at lunch.
3:15 pm: Pastor tells his clerk to bring in the jurors. Harris tells Pastor he will try to wrap up the cross in 20 minutes.
Harris asks her about a declaration she filled out that stated something to the effect that he (the defendant) was interested in adoption and bad interest in family. (The notes are not clear as to the last part of the question.)
The declaration was filed on February 24th, 2000.
Marer states that Brown did not instigate where to go on the visits. In the beginning (during the supervised visits) she had to initiate everything. Marer states something to the effect that she never observed or heard Brown ask Lauren about her interests, or her school.
PH: There were times on these visits where Cameron Brown and Lauren were off by themselves and you don’t know what they were saying?
(One of the things I want to know but it never gets answered, or I didn’t hear testimony about it, was, did Brown call his wife’s house throughout the week to speak to his daughter? You know call Lauren, ask to talk to her, see how she was doing and how her day went? Was the only time he spoke to her, during the court appointed visits?)
Harris is now going over another financial declaration. This declaration states she has 100% custody. I believe Marer replies, “Theoretically, I still had 100% physical custody.”
Marer states that to her understanding she thought it meant physical custody. That was a “mistake.”
PH: So that wasn’t really true? […] So you could understand why Mr. Brown could have made a mistake on those documents because you made a mistake?
CH: Objection! Facts not in evidence.
Pastor instructs the jury on what statements are stricken.
Harris goes over another filing with the (family) court where she stated that before she requested the defendant to pay child support, he showed no interest in the child. Harris accuses her of filing this document to “ratchet up” the tension between the two.
PH: Mr. Brown chose in return, not to speak to you?
SKM: He told me not to speak to him.
PH: So, when you’re attacking him in these court documents he just shut down?
SKM: I wasn’t attacking him. I was stating fact.
PH: Did Mr. Hum ask you to add up the number of hours that Cameron Brown was allowed to see her?
SKM: No, he did not.
Harris is now asking Marer about her daughter’s personality.
PH: If Lauren wanted to do something, she would just do it?
SKM: She was strong willed.
PH: If she DIDN’T want to do something?
(I miss the answer.)
Harris questions Marer about the babysitter and the increasing tantrums and crying.
PH: You felt that it was because of Mr. Brown?
Harris asks her about something in her journal, saying that she told Cameron Brown that Lauren had a problem putting on her shoes and socks?
SKM: I don’t remember writing that.
Harris wants her to go through her journal to refresh her memory.
PH: So, when you say that you never saw her exhibit that […] her behavior, that was incorrect?
SKM: That was not a main characteristic trait (of Lauren).
Marer concedes she notified Brown.
Harris addresses the trip to England where she stated there were not incidents of the “past behavior.” Harris asks her if there wasn’t one incident of the past behavior in England over under wear.
PH: So when you said yesterday that was incorrect, right?
SKM: Not entirely sir.
PH: Who witnessed these statements, where Lauren said that Cameron Brown said you were a (bad mother)? […] Who was present during those alleged statements?
I believe that Marer states that her husband and step son witnessed some of these statements.
PH: No one testified that these statements occurred?
PH: They haven’t been interviewed?
PH: It’s just your word?
Harris goes over her testimony about calling child protective services against Brown; to talk about behaviors with Lauren’s visits with Cam. I believe Harris states that they were “normal.”
SKM: I had a suspicion of parent alienation.
PH: You’ve read quite a bit of information about it? […] You also called Social Services, to seek advice?
Harris brings up her testimony regarding Patty picking up Lauren.
PH: She (Patty) had been alone with her before?
SKM: I didn’t (know? think?) […] It wasn’t in the plan. I didn’t know if the car seat situation was safe so I called the police.
Harris goes over a letter she wrote Brown, informing him when she would be gone to England.
PH: And he wouldn’t have visitation with her?
PH: You testified that he didn’t have good parenting skills and that he was loose with her safety?
I note that Sarah Key-Marer is very soft spoken. She never raises her voice.
There are questions (or answers; my notes are not clear) about Cam coming to pick Lauren up on a motorcycle. The bus vehicle (Volkswagen Bus?) didn’t have a child car seat. She had concern with her being on a boat. She had a concern that he would not be intentional, but that he would be unsafe (with Lauren’s safety).
SKM: I don’t remember testifying to that at this time.
Harris asks her to read her prior testimony (possibly from the first trial or the grand jury).
Harris asks her if that refreshes her recollection. Not that he would intentionally…. But that he would have some (negligence?)?
PH: You were concerned that maybe he could cause an accident? […] You filed a lawsuit against Brown; a civil suit?
SKM: I did.
Now I believe Harris is talking about a civil suit against the city of Rancho Palos Verdes.
PH: He was negligent (in his) supervision and that she died as a result of a fall off of a cliff? […] Recovered some of the money?
SKM: A minimum, yes.
PH: In addition, you bravely went before the Rancho Palos Verdes City Counsel; […] talked about the importance to put in safety fences around Inspiration Point? […] You stated that your daughter fell off Inspiration Point; insisted that she fell?
SKM: At that time, I didn’t have any other evidence at that time. […] There wasn’t a trial. […] I tried to right the wrongs. I tried to, in my grief, to (get some closure?).
PH: The residents on the hill were opposing (a fence) because it would block their view (of the point)? […] Because they had a very good view?
It’s 3:55 pm.
Harris goes back to (I believe) the notes in her journal from March 3rd, 2000. This is a time where she presented Brown with court documents (the month before?) that he was not a good parent.
PH: He was upset about the adoption, and you put in your notes… […] He denied that he had ever agreed to the adoption?
SKM: He denied that we had even (spoken about it?).
Cross ends and redirect begins.
CH: Regarding your letter to Rancho Palos Verdes City Council…
SKM: I was still very grief stricken. One way, was to try to fix something, after being to the cliff several times. I did not want any other parent to (go through what she went through). […] In my mind, if a parent was thinking of taking a child on a hike there, once you go through the bushes, it’s very dangerous.
CH: Did you have any information from the police?
I believe she answers no.
CH: Were you aware of other witnesses said or what the coroner said? […] Did you know at that time if it was an accident or (something else?) homicide?
SKM: I did not.
Hum brings up the other deaths that were mentioned in her letter to the City Council.
CH: Those other deaths, were suicidal deaths? […] At that time, did you file a lawsuit to make some money?
SKM: At that time there was no trial. But it would mean that he would be responsible. […] In England, we are not as sue happy as we are here. […] In my head I thought that it would be stamped somewhere, that he was responsible.
Hum asks Marer about her notes of Lauren’s visits. She states she prepared those notes as things would happen. She did not write them down all at once.
CH: You never thought that you would be in a position where you would have to testify about them?
CH: Did you purposefully lie in those documents to make it like you were purposefully dating longer?
(This has something to do with the first trial, where she originally swore in a document that she had been dating the defendant a few months earlier.)
SKM: No. It was just hard to remember.
Marer explains how she found the “first date” photograph. She was just looking for something in the garage and happened to come across some photos.
CH: The notes, the issues you discussed with your attorney. Did that arise after the defendant accused you of abusing Lauren?
SKM: I believe so, yes.
CH: Did you file your taxes yourself?
SKM: No. We went through an accounting firm.
(This, to me, is a reasonable explanation as to why the documents say she was filing single. It could have been a simple clerical error.)
Hum goes over with her, her journal notes of the defendant’s visits with her daughter. Marer verifies that it’s documented in her notes from the beginning, she documented the conflicts from the second meeting (Lauren and Brown had), long before her first declaration was filed.
Hum puts a document up on the overhead screen. It’s a Joint Legal Custody Statement. It’s not read out loud. Jurors could probably read some of it.
Hum asks her about phone calls after Lauren’s death. Where the defendant would say “Hello” and be dragging out saying the word. Hum demonstrates vocally.
SKM: He did that more than once.
There were several phone calls where the defendant did that.
It’s 4:15 pm, and Pastor ends the court day. Again, Pastor speaks to the jurors in a firm, commanding voice. He orders the jurors back at 9:00 am, tomorrow.
Pastor now wants to go over the work situation with Juror #7, to get a status update on that.
Then Juror #9. He is to email his professor. Pastor says to the juror, “Think about the overall responsibility to your education and this case. We didn’t have the impression that it was that serious. Have you paid for and enrolled in the fall semester yet?
Judge Pastor asks the juror about what date does the semester start. September 12th. Pastor reminds the juror that the case is expected to go until September 18th. If he misses the first few days of class, he could be dropped.
The juror is excused. The court and counsel discuss the situation.
JP: It’ looks like we’re going to have to excuse juror #9. I’d like to find out the situation with the exam.
Pastor asks both counsels for their opinions.
Hum feels that it is too early to drop the juror just yet. The trial could move along at a faster pace and it might not interfere with his school. Pat Harris states, “I defer to Mr. Hums superior wisdom.” Pastor states that they will decide tomorrow morning.
Harris asks the prosecution for tomorrow’s witness list. “We need a witness list.”
CH: I’ll do my best to let the defense know, but sometimes things do happen. […] I understand that I’m under no obligation (to do so). […] Because I’ve been put in this position before.
Harris states, “We don’t have the capacity to bring all our files from the office here.” Harris asks if it’s possible that they could get inside the courtroom a bit earlier, to set up and work. Pastor states that Ms. Theodorau will allow them access earlier to the courtroom.And that’s the end of Day 2.
Note: I am about three-quarters of the way through for my notes on Day 3. Those won't take long to get up tomorrow evening, after I get home from court.