Friday, September 18, 2009

Cameron Brown Retrial; Closing Arguments, Part III

It's 4:10 pm and Craig Hum presents his final closing argument.

CH: We're here today because the defendant threw his daughter off Inspiration Point. The defendant's attorney would like to distract us and the way you do that is attack the police and victim. However, the victim in this case is a four-year-old-girl so they attack the mother again. [...] They're saying Detective Leslie is lying but there's a problem with that argument.

Hum asks, "Why would he lie? [...] They don't have a reason. There is none. [...] (They're saying) that he's trying to frame an innocent defendant. [...] But what's the huge hole in that argument? [...] How does the fact that Detective Smith wrote on the top of the phone book "assholes" (prove they framed the defendant)? [...] It's to distract us."

CH: They are saying it's (only) Sarah's word for that. (The statements Lauren told her and that she said Greg and Josh might have heard.) [...] Why would Sarah lie? [...] She's not the vindictive one. [...] It's not going to bring Lauren back. [...] If he didn't do it she wouldn't want him convicted. [...] Insinuations and implications. [....] (By asking that question) the defense planted in our minds that there is a question. [...] The defense insinuation that the prosecution didn't do this, didn't do that, so it must be (something) that helps the defense.

CH: Dr. Chinwah did the autopsy. (He's performed over 8,000 autopsies.) (He said) if that was a bruise I would have seen it on the autopsy. [...] Dr. Hayes. He didn't do a water drop because (he testified) I have a more accurate and robust way to test the evidence.

It's 4:20 pm and Brown's parents leave the courtroom.

CH: Officer Erickson asked him (Brown), "The projection?" And he points there and says, "Yes." [...] The Behavior towards Jane Doe is a little bit more than a jealous argument. (He threw her belongings off a cliff. He broke into her fourth floor apartment and wrote BITCH over several of her writings and he took his car and rammed it into her car.)

CH: The defense argued that he didn't do it because the defendant had other ways he could have killed her. How does that make any sense?

CH: "She had so much energy, I could hardly keep up with her." That's what he told Detective Leslie.

Hum points out to the jurors an exhibit by the people that documents the requirements, what it takes to get child support ended.

CH: He couldn't do it until there was a death certificate issued!

(This finally explains to me why his wages were garnished months past Lauren's death. He still had to pay support until the coroner issued the death certificate and MOD.)

CH: On the day Lauren died, the first day, the first day that Patty is on the Internet to trying to find way to take Lauren away from Sarah. [...] Do you think that's a coincidence?

Craig Hum points out to the jurors that all the witnesses friends who testified on his behalf were men. There wasn't a single woman who testified.

CH: The defense could have called Patty, but we heard not a word.

Regarding the arrival time of the detectives and first responders.

CH: Deputy Brothers arrived at 3:12 pm. (The sign in sheet was at the top of the cliff, on the road.) But the scene was at the archery range. [...] The log says Deputy Brothers got there at 3:30 pm.

The defense tried to make it seem like the first responders arrived very quickly.

CH: But the fire station that Captain Curcio came from is not the one the defense mentioned is just up the road. The one they came from is five miles away. It's a different fire station. [...] That's why it took them longer to get there.

The defense alleges to the confidential mediator he was just expressing his concerns.

CH: In that court document he makes these same allegations.

Hum then makes a stunning (to me) argument.

CH: Even if you believe everything from the defense case, and I don't think you can, but just lets suppose that you do. Even if you believe everything, he's still guilty of second degree murder. [...] He has a legal duty to protect her from harm on Inspiration Point. [...] A duty to take all steps reasonably possible to (protect) her.

(These words are put up on the overhead screen.)

1. Exercise care for child.
2. Exercise control over child.
3. Protect child from harm.

Hum then explains his perspective of the difference between second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.

CH: Jury instruction 8.51 tells you the difference between second degree and involuntary manslaughter. For second degree murder, the defendant realizes the risk. [...] For involuntary manslaughter, the defendant does not realize the risk. [...] Did the defendant know it was dangerous? OF COURSE he did! [...] It's obvious to anyone!

Hum then quotes from Detective Leslie's testimony of his report of the interview with the defendant.

CH: Not only that, he said, "The whole place is dangerous." The defendant admitted it. [...] How many times did we hear about what an outdoors man he was. [...] That he lived on the edge and knows the risk. [..] If the defendant knew it was dangerous and he did it anyway, he's guilty of second degree murder. It's not involuntary manslaughter.

CH: All the evidence contradicts the defendant's story. [...] The defendant had been around water all his life and he knew Lauren couldn't swim. [...] If by (some remote possibility) she did fall and this was an accident he would know that every second counts. [...] He knows that by going down to the nude beach he can't get to Lauren because he said on the 911, "I have to back track (to get to her)." [...] You know that if you see a child floating in the pool you get them out as soon as possible. [...] You don't take the time to take your clothes off.

CH: Not a single defense witness came in here and said that the defendant didn't murder Lauren. [...] The defense didn't present a single shred of evidence that the defendant didn't murder Lauren.

CH: Why did the defendant chose that southeast point of Inspiration Point? [...] Because that's the ONE PLACE where you can't be seen from the parking lot. You can't bee seen from the beach. You can't be seen ( from the road/ houses?). [...] Yeah, maybe there was someone with binoculars but that's the only place you can't be seen.

CH: Lauren didn't hike. She was crying all day, and that's a fatiguing event. [...] She was four. [...] What was the one thing we all wanted when we got back from Inspiration Point? Water. [...] Lauren didn't have any water.

(When I hear this argument, this fact hits me like a ton of bricks because I'm thinking about the hike Mr. Sprocket and I took and he carried our water.)

CH: They still had to go back to the car. That's another mile. [...] What's the other big problem with Detective Leslie's argument? [...] He didn't have to come up with this story. [...] So, we're going to come up with this story that he said it was an accident. Why didn't they say they spoke to him for five minutes and then he confessed?

CH: It's the hardest thing to think, is that a father would do this.....

Hum addresses filicide and a recent case that happened while they were in trial.

CH: While we were in trial, another case, a father beat his child to death. [...] We know it happens, we know it does. We just don't want to believe it.

I look at the clock. It's 4:50 pm. Hum mentions Jon Hans.

CH: If the defendant's best friend believes he did it, we shouldn't have any trouble believing it either. [...] In Lauren's tragically short life of four years (he adds the months and days which I miss) [...] he spent no more than sixteen days with her. [...] There was no relationship.

CH: In support of Lauren being so wild and daring and just running around Inspiration Point, this is their proof.

The prosecution presents the videos of Lauren that the defense played as part of their proof that Lauren was a daring and adventurous child. I see these videos for the first time and they bring me to the edge of tears. Lauren is in a pair of in-line skates trying to skate, inside a garage. She walks in the skates and it looks like she's actually on carpet, not cement garage floor. I look over at Sarah and she's crying. Even writing about this brings tears to my eyes.

The next video, Lauren on a skateboard. She's got one foot on the board and slowly steps the board along. She eventually sits on the skateboard, straddling it. Now a video of her walking on the edge of the water getting her shoes wet. She's fully dressed. She's not at the beach, she's at a marina. There are no "waves" like it was mentioned on the Support Cam web site. It's a tiny lapping of water on a sandy launch area for boats. Then two more videos of her walking along water. Again, these all appear to be the same day, walking this time in water up to her ankles. There are no waves.

CH: That's their proof. What a daring little girl Lauren was. That's their proof that Lauren was running around and that she fell off. [...] All I ask is that you look at the law. Look at the evidence. [...] What an amazing coincidence, the only person to fall off Inspiration point is a four-year-old child who's father never wanted her, hates her mother and pays 1,000 a month in child support. [...] What an amazing coincidence. [...] The only person who fell off Inspiration Point.

CH: It's not a coincidence. We know what happened. All I ask is for justice. Simple justice. Because we know the truth. [...] He never wanted Lauren. [...] The truth is, he hated her mom, Sarah.

(At some point in the argument, he mentions that this was a way to hurt Sarah, by taking away the child that she loved.)

CH: The truth is the defendant took her (and threw her off Inspiration Point.) [...] And we know the truth and all I ask is that you tell him the truth and convict him of murder.

That's the end of Hum's closing argument. Judge Pastor tells the jurors to turn to Page 16 in their instruction packet and reads to the jurors the concluding instruction.

It's 5:03 pm. After the jurors are instructed where they will deliberate (courtroom 108 on Thursday) they are excused and Pastor makes a comment about how he is going to explain the 45 minutes of overtime. There is a bit of bustle in the courtroom as it slowly empties out.

The jurors deliberated for a short time on Thursday and Friday. They won't return until Tuesday to continue their deliberations.


Omama said...

Hum's rebuttal sounds like it was very powerful. I'm curious as to how the jury appeared to take all of this in. Were they engaged, upset, or could you read their reactions at all?

Thanks again Sprocket. Great coverage.

Karen said...

Sprocket- you're right- the Free Cam site makes the home videos of Lauren sound like she's doing 360s and flips off the skateboard, and watch out for that big undertow! But they're delusional over there- Cam was never angry at Sarah, she was horrible to him, Cam just loved his daughter What's-her-name, Cam just couldn't wait to see her whenever he possibly could...

Things that really got to me in Closings- It was Harris who brought up that Brown had taken Lauren to his boat?!? Supposedly showing how much he wanted to share his active lifestyle with her- Hello, she couldn't swim! So, he must've been considering disposing of her for some time then, not spur-of-the-moment. A truly concerned parent who wanted to share his love of boating would've signed her up for guppy classes at the Y or shown her how to swim himself, at a proper swimming beach or pool. This is not negligence- did anyone check to see if he even had her size life jacket on board?

PATTY DIDN'T TESTIFY for him! Whoa, the Wife always testifies for the Hubby, unless the crime was against her and/or she's seen the light and gotten a divorce. I cannot think of a single court case where this has not happened. Spector doesn't count 'cuz that was after the fact...

Sprocket said...

Very few took notes.

I observed one alternate, Alternate #2, a man, wiping away tears at the end of the prosecutions final argument.

This jury was hard to read. The juries that I've experienced have been.

I'd like to remind everyone that my friends in the accredited press have told me time and time again that a trial is won or lost in jury selection (which I did not have the opportunity to attend for this case). You have to find jurors that are going to be willing to consider your particular sides' point-of-view.

We saw that in the first Spector trial. Juror #10 in that case came up with some wild theories to explain the possibility of how Lana could have had the gun in her mouth.

One of the hardest things I think the defense has to explain is Brown's behavior after the LAX incident. No where on that audio tape, does Sarah come anywhere close to saying anything threatening to Brown.

His supporters state that the initial transcript was in error, implying that the transcript is in error. If that was the case, Harris would have strongly objected to the transcript being entered into evidence, but from my recollection at trial, he accepted the transcript of the audio. Now, he may have made a motion to exclude pre-trial, but I'm not aware of it.

His supporters state that he had his helmet on and the engine of the motorcycle affected what he could hear.

The problem I have with that argument is the fact that I've ridden motorcycles for over 20 years. My first vehicle was a motorcycle. I own (an antique, mind you) 1983 GS750E Suzuki. And my bike has been modified with an after market exhaust pipe (a limited production Basani exhaust) that is quite loud. I own a full face helmet; that's all I wear. I know from personal experience what one can and cannot hear with a helmet on, revving up a motorcycle engine in neutral, or in first gear standing still. I don't believe he could not hear Sarah; at times her voice is quite loud on the audio recording.

You have to also add to that the other "statements" Brown told the LAX officer when he made the complaint against Sarah.

He told the LAX officer that Sarah prevented him from leaving on his bike by standing in front of him, blocking his exit. The video shows she did not do that.

He also "stated" to Detective Lillienfeld, that Detectives came to his home and stole his computers.

(FWIW, that interview was secretly audio taped so we know he did say this and it's not just from a report that Lillienfeld wrote. We know this also because of the extensive cross Harris did of the detective, bringing out all the statements Brown made about his daughter.)

We know that Detective Leslie did not "steal" his computers because they came to his home and seized the computers under a search warrant, and the fact that the computers were returned to him after the hard drives were copied was testified to in court.

When you add all that up together, I don't believe he thought he heard Sarah threaten him.

Sprocket said...

That's correct.

Patty was not called by the defense. If she was put on the stand, she would have to explain the stuff under the bed, on cross.

And, I expect on cross, she would be asked if there were any witchcraft books in her home.

She would also have to explain the searches on the computer the day Lauren died.

The defense has always stated that Brown reached Patty on the phone AFTER Patty got off the computer using the land-line connection, to tell her that he was taking Lauren to Inspiration Point.

Well, if that's true, do you really think that Patty would NOT HAVE MENTIONED in that phone call from Brown, the information she gleaned from her 53 different page searches?

It's my personal opinion mind you, in a nutshell, it was that conversation that was the catalyst that put Brown onto the path up to Inspiration Point.

Omama said...


Do you know if the defense was able to find anyone to testify that Lauren was supposedly leading Brown on any portion of the "hike".

Karen said...

Thanks for the motorcycle info- I had wondered about that, too- how well anyone would be able to hear someone else through a helmet, with the motor running. The transcript you provided of that confrontation is really useful. What he says happened and what did happen- day and night. His "bad breath" comment- that's when I came to the conclusion the guy was evil. Everyone's nightmare ex-boyfriend. And you may well be right about the call from the booth being the final catalyst, but there's a lot of hostility being expressed before then, too.

The phone thing- Was it established how many cell phones he/Patty had at the time? One of the things that's really gotten to me is that he didn't bring any and yet he did own them. I live in SC and that was the tip-off for me that our Gov. Sanford was lying through his teeth- no cell phone! He was supposedly hiking the Appalachian Trail with no cell phone. Even if you expect spotty coverage you bring the thing with you.

Team Cam makes much of "the fact" that he had never been to IP before (thus how could he know how dangerous it was?)- I find that hard to believe, given his bragging about how familiar he was with all the So. Cal. coastline. He was supposedly pointing out his favorite landmarks to her....

Sprocket said...

I believe the defense had two witnesses who saw Lauren "in front" of Brown. I am not positive, but I believe one of these was Terry Hope (sp?) who (I think) saw them on the trail in the gully up to Inspiration Point.

There are supposedly problems with Terry Hope's testimony because in cross, from what I've been told (by my trial watching friends who were there for this testimony, and from what I heard in Hum's closing argument) Hope said the clothing Brown and Lauren were wearing was "church clothes" with Lauren (I believe) in a dress.

I believe that's correct, but again, I did not hear Hope's testimony first hand.

Sprocket said...

I don't know how the defense could "prove" that at that time, Brown didn't have a cell phone to take with him. Unless, his brother or his mother testified to that. I did not see their testimony.

Anonymous said...

Great coverage as always. There is an old saying, "Never anticipate a jury."

David From TN

Sue from Oregon said...

Thanks for all the good information, Sprocket. Hope you are doing better, health-wise.

One detail that stands out to me is the hiking on the trail without water, as you mention, and also, that while on the playground, He didn't give Lauren and already-prepared lunch. It was lunchtime. How can you take a child from school, mid-day, then drag her on a hike, without stopping for a lunch break, without taking water? Hungry, thirsty kids are not energetic or happy. This one detail would indicate Brown was focused on his own evil plan, getting those "happy" photos of her and then getting her up the cliff, not thinking about her well-being or having a good time. I am distressed and sad for how Lauren suffered mentally and physically in her last hours. Thanks again for bringing us this information.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that Hum discussed the idea of second degree murder. I think it was first degree, but the total idea of taking a child to that location and failing to provide supervision adequate to prevent her from harm is the minimum of which he is guilty!


ritanita said...

I've just finished reading the entire closing arguments and kudos to you, Sprocket, for an excellent job.

I hope and pray this jury can reach a verdict. Brown needs some serious time behind bars.