A view of the "horseshoe" or slanted area of the left side of
120 ft cliff Inspiration Point from the right side edge of the point.
Photo credit: Betsy A. Ross, all rights reserved.
UPDATE 8/26 I h.aven't fully edited this day's post yet
UPDATE 6:30 PM spelling, clarity and accuracy
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Opening statements are set to begin today in the third trial of Cameron Brown. Prosecutors allege on November 8, 2000, Brown threw his daughter, Lauren Sarene Key, 4, off of Inspiration Point because he haded the childs mother and to avoid paying child support. The defense claims Brown's daughter accidentally fell and that he loved his daughter and was seeking to spend more time with her.
I'm inside Dept. 107. The documentary film crew (Ashley York and her cameraman) are setting up in the far right corner of the gallery. There is a still photographer also in the back corner, but I don't know what agency he's with.
There is a different court reporter at the court reporter's desk. DDA Hum has set up his 13 green binders across the front of the prosecution table. They have a rolling cart behind their chairs. LA County Sheriff's Detective Jeff Leslie stands in the well in front of the jury box.
Sara Key-Marer and her husband Greg are in the gallery.
A few moments after the film crew arrived Aron Laub and his investigator (Mr. Scott Ross, no relation) arrive and set up their files. DDA Hum's Powerpoint presentation is already loaded on the overview screens.
More family members arrive and sit with Sarah and her husband.
York is now working out logistics with the bailiff to set up her microphones.
Judge Lomeli comes out from chambers for a moment then goes back. DDA Hum paces a bit in the well. Judge Lomeli's regular court reporter comes out from the back rooms and starts to set up her equipment.
Brown has not been brought out yet. Brown's wife is not here yet. Marisa Gerber from the LA Times is here. The cameraman is with the LA Times.
More friends and family of Sarah and Greg arrive. I believe KFI reporter Shannon Farren arrives and sits in the back row. I've never seen photos of her before. She's a gorgeous blond.
I'm mistaken about the regular court report. It looks like she will not be setting up. The two court reporters might be sharing duties.
More clerks and interns from the DA's office arrive as well as more friends of Sarah's.
Another camera operator arrives. He's from NBC4.
Judge takes the bench. Asks if there are any issues with counsel. None other than what was discussed in chambers. There are more camera operates here, but they appear to be packing up.
Now both court reporters are on either side of the reporter's desk. I've never seen that before.
I move up to the third row from the back row to side beside Marisa from the LA Times.
More friends arrive to support Sarah and Greg. Two more girlfriends of Sarah's arrive and sit in the gallery.
Last minute side bar with Judge Lomeli.
I forgot to mention that the bailiff is not the regular bailiff in Dept. 107. It's a new man I'm not familiar with.
A camera operator for local ABC 7 arrives and threads his way to the back right corner.
The court clerk comes in and tells Judge Lomeli that all the jurors are here. The bailiff now gets the defendant from the in-custody area.
Brown's wife hasn't arrived yet. The jurors are brought in. There are six men, six women and four male alternates
DDA Hum begins.
This case is about the murder of a four year old girl Lauren Sarene Key, killed by her biological father Cameron John Brown.
He took her on a dangerous hike. The defendant claimed that it was an accident. The evidence will show it was not.
At the time of the murder, Brown was a 39 year old man with no interest in his daughter.
Timeline of events.
Defendant met Sarah in the fall of 1995. In Dec of 1995 Sarah discovered she was pregnant.
Defendant didn't want anything to do with a child. He was living on his boat, surfing every day, and working as a baggage handler. He pressured her to have an abortion. She refused. It made him angry.
He refused to talk about her pregnancy. When Sarah stood firm to have this child, the defendant left her on her own, four months pregnant. He tried to get her deported back to England. He left threatening messages on her voice mail at work.
Laub objects. Judge tells the jury that opening statements are not evidence.
Sarah kept her baby, born August 29, 1996, Lauren was born. She struggled to raise Lauren on her own. She got no help from the defendant. No inquires, no attempts to meet her, nothing. He knew how to contact her. He had called her there [at her work] before. In fact, the defendant was continually changing his phone number and moving his boat around. The defendant was afraid of what might happen, [if Sarah knew where he was staying].
When Lauren was about 9 months old. she sought help for child support. Went to Orange County DA's. Still no contact from the defendant for another year, and then another. Almost 2 years after child born, the defendant contacts Sarah. The defendant demands a paternity test. He filed documents that he wasn't the father. He was trying to get out of supporting the child.
DNA proved Lauren was his daughter. He doesn't ask to see her. He doesn't offer to help support her.
Does he show any interest in Lauren at all? No. Sarah has to go back to court, to order the defendant to support his daughter. The judge does that.
In December 1998, the court ordered the defendant to support Lauren. The very first thing the defendant does, is go to court to have his child support reduced. He's been told the fastest way to get it reduced, is to request visitation. It's about the money.
July 22, 1999, one month before Lauren's three year birthday, the defendant requests 50% joint custody of a child he's never met.
November 1999, first meets Lauren. Sarah begins a relationship between her, Lauren and defendants mother. The defendant makes excuses why he can't visit Lauren. Defendant makes disparaging remarks about Lynn, his mother in front of Lauren.
The friction takes its toll on Lauren and Sarah worries about her daughter. February 2000. Sarah proposes a solution. Her new husband would adopt Lauren. The defendant is ecstatic. He agrees to the adoption. She cautions hm. Why don't you think about it, and talk to his fiance Patty.
Next time the defendant sees Lauren, he wants to know how soon the adoption can be done, before he even speaks to Lauren. At the same time, the defendant files a request for reduction of his child support payments in the court.
In the meantime, Sarah files papers with the court indicating the defendant showed little interest in Lauren. In retaliation, Brown threatens Sarah to never speak to her again. He breaks off all communication with Sarah and the adoption goes nowhere.
In March 2000, the request for reduction in support is denied by the court. Around the same time, Lauren is going for overnight visits, and Brown starts making disparaging remarks about Sarah, to Lauren.
Your mommy is stealing my money. I'm going to have your mommy put in jail.
He files again that he already has 50% custody and that his support should be reduced.
He goes to the court and accuses Sarah that she was abusing Lauren.
Lauren meanwhile increasingly dreads her visits with Brown. She hides. She doesn't want to go. At home, she hides under the bed and asks her mother to tell Brown she's not home.
Sarah tries to get help. She tries to get advice. Sarah calls children family services, anyone she can, to get her help.
October 2000. It worsens. He's paying almost 40% of his salary in child support. And his new wife Patty, is fired from her job and Patty is pressuring Brown to adopt Lauren. That's the last thing that Brown wants.
The conflict between Sarah and the defendant comes to a head.
Wednesday Nov 8, 2000. Its a day when the defendant can get Lauren alone. At about 12:30 in the afternoon, the defendant arrives at Lauren's school to pick her up. Lauren had been crying all day long. She was begging her teachers to let her talk to her mommy. She's still crying, wailing, when the defendant takes Lauren from her school for the very last time.
On most school visitation days, the defendant's wife would come along. On most days, he would go back to his wife's condo. But today, is not a normal day. Today, the defendant takes Lauren, for the first time, to take this child on a dangerous hike.
He drives her to Abalone Cove, a dangerous area, with steep trails and hiking paths. Photo on the overhead monitor. In the foreground is Portuguese Point. In the background, is Inspiration Point.
Sometime between 1:30 and 1:45 PM he parked in Abalone Cove. They then walked down a trial to a playground at the beach. Then he says, she lost interest, at playing at a playground. The defendant says, Lauren, who was known as cautious and a bit lazy, took off on a hike. This six-foot-two baggage handler, said he could barely keep up.
He said she led him on a dangerous hike, past the safe area of Portuguese Point, and then to the dangerous area of Inspiration Point. Then around 2:45 in the afternoon, Lauren, led this main she barely knew, off to Inspiration Point.
That November afternoon, no one was up there but the defendant and Lauren. The defendant had managed to find the one spot, that couldn't be seen from the beach, or the other areas of the cliff. Because the defendant wanted to make sure that he couldn't be seen.
Photo of Inspiration Point. That cliff, is the height of a 10 story apartment building. He claimed that Lauren was running around throwing rocks. The defendant said that he turned around for just a second, and then when he turned back, she was gone.
That's not what happened. The evidence will show that he threw Lauren off a cliff.
After Lauren plunged off that cliff, the defendant went down a trial to a nude sunbathing beach, to call 911. The 911 call came in about 2:50 pm. He stayed on that phone for 5 and a half minutes. Do you know how long 5 and a half minutes is? We're going to find out. Because I'm going to stop taking and start up again.
That's how long that Lauren was floating in that water and he knew. Hum stops talking. There's complete silence in the courtroom. A photo of the tide pool area below where Lauren fell from is up on the overhead screen.
Brown appears to be looking off towards the clerks desk. No he's glancing up at the overhead screen.
It seems like forever. It's still silent.
There's a bit of fidgeting in the jury box.
Five and a half minutes. That's the amount of time that Lauren was in the water while the defendant was on the phone. Not once does he say to the 911 opeartors, "Where are you? What's taking so long?"
When he went down the trail to the naked sunbathing beach, he knew he couldn't get to Lauren from that area. He would have to hike back up over the point and down the other side. By going to the beach first, the defendant knew it would be ten to fifteen minutes before he would get to Lauren. And the defendant knew Lauren couldn't swim, even if [by some miracle] she survived the fall.
After the phone call, he went back up to the point down to the other side. It's about 3:15 by the time he reaches Lauren's body. He goes out to the water, picks her up, slings her over his shoulder and places her on a picnic table.
When fire department arrives, he gives his first version, a little different than what he told detectives. Small differences but it shows the defendant's story is a lie.
Witnesses will testify about Lauren's personality, her physical abilities. The evidence will show that Lauren would never go off on a hike on her own.
Witnesses will testify how the defendant treated Sarah while he was pregnant. Hurting Lauren was the ultimate payback. "What goes around, comes around." Witnesses will also testify about how the child support was taking a toll especially after his wife was fired. The defendant's own statements, [to the court were] I cannot afford to pay the amount currently.
Defendant states that Sarah was receiving more money from his pay check than he was. Patty, Brown's wife, was seeking a family of her own and was trying to get custody of Lauren away from Sarah.
You will hear testimony from an expert in bio mechanics that will tell how Lauren's injuries could and could not have been received. Also witnesses will testify about Lauren's relationship with her father. In the entire length of Lauren's life, the defendant spent about two weeks with Lauren.
To the defendant, the child wasn't his daughter, she was the child of the woman he despised. It was all about money and revenge. At the end of the trial it will be clear, that the defendant threw Lauren off Inspiration Point to the water below. That's what this case is about.
Two tragedies are infolding in this courtroom. Lauren lost her life. The second tragedy that's going to unfold is the prosecution of Cameron Brown as a murderer causing that death. And that is something that will require further development for you to understand.
If you've ever seen those optical illusions. One moment you see a bird. And the other moment you will see a face. Because what you just heard, there is a flip side.
Brown was an outdoors man. He loved surfing. He loved hiking. He lived in a cabin in the woods. He would ski to go to work and ski back home in this wilderness place. He had friends that liked him and peole that he pushed, one way or the other. He was like a friend on the edge of the group, that kind of jokes and was kind of included, but not intimately. You'll hear that some people liked him. Some people didn't like him.
He moved to California and worked for an airline as a stable employee. You'll hear the word throw throughout the case. He was a baggage handler. Is a baggage handler someone who throws luggage? You see thrown luggage in a sitcom. Later on, you'll also hear, is one of the things that happened when he worked there, because he was one of the guys who said, "you're not doing the job right."
He drank socially, he didn't drink a lot. At a bar, he picks someone up. And that person is eventually the mother of Lauren. The person dates him for a couple of weeks, and they have sex. Cameron used a condom. Sarah claims the condom broke. Cameron's first response was, almost childlike. "Oh that's neat." Because you'll hear that Cameron is not someone who expresses his emotion well.
Laub describes his client's emotional level as like that of a 15 year old. Then Cameron decides that many things aren't right. Maybe she should get an abortion. Because Sarah is here illegally. She shouldn't be here. Maybe this woman is telling him, she got pregnant by Brown, because she wants to stay here.
They go to counseling. The purpose of the counseling, so that options can be discussed, because he's not a guy who's very articulate. Counselor tries to talk to Sarah about various ways to handle this, and one of those ways, is abortion, because you're going to raise a single child and you two don't know really know each other.
Sarah decides, no, no, abortion. I'm going to have this baby. Don't expect you'll hear, that Sarah had religious reasons or that this was her first baby.
In this period of time, that what you're hearing that, this is a man who is so insensitive that he doesn't care what happened. But what's true is that he can be located at work. The first time he hears that this baby was born, he receives a letter from the DA seeking child support.
All of a sudden, he thinks, that I'm supposed to be supporting a child because this woman who was trying to stay in the United States, says this is my baby. He did want to see the child. Sarah opposed visits at first. What you will see, is that he was cooperative. He wanted a lot of visitation. Sarah was cautious.
When he was going back to Colorado, he raised a toast, that he now had visitation. He gave her presents from his grandmother's doll collection. That Brown had a close relationship with his grandmother.
Laub mentions hunting. Cam never harmed a creature. In all you're hearing about hatred and romantic presentation, .... and the way things change. He was a man who didn't hurt animals, that didn't hurt people ever.
I should thank the prosecutor for having given us the trial jurors trick of time counted, because it dramatically expands the sense of time. Whichever side has a conflict of presentation with that time, they will do that with the jurors.
That sense of time was not the sense of time when you go about your normal activities. That dramatic sense of time is consistent with the optical illusion that has been created, and why this is the second tragedy. Because there is a dead child. And that's a tragedy that is so awful. No prosecution is going to ever out weigh that.
You saw time expanded, you're going to see the importance of things, blown out of proportion, repeatedly.
You'll be told that the difficulty of finances was cutting into Cam's lifestyle. You may want to know, what about his lifestyle was cut into. He had his hiking equipment. He had his surfing equipment. He wasn't a guy who went gambling in Vegas. Or needed money for a date in his Maserati.
You're going to hear that his wife was pressuring him about adoption. It's nonsense, that that court would grant taking the child away from the mother. And Cameron Brown wasn't thinking about anyone else. The evidence will show that's ridiculous.
Inappropriate behavior at the crime scene. People respond to tragedy in different ways. Why would the father, respond to the emergency personnel, asking about the election. Another thing you're going to hear, is that's a person in shock. What you're going to hear, is that the coroner, could not, conclude that this was an accident. Because the medical evidence doesn't establish anything about that.
What you will hear is months later, the coroner went with the detectives to Inspiration Point, and based upon their conclusions, he puts in his report that it's a homicide. So that takes us to the second expert, is a man named Hayes, who has a huge credentials, then went to Oregon state. Hayes is the one that is certain, by applying the laws of physics, this is a child that had to have been thrown.
We will see a reenactment, that if you have this much effort and this much weight, ... and then what happens is, goes up to the cliff and takes a couple of throws ... and he's going to tell you that this is something that couldn't possibly be an accident. If you apply Newton's third law, what you get is any action will have an opposite reaction. If a person is throwing, they can't possibly move forward, this pushes you backward. The act of throwing pushes you backward. This is the most important part of the analysis.
Laub gives more argument about this expert's opinion, and what the actual video will show. Brown watch his counsel give his opening statement.
You're going to hear that Brown gave a statement to detectives. What you will hear, is that Brown was cooperative to everyone. And when police wanted him to go to the station, he agreed. He went with police in the police car. He did things that made sense with being in shock. When he got there, the detectives were greeted by Cam's father, and Cam's wife. His father said, if you're not charging him, release him. Cam was there voluntarily. The officer's didn't tell the family.
The family said "We're getting a lawyer." The detectives wanted to make sure that he talked to them, before the family got a lawyer. The police knew this, because Brown said this was an accident. They accused him of it right there.
And when they accused him of it, he got a lawyer. The detectives kept harassing him. The detectives wrote Brown's lawyer. They didn't care. They still went after Brown. From the beginning of the investigation, the investigation was biased. A lot of the things that are negative, come from one source. That is the mother of the child.
The detectives told Sarah that they believed he did it and they got a phone tap on her phone and she kept calling him.
The only reason the police had her do this, is because trying to get inconsistencies in his story. Cam didn't talk to her, on advice of his attorney. Why would he?
In this case, there's going to be a lot of conflicting evidence. Because what do you have when you go through custody documents. You're going to hear that Sarah also lied on her court documents. I don't know that she did. She may not have filled out the forms correctly.
Laurens personality, and the idea that Lauren was this passive little girl. She was very sweet and feminine. Like she was a 1950's female. That's not how four year olds are like. They go in and out of different kinds of moods with energy and excitement, because what you do, is you push your boundaries.
Either someone is putting a huge amount of pressure on this child, which is what the teachers at the school observed, when she got around the teachers and authority figures. When she was around daddy, she was a playmate. When she was around that, she just exploded. And yes, Cameron Brown was irresponsible, he took her on his motorcycle. He took her on his boat. He drove with her in the front seat of his car. This is going to be presented to you by the prosecution that he didn't care. That's an optical illusion. In his own naive, and his own lacking parental skills, he treated her like a playmate. He wanted her to enjoy freedom. Come sit by me.
The total of two weeks was a map trick by the prosecution. Take 24 hours and string them together and it's two weeks. You'll hear that Cameron Brown missed one of his visits. Sarah cancelled some of the visits. You'll hear that he drove from Ventura to Orange County to see Lauren [for an hour] and drove all the way back.
I'm almost done. What caused the real break between Sarah and Cameron Brown, that supposedly that she said her husband Greg was willing to adopt. Cameron says, "That's never what I said I want," And that's where the major disruption occurred.
The only source of this kind of information, about the adoption, will only come from one witness, and the mother, who's going through the custody child support issue.
Nearly forgot about the statement given to the police. When you hear about what the police did on this case, and what they went through. They went everywhere, flying everywhere they could, and hired professionals. Tape recordings, interview after interview, because everything they were trying to do to build a case. You're not going to get to hear a tape recording as to what Cameron Brown said. That somehow, in Los Angeles County, they didn't have a tape recorder that night.
Would be great if that was on tape. That one interview, that they really wanted to get, before an attorney, before he talked to his father, all you're going to get to hear, is what a police officer said.
At this point I've certainly talked long enough. All I'm going to do is say, is listen to this case and hear both sides and keep an open mind. I think that you can hear from the prosecution and the defense is [hear the evidence.].
Mr. Laub at one point, mentioned that Brown had a photo of Lauren in his wallet when he was arrested, and that he's not the monster the prosecution said he was.
The court calls for a 15 minute break.
Terri Keith from City News Service arrived before opening statements started. There is another reporter in the room that I'm not that familiar with.
Judge Lomeli has counsel at sidebar. The court has not ruled on further audio of the trial. The Times cameraman comes over to Marisa and states that they can't video or audio the mother.
I explain to them that Judge Lomeli ruled on this last week, that there would be some witnesses that would not be photographed. It was up to the witness.
The Public Information Officer explains to the press that there is no video or audio of the mother. Still photos are okay. The cameraman asks if the mother knows still photos are okay. Still photos are okay.
There is a bit of exchanging of information between a news reporter and Ms. York. Lots of back and forth with the reporters and camera operators.
The jurors file back in.
There was an inquiry by jurors about good Friday. The court states that they can be in-session for half a day, but there's plenty of time from here to the April 3rd, Good Friday before they decide.
People call Sarah Key-Marer
1. SARAH LOUISE KEY-MARER
Back in 1995 were you known as Key? Yes.
Key-Marer is her married name.
September 12, 1997. Husband is Gregory Marer. She was born in England, in the UK on Christmas Day. She had a daughter. Lauren Sarene Key. Born August 29, 1996. Who was the father of Lauren?
Witness identifies the defendant.
Lauren was four years old. Died on Nov. 8, 2000.
A large photo of Lauren is put up on the clipboard by the jury box. The photo was taken about a month before she died.
She came to the United States in 1994. In November. She was 25 years old. She came here on a tourist visa.
On November 4th, 1995, did you meet the defendant? Yes.
Met him at a bar in Newport Beach. It was on top of the Marriott Hotel.
She had gone with a girlfriend for an evening out. Met him at the bar, and struck up a conversation. She remembers that he introduced himself as a pilot. She used to be an airline stewardess.
At some point after that, she learned that he was a baggage handler. At the time she was single and not dating anyone. She began dating the defendant.
She was living in Costa Mesa with a roommate, Linda Peterson. She was working at a hotel called the Countryside Inn and Suites on the reception desk. The defendant was the only person she was dating.
Did the defendant ever asked if she was dating anyone else? She didn't tell him she was dating anyone else. They went to dinner, took day trips out of town.
One time went to dinner with her friends, and other times with his friends. Friends she would go out with. She doesn't remember Brown's friends that they went out with. Her friends, they went to dinner with her friend Amy and Amy's boyfriend.
He lived in Redondo Beach, one time we rode bikes along the boardwalk. Another time they took a day trip down to La Jolla. Took trips to Las Vegas and Colorado.
Would you consider it as casual dating? She was hoping she was in a relationship. She didn't see it as casual dating at all.
When you went out to dinner who would pay? They would go dutch. She would pay her own way, he would pay his.
He lived on a boat in King Harbor, in Redondo Beach.
The Colorado trip. It was three or four nights. Three nights four days.
They went to Breckenridge because Cameron used to live there. Spent one night in Denver. Met the defendants friends in Breckenridge. Met a Jon and Lisa. Skied in Breckenridge. Met the defendant's grandfather in Las Vegas on that trip.
Flew to Colorado on American Airlines, the same airline that the defendant worked for.
Does remember once, when they were walking along the beach, somewhere in LA it was a beautiful sunny day, we came across this cliff behind us, and he pointed that a week or so ago, two children had died on this cliff. It upset me. And then he continued on about, just changed the conversation. It was very upsetting, and I was very distraught when I heard that. It stuck in my mind. I was confused as to why he changed the subject so quickly.
When he made the statement that was before Lauren was even born.
Do you remember where it was? She doesn't remember the exact location, but it was around Redondo Beach. I don't remember exactly what he said about it now. She just remembers being affected by what he said.
When dating, did not meet the defendant's parents. No.
Did you have discussions about the parents. Yes.
What did he tell you about the parents? That they lived in Pennsylvania. That they lived far away.
Do you remember what he said specifically about them. No, I don't.
The lunch break is called.
Back on the 9th floor after a walk in the blistering heat. My friend Katie made it to court towards the end of the morning session. She attended the second trial with me.
Later tonight I'll do spelling and clarity edits, so please bear with me. I don't do this typing and posting immediately very well.
Inside Dept. 107. Off the record. In the well, DDA Hum is giving Mr. Laub a brief of the remaining questions he is going to ask Sarah.
Sarah retakes the stand. The defendant is brought out. Judge Lomeli asks his clerk if the jurors are all here. They're all in the hallway. As soon as Brown is brought out the jurors are brought in.
Each time the jury comes and goes, Brown stands.
Direct continues with Ms. Key-Marer
Over the lunch hour, did I ask her to review testimony in another proceeding. Do you recall if I asked you if the defendant told you anything.
Yes, he told me that the children had fallen from the cliff.
Now asking about what Brown said to her about his parents. Yes, he told me that he hated his parents.
"It way my believe that if was a relationship, not a casual one."
Do you remember the first time you and the defendant had sex. Yes, it was on the boat in King Harbor. They used protection. The condom failed. It broke. It caused her concern. I was at apoint in my menstaly cycle were I could get pregnant. Did you discuss this concern with the defendant. I made him aware that accident happened. It was at the crucial, dangerous time in her cycle. She doesn't recall his response.
She determined she was pregnant when she was late on her period and bought a home pregnancy test and confirmed she was pregnant. She was not having sex with anyone else at that time. She told the defendant she was pregnant. She told the defendant within a day or so, of when found out she was pregnant.
Were you trying to get pregnant? No I was not.
Did you you think that if you got pregnant, you could stay in the country? No. That was not my understanding at the time.
When you told him what was his reaction. He seemed okay. I was in shock myself. He told me he had a prior relationship, where he had gotten someone pregnant. He did not seem upset initially.
She then went out of state for Christmas holiday, to Seattle. With her aunt, uncle and cousin. Her mother was living in England. It was also her birthday. She thinks she stayed two or three nights.
She returned before the New Years holiday. Spoke to defendant after she came back, within a day or so. It was on the phone. Brown's attitude and demeanor was different in regards to the child. His tone was different. He was more opposed. He mentioned abortion. I clearly stated I wasn't interested in that.
What was it specifically that he said in regards to that? Other than suggesting abortion. ...
Did the defendant say anything about ready to be a father? I don't remember.
Did he bring up to you anything about how do I know this was my kid? No.
She continued to see the defendant. They continued to go out. They did not go out as frequently. The dates were different because it was more awkward. We still went on a date, but we never talked about the pregnancy whatsoever. It was the main thing on my mind. I was getting afraid. I didn't know where I was going to go at that point. Anytime I mentioned the baby, she shut down. He did not respond.
Why did you continue to go out with him. I was in shock myself. I was looking for his help as well, to talk through this with me, as to what the next step would be.
Do you remember any occasions where you brought up the baby and the defendant had an adverse reaction. Objection Sustained. Did you try to discuss names with the defendant. They were walking along the strand, along the beach. I was trying to discuss with him baby names. Brought up the subject gingerly. It was a busy area, and he just walked away. She couldn't find him. She tried to hail a taxi but she didn't have any money with her. She made it back to the harbor, and the gate was locked. She had to wait for someone to come. When she got to the boat he was asleep.
During that time, she did not have a car. He would drive. He would pick her up. Incident regarding a baby swing. We were walking past a thrift store. In the window was a baby swing. I thought, I could start collecting for the baby. In my wallet I had 11.00 and I asked him to loan me 2.00 for the swing.
Did he say anything when you asked him for money? Not at that time. Later, went to a restaurant drive through. And she wanted to make a phone call. She went through his change drawer, and took a quarter to make a phone call. When he returned, she told him she took the quarter. He said, "All you want me for is my money."
The relationship deteriorated. She was more pregnant and he wasn't talking. He refused to talk about it. Later, she got a different job, working for a travel agency in Newport Beach. She told the defendant she had a new job. She gave him the phone number of the new job.
Sometime after the incident with the swing, he asked her to go to a counseling session. He told me he had a therapy session with this lady previously. What was your understanding about what the session would be in regards to. I thought it would be about the pregnancy and how we were to proceed. Did you go to the appointment? Yes he picked her up and went to the room with the defendant. The therapist was there. Doesn't remember the therapist's name.
They did talk about the pregnancy. It was just the therapist and myself. He didn't say much. He wasn't part of the conversation. She was talking to me aobut how, things work in American verses in England and the differences relate to abortion. I guess encourage me to think about abortion. The defendant was present. He didnt' say anything. It felt like a setup. Was this counseling session after you had already told the defendant you din't want an abortion? Yes.
Did he tell you that abortion would be discussed at this session? No. After the counseling session, did you tell the counselor. She made it clear that she wasn't interested in having an abortion. Do you recall what the ride home was like. As far as I remember, there wasn't a lot of conversation. I was hoping it would be to talk about logistics.
Even after the counseling session, she still went out with the defendant. I guess I was still hoping that he would change his mind, and support me and still be there. Did you mean financially? Well, I was still in shock myself. I didn't have any family here.
After the counseling session, the relationship got worse because she realized he was not going to be there for me. It was more awkward. Were you freindly? Were hou hostile. I don't remember it being hostile, but it definitely was different. They stopped seeing each other. I had in previous discussion with cameron was trying to get myself a car. I'd been looking around for a vehicle, Craigslist, etc. Found one to buy and ask if he would go with me. I didn't know anything about cars. Asked if he would loan me the money until I got paid. I heard him throw the phone on the floor.
It sounded to her as if the phone was thrown. I stayed on the line to see if he would pick it up. 45 minutes went by and then I just hung up. She could still hear him on the line, walking around, making noises.
Did you tell the defendant how much you wanted to borrow? She's not sure but thinks it was $400 to $600 dollars. It was a loan she was asking. She then made up her mind that it wasn't going too well, and she just went with it.
After her break up, there was a voice mail left on her phone. It was in a creepy tone. He said, "Are you still here yet?" She recognized the defendant's voice.
At the time, she was in the country living and working illegally. She told the defendant about that and he knew that she wasn't supposed to be working in the country. She tried to call him in April 1996, after she found out the sex of the baby. He answered the phone when she called. She told him the baby would be a girl. He said it didn't matter, because he had called INS and that she was going to be deported any moment and taken away. She was petrified. I really thought that they could do that. I didn't know how the system worked. She was afraid of being deported. I was afraid of him, that he would turn like that on me and do that to me. It scared me a great deal. I was in disbelief that he would turn so harshly.
Was there a time, that you saw the defendant again before you gave birth. She was about 8 months pregnant. Her company was having a convention near the airport. She called him and invited him to come. I was showing. I was 8 months pregnant. I tried to talk to see if he had a change of heart about the pregnancy.
Shortly after that, she gave birth to Lauren. August 29, 1996 at a hospital in Newport Beach. The defendant was not there. She was in the hospital for a week. She had a cesarian section. She did not hear from the defendant while in the hospital. Had a roommate, Gina. Was still working at Travel company. She didn't hear from the defendant.
When Lauren was about six months old, she moved and had a different roommate, Carol. Still working at Travel Max. Never heard from defendant.
She was off work two months after she gave birth.
After she went back to work, she did not contact the defendant to tell him she had given birth. Based on everthying prior, if he was still trying to get her deported or fired from her job. She didn't tell him.
She was told by her HR department they had received an anonymous call that said she was stealing from the company. Laub objects. Judge instructs information is not offered for the truth of the matter.
She didn't handle cash, so it was obvious it wasn't true. She recognized the phone number as belonging to Brown's grandmother's number. That caused her concern, because if she lost her job, she wouldn't have insurance for her baby.
From the time yo utold the defendant you were pregnant with his baby, did he ever question you if that was his child? No. A friend of her who attended the church she belonged to, had a little boy who was two. She watched Lauren. Her name was Leanne Orr. She belonged to a single parents group at her church and they became quite friendly. She thinks Leanne offered. It's also where she met her husband. Her husband Greg had a son, Joshua. Joshua was six.
I believe Joshua is in the gallery sitting with a woman about his age.
At some point she contacted the Orange County DA, for child support. She waited because she wasn't sure if she wanted to do that. Wanted to think about it. She wanted to try to do it on her own as best as she could. Money was tight. She consulted friends, and it would also open the door if Brown wanted to be a part of Lauren's life. All of her information was given to the DA's office.
She was not opposed to the defendant getting to know Lauren? No. She was a new mom and enjoying being a mother. She knew this would be an opening.
At that time was she worried about any fears about the defendant? Not so much. Up until that point she had heard nothing from the defendant. She was still working at the same place with the same phone number. She got back a response from the Orange Co. DA's office, that her request had been filed. She then made notes on the form.
Sept 12, 1997. Her and Greg got married. Then moved to another area in Costa Mesa. On may 21, 1998, notified that defendant was contesting paternity. Prior to that time, he never expressed at any time that he was not the father.
As a result of the claim by the defendant, she had to take a paternity test and so did Lauren. It was a blood test. After she heard that he was contesting paternity, he did not call or write her.
In February 1999, went to court with someone from Orange Co. DA's office and filled out an income document. When she went there, the defendant was present. The issue of child support, was handled by the DA's office. She just gave her information.
When she was at court and the defendant was there, he didn't ask any questions about Lauren. At the court hearing, paternity had been established. On Feb 11, 1999, she recieved an order for child support. The order was 952.00 in arrears, ... which total $1,032 dollars a month. That was to be paid to her through wage garnishment.
She did not specify an amount. She jsut provied her income and expenses. Then she started getting checks from the Orange Co, a check twice a month for 1/2 that amount. She was still working at Travel Max. The defendant made no attempt to contact her to ask about Lauren or meet Lauren.
In July 1999, found out that defendant had filed for joint legal custody, 32% visitation. At that time, Lauren would have been three the next month. Had the defendant ever contacted about Lauren up to that point? No. He had never met Lauren. Had never expressed any interest in meeting Lauren.
That hearing was continued for different court dates down the line. Mediation was ordered. Mediation was ordered, for both of us to work out a visitation schedule. So we would meet in the office. Cameron and her would meet in the office with the mediator. Did you work out a visitation schedule.
She drew up a schedule that would start slower than the one offered through the court. He had never met Lauren, and I didn't want to leave her alone with someone she had never met. I asked if I could supervise the visits and start with a grandual plan, and slowly increase the hours over the weeks.
Was it your desire to keep the defendant from Lauren. No, she just wanted it to go slower, for Lauren. The defendant agreed to it. She was not opposed to the defendant meeting Lauren. She knew that eventually, the visits would not be supervised.
A gradual visitation schedule was agreed to and made into a court order. December 1999, was the first visit. They met at Huntington Beach Park. It was about an hour long. Lauren was excited and so was I. Cameron was nice, gentle and kind. We played on a park aparatus. I said to Cameron, I hope you can put the past behind us. He seemed agreeable.
For the next month, it was one to two hours. They went to different places. The initial visits seemed to go very well. Eventually the visits would become unsupervised visits. For unsupevised what was the plan beyond that. That she would collect her from school, and she would get her for a number of hours, and drop her back off at my house. The plan was for then overnight visits.
How did you fele about. At the time I felt good about it. I encouraged it. She came up with the term "Papa Cameron." She had my husband, who was Daddy Greg, so she could diferentiate between each one, because she was so young.
She wanted Lauren to get to know Cameron's mother, Lynn. Did you tell the defendant? I did. He said that she was a bad lady. He spoke negatively about his mother. Was it in a normal voice, sad, or angry voice. It was in more of an angry voice. How did that make you feel since you wanted to get to know her grandmother. Not good, since Lauren wanted to get to know her as well. Brown strongly opposed the visits with Lynn. He may of told me why, but I don't remember.
How did you resolve that. We didn't really resolve it. I went ahead and contacted her without him knowing and set up a meeting for her to be introduced and get to know Lauren. Why did you set up these visits with Lauren and her grandmother if you knew the defendant opposed them? I wanted to make my mind up about her myself. I'd spoken to her several times on the phone. She seemed like a genuine person. There may be something going on between then, but I didn't want to hold back Lauren knowing her grandmother.
It was very nice. Went to 'her' mother's house on the Strand. She was very nice and warm and loving. We had lunch, up in the attic she had this expensive doll collection. Lauren loved to look ath the dolls. It was exciting. Then we went for a walk along the beach.
About this time, how many visits between the two of them, before introduced Lauren to her grandmother. Maybe five.
That first visit between Lauren and her grandmother, was the defendat there? Not the first visit. Thinks the second visit, the defendant was there. He was in the dirveway working on a vehicle, but he didn't come and join us. It was at the same location as the first visit.
At sometime after, did the defendant say anything about his mother and the visits? She doesn't remember. After you started the visits with Lynn, did the defendant say anything about his mother. He would say things about his mother, in front of Lauren, that she was a bad lady. I asked him not to say those things in front of Lauren, because she had a different experience with Lynn.
When the defendant made these comments about his mother, that was during a visit with Lauren and her and the defendant. During that occasion, he cut the visit short and left. There were other occasions when the defendant would make negative comments about his mother in front of Lauren. several times. Sarah would ask him not to do that. She doesn't remember.
Did you and the defendant argue about the fact that he was making these negative comments about his mother in front of Lauren. She doesn't remember, but she believes so. She asked him to stop doing that, but the relationship with Brown started to change. Because of this issue of him badmouthing his mother. She wanted to protect her daughter from hearing things she shouldn't.
Her relationship with Brown broke down after she asked him to stop with the comments. The issue of the reduction in child support was still pending in the courts. The unsupervised visits started in February 2000. He would collect her from school, and drop her at my house. She didn't know where they went or what they did.
She would talk about in the beginning, but as they continued, she would tell her mother less and less. They would go to Target, other places. Brown would pick her up from a christian Montessori school in Costa Mesa and drop Lauren off at her home. Initially it was 2 hours, and increased the time.
Initially, Lauren would tell Sarah what they did. As the visits progressed, she told her less and less. They were pretty close. Usually she would tell Sarah anything about her day, what she was feeling thinking. So it was pretty unusual.
Went back to court and the visit time was increased through the mediator. When the unsupervised visits continued, Lauren became more withdrawn. She didn't want him to pick up from school.
There were more tantrums, she seemed more emotionally upset, fretful, more anxious. This was ususual behavior for Lauren. She was a kid, she had tantrums, but they were increasing more often than usual. Lauren was a very happy child. She had a joyful spirit. That started to change. She became more anxious. I would try to ask her what's wrong, what's bothering her. It was if she was holding something in.
Appetite. Around the time, it decreased a little bit. She wasn't her usual self. She had this funny thing about her socks and underwear. She kept saying, it's not right, it's not right. She worked herself up. And I could see it wasn't about the socks... Objection sustained.
Prior to that visit, once in a while she did have trouble keeping he socks on. Objection sustained.
She didn't want to wear underwear. She just had a problem with it. This was unusual behavior for Lauren. This started after the unsupervised visits. At this time they were living in Huntington Beach. They had hardwood floors. She started to say that she didn't want to walk on hardwood floors. She wouldn't explain why. She didn't want to walk on hardwood floors. She seems to be s truggling with something. It only lasted a few weeks, but it was odd for her.
These changes in behavior caused her concern. Did they get better or worse as the unsupervised visits continued. They got worse. I contacted a psychologist for information that would explain the behavior. One time I contacted the police, the CPS hotline. She was just reaching out with anyone that could help with this. Asked the mediator for any kind of child advocacy. Mediator was Jan Mueller. No agency provided her with help.
Id you ever encourage Lauren to act this way? No. Did you ever discorage to going on visits with the defendant? No. I was wearry. I was writing a journal that what happened on the visits. I was following the court order. Did not tell Lauren to act up on visits. Did you discourage or encourage, the visits. I always held Cameron i nhigh regard. I wanted her to have agood relationship with her father.
With every visit, I tried to tell her to have a good visit, to make it fun. Never spoke to Lauren negatively about Brown. May have spoken to her husband, but never Lauren.
Defendant's request for reduction of child support was still being considered by the court. There was one time in court, the defendant told the court verbally, that he was in pain, had an injury and his support was reduced. She doesn't think he ever provided the court with proof.
Spoke to the defendant on the phone about an adoption. Called him late one night after a discussion with my husband, that if he was agreeable, to have my husband Greg, adopt Lauren. That would relieve Brown of the financial. If he still wanteded, he could have visitation with Lauren. He pretty much agreed to it right then. Sarah told him was a big decision, that he should think about it and discuss it with his girlfriend. His girlfriend's name was Patty.
Left it at that, on that phone call. Couple days later there was a visitation schedule. It was a childrne's play place, called Planet kids. Had her son Joshua with her also. She was unbuckling Lauren fron the car seat. He said he would like to go ahead with the adoption. She told him she wanted to get the children settled in play then they could discuss it.
Once they got inside and kids were playing, they had more detailed discussion. He said that he was planning on moving up North in the future, he could see how settled Lauren was with her family, and he would also like to have the opportunity to visit up there, if she wished. He said he was moving up North with his girlfriend.
During the conversation, did he want the adoption done by. He said one month. Did you take that as a firm deadline, how did you take that. I didn't know why he put time limitations on it. He didn't specify.
About one month after the conversation, did the defendant tell you he'd done anything. He flew to Hawaii and married Patricia. It was the appoximate time when he said he wanted it done within a month. He said that he had a month, for the adoption, or it wasn't going to happen. He didn't say why.
At the time they had this discussion about the adoption, the child support reduction was still pending in the courts for March. She completed a declaration and filed it in the court, and said something negative about the defendant. I wrote down that he showed little interest in her well being or her daily activities, where she went to church or her life in general. That was filed under penalty of purgery. It was true. In that declaration she put in that Brown did not have a good relationship with his parents.
She also mentioned about the adoption in the declaration. She did not make that up. She states it was true.
Hum introduces his next exhibit, a declaration filed with the court. People's #2.
The court calls for the afternoon break. The jury files out.
The courtroom empties. DDA Hum pulls a power bar out of a bag and eats it quickly. Laub's investigator goes to get coffee for himself and Laub.
I get up to stretch my legs and walk the hallway.
Court is back in session. The victim's family reenters the courtroom.
Sarah is wearing a black dress. She has blond hair, past her shoulders.
Judge Lomeli states they will have a short day tomorrow. They will got until 2:30 pm.
Back on the record. Presenting the responding declaration in response to the defendant asking for a reduction in child support. It is the document he wrote.
Prior to the court hearings in this case, she would meet with the mediator prior to court. That's when the new visitation schedule would be worked out. She met with the mediator prior to defendant's request for child support. They did have a court hearing on March 9, 2000. The court had the request from the defendant and her declaration.
She's not remembering a conversation conversations with the defendant after the hearing. She did have aconversation with the defendant after the hearing after he had received her declaration. The conversation with the defendant in the hallway right outside the courtroom.
His demeanor was angry. Was he yelling? Was he glaring? He wasn't yelling. He just said, I'll get you for this. What goes around comes around, in an angry, scary like tone. He also said not to talk to him ever again. That was in that same angry tone. Her reaction; she was afraid of his demeanor. The way he spoke to her, it scared her.
After he told her not to speak to him anymore, so she didnt have any communication. By the usuggestion of the mediator, was to write down on a notepad things they wanted to say. So that's how they conversed, was on a notepad. They passed notes back and forth via the mediator. All communication was through the mediator.
After this conversation where the defendant said, all this, the no longer attended mediation together. They went separately. Because ther was such a cut in the mediation. He would go separately first. Then a 5-10 minute delay. They were never in the room together anymore. That was not by her request. There were no further discussions about adoption. He told her not to speak to him again. There was a shift in their relationship. If he wanted to go ahead with the adoption, I figured he would tell me. She did tell the mediator about the adoption.
When he would drop Lauren off, she would have some interaction with the defendant. The reaction and demeanor towards her by the defendant on those occasions, he was disrespectful. When he would drop Lauren off, there was no conversation obviously. Some things he would say, would come out of Lauren, that she would say things, that he told her.
Did there come a point where, in April, that he was supposed to pick up Lauren and he didn't. She called him directly. He said he didn't have gas money. She offered the gas money so he could see Lauren. Lauren was getting confused, because she had told Lauren there were plans for a visit. When she mentioned this, he replied, that "Sometimes things don't go the way they plan to."
There was a drop off for a visit with a Volkswagon bus. Her son was in the front garden. Her son went to look inside the open door. And almost caught her son's head in the door. The defendant's wife almost fell out. The defendant's demeanor was angry.
When Lauren would return from these longer unsupervised visits, would she make comments to you, about what was going to happen to you and things of that nature. She did make a comment, yes.
She told me I was going to jail. She just said, you're going to jail. You're stealing money from Daddy. From Pappa Cameron. She commented that, Greg was the wrong dad and Josh was the wrong brother. Did she say anything about you, that you were going to jail for stealing Papa Cameron's money. "I don't remember."
At some point, was an examination scheduled through the court. There was a 730 evaluation scheduled. What was that. It was a psychological evaluation of both parties, and their families. It would include herself, Greg and Lauren. It would also include Brown and Patty. She was in favor of it. She thought that it would be perfect, and that the evaluator could see what was going on.
Brown was supposed to pay for this. The day of or very soon before it was supposed ot happen it was cancelled because he didn't pay for it. In June, overnight visits started. What were the logistis.
Every other week, it would be a differnet schedule, he would collect her from School on Wendensday and drop her off at the house at 4:30. The following week, he would pick her up from the house and return her the following day in the afternoon.
These were on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. After these visits started, she learned that Brown had made an allegation of child abuse against Lauren. When she learned this, she was in complete shock and denial, that he had alleged that, about me. After the meeting with the mediatory, she scheduled an appointment with a peditrician, to examine her. She had a full examination, and the doctor presented her with a letter that there was no child abuse.
There was an investigation by social services. They came over to interview her and her family. Someone came out to interview her. Her name was Jodi Dodge. Greg, Sarah, Josh and Lauren all spoke with Ms. Dodge. First spoke to everyone as a group then took Josh aside and interviewed him privately. She interviewed Lauren at her school. The allegations were proven to be unfounded, correct. True.
Was there an incident in June of 2000, where rather than thedefendant picked Lauren up, Patricia picked Lauren up. Sarah wasn't expecting Patty. Sarah was surprised. Sarah wasn't expected this. Patty leaned down on one knee, and said, "Come to Mommy." Lauren froze, she didn't really know Patty. Patty wasn't authorized to pick up Lauren.
She told Patty to wait, she was going to call her husband and attorney by the time she got back to the door, she already had Lauren buckled into the car seat and left.
Did you ever tell Lauren to act up or cry, when she was with thedefendant. No. Never told Lauren anything to discourage her visits with the defendant. For Lauren's sake, tried to make the visits pleasant for Lauren.
She was very afraid and cautious about the visits. She could see the stress it put on Lauren. Sarah didn't like what she was seeing with Lauren at all. She spoke to her attorney. He said to just follow the court order, and to wait for the court proceeding in November.
Sarah didn't know how Brown would react. He seemed to get angry very easily. Did the defendant ever talk about his mother. There was something happening with Cameron's mother.
Did the defendant's mother tell you something going on in the family. She did.
Did that invlive you? It did. She wanted me to pass a message onto Cameron, because he wasn't speaking to her either. There was someting that was going on in their family. He said he wouldn't go to her funeral. He didn't care. He was so abusive with his speach, about his mother. That concerned her.
Something his father told her about the defendant's behavior. His father mentioned something that hapened when they were gathering the Brown family some years before. Brown had exhibited some anger. They were having dinner, Brown's brother had asked to pass the ketchup. Brown went outside and jumped on his brother's car, and destroyed it. that caused her concern, for Lauren's birthday.
August 29, was Lauren's 4th birthday.
That photo of Lauren was taken around that time.
Lauren and Sarah flew to England for a wedding. The photo was taken during that trip. Just she and Lauren went. Was there anything different about Lauren on that trip. She seemed to be back to her usual self. Her behaviors seemed to stop. She didn't have tantrums. she seemed herself again. Happy, like the old Lauren.
Two days after they returned, October 31st, 2000. Was that a Tuesday Wednesday overnight visit. And October 31 was Halloween. She had made her a princess dress for Lauren. She was diressed up as a princess.
The defendant came to pick Lauren up for her overnight visit. They were waiting for Brown on the lawn. they were talking to their next door neighbor, Mick LeGraff. He came to pick up Lauren with Patty. They picked her up. There was a disagreement between Brown and Patty and Sarah. Patty got out of the front seat so Lauren could sit in the front seat.
I told her Lauren not to sit in the front seat. She was standing her ground, it was a safety issue. She was arguing with Brown in front of Lauren. Eventually, she sat in the back seat. Lauren was very upset. As they pulled away, she shouted, "What else do you do, when you're not smacking your kid around.?" The defendant and Patty laughed about that. Lauren was back home the next day.
When she returned, Lauren did not want to go on any more visits with Brown. She said, "The next time Papa Cameron comes, can I hid under the bed, and you tell him I'm not here." That was November 1st. For the entire next week. She was fretful. She was sad. She had been like this before, but not so intense.
Before, after a day, this behavior went away after a day or two. This time, she remaind that way for the rest of the week. There was a scheduled court hearing at the end of November, to decide [I believe to decide the support reduction and visitation].
When Lauren's behaivor didn't return to normal, after a few days, you went to your lawyer's office to speak to him. Yes. She jsut went to speak to him without an appointment. She was concerned about Lauren's behavior. She wanted to see if there was a way to have the visits stop, until the court hearing at the end of November. She was pretty upset.
Describe the way you were acting with Mr. Thompson. She was crying, she was begging, she didn't care what it cost. She didn't want to put Lauren through the visits anymore.
When you were begging Mr. Thomas, did they stop? No. Did Mr. Thomas tell you to do anything. Objection! Laub is upset. He says, Let's ask Mr. Thomas. She got advice. She continued to allow the visits.
The break. Return tomorrow at 9:30 AM.
The jury files out. Hum wants court to admonish Mr. Laub. Laub states Hum knows he was trying to be a wise guy in front of the court. And for him to have Mr. Laub admonished.
The court said that he tried to rephrase
I'd like Mr. Hum to be admonished. He knows exactly what he's doing. Once you explained the objection. Mr. DDA Hum was trying to rephrase the quesiton but I the court doesn't see it Mr. Laubs way. The court doesn't believe that Hum was reasking the same question.
Laub is at sidebar, still trying to get the court on this issue.
The gallery empties. Continues tomorrow.
Local ABC 7 Video Story on Opening Statements
LA Times Story
Cameron Brown, 3/25/15, during opening statements in 3rd trial.
Photo Credit: Pool camera, LA Times photographer, Mark Boster