Lauren Sarene Key, 4, died 11/8/2000
Photo copyright © Sarah Key-Marer, all rights reserved
UPDATE 1:34 PM small clarity edits.
Friday, April 3, 2015
I'm inside Dept. 107. Brown was wheeled into the courtroom via a wheelchair. Sarah and three girlfriends are here with her. There are two nicely dressed young women, possibly law students who are in the gallery.
The session is only half day today. The jurors opted to only work half day today.
I've spoken with Judge Lomeli's court reporter about purchasing the transcript for Wednesday afternoon. The cost will be under $50.00. I'm going to splurge and purchase this transcript. Thank you to those of you who have made donations to my court costs.
Judge Lomeli asks if everyone is readh. Brown has been brought out. The jurors are in the jury room. It's my understanding that Judge Lomeli brings doughnuts to his juries on Friday mornings.
The jury thanks the judge for the doughnuts.
Sgt. Jessica Brothers
Currently Sgt. with LA Co. Sheriff's Internal Affairs Bureau. At that time she was assigned to Lomita as a patrol trainee. She's been with Sheriff's 19 years. How long out on patrol, aproximately 5 weeks. Prior to that she was assigned to a jail facility.
She was working, in uniform and Klaus Girmes was her partner. Started work at 2 pm. On patrol in a marked black and white. Her area included Rancho Palos Verdes. She received a rescue call, and that indicated a child over a cliff. Directed to PV Drive S. Between Cherry & Peppertree.
Responded lights and sirens. It took 8 minutes to respond. The area is within LA County. The main road along the coast in that area is PV Drive South.
She saw other emergency vehicles. A fire engine along. Dep. Grimes was driving. They parked on Palos Verdes Drive South. She was directed to follow the fireman down to what turned out to be an archery range. She traveled on foot. Not sure if there was a trail. But followed the fire men down along the brush. She went down a sloped area in the directon of the ocean. She left her partner down the road. Partner drove the vehicle down to the archery range.
As going down the hillside, which side IP be on? As I traveled down it would have been on my right.
At the archery range, she saw paramedics around a picnic table and there was a little girl that they were working on. She was on top of the picnic table.
Did you see anyone at the location that you see in the courtroom today? Its' the gentleman seated at the end of the table. Identified the defendant.
Where was the def. when you first saw him? He was at an adjactent picnic table. When she first arrived he was about three or four feet away. At some point learned her name was Lauren.
When first saw the defendant, standing three to four feet away. He was not doing or saying anything, not that she recalls.
At some point they pronounced Lauren dead. Did you ask the defendant what happened. I did.
At that time I would have been Lauren's body, within a foot or two. The defendant was still about three feet away from Lauren's body.
He had said that hand and Lauren had gone to Abalone Cove and took a hike towards IP and when they arrived at IP Lauaren was throwing rocks then suddenly she was gone. And she didn't see her go over the cliff, but he knew she did. Did he describe at all, seeing Lauren going over the cliff. No. Did he describe seeing any part of her body going over the cliff? No.
He pointed toward IP as to where she fell. Did he reference any specific point. He pointed towards a bush and that she had gone off over near that area.
This bush he pointed to, would that be the side nearest the archery range or the sunbathing beach? It was closer to the archery range.
The archery range is that, lower than the road? Yes. It's slightly higher than the beach. He recalled seeing some of the people on the beach, and ran over there to find a phone to call. After 911 was called, he went to the archery range side, to where he believed Lauren body would be.
The beach and the phone call was made on the LAX side, not Long Beach side.
What did the defendant say when he got to Lauren's body, he had stripped down to his underwear to go into the water to retrive her body. He placed her body on some rocks, took off his wet underwear, redressed and took off to the archery range.
He said that he attempted to perform CPR on Lauren. She doesn't remember where he said he did that. He asked if she saw any blood in his mustache or goatee. She did not see any. She didn't see anything in his facial hair.
While defendant was providing her with information, his demeanor I would describe as matter of fact. Was he screaming was he wailing, was he frantic? No.
Did he, give you the address where he was living. He gave information that he lived in Palos Verdes. There were helicopters overhead that we believed were media.
He said he didn't want to be filmed by the helicopters. He asked me to have his wife, to call his wife and that he was going to be late. When he asked not to be filmed, he was still about three or four feet away. Did he tell you why he wanted to call his wife? He didn't want her to see what happened on TV.
At that time, she was not aware that his wife was not Lauren's mother. Did not ask her to call Lauren's mother. Was he concerned that Lauren's mother might find out that she was dead on TV? No.
When she was getting information for police report, I noticed her last name was different than his was. Asked him about it. That was the first time that she learned that his wife was not Lauren's mother.
He left with Sgt. Rich Erickson. He was going to show Sgt. Erickson where he retrieved Lauren's body. She stayed with Lauren's body. Then they came back. Where did he go when he came back, he retruned to the spot where he was before. He was approximately three to four feet away. At some point her body was covered. Doesn't remember at what point the body was covered.
The defendant never tried to approach Lauren's body. Never indicated that he wanted to see Lauren or say goodbye to her? No.
They were waiting for the homicide detectives to arrive. From the time they arrived before the detectives arrived, it was over 3 hours. He remained with her until homicide arrived.
For the most part, his demeanor was matter of fact, there was a couple times, where he put his head in his hans and appeared to be sobbing, but for the most part, matter of fact. Did not see any tears in the defendant's eyes. Sobbing, was in her mind, an aduible expression.
When he came back with Sgt. Erickson, he provided more details. I know that some point Mr. Brown had gone into more detail, what had happened prior to Lauren going over the cliff. That they had arrived at Abalone Cove, and she played on the swings for 20 minutes or so and then they went on a hike, and that he had repremanded Lauren for throwing rocks and going near the cliff. And then when they got to the top of the cliff, that's where she was throwing rocks again.
He said he got to Abalone Cove around 2 pm. He said the hike took approximately 15 minutes to IP from the playground.
Doesn't remember if he said the hike went past Portuguese Point.
When said that he had repremanded Lauren for throwing rocks that was on the hiking trip. Did not say that was on the top of IP. He indicated he was seated, on or near a rock at the top of IP. He said that this rock was near the bush on IP.
Two days later, she went to the top of IP. She saw the bush that the defendant pointed out. She did immediately see any rock near the bush. Did the defendant describe in detail to you, the point where Lauren and fallen.
She describes that it's flat towards the end, and then it slopes near the very end. He indicated that Lauren was on the sloped portion of IP. The area slopes toward the ocean.
When she went back out to IP on 11/10 and with detective and other personnel, did you see that area that slopes, was that area near the bush? Yes. When she went out there, there was a deputy taking measurements and there were some cones placed out there.
Did the defendant describe to you, Lauren's demeanor? I don't remember her specific words, but that she was enjoying herself. Did he volunteer anything else. He said that he had taken pictures. He said the photos on the disposable camera were of Lauren at the preschool.
Didn't ask him if he had any proof that Lauren was having a good time. He offered the photos to her and she thought that was unusual.
Was there anything else, that you recall as unusual as you and the defendant were at the archery range? That Mr. Brown appeared matter of fact. Any conversation? yes. At some point while the helicopters were above, he asked if she had heard who had won the presidential election. (Between Gore and Bush, the contested election.)
Was there any other conversation that the defendant said that was unusual since yo uwere about three feet from Lauren's body? Not sure. He had complained that his boots were wet. He complained about it more than once, from her recollection.
And these conversations that you described for us, did they all take place about 3-4 feet from Lauren's body? Yes.
She stayed with Lauren until the homicide detectives arrived. She was directed to stand guard to in the area of where Lauren's body was recovered. They were concerned about the tides, and there was some evidence there on the rocks.
People's 109 for identification. Identifies IP on the photo. Identifies the archery range area, which is partway up the cliff on the Long Beach side of the area. Hum marks on the photo where she indicated the archery range was.
People's 117, large blow up photograph. This is a photo of IP. Points out the downward sloping area. The overhead view doesn't depict the angled downward slope. It' is on the right side of the point in this view. She point to the area where I sat and took video.
A. A very close up view of IP, and the downward slope of IP. The bush is actually below, where the sloped area is where I remember sitting.
B. A much closer view of IP
More Photos. 114a
General area of the picnic benches and archery range. And that's how it appeared when she was out there. 114b Closer view of the picnic tables of archery range. 114c A different view of the archery range.
Picnic table in the middle of the view, is the picnic table where Lauren's body was when she arrived.
114d, photo showing Lauren's body as it appeared on November 8. Her face is entirely covered in blood. Her shirt is off. One shoe is missing.
Direct ends Cross begins.
When you were with Mr. Brown on 11/8 and Lauren's body was lying on that table, you felt an intense dislike for Mr. Brown? No.
I had to run out of the courtroom, because of a phone call about Rocket.
Brothers: From my experience, carrying a child like a sack of potatoes. Her parents and grandparents carried her like that in her childhood. She did not think describing the carrying Lauren in that way was disrespectful.
He appeared to be sobbing? Yes. Verifies what she said about crying under direct.
You were testifying in front of the grand jury, in a response to a question, but as I said, we were there for quite some time, he sobbed and cried for two or three times. At that time, in front of the grand jury she used the terms interchangeably. Yes. And the reason you're using these different terms today, ... miss rest of question/answer. She agrees that is how she defines those words today.
He was seating with you for over three hours? Yes. You were standing basically, in front of him as he sat? I was seated for a large portion of that time, across from him.
Showing the witness a photograph. It's a photo of her, Mr. Brown and Lauren. Defense T.
Mr. Laub needs to be shown how to use the overhead projection screen. Brown is seated at another picnic table. Lauren's body is covered in a sheet. She was standing with her arms crossed.
During that time you were with Mr. Brown, you would not have left him leave? No. When he talked about his boots, did you recommend him to take them off?
More questions about the wet boots. Did you suggest to him, "If you're uncomfortable why don't you take them off?" She does not remember if she said anything in response to that.
He was waiting there and cooperating. Laub and questions as to why she didn't help to make him more comfortable.
You wern't thinking as you stood there, about Mr. Brown, a parent who had suffered a tragic loss, because maybe you would have said to him, why don't you take those boots off?
Judge inderjects? Meaning she was biased against him? Were you? "No."
Laub accuses her of looking at Brown as a suspect at that moment. No.
Laub accuses her of making her testimony more presentable to the prosecution. She denies this.
Now questions about using the word "near" in regards to describing the word "near." The prosecution used the word near, and you adopted it. In fact, Mr. Brown never used the word near. She doesn't know where the word near came from.
Laub references the second proceeding, you were questioned, he said she just fell off in the area of the bush and you answered correct. Laub reads more of this testimony to the witness.
When this was happening, Mr. Brown was at the area of the archery range? When he was relaying what had occurred. From the archery range, that bush, is the most visible on the marker on the edge of the cliff. At that time, I believe so yes.
So when he pointed up at this and said, "It was in the area of this bush, and he was standing at the archery range and using it as a marker, you had no way of knowing that Lauren had fallen to the left of the bush? Yes. No way of knowing if Lauren had fallen to the right of the bush. correct. No way of knowing if she had fallen from in front of the bush. Yes.
It's not in your report that he said she fell off the slope? If it's not there, it's correct.
Laub cross examine's the witness on her prior testimony at the second trial, and that this was how the connection between the bush and where Lauren fell came about.
Now questions about the pictures that he was using to show that she was happy. Actually the context in which this came out, Mr. Brown told you, you had asked him what happened. I asked him what happened. And he was cooperative with you. Yes he was. He never said, I need a lawyer. He never said, you can't hold me here, I'm leaving. No.
You were asking him questions about what happened, and he told you about the playground, and he blurts out, that he has pictures of her at the playground. He wasn't
He told me that he had the camera when he was talking about the activities of the day, that is correct.
It was prompted by your question. Objection by Hum. (No ruling).
Laub now reads the prior testimony into the record. Hum objects. Laub wants to show the court the transcript. The court asks Hum to look. Hum states, "I've seen it, that's why I object." Court asks counsel to approach.
Back on cross.
Laub returns to the testimony in the second trial.
Laub talks about the playground and the photographs and how it was offered from Brown and asking her how she took the answer.
At the time she was discussing it with him, she did not take it as anything.
Now asking about the throwing of the rocks and that he diciplined Lauren while they were hiking. That's how she remembers it.
You wrote a report in this case? Correct.
Laub reads from her report, Mr. Brown told her several times on the hike that she had to stay away from the cliff. There wasn't a cliff there? I'm not sure.
Mr. Brown stumbles through his words. You don't know on that trail if there was a cliff, Objection.
If I was to ask you, if you condenced into your report, more than one sentence into your report. She condensed into her report. Agrees there were more words spoken. It was a summary. She did not record the conversation. So there were more words, but the report is a summary.
Also spoke to detectieve Leslie she he arrived at the scene. Also told Det. Leslie what Brown told you? Yes. And told Det. Leslie, Cameron Brown said he was hiking on the ridge above the locaiton, referencing IP. He said the victim would go toward the edge throwing rocks and he told her to stay away from the edge. And he kept telling her to stay away from the edge, and at that time she fell from the edge.
Doesn't believe that's an accurate summary of what she told Detective Leslie.
Presents her with the report.
Is it correct, what you told det. Leslie, that it was while Lauren was throwing rocks, she fell? That's what Detective Leslie wrote, but that's not what I recall?
Laub, so even an experience detecitve, can get things wrong? Objection.
I'm saying that's not exactly how I remember telling Detective Leslie.
At the time, you were a trainee? Yes. And you were those first few years, you were working custodial? Yes. You were a trainee? Yes. And you were taking a statement from a witness .... and your product was not from many years of experience? Yes.
One of the things you noticed was that Brown had blood on his socks? She doesn't dispute that, but she doesn't recall that.
Looking at Detective Leslie's report, in reference to Mr. Brown's socks. She read what Det. Leslie wrote, but she doesn't independently recall that today.
When you spoke to Det. Leslie, and you were trying to give him as many facts as possible. Objection.
Court, your not disputing it? No. Answer stands.
You mentioned that.... when you were with Mr. Brown at the table where Lauren was, there was a point where the wind blew the cover off her, and you put the cover back on her. There was media, and you didn't want to have her photographed? Taht was one of the reasons, yes. Another question as to why she covered up Lauren.
Testified that Brown didn't want media coverage. Yes. Did you feel that Mr. Brown deserved less dignity than Lauren did? Obj. Sustained.
Well, you made a note of it. In the report, yes. More questions about Brown's right to privacy, DDA Hum objects and Judge Lomeli rules everything is stricken.
Now questions about her testifying in 2006 about Brown asking about the election. Back then, she wasn't sure who brought it up, but she doesn't believe she would be the one to bring it up. Today she is testifying that Mr. Brown brought it up. She agrees that was her testimony prior.
At no point in talking with you, does Mr. Brown say, that he initiated this hike with Lauren? Your question is that, Did Mr. Brown say he was the one who initiated the hike?
At any point did he say that he was the one who initiated the hike? I don't remember that today.
He didn't ever tell you, that he initiated the hike with Lauren? I don't remember whether he did that or not.
Now referencing 2006 transcript. Judge asks if Laub is trying to refresh her memory. Judge asks her if reading a prior transcript would refresh her memory? She states it may.
Now Laub is questioning her about specific words. During the prior proceeding she answered No, he didn't tell her he initiated the hike. Today, she doesn't remember.
The report, is a summary of the events, but did not remark about the election in her report.
Now asking about her testifying about not seeing blood in his goatee when he asked after he supposedly tried CPR.
If he did CPR and if there was blood in his face, she did not see any.
People respond to tragedies with various grief responses, isn't that correct? Yes.
In the range of responses that you've witnessed, people just emotionally shut down? Sometimes yes?
In your experience, that's a normal reaction to grief? Yes. And based on your experience, you can't just look at someone, and how they're reacting to trauma, and know how their feeling? Obj. sustained.
Judge asked her if she's taken classes? No.
Laub asks if she's had experience. Objection
Judge Laub asks Laub, it's a back and forth. The judge finally asks, can you tell from looking at someone how they are feeling? No. Answer stands.
Works for Internal Affairs? Yes. What is the job in internal affairs? Have you investigated conduct by officers? Objection. Approach.
She investigates officers that have misrepresented facts. Would you come in here, and misrepresent facts to this jury? No.
Now questioning about the bush and area of the bush in your mind was there a [big difference]? No.
Reads transcript from a prior testimony. More detail about how Brown described the area. She remembers giving that testimony in a prior proceeding.
The defendant's shirt that he was wearing. From what she recalls now, there was some bloo and biological matter on the back of his shirt. Was it brain matter? Obj. Leading. What did it look like? It looked like some kind of biological tissue, but I couldn't tell you what it looked like today.
This questioning by defendant's lawyer who brought up the election. In your testimony, you specifically said, I wouldn't bring something like that up. You wouldn't bring that up? I wouldn't think so. There were two people in the conversation.
The def. lawyer said, you didn't put the portion about the election question in your report. Did you tell anybody about that s tatement taht night? Yes. Who did you tell. I told the homicide detectives. I don't remember if it was one or the other or both. She told them the night it happened.
Questions about whether or not your report was condensed, and about the hike and where Lauren was throwing rocks.
There are three paragraphs on page 1. First paragraph begins with Lauren the background and leaving the hike. She at that time, she wrote that the defendant told Lauren not to throw rocks and stay away from the edge.
Then when she wrote that they got to the top of IP, she didn't write that Lauren was throwning rocks.
Refers to her report, she referred to Brown as a witness. On the report, the like for suspect is blank. Nowhere in the report, did she refer to Brown as a suspect.
Questions about what DDA Hum crossed her on. Now questions about what she told Detective Leslie and his partner about Brown asking about the election. Is there any place in Leslie's report, where he wrote that she told them about the election.
Objection, foundation. She's not the author of the report. DDA Hum states that Det. Leslie will testifiy.
Now asked to see if Det. Leslie wrote in his report, regarding the election. There's no statement in the report. So this appears to be another error in the report by Detecitve Leslie. Objection! Sustained.
Now asking her about being an officer in Internal Affairs. You're not part of an independent citizens review group? Correct. This is not oversight of police department. Correct. It's you're hired, to investigate the police department. I guess that's one way to look at it.
Laub asks about investigating police officers. Objection sustained.
So what you are, is the fox guarding the hen house? Do
I would not describe it that way. Our department is different. My role is to conduct the interviews to present an unbiased presentation of facts to the department that determines whether or not wrong doing has happened.
Laub tries to ask another question, DDA Hum objects and Judge Lomeli sustains the objection.
Cross examination is over and the witness is excused. Side bar at the bench.
DDA Hum briefly will call Detective Leslie.
Det. Leslie occupation and assignment. Dep. Sheriff in Co. of LA. Assigned to det. bureary. Been with 31 years next month With homicide 16 years this month.
Asking him about a specific area of the investgation at this point. Aware that defendant made a 911 call. And that it's also on a CD. Going to play the 911 call. People's 98. He has transcripts.
The 911 call is played.
This ends court for the day.
The jury is ordered back April 13. Some jurors ask what they are to tell their employer. The court instructs the jurors to tell their employer court is dark.
The court told counsel that he met this morning with the coordinator of the Sheriff's Dept. They need at least a week to co-ordinate a trip out to Inspiration Point. So the court is asking counsel to give them heads up, when they plan on the trip ti IP.
The court stands in recess on this case.
Judge Lomeli told the jurors to report back on April 13 at 9:30 AM.