Lauren Sarene Key, died November 8, 2000.
Lauren plunged off of Inspiration Point, a 120 ft cliff
in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
UPDATED 4/18 accuracy; replaced "defendant" with witness in Erickson's testimony
UPDATED 4/14 editing, spelling, clarity, accuracy
UPDATED 5:15 PM some editing, spelling, clarity, accuracy
Monday April 13, 2015
I barely make it into the courtroom when the court goes on the record, defendant not present.
DDA Hum wants to put on the record, testimony of Det. Fortier (sp?). Both counsel have stipulated to his testimony. Waiving his appearance to testify. Will read the stipulation towards the end of the week. DDA Hum wanted to do this now, to release him from subpoena.
Moments later, Brown is brought out. He's walking. He's no longer in a wheelchair. His wife Patty Brown is not present in court.
The court calls for the jurors to be brought in. Laub and Brown stand for the jury. Judge Lomeli greets the jury. He tells them he was supposed to be on vacation but stayed home and worked harder.
People call Jeremy Simmons.
He explains is work and what he did back in 2000. I believe he states he worked for a production company. He did not have regular work hours or regular days off. He's familiar with Sacred Cove, located between Portuguese and Inspiration Point. The points themselves face south. He's been on the beach at Sacred Cove. You can see the side of Inspiration Point but not the top. You cannot see the archery range on the other side or the end of IP that faces the ocean.
Describes Palos Verdes Drive South, and its height location to Sacred Cove. The road is much higher. Describes the trail to get from the road. It's a switchback, dirt hiking trail. The part of the trail near the beach is very steep.
He went to Sacred Cove in November 2000. He parked in Abalone Cove parking lot. He then walked on Palos Verdes Drive South, in the direction of Long Beach. He passed Portuguese Point. Then took the trail he described down to the cove. He does not recall the time he got to the beach. Possibly around noon or 1 pm.
He went to Sacred Cove by himself. He spread out a towel right at the beginning at the trail head and opened a book.
Possibly there were ten other people there but he doesn't recall exactly. After 20 to 30 minutes he heard something. He heard someone asking if anyone had a cell phone. He looked in the direction of the trail. He could hear it was coming from above. He couldn't see him but he could hear him.
I backed up and stood up, to see who needed help or who needed the phone.
My memory was he needed a phone because his daughter had fallen or slipped off the cliff. That's what I could remember. Then he saw the person on the trail. He doesn't remember exactly where he was when he first saw him. With the sound of the ocean but not too far. He was above the steep part, but not too far.
People's exhibit 115. Large photo of Brown on the day of the event. Young, healthy looking full goatee and mustache.
Describe his demeanor when he got down to the beach? He was upset, he needed the phone. He was upset, but it wasn't a degree of frantic. Based on his demeanor, what was going through your mind? Objection. Sustained.
Based on what he observed? It was serious enough that I wanted him to call 911 and make sure everything was okay. At the time, can you rephrase your question.
Based on demeanor, the way he was talking, did the incident seem to you to be serious? He knew something happened, but he didn't think at that time it was a life or death situation.
He loaned the defendant his phone. He doesn't recall what the defendant had told him. He just remembers that his daughter had slipped from the cliff. The defendant pointed to IP. Brown stayed with the phone because reception was weak in that location on the phone. The witness went out towards the point. It's rocky, there are tidal pools, it was treacherous terrain. He went out on the rocks.
He went out to a point where he couldn't pass. There was an inlet towards the base of the cliff. At that time, he did not know there was another inlet beyond the one he stopped at. To be there and see it, it's fairly dangerous.
Did you decide to swim across that first inlet? No. Why? Because I didn't feel like I fully understood what was going on. He was going to make the 911 call. I didn't see anything. I couldn't be sure what was happening, so I turned around.
I was not sure what was happening. I didn't know if she had slipped and sprained her ankle, if it was more serious. He was a complete stranger. I didn't know if it was true at all.
Based on his demeanor and what he requested, did it seem like someone's life was in danger? I was not sure. I really couldn't tell. When I left and gone around the bend, the thought crossed my mind that it was a scam to take my stuff. I didn't know.
I went as far as I could go without putting myself in danger. I told him there was nothing there, maybe he was wrong. When you told him there was nothing there, do you remember what his response was? Not off the top of my head.
Witness identifies the defendant.
When you got back to the beach, and told defendant you couldn't see anything, what did he do? I don't recall. At some point did he give you your phone back? Oh yeah.
The witness states that the man, then went back up the trail to look for her. He just recalls Brown going back up. He doesn't know how far.
Shortly after, he left the beach. There was a time when helicopters started to come. Then it starts to sink in that there's something more serious, and he didn't want to hang out on the beach.
Between time defendant went back up the trail, and the helicopters came, what did you do? There were other people on the beach, talking, asking, whats going on, trying to parse out what had happened. He was talking with these people as well.
He did not go with the defendant to offer assistance. He did not see or hear him ask anyone for any help.
That day, after the witness saw the helicopters, did you go to the other side of IP to see what was going on? No, I never did.
Going to show him a few photographs. Arial photo, People's 102 An overhead photo of IP and part of Sacred Cove. The witness is asked to point to where he set up his towel. He was near the ocean, where the beach and IP meet. Points to where he saw Brown on the trail. Points to the area where he stopped, the first inlet, to the LAX side of IP. It's at the very point, left edge of IP (in photographs), where the beach area ends and the heavy rocks start.
Another exhibit of four photos. The first photo shows the beach level and where he placed his towel, and also the side of the cliff. Also marked on this photo where he first saw Brown.
Next photo, B, the LAX side of IP, marks on this photo where he walked out to looked for Lauren. Photo C is a close up of the area. Photo D, that's the view you get when you come to the inlet, where it becomes in-passable. The rocks are high up on each side of the inlet and the water level is much lower.
On Photo A, Brown was using the phone in the same area where Simmons had set up his towel.
When you heard helicopters, you assumed things were more serious. Yes. Then he left and went back home. He believes he read about what happened in the newspapers. The police came and contacted him. He didn't feel he had anything to offer, so that's why he didn't contact police. He didn't know at that time there was any suspicion of foul play, that he recalls.
Direct ends and cross begins.
Mr. Laub asks, I understand it when you are on the beach, the first thing that draws your attention is you hear a voice asking for a cell phone? That's right.
You first used the word calling, verses asking? I don't know what you mean, asking instead of calling.
He did hear someone yelling, "Does anyone have a cell phone?" There was a lot of noise with the waves and the beach. When he first heard the voice he didn't know where it was coming from. It sounded like to him, that it was coming from the cliff.
I know it's been so many years, it's hard to remember? Yes. Fifteen years.
When you came back from going to where the inlet was, where you had looked to see where his daughter was, and at that point, you saw Mr. Brown on your phone still? And he was still engaged in that 911 call? Again, It's been 15 years, so I don't fully recall.
Would it refresh your recollection to review a report.... around the time of this event? You spoke to detectives, would it help to review a report of your statement? Yes. Witness given a document to review.
When he returned, he noticed that Brown's eyes were wet. At that time, he observed that Browns eyes were wet? Yes.
At the point at which the decision was made for Mr. Brown to make the 911 call, it was necessary for him to remain there, because that's where there was some reception for the phone.
The witness states they could double duty, Brown could call while the witness could go see, to try to see Lauren.
This was unusual and it happened very quickly? Yes. Made more sense for Brown to give the information because Mr. Simmons states he didn't have any information.
When he came back from the inlet, at that point, you told Mr. Brown you couldn't see anything there? That's correct. And you also knew it wasn't possible, let me put it this way, what you saw was an inlet, and on the other side, a rocky barrier that cut it off from the other side? That's right.
And you didn't go into the water to get past that barrier? That's right.
At that point, did you also say to him, on the stand, you said, "Maybe you are wrong?" I wasn't sure, maybe it [?] wasn't there.
What you were telling him is, you daughter isn't there, so maybe she was beyond this inlet? Well she wasn't there, so I don't know.
Maybe did you tell him (miss question). Maybe I did tell him there was a point that I could not get by.
When you were at the beach, you met two men. Specifically, you met a man whom you describe as Jessie, and another man who was white. These two men, were men who saw running up the hill at some point after Mr. Brown went up the hill? You'll have to show me what I said previously. (He doesn't remember.)
Laub refers to the second proceeding transcript.
A black man wearing shorts and walking with a cane enters and sits in the gallery.
Question I'm asking you, these two men, I'm describing as Hispanic male named Jesse and a white man, shortly after Mr. Brown ran back up the trail towards IP, did you see these two men? At the time I must have recalled and I stated it so it must be true.
Court: Let's move it along Mr. Laub.
Mr. Laub indicates he's almost done. After reviewing his notes, Mr. Laub has no more questions.
Cross ends and redirect begins.
DDA Hum states, Mr. Laub was asking you about these two men, you didn't see where they went? No. You saw them going back up the trail, and you lost sight of them? Yes.
When the defendant first asked for the cell phone, did you discern any urgency? It was a lot to take in at once. It wasn't as if someone had died. It wasn't that sort of urgency.
Shortly after, you spoke with detectives about three days afterwards. Did you tell detectives you did not discern any urgency? Yes. Your memory back then was better than it is now? Definitely.
When you testified at the first proceeding, did you testify when asked, if you detected any urgency, you answered "Not so much." Would it be fair to say that when you testified in 2006 your memory was better (to the event) than it is now? Absolutely.
When you testified in 2009, another proceeding, did you testify, "Because his demeanor didn't match what I now know what happened"? That's right.
The detective's played for him the 911 tape. When he listened to the tape, the demeanor was more casual in relation to what had happened. (Lauren had died.)
Mr. Laub states, The prosecutor has referred you to a portion of the police report. Confronts him on words in the police report, "stated." Laub challenges what his words were verses the words the detectives used in their report.
The witness stated that at the time there was a slight disconnect from what he got from the emotional tone (of Brown). What I'm trying to say is, that, I gave him the phone. He wanted a phone. He wanted to call 911. I got all that.
But, [he didn't?] feel and know immediately, [?] No, I didn't. I didn't feel that.
When I left did I feel it was a scam? It did cross my mind.
The timing of wondering if it was a scam. Did that happen...? That was after I left [towards the ocean]. Because I was walking away from all of my things, and here was someone, a stranger who wanted my phone. If there was someone lying there dead, that might not have crossed my mind.
This thought that you were thinking it was a scam, was just a thought that crossed your mind when you went out to see where the daughter was? Yeah.
When the detectives played the 911 call, you said, It's pretty much as I remember, but he sounds less frantic than I remember. When you were there you were watching his face? (for part of it.)
At the time you observed him on the call, at that point, he did seem frantic to you? What I recall at the time his eyes were wet. That's all I remember from that moment.
This thing about the frantic, the thing that I'm interested in here, you know that when you heard Mr. Brown's voice on the tape, it seemed more casual? Yes.
The word you used was frantic. Memory is a composite thing, would you agree? Yes.
I miss where Laub is going with this about his state of mind and looking back. Court asks counsel to move on.
DDA Hum asks, would it be fair to say at first it didn't seem like the defendant was frantic? Then when you found out what happened you [thought] you might have been mistaken. Then when you listened to the 911 call, it confirmed your original impression? That would be fair.
FREDRICK ANTHONY CURCIO
He's retired. From what job? LA County Fire Department.
He was a fire captain in November 2000. He was a fireman for 33 years. He retired in 2014.
On Nov 8, 2000, as a Captain with the fire department, he was assigned to station 106. in [Rancho?] Palos Verdes in Indian Peak. In the [truck? squad?] they responded in, the driver was Firefighter specialist Armando Carion (sp?), and Firefigher was Vic Rosenthal. (He believes those were the names.)
How far was the station from Abalone Cove? I'd say 4 or 5 miles. There was also a paramedic unit that responded. He thinks the paramedic unit were Mark Choi and Vince Dorn.
They received a rescue call. They were directed to initially, off the cliff at IP. The Firefighter names he mentioned responded to that area. Palos Verdes Drive, which is on the bluffs above the ocean level.
Arrived in the vicinity of IP, until they were flagged down by a pedestrian witness. They were in their vehicles until they were flagged by the pedestrian.
At some point he discovered who the father was. The person who flagged them down was not the father. The person who flagged them was saying where the person was, who was hollering for help.
They grabbed their equipment and went down towards to ocean to find where the incident was. There was no road. There was brushy slope, a downhill slope, that they had to go down, through the brush, Until we could get to where someone was calling. Carion and Rosenthal went with him.
As we got down through the brush, we came onto a fire road or trail, there was a second bystander, who was directing them to where the victim was. He did not hear anyone hollering when he encountered the first person on the road. He did hear hollering when he encountered the second person, who was not the father.
They followed the voice, there was some verbal communication back and forth. They called out to the voice, "We're the fire dept where are you?" The man guided you back to the victim? [Yes.]
He identifies the defendant.
When he first encountered Brown, he did not tell them that Lauren was his daughter.
The witness details the initial first aid what the first responding team did on Lauren before the paramedics arrived. The paramedics arrived, they drove in on the road. It was big enough for a car.
At the time of the initial assessment of Lauren, the defendant stepped back and let them do their work.
Describe his demeanor? He seemed dazed. Not hysterical, just dazed. Calm, more removed from the situation.
Was he crying? No. Was there anything about the defendant's demeanor that stuck in your mind? To me it did not seem like a typical reaction, [from a parent] involving a child.
In your experience, your career as a firefighter, have you seen a range of reactions when the death of a child? In his experience, parents were usually hysterical. That's why the behavior stuck in his mind.
At some point, he asked him [Brown] what happened. He stated they were out on the bluff, pointing towards IP, and the girl was throwing rocks, and he turned around away from her, and when he looked back, she was gone.
What did the defendant tell you he did, when he noticed she was gone. He said he yelled for help, and then looked over and saw her down in the water.
What did he say he did then? I don't recall exactly, there might have been some discussion that, he was yelling for help down there, and then he went to go use a phone to call 911. There was something about a phone.
What did he say he did after he tried to use the phone? Then he came back [over the cliff] in towards the road, and then took a trail down the other side of the cliff where he could get her and bring her back in.
I believe he said she was in the water next to the rocks. He picked her up and laid her down on the rocks. He then brought her back to the area where the picnic benches were. He started CPR and waited for help.
When the defendant pointed to IP, [that they?] were at the top of the cliff area, do you remember where, [he pointed]? Was there any specific area? I just remember the general direction of the cliff, which was out towards the water from where we were.
People's exhibit 109 large blow up photo, previously marked.
Witness is asked to identify IP. Identifies the archery range area. Identifies where Brown pointed, where Lauren went off the cliff. Identifies where his vehicle eventually stopped on the road. Marks on the photo where Brown pointed Lauren fell off the cliff.
People's exhibit 114, previously marked. This set of photos has Lauren on the table, as she was lying. Witness identifies photo D. Verifies this is how Lauren looked and where she was when he arrived.
After they left the location, they returned to the fire station. Was there any type of debriefing at fire station? Several questions about how he was affected, was he sent home, and did he attend counseling. Laub objects, all questions are sustained. After the last question, Judge Lomeli calls the morning break. The jury files out.
Judge Lomeli asks the purpose of the questions. The witness is still on the stand. DDA Hum states that there was a debriefing at the station after the event. Two of the firefighters had to be sent home. This was in sharp contrast to Brown's reaction which was nothing.
The witness is asked how Lauren looked. [I believe the court asks this question.] Was it gruesome? Yes.
Laub objects to the witness characterizing how Lauren looked. The photos speak for themselves.
Judge Lomeli won't let the information about counseling come in at this juncture. He can describe how Lauren looked, because he was there and that's beyond a two dimensional photo. But, at some point, if the defense calls an expert on (behavioral reactions?) then that can come in.
The court is in recess for the morning break.
I'm back in the courtroom, waiting for the jury to be called back in. The defendant is back in the courtroom.
Back on the record.
Based on your 32 years of experience before you retired, being at the scene and seeing the injuries yourself, would describe them as gruesome? Objection. Sustained. How would your describe them? Gruesome.
You described the defendants behavior at the scene as being detached. Had you ever seen a parent react that way at the death of a child? No.
Direct ends and cross begins.
He arrived around 3, 3:15 pm in the afternoon. About what time did they do the assessment with the girl on the table? (miss answer). When you saw the girl, her clothes appeared to be relatively dry? Yes. And Mr. Brown's clothes appeared to be relatively dry? Yes.
Did you know how long it had been since you saw the girl on the table, from the time the girl was removed from the water? Objestion, speculation. Sustained.
Did Mr. Brown give you some estimate of the time that had passed? He said it was around 30 minutes. And at the time that he spoke to you about the CPR, do you recall if he actually said he was doing CPR or that he had done CPR. I believe it was "doing."
If I was to refer you to some prior testimony, do you think it might help you as to what had been precisely said? Sure.
Laub refers to the second proceeding.
You testified in 2009 is that correct? Yes. Mr. Laub has the witness read transcript.
Does that help you at all in remembering whether or not the actual words were doing CPR verses did CPR? The initial contact when we attempted to locate him, was, he was doing CPR.
Laub reads the prior transcript where his testified that Brown made a reference to CPR, I'm doing CPR, I did CPR.
Witness states he remembers "I'm doing CPR, I did CPR."
Witness doesn't know when Brown did CPR.
At the time, Brown's beard was "red colored." He did not significant blood in his beard and his beard was red toned.
After your driver engineer Carion and Rosenthal got done with their assessment, what were they doing? The initial assessment?
How long did you remain there at the scene? About 45 minutes. The initial assessment would have been 30 to 40 seconds. They were determining whether the person were viable or not.
After the inital assessment, they would have asisted the paramedics after the paramedics arrived. Witness doesn't know what FF Rosenthal was doing.
Paramedics started their initial assessment, Mr. Brown stepped back, he asked questions to get more information, and Mr. Brown pointed out where she had fallen.
That conversation with Brown took about a minute.
When he pointed to IP, he was pointing directly above you guys? He pointed out towards the water, out towards the point, to where she fell from.
Laub asks the witness to identify the distance from where he was to the point? It was a long ways.
He was pointing to a general area? General, yes.
After you talked to Mr. Brown, what was happening for the rest of the time? (miss answer)
There are more than two people involve, when there's a critical patient like that. They work as a team. Believes they were on scene 40 to 45 minutes.
Was there any time, where your crew were standing around, just doing nothing? I don't know what you mean? Laub states he doesn't mean to be insulting.
Did you have a good working realtionship with Mr. Rosenthal? yes.
Did Rosenthal ever talk to you at all, while you were working there on Mr. Brown's daughter? What do you mean? Did he ever talk to you at all after? I don't remember any specific conversation.
In talking about Mr. Brown's demeanor, he seemed dazed, and you meant he wasn't hysterical, he was removed and wasn't crying. Yes.
By the time you spoke to detectives, it must have been some time? Well, there was police on the scene.
He remembers talking to Detective Leslie, but he doesn't remember the date. At that time, he appeared dazed. Correct.
Laub now asks about the word dazed. You said calm, what do you mean by the word calm, in relation to the word dazed. DDA Hum objects.
When you say dazed, what does it mean for you. Doesn't it mean a sense that the person in some way, is disoriented? Not in this context, no. Doesn't it for you include some sense of confusion? No sir. When you say calm, what is it you mean by calm? The context of these terms, are in reference to my opinion as to how Mr. Brown was reacting to this situation. In my experience a parent in this situation is not dazed or calm [or removed].
Witness states Brown's reaction was not typical for this situation. His words, dazed, calm, removed were all in reference to the same thing.
Was Mr. Brown cooperative? Yes. Did he say anything about not answering questions? No.
You said he stepped back, but he wouldn't have been permitted to go up to the table to where your crew were working would he? Correct.
The statement, that he looked and saw her in the water, he yelled for help and he looked and saw her in the water, do you remember exactly what his words were? It would be so easy for her to be ... Best of my recollection, when we pointed out the blood, he said she was throwing rocks. He looked away and she was gone, and then he looked and saw her in the water.
Did you know where he was referring to when he looked in the water? No.
DDA Hum asks for a sidebar, before redirect.
As DDA Hum speaks, for a moment, Mr. Laub shakes his head.
The defendant's lawyer pointed you to some testimony given in 2009 and asked about the CPR testimony. You spoke with detectives about eight days after this incident. Would it be accurate to say your memory was more accurate at that time than 2009?
Did you tell the detectives, that the defendant said, "Hurry up, hurry up, I'm doing CPR." That's what you told detectives within a few days of the incident? Yes. Did you also testify in 2006? Yes.
DDA Hum refers to 2006 transcript. Was your memory better in 2006 vs 2009? Yes.
In 2006 he gave the answer that Brown said, "I'm doing CPR."
Did you see any blood at all in the defendant's facial hair? Nothing that he could discern? Did you see any vomit or foreign material at all? No.
Did the defendant appeared to be upsetat all? No.
Judge Lomeli calls the lunch break. Orders jurors back at 1:30 PM.
I didn't bring my lunch today, so I walked to the Catholic Church, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles. They have a reasonably priced cafe and the service is very fast.
Also up on the 9th floor, rap mogul Suge Knight's preliminary hearing is underway. Knight is charged with murder and attempted murder for running over two individuals with his car. This LA Times story gives some information as to what when on in Dept. 101, Judge Coen's courtroom in the morning session.
When I exited the courthouse for lunch, Knight's attorney, Matthew Fletcher was giving a press conference on the Temple Street plaza. There were several reporters and cameras on him, all in rapt attention. I stopped to listen in for a moment. I could have sworn Fletcher was saying something about a "planted" radio next to a cell phone in his car. I didn't find anything about that on the web so I could easily have misunderstood what Fletcher was talking about.
Several readers have asked how our kitten Rocket is doing. Rocket is hanging in there. Last week, we took him to a holistic vet in Calabasas. He is on an increased nutrition and supplement plan. He gets colostrum, digestive enzymes, a vitamin supplement and a product called Moducare. Although he still is interested in eating, he's not eating enough calories on his own. So, he gets some assisted feeding with a large syringe. On Saturday, we started him on an experimental medication, that is being used off label. This medication was never tested for the "wet" form of FIP, so it's a long shot. He's still very interactive with us, and loves to sit on our laps or lie on or chests when relaxing on the sofa. Here is Rocket on 4/6, in one of his favorite afternoon activities, sunbathing.
Rudy Rocket, sunbathing 4/6
Thank you everyone who has asked how he's doing.
I need to get up to the 9th floor!
Inside Dept. 107. The bailiff goes outside to call the jurors. He then comes back inside and tells Judge Lomeli that all the jurors are here. Brown is brought out.
The clerk leaves to bring the jury into Dept. 107.
The people call Lt. Richard Erickson.
Lt. Erickson is retired. March 26, 2011 is when he retired. Prior last assignement was watch commander Malibu area. 25 years, 6 months. On 11/8/2000, he was ? at a specific station.
That particular day he was assigned in the field as a supervisor Sargent. Job assigned to high priority calls and supervision to field personell. He was on his own. He drove a Chevy Tahoe. Marked black and white, totally equipped.
He monitored a call of a child over a cliff. He was assigned as assist on the call. He went Palos Verdes Drive South.
As he was driving on PV Drive South, he was driving towards Long Beach. There were a number of emergency vehicles from the fired dept and sargent's dept. There was a command point already set up, preventing people from getting onto the cliff.
He passed the point where deputies had secured the scene. This path or road, he could drive his vehilce down it. He drove the Tahoe down the road to the archery range. There was somewhat of a staging area, and he aligned his car with the other vehicles. He went to an area that was covered with picnic tables. Another unit was originally assigned the call.
There was a white sheet, covering the body of a small child, because I could see a portion of her feet coming out from beyond the sheet. Identifies the defendant.
When he first saw the defendant, he was seating at an adjacent picnic table, roughly 50 feet away. Deputy Jessica Brothers was standing next to him. He was calm, he was not saying anything. Not displaying any particular emotion. He was not crying or screaming.
Spoke to Deputy Brothers at that time. He got a brief summary from Brothers as to what thedefendant had occurred. Based on that information, I had asked her if anyone had retraced the steps they had taken along the coastline to see if there was any evidence along the scene. He was also worried aobut the tide coming in and washing away evidence.
I decided to have the defendant acompany him to go through a walk through to see if we could recover any evidence.
It was not normally his job to do this. Normally that would be the homicide detectives job. Homicide det. had not yet arrived at the scene and we did not know their ETA. Walked out with the defendant to the ( base?) of IP.
Briefly tell us fro mthe archery range, where you went. They headed towards IP, and ther'es a sharp path and then it becomes sand along the coast line, then run into rocks, that turns into rock shale and then that becomes IP.
How long did it talke y uto walk to that location from the archery range? About 15 minutes.
what did the defendant tell you what had occurred. He and his daughter had been out hiking that day, came up from the other side, hiked out to theedge of the cliff facing the ocean. He stopped at a rock to rest, and that his daughter kept walking throwing rocks and told her to (stop get away from the edge). He then looked away when she was out of view. Then he heard some sort of rough shuffling that sounded like loose gravel, and when he turned around she wasn't there.
The defendant never said that he saw his daughter go over the cliff. He said on the walk up, he saw people on the beach. So he went down to the beach area, to find a phone to call 911.
Where he went to get the phone was the opposite side of IP from the archery range.
Once the call was made, he indicated if he could see if he could get around, on the beach to see his daughter's body. He determined he couldn't get to her, going that direction. Then he went over IP, over to archery range, down to the dirt, the shale, and located her body in a tidal pool below the cliff.
When we talked to theedge of the tidal pool, he pointed out five feet from the edge where the water begins. He went out there with the defendant.
There are a number of tidal pools, This one was large and flowed under the cliff. This tide pool was 5-10 feet across and possibly 25 feet long. There was no way to get across it.
The tidal pool itself, the water was moving, it was ebbing and flowing. There was water movement from ocean side to under the cliff to back out to the ocean.
What did the defendant tell you he did, when he saw his daughter floating? He stripped down to all his clothing except his underwear, and retrieved her body and laid her body on the rocks. He attempted CPR, could not detect a pulse. He got out of his underwear, and got his clothese back on.
Asked him why he stripped down? He said that he had seen that on an episode of Baywatch. Explain the Baywatch show, based on LA County lifeguards.
What did the def. say he did... Did the def indicate to you why he attempted to do CPR, after the length of time his daughter had been floating in the water? No he did not.
After he got dressed, he picked his daughter up, cradled her in his arms, then put her over his shoulder and carried her to the picnic tables until EMS arrived.
He was calm, and didn't display any particular emotions. Did he answer your questions appropriately? yes. He would give an appropriate response.
Did the defendants demean stick in yourmind as he was describing these events? yes. In light that he had just lost his daughter to a tramatic injury, he was unusually calm. In your experience had you ever experienced someone react this way? Not such as this. I've been around a number of different death scenarios, I've never seen someone react so calm.
He had seen a range of emotions in regards to a dramatic death. He's seen people pray, scream, hit people near them in disbelief. The only time he saw him display emotion, he was seated back on the picnic table, and he put his head in his hands and let out a heavy sigh. Other than that he did not see any other displays of emotion.
When you were out at the inlet itself, with the defendant, did you ask him where Lauren went off the cliff. When I asked him the approximation, he pointed up, and a little to the right. He indicated a jutting protrusion of the point, of IP.
People's 117, already market. Arial view of IP. This is a great Arial view. Witness identifies where the archery range is. Traces on the screen with the laser, the path that they took to the beach, hitting the sand, along the sand, hitting the rocky area, then hitting the hard shale, next to the inlet. Marks with a dotted line from the archery range the path they took to the inlet.
People's 118, set of four photographs, A-D. How it looked when he went out with the defendant. Photo A begins just leaving the archery area. Photo B, left the path, now on the sandy area and see the loose gravel up ahead. Photo C, begins the bigger rocks and shale area that leads to the tide pool. Photo D, that is the shale area, that leads to the tide pool. This replicates the walk that he and the defendant took.
People's 119 five sets of photos, A-E. Do these appear to indicate the base of IP as well as IP itself. That's how IP looked on the night they were out there.
119 B, Is that the end of Inspiration point. This is the side that's closer to the archery range. This is the perspective that we hand when we stepped back from the cliff face. Points on the photograph, where the defendant said she went off the cliff. This view is totally different to me. He circles on the photo, where the defendant said his daughter went off the cliff.
Photo D, on the screen. Those were the pair of boxer shorts that he said he had on when he went in to get his daughter's body and that he took off when he came out.
The specific sound that thedefendant told you he heard, just prior to turing around and his daughter was gone? My best recollection is that he likened it to loose gravel. Shuffling gravel.
You said he went to the opposite side of IP to use the phone. Did not ask him anything about that. Did the defendant tell you if there was anything that prevented him from yelling down to the beach. Did the defendant tell you there was anything to preventing him from going to the road and flagging down a motorist? No, he didn't.
Did you ask him again why he said he had done that? I don't recall having that conversation.
Did you ask the defendant why he went down to the beach side? He offered that information himself, that he could not get to his daughter's body that way.
Direct ends and cross begins.
Did you take any notes at the scene when you were going through this walk with Mr. Brown? No. He did not take any notes later. He gave notes to the reporting deputy, Jessica Brothers.
Did you ask him anything about yelling from the top of IP? No, I did not. Did he tell you that he had yelled on the way down? He didn't mention that he yelled at anybody. ... He said that he went down to procure a cell phone.
The prosecutor asked if he could have gone to the road to flag someone down. He never asked him why he didn't go to the road. Brown told him that he saw people on the beach on the hike up.
Laub asks if there was anyone present at the archery range. Brown never told him and he didn't determine that anyone was.
As far as the place where you were standing, in trying to determine where his daughter fell, at first, you were standing too close to the cliff, to be able to actually see? Why did you step back? He indicated by pointing to the cliff twice. The first time, because of the overhand, I could not see the top of the cliff. So we stepped back so he could see the top area of the cliff where Lauren fell off.
You testified at a prior proceeding in 2006? Yes. Now crossing him on prior testimony. 2006 testimony. In regards to 119A.
Laub reads prior testimony, where he could not determine from the photo, where Brown told him where Lauren fell from.
Laub reads more testimony. In prior testimony, he doesn't mention anything about stepping back and getting a better view. The witness states, I'm not sure what your question is.
Now crossing on 2009 testimony. There's nothing in either of his prior testimony, where he talks about stepping back and getting a second view. The witness states, he's not sure what he's leaving out. You're only reading parts of it. I don't know who's asking the question. Laub responds, would it matter who is asking the question?
Asking more about second proceeding. Laub is mistaken. He does talk about stepping back 10 feet in the second proceeding. Now I'm asking you, even from that point of view, you still couldn't see where it was Mr. Brown was indicating? Yes, but we were talking and honing down the position.
The court clarifies that no, he could not see the top of the cliff.
When you are talking about honing down, what did you mean? When I asked about the projection, he [Brown] indicated that was the spot. The spot he circled in photo B.
Brown state as a matter of fact that Lauren had no pulse and breathing, not that, that was because he did CPR.
Now Laub goes to the gran jury proceeding transcript, where he testified that Brown said he didn't find a pulse or breathing and that's why he did CPR. The witness states, "I was running the two things together."
He testified in 2009. Yes. Now asking about a question that DDA Hum asked.
You testified that he told you, that he remembered seeing people on the LA side to walk down to get a phone. Walk. That wasn't his word was it? I may have taken liberties with the word. He didn't say walk, or run. He proceeded down that side to get a phone.
Regarding the tide pool, the water ran in there, so far underneath the cliff, he could not see how far it ran back in there.
Cross ends. Reidrect.
If at any point, after defendant gave his version, did you ask the defendant why he went to the nude beach instead of going to Lauren first? He doesn't recall what he may have asked him.
Hum presents him with his grand jury testimony and asks him to read it to see if it refreshes his memory.
That refreshed his recollection. He did ask that quesiton, Brown's response was, that looking down from the top of the cliff, he didn't think there was a way to get down to Lauren's body, he thought he would get emergency response rolling.
In 2006 and 2009, you indicated on the photograph, where the defendant had pointed, where Lauren went off the cliff. In both of those proceedings, he circled the exact same spot on the photos as he did today.
In 2009, he mentioned stepping back twice, once on direct and once on cross.
Redirect ends and recross begins.
Now Laub asks him about a prosecution question, about why Brown went down to the nude beach first. Asks the witness to read the grand jury testimony again.
Well, I wasn't sure I could get around, I think that's the same thing as didn't think I could. The witness thinks the attorney is parsing words.
That is an important question, as to why he went one way or the other. Okay.
Laub asks if the witness sees a difference in the words "wasn't sure" or "didn't think."
The court asks, was that the way you interpreted it? Yes.
He had told you why he went to one side or the other? Yes.
Laub asks what issue was in his mind where he went first. I was wondering why, he went down to the side to retrieve his daughter's body when he thought he couldn't get down there.
Laub asks for his opinion, about how the defendant acted. Objection. Sustained.
What is it you think a parent in that position could have done in that position could have done...
The court asks it's own question.
I was trying to get from the defendant, what his priorities were, having had this happen. Whether or not I've given my opinion, I don't think that's relevant. The court states, well, I think you've already given your opinion.
There is read back of some testimony. The court asks for more read back, something about the word parent.
What I'm asking is to follow up on that is, what is it you think a parent on top of a 150 foot cliff, could accomplish, could go down to render aid, or getting emergency services? Well, whether the child was alive or dead.
Well, how many instances you have you encountered where a child has fallen off a 150 ft. cliff? This is the witnesses' only experience. So Laub asks, so this is your own personal experience? (Yes.)
Testimony is finished. Next witness called.
He is retired, from FF specialist from LA co. firefighter. Retired end of 2013. He worked a little over 30 years when he retired. The position is FF specialist, but as an engineer. He was a certified paramedic. Explains his training to be a paramedic.
Was he working on Wed. Nov 8, 2000. He was a paramedic, but working as a firefighter on that day. He responded to IP. Captian Fred Curcio, and engineer, Curion, and paramedic squad was Vince Dorn and Mark Choi.
Responded to the archery range at IP. When we got there, we saw a small girl, who was laid out on a picnic table with massive trauma. She was unconscious. Assessed her injuries to see if she was viable for resuscitation. She had no pulse along with extensive trauma, they called in the field as a deceased individual. Vince Dorn pronounced her deceased.
While at the archery range saw Brown. Identifies Brown.
Did you notice anything unusual about the defendant's behavior that caught your attnetion. Well, when just that he seemed indifferent as to what was going on. He didn't seem to have much i nthe way of emotion, generally in a scene like that we like to know who's who. Someone told him that he was the father. He seemed to be, he didn't have any emotion. That surprised him.
I'd been to countless scenes similar to that, and parents were hysterical. Now, FF Rosenthal, do you remember a lot of the details about that particular call? A few. What are thedetails that stick in your mind. The extensive trauma. She was wet, if she had all that blunt force trauma, why was she wet? We always try to figure out the method of trajectory, the extent of her injuries, the father, his lack of emotion, he seemed to be indifferent to the whole situation. That's particuarly it. It's been a long time.
Do you remember if you gave a statement to the police? In all honesty, no. In 2006, he became aware of court proceedings and contacted DDA Hum. Why did you call me? As I stated, the observation of the father on scene, and how I felt about that, as a witness.
Nothing further. Cross.
What did time did you arrive at the scene? It appeared to be sometime in the afternoon. The father was there, and I couldn't tell you who was there besides that.
The squad was there shortly after we arrived. I couldn't remember who was there beyond that.
He remembers hiking down some sort of embankment. We were directed to the patient. He doesn't remember who the person was or what they looked like.
AT any time, did Mr. Brown appear and give you guidance as to where to go? I don't remember. When you got to where the girl was on the table, was anyone else present other than Mr. Brown? My fellow coworkers, at that time I want to say there were sheriff's on scene. Beyond that, I couldn't tell you.
Asks how far Brown was from Lauren. Maybe 20 or 30 feet. He was one of the people who helped with this assessment on Lauren. How long did it take you to do that? Maybe five minutes, tops. And during that entire time, Mr. Brown was about 20 30 feet away? Yes.
In all honesty, he doesn't remember giving a statement to police prior to 2006. Laub refers to the second proceeding in 2009. Laub refers to the transcript. Questions about whether or not he had spoken to anyone about Brown's demeanor.
Laub asks, you didn't make any attempt at contacting Mr. Brown's attorney's? No. You wanted to assist in prosecuting Mr. Brown? Yes. He spoke to Captian Curcio (sp?) at the scene about Brown's demeanor, yes.
What was the closest you ever got to Mr. Brown. 20 or 30 feet. You never looked him in the eye correct? I don't remember.
Afte you got done with your five minute assessing the deceased, what did you do? I don't remember. How long did you remain there at that scene? I don't remember. Were you, um, were you standing around after doing your assessment? Yes. Standing around for approximately an hour, after doing your assessment? I don't remember.
Laub goes to the second proceeding. The court asks where counsel is going with the questioning. Is your point to ask if he stood around for an hour? Is your point to impeach him? Laub responds that I've already impeached him. The witness is asked to leave the stand.
The court calls for the afternoon break.
Laub, specifically asked what Captain Curcio recalled. Laub goes over Captain Curcio's testimony. DDA Hum states, there was a lot going on. The court's recollection is Captain Curcio didn't testify that they all stood around. The court comments something to the effect that this is collateral. Laub states that he will let it go.
The courtroom clears for the afternoon break.
I get back to the courtroom late. A woman, Detective Martinez is on the stand.
DETECTIVE ANTOINETTE MARTINEZ
Responded to the location about 6 pm in the evening by herself. She had a partner at the time. Because it only required one person at the time. It was called in as a death, not a homicide. If it required a two man team, she would have called the desk and let them know.
Describe what she observed. When she arrived, it was dark. Several news media vans were at the location, on the roadway. She stayed on top of the roadway, until she was met by deputies at the scene. Then she was notified that a team would be responding, Detective Jeff Leslie and Det. Danny Smith. She believes they arrived about 25 minutes later.
She believes one of the deputies were there, and couldn't drive their vehicles on the road. One deputy had an SUV, and took them down to the bottom (Leslie & Smith). When they arrived, it became their investigation instead of hers.
Detective Smith asked her to go to Lomita station, to speak to Ms. Patricia Brown. Sidebar is requested. Brown gave her date of birth. October 23, 1952. She spoke to the defendant's wife, about the death of Lauren.
After spoke to her, she went somewhere else. Responded to Carson sheriff's station. Had a phone conversation with Greg Marer, and directed him to Carson Sheriff's station. Did not give him any information on the phone.
Met someone at Carson Sheriff's station. Met Mr. Marer and his wife, Sarah, sitting in the courtroom. Where did you first meet them? At the front lobby of the Carson's Sheriff's station. We went back inside the station, detective bureau. She's made over 100 death notifications.
there was laready tension in the room. they knew something was wrong. She was nervous. When I told her she became hysterical. I thought she would start vomiting. She was holding her stomach. You could tell she was extremely upset. Was her reaction, was she being loud? Yes. She was screaming.
Initially, was it your attention, to try to obtain some type of information from Sarah Key-Marer? Yes. Did you do that? No. I don't think she could understand anything I was asking.
This death stuck with her. One because it was a child, and of all the notifications I've made, this kind of hit home. Being a parent, you could feel her pain. I'd never seen anyone react that emotional, get sick. There were several deputies that came back because she was screaming so loud. She asked if there was a departmental chaplain. She was not able to interview Sarah at all that evening? No.
Direct ends. Cross begins.
That's a difficult job because it was a death notification. this stood out because she was so hysterical. I'm sure that you're not intenting to say that, out of the 100 death notifications, this grief was more ? than others. What I'm gathering is, you're telling us, it's very difficult to talk about the event, it wasn't because this parent was suffering more than others, it was the way it was expressed.
Sarah said, repeatedly, he murdered her, he murdered my daughter? Yes, she said that, yes.
She was not assigned to Lomita Sheriff's station. She was homicide. It was just her job that night, to go to that location.
Cross ends. No redirect.
DETECTIVE JEFF LESLIE
How many years have you been employed by Sheriff's Dept. Total of 31. He started when he was 18 years old. It was a pilot paid position, however, it was a civilian position. Became a deputy sheriff after the first Wednesday after his 21st birthday.
He's been working homicide 16 years. Leslie gives his training and CV. Details his training to be a detective and all the schools. He currently trains other detectives in homicide. He lectures on investigations and initial response to patrol deputies.
He's investigated over 300 homicide investigations. His partner was Danny Smith, now retired. In 2000, he was training in homicide, but they worked at equal partners. Danny Smith was his partner previously when they worked in another unit.
Judge Lomeli dismisses the jury at 3:52 PM.
From the back row of the gallery, I can see that the door to Judge Lomeli's chamber is open. I have a glimpse into his chambers. Hanging on the back wall, between two windows, what appears to be a painting in an ornate carbed display frame with colored glass inner-dispersed between the carving around the frame. Sitting on top of this large piece, are large "USC" letters that look to be about a foot high.
Judge Lomeli asks the court when they think about the jury visit. DDA Hum believes if they stay on track, he will end his case the week of April 20th.
The defense looked at the days of trial for the defense, and Mr. Laub believes that puts them at May 7th.
The court goes over days that the court is dark and that a juror has and issue about a particular day. That means on 4/29, they will only going to be in session in the AM.
And that's it. Court is over.
Detective Leslie, will be the longest, remaining witness.