Lauren Sarene Key, 4, died November 8, 2000.
Copyright© Sarah Key-Marer, all rights reserved.
UPDATE 4/30 final edit for spelling, readability, accuracy
UPDATE 4/29 edited for spelling, readability, accuracy
UPDATE 4/24: I've had very little time to edit this entry for spelling and accuracy due to being with Rocket until 1 AM last night. I'm still working on editing 4/20, Monday's last witness. When that is finished, I'll start editing 4/22, Wednesday.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
I'm on the Red Line train already. For a change, Mr. Sprocket and I were able to get out of the house earlier than usual. Our hearts have been with Rocket, who has been steadily declining over the last two weeks. I'm afraid we will be saying goodbye to this sweet addition to our lives, a lot sooner than we had hoped.
The Trial: What's Left
The prosecution is expected to rest their case before or by the end of the week. The defense will present witnesses and then I believe, the prosecution will put on a rebuttal case. Next week is a short week. Court is dark next Wednesday afternoon, as well as all day Thursday and Friday. The jury site visit is locked in for Thursday, May 7. It's my understanding there will be no court on that date. Counsel will still need to agree on jury instructions. Then closing arguments, jury instructions are read then the jury gets the case.
I still have editing to do on Monday and Wednesday's entries from this week.
I'm on the fifth floor of the criminal court building. The family that runs the 5th floor snack room has the best price on green tea. It's a small thing, but it adds up. The fifth floor is a very busy floor. There is a jury waiting rooms is on this floor. (There's a second jury waiting room on the 11th floor.) Directly opposite the snack bar is Dept. 30, also known as arraignment court. That's a very busy department and what drives the comings and goings of so many attorneys, officers and the general public.
Inside Dept. 107, DDA Hum and Detective Leslie are already set up. There is a computer technical expert in the well, going over something with DDa Hum. One of Sarah's close girlfriends is already here. She gives me a smile.
Within a minute or two, Aron Laub arrives with his rolling cart of files. I note that after Mr. Laub took off his jacket, I see that he wears a pair of suspenders, similar to what Mr. Sprocket wears on his work pants. A few moments later, Sarah and her husband Greg arrive with a friend, a man Ive seen come to court before.
The bailiff comes in and informs the court that the jury is all here, and that they said something about doughnuts. Dr. Chinwah is here and he's told to take the stand after Brown is brought out.
Judge Lomeli is on the bench and tells his court clerk to call for the jury.
At the end of the day, the manner of death was not accidental, but at the hands of another. Did you elaborate that in your report? Yes I did.
Death was due to multiple traumatic injuries, with massive skull fracture, which was consistent with a drop from a height. I did say that, that finding from autopsy, is not consistent with an accidental fall. It is more consistent with an assisted fall. This was supported by a site visit by myself and the chief medical examiner, and our consultant pediatrician, and law enforcement officers.
That site was an extremely rugged site. Thought that the child could not get to the height without assistance, or being coerced. The findings that we see from the autopsy, and putting this all together, this was a child endangerment. The death was not due to an accident, it was due to some form of assisted form. So child endangerment so classified by homicide.
The nature of Lauren's injuries, this was a homicide.
We were discussing the left side of Lauren's body and the left cheek area. There was abrasion and contusion over the left face of the body, from the forehead down to the chin.
The left cheek, was that fractured? Yes.
Contusions of the lung liver and spleen, caused by a large force or blow? Yes. Was that an external blow or internal? It's external.
All of these injuries that you observed of Lauren's face and chest area, the broken wrist, are these consistent with a single impact? Yes.
Did you also describe a fracture of Lauren's wrist? Yes I did. Please describe that. It was on the left. It was a displaced fracture. Is it when the palm is pushed back? Yes, it is consistent with that.
During your autopsy also examined Lauren's lungs? Yes I did. Was there, [did you find] any water in Lauren's lungs? No, I did not. Assuming her body was in the water, what does it tell us that there was no water in her lungs. It means she didn't aspirate water. She didn't breath any water in? No.
Did you observe any lividity in Lauren's body? Can I refer to my records? Please. No I did not make any comment regarding that. With rigor, I did mention that it had presumably been altered. I made a comment about that.
By the time the body is examined by the coroner, it's been moved so many ways, the assessment may have been compromised by the lividity of the body.
Asks the doctor to explain rigor, and how it occurs after death and how it goes away.
Lividity is the pooling of blood by gravity. The blood flows downwards due to gravity and that can cause discoloration in the body. If someone lying on the back when they die, the blood pools in the back.
Because the heart stops beating, blood is no longer flowing through the body? correct. So the body pools in the body? Correct.
As part your conducting the autopsy, you used diagrams to make notes of what you observed, That's correct. From those notes and diagrams that's what you dictate your autopsy report? [Yes.]
People's 53, Coroner from 20. A big blow up of one of the coroner's forms. He placed markings on that diagram at a prior proceeding. Explains that the markings denote the abrasions and contusions.
In your actual diagram in your autopsy report, there's more information? That's correct.
Additional coroner's diagram, People's 54. Drawings of different views of a head.
The red markings on that [exhibit] were placed on a prior proceeding? We can see from looking at, we can see what they depict, but tell us? Those are the areas of injury on the face and forehead as they begin. The areas of contusion and laceration.
People's 55, another diagram from his autopsy report. This is a skull. Please explain to us, in the three diagrams, and explain the markings on the diagram that you placed in a prior proceeding.
We are looking at the skull. The lower diagram is the bottom of the skull. The left upper diagram is the top of the skull. The right diagram, we are looking at the inner part. The markings on the left upper diagram, is the front part of the head. So this is the forehead part area and this is the fracture here. And it continues down, all the way here. The diagram on the right, shows where it continues over. Underneath here, we call this the [?] plate. So this is what we have an extensive fracture, all the way to the back of the skull, all the way to over here. This is massive skull fracture, and consistent with a drop from a height.
Upper right is the inside of the skull, if you removed the top and looking inside? [Yes.]
The black circle at the bottom of the right diagram, is what? The spinal cord comes through here, this hole. [From my own anatomy classes, I'm remembering this as the foramen magnum.]
Enlargement of coroner's diagram 34, People's identification 56.
Brown looks at the diagrams. Brown sits up in his seat a bit, to see better, and then he sits back in his chair.
The left upper diagram, shows the front of the skull. And on the front of the diagram, is this front upper fracture. the lower right diagram is showing the left side of the skull, and these show the fractures that extend this way.
Sarah and her husband leave the courtroom.
People's 57, photographs a-d.
Photo a of Lauren on the autopsy table. [Looking at the photos, I see the entire left side of her face is blood red. There are abrasions on her chest. The abrasions on her face cover her nose and her mouth.]
It shows her lying on the table of the autopsy room. And this is the abrasions and contusions on the forehead down to the face, and also down to the chest.
I notice there appears to be a circle in the chest area, a marking, is that on the photo or on Lauren's body? This a circle placed there by the investigator when the liver temperature is taken. The thermometer is put through there. This is not an injury.
This are the injuries on the face and the chest area. Photo C. There are some abrasions cut on her abdomen, left him and her hand.
Abrasions on the knees and lower legs.
Based on her injuries alone, not knowing anything else about the aspects, he could not make a determination as to manner of death.
Are there occasions where you need information other than from just the autopsy, to make a determination as to manner of death? Yes.
In your investigation, On March 26, 2001, you went to Inspiration Point? That's correct.
He went with Dr. Lakshmana, Dr. Berkowitz. They both went to the top of Inspiration Point and out towards the edge of Inspiration Point closest to the ocean? Yes.
Did you take the actual hike? No. The hike was too much for me. But she [Dr. Berkowitz] was more athletic. They went to the actual itinerary that was supposedly taken by this child. He went the easy way.
He and Dr. Lakshmana parked on the side of the road and then walked directly out onto Inspiration Point. They looked at the contours of the cliff, went there for observation and we looked at everything.
Can you tell us why it was important for you in making your determination in Lauren's death? The whole situation needed to be taken into consideration. It was quite an eye opener. It was quite revealing.
Why was the actual contours of the location, why was that significant to you in making a determination of Lauren's death? It was significant, to get something that is consistent with findings.
Are you talking about the autopsy findings themselves? Correct.
What did the location have to do with findings? If someone were to fall from the edge that we saw, that individual would have a lot of injury on the body itself, before it would get down. You would make some type of attempt to grab onto the vegetation. There were very little injuries on other parts of her body. It was like she just landed, without anything in-between. It was a clear drop, and not rolled down the side.
Based on the location, based on what you saw out there, what would you expect to find on Lauren's body if she had accidentally fallen? I would expect to find a lot of abrasions, and lacerations on the extremities, the hands the arms the legs. And the clothing, I would expect to see some tears in the clothing. If there's vegetation that was there, she had some very thin clothing on. Those clothing were clean.
Did you see any injuries to Lauren's body that were consistent with not sliding off in a fall? I would expect to see abrasions, scratches all over the arms and legs, and even lacerations, tears, on the skin. Like those ones that impacted on the forehead there. I would have expected to see those.
And is that based on the contours of the cliff and the materials? The vegetation that was there, and the [?] ... Yes.
Did she have her clothing on at that time? When she was brought in, yes.
Dr. Chinwah asks to look at his report. At the same time, Judge Lomeli tells counsel that he has to take a call. He comes back a moment later. Back on the record in this matter.
Judge Lomeli has the same issue that we are having with Rocket. He tells the gallery and jury he has a pet that is having to be put down.
Dr. Chinwah inspected Lauren's clothing. Did you find the tears on the clothing that you would expect to see if this was an accident? No I did not.
Would those abrasions that you did find, be consistent with an accidental fall? The abrasions that he saw were minor superficial abrasions.
Would you have expected to see more, and more extensive [injuries] if this was an accidental fall? Yes.
At any point, did anyone pressure you to make this a homicide rather than anything else? No.
Did anyone tell you what your decision should be? No.
In addition to going to the location, did you have a radiologist, examine some X-rays.?Yes. I requested a consultation from a radiologist and got a report from him.
Did you consider that in your manner of death? Yes. And also consulted with a neuro-pathologist? Yes. I did. Did you also consider that report when making your determination? Yes I did.
The chief medical examiner was also present at Inspiration Point? Yes. You discussed your findings with Dr. Lakshmana? Yesk I did. Was there anything that the radiologist, the neuro-pathologist, or the head coroner, that caused you to doubt or change your conclusion that the manner of death was homicide? No.
You were aware that Dr. Berkowitz prepared a report? Yes she did. And that was the result of you asking for the consult? Yes. And did her report factor in to his report? Yes. Even if he didn't have her report, his conclusion would still be the same.
Have you conducted autopsies on victims that have fallen from great height? Yes I have. Have examined both types accident and assisted drop victims.
How many have you conducted of drops from heights, assisted or accident? I would say between 100 and 200.
You told us that if Lauren had accidentally fallen, you would have expected to see much more significant lacerations and abrasion on her extremities and body? That's correct.
On some of those individuals who have fallen from great height, have you seen those injuries that were absent from Lauren? Yes.
Would you describe the injuries on Lauren as discrete? The injuries on the head and face were discrete. Because they were in that discrete area? By discrete, I mean they are limited to a specific area.
Would these injuries in this discrete area, be consistent with a single impact? Yes. Did you see evidence of multiple impact? I did not see injuries that are consistent with multiple impacts.
Have you done autopsies on bodies that had multiple impacts? Yes. Were the injuries on those bodies different than Lauren's? Yes.
Based on all the information you had, based on your findings, bases on your visit to the location, the consultant reports with the radiologist and the neuro-pathologist, the consult with Dr. Lakshmana, and based on all your training and experience, is the death consistent with an assisted death [rather than an accident]? Yes.
The court takes a two minute break. The jury is asked to step into the jury room.
The court addresses counsel. My bailiff tells me, when he talked to the jurors, one of the jurors had hard copies, print outs [of cases], that Judge Lomeli handled. He didn't recall seeing this case among the papers. My inclination is to call him out here, and to see if he Googled this case.
The record should be clear, that this court did not handle any of the prior proceedings. The court asks to call a juror out into the courtroom.
Dr. Chinwah steps down from the witness box and sits in the gallery.
Reason I'm bringing you out here, is that you showed him [bailiff] some photographs of some proceedings I've handled in the past.
You didn't Google this case? No. I Googled you. I wanted to see your background, and how long you were on the bench for, and what you're is being paid. [The juror adds] What you do and what you get paid, I've led a sheltered life. I wondered if I'd voted for you, because you' weren't on the ballot.
Just a reminder sir, and you know, stay off the Google or media related to this case. You represent to us that you did not Google this case.
DDA Hum, asks that the document be entered as a court document. The court asks if he wants a copy of the document back. The juror states, "I'm already in trouble."
The court asks, did the juror search include the background of any attorney? The juror responds, "No, I was interested in you and what you make." The court replies, "Okay sir. You're not in trouble."
The rest of the jury is brought out. One of the jurors is not feeling well, #12.
The court addresses the jury. Please make sure as I advised you earlier, stay away from news articles, or anything about this case.
Cross examination of Dr. Chinwah.
As part of your education or experience as a coroner, another thing part of the area of study is forensic pathology. Is that correct? That's correct.
In the course of your study or practice, have you read any work by Warner Spitz? Yes. He's considered to be a renowned forensic pathologist? Yes. His book, is like the bible of pathology? That's one of them.
I just want to talk about the lividity issue for a moment. You had a coroner's investigator who actually went to the scene, where Lauren was, at the time she was first recovered from the water? That's correct.
The investigator gave you a report that described some things he saw. He took some photographs and all of that you reviewed as part of your autopsy report? That's correct.
The on scene investigators notes are always part of the autopsy report? That's correct.
The lividiy that he saw, showed on the left side of the back? I don't know. Can I look? Sure.
While the doctor looks, Judge Lomeli asks DDA Hum if they are still on track to end case by Friday? "We are your honor."
Dr. Chinwah reads from the investigators report, that lividity was consistent with the supine position.
So there was what you described as lividity on the back? Yes. it was consistent with her lying on the picnic table, where she was lying.
Would you agree that it's difficult to determine lividity and ante, ante-mortem bruises? Sometimes.
Would you also agree that there are times when the differentiation as such of the liver area from true bruises can be difficult or impossible visually? There are some occasions that would happen.
When trying to be sure, a [lividity?] is compared to a bruise, the only way to do that, is to actually make a cut that goes beneath the skin, in order to determine the blood that is there, is blood that is of bruising or the blood of lividity? Yes.
Is it true, that ... Laub reads from Spitz's book. If death occurs before the bluish purple discoloration has time to develop, only incision will disclose the injury? That's correct.
Was any incision made in Lauren's back, to determine if any injury occurred, at the time of this fall, a bruise didn't have time to develop where an incision could be made? You have to have a reason for that.
So at the time of the autopsy, you were not being asked to make a determination of whether this was a single impact or multiple impacts, is that right? No one asked you to focus on that, am I correct? No one asked me to, but my training, I looked for that.
At the time you did the physical autopsy, you did not conclude that, two words used interchangeably, one is cause of death, and this case cause of death is blunt force trauma? Correct. And manner of death, is how the blunt force trauma is caused? How is not the manner of death.
Explanation of manner as relation to cause of death. Manner of death. There are four, ... five classifications.
At the time that you actually did the physical autopsy, you established, through your medical knowledge, the cause, blunt force trauma, but not manner of death? That's correct.
Because at the time, the injuries on the body did not tell you manner of death? That's correct.
Dr. Chinwah expands on that. When you make a determination of cause of death, when you do manner of death, you get all the circumstances together. Someone walking across the street, get hit by the car, you have multiple traumatic injury, if don't do anything else, accident. But, if you [wait] get the story, then you get manner of death.
[I believe a question as to his conclusion about single impact.]Yes, my examination is it's a single impact.
Laub asks a long drawn out question about how he came about his conclusions.
At the time he did the autopsy, you didn't have the information you later got, to focus on, whether or not, there were bruises that fell from the cliff, multiple impacts, how the body had fallen... I'm not being critical. You did an autopsy based on the information you had then? Yes.
You couldn't make your determination, until you made your observations at the scene? Yes. So then you put them together to make your conclusion. but then it was also too late, to make an incision on Lauren's back to see if there were underlying bruises? By this, it was unnecessary. Because you make an incision, when you have doubt. You examine the body you see the thing, it's quite obvious, If you're going to make an incision on every autopsy to see if it's a bruise or not a bruises. There was absolutely no reason to make any cut there.
Laub, states that it was too late, to go back and recut into Lauren's body to see if a bruise exists underneath after he got the additional information. All of these later things, where Lauren fell, he didn't have that information at the autopsy.
You conclusion is, that Lauren's injuries were caused by hitting rocks, down at the bottom? Yes.
If her body hit any part of the cliff, is not significant. The body went from that height, down to where it landed, with virtually nothing stopping the descent from that height.
So the injuries you observed with the impact at the very bottom, with the rocks in the water alone? That caused the massive, traumatic injury.
If Lauren did hit the cliff, going down, that was insignificant to her cause of death.
You were told that if Lauren fell, there would have to be scratches and bruises by the vegetation up there? That's correct.
You did go to the top some other way, you were on the top of Inspiration Point? Yes. You did not go all the way to the edge where she departed from the cliff? I went to the site.
Wasn't that a slippery slope, where she fell that she was taken to? Yes.
Weren't the people that you were with, weren't those people concerned about getting to close, so that you would be safe? Yes.
And at the part where, that slope, reaches the edge, there isn't much vegetation, what you're looking at is rock at the end? I don't really know what exact site [specifically] you are referring to.
[Mr. Laub is asking the doctor to describe the cliff he visited in March 2001, without showing him photographs.]
The place that you were told where Lauren had gone over ... let me ask you to describe to us, what the place of departure was, what you were shown, what did that look like to you?
We were on the top of the point there, and they were all over the place including [over the side] I'm not sure exactly what you want me to describe.
Was there a difference in the amount of vegetation. ... well first off there was a slope? [Dr. Chinwah asks back:] A slope to where?
When you were approaching the place of Lauren's departure, did you first walk along a flat space? Yes. When you were heading towards the place of departure, did Inspiration Point stop being level, or was it just level and there was the drop? Well, the, it wasn't flat like a table, but the top was not that flat. There was an area where there was a slope.
Well the slope area, how would you describe the slope is it ... ? [Dr. Chinwah asks back:] In terms of degree?
I meant, for instance, it's just sloped a little or a steep slope, how would you describe it from your perspective? You're on top of your mountain, there' a slope to get on top of the mountain.
So, am I correct in understanding about a slope, that Inspiration Point came to an edge, and after that, there's a slope as if it was a mountain slope, as if it just drops? Is that what you mean by the edge? [Dr. Chinwah answers:] The Inspiration Point ... and there are slopes on both sides and down in the front there.
So, Inspiration Point is the top? That's correct.
It's not flat like a table, it's uneven? Yes, it's uneven. And when you get to the edge, it becomes the same uneven, you get to the slope which is a drop? Yes.
Judge Lomeli calls for the morning break.
One of the jurors is not feeling well, and she tells the court that the rest of the jurors are trying to tell her to be sicker so they can all go home. A bit of laughter. The juror states that because of that, she's sticking it out, and staying. I believe the court commends her for her determination to stay.
The morning break is over and cross continues.
You've done [?] number of autopsies, how many involved falls from cliffs? I can't recall for sure, maybe about 10.
Falls from cliffs, how many involved falls from this height, similar to this case? They're all about the same height.
And how many involved children around the age of 4? I can't recall.
When you did the autopsy, one of the things you noted, although there was a severe impact to Lauren, her chest bones didn't break. That's correct. One of the reasons is that child's bones haven't developed to the point of where they would break? That's correct.
An accidental fall. Have you only considered the possibility that she slipped? Slipping is one way. What else do you mean when you say it's not an accident? An accident is an accident that happens unknowingly.
One of the things you talked about, is that you would expect to see [?] ... did I misunderstand? Coming to the conclusion, all the circumstance surrounding this thing is taken into consideration. To isolate one thing from the other, is not doing service to [?].
Am I right that the circumstances that you were informed of, in reaching to your conclusions, is the child was in a school and the father was going to take her, and she cried for a long long time? That's part of what you considered? That's part of the circumstance.
But the father had the right to take her, and he took her to this picnic/play area, and that's part of it? That's part of it. And they stayed there for about, oh 20 minutes? Yes.
I believe that Mr. Laub is reading his prior testimony. Dr. Chinwah, agrees, with all his prior testimony statements.
And this information, this additional information was provided by whom? I got information from law enforcement, and personal site view of the place.
The little, idea of there being a child on top of Inspiration Point, do you believe that a child would voluntarily be on a place like that? Do you believe that a four year old child could voluntarily be on top of Inspiration Point? If a bunch of kids were taken up there, and had been on vacation. They could voluntarily get there.
Falling children, falling from high cliffs is a rare occurrence? Objection. DDA Hum states, While I agree with that, it's irrelevant. Sustained.
In reaching your conclusion, do you as part of your work, keep track of what happens in other cases, where small children fall from cliffs in California?
Objection. Irrelevant. Sustained.
Laub asks if he is aware of other falls of children? Judge asks, how is that relevant?
Because, respectfully, part of his conclusion is what would be expected from this child.
Objection. Argument. Sustained.
Laub wants to have all of Dr. Chinwah testimony in regards to after the autopsy stricken.
The court intervenes and wants to know how it's relevant. Laub argues that it is relevant. The court tells him to move on.
What were the possible stores that you considered [When you were told that Lauren had fallen from the cliff area]? Dr. Chinwah responds: What do you mean by stories?
Did you have any information about what possibly Mr. Brown had said had happened? No.
Dr. Chinwah states, part of the report was narrated as to what happened. Dr. Chinwah asks Laub, Well, who brought the child up out of the water?
Laub asks another question, and the Dr. asks the court to look at his report. Dr. Chinwah reads from his report.
Laub asks if he was told that Lauren was throwing rocks. Doesn't recall that.
So one of the things that you didn't consider, is that Lauren was throwing rocks, and could have taken a few running steps and fallen over the side? It was considered and the conclusion, is that is inconsistent, with her accidentally, either by throwing rocks or running or whatever, [her injuries] are not consistent with an accident.
Laub gives an example, if you have a four year old, who takes a running start, and throws a rock...
DDA Hum states, I'm going to object at this part in time. It's irrelevant and it's gone too far.
Judge Lomeli asks the coroner the basis of his conclusions. Judge Lomeli tells counsel to move on. Laub asks for a sidebar.
Let me try to rephrase my question. If Lauren had been, had taken a, just few running steps to the edge and thrown a rock, and gone over the side of the edge, would you expect, would you have expected to see the abrasions and contusions you would see, from slipping through vegetation?
If she threw a rock and went the way you described, the type of injuries I would expect to see in her, I did not see. I would expect to see extensive abrasion and laceration on her body, especially the extremities mostly, and other parts of the body, extensive.
What is it you believed would have caused those injuries? The surface, as she would have gone down the side of the cliff.
You say the surface, that she would have come in contact of the cliff, the perpendicular side of the cliff?
Object to the word perpendicular. Sustained.
Chinwah agrees there is an edge.
And that edge... ? There's a slope.
And this slope you're talking about, is this then the part you're talking about...? Yes, there's a slope.
And this is the part, moving to the edge? And the person is Lauren, and I'm referring now to the edge, the slope from the top and the edge where the cliff beings.
Objection. That's not what he said. Judge Lomeli asks Laub to start again. Laub states he will come back to it.
Did the written report that you do, you try to make that complete as a record? That's correct. That's so someone later, can review it and understand what you saw. That's correct.
In your written report, you describe more in abrasions, that you'd drawn on the diagram, the diagram of Lauren's body? Is that correct? That's right.
In your written report, that on the face and the cheek, there were lacerations you describe them as multiple irregular? Can you describe that. It means that the edges were not smooth. They were irregular.
And you go onto say that some were oriented diagonally. Did you mean that lacerations were running in different directions? Yes.
And you also talked about there being abrasions on the upper chest? Yes. Going over to the upper shoulder area? Yes.
Is there any significance to an abrasion being horizontal verses being diagonal? The significant is the impact... that surface, has some irregularity in it.
So, you're assuming that the surface that struck Lauren's chest had an irregularity that would cause lacerations running though her chest.
[I'm getting overwhelmed by the description of the injuries by Laub and Dr. Chinwah.]
Dr. Chinwah explains that the rocks in the ocean are jagged, irregular.
Another question about the abrasions, on the lower chest has the horizontal abrasions? Yes. And that was 3/4 inch by one inch? Yes.
What I mean by horizontal, is that it went across the chest. It went from left to right.
And then down on the abdomen, you saw two abrasions and one of them was vertical on the left abdomen and that one was two inches? That's correct.
Laub now asks about lacerations.
Is it not possible for those abrasions to have come at different times when the body was moving at different positions? Well if you're referring to, abrasions in the abdomen, that's a little small line. It's just a minor thing the one in the abdomen. It's just on the surface of the skin.
Dr. Chinwah states that these injuries that Mr. Laub is asking about, are very minor. These are minutia. Insignificant to the overall cause of death.
Why is it not possible that this vertical abrasion, wasn't caused by the body in a different position in the fall being caused by brush sticking out of the cliff? Why isn't that possible? This linear abrasion was not caused by any rock.
Dr. Chinwah tries to explain, that this one singular line, would not have occurred by a slip down the cliff. There would have been multiple scrapes and injuries. Dr. Chinwah describes this line, as a single line from a pin.
I believe the noon break is called.
Once the jury has left the courtroom, DDA Hum states that based on what has happened in cross, he can no longer guarantee that he will finish on time. The court asks Mr. Laub how much longer.
Laub wants to prevent the prosecution from asking about the books that were found in the Brown's residence on witchcraft. [During the last trial, Detective Leslie testified about the unusual items that were found under a bed in the defendant's home. There were black candles images of Sarah Key-Marer's face, cut out from photographs. Right after that, DDA Hum asked Detective Leslie if books on witchcraft were found in the home. The defense objected and the objection was sustained.]
For this case, the court wants to know how that [the witchcraft books] is relevant. This jury will hear that question.
Back at 1:30 PM.
This morning, around the same time that Judge Lomeli was telling counsel and the jury about a family dog that was being put down and he couldn't be there with his wife, Mr. Sprocket had emailed me that he scheduled the same type of appointment for Rocket, Saturday morning.
The last several hours of court and lunch, it's been difficult to maintain my composure. We will try to spend as much quality time as we can with him, until then.
Back inside Dept. 107. The bailiff asks if the court wants the defendant out. Sure, Judge Lomeli replies.
I understand the people has served an SDT, and they have not received any documents in question. DDA Hum states it's South Bay Trauma. There have been no documents. Regarding Molly Taylor.
I have no idea what this is about.
There will be a stipulation later. There will also be testimony that will be read into the record from a prior proceeding.
As the jury enters, the bailiff tells a young gentleman in the courtroom that if he's from UCLA, he has to leave. The young man beside me says, "USC." The judge says, "Welcome, with open arms." Judge Lomeli's Alma mater is USC.
Cross continues of Dr. Chinwah.
Brown watches Laub.
You noted in your autopsy the left [wrist?] was fractured? Which wrist. I said left but I want to be correct? Yes. Which wrist was that? I put down in the summary I put right, but I want to make sure I was correct. [Dr. Chinwah reviews his report.] It was the right.
The majority of the injuries were on the left? Correct. And the right wrist was fractured? Correct.
Is there a reason why the right wrist injury couldn't have occurred through a flaying of the wrist against the cliff face? I don't know.
You also said in order to reach your conclusion about manner of death, it was necessary to know where the point of departure was? That's not correct. I was not there. How could I say it was necessary for me to know?
In our analysis of the manner of death, would it matter whether the point of departure was point A or 20 feet away from point A? I don't know.
Would it matter to know the point of impact? No.
Cross ends and redirect begins.
The defense attorney referred to a part of the investigative report, the coroner's summary. Would like it marked as 33A.
That investigator is from the coroner's department who is sent to the scene of the death? That's correct. And that's different from the Sheriff's Department? That's correct.
And he's sent a few hours, that was Mr. Moses, was sent within a few hours of the incident? [Yes.] He goes out to the scene as it's held as opposed to days later? Oh yes.
Generally speaking, it's preferable that nobody move the body until they photograph the scene and take the liver temperature.
There would also be preliminary information as to the scene? Correct.
Dr. Chinwah, just having knowledge of the injuries Lauren she received, the absence of injury which you also determined and the location itself, Inspiration Point, just having those three pieces of information, that Lauren's injuries are were inconsistent with a fall? Although all that other information supported his conclusion, but it wasn't necessary. It added weight to his conclusion.
And also, I just want to make sure that I'm clear, the injuries to Lauren's face and chest area, are all of those injuries consistent with a high velocity impact? Yes.
Redirect ends and recross examination begins.
At the time you did the autopsy, you couldn't determine manner of death because you needed more information? I wouldn't use the word couldn't.
At autopsy all you had was the medical information of the body? Yes. ... At the time I examined the body, I needed more information.
You told about a number of sources of information you received, that you put together to come to your determination that this was a homicide? Correct.
I'm understanding from the redirect question, that the only information that you actually needed to reach your conclusion, was the original autopsy, and what you saw personally saw when you were up at Inspiration Point, am I correct? Yes.
And you say that takes into account that you did not need, to know the actual point of departure, or the actual point of impact below, am I right? Yes.
The witness is excused. People call Robert Olsen.
He is a land surveyor. He works for a firm Psomas. He's currently a vice president out of the Los Angeles Office. I'm a graduate, I have a BS in engineering with emphasis in land surveying.
Photo-grametry[sp?] is the art and science of making accurate measurements from photographs.
What types of surveying and for what purpose? We support the land developers, public agencies, roadways, ... prepare base maps of existing conditions so engineers can propose their designs.
Explains an aerial survey. Another way of providing topographical data. It's much more feasible for larger properties that are feasible. They indicate the topography of the land. It's to show the elevation of the ground.
Were you in charge of [a project] to produce a topographical map of Inspiration Point? [Yes.] The department of public works contacted him.
Aerial topographic mapping is just another mapping technique that relies on overlapping photographs, that identifies all the features, buildings, curves. It's [a several steps] process, the aerial plane will fly over the site, capture the photographs, and that will be processed to a TIT file that will be imported into a program.
There's also the field component. They need to coordinate the items that appear in the photograph. They will put white crosses, control points [on the ground]. They will field survey and establish the white crosses and then photograph the area and the white crosses.
How many white crosses were established? Four. They were generally in the flatter areas of Inspiration Point. Due to the small bases we also were able to then take our surveying instruments and take in rock outcroppings in the ocean below. ... It's a point and shoot, bounce off and record that location.
They take the GPS locations of those four points, to locate those points in a coordinate world. More technical data as to how he works to make the topographical map.
A total station, is that when you have someone holding a rod with a flag and someone else looks through a [scope] of some sort? [Yes.] A total station records the vertical horizontal and sloped distances to a rod that's being held.
More explanation as to how the actual process is done.
They are specialized planes with specialized camera equipment. They are very expensive cameras with 6" focal length. They produce a large photograph. To get the 3-D effect, the photos have to have a relationship to each other.
A second flight had to be done, because of the steepness of the cliff? Yes, a second flight was done because the first did not get all the info they needed.
A stereo plotter operator, the joining images, they use special glasses, to be able to visualize the 3-D effect. More explanation that I cannot follow.
The model they create is a three dimensional model. The model is in the computer.
Now have a digital terrain model, now what do you do with that? That's from which the contours are created. Then this model can be used by other people, and photographs can be draped over this model.
14 page report, People's 92.
Bottom paragraph on page 5, the methodology [that Dr. Hayes used] for producing the model he used.
This methodology for creating a topographical map of the cliff face? Is it new, is it tested can you tell us a little bit about that? It's been around for quite a while. I believe the first concept, was when they started flying balloons above the civil war. So it's been around for quite a while.
It's the basis for improvement of land, gas line projects, freeway. Anywhere where someone wants to develop ground, they must know what's going on [under ground?]? The closer the lines are the steeper things are? Yes.
The mapping standards that have been around: For 1" = 20ft. horizontal and fixed and fine point, if definable, compare that and they have to be within 8 inches of each other. That's horizontal.
For vertical, 90% of elevations they must been in line with one half contra [?].
Explains the process for determining errors in maps
Direct ends and cross examination begins
Your model, is based upon photos that were taken in a fly over? That's correct.
Is it one flyover or more? It would have been two passes, then we needed more. I think three flight lines were involved.
What was the first data captured? I don't recall.
Do you have your report? I don't.
Your model that you made, does not tell us what it looked like on November 8, 2000? That's correct.
And the flyovers that you did, I believe were, one to two years later? I think it was Jan of 2003.
One of the things that didn't figure into the model, was possible erosion along the point, from 11/8/200 and your date? That's correct.
And the two flyovers that were initially done on different dates, so it had to be of a hybrid of what you saw on different dates? I wouldn't call it a hybrid. ... The first flight did two flight lines that cross each other.
One of the flights was too far inland, so that was the reason we had to refly over the area.
Questions about the camera being advanced and the plane traveling at 150 miles an hour.
You talked about, compensating for the yaw and pitch of the plane. As the plane is taking photographs, they are not perfectly level, so there's always going to be pitch and yaw, exposing pitch and yaw in the photography.
Explains Yaw and Pitch. Left or right is yaw; forward or back is pitch.
Laub asks about compensating. How is it you know what to need to do to compensate. Complicated answer. I feel like I'm going to fall asleep.
Cartesian coordinate systems, three axises. I'll have to look that up.
Laub asks if he really didn't get contacted by the DA's office. The witness states that as far as he knows he was contacted by the LA Department of Public Works.
Laub states that the witness knew that it was for the DA's office on [a case?]? Insists that he was aware that this work was for the DA's office.
This was the first time that you did survey's involving cliffs? No, we've done survey's involving cliffs before. Now crossing him on prior testimony.
Is it correct that you had never done one of these models for the purpose of use in a fall trajectory computer simulation? That is correct.
Cross ends redirect begins.
Does it matter to you if was for a fall trajectory or developmental purposes? No.
Mr. Laub asked whether it reflected the same as the face was on November 8, 2000. That takes into account there were relevant changes to Inspiration Point? Correct. You don't know if there was
[I've somehow, lost the rest of Mr. Olsen's testimony. I apologize.]
The next witness is testimony that will be read into the record.
Lena Patel's testimony will be read by Bethe Anderesen. [I don't think I have the name right.
Leena S. Patel was called on behalf of the people.
LEENA S. PATEL
Back in Nov 2000, were you working? Yes. I was.
Where were you working? Christian Montessori school. [Where was that?] It was in Newport Beach.
About how long did you work? 4.5 years total. She was an elementary teacher there.
Did you know Lauren Key? Yes, I did.
People's 1, for identification, That was Lauren.
I knew Lauren from interacting with her on the playground and from pick ups and drop offs. She often filled in for preschool teachers.
Then, Lauren would be in the class. She met Lauren's mother, Sarah. She got to know Lauren's mother. We had something in common. Sarah was from England, and so was I.
Sarah would ask about Lauren and how she was doing, whenever Sarah would pick Lauren up.
Did you ever observe her roughhousing or playing rough at all? No she was a very calm girl. She mostly played by herself.
Was she careful and cautious child? How would you describer her? Careful and cautious.
She was a happy girl? She always smiling.
Would you observer her interact with other teachers? How did she get along?
She got along with me very well. She was attached to me. I would say she was a very jolly girl. She was very happy.
The witness would be present when Sarah would come pick her up. She was very happy to see her and say come on Mom, let's go home.
Identifies the defendant. Describe Lauren's reaction when the defendant would come pick her up.
She would wrap herself around me or hide herself under the table.
When she was picked up by her biological father, sometimes she would cry. The defendant would not ask about Lauren. She would never want to go with him she wouldn't stop crying.
From the playground of the school, could you see the parking lot at the school? [Yes.]
[What would Lauren do, when the defendant would drive up?] She would start hiding behind teachers.
When the defendant would come to pick her up, Lauren would cling onto you? [Yes.]
Did the defendant ever raise his voice to Lauren when she was clinging to you? Yes. He would say, come on, lets go, in a loud voice. ... On several occasions, he would grab her by the had or arm, he would say let's go, or he would just pick her up. It was more forceful.
Was it a loud or angry tone or how? A loud voice.
Did you ever do anything to try to make the pick up to go more smoothly. Yes. I asked him if he could bring a toy or something that she liked to make it go more easy. He said that I wasn't the mother, and shouldn't tell him what to do.
She was present when Lauren was interviewed by the social worker. She never had any worries that Lauren was being abused.
Direct ends and cross examination begins. Mr. Laub requested that DDA Hum reads the defense attorney's statements.
Did you ever tell Detective Leslie or Smith, about this supposed pulling at her arm and whisking her away? I wasn't asked that before.
Before you never told them, about that, and today you told us today, that she would hold onto people's legs? Yes.
And there were occasions where Mr. Brown would pick her up and she was fine? Yes.
[More cross that I can't keep up. When prior testimony is read, it's difficult to get it all.]
Lauren was never in her class. She was a quiet girl. She would not describe her as highly energetic. Jolly, yes.
Did you know that her mother described her as energetic? [Miss answer.]
She made a report about Brown pulling on Lauren's arm. And she also told the mother about these incidents. She told [the mother] about these incidents at the time they happened.
You saw Mr. Brown with her as they would leave? Correct. But you never saw them after? No. Never saw how she was with Mr. Brown? No.
Saw how he came to pick her up on a motorcycle? Yes. Wouldn't let him take her on the motorcycle because he didn't have a helmet.
Cross ends and redirect begins.
After you were interviewed by detectives, did you have more time to think about the interactions of the defendant and Lauren? Yes. Did I ask you specifically questions about the defendant and Lauren? Yes. At that time, did you tell us about the defendant grabbing Lauren and carrying her out? Yes.
Also told them about the motorcycle incident. He got mad and angry with me. He said it was okay. I refused to let him take her on the motorbike. How did you know he was angry? He was raising his voice at me.
Redirect ends and recross examination begins.
Questions about the interview the witness had with DDA Hum and Detective Leslie. Is it your testimony when he originally interviewed you that he never asked you any question like that? [Miss specific answer.] You stated that she would cry and grab legs? Yes. She wrote a report to the school.
To you knowledge, you didn't see any report? Yes, one was mailed to me in 2006. Not the school report, but the police report of her interview was mailed to her.
And that's it for this reading of testimony.
People recall Detective Leslie.
DETECTIVE JEFFREY LESLIE
Before this, there is a stipulation. Two page stipulation marked at 133.
On Jan 22, 2001 [LA County Sheriff (Detective or Deputy)],Thomas Fortier was assigned to the task force, and was an expert in computers. He extracted information on the hard drive. Thomas Fortier pulled up the Internet history and the dates and times of those visits [on the computers seized from the Brown residence].
He examined two hard drives, seized from the home of Patty and Cameron Brown.
Detective Fortier printed out the complete history of computer activity, and the Internet activity on November 8, 9, 10.
The Internet history, and the print out history, is not altered in any way. Also found a resume of Patty Brown.
The Internet connection to the Internet, used a dial up connection, meaning that calls coming in could not be completed.
DETECTIVE JEFFREY LESLIE
Questions about the actual location at Inspiration Point and the surrounding area.
Is it accurate to say, there is some change in the elevation in the tide at Inspiration Point? Depending on the time of day. [You] went out to Inspiration Point with a photographer, at the level of water as it was on November 8, 2000? Yes.
Mr. Laub is asking for the time of day that this occurred.
Five photos, People's 127.
A cell phone with a clock on it. Then four photos showing the level of the tide. Were those photos taken, to duplicate the tide around 3 pm in the afternoon on November [10?] 2000? [Yes.]
Cliff photos, People's 126, for identification, photos A-E.
A in the exhibit at the top is an aerial photograph. Portuguese Point and Inspiration Point and sacred cove in-between.
[This] is Inspiration Point again, aerial photo looking north. Also shows the inlet below with the rock outcroppings.
Aerial photo showing the face of Inspiration Point, and shows the trail that takes you to the right or west side of Inspiration Point. Shows the "U" shaped section, [the eastern front edge of the point].
This is taken from the east side of Inspiration Point, and you're looking west.
This is of Inspiration Point, taken from the rock outcroppings from the inlet below and looking up.
You mentioned a U shaped area? Which side of that U shape area? [Miss answers.]
Is that a straight drop down? That portion of the cliff is sloped, and at some point you will come to an edge. There's a type of knuckle that protrudes out. It's not a sheer drop.
Interview of the defendant and demeanor at the location.
When interviewed him in Nov 9, 2000, did the defendant ever say that Lauren ever slept or napped in the car. [No.]
Did Debora Jenkins who took the money in the car, did she say that she ever saw Lauren napping in the car? Ms. Jenkins stated that because Lauren was so still, she wondered if she had been asleep.
Now, there was one other time, that you had observed the defendant's demeanor.
Laub asks to approach. Sidebar. The court takes the afternoon break at 2:56 PM.
I lose my internet connection and shift to a word document for a short time.
Mr. Hum, would propose that we ask about this one other situation, would... On the record, outside the presence of the jury, the court and counsel argue over what Detective Leslie can testify to about a father’s reaction in another case, when that father did kill the child.
Mr. Laub objects because the other case being referred to, happened after this case.
The court asks Detective Leslie a question.
Det. Leslie answers: I’ve never seen anything anything like the reaction that night. [Regarding Brown’s reaction, behavior, to Lauren’s death.] Prior to that, no I have not. Since then, the similarities, to a case were the father did kill the child, yes, were striking.
The court rules that it can come in via 352. And Judge Lomeli is off the bench.
The jury files in. Back on the record.
Det. Leslie, you told us that you had seen someone exhibit the same demeanor on one prior occasion as to the defendant on November 8 & 9. On that occasion, was that where you would have expected to have seen some emotional display? Yes.
You conducted additional significant investigation? Yes. Also interviewed other witnesses? Interviewed close to a hundred individuals at this point.
At any time during the investigation from the time you called out to the scene, until today's date, were you pressured by anyone to make Lauren's death a homicide? I was not pressured by anyone.
Were you ever pressured by your partner to make Lauren's death a homicide? No.
Were you ever pressured by Sarah Key-Marer to make this death a homicide, rather than an accident? No.
Did you know or ever had contact with the defendant prior to your investigation? No.
Did you have any ill will toward the defendant? No.
Were you sympathetic to Sarah KeyMarer? Yes.
Did you think that it would make [it easier? better for?] Ms. Key-Marer, if you found Laurne's death a homicide? I would think that it would be easier [for her] to find out that it was an accident.
Did you ever suggest to any of those witnesses, what may have happened? No.
Did you ever suggest to anyone to say a particular thing or to suggest they say something? No.
Interviewed Sarah Key-Marer many times. Yes. Never suggested to her what to say.
She contacted him and asked him about the investigation? Constantly. There were no specifics that she got. In the initial stages, we told her we were still working on it.
[There may have been another question here, because Detective Leslie elaborates.] It was obvious that it seemed to be the case as we learned certain things, for experts to people at school to whomever we spoke to, we were going to ask her clarification questions. I didn't want her answers swayed by what we knew. I wanted to keep the investigation pristine.
Did you ever tell Ms. Key-Marer, what was your opinion as to what had occurred? No I did not.
Did you ever tell Ms. Key-Marer, what other witnesses had said? No.
Did you ever ask her to provide other information or documents? Yes. Did you ever tell her why to get that information? No.
First spoke to her on Nov 9, 2000, at about 8pm at night. It was a hotel room in Long Beach.
Describe where she was, how she appeared and what was her demeanor.
She was in bed. She was pale, she was sunken and hollow. It seemed like she had been crying all day. She held her stomach the entire time she spoke to us. At times it appeared she was going to be physically ill. Very emotional, very, somewhat dazed, in trying to remember specific facts to us.
Despite her obvious distress, did you think it was important to get information sooner rather than later? Yes.
Did you ask her numerous questions about her relationship with the defendant, what her daughter liked to do, etc.? Yes.
Did she tell you during that interview, that the defendant agreed to have Lauren adopted? Yes.
Did she tell you anything [else]? She said that Mr. Brown had agreed to have her husband adopt Lauren.
Did she tell you anything that the defendant said to her? "I'm going to get you."
Did she say anything to you, in that Lauren would participate in a 1.5 mile hike? She said that was ridiculous.
Did you describe to her the terrain where the hike took place? No, I did not.
Did you take notes, every single time you had conversations with Ms. Key-Marer? No, I did not.
There was some questioning of Ms. Key-Marer [?] she used? Do you recall that questioning? I do.
When she was speaking to you, describe to us her demeanor.
Inquisitive, very serious, seemed as if she had a list of questions she had pondered and go through the list on the telephone or in person. What about this, what about this. It was very matter of fact.
Were there times she would call you and she would be very emotional? Yes.
Do you recall one time in particular? It was the very first Christmas Eve, after Nov. 8, 2000. It was in the evening i spent an hour, an hour and a half with her on the phone. She was hysterical at times, and at times she would go back to the questions. ... She had paged me, as I recall. We didn't have cell phones back then. I received a page from her.
At that time, did you provide her with any investigation information at that time? Just that we were still working on it.
Were there days that she would call and ask questions? She would call on November 8, Lauren's Birhtday, Easter, Christmas, the majority of the holidays, or as we approached the holidays. Some of these she would call ...
Did you pick up a copy of the 911 tape? Yes. At the tieme you picked up a copy was it a caseette tape? It was a cassette tape.
Was the same 911 call we heard, [from the DVD] the same call on that cassette tape you picked that up? He believes he picked it up on Nov. 10 from the command call center.
Talks about going to Inspiration Point on Nov. 10th.
In addition to that, did you and some others in law enforcement, try to replicate the hike in the parking lot from Abalone Cove, to Inspiration Point? [Yes.] Was that hike video taped? [Yes.] We'll watch that tomorrow.
On Nov 10 in 2000, were you aware of where the defendant and Lauren started the hike? Yes.
Were you aware of where it ended? Yes.
Were you aware of where various witnesses had seen the defendant and Luren on that hike? On that date, we were not aware.
Later you spoke to various witnesses that saw them on the hike. Base on those various witnesses along the hike, have you been able to establish a route that was taken to Abalone Cove? Yes.
Are there two spots on this hike, where there is more than one way to go, and you don't know which one that is [that Brown and Lauren took]? Two, yes.
Are any of the routs shorter than any other, Not by any significance, no.
What would be the difference between them, Yards, maybe.
In terms of difficulty, taking into account these two areas, is there any change in the degree of difficulty? I would say no. They're all pretty similar in the terms of difficulty goes. There is one route that you can take in the beginning of Inspiration Point that is shorter, but it's more dangerous.
Detective Leslie explains one of the sections, where the route could be different. The differences in these routes are explained and the difficulty with each one.
Now discussing the NE portion of Portuguese Point and the different routes that one can go [to reach Inspiration Point]. Describes the three different routes that could have been taken from the last point that Sam Omar saw them until James Witherow saw the defendant and Lauren on Palos Verdes Drive South.
What you just told us on these options. [?] Have you taken the route from Abalone Cove [parking lot] to Inspiration Point more than once? [Yes.] Can you tell us about how many times you've done that? 20 or 30 times, maybe more. When was the last time you've done that? April 6 or 8 of this year. Just a couple weeks.
Did you take that hike at an adult brisk pace? Yes without stopping. Did you take that hike at each of the places that witnesses said they saw them? It was 36 minutes and change. Just under 37 minutes.
What was the distance. It was 1.26 miles.
On November 11, did you place a recording device on Sarah Key-Marer's phone. [Yes.]
As I had recalled, that Sarah had received a call from Mr. Brown's father, giving condolences from the family. As I said, I very much wanted to talk to the defendant again. ... We figured if she did get the communication that she wanted, why not get the conversations and record them.
You've heard the CD where Ms. Key-Marer actually called and spoke to the defendant? [Yes.]
On another occasion you went to the defendant's residence, and attempted to speak to the defendant? Yes.
Was that was the time that Ms. Brown gave you business cards of attorneys? Yes. Were there personal numbers on those cards? Yes.
The home where the Brown's lived, was a condominium complex. There was a botanical garden near by.
When you had contact with the defendant's wife, people's 102, Is that the way she appeared? Is that the way she looked? That's the way she looked? Yes, but I believe she had on a pink top.
The court ends the court day at 3:51 PM.
The jurors file out.
The court asks counsel to look at the jury instructions. "We still have some time," the court indicates.
And that's it for today.