Monday, August 10, 2009

Cameron Brown Retrial: Day Ten, Part I

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Prosecution Witnesses:

#22 Mitchell DeGraff (former neighbor of Sarah Key-Marer and family friend; witnessed incident on Halloween and over heard defendant make statements; testimony complete)
#23 Laura Roberts (friend of Sarah ; observed Lauren on the church camping trip to O'Neil Park; testimony complete)
#24 Janice Roque (family friend of Marer family; observed Lauren on church camping trip to O'Neil Park; testimony complete)
#25 Jeane Barrett (former girlfriend of defendant; defendant told her he got a girl pregnant; testimony complete)
#26 Jon Hans (former friend of the defendant; testimony complete)
#27 Jane Doe (former girlfriend of the defendant in Colorado: testimony complete)

On the train into downtown LA, I thought I would describe the
Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Building (CJC) and the courtroom for those of you who did not follow my coverage of the Spector trial.

The CJC is a 19 floor building supposedly built in 1972. (Some of the Superior Court liaison staff have told me it was built sometime in the 1960's.) There are floors that are only for holding detainees for court appearances (jail). Those floors are 4th, 8th, 10th, 14th. The public elevators do not stop on those floors, or have buttons to push for them. There are elevators in the hallway where I have seen deputies bring out detainees.

The Cameron Brown trial is being held on the 9th floor, in courtroom 107. The 9th floor is the only upper floor (that I know of) that has a second security station. When you get off at the 9th floor, there is a second security station to clear. Once you pass that you enter the hallway in the center. You turn to your left and go all the way down to the end of the hall. Judge Pastor's courtroom is the last one on the left.

The doors to all the courtrooms on this floor lead into a small room area I've labeled an antechamber. It's about eight or nine feet square. In Judge Fidler's courtroom, it was from this little room that Rachelle Short took illegal photos. She was admonished by Fidler since all photography is banned inside CJC. News agencies that wish to film or take photos have to fill out the proper paperwork requests about a week before, and it must be approved by a judge. In Pastor's courtroom, once you enter the first set of doors, there is another set of doors off to your right. Those doors lead into the courtroom proper.

When you enter, you are actually entering on the left side of the courtroom. There are four rows of wood benches bolted to the floor in the gallery on the far right. On the left, near the door there are two rows of benches that are very short. Those benches could hold maybe, four people across, comfortably. Right in front of those benches, inside the well of the court is the bailiff's desk. It is surrounded on two sides by Plexiglas. Just to the left of the bailiff's desk and in between that desk and the clerk's desk is a door with a window. That door leads to a holding cell area for the detainees. The clerk's desk is surrounded by a wall taller than waist height. It's almost four feet high I think. Where there is the first aisle, close to the courtroom doors, there is a little swinging gate door to enter the well area of the court.

If you are standing in the center gallery of the courtroom facing the judge, the judge's clerk's desk would be on the far left. Behind the desk on the back wall, is a hallway, entrance way to Judge Pastor's chambers. In the center of the courtroom on the back wall is Judge Pastor's bench. To the right of that is the witness box. Against the right wall, in the far right corner is the jury box. There are eighteen swivel rocker chairs in this box. In the far right corner along the back wall, are the double doors that lead into the jury room. Right in between the jury room doors and the witness box is a bulletin board on rollers. On the other side, it's a chalkboard. Although the prosecution uses an easel to put their exhibits on in front of the jury, they sometimes hang exhibits on this bulletin board. So does the defense.

The court reporter is at a desk just below and in front of the jury box. The prosecution table is closest to the jury and the defense table is closer to the bailiffs desk. These are actually two long tables that make a single running table. There are some extra chairs in the well area in front of the jury box. Behind the prosecution and part of the defense tables, there are some thin tables up against the wall that divides the well from the gallery. The prosecution and the defense pile up their case binders they are not currently working with on these tables. Each table comfortably seats three individuals.

The projection equipment is on a little table just on the opposite site of the table where counsel sit, right where the defense table meets the prosecution table. The projection screen is on the wall over the door to the holding cell. It is pulled down in front of this door when in use. The gallery benches have seat and back cushions. This is unusual, since most courtrooms on the 9th floor only have seat cushions and Fidler's courtroom has no cushions at all.

When I get inside 107, there is an issue with Alternate #1. That morning the juror learned that his best friend had died. Judge Pastor cites case law to excuse the juror. It was too intense, too close, for the juror to continue on this case. Pastor is not happy about losing this juror, but it's a "demonstrateable reality because of the personal nature of his loss." He expresses to the juror the court's condolences. "Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your friends family." That was quite kind of Judge Pastor.

I won't be seeing this juror on the train anymore. I'm taking a wild guess that his best friend died of unnatural causes.

Patty Brown is in the front row wearing a bright turquoise jacket/top. She's taking notes.

The attorney's are arguing an issue that I don't fully get. I think it has to do with something supposedly Patty Brown said. Maybe the statement she allegedly made that Sarah's neighbor overheard.

CH: Clearly one of the people's motivating factors.... [...] comment of the defendant's wife is further evidence of that. [...] That the defendant did not reveal this [...]

JP: The court overrules the defense's objection [...] with regard to any so called first incident. [...] Not received for a hearsay but as it relates to defendant's state of mind, motive or thought process. [...] Two separate bases for admissibility into evidence. Pre-death admissible. Post-death admissible.

Patty Brown shakes her head.

JP: If the wife says the mother got what she deserves and the defendant says nothing... [...]

Pastor goes onto explain the law and his ruling. The testimony comes in. Patty and Ted speak. From my perspective, it looks like Ted is not happy. Harris and Veretsian exchange words. Brown whispers into Veretsian's ear.

The jurors are brought in and Pastor addresses them. He apologizes for the delay and explains (without going into detail) why alternate #1 has been excused. In the gallery, Sarah, her husband Greg and a friend are in the third row near the aisle, directly behind the Brown family in the first row. Hum slowly and methodically paces in the well. He's wearing a gray suit (it looks gray to me from where I'm sitting) a white shirt and a light blue patterned tie.

Mitchell DeGraff is called to the stand. The witness is wearing a nice suit and enters the courtroom with a female companion. He appears to be a man in his late 30's or early 40's.

CH: Do you know Sarah Key-Marer?

MD: Yes sir.

CH: How do you know Ms. Key-Marer?

MD: She was my next door neighbor.

CH: Back in 2000, she lived with (her husband) Greg?

MD: Yes. [...] They had to children. I know Lauren, and the older stepbrother, I can't recall his name.

CH: Does Joshua sound right?

MD: Yes.

The witness gives the address he lived at when he lived next door to the victim's mother and her husband. (I see no need to publish that.)

CH: They were next door? [...] Were you friends?

MD: Yes sir, we were.

CH: As neighbors do things, (did you do activities together)?

MD: Yes. Now and then, BBQ, see each other. [...] We grew to be good friends. [...] Someone we could (each count on).

The witness states that his daughter, Madison was a few years older than Lauren. He has trouble making the calculation as to how old she was in 2000. Hum asks him if he remembers a Halloween incident in 2000.

MD: Yes I do.

CH: Tell us about it.

MD: On Halloween, the kids got to go out and trick or treat. Sarah had Lauren dressed up in Cinderella outfit. She was dressed cute as a bug. [...] Sarah wanted me to be there when the father picked Lauren up. [...] Lauren didn't want to go (with her dad).

The witness identifies the defendant.

CH: Was anyone with the defendant.

MD: There was a woman there but I don't know who it was. [...]

CH: She didn't want to go and the way, going to the car? (Describe the car.)

MD: It was a smaller, white car.

CH: What happened?

MD: He was trying to buckle her in and having a hard time. [...] It seemed like he didn't know how to take care of her.

There is an issue about the defendant putting Lauren in the front seat. Sarah is demanding that Lauren be put in the back seat. The witness states he heard the defendant say something directly to Lauren.

MD: "You're with me now. It doesn't matter what your mother says." [...] He said he was going to put her in the front seat. [...] Lauren said her mother doesn't let her, allow her to rid in the front seat.

CH: Did Sarah say anything to you?

MD: She reached over and told me she (doesn't let her ride in the front seat) and Lauren ( knows this. [...] She whispered it to me.

CH: That's when the defendant said "You're with your father now?" [...] Did the defendant tell Lauren to tell her mother to shut up?

MD: Yes he did.

CH: Did anyone else say anything?

MD: The woman in the front seat said something. I didn't hear it exactly; it was derogatory.

CH: Was that the last time you saw Lauren?

MD: I believe it was.

Hum asks the witness if he has observed prior pick-ups by Lauren's father.

MD: Lauren didn't want to go. She would hide behind her mother. [...] There were several times where Sarah called me over where she wanted a witness to the pick-up of the child.

CH: You knew Lauren how long?

MD: About one-and-a-half to two years.

CH: What was your relationship with her?

MD: She was my little pal. She listened to me real well. When I would come home she would come running over to me. She would come up to me and give me a little hug.

The witness starts to break down, cry on the stand.

CH: Would Lauren sometimes play with your daughter? [...] The kids (in the neighborhood) all played together?

MD: The kids played in his backyard on his swing-set and doll house. They also played at another house.

CH: Would you see Lauren play?

MD: (Yes.) If the other kids played a bit rougher than Lauren would like, she would be in the doll house with Barbies. She would often be off by herself.

CH: Would you characterize Lauren as being daring or adventurous?

MD: Not one bit.

CH: If there were rough house playing?

MD: She would come in the house and sit beside me, right next to me.

JP: Objection!

JP: Sustained. He clarifies which part of the answer is stricken.

CH: If the kids were paying rough house, would she come in and sit beside you?

MD: Yes.

CH: Would she engage in any climbing activity?

MD: No.

The witness explains that at his house there was a tree swing.

MD: She would not go on the tree swing! She wouldn't have anything to do with it.

The witness states that many children in the neighborhood had these small electric cars, Barbie cars that they could drive around in.

MD: Kids all had electric cars, Barbie cars. Lauren wouldn't even go in those.

CH: Would you describe Lauren as adventurous?

MD: No, not at all.

CH: Would you describe Lauren as cautious?

MD: Extremely.

Direct is finished and Harris gets up to cross.

Harris asks the witness about a question Hum asked, about monkey bars. The witness stated that his daughter climbed on them but Lauren wouldn't.

PH: Did you ever talk to Ms. Marer and ask her and she said that her daughter loved them?

MD: No sir.

There are more questions about monkey bars.

Harris asks the witness if he knew that right before Lauren's death, Sarah was teaching Lauren how to roller blade? Harris hands the witness an article out of the newspaper.

CH: Objection! Hearsay!

JP: Sustained!

Harris confronts the witness, asking him if he was the one who gave the interview to the paper.

PH: You weren't the neighbor?

MD: No.

PH: You didn't give that quote? That wasn't you?

MD: No.

PH: (Month?) (You) gave the sheriff's an interview and you told them what you observed?

MD: Yes.

PH: That night she ran over and gave you a hug?

MD: (Yes.)

PH: Mr. Brown pulled up in a white car?

MD: Yes.

PH: That was your first statement, "Doesn't matter what your mother says." And then you said in (a second?) question by Mr. Hum, did he tell her, Lauren to tell Sarah to shut up?

MD: Yes, he did tell her to tell her mother to shut up.

PH: In interview with detectives, you said that the defendant spoke in a loud enough voice that he and Sarah heard? [...] And that the woman said something but you didn't understand what she said?

MD: Correct.

Harris now confronts him with a letter he wrote in support of Sarah. In the letter, he (the witness) said he witnessed Cameron Brown tell SARAH this. The witness looks at the letter again.

MD: Well, you can see where he said that to Lauren.

There is a little confusion at the bench. The witness looks over the letter again. McGraff states he doesn't read too fast. Harris goes over this letter with the witness.

MD: In that letter I state that he was projecting towards Sarah.

Harris confronts the witness that in the letter, he specifically refers to the woman as Patty Brown.

PH: But you told detectives you didn't know (who the woman was). [...] In the letter you told the court you heard what the woman said. [...] That Patty Brown said... [...] Did Sarah ask you to write this letter? [...] In the last proceeding you said Sarah asked.

MD: I believe I dictated it to my girlfriend at the time.

PH: You didn't suddenly wake up and decide to write it? [...] Sarah asked you to write it!

MD: I don't recollect. [...] I don't remember if Sarah asked me to write this or not.

PH: In the letter you specifically wrote, "Patty Brown said, 'What do you do when you're not smacking your daughter around?' "

Harris asks that this letter be admitted as the next defense exhibit, "S."

I am not certain, but I believe the letter is dated November 7th, 2000. The witness states that someone must have told him (the defendant's wife's name.)

PH: Sarah must have told you her name? [...] Three weeks after, you told police you didn't know her name! [...] Isn't it true what you told police, you never heard what Patty Brown said?

(This is just my opinion, but I think Harris made another verbal slip-up here. It happens. By making the statement this way, he's acknowledging that Patty said something. Imho, he should have added the word "allegedly.")

MD: I don't remember.

Harris hands the defendant another document and asks him if that refreshes his recollection.

PH: Didn't you tell the police [...] Didn't you tell the police later that it was Sarah who said who told you (who it was?)?

MD: I don't recall anyone telling me. [...] And I don't recollect.

PH: Were you aware that Sarah was keeping a diary?

MD: No sir (I wasn't aware of one).

Another exhibit, Defense "T." This is a photo printed on regular paper. The photo is shown to the witness; it's not shown to the jury. The photo doesn't refresh the witness's memory if that was how Lauren looked on Halloween. I believe the witness states, "I don't remember the hat."

Harris asks again, that he stated he wasn't aware of Sarah's journal. Harris asks the witness to take a look at a document. Hum asks to approach.

Another question is asked about whether or not the witness asked, or the witness heard the defendant ask Lauren if she had a good time (with her father?).

MD: I don't remember.

There's a sidebar. Juror #6 has their arms crossed. I watch the jurors watch the judge and counsel.

Harris goes back to the incident in the car where Mr. Brown was allegedly talking in front of Lauren about Ms. Key-Marer, and some of the details are hard for the witness to remember.

PH: If I showed you a document of the events of that night, would that help you?

MD: Yes sir.

Harris hands the witness a document and tells him to focus on the highlighted material. As we are all waiting, I note that long delays in getting a case to trial always helps the defendant. People forget and their memories of events change.

PH: Does that refresh your memory about the events at that night. That (the defendant) it actually occurred out of earshot of Lauren?

MD: I don't understand.

PH: Does that refresh your memory?

MD: That may be what it says, but it happened in the back seat.

An older woman with jet black, shoulder-blade length hair enters and eventually sits in the front row.

PH: Was Lauren crying?

MD: She was hiding behind her mother.

PH: You made statements about Lauren being a cautious young girl?

MD: Yes sir.

PH: Did you have any opportunity to see Lauren interact with her father?

MD: No sir.

PH: Did you know what Lauren did with her father?

MD: No.

Cross ends and redirect begins.

CH: When you spoke with the detectives, did you tell the truth? [...] Did you specifically tell the detectives that the defendant spoke to Lauren? "You tell your mother to shut up." "You're with your father now?"

Harris recrosses the witness.

PH: You were interviewed on November 28th, 2000?

MD: I wouldn't remember the date.

Harris now brings up the letter dated November 7th, 2000 again.

PH: Was your memory fresher when you wrote the letter? You never wrote anywhere in the letter that Mr. Brown told Lauren to tell Sarah to shut up?

The witness states he doesn't have the letter in front of him.

There are more questions about the incident in the car.

MD: He was overlooking Lauren and Sarah could hear.

This witness is excused and the next witness is called.

Laura Roberts.

As Mr. DeGraff leaves the courtroom, the woman who entered with him also exits.

CH: Do you know Sarah Key-Marer and Greg Marer?

LR: I met them through my friend Janice Roque. (The Roque's are) friends of ours and we met them on a cruise. We all go to the same church, "The Crossing Church" in Costa Mesa.

The witness states that she and he husband taught bible school for about ten years. She hung out with the kids more so than the adults. The church (or the bible school?) had an annual camping trip. She coordinated the trip with another church member Mike Braher (sp?). This was tent camping.

In the first week of August, 2000 she went on a trip to O'Neil Park in Orange County, down south. This was a family trip, a camping trip. Everyone was camping really close together. Sarah and Greg took their family, Lauren and Josh. This was the first time she got to know Lauren. She saw her at church occasionally. The witness describes the Lauren that she got to know and observe.

LR: Very timid and clingy to her mother. She was a girly type girl, not interested in getting dirty.

She states she would not describe her as adventurous. At the campground area, there was a hill that the kids could climb up. She organized a hiking trip for the kids, because she likes to hike and play with kids. She walked around to all the camp sites to ask who wanted to go. And she made an effort to get the kids excited about going on this hike.

CH: Did all the kids go on the hike?

LR: No. [...] Lauren didn't want to go at all.

CH: Why do you specifically remember that?

LR: Because she was the only child who didn't want to go.

CH: Did she go on the hike?

LR: No. She didn't want anything to do with kids going on a hike.

CH: Do you remember her engaging in any kind of physical activity?

LR: No, she stayed with her mom.

CH: Did you organize only one hike?

LR: I don't remember how many but there was definitely more than one.

Hum asks her if Lauren played or rough house around with the other kids.

LR: I did not see her run around with other kids.

CH: When did you learn about her death, what stood out for you?

LR: I couldn't imagine that she would go anywhere near a cliff.

That's the end of direct and Ms. Veretsian gets up to cross.

LV: You said you taught bible school studies? [...] Lauren wasn't one of your students?

LR: She wasn't one of the kids in my Sunday school (class) prior to the camping trip.

LV: After the trip?

LR: I did go over to their house and saw her there.

LV: There was another camping trip, prior?

The witness states that on that trip, she didn't know the family then. Roberts states that Lauren knew the Roque kids.

LV: So Lauren didn't know any of the kids on the trip?

LR: No, she knew the Roque kids.

Veretsian asks if she spent any time with Lauren on the camping trip. The witness is also crossed on her prior testimony.

LV: Lauren was shy and more reserved and staying with her mom?

LR: Yes. That's was when she was staying with her mom.

Veretsian asks if there were any parents who went on the hike. There were, but Ms. Marer wasn't one of the parents.

LV: Did it ever occur to you that Lauren might have wanted to stay with her mother? [...] Did you ever see Lauren interact with Mr. Brown? [...] Do you know if he was outdoors type and went on hikes?

LR: I don't.

There are several more questions about Lauren and her father interacting.

LV: So you have no idea how Lauren was with her dad?

LR: Correct.

LV: Can you describe the campground?

LR: It was hot and dry.

LV: How about the physical description? There was dirt?

LR: Yes.

LV: Ther were rocks, plants?

LR: Yes.

LV: Dry shrubs?

LR: Yes.

LV: Were there paths and trails?

LR: Yes.

LV: Were there streams?

LR: I don't remember.

LV: Animals or insects? Worms? Snakes? [...] You were in the wilderness?

LR: Yes, but it wasn't very far from the freeway even.

Now Veretsian asks questions about what type of child Lauren was.

LV: Would you describe her as energetic?

LR: I wouldn't use that word. Timid and shy.

LV: Would you describe her as a child who would enjoy a walk on the beach?

LR: I don't know. I just saw her as a child who enjoyed playing with Barbies.

There are several more questions about monkey bars and if Lauren would have been a child who enjoyed that.

10:32 am: There are no more questions and no more redirect.

I observe Patty Brown speak to the spectator in the front row. A few other people come into the courtroom to observe the proceedings but they do not stay long. There's a very pretty slender Asian woman sitting in the short bench rows on the far left. She has a notebook. Patty and the spectator continue to chat. Patty then gets up to speak to Harris. The spectator in the front row takes out a brush and brushes her hair for a moment. It never ceases to amaze me what some people do during the courtroom breaks.

The black-haired spectator speaks to me for a moment. She tells me she is retired and is really interested in criminal trials. She asks me who the mother of the child is and I describe Ms. Key-Marer. I had to inform her that the woman she was speaking to is the defendant's wife. She gets this surprised expression on her face.

The prior witness comes into the courtroom to sit with another woman. They sit in the front row. When Ted comes in, he asks them to move from his front row seat spot.

The next witness is called, Janice Roque.

CH: Do you know Sarah Key-Marer?

JR: Yes.

CH: How did you meet?

JR: Through the church they attend together.

CH: What church is that?

JR: The Crossing.

The witness states that her husband and Greg Marer were in a small men's group together through church.

CH: Once you met Sarah's family, did you become close?

JR: Initially, I met Sarah on the camping trips through church.

The witness first met Sarah on a camping trip to Santa Barbara. Once they went on the O'Neil trip she got to know Sarah and the family better. Her family also went on a cruise with Sarah's family. The witness states she is also close friends with Laura Roberts's family. Ms. Roque states that Greg's son Josh went to school with her kids. She has five children. Their ages now are: 9, 13, 15, 17 and 19.

CH: Did you get to know Lauren fairly well?

JR: Yes. On the camping trip and one time I babysat.

She states she got to know Lauren on the the O'Neil trip, but she doesn't remember much about Lauren on the Santa Barbara trip. The witness is asked to describe Lauren's temperament and personality.

JR: She was typically sweet and kind. She liked to play with dolls. She liked me to read her stories. I specifically remember she liked to say, "Watch me! Watch me!" (If she was dancing around.) [...] She was polite; friendly.

The witness is asked about the O'Neil Park trip in August of 2000.

JR: It was a group camp site.

Sarah, Greg, Josh and Lauren were there. Laura Roberts and her husband were there as well.

CH: Did you see Ms. Roberts organize any activities?

JR: She would organize hikes.

The witness testifies that she had just had her youngest daughter, Joulie (sp?) and Lauren would follow me around. She wanted to push the new infant in the stroller. The baby was a few months old at the time.

CH: Did you ever see Lauren on that trip experience any interest in hiking?

JR: No. [...] She mostly wanted to be with the girls and play cards. [...] My daughter Jazzy was a few years older and Lauren looked up to her.

CH: Did you see Lauren engage in any kind of physical activity on the trip?

JR: No.

The direct is finished and Ms. Veretsian gets up to cross.

LV: You talked about a Santa Barbara trip. Do you remember the Santa Barbara campground?

JR: No.

LV: Was it in the wilderness?

JR: I really.... no, I think it was by the beach. [...] I've been camping three times a year for the past nine years. I really can't remember all of them. [...] I remember there was a big play area.

LV: Was Lauren there?

JR: I honestly can't remember if Lauren was playing there.

LV: The trip to O'Neil Park, when was that? [...] Were people sleeping in tents? [...] Were they sleeping in sleeping bags?

JR: There may have been air mattresses.

LV: Were there any pets there?

JR: I don't remember.

LV: Ms. Marer stayed in the campground?

JR: Yes.

LV: She didn't go on the hiking trips?

JR: Yes. (meaning, no, she didn't)

LV: Your interaction with Lauren was pretty limited?

JR: I wouldn't say that. I didn't see her on a regular basis.

LV: You didn't see her with her father?

JR: No.

There are more questions about what she knew about Lauren's interaction with her father.

That's it. There's no redirect. The next witness is called, Jeane Barrett.

This witness is very interesting. She's got a slim but muscular build. She's wearing a sleeveless top that show off her muscular arms and figure-fitting white jeans or corduroys. She has a necklace on and a few strips of worn leather around one of her wrists. She is not carrying a purse. She has short strawberry blond hair. She looks very much an athletic, outdoors type.

The witness states she is a firefighter specialist for the Los Angeles County since 1995. (I may have that wrong. She could have said 1999.) Back in 1994-1995 she was an ocean lifeguard. Back in the summer of 1994, she worked in Manhattan Beach, then Catalina Island. She knew the defendant. She identifies Brown for the record.

Barrett states she met the defendant surfing. The lifeguard tower she worked at was (near one of Brown's relatives' house). When she met the defendant she was 22 years old. They dated for a year-and-a-half.

CH: Describe the things you would do.

JB: Surf, hike, mountain bike. Generally spend a lot of time at the beach.

She attended school at the University of So. California, Santa Barbara. There came a time when she decided to travel abroad.

JB: I decided I was going to go to Chile for six months. It was extending school; a Spanish immersion program.

CH: Did you then tell the defendant you no longer wanted to date?

JB: He didn't want to break up necessarily. He was upset.

CH: How could you tell?

JB: Through various conversations. There were tears for both of us. [...] We didn't break up at one specific time (date). I didn't want to be attached while I was living in Chile.

CH: How could you tell that the defendant was (emotionally upset)?

JB: He cried.

She left for Chile at the beginning of the new year, in 1996.

Hum asks if there was anything that happened the month prior, in December. (I believe they had already broken up by this point.) The defendant called her about a week before she was to leave.

CH: Describe his demeanor.

JB: He was upset.

CH: What did he tell you?

JB: He said that he had gotten someone pregnant. [...] He said that he wasn't ready to be a father. [...] He said that he had been dating her; that she was English. [...] He said that she wasn't going to be staying here legally because she didn't have a visa.

CH: Did you receive any letters from the defendant?

JB: I got a letter from the defendant in Chile. He said that he had moved on and that he was living with (a new?) girlfriend and that he was happy.

CH: Did he ever tell you what his father did?

JB: He had told me that his father had worked for the CIA.

CH: Were there other occasions where (I miss the rest of the question).

JB: We had a few fights where he was distraught and upset (about the break-up).

CH: Could you tell that from the way he was acting?

JB: Yes.

CH: Would you say that you and the defendant were pretty emotional people?

JB: Yes.

That's the end of direct and cross is by Ms. Veretsian.

Veretsian flips through her papers again before she starts.

LV: Did you know that Mr. Brown's father owned a company called Cable Investments America? CIA?

JB: No, I did not know that.

There's a question about the phone call she received in December.

LV: Did he tell you he didn't want to get married and have a family?

JB: I specifically remember him saying he wasn't ready to be a father.

LV: Were you ever engaged?

JB: No.

LV: After 1996, you haven't spoken to Mr. Brown?

JB: No.

LV: He never called you and told you he had met his daughter?

JB: Correct.

LV: And you have no idea what his relationship was with his daughter?

JB: Correct.

There are more questions about her and Brown's activities and their "outdoorsy" (Yes, Veretsian used that word.) type activities.

JB: Sailing. Surfed. Biked. Hiked.

LV: How often?

JB: As often as we were together.

LV: Did he have a boat?

JB: Yes.

LV: Do you remember where he went sailing?

She talks about the defendant moving the boat from one berth location to another. They did a lot of hiking in the Santa Barbara area.

LV: Would you say Cameron was the type of person that wanted to share these types of outdoorsy type activities with people he cared about?

CH: Objection! Speculation!

JP: Sustained!

There is a question about his reaction to the break-up, and questions about who observed his breakdown.

LV: There were not others watching?

JB: No.

(I start to wonder if this is the defense they are going to use, that Brown was not emotional in front of strangers or other people, and that's why he had such a flat affect with the paramedics and sheriff's officers.)

LV: You're a firefighter paramedic?

JB: I'm a firefighter specialist. Before I was a firefighter paramedic. [...] Firefighter since 1999.

Veretsian asks the witness questions about being around people who've lost people and the types of reactions she's seen.

JB: I've seen a lot.

LV: Is one of the reactions you've seen is someone who's just shocked?

JB: Shocked, yes.

LV: Is one of the reactions you've seen is people shut down?

JB: Yes.

She testifies that she met his parents and went to his grandmother's house. She got along with the defendant's parents.

LV: You didn't notice anything unusual with his parents?

JB: No.

Veretsian asks questions about when Brown mentioned Ms. Key-Marer.

JB: He explained to me she might not be able to stay in the country.

LV: He never told you he was trying to get her deported?

JB: No.

I note that Veretsian has longer than usual pauses between her questions. She flips through all her papers again. Now she's flipping through a stack of other papers. Veretsian asks for a moment with Mr. Harris. There's no redirect and the witness is excused.

It's now that I notice that a woman friend came with this witness to court and when the witness leaves, the friend leaves with her too. In addition, I miss seeing the slender Asian woman leave.

The next witness is called, Jon Hans.

Jon Hans is a tall man with a head of dark hair and a mustache. He's wearing a nice suit. Hans states that he is 46 years old, married and his wife's name is Lisa. He states he's lived in Colorado since March, 1983. He originally lived in Breckenridge for six months then moved to Denver. He knows the defendant. He believes he met the defendant somewhere between 1986-1988.

CH: You've known him about 20 years or more?

JH: Yes. [...] I thought of him as a brother.

CH: Close?

JH: Yes. [...] I considered him as one of three people to be the best man at my wedding.

The witness states he met the defendant while he was working at a restaurant in Breckenridge. Both of them worked there. He worked days, Cameron worked nights. They met outside of work, not through work. He knew where the defendant was living.

They did a lot of outdoor activities together, mostly ski, hang out a lot, have a beer, drive around a bit, or just hang out.

CH: In 1989, did the defendant leave Colorado and move to California?

JH: Yes.

CH: Do you know how he got there?

JH: Yes. Because I went with him. [...] We drove a Chevy Suburban that his parents gave to him.

On the trip they went to Las Vegas and spent the night at one of Cameron's relatives' house.

The witness states that on the drive to California, they had a conversation about children. Harris asks to approach the bench. There's a sidebar. Patty has her notepad ready. It's a long sidebar. The jury fidgets.

JP: Objection overruled!

CH: During the drive, did you and the defendant have a conversation about children?

JH: I instigated the conversation. [...] I had been to the party (going away party?). All the guys had a child, unplanned. Cam stated he had also had a child previously, before I knew him. He said he did have a child. She wanted the child; he didn't. Cam said, she didn't want any assistance. He wanted her to have an abortion. She didn't.

CH: Now jump forward. At some point did you learn the defendant was arrested?

The witness states he had a phone conversation with the defendant after he was arrested. The witness brought up the issue of the child, that Brown told him he had had, all those years ago.

JH: He was kind of upset and he said he didn't have any children.

CH: But did you confront him?

JH: No. He didn't want to talk about it.

CH: Did you bring up with the defendant the fact that he told you on the trip he had a child?

JH: No, because it was evident he didn't want to talk about it.

CH: When you were talking with the defendant, did he tell you that he thought the conversations were tape recorded?

JH: Yes, he did.

Harris asks for a sidebar again. He appears very irritated. Harris and Judge Pastor appear to be in somewhat of a heated discussion. Harris is shaking his head. It looks like Harris is not happy with Judge Pastor's rulings. I hear Judge Pastor say, "Motion for mistrial is denied!" Judge Pastor's tone doesn't sound happy with Harris.

Sidebar is over; Hum continues his direct.

After the pair got to California, Hans returned to Colorado. He kept in contact with the defendant. The defendant told Hans he was living on a boat he purchased by selling the Suburban. The defendant came on trips to Colorado to visit.

CH: Did the defendant come with a woman who was English?

JH: Yes.

CH: Do you know her name?

JH: Sarah.

Hans states they all went out to eat together.

CH: Do you remember when it was?

JH: It was winter.

The defendant told him via a phone call that Sarah had gotten pregnant and she wanted to have the child.

JH: He sounded like he had gotten caught.

PH: Objection!

JP: Stricken!

CH: What was his demeanor? Did he sound happy? Did he sound sad? Resigned?

JH: Sad and resigned.

Afterwords, Brown called him frequently, providing him with various phone numbers. It happened quite a few times.

JH: He told me Sarah would call him and hassle him so he would have to change his number.

CH: Do you remember when?

JH: I don't remember exactly when it happened but shortly after that time.

CH: Did you find out the defendant had a daughter?

JH: Yes. At some point I did find out.

CH: Did the defendant say anything to you about paternity?

JH: I remember he said he was having to pay money.

CH: Did the defendant seem upset or angry about that?

JH: I would say he was resigned to it.

Hum asks about the defendant paying child support for Lauren.

JH: He sounded unhappy about it. Actually, I don't think I knew her name was Lauren.

CH: At some point you met the defendant's wife, Patty Brown?

JH: Yes I did.

CH: Do you remember where it was you met the defendant's wife, Patty Brown?

JH: I believe that's when they drove out to our house in the Volkswagen van.

CH: That's in Colorado?

JH: Yes.

The afternoon recess is called and the jury is ordered back at 1:45 pm.

Patty leans in to speak to the black-haired woman. Judge Pastor states, "I would like to give Mr. Harris the opportunity to amplify his motion.

PH: As we discussed at sidebar, I come from a long history (of involvement and respect for the law).

Harris expands some more on his personal respect and deep love for the law.

PH: We've turned this into a complete character assassination. It's no longer a trial.

All of a sudden, Judge Pastor realizes the defendant is no longer in the room and he addresses the bailiff.


The bailiff explains, "He had to use the restroom."

(I can tell Judge Pastor is surprised and shocked. Remember though, this is not the regular bailiff for the courtroom. This is a fill-in deputy.)

JP: I never said to let him go!

Patty and the woman with black hair continue to talk. Brown quickly comes back inside the courtroom. His shirt is unbuttoned and he doesn't have his tie on.

PH: A character assassination! He (the witness) was specifically referring to an Internet blabber interview that he read about, where he said the child would be 22 years old!

Harris is really upset. It's obvious in his facial expressions and his tone of voice that this information is now before the jury.

PH: I don't know how I'm even going to address it! [...] And that somehow that clears it because when he called the defendant during a phone call, where Mr. Brown thought he was being recorded, Mr. Brown stated he didn't have a child. [...] AND NOW I HAVE TO DEAL WITH ANOTHER CHILD, that doesn't actually exist!!!!!

Harris talks about that Mr. Hum knew that this was not about the pregnancy with the other woman. THIS WAS A THIRD CHILD!

PH: Now this statement that Patty supposedly said about that she's glad that Lauren is dead!

Harris is quite upset.

JP: Mrs. Brown! You make one other facial expression or shake your head and you're out!

Harris argues on.

PH: But this witness has actually said in writing and said that, and he gets involved with this Internet nut; [...] And that doesn't involve our current blogger here.

(Harris turns around and gestures back at me. When he does that, I'm going, oh no! I'm cringing inside. The last thing I want is to be dragged into another case. I had my fill of drama and harassment from Phil Spector and his wife. I try to sink a little lower in my seat.)

PH: I don't know how I can combat this! It's getting out of control. He's (Hum) going to put on anyone that's ever said anything bad about Mr. Brown! This is just character assassination! I don't think it's relevant. It's gone way beyond the evidence.

Hum argues and defends his witness.

CH: All of this evidence is very relevant, because of the defendant's attitude and hatred of Ms. Key-Marer.

Hum continues. I believe he's restating all his arguments he just presented at the sidebar. Unfortunately, my next note is not clear as to who said it.

Well, this is certainly relevant to, how the defendant's attitude about Lauren and Ms. Key-Marer. And this is what the witness said on the stand.

Harris continues to argue his points.

Pastor disagrees with Harris that because the witness said something, it's before the jury.

JP: I ruled (that) testimony was stricken. The jury was admonished and I believe they will follow their instructions.

Judge Pastor goes on to explain that he's made several favorable rulings for the defense, and he mentions some of them.

JP: Each ruling stands on it's own.

Pastor orders the attorneys back at 1:30 to go over 402 issues with another 1101(b) witness.

When I get back on the 9th floor after lunch, Susan Kim approaches me and tells me that their next witness, the issues she will be discussing are very painful memories to her, and she is requesting that her name not be used in the media. Susan tells me she knows I'm under no obligation with this (seeing as how her name will be in the court record).

I tell Susan that I don't have a problem identifying the next witness as "Jane Doe." I tell her I can completely understand.

To be continued in PART II....

To be continued in PART II....


Ronni said...

Harris is scraping the bottom of the barrel and coming up with what one usually finds there.

Thank you, Sprocket, and thanks to Putnam shorthand! I forgot mine within weeks of graduation...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for describing the layout of the courtroom. You make us feel like we are there.

David From TN

Anonymous said...

The frustration and anger exhibited by Harris can only mean that things are not going well for the defense. I'm sure that the jury is getting a picture of Brown as the loathsome creature he truly is.
I did not fully comprehend Harris' objection to the testimony presented by John Hans. What's the issue with the "third child that doesn't exist" business? Perhaps you can shed some light on this Sprocket. Thanks again for the great coverage.

Anonymous said...

thank you for taking the time for another interesting case,good job

Anonymous said...

Sprocket your reports really brings us into the courtroom. I laughed when you described the scene when the judge discovered the defendant was absent. What a moment.
Please give us some insight into the jurors and their reaction to testimony.
September MOO