Friday, September 15, 2006


August 29, 1996
Lauren Sarene Key-Marer born

April, 1997
Sarah Key-Marer files for child support in Orange County, California

May, 1998
Cameron John Brown requests paternity test

February 11, 1999
Cameron John Brown ordered to pay child support

July 22, 1999
Cameron John Brown files for a reduction in child support and requests 32% (approx 117 days) visitation and joint legal custody of Lauren.

Cameron John Brown has still never met Lauren Key-Marer

November 1999-May 2000:

November, 1999
Supervised visitation begins. One hour, then one and a half hours, then two hours, etc.

Lauren is 3 years, 3 months old.

December, 1999
Cameron throws Lauren in the swimming pool at his apartment building during a supervised visitation. Sarah tells him Lauren cannot swim.

February, 2000
Sarah discusses adoption by husband Greg with Cameron and, according to her testimony, he immediately agrees. She tells him to discuss with Patty (his fiance, then wife) and let her know in a week.

Unsupervised visits begin; not overnight.

March, 2000
Judge denies CB’s reduction of child support and joint legal custody.

Sometime after March, 2000, Cameron files another request for reduction of child support and claims he has 50% custody. He actually has her less than 2 ½ days per month.

June 2000-November 8, 2000:
(5 months, 8 days)

June, 2000
Unsupervised overnight visits begin.

Every other week Tuesday 4:30pm to Wednesday 4:30pm in addition to every other Wednesday 12:30pm to 7pm. (48 + 15=63 Hrs/Mo)

October 31-November 01, 2000
Halloween overnight visit.

Cameron picks Lauren up and tells her to get in the front seat of the car. She doesn’t want to ride in the front and eventually gets in the back seat. As they are pulling away in the car, Cameron’s wife, Patty, leaned out the window and shouted to Sarah, “What else is it you do when you’re not smacking your kid around” and chuckled and drove away.

The next day when Cameron returned Lauren, he put her suitcase on the side of the car in the road and told her to come back and get it. He said he wasn’t going to do it for her. He told her twice.

He wasn’t parked next to the curb so it was almost in the middle of the road. Lauren bolted towards the road and Sarah screamed for her to stop and she ran back crying. Cameron drove away laughing.

Seven days later Lauren Sarene Key-Marer was dead.

November 8, 2000
Lauren Sarene Key-Marer dies

Lauren was 4 years, 3 months old.

Friday, September 01, 2006

A Trial is a Sales Presentation

Having been in some form of sales or sales support most of my career, I can see the parallels between presenting a case in court and a sales presentation. Think about it: it’s an adversarial competition that plays on all the same things that selling to you does: your heart, your pain, and your common sense. Each side attempts to make you feel good about deciding (“buying”) that their “product” is better.

The People want to sell you the story that the defendant is guilty. They may try to dazzle you with science, baffle you with psychology, bore you with detritus and sway you with emotion. The defense tries to “sell” you that its client should walk free because either the People’s case ("product") is weak, or because its client is (ahem) “factually innocent”, whatever that means.

So it is with the case of California v. Brown. Craig Hum and his team did its best to portray Brown in the most unflattering way possible. They vilified him. They treated him like ersatz coffee. It was as if they posted a picture of him with a bandito mustache and “Wanted: Dead or Alive!” in town square. We know that perception is everything. Even if the allegations were false, based on the “sales presentation” we perceive this man as being capable of murdering his child because we can now perceive him as being a very bad man.

This is how it works.

So, what did the defense do to erase or modify this perception? Put his mother on the stand! Put his brother on the stand! Seriously, that’s like getting a product endorsement from the salesman's mom – “Buy this from my little Johnny. He’s a good boy.” Would you insult your potential customers that way? I hope not, because you would starve as a salesperson.

If the defense wants to change the jurors’ (and public) perception of Cam Brown, they had better come up with something convincing. Their current sales presentation stinks.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

In Memory of Lauren - on her Birthday

You were loved, little girl, even before you were born. You are loved now, even though you are gone. In the words of e. e. cummings:

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near


nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing


To Lauren's famiy and friends, our sincerest wishes for peace.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Once Upon a News Group - Ted Kaldis's Preposterous Pomposity

It would be difficult to list all the allegations, predictions and theories Ted Kaldis posted on Usenet the past two years that proved to be erroneous or simply fiction, but here are a few of the most memorable – mainly because they were repeated ad nauseum ad infititum and resembled an endless loop of insipid muzak:

• The case was a “turkey” and would never go to trial.
• The case would be dismissed and Geragos’s 995 motion would be accepted.
• The preliminary hearing would exonerate Brown; then when the prosecutors called a grand jury, Kaldis predicted that the grand jury would not hand down an indictment.
• That Cameron Brown was railroaded by an aggressive DDA who had ambitions to run for public office.
• That the Palos Verdes Conservancy had organized a conspiracy to charge Brown with murder to protect their fundraising efforts and/or liability issues.
• That the county was liable for Lauren’s death, even though the statute of limitations for a lawsuit had run out.
• That Sarah Marer’s acceptance of an insurance settlement for Lauren’s wrongful death would disqualify the matter for criminal prosecution.
• That Brown’s trial was a violation of his Constitutional rights and that his civil rights were ignored because he was refused bail or that this was some sort of “double jeopardy.”
• That main players in the trial: Sarah Marer, Jeff Leslie, and other law enforcement officers had perjured themselves on the witness stand.
• That Sarah Marer was somehow able to enlist the LA Sheriffs, the DA, and subsequently a reputable jurist in her vendetta against Brown.
• That the DA has nothing better to do than try innocent people for murder; even ordinary, unglamorous baggage handlers.
• That his twin sister Patty got all the “cute genes.”
• That Hayes was a hack and would be disredited at trial. Also, that Hayes had some unseemly events in his history that would embarass him on the stand.
• That the defense never delayed the trial; all the delays were due to the prosecution.
• That Brown would be acquitted at the trial.
• That Mark Geragos was a great lawyer. (ROFL...sorry.)
• That the prosecution shopped for an expert and found a "paid wh*re." (His words, not mine.)
• That there would be “H-bomb-class” revelations at the trial.
• That we who were participating in the discussion didn’t know anything about anything and that he knew everything and it would all be clear once the trial took place; if the trial ever took place, of course.
• That Brown was a “loving father” who “doted” on his daughter and was “overly permissive” because of his affection.
• That the defense would have a "Perry Mason" moment with a surprise witness whose testimony would exonerate Brown.
• That the Browns were fit to take custody of Lauren from her mother, since Sarah was unfit, an illegal immigrant, and that the Browns lived in a tony neighborhood and had more money.
• That the Browns were in excellent financial shape and could buy and sell us all into slavery tomorrow.

Feel free to add those you recall that I missed.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Once Upon a News Group - Part III

Patty Brown first began posting using her real name on my blog last summer after I published an analysis of the case as I knew it at the time (republished in this blog). At first, I thought it was Ted or someone else posting as Patty, since I found it hard to believe that the wife of a defendant charged with first-degree murder would be so indiscrete; especially in a venue where most (if not all) of the participants were clearly in the "guilty" camp. It was a hostile environment where she was either viewed with skepticism at best, or believed to be a “troll” at worst.

A couple of months later, Patty began to participate on one of the bashing blogs and was warmly embraced by the mutts; one of them, not surprisingly, was “Just Amazed” from Usenet (formerly “Mistyblue" from Free Republic; and if you know anything about that message board, you know what kind of politics are expressed there). Eventually, many of the mutts kicked Patty to the curb once they had more information about the case during the trial. (As it is with thieves, there is no honor among psychos). The “moderators” of the bashing blog forbade anyone from discussing the Brown case; how ironic, since all of the posters from that group originated from discussions about the Peterson case or other murder cases that I reviewed on my blog. When taking a position on the Brown case was verboten in Muttville, it was obvious that the mutts were welcoming Patty simply because she shared their contempt of me. Their commonality was a tenuous thread and ultimately snapped when the facts of the case and Ted Kadis’s lies were revealed on Usenet and other forums to which the mutts were privy.

Meanwhile, a strange satellite blog appeared where the author promised to share his observations about various “blog wars” around cyberspace; however, he only managed to post three entries, two of which were devoted to yours truly. He linked his blog to the kennel, and all the eager mutts clicked on this link to read yet more absurd blather about how I had acquired a little army of brain-dead minions who were mesmerized by my sociopathic charms, or other such nonsense. The blog author embedded a site meter to the main page but forgot to make it private, so anyone could click on the meter and see the IP addresses of the people reading his site, including those originating from Muttville. This careless error proved to be the mother lode of information, and I and others noticed that an IP from the Ventura, California area had visited this site several times a day. This IP matched exactly one of Ted Kaldis’s IPs from his posts at Usenet, and the IP of the poster named “Patty Brown” at my blog. Curiouser and curiouser.

Was Ted posting as Patty on my blog and at the kennel? That was our first guess. He vehemently denied this and insisted that they shared a router. I concluded that this could only be the case if he used her computer or lived with her. At that point, Ted had to admit that he was living with his sister who, as it turns out, was his fraternal twin as well. Kaldis had posted on a high school reunion site where his and Patty’s graduation year were the same. Ribald and rambunctious ridicule resulted. Ted’s fellow posters on Usenet found this peculiar revelation to be irresistibly whacky and tormented him for weeks with amusing speculation as to why he would be a stow-away on the ill-fated Brown boxcar destined to derail in short order.

I couldn’t make this stuff up.

Once Ted and Patty’s IP were exposed as the same, Patty challenged Ken Smith from the safety (and censorship) of the kennel to view the information she had gathered that she believed would exonerate her husband. Apparently, she hoped to persuade Ken that Cam had been railroaded by a corrupt and single-minded district attorney and that Lauren’s death was an accident. I’m not sure what she sent Ken, but based on the lack of his subsequent defense of Brown, I assume it wasn’t very convincing. Patty and Ted continued to post disparaging comments about me with their little pals, and they basked in the mutt sympathy. I believe this just served to make them look like bigger fools.

In Usenet and on my blog, I speculated that Patty had something to do with Lauren’s death. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but my intuition told me that she was involved in some way. As it turns out, she was, even if it was just because she nagged Cam to death about getting custody of Lauren (although, that would have been virtually impossible under the circumstances), or because she complained about the money it was costing them in child support. I never believed the Browns were all that well off, especially since we knew that Ted had been living with Patty for several years. Hers and Brown’s credit profile and all the judgments against them and the lien on her house were proof enough.

When Ted posted on Usenet that Patty and Cam had filed for “joint custody” I asked to see the court documents, because I knew it had to be based on bogus information or had never been formally filed. I knew that there was no way that Patty and Cam could demonstrate that taking that child at the tender age of 4 from the only home and parent she knew would ever be in her best interests. Based on the law, the Browns would have had to design a shared parenting agreement that mapped out all the arrangements for where Lauren lived and how she got to school. I knew that the Browns would have had to relocate near Sarah in order for this to be considered by the court. When none of those things ever occurred, I knew that either Ted was lying or that Patty and Cam were lying. The custody issue had never seen the light of a courtroom, and would not even if Lauren were still alive, despite Patty’s diligent research or the Brown’s spurious allegations that Sarah was physically abusing Lauren.

It was outrageous that Patty would consider taking that child (re: “full custody”) from her mother just to spite her husband’s ex-lover or to further solidify her newlywed bliss. Later, the prosecution would posit that this was a way for Patty to have her cake and eat it too. Perhaps her experiments with voodoo or witchcraft were designed to harm Sarah, never imagining that Cam would ultimately kill Lauren. One could argue that Patty Brown indirectly caused Lauren’s murder, and the guilt of that has compelled her to make reckless decisions and expose herself to unnecessary scrutiny. Meanwhile, her twin brother’s frantic theories and protestations on Usenet were becoming equally implausible and desperate.

To be continued.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Once Upon a News Group - Part II

Let’s digress a little and consider the impact that crime forums, news groups, and web logs (blogs) have had on the criminal justice system in general, and murder trials in particular. Before the Internet became a source of instant news and vast information (some credible, some not so credible), we relied on local news sources for updates on criminal cases or current trials. While the Simpson trial was televised, most trials are not, and those of us with jobs and commitments don’t have the luxury of watching trials on Court TV.

Over the past 10 years (and exponentially in the last three years), numerous crime forums, message boards and blogs created the opportunity to follow a criminal case live from the earliest news reports through the verdict and aftermath. The age of instant communication changed the course of crime reporting forever. When I opened my blog in January 2003, I never predicted the kind of following it would attract because of my interest in the Peterson case. My blog was never specifically designed to be a “true-crime” blog, but the Peterson case took on a life of its own. I received leads, inside scoop, emails from people in Modesto and Fresno, tips from people in San Diego, and rather startling information from a person directly involved in the investigation. All because I had a blog that hosted a highly popular discussion section that was well monitored (no small task) and that weeded out the idiots, of which there were many.

Back in the early part of 2003, there weren’t many blogs that covered crime stories, and none that covered the Peterson case in any depth, so I was an unwitting pioneer in that regard. Because of my ability over the subsequent three years to attract a thoughtful and intelligent group of posters, and my ability to construct a well organized and researched summary of a case, I was contacted by parents and friends of victims, law enforcement, lawyers, district attorneys, and of course the random crackpot that threatened me.

In the past three years, blogs have become a reliable source of news, political discussion, inside information, and investigative reporting, and often scoop mainstream media because of their real-time, spontaneous format. Nearly everybody and his uncle has heard of blogs by now, most people with Internet service have read one, and all the news media have a stable of “bloggers” specializing in a specific subject.

By the time I began writing about the Brown case, I had been around for three blog years, which on the Internet is like dog years. I had attracted a wonderful community of posters that became friends in “real life”, as well as a slew of detractors that made a mini-career out of creating bashing threads in crime forums like Court TV and Websleuths to discredit and criticize me for everything from my eyebrows to my modifier-laden prose. Yes, cyber celebrity certainly has its downside.

This is the backdrop for the extraordinary events that occurred when I began to post at Usenet and report about the Brown case on my blog. Imagine all the nameless, faceless individuals reading the entries on my blog or following the various discussions on Usenet; people who know Sarah, knew Lauren, know Ted Kaldis, are coworkers of the defendant, are paralegals working for the defense or prosecution, grew up with the Brown family; countless lurkers who have one or two degrees of separation from the case. Imagine the scrutiny with which everything I and others wrote was under. Imagine how useful the debates among the posters at the news groups and my blog were for the people involved in this case. They must have sprung out of bed every morning with glee, rushing to see how we had helped them do their jobs. Did we realize that? Perhaps; but, blogging is essentially an exercise in vainglory, so the positive and negative impact one’s blog has on a particular case is secondary to its function as self-aggrandizing performance art.

Thus, it should have come as no surprise when we discovered that our conversations were being closely monitored; it was no surprise to me to see the IP addresses of law enforcement, media, government agencies, and an assortment of curious people on my blog daily. I was used to it. However, little did I know that a cadre of my detractors would eventually organize (thanks to my lack of foresight, but who can predict these things?) and produce a number of bashing sites dedicated to defaming me. I probably hold the dubious distinction of having more hate blogs devoted to me than any non-celebrity blogger in the blogosphere. Fortunately, because of Newton’s Laws, the universe has balanced this negative energy with positive energy, and I have attracted the most wonderful friends and supporters that any blogger could ask for.

I wouldn’t have bothered giving you the background of this if it were not essential to understanding the events that followed. Now that you have the big picture, we can continue our story.


As Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. once said in a commencement speech, “Life is full of good guesses and bad guesses.” So it is with discussing murder cases on the Internet. Unlike in the Peterson case where dozens of media groups reported every speck of bellybutton lint, the Brown case received scant news coverage. Where the court documents in Peterson became available within days after being filed by the defense or prosecution, we had no ready access to the motions or decisions in Brown. The autopsy report was sealed indefinitely, there was nothing forthcoming from the prosecution, and the normally publicity-grubbing Mark Geragos was uncharacteristically silent.

With this dearth of official documentation, we were left with our speculation and reading between the lines of Ted Kaldis’s strange and cryptic posts on Usenet. Many of us had valid theories regarding the incident on November 8, 2000. I predicted that Brown was in debt, that he had poor communication skills, that he had probably run through a series of shallow, physical relationships that resulted in ill will, and that he married a woman ten years his elder for her financial security and geographic location. Some of my guesses were proven to be accurate, others will always remain presumption. This is not rocket science; most people accused of murdering their spouse or child share many personality and lifestyle traits. Like amateur profilers, we look for patterns and statistics; however, we bring our prejudices and projection into the discussion and sometimes this taints our point of view. In the news groups, the fact that Ted Kaldis was Brown’s brother-in-law, and that he had made so many enemies in Usenet over the years because of his obnoxious behavior, his support of Brown was instantly suspect and summarily rejected. In retrospect, it would have been far better for Kaldis not to have introduced the Brown case to his associates in Usenet at all. I believe he did far more harm than good to his twin sister’s husband’s case.

Unfortunately (but predictably) for Team Cam, Kaldis was incapable of stifling himself. What we didn’t anticipate was that his sister Patty, the defendant’s wife, would eventually post in my blog and on one of the hate blogs using her own name. Whether she did this out of a reckless desire to refute some of my speculation about Brown, or because Ted’s participation had spiraled out of control, we may never know. What we do know is that because she chose to participate in bashing me for having my opinions, theories and the audacity to publish them, she made herself vulnerable. Although I didn’t have the time or resources to investigate Mrs. Brown, several loyal friends and supporters did. What they discovered about the Brown’s financial profile was even more dire than we had speculated. This unflattering reality was substantiated recently at the first trial. But, this wasn't the only thing we found out because of Patty Brown's participation in "Muttville" (my pet name for the bashing blog)...

To be continued.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Once Upon a News Group...

Beneath the surface details of the People v. Brown lies a subculture of sorts; a back story about the participants in the online dialogue of the case that dates back many years.

Before any of us had ever heard of Cameron Brown or Lauren Key there was a group of posters from the newsgroups (now called “Usenet”: a conglomeration of mostly uncensored discussion groups that sprout like mushrooms on manure) who had been posting together on various topics including law, politics, elections, religion and pop culture. One of the ubiquitous posters was Ted Kaldis, a thoroughly repulsive individual whose racism, bigotry, religious fanatacism, misogyny and hypocrisy rival the most boorish character in a Charles Dickens novel.

My introduction to Usenet was through CountryGirl, who sent me a link to an interesting discussion on the “” group last July regarding the Brown case she had come across. I was vaguely familiar with Usenet and had occasionally viewed threads in there to read about true crime stories I was following at one time or another, but I had never posted there. I had my own blog where I had followed the Peterson case and a few other murder trials in California and made no secret of my disdain for Mark Geragos. My interest in the Brown case stemmed almost exclusively, at first, from the fact that Geragos had signed on as Brown’s attorney. As I became more familiar with the facts, I found the case to be extremely compelling for me on a deeper level than merely chronicling another potential Geragos catastrophe.

I joined the news group and began posting some of my opinions and research about the Brown case, and was welcomed by a number of “regulars” there – kind of like the bar, “Cheers”, including Ken, Kent, Wayne, and Dane. I learned that their mutual nemesis, Ted Kaldis, was related by marriage to the defendant, which was an interesting twist. Needless to say, because I was obviously in the camp that believed Brown was guilty as sin, Kaldis was rude and aggressive to me from the outset. That didn’t faze me too much, since running a blog for three years had inured me to trolls and ad hominem attacks. You have to have a pretty thick skin to run a blog with 400 comments a day from so many virtual strangers, including all manner of idiots, nutcases and apologists for the defendant.

Within a week or so, a new poster joined the group calling herself “Interested”, who, it seemed, was a lot more interested in attacking me than she was in the case. “Interested” was rebuffed by some others in the group after her comments became more bizarre and insulting. Some of us believed she was working for Team Cam because of her tendency to argue rather obscure and sometimes obtuse issues. Suddenly, she left, only to reincarnate a few weeks later as “Just Amazed”; and I was certainly quite amazed at what happened next.

To be continued.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Judge Arnold has declared a mistrial. 2 jurors were not going to change their mind. It was 9-2 1 abstaining on Friday. 9 guilty. They said it wouldn't help to have the attorneys argue.

Jury Update Monday August 14th

KFI just reported the jury was still deadlocked today. The vote on Thursday was 9-3; Friday was 10-2 (SF said 9-2 but that is only 11). The issue reportedly is the element of murder: malice aforethought.

Craig Hum and Mark Geragos will each have a half hour to argue to the jury on that issue this afternoon. Evidently this is more common than reported; no jurors will be allowed to ask questions.

More later as it becomes known....

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Reasonable Doubt

REASONABLE DOUBT (from the law dictionary)- The level of certainty a juror must have to find a defendant guilty of a crime. A real doubt, based upon reason and common sense after careful and impartial consideration of all the evidence, or lack of evidence, in a case. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt, therefore, is proof of such a convincing character that you would be willing to rely and act upon it without hesitation in the most important of your own affairs. However, it does not mean an absolute certainty. The definition of reasonable doubt applies specifically to the guilt-innocence phase of a trial; although the rules are not of constitutional dimension per se . . . [they] serve to implement the constitutional requirement that a criminal conviction cannot stand except upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes referred to as "to a moral certainty," the phrase is fraught with uncertainty as to meaning, but akin to “you’d better be darned sure.” By comparison it is meant to be a tougher standard than "preponderance of the evidence," used as a test to give judgment to a plaintiff in a civil trial.

To the jurors, the presiding Judge should have clarified the definition of reasonable doubt and instructed them to act upon their intelligence and common sense: did the prosecution prove that the defendant committed the crime in question, or are there gaping holes or leaps of logic that derail that conclusion? “Beyond a reasonable doubt” implies that the circumstantial, direct, and physical evidence soundly demonstrates the defendant’s guilt. It does not ask the jurors what else could have happened, but rather what probably did happen, based on the presentation of facts.

The scenario laid out by the People in Brown includes the fact that the trail from the parking lot to the top of the point was over a mile and a half long. It is not reasonable to believe a four-year-old child made that trek willingly; especially considering it would have been a three-mile round trip. If you have children, you may recall thinking on Halloween night that you could only go so far, since you had to walk back home again! Reasonable people think like that. Parents of small children defintely think like that.

The People also presented evidence (subject to a certain amount of interpretation, since nothing is absolute) to demonstrate that Lauren's injuries were incosistent with a "tumble and fall", but were consistent with a long fall. Even if there were a few injuries that resembled something that would happen during a tumbling fall, the fact that the defendant's story contradicts this possibility sort of forfeits it as "reasonable doubt".

The concept of reasonable doubt is misunderstood, misrepresented and misapplied rampantly throughout the news media, conversations, books and by the layperson who doesn't read the law. That's why it's the prosecutor and the judge's burden to make it crystal clear. Let's hope Hum and Arnold did or will before they give up on this jury.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hung Jury?

Judge Arnold sent them back to deliberate. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cognitive Dissonance and Child Murder

Nobody wants to believe that a father would kill his child, no matter what the circumstances; especially a father who seems mentally normal and capable of making intelligent decisions that affect his life, such as marriage, employment and recreation. Even calculated decisions that are self-centered are still decisions. We think of a parent that kills his child as someone who must be mentally ill. A seemingly normal person could not violate the laws of nature so blithely. Our natural resistance to trusting evidence that points to a father killing his child in cold blood out of entirely selfish motives is referred to as “cognitive dissonance”. It’s a wall our minds build against accepting facts contrary to our ingrained belief system.

The jurors in California v. Brown are probably experiencing this cognitive dissonance as they deliberate the evidence in the case. They have to not only wrap their minds around the science and gruesome medical facts of a child falling from over 100 feet to her death, but also the incomprehensible concept that a father would intentionally throw the child over like a piece of stray baggage. Theirs is not a task any of us would envy.

Does the jury trust Craig Hum and Jeff Leslie? Do they trust Geragos? Has Geragos kept his promises? Judging by his opening statements, he hasn’t. Instead, he resorted to “bait and switch” maneuvers with regard to witnesses he promised to deliver, including one who saw Brown crying over his daughter’s body, screaming, “Don’t die! Please don’t die.” What happened to that witness? Similarly, Geragos promised to refute the forensic and scientific evidence as “hooey”! Judging by what was reported in newspapers and on the radio, that didn’t happen, either. If the defense possessed the “exculpatory evidence” it claimed, why didn’t it present this months (or years) ago when Brown was cooling his heels in jail? If the jury’s trust in Geragos is realistically scant, perhaps the length of the deliberations (going into its fourth day) is due to cognitive dissonance. I suspect there are a couple of hold-out jurors who cannot grasp the cruel reality of this murder.

Geragos struggled to sell Brown as an innocent, falsely-accused man incapable of violence or malicious intent toward his child. He tried to convince the jurors of Brown’s loving relationship with Lauren without putting him on the stand. He tried to defuse the economic motive by arguing the unlikely scenario that the Browns had access to $60K in retirement accounts and property value. Besides trying to portray Brown as a great father and provider, he attempted to refute the scientific and forensic evidence with relatively weak witnesses.

Did Geragos’s lame defense actually send a signal to the jurors that his client is guilty?

The jurors will want to leave this trial feeling good about their decision. Will they be able to face their families, communities, and selves with a “not guilty” verdict? Will they hang and thus prolong the already tortuous agony to the victims’ family and leave the decision to another jury of their fellow Californians?

Can they acquit Brown based on a few snapshots, a birthday cake and a life-sized doll? I submit that they will not. They will overcome their cognitive dissonance and bring back a verdict of guilty. Keep the faith.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Country Girl's Summary of the Defense Closing Arguments - and Rebuttal

Mark Geragos stood directly in front of the jury box when he gave his closing arguments. He likes to get up close and personal; I think it’s his way of pseudo-connecting with the hoi polloi. “I’m just the guy next door! You can trust me!” But he comes off as an oily used-car salesman. He started out by saying that most lawyers despise coming on right after lunch because the jurors tend to nod off. (Then he taps the jury box railing. Don’t you dare fall asleep during my swan song!)

He said he only gets to speak once—Hum gets another chance to talk after he’s finished, but Geragos only gets one chance to speak. (So listen up and listen good!)

This case is nothing more than an accident, he claims. The jury should come back with a not guilty verdict.

The prosecutor has demonized Cameron Brown, referring to him as The Defendant, calling Geragos the Defandant’s lawyer. They are dehumanizing Cameron Brown. They made him subhuman to the jurors. They portrayed him as a man without emotions. Oh, but he was a man with an endless capacity of love for his daughter.

He talked about Inspiration Point. You (jury) went out there yesterday - the prosecution is trying this case on emotions. “If it looks dangerous you must convict!”

He talked about reasonable doubt and used visual aids to show the jury instruction about reasonable doubt. Read it to them like they were kindergartners.

He said the jury needs to look at what the evidence said, not what the prosecution wants you to believe. He said the prosecution said innocent people don’t have to lie. Sarah lied! Sarah lied when she said Cameron Brown laughed on the phone. You heard the tapes and there was no laughter. The prosecution said they broke up because Sarah was pregnant. The fact is they broke up over an argument about a car loan.

He showed the birthday pictures again of Lauren and Cameron. This reminded me of the famous “curling iron” picture he kept showing the jury in Peterson. He seems to hone in on one image and reiterate its alleged significance over and over again hoping just one juror will have a Ger-Eureka moment.)

He showed the jury the email to the CalTech professor, Joel Burdick, where Danny Smith asked if Burdick could use “magic” to prove Lauren was thrown. Why did the defense have to show this to you? What did the prosecution have to hide it? They never called Danny Smith. They never called the last person to see Lauren alive. It would have been the neutron bomb of their case. (This was Terry Hope. On cross—he said Cameron gave him a strange look and he told detectives he felt “something was wrong.” Similar to Diane Jackson who saw a white van parked across the street from Laci Peterson’s house the morning of December 24 who “looked at her funny.” Does anyone else see a pattern, here?)

He said that his cross of Hayes dismantled his testimony. (More Gera-Logic.) He showed a video of Hayes’ assistant with a harness and went on about how the rope got tight and that’s what kept him from falling forward, not the laws of physics.

He said the prosecution doesn’t want to tell you about another choice of involuntary manslaughter. The jury will receive instructions tomorrow about that.

He hammered Jeff Leslie for not taping the interview with Cameron Brown and told the jury they will receive instructions about statements made by a defendant out of court to police officers and that they should be taken with extreme caution. (Hindsight is 20/20.)

Yet he turned around and said that the witness who gave Cameron the cell phone at the nude beach said Cameron sounded much more frantic than he did on the tape and so the jury should go by what the witness said an not so much the tape. Keep in mind that Geragos cherry-picks what he wants the jury to consider, regardless of its inconsistency. Yes, let’s bash the cops for not taping the interview but instruct the jury to disregard the same cop’s eye-witness testimony about Brown’s demeanor.

He talked about how Brown spent six hours with law enforcement, but was expected to call Sarah after that? To what end? He’s married to Patty! (This elicited audible groans from the gallery.)

He said that if defendants don’t have an “Oprah-style moment”, they are considered guilty. If Cameron reacts—he’s condemned. If he doesn’t—he’s condemned. He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. (Geragos hasn’t yet written the playbook on how accused murderers should act in court, eh?)

He brought up the financial issues (Cameronomics) and said there was no evidence that Patty didn’t share her money with Brown. He said the prosecution even got his fee of $250K in front of the jury, which is cheap for three lawyers on a case for three years.

He also mentioned the guy who yelled “Guilty” at IP during the trip. I haven’t a clue why he would bring that up---but it woke me up because I was nodding off about then.

He said they (the prosecution) are going to slam Cam. That’s their case. So when the prosecutor does his rebuttal, think of things to rebut him. (Yeah, he actually said that in so many words)

4pm - Hum’s Rebuttal

It’s not your job to rebut my argument as the defense just asked.

The defendant’s lawyer didn’t deliver what he promised in opening statements. Where’s the Don’t Die Guy? If the defendant’s lawyer wants to bring witnesses or evidence that we don’t—we aren’t hiding anything—they are free to bring it themselves. Nothing stopped them from doing that.

The defendant’s lawyer implied that Jeff Leslie lied about the defendant’s story. If Jeff Leslie was going to make up a story, wouldn’t it be a better story to say that 10 minutes into the interview the defendant confessed? Why make up this story? It makes no sense. Jeff Leslie has no reason to lie.

We have to include involuntary manslaughter because it’s the law…we don’t want you to convict him on that. He’s guilty of first degree murder. We know the truth!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Country Girl's Observations at Closing Arguments

Craig Hum is the epitome of the tall, dark and handsome DA. The only thing missing was a white hat. Pacing the floor, never sitting down, it was obvious he took his job very seriously. He approached the podium near the jury with a quiet but passionate determination to tell the story of how and why Lauren Key Marer was killed by her biological father, Cameron John Brown.

Next to him at the prosecutor’s table was Detective Jeff Leslie, the homicide detective characterized by the defense as the demon of the Brown trial just as Brochinni was in the Scott Peterson trial. It comes with the job, and Leslie has the broad shoulders to handle it. He has an actor’s good looks and rarely smiles; but when he does, his eyes twinkle. He’s an imposing figure. Hum and Leslie proved a formidable team for Lauren.

While Team Geragos had laptops, Team Hum carried its case files on a cart with Leslie providing the muscle. There were dozens of binders stacked on the prosecution’s table: evidence of the nearly six years it took to get this case to its final showdown. Jeff Leslie could have taken the easy way out and accepted Brown’s word that Lauren’s death was an accident. He could have ignored all the red flags and warning bells going off in his head. But to do that would be to ignore Lauren’s final moments. She was a precious angel, gone just weeks after her fourth birthday. Gone were her beautiful eyes and her infectious smile. Leslie knew it was no accident, and so did Craig Hum. And now, he hoped to summarize the proof to the jury that would decide Cameron Brown’s fate beginning today.

My daughter Heather and I arrived late Wednesday night and stayed at a hotel near the Torrance courthouse. By the time Luke and I scouted out the ice and snack machines and Heather got the kids settled in, it was midnight before I got into bed. I called for a 6am wakeup call and a taxi for 7am. I was afraid I wouldn’t get a seat since all of the Los Angeles television stations covered the jury’s trip to Inspiration Point in their evening news. Cameron Brown was shown standing between two armed deputies with his hands and ankles chained. Geragos and Hum were both interviewed. The press that Ted said would be ‘all over this case’ finally showed up.

My cabbie questioned why I wanted to get to the courthouse so early the next morning. The parking lot was completely empty and the building was locked. I told him I was there for closing statements for a trial I had been following and wanted to make sure I got a seat in the courtroom because of the media attention last night.

I waited outside for the building to open at 7:30am and the guard inside waved at me, pointing at his watch. I nodded back to him that I knew I had a 15-minute wait and a within a few minutes, people starting arriving. At 7:25am, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s prisoner’s bus pulled into the drive, going around the back of the courthouse. Cameron John Brown had arrived. I felt a chill go through me. Later in the day, a friend of Sarah’s asked me what drew me to this case. She probably thought I was crazy. I can’t point to one single reason because there are many. I am a mother with two beautiful daughters and a grandmother with four beautiful grandchildren. My first granddaughter was born just two months before Lauren’s death in 2000. When I hold my grandchildren, I find it impossible to believe there is such evil that could hurt a child. But I know it exists. It came that morning in a bus. It was there, going in the building, and soon I would be in the same room with it.

The guard unlocked the glass doors and I was the first visitor in the building. After going through the metal detector, I asked where I could find Department G. It was on the fourth floor. I took the elevator up and found myself alone in a large glassed in corridor with several courtrooms overlooking the parking lot. People trickled in but they all sat in front of other courtrooms. I checked out the docket for Judge Arnold’s courtroom and saw that the Cameron Brown case was #11 for that morning. One case was crossed out, so there were 10 other cases being heard before the closing arguments were to begin. These turned out to be probation violation hearings and they only lasted a few minutes each. Still, I had time, so I asked a woman who worked on that floor where I might find a cup of coffee. She said she was headed to the cafeteria and would show me the way.

I got a cup of coffee and checked in with Loretta to let her know I was in the courthouse and looked like I would get a seat. I headed back up to the fourth floor to see if the courtroom doors were unlocked. They were supposed to be open at 8:30am. You enter double wooden doors to get in the courtroom and they lead to a small hallway about four feet by eight feet with a door on each side. It’s like a mini entry and probably helps with the outside sound as well. I chose the door on the left and it just so happens that is the prosecution’s side of the courtroom. I had no idea but I took that as a sign of good luck.

Just inside the door were three younger women speaking quietly and I took a seat one seat over towards the door. They had British accents and I immediately wondered if one of them was Sarah. I had never seen her but knew she was very attractive and all of these women were attractive young ladies, about the age of my youngest daughter. Shortly after I sat down, one of them approached me and asked what trial I was there to see. I told her the Cameron Brown trial. We were following it on the internet and this was my last chance to see it and that’s why I came. She asked me what my name was on the internet and I told her Country Girl. Her face lit up and she said, “You’re Country Girl?” She told me the women in their group would speculate when they saw visitors at the trial if one of them could be CG or Loretta, and she immediately asked me if Loretta was coming. I told her Loretta couldn’t come but that I had just been with Loretta last weekend. They adore Loretta!

She introduced me to the others, but I won’t use any names here to in order to protect their privacy. I invited them to post after the trial is over if and when they feel comfortable doing so and they don’t have to use their real names. They are a big support to Sarah. They have put their lives on hold to support her through this difficult trial; true friends in every sense of the word. I am proud to have met them. Few people have such good friends. They were there early to save seats for Sarah and her family and friends.

Craig Hum’s girlfriend, “Y” came over and introduced herself. She is a gorgeous blonde. I was surrounded by gorgeous women! I told her I wanted to meet Jeff Leslie, my hero. I wanted to personally thank him. “Y” told Sarah’s friends that she would check with the judge and give up her seat and stand if they needed more seats, and of course I offered to do the same. I would sit in the corner if need be before I would take the seat of Sarah’s family. It turned out neither of us had to, there were enough seats.

About then, one of Sarah’s friends said Sarah was coming in and I looked up to see a striking blonde wearing a green jacket and I was face to face with Lauren’s mother. They told her who I was and I reached to shake her hand and instead she gave me a warm hug. I fought back tears. It was a very emotional moment for me. Sarah would later tell her family and friends about our blog and that we wrote ‘their side’ on the internet. I could feel her inner strength, whatever kept her going for Lauren; her faith was immense. She was about to sit through the final battle for Lauren’s justice after a long and difficult wait.

Sarah’s mother came in and sat beside me. We felt an immediate bond. We hugged and both wiped away our tears. She lost her adorable granddaughter, Lauren.

I couldn’t see the defense side of the courtroom from my seat so I stood up and glanced around the corner to see Cameron Brown at the defense table. I could only see his back as he sat there in a suit. Patty Brown was nowhere in sight. I didn’t see Ted at that time either. Later, during a break, I saw Brown’s parents. Apparently, Judge Arnold relented and allowed Bob Brown in for closing arguments. There were no disruptions yesterday other than a few groans when Geragos gave his rambling monologue when he talked about why Cameron didn’t call Sarah after Lauren’s death - according to him, Brown was, after all, married to Patty.

The jury came in at 10:45am and Hum took the podium for over two hours. As Nick Green of the Daily Breeze said, it was riveting. I fought back tears. A bailiff brought a box of tissues to Sarah. Greg, Sarah’s husband, comforted her with his arm around her shoulder, soothing her, holding her.

When Hum finished his closing arguments, Judge Arnold broke the courtroom for a short lunch break. The jury filed out past me and then the rest of us left. It was then I saw Brown’s parents standing by the elevator. They didn’t look happy. I took off alone, since I wanted to give Sarah and her family and friends privacy. It was enough that I was allowed to sit with them.

As I was leaving, I got to meet and shake hands with Jeff Leslie. As we shook hands, he flashed me a knowing smile. This case had gotten to both our hearts and he knew it. I took the next elevator down to the cafeteria and saw Sarah and her mum again. The lines were long and a bailiff asked Sarah if she could get her food expedited for her but Sarah said they weren’t ordering from the grill. I grabbed a muffin and headed out to the patio and called Loretta.

When the break was over and we returned to the fourth floor the doors to the courtroom were locked. As the jurors returned the bailiff opened the door for them and locked it again. Ted was stationed to the right of the door and he would do the pounding. He looked right at me several times and I looked right back. He had no idea who I was.

The bailiff came out and asked for the family to come in. I stayed outside. I stood near Shannon Ferran from KFI and Lisa from the Los Angeles Times. Lisa and I talked earlier. She introduced herself and we discussed the fact that the LA Times hadn’t covered the trial before, but she will be writing an overview of the case.

Shannon sat beside Sarah all morning. She’s cute as can be: very young and blonde and you would know that voice anywhere. I told her I was the one that sent John & Ken the grand jury transcripts. She had to leave early that afternoon to file her report with KFI.

After a few minutes, one of Sarah’s friends came out the double doors and straight toward me as I was standing with Shannon and Lisa. She said, “You’re coming with me!” The bailiff stopped us as we were going through the double doors and said, “Is this family?” and Sarah’s friend said, “Yes, this is family.” I went inside and they had saved my seat for me. They wanted me sitting with them. It moved me to tears. I truly felt like I was there to represent their internet family: people they might never meet but who were supporting them; people from different states and countries sending their love, prayers and strength. We were all there right with them in that courtroom. That’s why I was there.

Then Mark Geragos gave his closing argument. He waved pictures of Lauren and Brown in front of the jury as if those staged birthday party photos demonstrated his fatherly devotion for what entailed 14 days of Lauren’s life. It made me ill. I can’t imagine what Sarah was feeling listening to this garbage!

When Geragos finished, Craig Hum gave his rebuttal and it was over. Again, the jury filed out and then we left the courtroom. When I left, Lisa from the Los Angeles Times was talking to Sarah. I took the elevator down and saw Heather waving to me from a parking space right in front of the building. She had taken the grandchildren to the Aquarium for the day and they were both sleeping in the car. She took a picture of me standing in front of the building with the sign up behind me. Then Ted exited the building. She knew who he was from his picture, and she had been concerned about him because of his comments to me online. I told her I wasn’t afraid of him, but she is protective of her mother. She snapped a picture of him and a couple of Geragos when he came out. His team happened to be parked right next to her and they were loading their equipment in their SUV and looking at us. We had both agreed that no pictures were to be taken of Sarah or her family.

I got into the car and we were getting ready to leave when someone from Sarah’s group came over and said, “We are going to take a picture on the courthouse steps and we want Country Girl in the picture.” Heather asked if she could take a group shot as well and they said yes. So we all got up there in a group and took pictures and then said our goodbyes. We hugged. The last thing Sarah said to me was, “Please tell Loretta hello for me.” I did.

Closing Arguments - Part I

Craig Hum paced the floor before giving his closing argument. He’d prepared for this moment for nearly six years, and it was finally here. The jury came in at 10:45 am. One of the jurors has to drop out and an alternate will be selected to deliberate in her place; yet, she still came for the closing. These are just two of many examples of people dedicated to seeing justice for Lauren Key.

Hum told the jury about the different degrees of murder; in this case, first degree murder with special circumstances of lying in wait and financial gain. He explained what each of these terms meant. He also talked about second degree murder and its distinctions. (In California, it’s a very small line.)

Hum conceded that it was a “circumstantial evidence” case but reminded the jury that circumstantial evidence is just as valid as direct evidence. The crime scene, Inspiration Point, was their best evidence.

He went on to say the defendant’s entire story was a lie. No way in the world did it happen like the defendant said it did. He said the defendant is lying and innocent people don’t need to lie. It was a lie that Lauren took off ahead of the defendant and the defendant couldn’t keep up. No way in the world.

He reminded the jury that it was just 7 weeks ago that Sarah Key-Marer testified in the trial.

The defense made it sound as though Brown didn’t know Sarah was pregnant. Yet the defendant told his friends and even his ex-girlfriend that he had gotten her pregnant. He tried to get her fired from her job and deported. He took her to see a counselor at Kaiser and they discussed abortion. So how could he say he didn’t know she was pregnant?

He cried to his ex-girlfriend that he wasn’t ready to be a father. He never wanted Lauren. He was vindictive, spiteful, malicious. He hid from Sarah. He moved his boat and changed his phone number frequently and told his work not to take her calls. He knew she was pregnant.

When he finally had to pay nearly $1,000 a month child support, he immediately tried to get it reduced. He heard from some counselor that he could get it lowered if he had more visitation, so he applied again to get it lowered and asked for joint legal custody and 32% visitation---and he had never even met Lauren.

At first, Brown agreed to the adoption and wanted it done within 30 days. Why? In February 2000 it was discussed with Sarah and in March 2000 he married Patty Kaldis. Patty wanted Lauren for herself. He needed to get the adoption done before he married Patty.

When he started having unsupervised visits with Lauren, she came home and said “Papa Cam is going to put you in jail for stealing his money.” He tormented and terrorized Sarah by taking Lauren on his boat and motorcycle, and by putting her suitcase in the middle of the street and demanding that Lauren get it.

The defendant never to this day told Sarah how Lauren died. He refused to tell her.

When the Sheriff’s department wired Sarah in January 2001, he called the airport police on her and wanted Sarah prosecuted. He lied and said she threatened to kill him. He made it up and wanted her prosecuted for his lie. It was on tape—she never threatened him. He made it all up.

In August 2000, just 3 months before Lauren’s death, she refused to go on a hike. She was the only one who refused to go. No way would Lauren have initiated the hike that day at Inspiration Point. The defendant is lying.

And, if he planned on taking Lauren back to his condo that day, why would he have a disposable camera so handy? He hadn’t planned on going to the beach that day, according to his story. Yet, he took 3 pictures of Lauren and offered the camera to the detectives to show them that Lauren was ‘happy’ that day.

He had 3 versions of what happened and what he saw that day. 1) She was just ‘gone’. 2) He heard oh, oh and saw her feet going over the side of the cliff—and 3) he saw her left side falling forward over the cliff.

However, none of his versions fit the scenario of his expert, Dr Yamaguchi, of tumbling. The defendant never saw her tumble.

During the 5 minute 911 call, the defendant never once said “Hurry up!”. Never said “Come on!” Instead, he goes back up over IP and down the other side and what does he do? Takes off all his clothes except his boots and underwear because he saw it on “Baywatch”.

During his entire time with law enforcement he never once blamed himself for Lauren’s death. He blamed Lauren.

He never once said her name when he spent 3 hours with Jeff Leslie. When the cliff was checked there was no evidence of sliding on the edge of Inspiration Point. And a week later, he was ready to move on. Can’t dwell on it.

Both Cameron and Patty Brown immediately went out and got lawyers. The jury also has a note in the evidence they will look at in deliberations from Patty Brown to Cameron.

Patty writes Cameron a note: Seek full legal and physical custody.

And on that very day, when he couldn’t reach her on the phone—it was because she was online researching how to get more custody of Lauren.

When they searched his home they found a cigar box hidden under their bed with 2 cut out photos of Sarah.

The defendant lied to the court about a WC case saying his salary was lowered and it wasn’t.

The defense says the money wasn’t a hardship. That ‘they’ had over $60K in the bank. It was Patty’s money and the majority of it was in retirement accounts (70+%). The defendant had $96.21 in the bank.

The defense brought in the mediator and she said the defendant was angry and frustrated at his mother. She was concerned about his emotional and psychological instability.

Of course he did it.

(To be continued)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

August 3 Update from KFI

Thanks to Charlie for this update.

CG was at the trial today and met the main players. We'll be getting a detailed report from her later.

Meanwhile, here is Charlie's transcription of the KFI update:

SF: Mr. Hum stood from behind the podium, very clear voice, strong, very organized. He pointed out from the get go that clearly this was a circumstantial evidence case. This CE case is just as good as direct evidence. The most important evidence we have seen, first hand. You saw the cliff, you saw the contours, the distances of the trails. We know from going out there that the defendants story, that this little girl lead him on the 1 ½ mile hike is a lie, and absolute lie. Innocent people don’t need to lie. (That was the reoccurring theme of his closing.)
He talked about from the beginning, CB never wanted a child, he was a bachelor, living the life of a bachelor on a boat, he wanted Sarah to get an abortion, from day 1 he didn’t want to be a father. Mr. Hum addressed the way CB treated Sarah, how he reported her to INS, how he had such anger for her, how CB would take Lauren out on his boat, he would pick Lauren up from school on his motorcycle. All these things CB did just to irritate Sarah. He used Lauren to get at Sarah. The only reason he requested more visitation was to get his CS reduced.
Next was the reaction of Sarah to the fact that Lauren had died. She was hysterical, vomiting, and hyperventilating. This is how a parent reacts.

He then talked about Lauren. She was a “girly girl”, scared of heights, that when the babysitter (she took care of her since she was 2 months old) went out to IP, she said Lauren would NEVER have wanted to come out here. She would have been scared out of her mind. 2 months before Lauren was launched to her death, she went on a Christian camping trip and all the kids went on the trip but Lauren stayed back. Lauren never wanted to hike, she was scared of worms. (SF said she saw more than 2 or 3 spiders out there yesterday that even she was scared of.) Lauren didn’t like to walk, even when the babysitter took her to the park 2 blocks away, Lauren wanted to be taken in the stroller.It was pointed out that this would have been a 3 mile round trip hike, 5K.

(Good point.)

CB had said that he was going to take Lauren home that day, but that she was upset when he picked her up and that’s why he decided to take her to the beach. Mr. Hum said, “Why did he have a camera? He never had a camera on any of her other visits?” There were pictures of CB and Lauren together, but other people were taking the pictures. “Now all of the sudden he has a camera and he’s snapping pictures of her in the parking lot and the playground. Where are the pictures of her at the top of IP? There was plenty of film.” CB offered the camera up that night to investigators saying that he had pictures of her and that she was happy.
He talked about the different versions CB gave that night during interrogation. There were different versions because CB was lying. Once again, innocent people do not need to lie. You can hear on the 911 tape that he is apologizing to the naked guy that emergency crews are going to be coming out.

During the interrogation the detectives said to CB, this is your fault, and CB said, “No it’s her fault, she’s the one who wanted to go up there.” He never referred to Lauren by her name during the entire time.

They also showed CB a Polaroid picture of Laurens’ smashed face and CB didn’t react.
SF is sitting next to Sarah. At this point the whole courtroom is sobbing. Nick from the Breeze told SF at the break that he saw one of the jurors sobbing, she didn’t see it. It was really gut-wrenching at that point. CB didn’t react at the cliff, the picture, etc. The character witnesses the MG dug up? He puts his mother, brother, and someone CB hasn’t seen or talked to in 10 yrs.? Real impressive. He puts his mother up there to say he was nice. Where’s the Don’t Die Guy? We never heard from the one’s that were promised in OS because they don’t exist.
Geragos: Geragos gets right in front of the jury, right up there. They are trying to demonize CB. That’s the only way you can reconcile the idea that he would throw his “beloved” 4 yr, old off the cliff. He’s not a demon, he’s a human being.

Reasonable doubt was next. It only takes a small amount of doubt and your conviction is out the window. It doesn’t matter if you like or don’t like my client, (shades of Peterson?) that doesn’t give you grounds to convict.

He talked about there were not 3 different versions that night, in the detectives notes there was only one version that CHANGED A FEW TIMES. OK.
Put yourself in CB’s shoes, he meets this woman at a bar, within a week they have sex, then you get a call that she’s pregnant, wouldn’t you question the paternity? Right out of the box she’s pregnant?

SF said that what he was getting at was that he didn’t want an abortion; he wanted to check the paternity.
He went on to talk about how much CB drove to see his daughter. Look at all the traffic his client endured.

Terry Hope was brought up next. When she went out there yesterday, she said that he saw her closer to IP than she could tell in the courtroom pictures. TH testified that when he saw them she was happy, smiling and she was leading. Geragos said that's enough reasonable doubt alone. The way you need to look at reasonable doubt is imagine jurors, one of your friends or loved ones is accused of something horrendous and you're skeptical, you need to go into this with the same doubt as if it was one of your loved ones, until there’s evidence/proof that he or she did the crime. We have no evidence that CB threw this little girl off the cliff. There is evidence that he loved her. There are pictures of him at birthday parties, smiling and hugging and he drove all that way to see her. Even if you have a strong suspicion, that’s not enough to convict him.
The jury gets the case tomorrow morning according to SF. Geragos wasn’t done when she was reporting. Hum still has his rebuttal.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Narcissist's Playbook for Grief

We are all familiar with The Narcissist's Handbook of Romance, but recently, an exciting discovery in the locked steamer trunk of a recently deceased card-carrying narcissist uncovered a rare, slim, yellowed volume of instructions entitled, The Narcissist's Playbook for Grief. Unfortunately, the musty pages were water damaged and began to disintegrate upon inspection, but we were able to salvage several partial passages for scientific evaluation.

Obviously written by a fellow narcissist, the playbook offers atrocious advice to its members, which may account for why so many suspects of crimes we have observed over the years have behaved in such inappropriate ways. For example, the Handbook recommends the following activities upon learning that your loved one has "disappeared" or died:
  • Obstruct the investigation by obtaining defense counsel immediately, refuse a polygraph, demand a search warrant, and immediately become unavailable and incommunicado, even if that means residing in a Motel 6 or living in your vehicle until the heat dies down.

  • Be sure to keep in touch with your star "witnesses" by continuing to call them, even during vigils, funerals, press conferences, and interviews. They will be particularly sympathetic to your plight if you maintain the role of victim.

  • Keep your appearance impeccable by insisting on manicures, a new wardrobe, makeovers, and hair coloring.

  • Always keep on hand a sizeable amount of cash to avoid having to go to banks or use your credit cards that would leave a paper trail of your purchases.

  • Liquidate the missing (or dead) loved one's property wherever feasible for ready cash or to replace it with something for yourself. You deserve it.

  • Enjoy your life! Eat, drink and be merry! Continue your recreational pursuits. You are entitled to the finest things in life. Your missing/dead loved one would not want you to mope.

  • Remodel the loved one's room into a den or extra storage space as soon as possible. There is no reason for that room to go to waste or become a shrine.

  • Have friends and family organize fund-raisers for the investigation with all the proceeds going to your private account to which you have easy access.
    Treat yourself to a vacation and some new jewelry as a reward for your psychological stress.

  • When you suspect you are being targeted as the offending party, or just before a court-ordered appearance, book a flight to South America, Mexico, Canada, or France, or anywhere extradition will be difficult. You can safely enjoy your well-deserved freedom for years.

  • Conduct selected interviews with carefully crafted questions and answers that emphasize your innocence. Should you be camera-shy, hire a public relations specialist to speak on your behalf, or enlist your brother-in-law to take up your cause in News Groups.

  • Last, but not least, hire Mark Geragos as your criminal defense attorney. This will signal your absolute, factual innocence to the public.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Cameron Brown 911 Call Exerpt on KFI John & Ken Show 7-10-06

Cameron Brown calling 911 after Lauren Key-Marer (his 4-year old biological daughter) allegedly fell from Inspiration Point (picture on screen). He's telling the nude bathers that 'someone is coming' and they might want to get dressed. Notice the chuckle when he says:

"Yeah, I told him that. You guys, you guys might want to get dressed so, huh, they're gonna be coming." (chuckle)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Cameron Brown 9-1-1 Transcript Exerpts

Excerpts from the 9-1-1 call Cameron Brown made to Los Angeles Communication Center on November 8, 2000:

911 OPERATOR: 9-1-1 emergency, what are you reporting?

BROWN: Um, my daughter fell off a cliff in Palos Verdes

OPERATOR: Where, where at in Palos Verdes?

BROWN: Uh, Portuguese Bend.

OPERATOR: Sir, you down at San Pedro area?

BROWN: No, not San Pedro. It’s Palos Verdes area.

OPERATOR: O. Port – is there cross streets where they get across from?

BROWN: Uh, no cross streets, god. Wayfarer’s Chapel, in Inspiration Point. That area.

OPERATOR: Ok, um, ok.

BROWN: Uh, the sun bathing beach, uh…

MALE VOICE: Abalone Cove

BROWN: Abalone Cove. I parked at Abalone Cove parking lot and hiked. So, I hiked (inaudible).

OPERATOR: Ok, one second, one second please, alrighty?

BROWN: Ok. Oh, shit, oh, man, oh, thanks for letting me use your phone.

OPERATOR: How, how bad is she? Is she –

BROWN: I don’t know. I haven’t gone down and found her. I just found somebody with a phone and called you first. Now, I’m going to look.

OPERATOR: Ok. Be careful, be careful, be careful.

BROWN: I’ll have to backtrack to get down.

MALE VOICE: (inaudible)

BROWN: Yeah, well, no, you need shoes.

MALE VOICE: I got some.

BROWN: Mine?

MALE VOICE: (inaudible)

BROWN: Yeah. Yeah, I told him that. You guys, you guys might want to get dressed so, huh, they’re gonna be coming.

VOICE: What?

BROWN: I don’t know. I had to come back this way. I couldn’t see her.

OPERATOR: Ok, I’m gonna put you at, um, I see where Portuguese Bend is. I’m gonna put it on Palos Verdes, um, south, um, you’re gonna be west off Cherry Hilll, so hold on one second.

BROWN: Ok. (Inaudible) somebody’s gonna be coming so, huh (laughing), sorry.

OPERATOR: What is your name, sir?

BROWN: Cameron Brown.

911 OPERATOR: How old is your daughter?


(Later in the call after the fire department has been informed) –

VOICE: Ok, now, uh, what seems to be the problem?

BROWN: My daughter fell off a cliff in Palos Verdes.

VOICE: Ok, how far down did she go, approximately?

BROWN: Oh, I don’t know. That’s really far. A hundred yards.

FEMALE VOICE: Uh, yards?

BROWN: Yeah, looks like.

VOICE: Ok, sir, let me confirm this. Palos Verdes Drive, cross is Cherry Hill Lane…

911 OPERATOR: Actually, he said he’s at the, um, at the Portuguese Bend area which is Portuguese Point.

MALE VOICE: Right, I got Portuguese Point. I have Inspiration Point. All of that…

911 OPERATOR: Yeah.

BROWN: The sunbathing beach.

MALE VOICE: Sun bathing beach?

BROWN: Yeah, you know, where the nude bathers go. I don’t know.

OPERATOR: He accessed from Abalone Cove, is where he parked.


OPERATOR: Are you closer to Inspiration Point or Portuguese Point?

MALE VOICE: Do you know which one you’re closer to?

BROWN: (Inaudible) points are. I, you know, I don’t know. I’m in between, right now, the sun bathing beach and I’m on the east point. She fell of the east point from there… by the firing range. Yeah, by the archery range. I borrowed this phone and every time I move, it cuts off. I’m standing here and he’s, he, the guy I borrowed the phone from, he went down to look.


MALE VOICE: We’re gonna have units on their way.

BROWN: Thank you.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Transcripts show Brown to be Malignant Manipulator

It is clear from reading the testimony of the trial transcripts so far (as opposed to Ted & Patty Kaldis's skewed interpretation) that Brown was a liar, a manipulator, a misanthrope and went to great lengths to punish Sarah Key, Lauren, and anyone else (including his own mother) who thwarted him from getting his way.

Maybe he was a spoiled brat as a child, because he obviously never grew up. His maturity level is at about a 13-yr old level. He has outbursts, he's quick to anger, he's a hot head, he's violent, he's sadistic, he's sarcastic, he's opportunistic, he plays both sides against the middle, he plays mind games, he gaslights, he baits and switches, and he obtained perverse pleasure in hurting Sarah and Lauren Key.

His behavior throughout the year he had supervised and later unsupervised visitation with Lauren was fraught with conflict and cruelty. Until Patty came along, he was living on a boat that was unsafe for small children, yet he continued to take Lauren there even after a court order was issued to prevent it. He enlisted his new wife in the tag-team of mean.

He violated the court orders, complained about the judges, complained about the mediator, complained about Sarah, undermined and criticized his mother, undermined and criticized Sarah, undermined and criticized Greg Marer, undermined and criticized Lauren's step-brother, and frightened Lauren on several occasions between ages 3 and 4.

There is an incident where he threw Lauren into a hot tub knowing she could not swim. There is an incident where he left her suitcase in the middle of the road and told her to come fetch it. There is an incident where he peeled rubber out of the Key-Marer's driveway and Patty lost her balance inside the doorjam and Greg's son was almost slammed by the side door of the VW van. There is an incident where he dropped her off from a visitation and drove off without seeing her to the door. There is an incident where he explodes with rage over Sarah borrowing a quarter from his car during their dating days. There is an incident where he ditches Sarah on a date because she wanted to buy a used baby swing for $13.

He fails to prove a back injury in order to maintain a lower child support order. He lies about the amount of visitation he has in a court document regarding custody issues. He calls CPS on Sarah and accuses her of child abuse because of some shin bruises and a rash on Lauren's face. (All kids get shin bruises.)

He probably lied through his teeth to Patty about his relationship with Sarah and misrepresented the entire scenario to her as if Sarah tried to get pregnant to stay in the USA. He tries to have Sarah deported. He threatens her on several occasions, not least the time when Sarah complained that he was not prepared for shared custody and lacked parenting skills. He did lack parenting skills. I wouldn't trust him with a houseplant. He says to her, "I'll get you for this. What goes around comes around."

Sarah and Lauren developed a relationship with Cam's mother, Lynn, in spite of Cam's objection. He tried to keep everyone apart - his mother, his child, his ex-girlfriend, and his wife. Typical of narcissists who don't want people to compare notes. He knew he would be exposed for the manipulative liar he was.

He complained about his surf board being left out all night the night he was held for questioning. He worried more about his wet shoes, his surfboard and the election results than he did his deceased child. He showed not only inappropriate affect for the situation (and I don't want to hear anything more about that stupid "playbook for grief!"), but inappropriate in any crisis situation, not just one in which your child was killed.

He is a selfish, self-centered, amoral fiend with no conscience. The Portrait of Cameron Brown that his wife and brother-in-law have painted is diametrically opposed to the real Cam Brown - the monster - manipulator - malignant narcissist.

He will be convicted, despite GerEgo's attempt to put Sarah Key-Marer on trial. Sarah will not be vilified, despite the mumbo-jumbo cross examinations that try to elicit detritus signifying nothing. Despite the claims that the Kaldis Klan makes about this poor, dear, loving father being framed.

There was no frame here. This is a well-presented trial that will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Brown intentionally murdered his daughter. He wanted his freedom. It's an old motive that was ascribed to Scott Peterson and that applies here.

Peterson and Brown are two peas in a pod. They also took a lot of victims. May they both rot.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Defense Strategies

Based on the boilerplate methods that Mark Geragos tends to use (spectacularly unsuccessfully) in most of his criminal trials, allow me to postulate the upcoming defense strategy in California v. Brown.

First, Geragos may try to argue that Brown’s arrest was a conspiracy among the cops. Then, he may try to imply it was a conspiracy among the DAs. Or, would you believe, it was a conspiracy among the city leaders or county government that didn’t want to get sued for something that happened because of “negligence,” even though the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit expired long ago?

I can't wait for the Satanic Cult to make an appearance.

Geragos will present an interesting "version of the truth" and testify for Brown (in his questions to witnesses) that Lauren ran up the path, or was curious about the people, or ran ahead of her dad. Some of that may have happened. This is what they mean by a defense "version" of the truth. It's not the truth about the events of that day, but pieces of truth from Brown's experience with his daughter that the defense can use with some substantiation.

Will Geragos claim there was "manufactured evidence" as he implied throughout the Peterson trial?

I find it highly doubtful that the prosecution or cops would or could
"manufacture" evidence against Brown. All of the evidence is circumstantial, including the interpretations of the cliff side topography, the “science,” and the motives. What is not "circumstantial" is the law of physics involved in various types of falls.

The cops could not manufacture Brown's statements. He made them. They could not manufacture Lauren's injuries or her autopsy report without a "conspiracy" among invesgators, medical examiner/coroner, and later the DA. They could not manufacture facts like Brown's hiking boots or the physical geography of the treacherous place Brown took his daughter for a “hike.” Or her inappropriate footwear, the time of year, and her reported reluctance to go with her dad that day. Never mind the burning question: why would they want to? It's not as if they have no other cases to investigate, no other murders in Los Angeles County to bring to trial.

The defense will attempt to explain Cam's behavior as that of a victim who was duped by police, shocked by the "accident," and incapable of committing the crime. One of the common defense strategies we have already seen implemented is the attempt to gain our sympathy at how police "demonized" its client, the accusations of a "lynch mob" mentality, and characterizing the cops' treatment of Brown as underhanded, unprofessional, and with that tired expression, "tunnel vision."

When the evidence is not easily explained away, such as the injuries
and the biomechanics, and the laws of physics, the defense will likely argue that the science is "junk" and Dr. Ophoven (a possible defense expert witness) will attempt to explain away the injuries or use her stastics about demographics for which she is famous.

According to the laws of evidence:

Attorney arguments, motions, and comments, or statements by the judge and answers to questions which the judge has ruled objectionable are not evidence. Charts, maps and models which are used to demonstrate or explain matters are not evidence themselves, but testimony based upon such items and marks on such material may be evidence.

The jury will have to consider the many times Brown could have changed his mind instead of going forward with his plans: on the drive there, when he got to the playground, after Lauren was tired of swinging, during the hike, before he got to the end of the path, when he arrived at the top, and when he (presumably) picked her up for the last time. That he continued at each juncture demonstrates premeditation and malice aforethought.

Just as in Peterson, if Mark Geragos really had exonerating evidence that Brown was being framed or could not have committed the crime of which he is now standing trial, he would have presented it two years ago and not let his client sit in county jail for over 30 months.

We now know Geragos will likely argue the "science" and not the
circumstances of the alleged murder. He will be hard-pressed to
convince a jury that Lauren made a flying leap off the cliff, but he
has to adhere to the injuries being inconsistent with a rolling-type
fall that would have occurred had she lost her balance throwing rocks
off the cliff.

The defense is not required to prove its client innocent, or present an alternative scenario (i.e., the Incredible Flying Leap Theory); the jury is instructed not to hold the fact that the defendant does not testify against him. It stands to reason, however, that an innocent man would take the stand to explain his behavior, defend his hike, elicit compassion if not reasonable doubt from the jury, and dispel the notion that he is a "monster." If Brown does not take the stand in his own defense, it will, whether the jurors openly admit it or not, serve to authenticate the People's character assassination.

Geragos has no face cards in this hand. He must bluff his way through
this trial and hope for the best.

Trial Begins

Tomorrow, May 30, jury selection will begin in the long-awaited murder trial of California v. Brown. Cameron Brown, former baggage handler and surfer, has been accused of murdering his four-year-old daughter, Lauren Key, by causing her to launch from a 120-foot cliff in Palos Verdes, California. The alleged murder occurred in November 2000 and it has taken over five years to bring it to trial.

Lauren Key would have been 10 years old in August, had her life not been cruelly abbreviated by this incident. According to the grand jury testimony, police reports and news stories about this case, Brown took Lauren to Inspiration Point on a hike where he claims she “slipped and fell” from the treacherous cliff while tossing stones over the edge while her indulgent daddy sat four feet away pointing out landmarks. In Geragos’s 995 Motion to Dismiss, the defense proffered “The Incredible Running Leap Theory” to explain the injuries Lauren suffered that were not consistent with a slip and fall on that rocky terrain.

For the background on this case, please see previous entries in the blog category, “Geragos Watch.” (Or just click on the Permalink of this entry to get all the Brown case entries. The Permalink is the time stamp below each entry.)

Some interesting facts emerged from the recent pretrial hearings, including validation of my hypothesis that Brown was suffering substantial financial problems (“Cameronomics”) that may have given him a motive for eliminating the $900 a month child support obligation for Lauren. The defense intends to dispute the financial motive and offer evidence that Brown was too encumbered by an alleged back injury to hoist a 40-pound girl off a cliff. This is pretty ridiculous, since most of us can easily throw a 40-pound weight without any discomfort. Since Brown is a large, healthy, athletic surfer, hiker and cyclist, and made a living tossing bags in an airport, this will be a tough sell.

Expect the usual “battle of the experts” to support or debunk the scientific evidence employing biomechanics, physics, anatomy and physiology. Let’s just hope Geragos can find a better “expert” than the laughable obstetrician, Dr. March, who bases the rate of human gestation from the date a woman announces the result of a pregnancy test.

As we recommended in our discussions previously, the State wants to take the jury to the scene of the crime, but according to a story in The Breeze, the honorable Judge Arnold has not yet ruled on a potential field trip.

Yours truly and this blog were referred to in the article:

Brown's case has also provided fodder for crime buff bloggers, including an author who closely watches Geragos and reported online about one of his most recent high-profile cases, the Scott Peterson murder trial.

We’ll be following this trial as closely as possible, with reports and observations from friends who will be attending. Stay tuned for updates.

Little Girl Lost

Earlier this month marked the fifth anniversary of four-year-old Lauren Key’s terrible death from a 120-foot hurtle off a Pacific coastal cliff. Lauren’s plummet appears to have been the result of being thrown by her reluctant father, Cameron Brown, who has been sitting in jail for over two years awaiting trial. None of us would want to blame a father for such an unnatural and inconceivable act, but the evidence that was presented to the Grand Jury leaves us little choice.

At the very least, Brown is guilty of astonishing negligence and stupidity for taking his daughter to an obviously dangerous area in the first place. There is not one among us who wouldn’t have, upon discovering the treacherous conditions, grabbed up our child and headed back down the path in an instinctive, adrenalin surge. As a contrast, in the Brown case, the lack of Lauren’s footprints or any sign of her playing along the edge of Inspiration Point throwing rocks, as he claimed, leads us to conclude that he carried her up there. As the mother of three girls, I believe it is more likely that Lauren complained or ran out of steam earlier in the mile and a half hike from the playground to the cliff side.What could Cameron Brown have been thinking as he carried that little girl up the path with his unspeakably cruel intentions? Was he hoping nobody was up there? Hoping he had a clear shot and no witnesses to see his awful act? Did he hesitate at any point? Did Lauren struggle in his arms, or did she lean passively against his shoulder as he spoke softly to her about what a neat view there would be or what treats awaited her at the end of the hike?

I impose Brown’s imaginary dialogue and apprehension to this extraordinary scenario because I have no place in my experience from which to draw actual words and thoughts. None of us does. None of us can even think about it without sensing a sharp ache in our hearts or feeling our throats constrict with panic. We clench our minds trying to fathom for a moment Lauren’s final terror as she fell from the cliff, or Brown's thoughts as he watched her disappear. It’s a doorway to a bleak madness we are paralyzed from opening; these are dark places we dare not go.

According to a reporter from The Breeze assigned to the trial, there has been yet another postponement until some time early in 2006. The next hearing is scheduled in early December, but there are no official court documents to explain the delays – whether from the People or the defense. I hope to have a copy of the autopsy report to share with the readers before trial. Meanwhile, Brown will spend his third Thanksgiving and Christmas in county jail; a small consolation when we recall that if Lauren were alive, she would be a whimsical, happy nine-year-old looking forward to the holidays, as my Lauren is.

At every turn, Sarah Key-Marer faces a painful reminder of her loss. In August, Lauren’s birthday; in November, her death; in December, she spends another Christmas missing the surprises and joy Lauren would have brought to the occasion. Time has probably not healed the wounds, yet, and the trial delays may only prolong the unremitting grief. In our days ahead of family gatherings, celebrations, and holiday miracles, take a moment to send healing and serene thoughts to Sarah, and remember her little girl lost.

Background on the Prosecution

Since long before the denial of Mark Geragos’s Motion to Set Aside Indictment Pursuant to Penal Code 995 in the case of California v. Brown, defendant Cameron Brown has remained in custody without bail. When the prosecutor, Craig Hum, made the decision not to ask for the death penalty, thus reducing the status from a capital charge to a first-degree murder charge with aggravating circumstances of “lying in wait,” Brown should have been eligible for bail. In fact, Brown has been in jail since his arrest in November 2003.

According to one unconfirmed report, Geragos asked for his client to be released on his own recognizance after the grand jury indictment, but was denied. I’m not certain why Brown was denied release to await his trial, scheduled in October, from the comfort of his home with his new wife, but I can only conclude that he was deemed a flight risk. From what I have gathered by reading the message board where his brother-in-law has posted for several years, Brown’s parents in Colorado are wealthy, Brown grew up in an exclusive and affluent neighborhood, and his wife, Patty (ten years’ his senior) has a masters degree and is well employed. We know somebody has to be footing the bill for Geragos, and it can’t be cheap.

One interesting case that Hum successfully tried (and that was recently upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a notoriously lenient body that has a reputation for reversing capital convictions) involved the Vietnamese gang murder of an Oscar-winning actor, Haing Ngor, who played the photojournalist in “The Killing Fields.” A federal district court judge had reversed the convictions in 2004 because of alleged impropriety by Deputy District Attorney Hum. Brown’s apologists on the Usenet board are accusing Hum of “inventing evidence,” “cooking the autopsy report,” and having a “turkey” of a case that he should be “ashamed” of bringing to trial. We’ll see about that. I find it rather hard to believe that yet another group of California district attorneys are willing to risk their careers, reputations, and possibly freedom to “frame” a nobody baggage handler for murder. Does this sound familiar?

Two of the California cases we followed on the blog closely, the Bullwinkle murder and Peterson, were tried by district attorneys who were subsequently awarded with judgeships. Will there be a similar future for Craig Hum after he wins the Brown trial? Maybe we’ll bring him luck.

Some interesting (but not yet verified) information has surfaced about Cameron Brown, his surfing habits and knowledge of the area where he took Lauren to hike on that fateful day in November 2000, two years before his arrest. His apologists protest that he was not familiar with Abalone Cove and didn’t foresee the danger of the cliff at Inspiration Point. If this were true, once he approached the top of the hill and realized that it was no place for a child to be “throwing rocks” or running around, he would have turned around and brought Lauren back down. Instead, he sat on a bench (according to one of his five stories) and pointed out interesting landmarks as she gathered stones perilously close to the 120-foot drop.

An anonymous poster who claims to know Brown suggested that Brown was very familiar with the area, had regularly surfed up and down the coast from Carpinteria to San Onofre, and that he knows the Palos Verdes cliffs “like the back of his hand.” He also shared a story about Brown in Colorado in the 1980s when Brown got into an altercation with another man and threw his backpack off a cliff. The poster said he might have thrown the man off the cliff had there not been 10 witnesses. Whether this is true or not may be confirmed at trial if the People introduce witnesses who can testify to Brown’s temper.

Brown grew up in Colorado and was an avid skier, hiker, and outdoorsman. Comfortable territory would include hills, mountains, wilderness and eventually the ocean. It stands to reason that he took Lauren to a place with which he was familiar and knew there would be very few people on a cool November afternoon. Obviously the prosecutors believe this, or he would not be in jail awaiting trial for murder.

Much of the Brown case will focus on Lauren’s injuries and the scientific reenactment of her descent from the cliff to sustain the types of injuries recorded in the (still unavailable) autopsy report. So far, I have not heard or read of any evidence found on the cliff to suggest she rolled down, such as blood, skin, hair, or torn clothing on various rocks and abutments that would be prevalent if she, in fact, tripped and fell by accident. I can’t see how, five years later, this case would be going to trial unless there was substantial evidence to demonstrate that Lauren was thrown off the cliff. There were no child-sized prints found near the edge of the cliff where Brown asserts Lauren lost her balance. The impressions found were adult-sized but not conclusively matched to Brown’s shoes. Not knowing the type of soil, sand, grass or other elements of that area, I can only guess that the ground was hard at that time of year and didn’t sink much under the pressure of Brown’s (or others’) shoes. However, there should have been some indication of Lauren’s presence on the cliff side had her activity been as Brown described.

Other gossip I have heard: Brown bragged that he had no more than a fifth-grade education; Lauren’s mother, Sarah Key, had another boyfriend at the same time she was seeing Brown (how dare her!); that Brown and his bride, Patty Kaldis, were married in Hawaii (and thus not strapped for cash, despite the credit report on Brown that showed several repossessions and NSF checks that bounced); and the adamant protestations from his brother-in-law that he “loved his daughter” and that the charges against him are an “egregious travesty of justice.”

Does that song ring a bell? “Scott loved his wife and would never do anything to harm her! The police have bungled this case! My kid’s gonna walk!”

The 995 Motion to Dismiss

Before we review the relevant issues proffered in Geragos’s 995 motion, it's important to highlight a few facts that the defense did not discuss, but that we hope the People bring forth in the trial.

  • Similar to Peterson’s long-distance fishing trip to the Bay when there were dozens of closer waterways that were better suited to his boat, Cameron Brown took his daughter in mid-afternoon in November to Abalone Cove/Inspiration Point, an inconvenient and inappropriate area for a child, passing up hundreds of better playgrounds in safer areas with friendlier topography.
  • Brown was familiar with Abalone Cove and Inspiration Point, and may have recalled seeing a playground in the area; but, the playground is part of a private nursery school and is not intended for public use. Why would Brown, with only a few hours of visitation, choose to trespass on a rinky-dink nursery school playground rather than access any number of big, public playgrounds with better equipment? No parent on that jury will find that reasonable. Most will infer that the trip to the cove was part of a premeditated plan, just as Peterson’s trip to the bay made no sense to anyone, no matter how Geragos tried to spin the “fishermen drive 90 miles to fish for an hour on Christmas Eve” nonsense.

  • Sarah Key and Cameron Brown settled a civil suit (wrongful death) back in October 2001. From the court record, it appears that an insurance company (perhaps a life insurance policy?) paid Key for liability of Brown’s actions, based on his admission that the incident was the result of an accident. However, the case was dismissed with “partial prejudice,” meaning that some issues may be retried, and if Brown is found guilty of murder in a criminal trial, the insurance company that settled with Key may go after him for reimbursement.

  • Key's acceptance of the settlement does not have any bearing on criminal charges levied at Brown by the State of California. If, in 2001, she accepted Brown's version of events, so what? She obviously changed her mind when the investigation showed that her daughter was thrown off the cliff. Despite Brown's apologists' protestations, the insurance company's settlement in the lawsuit is irrelevant to the issue of his criminal culpability.

  • Cameronomics: It is possible that Brown was in arrears with his child support in the neighborhood of $40,000. According to CA child support law, Brown’s obligation began August 1996, the date of Lauren’s birth. By the time Key secured a court order for support, Brown was not only being garnished the $1,000 a month, he was also paying a percentage of the arrears and forfeiting any income tax refunds and other bonuses until the arrears were paid. Just as in Peterson, when examining the real ledger, the financial motive becomes much more significant. Prepare for Geragos to try and point out how financially solvent Brown and his new wife were, and that the monthly support was not debilitating. He will conveniently omit the arrears.

  • California v. Reardon – It would behoove Geragos and his crackerjack researchers to review the 1992 murder trial in San Diego County where the defendants were convicted of pushing a young woman off a cliff near Big Sur to collect on a $35,000 life insurance policy they had recently taken out on the victim. The prosecution in that case brought the jurors to the scene of the crime and reenacted their theory of events. If the prosecutors in Brown are on their game, they will beef up their demonstration, or request a field trip for the jury.

The 995 Motion

The main evidence against Brown is the autopsy report that concluded that Lauren died from head injuries sustained from the impact of a long fall, and that those injuries were inconsistent with rolling down a cliff. Geragos includes a summary of these findings in his motion:

Deputy medical examiner Ogbonna Chinwah classified Lauren's death as a homicide. He testified that Lauren's injuries were inconsistent with an accidental fall. Dr. Chinwah opined that an individual who falls inadvertently from the edge of a cliff would have injuries all over the body because he or she "would seek a means not to die. The individual would try to grasp at anything that is available there." Consequently, "there will be abrasions all over the arms, all over the abdomen, the legs and so forth, which were quite absent in this case here." Dr. Chinwah further testified that the injuries were consistent with one impact from a fall.

I have not been able to procure a copy of the entire autopsy report, but there is one page available on Brown’s brother-in-law, Kaldis’s Web site that describes a number of abrasions on the chest area, abdomen and extremities, and severe contusions on her forehead and other skull fractures. Notably, there were no injuries on the front of the arms or on the inside of the hands, where you would expect them to be if Lauren had slipped and fallen instead of having bounced off rocks and jutting ridges in her descent.

Adult-size shoe prints were found near the edge of the cliff, but no impressions of a child’s foot. This fact inspired Brown to invent an entirely new scenario whereby Lauren ran toward the edge of the cliff and somehow tripped and catapulted off, rather than merely slipping as he claimed in his first few stories. Expect the defense to attempt to create reasonable doubt from this unlikely revisionism and from selected injuries in the autopsy report that support an accidental fall. Nonetheless, the jury will be privy to the entire report and testimony from several experts on these types of injuries. Unlike in Peterson, where there was a dearth of scientific information on the condition of pregnant women immersed in salt water for four months, there is a plethora of good data on the distinct injuries obtained from various types of falls.

And, as expected, we have Cameronomics:

Jane Ngo, a supervising investigative auditor for the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, testified that 39 percent of Cameron's salary was garnished for purposes of child support. Following a review of Cameron's financial records and credit reports, she concluded that the child support payments created a severe financial hardship on Cameron. Interestingly, she failed to factor into her analysis income by Cameron's wife.

While I do not have access to Brown’s credit report yet, I will go out on a limb and speculate that Brown, based on his friends’ letters of support describing his expensive toys and hobbies, was in hock up to his eyeballs and suffered severe hardship from the child support garnishment. Let’s hope the People have a good forensic accountant to testify to the actual state of Brown’s financial affairs.

A biomedical engineer, Dr. Wilson Hayes, testified at the grand jury hearing that “Lauren’s cause of death was intentional.” Geragos disputes his findings because “Hayes’ s research involved the study of falling in the elderly” and had no experience in “studies of falling in children,” as if children and the elderly are separate species. We already know from Geragos’s obtuse arguments in Peterson that he knows nothing about fetal development, pregnancy, women’s health or babies; thus, his ignorance of children’s physiology comes as no surprise.

Dr. Hayes's damning conclusions (edited for brevity):

1) Lauren Key-Marer died as a direct consequence of a single, high speed impact to the cliff face at Inspiration Point…

2) These injuries are inconsistent with a slip and/or trip and fall from the point of departure …

3) Lauren's fatal injuries were, however, consistent with her having been thrown from the point of departure at an angle of about 22.5 degrees from the horizontal at an initial velocity of 10 ft/s in an initial orientation with her feet down and the force applied lightly above the center of gravity.

4) The fall trajectory that would produce such an impact is well within the physical capabilities of a reasonably fit adult male and can be produced by picking up the child, supporting her under the buttocks and pushing forcefully at a point slightly above the waist in an outward and slightly upward direction.

Geragos goes on for the next 20 pages of the motion to attempt to refute Hayes’s expertise, the acceptance of his scientific methods (re: the requirements of Kelly-Frye), and to cite cases that refer to falls from stairs and other experiments that have no direct bearing on Hayes’s findings.

After slogging through the usual claptrap (summarily rejected by the judge), I discovered what may be the key elements of Geragos’s defense:

  • Since Hayes didn’t conduct any of his “throwing experiments” at the actual site of the “accident,” they are invalid as evidence. Geragos must think the laws of physics and gravity somehow differ at Inspiration Point. I hope this argument will be debunked with onsite testing data at trial.

  • Dr. Hayes did not mention in his report or at the grand jury proceedings any experiments to determine the trajectory of a fall where the child runs (rather than walks) and trips off the cliff.

    I will dub this preposterous hypothesis “The Incredible Running Leap” defense. At best, this would show Brown to be a brainless menace to society; at worst it will be laughed out of court.

  • Case law is also clear that an indictment based solely on hearsay or otherwise incompetent evidence is unauthorized and must be set aside on motion under section 995...scientific evidence [must] be relevant and reliable to be admissible.

    This argument is reminiscient of Geragos’s ludicrous claims in Peterson that GPS was a “fairly new technology” and that the dog tracking evidence was “voodoo.”

  • Already with an eye on appellate issues, Geragos argues that conducting an experiment using anthropomorphic dummies to simulate the fall of a child down a flight of stairs did not satisfy the Kelly-Frye test because the methodology is not generally accepted in the scientific community; therefore, Hayes’s prejudicial findings would be inadmissible in the Brown trial.

I found the Dellinger appellate case Geragos cited, which contained this important opinion:

We have not undertaken the monumental and inappropriate task of evaluating the legitimacy of the entire field of biomechanics. Rather we have restricted our review to the cavalier throwing of an anthropomorphic dummy down a flight of stairs and confirming the results with a finite element analysis. The field of biomechanics was not on trial here; only the reliability of the two procedures employing biomechanical principles used by Dr. Ward.

Regarding the scientific acceptance of anthropomorphic dummies, here are some common applications:

Anthropomorphic 'crash test dummies' are commonly used by vehicle manufacturers and research organizations to determine the exact effects that crashes have on vehicle occupants.

The U.S. Military has used Anthropomorphic Test Dummies since the 1950's. These dummies were utilized during high altitude balloon tests, ejection seat tests, all sorts of crash tests and of course parachute tests.

Geragos tries to further discredit Hayes for lacking expertise in the biomechanics of children’s falls (truly desperate); that Hayes failed to factor in the possible “incredible running leap” theory; and continued reiteration of the complaint that Hayes didn’t hike up to Inspiration Point and throw his 40-pound bag off the actual cliff.

From these anemic points, I can only conclude that Geragos is either a master of self-sabotage, or a genius avenger disguised as a high-profile defense attorney.