Wednesday, June 28, 2006

More Background on Brown

From the 995 Motion (a request to set aside an indictment against a defendant using supporting points and authorities; a routinely filed and routinely denied motion following a grand jury or preliminary hearing in which a defendant is held over for trial), we learn the history of Brown’s relationship with Lauren’s mother, the chronology of events that led to the fatal “hike” to the cliff, and a prelude to some of Geragos’s arguments to impeach the evidence against Brown in the upcoming trial scheduled for October.

Sarah Key and Cameron Brown met in November 1995 and within a month, Sarah discovered she was pregnant. I doubt this was planned, considering it was extremely early in the relationship; but we are not privy to Sarah’s history, and I am reluctant to cast aspersions on her fertility. Cameron’s reaction was to insist she have an abortion, and when Sarah refused, even after some alleged counseling the couple attended, Cameron and Sarah broke up. About six months later, Lauren was born on August 29, 1996.

It is not clear exactly when Sarah filed for child support in Orange County, but for the first two years (sadly, half) of Lauren’s life, she did not hear from Brown or receive any financial support. Brown contested paternity in the summer of 1998, probably after he had met his wife-to-be, Patty, and whom, I suspect, he never told about Lauren’s existence. When he was served with child support papers, he likely at first denied that the child was his, and when paternity was established, he might have told Patty it was just the result of a “one night stand,” which wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration.

In February 1999 Brown was ordered to pay $1,000 per month, which I assume was garnished from his wages as a baggage handler for an airline. Keep in mind that this man threw luggage around all day for a living. He could easily heft 45 pounds and was adept at using his legs to propel heavy items onto a cart or into the belly of an airplane. (Credit and thanks to Country Gal for reminding me of that fact.)

Five months after being ordered to pay the rather steep monthly support, Brown filed a request for 117 days of visitation with Lauren and a reduction in the award; a surprising amount of time for a child he had not yet met. Incidentally, since custodial payees do not write the law, I can’t see how Brown or any of his apologists can blame Sarah for the child support amount, because it is a statutory calculation formulated and enforced by the state. Apparently, Brown was advised that if he had custody of Lauren for a certain number of days, his financial obligation would be reduced. Clearly, his motives from this point on were strictly financial. Why else would he suddenly want a relationship with a child he had previously denied, and to whom he had not so much as sent a balloon in the almost three years of her life?

Sarah, no doubt, was alarmed by the amount of visitation Brown was requesting and arranged for them to consult with a mediator to work out a “graduated visitation schedule.” At this point, Lauren was almost three years old and Sarah had met and married a man named Gregory Marer.

Brown visited Lauren once a week for a few hours, sometimes picking her up at Montessori school and dropping her off at home in the evening. Within a few months, however, Cameron and Sarah were arguing in front of Lauren about her visiting Cameron’s mother and other issues; naturally, Lauren’s behavior was affected by this disruption of her world, and she began to have emotional episodes and outbursts. While we would expect this from any three-year-old, I think Geragos uses Lauren’s alleged rebellious behavior after meeting her father to set up the accidental fall scenario.

In February 2000, Sarah informed Cameron that her husband had offered to adopt Lauren, which would release him from his financial obligations. Needless to say, Cameron immediately agreed to this arrangement, since, by this time, he was engaged to Patty and hoping to relocate to Northern California.

Possibly because adoption procedures could drag on for a year, Brown continued to pursue the modification to the custody and child support in order to save money before the adoption was finalized. After all, every month that went by was another grand down the tubes. In response to his litigation, Sarah filed a declaration that was “unflattering” to Brown’s parenting abilities. Whether or not true at the time, the complaint of negligence proved eerily clairvoyant. Brown (like a good little narcissist) was incensed by this insult, and threatened to “get Sarah for this." The Marers postponed adoption procedures, since Brown was not speaking to Sarah, and a few months later CPS arrived at Sarah’s door to investigate allegations of abuse. (How utterly unoriginal.)

The Deadly Decision

On November 8, 2000, Brown picked Lauren up from school for his visitation and, according to witnesses at the school, Lauren was visibly upset and did not want to leave with him. Brown stated he was going to take her home, but instead decided to “spend some time alone with her” and drove to a playground in Abalone Cove, at the foot of a steep cliff overlooking the ocean.

And now for something totally absurd: Brown claimed that Lauren ran up the hill ahead of him and that he had trouble keeping up. From what we have learned about Brown, he was a great outdoorsman, sailor, surfer, cyclist, ten-wheeler, and hiker, and was employed in a job that required physical exertion. Are we (or the jury) to believe that he couldn’t keep up with a four-year-old girl skipping up a hill? When Lauren reached the top of the hill (and no mention of his trying to stop or discourage her), she entertained herself by throwing rocks off the edge of this 120-foot cliff into the ocean below as her dad sat on a bench four feet away. Right. First, Brown recounted that he heard a “nervous ah” and saw her feet going over the cliff. Later, during questioning by police, he changed his story for the third time:

He recalled actually pointing to his left at the Portuguese Bend Club or where Marineland used to be, one of the two; he said he heard her say, 'oh, oh,' and he looked back, and this time he saw her upper body from the back and basically the left side, he described seeing the left side of the young girl, going forward and go over the cliff head first, and at that point had surmised to us, as if she was throwing a rock and had hurled herself forward.

Brown said he ran down to the nude beach below, borrowed a cell phone, called 911, then ran back up to cross over to the other side of the cove where he found Lauren’s body floating face down in a shallow inlet. He stripped down to his boxers and shoes (because he saw that on “Baywatch” and didn’t want to be uncomfortable in wet clothing later on, God forbid, as if that would dawn on a distraught parent at that time), and waded into the water to retrieve his daughter’s body. According to the 995 motion, Brown had to wait five hours to be interviewed. I wonder if his shoes dried by then. We know he was worried about being on camera when the media arrived:

Brown was concerned about his appearance for the television news cameras, complained about his wet shoes, discussed with a deputy the outcome of the disputed presidential election, didn't try to see Lauren after her body was recovered and showed no emotion.

I'm sure all of us would be concerned about our squishing shoes or primping in front of a mirror to make sure we were ready for prime time as our little daughter lay recently dead on a slab in the hospital morgue. Brown obviously consulted his copy of the the "Narcissist's Playbook For Grief," too.

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