Thursday, April 23, 2015

Observations of Third Trial - Days 1-8 Prosecution Case

I've spent quite a bit of time catching up with the third trial details of California v. Brown. Many, many thanks to "Sprocket" (Betsy Ross), who is chronicling the trial on her blog. She's doing a great job, and we're lucky to have her.

After reading up to day 8 of the prosecution's case against Brown, so far a familiar lineup of witnesses is appearing in this trial, but we now get to read their actual testimonies instead of summaries or news reports. It's at once fascinating, poignant and heartbreaking.

We learn nothing new about the defendant's behavior, reluctance to be a father, spiteful actions and drama between him and Sarah Key, but we do get some new details from Sarah's former roommates and friends, and it's not particularly flattering. In the past, some of our community suggested Brown had a type of autism. I think he just has a very low IQ and poor coping skills.

Brown's acrimonious relationship with his mother was once again introduced as testimony through Sarah and others. It occurred to me that Craig Hum is planting the idea that Brown killed Lauren to spite his mother as well. It wouldn't be much of a stretch; Brown's relationship with his mother is a deep factor. I wonder if the suggestion is too subtle for the jury.

We also learn that Brown gave Lauren some creepy, faceless Amish dolls from his grandmother's collection, with which Lauren didn't play and, according to Sarah, rejected. Sarah eventually threw them away, much to Brown's dismay. He was extremely petty about the monetary value of things, but we already knew that. We were reminded that he constantly accused Sarah of wanting him for his "money" and he begrudged her a quarter she took from his car. Anyone who is that concerned he's being "taken" is a guy who is on the take, himself. This paranoia is almost always projection. Yeah, Brown must have been a lot of fun to date. (/sarcasm)

Probably the most difficult and disturbing testimony to read has come from the teachers and friends of Lauren from the Montessori school she attended. They describe Lauren's bizarre behavior on the days leading up to, and the day of her death. Lauren appeared to have a premonition of something terrible about to happen. She kept asking to go home, to see her mother, to not attend school, and was alarmingly averse to leaving with her dad that day. It's devastating, and I do not exaggerate at all when I say that.

Mr. Laub, Brown's attorney, is cross-examining the witnesses and tends to meander with his points. I think his strategy is to demonstrate that Ms. Key had financial motives for her actions (getting pregnant, obtaining child support, subsequent lawsuits, raising money). I love it when men accuse the mothers of their children of getting pregnant and collecting child support as a kind of "racket" or scheme. It's hilarious. They really have no clue.

Laub tried to show Sarah as using the pregnancy to stay in the USA and to extort financial support from Brown. It's a tough sell, and even if it were true, it has no bearing on what Brown is accused of doing. Are we supposed to sympathize with Brown if we think he was trapped into fatherhood or financial responsibility? Sure, you poor guy. I don't blame ya! Throw that kid off a cliff.

Laub tries to portray Sarah Key as immoral for using child support funds for Lauren's burial. According to Ms. Key, she saved much of the child support in a separate account (which is more than I ever did - heck I used to to feed and clothe my child), and when Lauren died, she failed to report the death to the county and continued to receive child support for a couple more months.

I know a little about child support and emancipation issues, and last I checked, Mr. Brown could have reported the child's death to the county and they would have stopped taking the money. That he did not (and it is one form you fill out) and Sarah failed to do it does not make her a thief. It's a very weak point. I think the defense will be hard pressed to show Key as a money-grubbing, promiscuous opportunist. It's tricky territory for the defense to try and impeach a very sympathetic mother of a dead child. This strategy could backfire.

Meanwhile, much of the cross seems aimed at petty inconsistencies among the witnesses who have testified in the now THREE trials over this case. The witnesses have to refresh their memories of their first or second appearances, and in some cases, their grand jury testimony. It's a lot to ask. Sarah kept a diary, which was a very smart thing to do, but her friends and the other witnesses have to rely on transcripts. It's difficult for any of us to tell the same story twice without some small changes.This does not make us liars, merely human.

Several witnesses who were hiking on the same trail that day observed that Brown was always walking way ahead of Lauren from 5 to 20 feet, which contradicts his story that she was skipping ahead of him and he couldn't keep up. I recall there may still be a witness for the defense that saw Lauren ahead of Brown and he may appear later. It's also weak tea, and I doubt any juror will believe Brown's ludicrous story.

A great deal of cross has been focused on attempting to show Lauren as adventurous, active, athletic, or at least willing to be these things with her father, when she was a little lazy, shy, reticent and prissy with everyone else in her life. Laub is saying, "Could she not be this way with her father, to impress him or please him?" The psychologist seemed dubious. As the mother of 3 once 4-year old daughters who had visitation with their father, I do accept that they enjoyed activities with him that were very different from those at home, and they ate things with him they would not eat at home. However, this case involves a long, difficult hike up steep and rocky terrain, after an exhausting morning of crying and half an hour on a playground. It's just not credible that Lauren made that trek willingly.

Frankly, I think Laub is a very weak attorney and Craig Hum is pretty much having him for lunch. Stay tuned.


1 comment:

Veronica Prior said...

When all these MRA sites began popping up, I thought of Cam Brown right away. MRAs are always complaining about women taking advantage of them, and seem to think that a few hundred dollars in child support puts their exes on easy street.