Judge: Man who Allegedly Threw Daughter off RPV Cliff May Act as Own Lawyer

Two previous trials Cameron John Brown faced ended deadlocked.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

Originally posted at 11:37 a.m. April 11, 2014. 

A man accused of killing his 4-year-old daughter, who plunged to her death from a 120-foot cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes in November 2000, will be allowed to act as his own attorney as he awaits his third murder trial, a judge said today.

But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli warned Cameron John Brown that "it is ill-advised to proceed as your own attorney," and that he would be "up against an experienced prosecutor."

The judge told the 52-year-old former airport baggage handler that he would leave Brown's previous attorney, Aron Laub, as stand-by counsel, and warned that the defendant's status as his own attorney could be revoked if he does not follow jail and court protocol.

Brown is charged in the Nov. 8, 2000, death of his daughter, Lauren Sarene Key, off the isolated top of Inspiration Point.

The first jury to hear the case deadlocked in August 2006 at the Torrance courthouse, with eight panelists favoring a second-degree murder conviction and two each lobbying for first-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.

The case was subsequently moved to the downtown Los Angeles criminal courthouse, where jurors deadlocked in Brown's second trial in October 2009. The jury foreman said six jurors voted in favor of convicting Brown of second- degree murder, while the other six favored involuntary manslaughter.

Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum alleged that Brown threw a daughter he never wanted off the cliff to avoid $1,000 per month in child support -- which he had recently been order to begin paying -- and to retaliate against the girl's mother, who became pregnant soon after they began dating and refused to give up the child.

"There was no relationship (between Brown and his daughter), and that's how the defendant could do this," the prosecutor said in the second trial, telling jurors the father and daughter spent a total of 16 days together.

The defense has long asserted that the girl slipped and fell to her death.

Attorney Pat Harris, who represented Brown in his second trial, told jurors that his client was a "warm, loving father" who "loved her very much."

Brown has been jailed without bail since his Nov. 16, 2003, arrest. He is due back at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse May 30 for a pretrial hearing.

--City News Service


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