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Jury deadlocks in case of man accused of throwing daughter off cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes [Updated]


A jury has deadlocked 6-6 in the case of a former airline baggage handler accused of throwing his 4-year-old daughter to her death off a cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes in 2000.

[Updated at 3:21 p.m.: On Monday, six jurors favored finding Brown guilty of second-degree murder, while six others favored involuntary manslaughter.]

Prosecutors alleged that Cameron John Brown, 48, killed his daughter, Lauren Sarene Key, because he was upset at having to pay child support to his ex-girlfriend, the girl's mother.

It was the second time a jury had been asked to determine whether Lauren's death was murder or merely a tragic accident, as he contended.

Cameron John Brown

A trial in 2006 ended in a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. During the seven-week retrial, prosecutors alleged that Brown never wanted his child and initially urged her mother, a British immigrant, to get an abortion after he learned she was pregnant.

When she refused, he tried to have her deported and fired from her job, prosecutors said. As Brown later struggled to pay $1,000 a month in support payments, he concluded that killing the girl would hurt her mother and ease his money troubles, Deputy Dist. Atty. Craig Hum told the jury during closing arguments.

Defense attorney Pat Harris said his client initially harbored suspicions that the baby was not his, but later, after a paternity test, embraced his daughter. He even sought a court order to allow him to spend extra time with her, Harris said.

Other than Brown, there were no witnesses to the girl's fall on Nov. 8, 2000. Brown told authorities that his daughter slipped and fell while throwing rocks off the 120-foot cliff at Inspiration Point. Sheriff's investigators became suspicious of him when he seemed to lack emotion after the incident.

They questioned why a father would take his child to such a secluded, dangerous spot and let her roam. Hum and Harris both argued that the physical evidence supported their different version of events.

-- Jack Leonard

Photos: (Top) Sarah Key-Marer holds back tears while she is comforted by jurors outside the Criminal Courts Building in Los Angeles after the case against ex-boyfriend Cameron Brown. who is accused of murdering their daughter Lauren, ended in a hung jury. (Mark Boster/ Los Angeles Times) (Bottom) Cameron John Brown listens to attorney Lara Yeretsian during closing arguments Sept. 15 at his murder trial. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

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Comments () | Archives (28)


Surly the district attorney will keep refiling until a reasonable definitive verdict is reached? There obviously is a flaw in the jury selection criteria, I certainly don't believe Yeretsian could be in a Clarence Darrow league.

Of course he's guilty. But they have to be able to prove it. Which, with no eyewitnesses except the defendant, they obviously can't.

Is it over with when there are two mistrials or will they keep prosecuting?

Ok, so how about child endangerment charges? Isn't he still responsible for his child's safety??

I believe he is guilty. Why would anyone allow a 4 year that close to a cliff. Of course he wanted visition with the child, it gave him access to do this.

This is definitely a murder. Who in his right mind would let his daughter wander near a 120 ft cliff without being supervised. Whether he threw her or not this guy should be hanged.

Two trials and not one "not guilty" vote. Even with the budget mess, I'd give it one more shot. He's guilty of something.

Another victim of the child support industry. 1000 bucks a month for one child from a baggage handler??? Did he earn that much money a month? This system of entitlement for woman and slavery for men has to stop before more lives are ruined. He probably is guilty but the Federal Government is definitely guilty for encouraging this by paying the State for every dollar of child support collected.

This is a classic case of DA Steve Cooley failing to control his people. Just more tax payer money down the drain. Let her mother fund rthe case, she collected $300K claiming it was an accident.

That's great Cherise...another uninformed individual ready to pass judgment without knowing all the facts.

Of course he's guilty, LA juries are so screwed. Would you put your fate in 12 people that couldn't out of jury duty?

There is absolutely NO WAY a father who "embraces" his little 4 year old daughter would let her any where near a 120-foot cliff! MURDERER!!

Well, at least all 12 agreed Brown killed Lauren.
Perhaps the DA needs to dumb this case down enough so a jury doesn't have to "choose" what kind of murder this was?
The DA's office should learn from its mistakes (ya think?).
Third time's a charm.

I can't believe 6 suckers, excuse me, jurors found that monster innocent-they probably believe Bin Laden is Snow White! Please, DA-retry the creep!

What the hell is wrong with these jurors?! He is so guilty! This guy just wants the lesser charge.

What the hell is wrong with these jurors? He is so guilty! This scumbag just wants the lesser charge.

Two people having a child and then not behaving like adults but spoiled little children fighting over their favorite dolly.
Both of these people deserve to face charges in this little girls death.


Tatum's lame

Well the jurors unanimously agreed he was guilty; the disagreement was whether it was second degree murder or involuntary manslaughter. Usually jurors in this situation will compromise to reach unanimity. There must have been some pretty rigid mindsets on that jury. It's not a case where the jury hung over guilt or innocence, and the D.A. will certainly retry the case, although a plea bargained guilty plea might be a possibility at this point.


I dont know anything about the case but do you say this?

The reason I am asking, is that my wife was ready to crucify those frat boys that were recently accused of raping that woman and it turns out she was completely lying.

Again, I have no idea about this case but I am more cautious after the frat boy thing...

I just want to point out how the photos in this article automatically make the viewer sympathize the mother of the little girl and dislike the father. The mother is crying in one photo while the photo of the father has a sinister look. I believe that Brown is quilty because no one with right sense would let a little girl roam around a dangerous cliff if they truely loved them. I wouldn't even let my dog near a cliff let alone a child.

There's obviously not enough evidence to convict if there's been 2 mistrials!
When does the prosecutors stop pursueing and wasting taxpayers money?
The man has already spent years in jail and the prosecutors have spent years on the 2 trials. LA county is broke!

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