Wed, Jul 29, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Father killed girl to avoid child support, LA prosecutor says


A father who had no interest in his four-year-old daughter did the unimaginable — hurling her off a 120-foot (36m) cliff to avoid paying child support, a prosecutor said on Monday during the man’s murder retrial.

Cameron Brown, 47, was charged with one count of murder and the special circumstance allegations of murder while lying in wait and murder for financial gain in the death of Lauren Sarene Key in November 2000. Brown, a former American Airlines baggage handler, has pleaded not guilty and faces life in prison without parole if convicted.

Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum said during his opening statement that Brown killed Lauren because he did not want to pay about US$1,000 a month in child support.

Defense attorney Pat Harris countered that it was an accident when the girl fell from Inspiration Point in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Portraying Brown as an uncaring father, Hum argued that Brown and Lauren went out to the cliff where nobody could see them, and he “hurled” her into the Pacific Ocean.

Brown, wearing a dark suit and a red tie, stared at Hum during his opening statement and showed no reaction.

Harris dismissed the prosecution’s contention that it was a “good versus evil” struggle between Brown and the child’s mother, a British immigrant.

Harris said Brown carried a picture of Lauren in his wallet, gave her gifts and toasted with his friends when he learned he would get visitation rights. Two weeks before her death, Brown filed court documents seeking more visits with Lauren, he said.

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