By Nigel Boys
When Cameron Brown discovered that his then-girlfriend, Sarah Key-Marer, was pregnant in the late 1990s, he tried to persuade her to have an abortion and even tried to have her deported from the U.S. back to her home country of Great Britain.
However, after these attempts failed and the couple’s daughter, Lauren Sarene Key, was born, Brown allegedly hated her mother so much that he took revenge on her by killing their daughter. He also allegedly did this to get out of the child support payments of about $1,000 per month he had been ordered to pay.
In a third murder case hearing this week after two previous mistrials, Brown, who has been incarcerated since 2003 after the death of his daughter in November 2000, was found guilty of the premeditated murder of Lauren. The jury found that he deliberately threw his 4-year-old daughter off a Pacific Ocean cliff as she played at Inspiration Point in Rancho Palos Verdes, Los Angeles. She fell 120 feet to her death.
Although two previous juries in 2006 and 2009 agreed that the former airport baggage handler was guilty in the death of his daughter, they failed to agree on whether he should be convicted of first-degree murder, second-degree murder of involuntary manslaughter. All 24 of those jurors indicated they believed him to be guilty, but deadlocked on the verdict.
After spending almost 12 years in jail since his arrest, the 53-year-old was finally convicted of the premeditated murder of his daughter this week. He is set to be sentenced on June 19.
Key-Marer breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing the verdict before breaking down in tears in the gallery, but Brown showed no emotion as the decision was read out in a Los Angeles, California Superior Court.
“The primary reason for killing Lauren… was to get back at Sarah for revenge,” said Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum in his closing statement to the jury.
“It’s been a long time. It’s been 15 years, and finally we have justice for Lauren,’’ Hum told reporters. “In the other prior trials, no juror has ever voted not guilty. It was only a matter of degree, and it was obviously very good news for us that they all managed to agree on this verdict.”
Brown remained mostly silent during the hearing, but told Judge George G. Lomeli when he asked about a date for sentencing, “Judge, I’m innocent, I have no comment.”
During his closing arguments on Monday, Brown’s defense attorney, Aron Laub, attempted to guide the jurors towards a guilty verdict on the lesser charge of manslaughter. Suggesting that Brown was simply a bad father, he continued, “This father, who had this duty to hold her hand or hold her … didn’t do it. Honestly, I have a hard time seeing a not guilty… I am looking for what is justice.”
A key factor in forming the jury’s decision was when they were taken to Inspiration Point on May 7, according to jury foreman Greg Apodaca.
“We appreciate the evidence they provided for us to consider… and feel we have delivered justice,” Apodaca said. “Well, the experts made it pretty clear, and when we did the site visit, it was clear to us, as well … It didn’t seem likely that a 4-year-old girl would be up there of her own volition.”
“I’m sorry for your death of your baby, but justice has finally been served,” juror Sheila Janis said directly to Key-Marer. “All the evidence was there.”
“All I ever wanted was that he would take responsibility for what happened that day, so I’m thankful to God for carrying me and my family and friends through this time,” said Key-Marer. “Lauren was our gift from God, the best thing that ever happened to us. We just learned to live with the pain. There are no winners here, certainly not for Cameron’s family and not for ours.”