Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Southern California Wildfires

Personal Stories
City: Los Angeles, CA
Basin: San Fernando Valley

I took the above photo about 30 minutes ago by stepping onto my street in front of my house and pointing my camera at the western sky. It's filled with smoke. The winds have taken hold of the smoke and the smell has invaded through the tiny cracks of my home.

I then pointed my camera at the eastern horizon. It's more of the same.

The Creek Fire started around 4:00 am near Sylmar, CA, which is about 25 miles from my home. Sylmar is in the northeastern edge of the San Fernando Valley, and butts up against the Angeles National Forest. This story from local ABC7 gives some information on this fire.

A little ways up the I-5 below Santa Clarita the Rye Fire broke out this morning. Santa Clarita is in Los Angeles county and about 40 miles from where I live. This Los Angeles Times story gives a quick update on this fire.

The Thomas Fire sprung up overnight in Ventura County, which is 50 miles to the west of where I live. Over 150 structures in that county have been destroyed. Thousands of people have evacuated the city of Ventura and surrounding areas. This Washington Post story will give you the latest on what Southern Californians are facing.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Seventeen Years Ago Today ...

This is an update of a post from 2009. Sprocket

Lauren Sarene Key, summer 2000.

Seventeen years ago today, in the early afternoon of November 8th, four-year-old Lauren Sarene Key ended up dead at the bottom of Inspiration Point, a 120-foot sheer cliff face in Ranch Palos Verdes. That day, Lauren was on a court-ordered visitation with her biological father, Cameron Brown, who drove her to the Abalone Cove parking lot where they set out on an approximate one-mile hike. The hike was along trails that hugged a steep, ocean cliff. They traveled down to the beach tide pools, back up the cliff to the main road, then out to the tip of Inspiration Point.

To this day, only two people know what really happened to cause Lauren to lose her life in such a dangerous place. Her father, Cameron Brown and Lauren.

Much later that night back at the Sheriff's station, Brown was interviewed by LA Co. Sheriff's Homicide detectives for approximately three hours. According to Detective Jeffery Leslie, Brown gave three slightly different versions as to what happened to Lauren on the southeast section of Inspiration Point. That single interview would be the one and only time Brown cooperated with authorities investigating the death of his daughter.

Brown was arrested on first degree murder charges in 2003. Because of the special circumstances of lying-in-wait and murder for financial gain bail was denied. Brown remained in the custody of LA Co. Sheriff's. Brown's first two trials ended in hung juries. All jurors from both trials agreed that Brown was guilt of something, however, they couldn't decide on what charge.

In November 2013, Huffington Post wrote:
Nov. 16 is Cameron Brown's 10th anniversary in jail, even though he’s never been convicted of a crime.
Brown's third trial started on March 18, 2015 with juror pre-screening. Opening statements started a week later on March 25th.

On May 13, 2015 the jurors reached a unanimous verdict. Brown was convicted of first degree murder. They also found true the special circumstances of lying in wait and murder for financial gain. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole on September 18, 2015. Brown is currently serving his sentence at the CDCR's California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in in Corcoran, California.

 Screenshot of CDCR's inmate locator page for Cameron Brown

Recently, the California Courts of Appeal upheld the lower court's decision on Brown's conviction. Seventeen years later, this case has finally been put to rest for Lauren's family.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Cameron Brown's Appeal for Murder Conviction

Lauren Sarene Key, 4

UPDATE 7:30 PM - See below
October 18, 2017
Today, the California Courts of Appeal affirmed the conviction of Cameron Brown on first degree murder charges in the death of his 4-year-old child, Lauren Sarene Key.

Prosecutors argued and the jury agreed that Brown premeditatedly threw his daughter off of a 120ft cliff, Inspiration Point in November 2000 because he did not want to pay child support.

The court docket on the case states the justices "affirmed with modifications." Here is Brown's CA Courts of Appeal docket listing:

Interestingly, if you read the docket, on July 27, 2017, Brown waived the oral argument hearing and the state agreed four days later.

As soon as I am able to get a copy of the published decision, I will post it.

Below is a screenshot of page two of the Appellate Court ruling. The full 94 page document can be found HERE.