A teenager imprisoned after confessing to her stepmother's murder has told authorities a new story, leading them to charge her father and his sister-in-law with committing the crime to collect $1 million in insurance.
Authorities now say that Cinnamon Brown, 18, who has spent three years in a California Youth Authority facility, was persuaded to take the blame by her father, who told her she was too young to be kept in prison.Orange County Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Robinson said Miss Brown began cooperating with investigators when she became fed up with her plight while her father lived in luxury with his former sister-in-law, Patricia Ann Bailey, 20.
Acting on her story, authorities Thursday arrested David Arnold Brown, 36, and Bailey at their home for the slaying of Linda Marie Brown, 23, who was shot to death as she slept March 19, 1985.
Robinson said prosecutors would help Miss Brown seek her release through her parole board.
"Our belief is that Cinnamon Brown might not have been as culpable as she herself thought she was. We will surely make it clear, all the facts, so they can evaluate," Robinson said. "I'm not saying that she's totally without any participation, but then again she was a 14-year-old girl who was directed out of love and loyalty to her father."
The complaint against Brown lists 11 overt acts of conspiracy to commit murder, including discussing the killing with Bailey beforehand and recruiting his daughter by telling her that his wife was planning to kill him.
Brown, owner of Data Recovery, a computer service, also allegedly persuaded Miss Brown to take the blame and instructed her what to do.
Robinson also filed a special circumstance charge of committing murder for financial gain, which could lead to a death sentence if Brown is convicted.
Brown, held on a no-bail warrant, was to be arraigned Friday but the proceeding was continued to Monday, Robinson said.
Prosecutors said Brown took out four life insurance policies on his wife during three years of marriage. Two were purchased in the two months before her death. The four promised a total payout of more than $1 million, but police said Brown got only $835,000 because of incomplete paperwork on one policy.
The night of the murder, Mrs. Brown was sleeping alone in her bedroom in a rented Garden Grove home. Shot twice in the abdomen at close range, she died at Fountain Valley Hospital trauma center.
Brown told police he had left home earlier in the evening because of bickering between his daughter, then 14, and his wife.
He told officers that when he arrived home about 3:25 a.m., Bailey, who was at the house, told him about the gunshots and he called police.
Several hours later, detectives found Miss Brown in a doghouse in the back yard. Police reports said she had taken an overdose of a prescription drug and was clutching a note that read: "Dear God, please forgive me. I didn't mean to hurt her."
Despite the teenager's confession, Jay Newell, a district attorney's investigator, was not satisfied with the outcome of the case and continued to look into it.
Police now believe that Brown set up the shooting and instructed his daughter to practice writing suicide notes so it would look like a murder-suicide, according to the complaint.
Newell said Miss Brown's new story puts in doubt who pulled the trigger. "Nobody's confessed to it, but I'm convinced that Cinnamon didn't do it," he said.
"We were suspicious from the outset and we looked at the life insurance right away," said Garden Grove police Detective Fred McLean. "But Cinnamon confessed, and there was no way we could prove otherwise."
In a juvenile court trial five months after the killing, Miss Brown pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The judge, however, found her guilty of murder and ruled that she was sane.
The teenager was sentenced to 27 years to life in prison but, because of her age, the sentence meant she would be held by the California Youth Authority until age 25 or her release on good behavior.
Youth Authority institutions provide schooling, vocational education, psychological counseling and job programs.