Murdered two-year-old’s stepmom could get a new trial

A judge’s gavel. Photo via Pixabay.

A hearing on a motion for a new trial for a La Quinta woman, who was convicted of second-degree murder and assault for the 2003 death of her 2-year-old stepson, was put off Monday at the request of the defense.

Patricia Brown, 52, was convicted in August 2016 following a monthlong trial stemming from the Jan. 16, 2003, death of Deetrick Brown, whose father was a co-defendant in the case until midway through the trial.

Brown and her husband, Derrick, were first charged with murder in 2003, but a judge who presided over a preliminary hearing that October ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed to trial on that charge.

Brown’s attorneys continue to lobby that she should be granted a new trial on various grounds. Arguments were slated to continue Monday morning, but Brown’s lawyers moved to postpone the hearing during an in-chambers meeting with Riverside County Superior Court Judge John G. Evans.

Details of the proceeding were ordered sealed by Evans, who scheduled a Nov. 27 status conference that will be held outside the defendant’s presence and include an expert witness.

Prosecutors allege that Patricia Brown beat the child during the eight months he was in her care, causing injuries that manifested themselves with a series of seizures leading up to his death at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital, about two months shy of his third birthday.

A decade later, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and the sheriff’s department re-examined the case and submitted new evidence that resulted in the refiling of charges against the Browns. They were re-arrested on Jan. 16, 2013 — 10 years to the day after the boy’s death.

Brown’s attorneys are seeking a retrial based on alleged prosecutorial misconduct, among other claims.

Defense attorney Taylor Huff contends Assistant District Attorney Michelle Paradise made remarks during her closing argument that were prejudicial toward Brown, including claims that Deetrick was afraid of using the bathroom in front of her for fear of having “his genitals ripped off.”

Evans, who also presided over Brown’s trial, denied other defense motions during a nearly five-hour hearing in September related to juror misconduct and inadmissible evidence.

Paradise said in her closing argument that the tot showed no signs of abuse or medical issues until he lived with the Browns. Paradise argued that his stepmother resented the child.

“Patricia Brown was forced to raise him, a child she didn’t want, a child she didn’t love, a child from another woman,” she said.

Paradise told jurors that no injuries were noted by physicians while the child was in foster care, nor did he suffer any abuse at the hands of his biological mother.

Though Deetrick and his siblings were taken from his biological mother’s home, it was because there was evidence she was abusing Deetrick’s sibling, not Deetrick, the prosecutor said.

Brown’s family and attorneys maintain that Deetrick suffered from undiagnosed medical issues that could have contributed to his death.

Brenda Miller, Brown’s trial attorney, said the boy should have been prescribed anti-seizure medication, but doctors never caught on to his condition. Miller said medical professionals also failed to diagnose diabetes and autism in the boy.

What prosecutors were calling burns and scratches were actually self- inflicted injuries caused by the boy’s excessive scratching and picking at his own skin, Miller alleged.

“What is really difficult is that whenever we are in a medical crisis, we look to experts for answers. The Browns were not given any answers,” Miller said during the trial.

Derrick Brown went from being a co-defendant to a bystander midway through the trial, when a judge ruled on a defense motion arguing there was a lack of evidence to convict him.

Two weeks later, jurors deliberated for less than a day before convicting Patricia Brown.

–City News Service