A 41-year-old man was convicted Wednesday of strangling a female friend in his Huntington Beach motor home three years ago.
After about two days of deliberations, jurors found Ean Keith Brown guilty of second-degree murder in the killing of 21-year-old Dolores “Arias” Fagan. The panel rejected first-degree murder with a special circumstance allegation of raping an unconscious woman.
Brown faces up to 55 years to life in prison because of his prior convictions for residential burglary and robbery, Assistant District Attorney Howard Gundy said. The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 27.
Gundy told the jurors he was “very, very happy with second-degree murder,” despite arguing for a special circumstances murder.
“It was really hard to figure out what happened in the (defendant’s) trailer” on the night of the killing, Gundy told the jury.
Brown’s attorney argued that while there was no dispute that his client killed Fagan, it was a case of involuntary manslaughter at the hands of a drug-addicted man with the mind of a third-grader.
Brown was living in a motor home parked in the driveway of his mother and stepfather’s home at 8391 Danbury Circle in Huntington Beach when he went out partying with transients and Fagan in Hidden Valley Park the night she was killed, Gundy said.
The two grew up together in the neighborhood and would frequently get together to do drugs when the San Luis Obispo resident was in town visiting her grandmother, Gundy said.
Fagan, who had a long history of drug and alcohol issues, got falling- down drunk at the Jan. 6, 2012, party and needed help stumbling back to the defendant’s motor home, Gundy said.
What happened in the motor home was not exactly clear because investigators had to rely on physical evidence and Brown’s statements to police to piece together a scenario. The victim likely died sometime after midnight Jan. 7 or Jan. 8, Gundy said.
There was evidence in the motor home of fecal matter smeared on clothes and elsewhere, consistent with a victim of strangulation losing control of their bowels, Gundy said. Brown used paper and tissue to stop the victim’s defecation and wrapped her body in a sleeping bag, Gundy said.
Investigators also believe she was beaten, Gundy said.
Brown left the RV on Jan. 8, and told his stepsister what happened before he started driving to Las Vegas, prompting the sibling to contact their mother, who called police, Gundy said.
Brown refused to pull over when he was spotted on the northbound Mojave (15) Freeway by San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers, touching off an hour-long pursuit in which he tossed his cell phone out the window before being arrested.
The defendant’s DNA was found under the victim’s fingernails, on her breasts and in her crotch area, Gundy said. To buttress the prosecution’s theory that he sexually assaulted the victim, a 27-year-old transient testified that Brown forced himself on her in the motor home weeks before Fagan’s death, Gundy said. The woman did not report the incident to police, but came forward after hearing of Fagan’s death, the prosecutor said.
David Dworakowski of the Orange County Public Defender’s Office said his client had “no motive” to kill the victim, and told jurors the two had a “bond of love. In this case the bond was drugs.”
The two would indulge in “the worst drugs known to mankind,” such as methamphetamine, bath salts and vapor from paint “huffed” out of a bag, the defense attorney said.
Methamphetamine “played a huge role in this case,” said Dworakowski, who told jurors that the drug can make a user delusional.
Brown told police he thought he was just trying to help his friend fall unconscious, not kill her, Dworakowski said.
He said Brown has a long history of mental illness and “schizophrenic- type behavior” and “has the mind of a third-grader, a 10-year-old. Think Lenny in ‘Of Mice and Men.”‘
Brown had consensual sex with the 27-year-old woman and even asked her to be his girlfriend, Dworakowski said. The woman asked him not to tell her boyfriend about their sexual encounter, according to the attorney.
— City News Service