Yet the investigators seemed locked in to the idea that Brown was somehow involved. They then engaged in what seems to have been little more than an effort to confirm their suspicions. They learned that Brown had at times attended strip clubs (gasp!) and that some people at the lab called him by the nickname “Kinky.” Of course, neither an affinity for kinky sex nor visiting strip clubs is indicative of a proclivity toward raping and murdering children. But it was all enough to get a warrant for a search, during which the police confiscated just about everything in Brown’s home that wasn’t bolted to the floor.
In all, the officers seized fourteen (14) boxes from the Browns’ home. (Defs.’ Mot., Ex. O.) The items seized included: (1) “Papers Christmas Letter w/cabin info folder[,]” (2) “Binder `chemical imbalance’ mental health problems[,]” (3) Kevin Brown’s SDPD badge, (4) seven boxes of photos, journals, books, photo albums, paperwork, (5) other loose photos and photo albums, (6) a “callback roster from June 1998 for” SDPD, (7) handwritten cards, (8) notebooks, (9) a drama program from Mater Dei dated March 1, 2013, (10) a file folder titled, “Apple Products,” (11) a file folder titled, “Business Folder,” and (12) a file folder titled “Divorce Annulments[.]”
That was in January 2014. By October, 10 months later, the police still had possession of everything except the computer belonging to Brown’s wife. Which of course meant that despite the fact that the police found nothing incriminating in all of those boxes, Brown still hadn’t been cleared of the crime. Brown grew despondent, so despondent that his wife’s father removed all the guns from the couple’s home. Later that month, Brown hanged himself.
Though the facts of this case are unique, the failures that reportedly drove Brown to suicide aren’t: tunnel-visioned investigators, judges who sign off on broad search warrants with little to no scrutiny, shoddy crime lab work and public officials who can’t bring themselves to admit that the system sometimes makes mistakes (in this case, the crime lab director couldn’t bring herself to admit to problems that existed decades ago).
The good news is that the federal judge has allowed this case to proceed, ruling against the police investigators’ motion for summary judgment.
Thanks to David Woycechowsky for the tip.