CAMARILLO — Cinnamon Brown, who at age 14 carried out her father's command to kill her stepmother, was denied early release Tuesday by the state youth parole board despite her cooperation with authorities in her father's trial.
In rejecting a prosecutor's request that Brown be freed, the panel gave her no credit for the crucial testimony that sent her father to prison last year as the mastermind of the 1985 murder of his fifth wife, Linda Bailey, in their Garden Grove home.
"Her testimony against her father, which led to his conviction, should not be considered in determining Cinnamon's parole readiness," the three-member panel said after a four-hour hearing at the Ventura School, a California Youth Authority detention center in Camarillo.
In refusing to reduce her sentence, the all-male panel dismissed a request by Orange County Deputy Dist. Atty. Jeoffrey Robinson, who argued that Brown, now 20, has made great strides. He said Brown has passed a high school equivalency test, is taking college-credit courses and has worked for three years as an airline ticket reservation clerk at the Ventura School.
Robinson, who addressed the board on Brown's behalf, said many of the panel's objections to parole were not stated publicly and centered on members' belief that she has not fully shaken the hold her father, David Brown, placed on her.
In a rare move for a prosecutor, Robinson said his office will pursue an appeal of the decision.
"At this point in her life, I think she has broken free. She loves her father, but she is not under the influence of David Brown," he said.
The Youthful Offenders Parole Board claimed that Cinnamon Brown is manipulative--a trait employed to perfection by her father--and that she "has not addressed the reasons why she became involved in this cold-blooded and calculated crime."
Patti Bailey, the victim's younger sister, participated with Cinnamon Brown in the shooting death, and later married David Brown after Cinnamon was in custody. Patti Bailey also is in custody at the Ventura School.
Robinson said Brown was crushed not because she was denied early release, but because the board did not even grant her a 30-day sentence reduction recommended by the staff.
"She did not expect to be paroled," Robinson said. "But it upset her to be labeled a manipulated, cold-blooded murderer and not get credit for the progress she's made."
Brown officially becomes eligible for parole in March, 1992, and qualifies for mandatory release on her 25th birthday in July, 1995, said Allison Zajac, the detention center's spokeswoman. The parole board, which was hearing Brown's sixth annual review Tuesday, is empowered to release her in advance of her parole consideration date next year.
Brown has already exceeded the 5 1/2-year average sentence served by convicted juvenile murderers, Robinson said.
"She has acknowledged her own culpability, she has admitted pulling the trigger, and she has expressed remorse," he said.
The panel in its report claimed that Brown has often been uncommunicative and flippant with therapists.
"After keeping up the pretense year after year at her annual reviews that she could not remember anything about the crime, she has finally come forth and admitted that she killed the victim," the panel's statement read.
Robinson said she has remained tight-lipped on prosecutors' instruction since agreeing to testify in late 1988. Robinson said she was given the directive after her father's defense attorneys got hold of a private psychological report that they used to attack her character.
Victor Weishart, chairman of the parole board, declined to comment on the panel's ruling.
Ann Sands, Brown's grandmother, said after the hearing that the board erred in its decision and that her granddaughter understands fully the wrongfulness of her actions.