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Young Killer in Murder Plot Freed : Legal system: Cinnamon Brown, then 14, was imprisoned for shooting her stepmother. She later revealed that 1985 slaying was set up by her father.

February 29, 1992|MARK I. PINSKY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — Cinnamon Brown, whose sensational 1985 murder of her stepmother at her father's urging was the subject of two books and a television miniseries, is free after serving seven years in a California Youth Authority facility.

Brown, 21, was quietly paroled last week after a 2-1 vote in her favor by a Youth Authority review board. Authorities said she is living in Orange County and preparing to take a clerical job. While at the Ventura School in Camarillo, she earned a high school diploma and completed an associate of arts degree.

At the age of 14, Brown was convicted of shooting her stepmother, 23-year-old Linda Brown, an act for which the young defendant took sole responsibility. For her role in the killing, she could have been committed to the Youth Authority until age 25.

After Brown's incarceration, her father, David Brown, collected $835,000 on Linda Brown's life insurance policy. She was his fifth wife. For the next four years, he lived in opulence with his next wife, the victim's teen-age sister, Patti Bailey, in Anaheim Hills.

But in 1988, Cinnamon Brown told authorities that the slaying had been masterminded by her father. She said that her father and Bailey had plotted for months to kill Linda Brown, who David Brown said was plotting to take his business.

Cinnamon Brown told prosecutors that on a night in March, 1985, she was awakened by her father and told to shoot her stepmother. David Brown gave her some medication to feign a suicide. Prosecutors said the only reason Cinnamon Brown survived was because she vomited.

In 1990, David Brown was convicted of orchestrating his wife's murder. Bailey was also convicted for her role in the killing and committed to the Youth Authority.

Assistant Dist. Atty. Jeoffrey L. S. Robinson, who prosecuted David Brown, said Friday that "had Cinnamon Brown not decided . . . to come forward, we would still be wondering why David Brown is still out and flourishing. But for Cinnamon Brown's courageous decision, David Brown would still be a leech on society."

The case was the subject of two books, "A Killing in the Family" and "If You Really Loved Me," and the miniseries "Love, Lies and Murder."

In his dissent to Cinnamon Brown's release, Youth Authority parole board member Victor Wisehart Jr. acknowledged that although she "has made great progress in her program, her reasons for the well-planned, coldblooded killing of her victim are not to be believed."

Wisehart wrote that she "was able to conceal the truth and show no emotion or remorse for several years before she saw the light and pointed out her father as the person behind the crime. . . . (She) has not explored all the reasons she was able to twice shoot her victim."

However, for Robinson, who supported an earlier parole bid by Cinnamon Brown, "the real story is the courage of this kid who was abandoned by her family; a 14-year-old-kid who was completely brainwashed for a number of years by her father; who herself has been the victim of terrible crimes and has now paid her debt to society, maybe even more of a debt than she should have. Yet her battle will be a very, very tough one, because her case is of such a high profile, a girl who has been earmarked as killer for the rest of her life," he said.

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