Woman found guilty of 2nd degree murder for toddler's death

Patricia Brown charged in death of stepson in 2003

INDIO, Calif. - Patricia Brown was found guilty of second degree murder for the death  of her husband's son, Deetrick from Jan. 16, 2003. The verdict came down on Thursday, just before 4 p.m.

Our crew at the courthouse learned that she collapsed on the floor and was taken to the hospital as the verdict was read. She apparently suffered from some type of medical condition.

KESQ and CBS Local 2's Joe Galli spoke to Brown's family and he'll have the details from court on KESQ News Channel 3 at 5 p.m. and on CBS Local 2 at 5:30 p.m.

Sentencing expected Thursday afternoon (8/11/16)

A 2-year-old boy died from blunt force trauma injuries he sustained while in the custody of his stepmother, a prosecutor said Thursday, while a defense attorney argued that the toddler's death was the result of poor medical treatment from doctors who evaluated him.

Jurors began deliberations Thursday in the trial of Patricia Brown, 51, who is accused in the death of her husband's son, Deetrick. Brown is charged with murder and assault on a child causing death, for abuse that allegedly occurred while Deetrick was in the custody of Patricia and
Derrick Brown for eight months leading up to his death on Jan. 16, 2003.

The Browns 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.

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 of the boy's death.

The month-long trial has seen a litany of pediatricians, neurologists and other medical specialists appearing as expert witnesses, as attorneys have attempted to ascertain whether the boy's death was caused by consistent physical abuse.

Witnesses from Child Protection Services were also called to the stand to determine if abuse occurred while Deetrick was in the care of the Browns, his biological mother or his foster mother.

The case has also seen Deetrick's father go from being a co-defendant to a bystander midway through the trial, after Derrick Brown was acquitted following a motion filed by his attorney, citing a lack of evidence.

Deetrick was in the custody of his biological mother until June 2001, when she was arrested on suspicion of child neglect. The boy was then moved to a foster home, until the Browns took custody in April 2002, reconciling after a 2-year separation that included Deetrick's birth.

Deputy District Attorney Michelle Paradise said Deetrick showed no signs of abuse until he lived with the Browns and that Patricia 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,'' Paradise said.

Paradise said 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, this was because there was evidence of her abusing
Deetrick's brother, Paradise said, and not Deetrick.

The Browns were arrested in June 2003 when authorities searched their home in the 51000 block of Avenida Velasco. The toddler died at Loma Linda Children's Hospital about two months shy
of his 3rd birthday. The day before his death, he suffered a seizure that was caused by ``acute and chronic abusive head trauma,'' according to a declaration prepared in support of an arrest warrant.

The seizure was one of several that the toddler suffered between November 2002 and January 2003, despite not having a pre-existing medical condition, according to the declaration.

Paradise said that subdural hematoma, or bleeding in the brain, resulting from tearing in the brain's bridging veins, were found in the boy's CAT scans. She said the brain bleeds could only be caused by trauma and that Deetrick's seizures were the natural result of impacts to his head.

But Brown's attorney Brenda Miller said that Deetrick suffered from an ``undiagnosed brain injury'' and 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 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.

Paradise said other signs of abuse included a hand injury Deetrick sustained, as well as other scabbing and scratch marks on his body. Paradise said doctors concluded that Deetrick sustained a second-degree burn to his left hand, while the Browns have maintained that a door accidentally slammed on Deetrick's hand. Further, the Browns testified in court and on recordings played for jurors that Deetrick picked the skin off of his hand, exacerbating the injury.

Miller said there was no evidence linking Deetrick's ailments to abuse, as there were no witnesses within the home who ever saw Brown abusing Deetrick.

``We're not going to let the prosecutor get away with murder by not proving this case beyond a reasonable doubt,'' Miller said.

Paradise told jurors that the evidence of abuse lay in the condition Deetrick was in while in the Browns' care.

``Even though we can't save Deetrick -- that ship has sailed -- we can still find justice,'' Paradise said. ``Even delayed justice is justice.''

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