The widow of a retired police criminalist who committed suicide while under investigation in a 30-year-old murder case was awarded $6 million by a federal jury in San Diego Friday afternoon. Rebecca Brown sobbed briefly into her hands after the verdicts were read in the civil-rights and wrongful-death lawsuit she filed against a veteran San Diego police detective after her husband, Kevin Brown, 62, hanged himself from a tree in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in October 2014.
Jurors unanimously awarded a combined $3 million to Rebecca Brown and Kevin Brown’s estate for damages arising from an overly broad search of the Browns’ Chula Vista home in January 2014, and $3 million to Rebecca Brown for loss of companionship.
Rebecca Brown’s lead attorney, Eugene Iredale, said during his closing arguments Thursday that Kevin Brown fixated on the seized items and believed if they were returned, “everything would be all right.” When they weren’t, Brown, who suffered from anxiety and depression for much of his life, went into a downward spiral, the attorney said. “He couldn’t take it any more.”
Iredale said Lambert disregarded Brown’s mental health and kept the items because he wanted a confession that would crack the case and make the detective a star in the cold-case unit. “You didn’t get a confession,” Iredale said. “You got a suicide.”