2 Deputies Deny Killing Woman They Met in Bar

Times Staff Writer

Two sheriff's deputies accused in a civil lawsuit of killing a Van Nuys woman have denied it in court documents.

One of them acknowledged leaving a bar with the woman the night she was killed and dropping her a block from where her body was found.

Deputies Robert Waters, Robert Mallon and a third deputy who was not identified were sued last month in federal court by Mary Postma, whose 26-year-old daughter, Catherine M. Braley, was found strangled and beaten to death Jan. 15 in a parking lot in the 8100 block of Sepulveda Boulevard in Van Nuys.

The suit alleges that Braley, a department store cashier, left a bar called The Hunter with the deputies after an evening of drinking and was killed by them after refusing to have sex with them. The suit alleges that Braley's body was mutilated in an effort to confuse investigators.

There have been no arrests in the case.

Los Angeles police detectives have repeatedly said the deputies are not suspects but have declined to say why they are not. Postma has said a friend of her daughter's was questioned and released by investigators after providing hair samples, suggesting that the murderer left behind physical evidence. Investigators will not say whether the deputies have similarly been checked and cleared.

Statements Filed

Waters and Mallon filed sworn statements that deny the lawsuit's allegations and also sought a judgment in the deputies' favor.

Mallon said in his statement that he left the bar with Braley but did not harm her.

"When I last saw Cathy Braley, she was getting out of my car," Mallon said. "She was alive and uninjured."

Mallon said he and Braley left the bar about 11:30 p.m. and had "consensual sex." He said he then drove her to an address in the 8000 block of Langdon Avenue in Van Nuys, which he said was the last place he saw her alive.

His statement did not say what time he dropped her off or why she was dropped off at the large apartment complex, which is about five blocks from The Hunter and one block from the county Crisis Management Center parking lot where her body was found at 8 a.m. the next day. The complex is not close to where she lived, at a mobile home court in the 7600 block of Balboa Boulevard.

Los Angeles police declined to comment on the case Friday. They have said Braley had friends in the neighborhood of the Crisis Management Center and may have been looking for a place to spend the night. Police have theorized that Braley may have walked to nearby Sepulveda Boulevard and met her killer.

After a Funeral

The statements say Mallon, Waters and other deputies had gone to The Hunter at 1:30 p.m. after attending the funeral of a deputy who had been killed in the line of duty. The undercover narcotics deputies said they were off-duty, unarmed and not in uniform. According to the statements, they stayed for 10 hours before walking out of the bar with Braley and a deputy named Mike Turner. The statements said the three deputies then went separate ways.

"After a short conversation with Mike Turner, I walked from The Hunter to my car and drove away," Waters said in his statement. Like Mallon, he said: "When I last saw Cathy Braley, she was alive and uninjured."

After Waters left, Turner drove away, Mallon said. Mallon said he then left with Braley, whom he had met for the first time that night, in the unmarked car he used for work. His statement did not say where they had sex.

"I did not rape Cathy Braley, nor did I witness such injury being inflicted by any other person," Mallon said. "I did not kill Cathy Braley, nor did I witness any person kill or attempt to kill her," he said.

Postma's attorney, Stephen Yagman, could not be reached for comment Friday. A hearing on the deputies' motion for a judgment in the case has been scheduled for June 6.

The suit asks for $10 million in damages from the three deputies.

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