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Reporter Denies Identifying Source to Brown’s Attorney

Times Staff Writer

A Times Orange County Edition reporter testified Friday that he never identified a source who provided the newspaper with copies of audio tapes in which murder defendant David A. Brown allegedly plotted the execution of his wife, his prosecutor and an investigator.

Brown’s attorney, Joel W. Baruch, filed a declaration in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana stating that Times reporter Eric Lichtblau told him by telephone that someone in the district attorney’s office had given him the tapes.

“At no time (in the telephone conversation) did I say that,” Lichtblau testified before Superior Court Judge Everett W. Dickey.

Lichtblau told the court that Baruch, who had called him to the stand Friday, had asked him repeatedly during that telephone conversation who his source was, but that he had refused to reveal it.

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The issue came up at Friday’s hearing when Baruch tried to get the court to remove the district attorney’s office from Brown’s case.

Brown, 36, could get the death penalty if convicted on murder charges in the 1985 shooting death of his first wife, Linda Brown, 24. Prosecutors claim Brown had plotted the murder but let his daughter, Cinnamon, then 14, take the blame for it. Prosecutors believe that Brown, his daughter and Patty Bailey, his current wife and sister of the victim, were all involved in the woman’s death.

Prosecutors have alleged that in January, Brown hatched a plot within the Orange County Jail to hire another inmate to kill Bailey, a key witness against him, as well as to murder Deputy Dist. Atty. Jeoffrey L. Robinson and district attorney investigator Jay Newell. Brown has since admitted his involvement in the plot but claims he was coerced into it by two other inmates. The plan was thwarted when one of the inmates informed the authorities.

Baruch claims that prosecutors, because of the plot, are now out to get his client and cannot prosecute him fairly. Prosecutors deny the claim.

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On Friday, Baruch told the court that the tapes, which reveal Brown discussing the plan with others, are highly damaging to the defense. Baruch said that for the district attorney’s office to provide a newspaper with the tapes when he is trying to remove them from Brown’s case shows “bad faith.”

But Judge Dickey suggested to the defense attorney that he drop the issue of who gave the tapes to The Times.

“It appears you may have misunderstood what (Lichtblau) told you,” the judge said, adding that several copies of the tapes could be floating around the county and that any number of sources might have provided them to the newspaper.

However, Baruch said he intends to pursue the issue when the hearing resumes Friday.

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