Widow plans to sue city over husband's suicide - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Widow plans to sue city over husband's suicide

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – The widow of a retired civilian criminalist for the San Diego Police Department suspected in the 1984 murder of a 14-year-old girl has filed a claim against the city.

Rebecca Brown believes the DNA evidence linking Kevin Brown to the murder was likely the result of cross-contamination, but police say he murdered Claire Hough back in 1984.

"There's no way he would ever have been with a minor girl, there's no way he would have killed someone. No way he would have raped someone. This was a nice quiet, fun, clever, but sweet gentleman," Rebecca Brown said.

Investigators say DNA linked the former San Diego police lab worker to the murder, but in a claim just filed against the City of San Diego, attorneys say that DNA evidence means nothing because they say Brown brought his own semen to work to test chemicals, and his lab table was next to that of the analyst who was working on Hough's case.

"The protocols that they had, the practices they used would be today, something that would shock and horrify us because they were, in essence, an invitation to cross-contamination," attorney Eugene Iredale said.

Police eventually got a search warrant and confiscated items from Kevin Brown's home, which according to the claim caused him stress. The claim says he became obsessed with fear that he would be falsely accused and imprisoned pending trial. As a result, Kevin Brown committed suicide by hanging himself.

"He was essentially hounded to death. That is not how we as a society want our criminal justice system to work," attorney Gretchen Von Helms said.

The city now has 60 days to act on the claim -- which Brown's attorney believes will be denied -- opening the door for a civil lawsuit that will seek monetary damages.

"Our belief system in the U.S. government and the legal system seemed to be shattered there for a time, and I'm hoping the legal system will set things right," Rebecca Brown said.

Brown's attorney says they will be seeking damages for wrongful death and civil rights violations, most likely in federal court. As for the amount of damages, they say they will leave that up to a jury.

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