SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) -- The widow of a San Diego Police Department crime lab employee filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging homicide detectives drove her husband to commit suicide.
Kevin Brown, 62, hanged himself in October as detectives were getting ready to arrest him for a cold-case murder of a teenage girl.
Rebecca Brown’s lawsuit claims Kevin Brown's semen found on a vaginal swab was actually the result of contamination in the SDPD lab.
The couple was married for more than 20 years and the widow says she knows her husband was no killer.
“He was a teddy bear and a sweetheart. He never would have done something violent like that,” said Rebecca Brown on Thursday.
Brown committed suicide as police prepared to arrest him in the 1984 murder of Claire Hough.
“They kept pushing him to crack. They thought cracking him would be a confession but you can't confess to something you didn't do. But they did push him to crack and the cracking was the suicide,” said Brown’s widow.
The 14-year-old girl was strangled to death in 1984 on Torrey Pines State Beach.
Brown became a suspect in 2012 when new DNA testing found his semen on a single vaginal swab collected from the girl’s body during her autopsy.
According to the wrongful death lawsuit, Brown’s widow claims her husband's DNA was on the swab because of SDPD crime lab contamination.
Kevin brown worked in the San Diego police crime lab at the time of the murder.
“It was common practice (in the 1980s) for lab technicians to use their own semen in the lab as a known sample to verify the effectiveness of the reagents that they would use to do tests on unknown substances,” said Eugene Iredale, who filed the suit in federal court.
The widow's attorney also claims there is no evidence that Claire Hough was raped.
“She was subjected to genital mutilation with a knife but there was no semen,” Iredale said.
Blood stains from a convicted sex offender, Ronald Tatro, were also found on the victim's pants. Tatro died in a boating accident in 2011.
Rebecca Brown believes Tatro acted alone in Hough's murder and her husband is completely innocent.
“He was a good man and he would never have done this. And I want Claire's family to know that he didn't do this,” said Rebecca Brown.
The lawsuit also alleges a SDPD homicide detective made false statements to obtain search warrants during the investigation.
SDPD typically does not comment on pending litigation and a spokesperson for the San Diego City Attorney did not respond to an email sent Thursday night.