updated 9/15/2009 5:30:22 PM ET 2009-09-15T21:30:22

A former airline baggage handler threw his 4-year-old daughter off a cliff because he didn't want to pay child support, a prosecutor told jurors Tuesday during an impassioned closing argument in the man's murder trial.

Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum urged jurors to find Cameron Brown, 47, guilty of first-degree murder in the November 2000 death of Lauren Sarene Key.

Hum reviewed the evidence for more than two hours, contending it was no accident that Lauren fell 120 feet from Inspiration Point in Rancho Palos Verdes.

"It brings us to one horrifying, inescapable conclusion," Hum said. "This man threw his 4-year-old daughter off a cliff to her death."

Brown is charged with one count of murder and the special circumstance allegations of murder while lying in wait and for financial gain. He has pleaded not guilty and could face life in prison without parole if convicted.

Defense attorney Pat Harris has said the child slipped and fell, and that Brown was a loving father. He was expected to make his closing argument later Tuesday.

‘Vindictive and spiteful’
The motive for killing Lauren was threefold, Hum argued. Brown didn't want to pay about $1,000 a month in child support; sought revenge against the girl's mother, Sarah Key-Marer, whom he despised and never married; and protested his wife's intention to seek custody of Lauren, Hum said.

"Nasty, vindictive and spiteful," Hum said of Brown, who sat stonefaced watching the prosecutor.

Hum repeatedly called Brown a liar, saying the defendant had given varying accounts to investigators about what had happened in the moments before Lauren died. Lauren's physical injuries weren't consistent with the defense contention the girl has accidentally fallen, the prosecutor said.

In addition, no children's footprints were found near the edge of the cliff, only adult-sized imprints, Hum said.

"She didn't fall off, she was thrown," Hum said.

He also dismissed Brown's contention that Lauren had led her father on a hike to the cliff that had no fences or barricades. Hum said the girl was always careful and cautious wherever she went.

At least three witnesses who saw Brown and Lauren testified it was the father who was ahead of his daughter, Hum said.

"There is no way the defendant's story is true," Hum exhorted. "No way. She was 4!"

Brown was tried three years ago, but a mistrial was declared after a jury deadlocked on the severity of the crime. Some jurors favored a first-degree murder conviction, while others voted for second-degree murder or manslaughter.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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