A Takoma Park woman and her alleged lover were found guilty for beating Cecil Brown, 73, to death in his backyard in 2014. Takoma Park residents Hussain Ali Zadeh, 50, and Brown's wife Larlane Pannell Brown, 70, were found guilty of second-degree homicide on April 7, 2017 in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County after a three week jury trial.
Takoma Park Police received two phone calls on August 4, 2014 around 12:29 pm both calls were made about a disturbance in the 800 block of Colby Avenue. Units responded and located a male, identified as Brown, deceased in his backyard, police said.
Takoma Park Police Detectives began an investigation into Brown's death as a homicide after the Medical Examiner's determined that the cause of death was blunt force trauma and the manner of death was a homicide.
A man whose murder conviction was overturned on appeal has been reconvicted of the 2014 crime, according to the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office.
Hussain Ali Zadeh was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Cecil Brown. He was sentenced on February 1, 2022, to the maximum of 30 years in prison. Zadeh was first convicted of the crime in 2017, along with his girlfriend Larlane Pannell Brown. Larlane Brown remains in prison serving her 30-year sentence.
Wiping tears and hugging the prosecutors, Belinda Brown, the fifth of Cecil Brown's children, told reporters how much she missed her dad, describing the void in her life since her father's death.
"This was a guy who worked hard and kept his nose clean," Takoma Park Police Chief Alan Goldberg said of Brown.
Police searched Larlane's belongings throughout the investigation, and found a folder labeled "Ali's Folder" with love letters from another man, now deemed Zadeh, according to The Washington Post.
Police also went through Larlane's Internet searches, and found searches such as "What drinks cause heart failure"; "Death by burning" and "Shocked Tasered while sleeping."
"This is one of the first cases that I had where a cell phone and the information from the cell phone is what helped me the most. Typically, it's interviews, it's physical evidence but it was the cell phone analysis that really made the case," Sgt. Richard Poole of the Takoma Park Police Department said in an interview.
The Washington Post reports that Brown, a retired construction worker, was a kind man who often helped his neighbors out with everyday chores.
Brown and his wife were known for hanging the most lights at their house on Christmas and buying straw at Halloween so neighbors could bring their children and old clothes over to build scarecrows. Larlane organized block parties in the neighborhood.
"I saw them as the matriarch and patriarch of a very small neighborhood," a neighbor, Miranda Morris, told The Washington Post.
Takoma Park Police called the investigation "exhaustive." On May 28, 2015, Zadeh and Brown were arrested for first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder by Takoma Park's Special Investigations Section (SIS) inside the Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport, police said.
Zadeh had flown to Jamaica, and Larlane was at the airport to meet him when they were arrested.
Sentencing is scheduled for July 25, 2017, police said. Each defendant's face 30 years in prison.
"If you were going to sum up this case, it's about betrayal, and it's about greed," said Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy.
Cecil Brown, 74, was in the backyard of his Takoma Park home working on his wife's truck when he was beaten to death and died of multiple blunt force trauma injuries, according to the state's attorney's office.
The Takoma Park Police Department conducted an investigation that culminated in the arrest of Zadeh and his accomplice on May 29, 2015.
According to court documents, Zadeh began a sexual relationship with his married accomplice, Larlane Brown, in October 2013 and continued until the murder and through May 2015, when the two of them were arrested.
The benefits of the relationship were not only sexual but also monetary. Throughout the course of the relationship, as demonstrated at trial, Zadeh received numerous gifts from Mrs. Brown including paid trips to Jamaica and a Jaguar station wagon. While in a relationship with Mrs. Brown, Zadeh maintained other relationships with other women, according to court documents.
On the day of the murder, Mr. Brown went to work in Jessup, Maryland, leaving the family home at approximately 6:00 a.m. At trial, an expert in cellular forensic technology testified that the cell site location information obtained from the defendant’s phone records was consistent with the defendant’s phone being present at the home Larlane Pannell Brown and her husband Cecil Brown shared, starting at 6:59 a.m., which was shortly after Mr. Brown left for work, and continuing until 11:51 a.m. During this time, Mrs. Brown received a call from the victim. Witnesses from Mr. Brown’s work testified at trial that the job was canceled that morning due to weather conditions and that Cecil Brown told people he was going home. The evidence at trial showed that Mr. Brown was beaten to death by Zadeh, assisted by Larlane Brown.
Zadeh and Larlane Brown were tried together for murder the first time. An appeals court threw out his conviction, finding that too much of the testimony was solely about her. She's still in prison, and following this new conviction, Zadeh is looking at a maximum possible sentence of 30 years.
"They killed the wrong man, but they got the right daughter," Belinda Brown said, pointing at her father's picture. "I stand right here for that guy. He was mine. And I was his."