Md. woman, boyfriend convicted of killing husband

ROCKVILLE, Md. — An older woman and her much younger lover, both of Takoma Park, Maryland, have been convicted of killing the woman’s husband, 73-year-old Cecil Brown.

Larlane Pannell-Brown, 70, and Hussain Ali Zadeh, 50, were convicted of second-degree murder in the killing of Brown at the home he and Pannell-Brown shared on Colby Avenue near Sligo Creek Parkway on Aug. 4, 2014.

The defendants initially claimed to barely know each other. But electronic records — including 30 hotel receipts — helped convict them, authorities said.

“This was a case that was put together with a combination of cellphone records, motel records, financial transactions,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said Monday at a news conference.

Electronic links between Pannell-Brown and Zadeh included:

  • A shared bank account
  • A shared cellphone account
  • Text messages immediately before the murder
  • Many gifts from Pannell-Brown to Zadeh, including a Jaguar station wagon
  • Up to 30 receipts from hotels a few blocks from where Brown-Pannell and Zadeh lived.

“The family was equally shocked by what happened in this case. Again, this is a 50-year relationship,” McCarthy said. “… There are other telltale documents and things that are found, like a life insurance policy on the life of Mr. Brown that names Mr. Zadeh as the beneficiary.”

Laura Kelsey Rhodes, a defense attorney for Zadeh, said that the life insurance policy listing Zadeh as the beneficiary was for Pannell-Brown, not Brown.

Detectives discovered many suspect Google searches by Pannell-Brown before the murder, McCarthy said, including: “tasteless odorless deadly poison,” “what energy drinks are very harmful,” “how harmful is energy drinks for people over 70 years of age” and “what happens if you get tasered in the head.”

Brown was beaten to death.

“We got justice, we got a verdict, but at sentencing we really need to get my dad 30 years,” said the victim’s daughter, Belinda Brown-Payne, who is not related to Pannell-Brown. The state’s attorney said he is asking for the maximum sentence available: 30 years.

“That’s what would be ultimate justice for my dad,” Brown-Payne said.

Before the killing, Brown and Pannell-Brown had a 50-year relationship, McCarthy said. They had been married since 1992.

Zadeh and Pannell-Brown will be sentenced July 25.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the defense attorney’s contention that the life insurance policy was for Pannell-Brown, not the victim.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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