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The Kristine Fitzhugh Case

Monday, July 23, 2001, 6 p.m.

Fitzhugh son takes stand
Justin testifies that he never suspected his biological father's identity

by Bill D'Agostino

In dramatic testimony this afternoon, Justin Fitzhugh told a jury how, talking to his father on the telephone from his college apartment, he found out his mother Kristine was dead.

"What's going on?" Justin Fitzhugh asked his father, Kenneth, during a tense telephone conversation on the afternoon of May 5, 2000.

After hesitating because he knew his son was alone, the elder Fitzhugh told his son that there had been a terrible accident, and his mother, Kristine Fitzhugh, was dead.

Justin Fitzhugh related that conversation to the jury this afternoon as the trial against his father, accused of murdering his wife of 33 years, Kristine Fitzhugh, continued.

Police and prosecutors believe that Kenneth Fitzhugh killed his wife and staged the scene to make it look like an accident. Investigators say they believe his motive was that Kristine told him that she was planning to reveal a hidden secret to her son: that another man, longtime family friend and disbarred attorney Robert Brown, was his biological father.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Fletcher reopened his case this afternoon to call his last witness, 23-year-old Justin Fitzhugh, to the stand. Tomorrow, defense attorney Thomas Nolan plans to bring Kenneth Fitzhugh to the stand.

In a full courtroom this afternoon, Justin said that he never knew, or even suspected, that he was not the biological son of Kenneth Fitzhugh. He did notice that he had a closer relationship with Brown than his younger brother John (who is Kenneth's biological son), but never made the connection.

In cross-examination, Justin said that he did not, however, receive any special treatment from either of his parents.

The Fitzhugh family stopped speaking to Brown in 1995, when he couldn't control a drug problem despite receiving drug treatment paid for by the Fitzhugh family.

Justin Fitzhugh told Fletcher that when he went to visit Brown with his mother in 1995, they found him under the influence of drugs which caused him to hallucinate. The mother and son called an ambulance and sent Brown to a rehabilitation clinic.

When Brown testified earlier in the case, he told the jury that Kristine Fitzhugh had spoken to him one time after that incident: when she called in December 1999 to invite him to Justin's graduation, where she was planning to tell Justin that Brown was his biological father.

Kristine was killed two weeks before Justin graduated with a degree in computer science from the University of the Pacific at Stockton.

Before Justin took the stand, Kenneth Fitzhugh's attorneys called two witnesses to discredit Robert Brown's character.

"As my friend, I knew that he did not always tell the truth," Susan Cielo, Brown's friend who also worked as his secretary, testified.




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