Ex-con with sex-assault rap sheet charged with killing cousin, her foster daughter in child porn case

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FREEHOLD, N.J. (PIX11) -- He was a registered sex offender who killed his cousin after she caught him taking child porn photos with her foster daughter, according to prosecutors.

Then, they say, Brian Farmer killed the little girl as well, and fled.  Now, Farmer is in jail on $2.5 million dollars cash bail, but the situation raises the question of whether or not the man with a record of sexual assault, kidnapping and arson should have been out free in the first place.

Farmer, 58, said nothing as he entered the Monmouth County Superior courtroom Thursday afternoon, and he remained silent as an assistant prosecutor read the very serious charges against him:  the first degree murder of his cousin, Joan Colbert, 62, and her long-term foster daughter, Veronica Roach, 10. According to investigators, Farmer strangled Colbert and Roach on July 30th -- his 58th birthday -- after Colbert caught him forcing the girl to perform sex acts on him, while he snapped photos of the illegal sexual activity.

Police arrested Farmer on Wednesday night, 13 days after the alleged child porn sexual abuse, following the discovery of photos of the sex crimes on Farmer's cellphone. It took all of four minutes for Judge Honora O'Brien Kilgallen on Thursday to rule to keep the $2.5 million cash bail on Farmer at his first court appearance in this case.  It wasn't, however, his first violent sexual assault case.

In 1984, he was convicted of first degree sexual assault.  He was sentenced to five years in prison.  Then in 1996, according to the Asbury Park Press, Farmer was sentenced to 25 years in prison after he was found guilty of holding his girlfriend and her 15 year-old daughter hostage for three days, sexually assaulting the teen, and torching their house after the two escaped. He was released from his sentence in 2009, having served just half of his time.

Also, despite having had the two violent sexual assault convictions on his record, Farmer was determined by the state of New Jersey to be a moderate sex offender, rather than a high risk or low risk offender. Farmer's family was adamant that they want privacy as they try to sort out this intra-family crisis.

Outside of Farmer's home in Long Branch, which is three doors away from an elementary school, his son and other residents had gathered on Thursday morning.  "We're having a hard time," he said to PIX11 News before demanding that PIX11 leave the area, on John Street. In addition to Farmer's family trying to cope with the situation, their community is reeling from the deaths, and the circumstances under which they happened. In front of the home whose first floor Colbert and Roach shared, on Lippincott Avenue in Long Branch, are dozens of candles, balloons, flowers and stuffed animals.

There has been a clear outpouring of support for a very well known and well liked neighbor. At court on Thursday, a woman who did not give her name but had said she'd grown up with both Farmer and Colbert, said she was there to honor the victims, whom she'd known and loved. "Joan did not have one enemy," she told reporters outside of court.  "She was a fixture in Long Branch and the Long Branch community, and if there was anything that Joan could have done for anyone, she would have absolutely did it without any apprehension whatsoever."

The medical examiner ruled that Colbert and Roach died from strangulation.

If Farmer is found guilty on the homicide charges, he would face life in prison without parole.  Additional child endangerment charges he faces would result in up to 20 years in prison if he's found guilty.

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