Murder, Media and Mistakes in
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Peterson - Rocha
"When I was planting those seeds,
I was just planting seeds of
suspicion regarding Scott Peterson."
-- Det. Brochinni,
Preliminary Hearing 11/12/03
"If you want to draw a crowd, start a fight."
-- P.T. Barnum,
founder of the grand traveling circus
"I think Mr. Geragos needs to stop joking so much."
-- Sharon Rocha
|"I know this for
sure: It doesn't matter how much a juror likes an attorney. It doesn't change
their vote. However, if jurors are really turned off by an attorney, they
can vote the opposite way."
-- Karen Fleming-Ginn, Verdix Jury Consulting
The six-man, six-woman,
PETERSON WEST jury
could get the case by Election Day.
"They ended more with a whimper than a bang...
They just petered out."
-- Dean Johnson
|"I think Mark
Geragos is winning this case through humor. It shouldn't be underestimated.
It's pretty boring stuff. The jury is desperate for anything that is moderately
interesting -- the only one who is doing it is Geragos.''
--Stan Goldman, Loyola Law School law professor
|"You know, this
isn't theater. This isn't about making jokes. This is about a family living
their own personal nightmare."
-- Jeanine Pirro, Westchester County DA on a FOX-TV broadcast
| "I've been there
most of the trial. Geragos hasn't joked about the autopsies. He hasn't joked
at those moments in the -- my heart is with Sharon Rocha, having, you know,
represented the families of murder victims for so many years. Having said
that, the ultimate judge in this case is that jury, and the jury is laughing
when he laughs.
The jury smiles at Mark Geragos. And when it comes time in three or four months for him to argue the case -- they like Mark Geragos and their ears are open to what he has to say. They're not laughing with Rick Distaso.
-- Jim Hammer, June 17, 2004
October 8, 2004 --
Meringue-maker, Martha Stewart begins
her prison sentence at "Camp Cupcake."
"Today I spent an hour on CourtTV talking
about the Scott Peterson case, and I don't
know anything about the Peterson case."
-- humorist, Andy Borowitz
DELUCCHI: "You better be quick."
DISTASO: "I'm not sure how quick I can be."
DELUCCHI: "You're gonna be quick or I'm gonna cut you off."
October 5, 2004
Having excused witness #174 -- Detective Jon Buehler -- perfect prosecutor Rick Distaso at long last decided it was time for the People to rest. No one expects they'll get much sleep, having inched their way out to the middle of a circumstantial tightrope. Mark Geragos, the lawyer to the stars who's sideshow has been front and center for much of Distaso's presentation, moves his magic onto the mainstage Tuesday morning, October 12.
Since the very first day of trial, prosecutors have focused exclusively on Scott Peterson. Finally, after four months, the tides will turn. Defense attorneys now shift the focus away from the life of the suspect and on to the death of the victims, Laci Peterson and unborn son, Conner.
said since the first night that he wanted the focus to be on finding Laci,
not on him, but with the things he's been saying and doing, the focus is
all on him. If you want to change the focus, Scott, talk to the Modesto police...
End this circus."
-- Ron Grantski talking to Scott Peterson through the media while issuing a 3/5/03 family statement to reporters
Hanging jurors in the Court of Public Opinion
They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.
from Lewis Carroll's, "The Hunting of the Snark"
Making Himself Invisible
Buehler testified that when Peterson was arrested in a newly purchased
car, police found $15,000 cash, credit cards, maps, shovels, clothing, shoes,
a water purifier, a backpack and various camping gear in the trunk. No mention
was made of any Viagra tablets.
Distaso and Harris have suggested that Peterson bought the car under an assumed name (his mother's) and packed it with supplies in order to quietly sneak the red Mercedes over the Mexican border and escape.
Prosecutors also maintain the defendant bleached his hair bright orange so he would be inconspicuous while living in Mexico.
Dr. Cheng, I presume
Circumstantial Witness #167
The People finally called critical witness, Dr. Ralph Cheng, to explain how the remains of the victims could've been in the bay for four months and then float to where they were found.
Dr. Cheng, a noted hydrologist with the USGS and an expert on tides, said that based on winds and tidal information, Laci Peterson's body and Conner's body (whether still inside his mother or not) were put in the bay between Brooks Island and the Berkeley Marina -- exactly where the defendant said he went fishing.
When Mark Geragos attacked the findings as mere assumptions, the scientist replied, "Most scientific information is based on assumptions." Cheng admitted Brooks Island was only the "highest probability" location.
Dr. Cheng's much anticipated testimony came to a surprisingly quick close when Geragos got the witness to acknowledge that this was the first study he had ever done involving human bodies and the San Francisco Bay.
Lead prosecutor Rick Distaso acknowledged confusion in the case when he sought to bring in an out-of-order witness, interrupting DNA testimony.
"Don't you think that will confuse the jury?" Judge Alfred A. Delucchi asked.
"Your honor, they're already confused," Distaso replied.
Since Christmas 1996 when JonBenet Ramsey was found dead in her own basement, the Boulder police and a majority of the national media insisted that her parents were guilty of the horrible holiday murder.
Although the media attack reached a level of hysteria, John and Patsy Ramsey were never charged with the crime. Guilty or not, the DA only had circumstantial evidence against the Ramseys, and knew that it wasn't in the interest of justice to point a finger and smugly say, "If not you -- who?"
Judge Delucchi announced
that, contrary to his pre-trial statement, the Laci Peterson murder trial
IS like the SUPERBOWL and the verdict will be nationally televised. Delucchi
also informed jurors that (surprise, surprise) prosecutor Distaso has more
witnesses to call and will not be resting his case this week as previously
Craig Grogan spent
8 days on the stand
"If you want to end all
of this nonsense, all you need to do is call me, all right? We can sit down.
I will not treat you badly. You can tell me what happened. We can get Laci
back where she needs to be."
-- Grogan, 1/29/03 wiretap
|FORTY-ONE to NOTHING
Rick Distaso sat in the audience taking notes as Birgit Fladager questioned Detective Craig Grogan about why he so quickly believed Laci Peterson's corpse would be found in the San Francisco Bay. Detective Grogan said he had come up with 41 reasons. Four months later, when the victim's body was recovered, Grogan's 41 suspicious circumstances became the people's entire case against Scott Peterson:
Peterson was close to the victim
He was the last person to see her
He was the person who discovered her missing
He was by himself when his wife disappeared
Peterson's two-day fishing license
a tracking dog detected Laci's Peterson's scent at the marina
umbrellas wrapped in a blue tarp that Peterson loaded in the back of his truck were the same size as his wife
the message he left for his wife on an answering machine right after he finished fishing
the cement debris and dust circles on the flatbed trailer in Peterson's warehouse
Peterson's boat that no one seemed to know about
Peterson had looked up internet information about tides
Peterson's lies told during local and national TV shows
Asked to list the reasons the MPD refused to follow up on tips and leads from callers who said they had seen Laci Peterson, Detective Grogan couldn't come up with even one, explaining, "I can't say that the sightings were automatically a priority for us at that time."
|A cadaver-sniffing dog "alerted" on a piece of fabric found near Laci Peterson's remains. BUT... Detective Grogan acknowledged police did not send the fabric to a lab for analysis.
|Grogan testified that Peterson inquired with police only about once a month. BUT... on cross, Grogan was quickly forced to admit that Peterson inquired about the investigation far more often.
|Prosecutors hinted that Peterson suffocated his wife with a pillow while she got undressed the night of Dec. 23, 2002. BUT... police didn't seize any bed linens until almost two months later. Grogan claimed he didn't know whether forensic testing was done or what the results might be.
|Grogan admitted police discussed doing an experiment to see if it would be possible for Peterson to have dumped his wife's weighted body from his small boat without tipping. BUT... police supposedly never tested their theory.
September 27, 2004
Fighting for Laci
The Modesto police and
Stanislaus County District Attorney may have given up, but that hasn't stopped
concerned citizens from continuing to fight for Laci Peterson.
Laci Peterson's mother, Sharon Rocha
and stepfather, Ron Grantski -- 9/22/04
Jurors have been seen talking and laughing with each other. Far from a "jury revolt" -- the panel seems very comfortable with their situation as they near the end of the State's circumstantial case.
Craig Grogan, lead detective in the Laci Peterson disappearance, was called to the stand to sum up the case for jurors. Thankfully, DA Birgit Fladager took over for lead attorney Rick Distaso. She led Grogan through a clear and concise examination which detailed the central events of the Modesto murder mystery.
Alex Quick, an agent with the state Department of Justice testified amid much laughter that he was part of the surveillance team that followed Scott Peterson the week before he was arrested. During his witty banter, Quick told the smiling jury that Peterson was driving erratically, and said he had changed his appearance.
"The last time I saw the defendant, he had different colored hair, orange in color, I think a goatee and the eyebrows were lighter."
Peterson's media appearances were played and jurors seemed captivated by his TV interviews.
As pleased prosecutors prepared to wrap up their portion of the guilt phase, Judge Delucchi looked happy and relaxed. Everyone, in fact, seemed to be in a jovial mood -- everyone that is, except the suddenly sullen and grim-faced Mark Geragos.
"You must not be influenced by
mere sentiment, conjecture, sympathy,
passion, prejudice, public opinion or
DID HE DO
The defendant is presumed innocent, which means the prosecution team is presumed to have made a terrible mistake. The State with all its power -- and all its thin blue lines and thick red tape -- is presumed to have wrongly placed Scott Peterson in jail and charged him with double murder. It is Rick Distaso -- not Scott Peterson -- who by law, is presumed to be guilty of premeditating the death of an innocent person.
Jurors won't be asked to decide if Scott Peterson murdered his wife and unborn child -- they'll be asked if Rick Distaso proved it.
Usually that proof comes in the form of solid answers to questions about the circumstances of the victim's death. Where? When? How? (and often Why?) Mr. Distaso doesn't have those answers so he has consistently avoided those questions, opting instead to focus on Scott Peterson's suspicious behavior and suspicious lies. Having shown Peterson to be a liar, the prosecutor will insist Peterson had no good reason to lie and therefore must be guilty of something.
Maybe he's guilty of strangling Laci Peterson, or suffocating her with a pillow, or perhaps he's guilty of beating her in the head with some object. Maybe he killed his wife in his house, and after hiding her corpse in the San Francisco Bay, maybe he returned home and removed every speck of evidence.
That's the case against Scott Peterson as it now stands, and obviously, it is NOT sufficient to sustain a conviction.
Even if all twelve jurors firmly believe the defendant murdered his wife, the prosecution hasn't supplied a common sense theory they can all hang their hats on. Twelve different answers will be returned to the basic questions of the case. The time of Laci Peterson's death is in doubt (If not December 24th -- then when?); The location of her murder is in doubt (If not in the home -- then where?); The manner in which she was killed is in doubt (If not by strangulation -- then how?); The motive for the crime is in doubt (If not for Amber Frey -- then why?).
Distaso's case ends at the predictable point -- the point at which Modesto detectives threw up their hands and passed the media-saturated mess on to the State. Now, Rick Distaso would like to pass the burden on to jurors, but he will not be able to do so. The burden stays with the State.
At the end of his case in chief, Distaso has not met his burden or even attempted to.
Jurors are left with a presumptively innocent man and a mountain of doubt. Unlike police and prosecutors, the jury will be forbidden from concluding that doubts are enough to obtain a conviction since Judge Delucchi will instruct:
You must not independently
investigate the facts or the law, or consider or discuss facts as to which
there is no evidence.
Murder is the meaninglessness of life become dynamic: a dramatization of the hidden futility of life. It is the human act, with all its inherent values, placed under the microscope slide where it cannot dissolve into the featureless landscape of all other human acts.
The study of murder is not the study of abnormal human nature; it is the study of human nature stained by an act that makes it visible on the microscope slide.
-- Colin Henry Wilson, A Criminal History of Mankind
"Truly, I believe that
reason Laci met her demise, it was
her death that caused Conners death,
that he was still in her uterus."
-- Medical Examiner, Dr. Brian Peterson
Dr. Brian Peterson, testified he could not determine a time or cause
of death for Laci or Conner Peterson, however, the determinations he WAS
able make, directly contradict the State's timeline.
1. He suggested the fetus' remains showed no signs of severe damage from currents, tides action or feeding fish and were much less decomposed than his mother's because he was protected inside her uterus until shortly before being expelled.
2. He said he could not determine whether Conner had been born alive.
3. He concluded that Conner died because his mother had died.
4. He estimated Conner's age to be nine months.
Forensic anthropologist Alison Galloway testified that:
1. Laci Peterson's body had been in the water anywhere from three months to six months.
2. She estimated the fetus' age to be between 33 and 38 weeks based on bone measurements.
Laci Peterson's time of death is unknown, but we know she was eight months pregnant when she disappeared. Dr. Tina Edraki has previously told jurors that on December 23, 2002, the babys gestational age was calculated at exactly 32 weeks and six days.
If her baby lived to be nine months old, the State's experts have testified that Laci Peterson could NOT have been killed "on or about and between December 23, 2002 and December 24, 2002."
"Were you ever able to determine the cause of death?"
Dr. Peterson: "I was not able to, your honor."
could not determine if he was born alive?"
Dr. Peterson: "Correct."
Geragos: "You could not rule out that he was born alive?"
Dr. Peterson: "That's correct."
"One of the things that happens when you have crimes of passion or crimes where the person is inexperienced is people make mistakes. That's how we catch them."
-- Ruth Jones, former prosecutor and professor at McGeorge School of Law
|County sheriff's deputies escorted Scott Peterson's parents, Lee and Jackie, to and from the courthouse Monday, September 13. A court official said they had received a threat.
in front of every great woman . . .
Chief Deputy District Attorney Birgit Fladager is no longer questioning witnesses and has now resumed her place behind the scenes at the trial of the century. Reports say she was only filling in for Dave Harris while he was sick.
It's too bad the change wasn't permanent. Fladager, a competent and confident woman, would more closely match the voice of the victim -- and by all accounts, her presence in the courtroom last week brought some strength and clarity to the State's weak, murky, male-dominated case.
Instead of a trial about the killer's weapons and wiley ways, prosecutors in the Redwood City Circus have stood legal tradition on its head. Turning down side up, PETERSON WEST is focused squarely on the methods and modus operandi of the State.
It's way too much information, but perfect prosecutor, Rick Distaso appears to be hell bent on getting every bit of the Modesto investigator's findings entered into evidence -- GPS tracking, dogs, computer analysis, wiretaps, DNA testing -- even when what they found was ambiguous and inconsistent.
Distaso called Matt
Laolagi to the stand to tell jurors he had nothing to do with Laci Peterson's
disappearance. Laolagi said the night before Laci Peterson was reported missing
he had dinner with Kim McGregor, the woman who later broke into the
Petersons' home and stole a video camera, several jackets, men's underwear
and Laci Peterson's Social Security card.
Although Scott Peterson
told police he made only one anchor and used the rest of a 90-pound bag
of cement to repair his driveway, Micro-Chem Laboratories' Robert O'Neill
testified that samples taken from the driveway did NOT match concrete in
Geragos got the witness to concede the only difference in the two mixtures was that the sample taken from the driveway contained chunks of gravel and that all other components were identical.
When Geragos suggested the defendant could have poured the cement mix onto the driveway where the larger rocks already were, O'Neill disagreed. "The larger rocks were obviously mixed in with the material," he said.
Dr. Brian Peterson
(no relation), the forensic pathologist who performed Laci Peterson's autopsy,
said her corpse was missing the head, neck and forearms. "The only internal
organ that was present was the uterus. I was limited by the fact there was
so much of the body absent," he told jurors.
Dr. Peterson said the top of the uterus was open and there were no signs of a cesarean section. He told the jury, "I determined the baby had exited through the top of the uterus."
State criminalist Pin
Kyo, took the stand and swore that the plastic twine found around
Conner Petersons neck was tied in a very loose bow. However, under
cross-examination she testified that a tight knot was found near the center
of the bow.
Target Products Ltd.
representative Richard Atkinson testified about the large plastic sheeting
found near Laci Peterson's recovery site. Target, whose logo appears
on the bag, shipped materials with the bags to a construction site in Richmond,
Prosecutors argue the plastic sheeting is a random piece of garbage and unrelated to the case, but the defense has some doubts. Geragos got Mr. Atkinson to tell jurors that his company also shipped products to a construction site in -- Tracy, California.
September 11, 2004
In the bizarre twists and turns during Week #15 of PETERSON WEST, soft-spoken assistant prosecutor David Harris quietly went missing. His witnesses were handled by Chief Deputy DA, Birgit Fladager, who -- although intimately connected to the case throughout -- has only now appeared in the well of the courtroom.
During one of the few remaining weeks before lead prosecutor Rick Distaso's final demand that jurors send Scott Peterson to die in a gas chamber, a whirlwind of witnesses were sworn in to have their testimony entered into the record.
An FBI DNA expert testified
about the much debated strand(s) of hair found clamped in a pair of needle-nosed
pliers on the defendant's boat. Mitochondrial DNA testing proved it
isn't Peterson's but could be his wife's -- and that 1 in 112 Caucasians
could possibly match the hair.
Other criminalists testified
they found no signs of blood or tissue on the rusty pliers and that there
were no signs of recent use. The hair is the State's single piece of potential
physical evidence linking Laci Peterson to the boat police claim she never
knew her husband had purchased.
A parade of women were
called to the stand -- all of whom were pregnant at the same time as Laci
Peterson and walked for exercise in the same area -- in an attempt to show
that neighbors who initially told police they spotted Laci Peterson on Christmas
Eve probably saw someone else.
Two law enforcement officials testified to an anonymous tip about a flophouse in Tracy, California.
Where is Laci Peterson?
Immediately after Laci Peterson went missing, the MPD turned to print and electronic media outlets and desperately asked citizens to call in information they thought might be helpful. In a classic example of not being careful what you ask for, authorities were immediately overwhelmed.
Having received over 9,000 tips, there's no way police could've investigated them all, but one caller's message stood out enough to catch the MPD's attention.
The tipster wouldn't give his name, but on January 10, 2003, a hotline dispatcher noted the call: "They have a pregnant woman in there and he states he recognizes her as Laci." The possibly Hispanic man reported that Laci Peterson was being kept in a rural area of Tracy, California. He said she was in a "trailer behind two white houses" and was "being abused."
Rick Distaso, attempting to launch a pre-emptive strike against Scott Peterson's defense team, called officer Eric Beffa to the stand to explain Modesto's careful follow-up on the call.
Beffa said he and another officer went to Tracy but were unable to find the location described by the tipster and quickly turned the search over to San Joaquin County Sheriff's Deputy Paul Mears.
Distaso then called Mears who testified that he was familiar with the location in question which he described as "a bunch of shanties and shacks, old trailers that had been abandoned," and said the area was well known as a haven for drug dealing, cockfights and parole violators.
On cross-examination, Mears acknowledged that neither he nor any other officers ever actually entered the compound of flophouses, explaining that it was simply too dangerous.
GERAGOS: "They didn't
even make one search?"
MEARS: "Not really, no."
Mears testified that he promptly arranged for a heat-sensing helicopter to fly over the compound and that it did in fact detect heat in several buildings, but that no further action was taken. They never went back and the compound has been razed since, Mears said.
Presumably, DA Distaso asked officers Beffa and Mears to take the stand so he could establish the kind of investigation authorities conducted.
Be careful what you ask for.
Defender Geragos pointed out for jurors that along with other curious details offered by the anonymous caller, the tip also included mention of a van.
"The district attorney
thinks he'll be done with the prosecution case at the end of September, then
it will be two or three weeks for the defense."
-- -- Judge Alfred Delucchi, September 8, 2004
"We'll start out with Mr. Distaso. He's estimated his opening statement will take approximately two hours."
-- Judge Alfred Delucchi , June 1, 2004
"Wherever someone does
go to dispose of a body, it's usually an area they're familiar and comfortable
with. One of the questions we ask when we find a body is, 'Why here?' Sometimes
if we can answer that question, it points us in the right
-- Stanislaus County sheriff's Sgt. Bill Heyne, January 14, 2003
"We hope she will come back home safe. That's what we would like."
-- René Tomlinson, volunteer, January 15, 2003
"So there's still hope."
-- Diana Edwards, volunteer, January 15, 2003
|By TY PHILLIPS
BEE STAFF WRITER
Jan 17, 2003
Modesto police told Laci Peterson's family that her husband was having an affair and recently took out a $250,000 life insurance policy on her, a family member said Thursday.
"Due to recent developments and the incredible media attention, we felt the volunteers would not be able to get any work done if the volunteer center was left open."
-- Kim Petersen, executive director,
Carole Sund-Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation, January 17, 2003
"The information in the
Modesto Bee was false, like a lot of things."
-- Detective Brocchini's testimony about Peterson's insurance policy
Wisconsin State Journal
"The Peterson trial seems to be going the way of the O.J. Simpson trial. Everyone seems to think the guy is guilty but the prosecution is so inept it is hard to see how he can be convicted."
"... Every time you turn around, the prosecution comes up with a damning piece of evidence that turns out to be ambiguous."
Searching for Scott
September 3, 2004
"Dr. Jekyll is this
perfectly ordinary man, a respectable, older man, a treasure to the community.
But inside is a murderous impulse. There is this battle in the self between
good and evil which civilization barely conceals."
-- Barry Qualls, co-editor of the Washington Square Press edition of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
In the abstract, the State's theory works, but when you look at the reality of the situation -- the facts make absolutely no sense. Without a witness, a weapon, a crime-scene, a confession, or any history of violence -- all we have left for evidence are assumptions about the character of a man who apparently has a split personality.
If we truly start with an honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned, down-home, 100% pure, PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE -- it becomes clear that we must resolve the split personality and mutually exclusive behavioral patterns created when Scott Peterson is proposed as the killer.
This week, computer forensic expert Lydell Wall testified that on December 24, 2002 between 8:40 to 8:44, computer data retrieved by police revealed that someone was using Scott Peterson's laptop. During those four minutes, Wall said the user browsed a $20.99 umbrella stand decorated in sunflowers, a garden weather vane, a digital weather station and a $6.99 fleece scarf from "The Gap." After looking at the shopping items, the user accessed Peterson's e-mail account -- firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who was surfing the net?
DA Distaso knows that if his timeline is correct, it's reasonably doubtful Laci Peterson was online at 8:40 AM Christmas Eve. The State contends she had already been murdered, placed in a locker, and hidden in the truck by 10:08. If Laci Peterson was already dead, the defendant HAD to be the person using his laptop. But why?
It's possible Peterson stopped in the middle of his murder to do some cyber shopping at Yahoo.com -- but it's not likely. It's possible he logged on merely to establish a phony alibi, prefiguring that authorities would do a hard drive examination and that Lydell Wall, or someone like Lydell Wall, would one day take the stand and deliver the seemingly exculpatory circumstantial evidence to a jury -- but it's not likely. Such conclusions don't flow naturally from the facts. They don't make common sense, because Peterson would have to have predicted the Modesto Police Department's gullibility and the Stanislaus County DA's arrogance.
If the DA is correct -- Scott Peterson premeditated, not only the perfect murder, but the perfect murder investigation and the perfect murder trial.
The presentation of basic facts don't make common sense because they imply, not one, but TWO "Scott Petersons."
Is Mr. Peterson a stupid, self-absorbed, sex-crazed moron, who acted on impulse in a first-time murder -- but who also has enough brains to engineer his popular wife's disappearance at Christmastime and leave absolutely no forensic trace of his monstrous deed?
Or is Scott a crafty and thoroughly calculating killer who contemplated and coldly carried out the perfect crime -- only to afterwards stupidly bungle his alibi of golfing or fishing, forget what he'd planned to tell police his wife was last wearing, and start selling off his wife's belongings?
A fair reading of the facts leads to the illogical conclusion that there are TWO "Petersons" -- the Scott before Laci disappeared and the Scott after.
Why should that be?
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is an exciting bit of fiction, but until the two personalities are resolved back into one killer with one motive and one modus operandi -- justice demands we hold on to the PRESUMPTION of INNOCENCE -- and search for a theory in PETERSON WEST that makes common sense.
Eloise Anderson testified that her dog, a Labrador named Trimble, picked up Laci Peterson's scent on December 28, 2002, at a Berkeley Marina pylon at the water's edge.
Undercover officers testified in the double-murder trial of Scott Peterson on Thursday that they abruptly ended their Jan. 3-11, 2003, surveillance of the accused wife killer once they felt that their efforts had been compromised by Peterson's discovery that he was being tracked by authorities.
"We were operating under a 'lose-it-before-you-burn-it' capacity," state Special Agent Thomas Chaplin testified. "We didn't want to let Scott Peterson know we were following him. At that point it had essentially been burned."
If after 12 weeks of
this trial jurors weren't convinced that Scott Peterson talks a lot of trash,
Week #13 could not have left a single doubt in anyone's mind.
Following days and days of listening to the phony fictions Peterson told Amber Frey, Rick Distaso put Detective Steve Jacobson on the stand in order to introduce yet more wiretaps into evidence. Along with the mistress, Modesto police were also listening in on the defendant's private conversations with friends and family, and although he never confesses to murder on the recordings, Peterson does tell a hefty bag of lies.
The prosecutor would ask Jacobson a few set-up questions, then dive for the PLAY button, anxious to reveal all the ludicrous lies to jurors. Distaso rushed from wiretap to wiretap, displaying the defendant's string of fibs before the jury as though they were dazzling trinkets from a once hidden treasure.
In separate, surreptitiously taped calls from mid to late January 2003, Scott Peterson --
tells his mother-in-law
he's in Bakersfield and tells his mother he's in Fresno, when phone logs
indicate he was near the Berkeley Marina at those times;
claims the chief of police
personally contacted him -- something which apparently did not happen;
says he's contacted police
in Washington about a tip -- records don't reflect that attempt;
tells a friend that 88
divers are searching for his wife in the San Francisco bay, but later tells
someone else there are 60 divers.
Mr. Distaso loaded his gold mine of guilty gaffes into the record so fast, he had no time to clarify his purpose or explain how any of the recordings relate to the death of Laci Peterson. The DA forged full steam ahead, flaunting his eerie evidence and forcing jurors to take in every weird word, sinister sigh, and ghoulish giggle.
At one point, the defendant is heard responding with a low, one-second, whistle of relief when a voicemail informs him that instead of a dead body, divers were only able to locate an old anchor. Prosecutors contend Peterson's whistle isn't relief that his wife wasn't found dead, but rather, relief he hadn't yet been caught. (The smoking whistle?)
Scattered among the many tapes are calls and voicemails from local, cable and network news reporters falling all over themselves for a piece of the action. Rita Cosby of FOX NEWS is caught -- on the record -- breathlessly broadcasting inside information from her "sources" in an effort to ingratiate herself to the murder suspect. These are just teasers for more star-studded recordings yet to come!
Of course one man's treasure is another man's trash.
Peterson defender, Mark Geragos was able to get Detective Jacobson to admit on cross-examination that the MPD's wiretap cell phone records don't match AT&T's cell phone records, and that AT&T's records don't represent the caller's location but rather the location of an available cell tower. Jacobson went on to admit that neither Peterson's home phone nor his other cell phones were being bugged and that police didn't track calls from those numbers.
Geragos also forced the lead investigator to reveal that back in January 2003, it was his opinion that Amber Frey was not a hapless heroine but a scheming liar -- an assessment he has since abandoned as merely meaningless words said at a time of chaos and confusion.
Despite Distaso's dazzling display, Master Mark's magic act and Larry King's voicemails, jurors appeared to be bored stiff. They're either convinced Peterson's a killer and don't need to hear anymore of his lies, or they're tired of waiting for solid evidence that conclusively proves he murdered his family. Whatever the reason, court observers seem to agree that jurors are sending a message of their own -- SOMETHING STINKS.
-- Peterson about a phone message from
Rita Cosby, 1/31/03 wiretap
During her two days of cross-examination, Amber Frey chose to wear simple, conservative, dark gray suits. Mark Geragos wisely decided upon kid gloves.
The lead defense attorney began with a joke ("No questions... just kidding.") then launched into a short and sweet series of questions highlighting four points:
1. The sexual nature of Frey's short-term relationship with Peterson.
2. The many, many futile attempts to get the defendant to confess.
3. The fact that at no time did Peterson ever say "I love you."
4. That Peterson was never violent with Frey or her young child.
When the soft-spoken mistress had finished her tightly controlled testimony, Geragos politely requested the right to call the wiretap witness back to court at a later date.
Before the straight-laced witness with the bodice ripping past could take her seat and breathe a quiet sigh of relief, media rep, Gloria Allred had already catapulted down the courthouse steps to hold a press conference.
Wearing a very bright, very pink outfit and waving a large, plastic bag, Allred announced that Scott Peterson and his defense attorney were trash.
"Deceit from Day
-- Amber Frey, 1/6/03 wiretap
"How am I supposed to deal
with the media and the police?"
-- Frey, 1/6/03 wiretap
"The truth is her
rock and she will stand upon it."
-- Gloria Allred about Frey, 8/23/04
|The House of Cards
at 1018 McKenzie Street
Martha Stewart cooed
"meringue," Christmas Eve -- 9:48,
(witness from AT&T Wireless)
MARY ANDERSON: There
appear to be some anomalies, yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Is it a reasonable conclusion that if you're trying to pinpoint the location when they're checking their voice mail, that you just can't do it?
ANDERSON: I think it makes it more difficult.
GERAGOS: You can't draw any conclusion whatsoever?
ANDERSON: I think that's a fair statement.
Frantic looky-loos had
been lining up all morning, desperate to win one of the coveted 30 lottery
tickets that would win them a seat to the hottest show in Redwood City.
Star reporters, legal eagles, and obsessed trial-o-philes all over the World Wide Web were licking their chops, salivating in exquisite anticipation of Mark Geragos' star, cross-examination of Scott Peterson's star-crossed lover, Amber Frey.
Flanked by her team of attorneys, Frey stood ready to do battle, opting for the first time to appear in court, dressed in all white.
Then, mere moments before the magic, Judge Delucchi took the bench to announce that America's favorite murder had been postponed for at least 5 days, citing "a potential development in this case."
No one seemed more disgusted and disappointed than Frey's media rep -- the glory seeking, always ready, Gloria Allred. The woman the San Francisco Chronicle officially dubbed, "the patron saint of slow news days," stormed down the courthouse steps to hold yet another press conference where she, yet again avoided and evaded reporter's questions, only to grab a microphone and begin spinning like a whirling dervish.
Allred furrowed her brow and fumed that the delay in Scott Peterson's death penalty, double-murder trial was a wretched inconvenience for her client, and most likely a defense ploy to further victimize the trial's already victimized "heroine," near miss-tress, and lead prosecutor -- Amber Frey.
"They said I went over like, by 2,000 minutes. I'm just having a hard time understanding. I know I've been on the phone quite a bit, but, I had extended hours on there -- limits -- er, um -- I think it's hours -- minutes -- but -- I know I was talking a little more, but not to that extreme, so, they shut it off. It's like $800.00 is what they say."
-- Frey, 2/13/03 wiretap
All dressed up
with no place to testify.
have done everything possible from Day One, when Anthony told me he wanted
nothing to do with his baby."
-- Frey, 1/6/03 wiretap
"That's a lie. He's not a gigolo, and he's not irresponsible. Anthony wanted to be with (their daughter), but Amber refused to let him see her."
-- Patricia Hinojos, grandmother of Frey's daughter
"I think I told you the story about, uh a boyfriend I had been with that uh had been through the drive-through in Vegas and married this girl -- and that night she got pregnant. And I told him, I said, you know, 'are you sure you want to be with me? I mean you have a pregnant woman here with your child.' And I said 'well, what is your decision?' And he says 'I want nothing more than to be with you.' And on her side -- she was a complete crazy woman."
-- Frey, 1/8/03 wiretap
"Up to now, (Frey) has kept my son out (of the case). I never wanted to talk about it either. Now she's throwing dirt at my son. Now it's hitting home. Now I'm going to say what I know is truth -- to refute what she's saying on those tapes."
-- Patricia Hinojos
The Scott Peterson
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