#22) June 2004
Laci Peterson Case Information:
When: June 2004
June 1 At 8:15 a.m., there is already large line of people waiting to get into the courtroom. Along with the local media members are celebrity journalists Greta Van Susteren and Dan Abrams, and Amber Frey’s attorney, Gloria Allred. The Rocha family is escorted in at about 8:30 a.m. At 8:45 a.m., the media is allowed in. Shortly before the 9:00 a.m. start, members of the Peterson family take their seats. Scott Peterson, dressed in a khaki suit and robin’s egg-blue tie, enters the packed courtroom. According to some sources, “Citizen Q” also appears incognito. Rick Distaso, at times with trembling voice, makes the opening statement for the prosecution. He methodically lays out the evidence to be presented against Scott Peterson. The prosecutor’s opening remarks, expected to last a little more than 2 hours, continue for nearly 4 hours, forcing to a new day the rebuttal by Mark Geragos. Much of the statement focuses on inconsistencies in Scott Peterson’s words, after-the-fact actions that point to a consciousness of guilt, and his extramarital affairs. Distaso also tries to prepare jurors for an expected defense police-bashing, admitting that Det. Al Brocchini was “embarrassed” by forgetting his notebook and keys at two different times during the initial investigation. During the talk, Distaso plays a recording of a phone conversation between Scott Peterson and Amber Frey and, presenting a slide show, exhibits back-to-back photographs taken on December 14, 2002: One of a pregnant Laci Peterson sitting alone at a Christmas party, the other of Amber Frey being embraced by Scott Peterson, wearing a Santa hat and mugging for the camera. For most of the day, Scott Peterson seems to follow the prosecutor’s presentation closely—looking up at the large display screen each time the prosecutor shows a new graphic—but as this photograph is shown, the defendant swivels his chair away from the screen and looks across the room. Distaso states that the defendant repeatedly denied the affair, that even when a detective confronted him with a photograph of him and Amber Frey, he replied, “Is that supposed to be me?” and told Amy Rocha the police photographs were “morphed” together by “people on the Internet.” Despite the focus on the defendant’s love life, Distaso argues that it was financial difficulties that led to the murder. Distaso claims that the prosecution will present an expert witness on tides to testify that the remains of Laci and Conner Peterson separated just off Brooks Island, the area where Scott Peterson said he fished. The prosecutor also states that, in early 2003, the defendant repeatedly visited a spot near San Francisco Bay with an overlook of that area. Addressing the lack of DNA findings, Distaso points out that tarps Scott Peterson apparently used during his fishing trip were found drenched in gasoline or covered with fertilizer—both substances that destroy DNA. The prosecution introduces horrific photographs from the autopsies of Laci and Conner Peterson. As these are shown, the audience gasps, Scott Peterson again turns away, and members of the Rocha and Peterson families bow their heads. Janey Peterson gets up and leaves the courtroom. Media reports surface that the defense has a list of just 18 witnesses; the prosecution, hundreds. Outside the courtroom, Lee Peterson states Distaso’s monologue was the “same thing.” “Nothing new. No evidence,” he tells reporters. John Peterson chimes in, speculating, “The truth will come out tomorrow.” An article in the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the prosecution has turned over to the defense more than 40,000 pages of written material, hundreds of photographs and dozens of audiotapes and videotapes, whereas defense attorneys have revealed just 35 pages of written reports, one audio tape and one videotape.
June 2 Mark Geragos delivers his opening statement, admitting that Scott Peterson has been less than the perfect husband. “He is clearly a cad,” Geragos concedes. “If you want to say his behavior is boorish, we are not going to dispute that.” Geragos point out, though, “He’s not charged with having an affair—the fact of the matter is that this is a murder case and there has to be evidence.” As for that evidence, Geragos states that investigators found none. “You want to know what they got out of all the tests? Zilch, zip, nada.” The attorney contends that he will prove the defendant is not only “not guilty,” but in fact, “stone cold innocent” of the charges against him. Geragos attacks prosecution star witness Amber Frey, saying that Steve Jacobson even told a judge that she might have had something to do with Laci Peterson’s disappearance, and blames the oppressive media for some of Scott Peterson’s seemingly odd behavior. That behavior included several trips to the San Francisco Bay area, to a place prosecutors contend was a site overlooking Brooks Island. “He was going anywhere he thought he could find or promulgate the search for Laci,” Geragos claims. He saves the harshest words for the Modesto Police Department detectives, whom he accuses of ruining evidence, lying to a judge and trying to disgrace his client during an improperly focused investigation. To prove that point, he plays a clip of the December 24, 2002, Martha Stewart Living in which she says “meringue,” arguing that this utterance contradicts the prosecution’s claims that meringue was not mentioned during that program. As he plays the clip, a murmur ripples through the courtroom. Juror 9 reportedly looks stunned. Geragos immediately replays the clip, and then says, “I played it twice, just in case the Modesto P.D. couldn’t hear it,” bringing chuckles to the gallery. Geragos also seems to hang the case—some observers say, unwisely—on proving that Conner Peterson was born alive, “was removed” from the body of his mother and died between January 24 and February 20, 2003. As he makes this point, he shows the grisly autopsy photographs. Sharon Rocha leaves the courtroom and many other observers turn away. Immediately thereafter, Dennis Rocha also leaves, followed by two other family members. The attorney promises to shoot holes in the prosecution’s theory that no one in the Rocha family knew about his client’s boat, offering that he will present at trial a woman who saw Laci Peterson at the Tradecorp Warehouse on December 20, 2002. “She saw the boat and was in the boat,” he says concerning the victim. “She went next door and used the bathroom.” The defense attorney promises he will bring forth testimony from five witnesses, including four not previously mentioned in news reports, that saw a woman they believed to be Laci Peterson walking her dog on December 24, 2002. One of these, Geragos says, is a truck driver who will testify that he saw the woman cross the street to avoid two “homeless people.” Wearing a gray suit and blue shirt, Scott Peterson looks intently at Geragos for most of the approximately 90-minute talk. Outside the courtroom, Jackie Peterson remarks, “It’s nice to hear some truth,” and praises her son’s attorney. “Give him a 10. He is a 10,” she tells reporters. Gloria Allred takes issue with Geragos again insinuating that Amber Frey was involved in the murder of Laci Peterson, saying it is “100 percent clear” that authorities do not view her client as a suspect. “She has been a real heroine in all of this,” Allred says. “She has taken grave risks and made many sacrifices of her personal privacy in order to assist in a criminal investigation. And this type of smear of her—attempt to discredit her—is unwarranted.” After the opening statements, Margarita Nava takes the stand as the first prosecution witness. She provides testimony described as “uneventful.” She also seemingly forgets some of the statements she made during Scott Peterson’s preliminary hearing, saying that she no longer remembers what Laci Peterson was wearing on December 23, 2002, or whether the blinds were open or closed that morning at Scott and Laci Peterson’s home.
June 3 The first full day of testimony sees prosecutors off to what some observers call a “rocky start,” with their first witnesses sometimes seeming to do more harm than good to their cause. During the day, the prosecution witnesses called seem to paint a portrait of Laci Peterson’s last known day alive. Fred Eachus testifies as to Laci Peterson’s expenditures at Trader Joe’s on the morning of December 23, 2002. Tina Reiswig takes the stand, testifying that Laci Peterson seemed exhausted when she visited the Sweet Serenity Day Spa shortly after noon that same day. Wearing a pink pants suit, Michelle Buer takes the stand as the third prosecution witness. She testifies that Laci Peterson seemed quiet at Sweet Serenity Day Spa, and was wearing a white top and black stretch pants. Laurie Wesenberg takes the stand. She testifies that she reviewed security tapes at Salon Salon but found no images of Laci Peterson. Chris Johnson takes the stand. He testifies concerning the security cameras at Salon Salon, stating that he thought they were on a 2-week recording cycle. Amy Rocha takes the stand, the seventh prosecution witness called and the last witness for the week. She describes her last meeting with her half-sister, saying she appeared “happy” but tired and more quiet than usual. Amy Rocha tells the prosecution she has “no doubt” that Laci Peterson was wearing cream-colored pants that night, but under cross-examination, she acknowledges that a pair of pants prosecutors presented as a match for the pants found on Laci Peterson’s remains had a different crease and did not have the same wide cuffs at the bottom. “In your interview with Det. Grogan, you said they were not the pants,” Mark Geragos reminds Amy Rocha. “I said they were close,” she replies. She does provides what appears to be potentially damaging evidence to the defense: A maternity blouse similar to the one Laci Peterson was wearing the night before she was reported missing was found wadded up in a dresser drawer when police searched the home February 18–19, 2003. Amy Rocha also identifies that same blouse in a photograph taken on an unspecified date inside Scott and Laci Peterson’s home. In that photograph, the blouse is hanging out of a laundry hamper and is underneath what appear to be men’s khaki pants and other clothes. Al Delucchi asks Rick Distaso to clarify how he believes the blouse moved between the hamper and the drawer. Distaso replies, “I’ll get back to that, judge,” but does not revisit the subject before the close of the day. In a curious move, Distaso asks Amy Rocha to take off her shoes and walk in front of the jury so they can get a feel for how tall Laci Peterson was. “I promise I won’t put you on display again,” the prosecutor jokes after she completes her walk. The day has its share of humorous moments, as well as tense ones. Just before the lunch break, Delucchi rebukes Distaso for cutting off a witness in midsentence. “You’re stepping on his answers, you’re cutting him off and that drives the court reporter crazy,” the judge says. Moments later, Delucchi chastises the audience for noisily getting up to leave as he is instructing jurors not to talk about the case. “If anybody gets up and walks out of this court until I admonish this jury, you’re not coming back in the courtroom,” he shouts. Geragos, after finishing his cross-examination of Fred Eachus, says, “Actually, I have one more question.” He then asks, “What did you guys ever do with those turkey pepperoni sticks?” Eachus laughs and replies that the snacks were discontinued because they were unpopular. Outside of court, Ron Grantski states that he believes, despite what some observers say is a shaky start, that the prosecution will put forth a compelling case against Scott Peterson. “If you make a mistake out of the gate, it’s better than making them all the way through,” he tells reporters. “I pretty much told them, ‘You know, I build shopping centers. I make mistakes. There’s nothing better than to make a mistake early so you don’t make it again. You catch my drift?'”
June 4 People magazine, featuring yet another pro-Peterson article, hits the newsstands. Among the revelations are that members of the immediate Peterson family have supposedly taken out second mortgages on their homes to help finance Scott Peterson’s defense and Mark Geragos’ lifestyle. A CBS News report states that People magazine assistant managing editor Betsy Gleick said on The Early Show that, contrary to perception, the Peterson family has a great number of supporters. “They say people come up to them in restaurants, buy them meals, give them hugs, send them letters, help them with their groceries,” she points out.
June 7 Mark Geragos continues his cross-examination of Amy Rocha. She tells the court that she, Brent Rocha and Laci Peterson stood to divide $485,000 after the eventual sale of their grandfather’s home as part of a $2.3 million estate, but that Laci Peterson would not have seen any of the money until she turned 30. Amy Rocha also answers questions about jewelry that her half-sister was selling on eBay and in pawn shops. Sharon Rocha then takes the stand. She testifies that Scott Peterson shunned friends and family members during the frantic search for his wife, and he avoided questions about where Laci Peterson could be. About those first moments Sharon Rocha saw Scott Peterson on December 24, 2002, she says, “I was yelling out to him…Scott never did acknowledge that I was yelling his name.” She says that she finally caught up to him in East La Loma Park, asking if he had any idea where his wife might have gone, but he did not respond to her questions. Sharon Rocha states that, later that evening, when the search group had gathered back at Scott and Laci Peterson’s home, she tried to hug him but he would not give her an opportunity. “I was walking over to give him a hug because I thought that we were all upset,” she recalls. “I was never able to do that…because he kept angling away from me.” That behavior continued, she recalls. “He didn’t show the concern that I felt he should be showing for Laci being missing,” she tells the court. “We would try to schedule meetings for different situations and he would always cancel them. I felt he was avoiding trying to be alone with me.” The prosecution plays a tape recording of a conversation she had with her son-in-law in which she tries to get him to describe the events of December 23, 2002. Interestingly, Sharon Rocha recalls that her son-in-law told her that Laci Peterson was styling her hair when he last saw her alive. “He told me she looked so cute because she was sitting on a bench looking in the mirror styling her hair the way Amy showed her,” she testifies. Geragos asks about what was reported as the first time Scott Peterson was caught cheating on Laci Peterson. “I was told she knew about it,” Sharon Rocha answers. “Laci did not confide in me about it.” Sharon Rocha shows surprising composure during most of the questioning, but begins to cry as she describes a conversation she had with Laci Peterson about her last prenatal doctor’s appointment. Ron Frey tells the media that he has hired Barry Rekoon to represent him and is protesting the gag order. “I don’t want to sit back and take it,” he complains. Rekoon argues that his client is not subject to the gag order because he was subpoenaed before the trial was moved to San Mateo County. “As such we feel that he is free to speak openly, and he will do so,” Rekoon states. Frey says he wants to be able to defend his daughter, who Mark Geragos has hinted could have been involved in Laci Peterson’s disappearance. The Modesto Bee prints Ron Frey’s letter to the editor, in which he states that he would “prefer to be examined by the District Attorney, Jim Brazelton” rather than Rick Distaso and cross-examined by Pat Harris rather than Geragos. “I find it hard to forget it was Mr. Geragos, through his appearances as an expert on TV after Laci Peterson disappeared, who convinced me that Scott was guilty,” the letter reads. Now that Geragos has been hired by the Peterson family and changed his tune, Ron Frey says, he “would prefer not to have my testimony taken by an apparent liar.” He criticizes Geragos for failing to deliver on a promise to find what he terms the “alternative murderer” of Laci Peterson. Geragos refuses to comment about the accusations.
June 8 Ron Grantski takes the stand to testify for the prosecution. He states that Scott Peterson was acting suspiciously in the weeks after his wife’s disappearance. In questioning that is arguably irrelevant to Scott Peterson’s guilt, Mark Geragos asks Grantski if he, too, went fishing on December 24, 2002. “Almost exactly the time that Scott Peterson went, correct?” the attorney asks. “That is correct,” Grantski admits, then adds, “90 miles closer.” Grantski does not break the mold of those who testified before him, stating that, by all appearances, Scott and Laci Peterson enjoyed a loving relationship up until the time of her disappearance. Brent Rocha takes the stand, discussing the financial arrangements of an inheritance from their paternal grandfather. He recalls that, at a pool party in the summer of 2002, Scott Peterson had confided in him about having job troubles. “He wasn’t doing good in his job,” Brent Rocha testifies. “He was down, kind of quiet.” Geragos gets him to admit that Scott Peterson would have collected nothing from the sale if his wife predeceased him. “As far as you can tell, there’s absolutely no financial motive for Scott Peterson to do anything to Laci or Conner—especially during that 8-week period,” the attorney asks. “Yes,” Brent Rocha replies. Dave Harris, on redirect examination, points out that Brent Rocha cannot say whether or not Scott Peterson was aware of details of the financial arrangements. Rose Rocha recalls the time, soon after Laci Peterson discovered she was pregnant, when Scott Peterson remarked, “I was kind of hoping for infertility.” Rose Rocha testifies that she did not take his comment to be meant as humorous. “He wasn’t laughing, and he wasn’t smiling,” she states. Sandy Rickard testifies about helping Sharon Rocha search for Laci Peterson, and about her dealings with Scott Peterson, including a recollection that he told her, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they find blood on my truck because I cut my hands all the time.” Gwen Kemple testifies, saying that Scott Peterson had told on December 24, 2002, that he had been fishing that day. All five witnesses indicate Scott Peterson was emotionless throughout the search for his wife and shunned friends and family who tried to help. Outside the courtroom, a gleeful Lee Peterson speaks to reporters. “I think Ron’s comment early on was, ‘Who goes fishing on Christmas Eve?'” he says. “And, lo and behold, he went fishing.”
June 9 Gwen Kemple continues her testimony. Harvey Kemple provides some of the most riveting testimony of the trial so far, outright accusing Scott Peterson of Laci Peterson’s death. “I was very suspicious from that first night,” he admits. With a pack of Winston cigarettes in his pocket and a gold chain hanging around his neck, he recalls a time when he was giving apparently unwelcome outdoor cooking advice to the defendant. “I saw more reaction out of him when he burnt his damn chicken than when his wife went missing,” he testifies. Harvey Kemple also recalls that on the night of December 24, 2002, Scott Peterson told him he had spent the day golfing—a tale at odds with the defendant’s statement to investigators. The witness admits having once followed the defendant—who had told others he was going out to post missing-person fliers—to an area shopping mall, where he sat alone for about 45 minutes. Pat Harris asks if it might be a little strange for someone to follow a grown man, then watch him as he sits in a parking lot. “Fair statement,” the witness answers, eliciting a round of laughter from the courtroom. Harvey Kemple repeatedly refuses to back down under cross-examination. At one point he draws chuckles from the crowd when he offers his eyeglasses to Pat Harris when the attorney has trouble reading the date on a police report—an offer Harris accepts. Karen Servas takes the stand, offering key testimony concerning the time she found McKenzie. Mark Geragos reportedly becomes quite aggressive with her on a number of points, including one that is personal: Servas once threatened to file a complaint against Geragos after Globe reporters contacted her—in her opinion, a reaction to his “mystery woman” plea. After she testifies that she saw a package in Scott and Laci Peterson’s mailbox at 11:45 a.m. on December 24, 2002, Geragos repeatedly asks her why she never previously mentioned that fact. A seemingly exasperated Servas ultimately tells the attorney, “The fact is, I saw the package at 11:45 no matter who I told it to.” Amie Krigbaum testifies that she parked her Siemens company van across the street from Scott and Laci Peterson’s home all day on December 24, 2002. She also states that Scott Peterson told her he was golfing the day of his wife’s disappearance. Krigbaum recalls barking dogs, believed to be Sage and McKenzie, waking her shortly after 10:30 a.m. on December 24, 2002. Bill Austin testifies about the cash registers used to verify Karen Servas’ timeline. Terra Venable confirms that Scott Peterson said he was golfing when his wife disappeared. Susan Aquino also testifies. During a break in the morning session, tempers flare in the courthouse hallway. Gwen Kemple confronts Lee Peterson as he walks by, demanding, “What are you grinning at?” He stops and replies, “I can’t grin?” “You always walk by with this smile on your face,” Kemple accuses. “I guess you can’t grin in this courthouse,” Lee Peterson remarks. Other Rocha family members intervene and lead Gwen Kemple away. Lee Peterson tells reporters that witnesses are making too much of his son’s lack of reaction. “He’s very stoic,” Lee Peterson explains. “He starts thinking about how to solve things. He doesn’t go to pieces.”
June 10 Susan Medina testifies that her mobile phone records show she and her husband left their home on Covena Avenue about 10:32 a.m. on December 24, 2002. She mentions that one of the things stolen was an envelope with cash in it from which she gives her husband his weekly allowance. After the courtroom erupts in laughter, she explains, “Don’t worry—it’s a lot.” When asked about the homeless people who frequent Covena Avenue, she corrects the prosecutor by telling him they are not “homeless,” but “home challenged.” In testimony that seems to aid the defense, Medina concedes that homeless people were frequently seen going through the neighborhood, a shortcut between East La Loma Park encampments and a nearby homeless shelter. She notes that the transients sometimes caused problems—she put a lock on her mailbox to keep them from going through her mail and had a potted plant stolen. Although she says that Scott Peterson seemed upset when he came to visit her, Dave Harris suggests it may have been a performance, noting that the defendant was accompanied at the time by a private investigator, presumably Gary Ermoian. “So, Mr. Peterson comes to your house with a defense investigator and starts to cry for you,” Harris states accusingly as Pat Harris objects. On cross-examination, Harris gets her to concede that the media made life difficult for Scott Peterson at his Covena Avenue home. “People were in his driveway, yelling things at him, following him around, absolutely making his life a total wreck for months?” the attorney asks. The witness agrees. Russell Graybill testifies that, on December 24, 2002, he was delivering mail in the La Loma neighborhood and that he delivered mail to Scott and Laci Peterson’s home sometime between 10:35 and 10:50 a.m. He explains that this timeframe is based on data from a postal tracking system—six of the 600 homes he delivered mail to that day had barcodes on the mailboxes, recording the time of his visit. He also says that, at 10:19 a.m., he scanned a checkpoint bar code just down the street from Scott and Laci Peterson’s home. He characterizes McKenzie as “extremely territorial” and notes that the dog sometimes escaped the couple’s yard. He states he does not recall McKenzie barking or being out on December 24, 2002, but seems to damage any theory that the barking dogs may have been reacting to an abduction, noting that the animals regularly greeted his rounds with a “chorus” of barking. Four Modesto Police Department officers also testify. Sgt. Byron Duerfeldt states that he was the first commander to arrive at the search scene. He characterizes the scene as “chaotic, emotional” and recalls that many of Laci Peterson’s friends and relatives asked questions and expressed concern, but that he did not hear from Scott Peterson. Duerfeldt says that some of those comments, involving Scott Peterson’s unusual behavior, prompted him to bring in a detective—an unusual move for what was then characterized as a missing-person case. “Based on what they told me, I felt it was necessary to have a detective respond,” the witness says. As Duerfeldt tells this story, the defendant appears offended and turns to Mark Geragos, who according to a Court TV account, “nods consolingly.” Duerfeldt notes that he and other officers became suspicious of the defendant within hours after arriving. Sgt. Craig Wend recounts flying over East La Loma Park in a helicopter equipped with an infrared heat-sensing device. John Hobson and David Corder testify concerning the early searches and their encounters with homeless people at encampments in East La Loma Park, refuting defense suggestions that transients were not thoroughly investigated because of a police focus on Scott Peterson.
June 12 The Contra Costa Times reports that Al Delucchi sustained about 69 percent of the defense’s 65 objections during the previous week, while approving 52 percent of 42 objections from the prosecution.
June 13 Joan Ryan of the San Francisco Chronicle compares the Scott Peterson case to the 1886 novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
June 14 The San Mateo County Times runs an article noting that trial pundits have backed off their criticism of the prosecution, saying they made up for lost ground in the second week of the trial. Jim Brazelton sits in on the proceedings, taking a place behind members of the Rocha family. Derrick Letsinger and Matt Spurlock of the Modesto Police Department testify for the prosecution. Spurlock states that the defendant—his face blank and eyes darting from side to side—did not answer when asked what type of fish he hoped to catch in San Francisco Bay. Sparks fly after Spurlock notes that Scott Peterson threw a flashlight and used vulgar epithet after doing a walk-through of his house with investigators, a similar revelation to one made earlier in the day by Letsinger. Mark Geragos asks to be heard outside the presence of the jury, then asks Al Delucchi to admonish the jury that the statement by Spurlock was not provided in discovery to the defense. Rick Distaso argues that a word is not discovery because it was not a statement by the defendant to officers, but “just a word he said.” “What universe are we in?” Geragos asks. “That’s what statements are.” Distaso contends that Spurlock’s testimony was not in his report, so there was no way for prosecutors to hand it over to the defense. Delucchi asks Distaso if Letsinger and Spurlock were pretried, to which the prosecutor replies in the negative. “That’s part of the problem, then,” Delucchi suggests. Geragos argues that the statement was “another in a never-ending series of cheap shots” by the prosecution. Distaso argues back that Geragos entered receipts from Austin’s Patio, Deck and Pool Furniture into trial without previously informing prosecutors, but also admits that the officers were interviewed in the morning, and that prosecutors were aware they would testify about the epithet. At this point, Geragos asks for a mistrial, evoking laughter from the courtroom. The attorney wheels around and shouts, “I don’t need laughter from the audience on that.” He then addresses the judge. “I would like the court also to admonish people that if they’re going to make comments from the peanut gallery, that the court can clear the courtroom at any time, if that’s going to be the thing.” The judge disagrees. “They always do that in the movies—you know, they pound the gavel, ‘One more word, I’m going to clear the courtroom,” Delucchi says calmly. “We don’t do that.” Philip Williams testifies concerning the clothing bought by Laci Peterson from Motherhood Maternity, testifying that the pants in which she was found matched those she purchased on August 30, 2002.
June 15 Det. Jon Evers takes the stand for the prosecution, recounting the events of December 24, 2002, when he arrived at Scott and Laci Peterson’s home to find everything in order. “I didn’t see any obvious evidence of a struggle,” he testifies. Evers initially says that Scott Peterson volunteered a boat launch receipt from the Berkeley Marina, but changes his testimony when Mark Geragos confronts him with what he stated at the preliminary hearing: Scott Peterson fetched the receipt only after Evers asked for proof that he had been fishing. Evers recalls that the defendant told him that the fishing expedition was cut short because it started to rain—an apparent contradiction to reports that the Berkeley Marina harbormaster is prepared to give. Evers also testifies that he noticed two duffle bags in the defendant’s guest bedroom that “looked like they had been disturbed.” Evers says that, when he asked about the bags, Scott Peterson explained he was a slob. Lisa Martin testifies about Laci Peterson’s prenatal visits, noting that her weight went from 119 pounds on July 11, 2002, to 153 pounds at her visit the day before her disappearance was reported. Martin states that Laci Peterson’s due date was at one time estimated as February 10, 2003, but that her later measurements indicated a revision to February 16, 2003. The morning session is cut short after Juror 6 becomes nauseated. “I hope it’s not the flu,” Al Delucchi remarks. “If it’s the flu, and everybody else gets sick, we’ll be here until Christmas.” Apparently feeling better, Juror 6 returns for the afternoon session of court. The ongoing trial is discussed on Larry King Live, with panel members Ted Rowlands, Nancy Grace, Chris Pixley; Michael Cardoza and Chuck Smith.
June 16 Sharon Rocha arrives at San Mateo County Courthouse, and gives reporters her most extensive reply since Scott Peterson’s trial began. “I just think that Mr. Geragos needs to stop joking so much,” she says. “It’s not funny. There is nothing humorous about the fact that my daughter was murdered.” Apparently referring to an earlier incident during which observers chuckled when Mark Geragos called for a mistrial, Ron Grantski points out that the attorney likes to dish it out but he cannot take it: “He likes to tell jokes as long as he gets to laugh, but when he gets laughed at, then he wants the courtroom cleared,” Grantski notes. Det. Ron Cloward, taking the stand in full dress uniform, testifies about some of the 8,900 tips concerning Laci Peterson received by the Modesto Police Department, including some that involved a dog resembling McKenzie running alone but leashed in a park. Cloward states that, based on some of these tips, he directed an officer to take McKenzie back through the park to gauge the dog’s reactions. Apparently seeking to counter defense arguments that the Modesto Police Department focused solely on Scott Peterson, Cloward details how officers, volunteers and members of other agencies searched lakes, canals, rivers, fields—even abandoned mine shafts. “They weren’t too happy I sent them there, but they did it anyway,” he recalls. The search “was the biggest that I have been involved in,” Cloward testifies. He states that there were 27 searches of San Francisco Bay between December 28, 2002, and October 2003. The bodies were found in April 2003. He states that the defendant was shown a pair of socks found along the bank of the creek on December 26, 2002, but that he did not recognize them. Cloward admits that 47 of the city’s 74 sex-offender registrants were living in a shelter near Covena Avenue, but that investigators were unable to track down all of them. Sgt. Tim Helton takes the stand, stating that investigators went to great lengths to evaluate the thousands of tips that came in, including one that Laci Peterson was being held at a home in near Tracy. After three days of investigating, Helton says, that tip proved to be unfounded. Helton also recalls a time when investigators responded to a tip that a rib cage and a heart had become lodged in an industrial incinerator. In that case, Helton states, investigators determined the body parts were from
an animal. Outside of court, Janey Peterson suggests that investigators helped Laci Peterson’s abductors frame Scott Peterson after announcing on December 26, 2002, that he had been to San Francisco Bay. Jim Fox announces he will not file charges against Dawn O’Dell, labeled a “stealth juror” by Mark Geragos. “There is no credible basis to believe she did anything against the law,” Fox explains. Roger Beauchesne gives approval for Sharon Rocha’s lawsuit against Scott Peterson to proceed. Nareg Gourjian arrives too late to hear Beauchesne’s initial ruling, believing the hearing was scheduled at 9:30 a.m. rather than 8:30 a.m. Gourjian states that Matt Geragos will file an appeal within 10 days.
June 17 Going through a security check, Brent Rocha encounters Justin Falconer. The two exchange words that are captured on videotape, apparently leading to a 5-minute midmorning meeting with Al Delucchi and attorneys from both sides. The prosecution calls several witnesses to try to show that Laci Peterson was too fatigued to walk the dog, and that the jewelry Scott Peterson claimed she was wearing was either still in her home or at a jewelry store. MaryAnna Felix, a former employee of Edwards Jewelers, testifies concerning her dealings with Laci Peterson in regard to the fashioning of a new wedding ring and the appraisal of a collection of jewelry. Felix states that Laci Peterson used the gold from her original wedding band for the new design, with an estimated value of $55,000, “because she didn’t want to hurt Scott’s feelings.” According to Felix, the new design was to have been finished by December 24, 2002, but was delayed because of Laci Peterson’s changes in its design. Felix tells the court that Laci Peterson told her it was Scott Peterson who wanted to know how much the jewelry was worth, and when Felix told Laci Peterson that the jewelry was worth more than $100,000, “she said that he would be very happy.” Felix notes that Laci Peterson wore a diamond pendant every time she visited the store, saying that she never liked to take it off; even when Felix offered to clean it. “Every day,” Felix emphasizes. “She always wore it.” Jeff Schumacher also testifies concerning his work designing a new wedding ring Laci Peterson was having made for herself at Edwards Jewelers, using parts of her own wedding ring and a large diamond from her grandmother’s wedding ring. Robin Rocha testifies that she and Laci Peterson inventoried the watches, rings, necklaces and other items of jewelry inherited from Helen Rocha in November 2002, noting that after Laci Peterson’s disappearance, a fancy gem-encrusted Croton watch and a pair of two-carat diamond earrings were missing. Tori Brooks testifies that Laci Peterson came to Brooks Pawn and Jewelry twice in December 2002, selling a collection of jewelry for $250. According to Brooks, Laci Peterson stated that the jewelry had been inherited from her grandmother. Mark Geragos produces a pawn ticket showing that, 7 days after Laci Peterson was reported missing, someone pawned a watch similar to one belonging to her. Tina Edraki testifies that Laci Peterson had called her twice within the span of a couple of days in early November 2002 to ask what she should do about the dizziness she was experiencing during walks. Edraki states she told Laci Peterson to either quit walking or to walk later in the day. Edraki says that 33 weeks is the best estimate of Conner Peterson’s gestational age at the time of Laci Peterson’s disappearance. The father of Pat Harris visits from Arkansas to watch his son at work.
June 18 Lt. Lisa Williams states that Al Delucchi plans to issue a subpoena to KTVU for videotape showing a conversation between Brent Rocha and Justin Falconer. Janey Peterson, in a Modesto Bee article, states that it is difficult to avoid contact with jurors in the courthouse. “We’re all in a very small space,” she says.
June 21 Day 12 of the trial gets off to a late start, as Al Delucchi and attorneys from both sides meet in a closed session to discuss how to handle a June 17, 2004, exchange between Falconer and Brent Rocha. Delucchi issues a subpoena to KTVU for videotape showing a conversation between Brent Rocha and Justin Falconer, but announces a ruling before receiving the tape. After entering the courtroom, Delucchi admonishes members of the jury. “Even the most innocent type of communication in this case is to be avoided,” he tells them. “It could lead to problems.” He then rules on the matter at hand: “The court is of the opinion that there was no misconduct on the part of Mr. Rocha or on the part of the juror.” Delucchi adds that, at his request, court officials are investigating options to minimize contact between the jury and members of the Rocha and Peterson families. Although reporters had been saying the words spoken by Falconer sounded like “lose today,” transcripts of the closed-door meeting indicate he told Brent Rocha that he would not be on the “news today,” a reference to the fact that the two men were videotaped together and Falconer, as a juror, could not have his image released. The judge says only that, based on his conversation with Brent Rocha and Falconer, the exchange between the two men was reported inaccurately in the media. Mark Geragos agrees. “Certain people wanted to spin this,” he states. “There was never anything said about ‘You’re going to lose today.'” The attorney takes the opportunity to blast the media for what he called an almost “criminal” incident, since the videotape clips played nearly showed Falconer’s face. With his typical lack of understatement, Geragos calls the videotape flap, “The ultimate act of media irresponsibility.” Geragos emphasizes that “there were certain specific elements of the media that went out and completely fabricated” things, “created out of whole cloth.” He contends these elements “are out to lunch” and should be outed by the responsible media outlets. Although Geragos does not mention any element by name, observers report that he was most upset by comments made on The O’Reilly Factor. “I want to be on the record as saying that categorically almost 100 percent of what has been reported has been 100 percent false,” Geragos states vehemently. Stacey Boyers takes the stand and describes the last time she spoke with Laci Peterson and the frantic scene on December 24, 2002, stopping several times to wipe tears. She validates the prosecution’s contention that Laci Peterson was too tired to walk McKenzie. “She told me that it didn’t seem like it was the holidays because it was kind of depressing,” Boyers says. “Every time she would start to do something she would have to stop and rest.” Boyers also recalls that, when she visited Scott Peterson on December 25, 2002, he spent “an unusual amount of time vacuuming, especially around the couch, armchairs, and washer and dryer.” Boyers recalls that Scott Peterson had given search volunteers strict orders not to release any photos of himself to the media, and made sure he had left the volunteer center by the time reporters had been allowed in every day. “He said he wanted it to be just about Laci,” she tells the court. Lori Ellsworth backs up Boyers regarding Laci Peterson’s fatigue. “She had mentioned that she was going to quit walking because she started to get sick,” Ellsworth testifies. During cross-examination by Pat Harris, she reveals that she had Amber Frey spend the night after the January 2003 news conference in which she admitted being Scott Peterson’s girlfriend. In questioning by Dave Harris, Debbie Wolski goes beyond describing simple fatigue. “She could barely walk,” Wolski tells the court. “She was in pain…she needed help getting back to the car.” She says the two agreed it would be a good idea for Laci Peterson to stay off “uneven terrain.” The testimony causes a stir in the courtroom, and Geragos and Scott Peterson both shake their heads in apparent disagreement. Geragos immediately calls for a recess, which is granted by Delucchi. Under cross-examination, Wolski admits that she did not reveal these points to investigators until months after Laci Peterson’s disappearance. Wolski also comes under defense fire for her statement that Laci Peterson said she never left home without her cell phone. Delucchi dismisses court early to hold a closed-door evidentiary hearing in anticipation of the testimony of Det. Al Brocchini. In an afternoon hearing before Mark Forcum, Geragos again criticizes media outlets that broadcast footage of Falconer with his face “pixilated” [sic]. Geragos notes that the juror’s relatives recognized him from his clothes and informed him he was being shown on television. The defense and prosecution ask Forcum to ban the media from the first-floor lobby of the courthouse, but the judge calls that request an “overreaction.” Instead, he directs that the pool camera in the lobby is to stay 25 feet from the security checkpoint as people pass through.
June 22 Before Det. Al Brocchini takes the stand today, Al Delucchi announces that the defense and prosecution have agreed on a stipulation regarding the testimony of Debbie Wolski. Delucchi tells the jury that Wolski had never told the prosecution or Modesto Police Department investigators that Laci Peterson experienced difficulty in walking to her car or that she had trouble walking on uneven surfaces. On the stand, Brocchini describes the defendant as “calm, cool, collected” during his initial interview. The prosecution plays a DVD of that interview and members of the jury are handed transcripts of the conversation. Scott Peterson appears to watch the interview intently as it is played. Later, Brocchini recounts his dealings with Amber Frey in trying to obtain information from Scott Peterson through her. Brocchini shows jurors a homemade cement anchor recovered from Scott Peterson’s boat. Under questioning by Rick Distaso, Brocchini acknowledges his earlier mistake regarding Martha Stewart Living, which embarrassed the prosecution in the opening statements. “I missed the mention of meringue while I was watching the show,” he admits. In Heather Ishimaru’s column for KGO, she notes that it was disconcerting to see how little emotion Scott Peterson showed in his videotaped interview with Brocchini, recorded just hours after Laci Peterson’s disappearance was called in: “Not once in the hour-worth of video was there anything to indicate that. Not a crack of frustration, anger, fear…nothing. In fact it was quite the opposite, the only ’emotion’ was a chuckle or two.” She concludes, “Odd does not equal murder. But it sure makes you wonder.” At about 8:30 p.m., the Modesto Police Department receives a call reporting that a group of children heard screams and saw a dark-haired woman’s body, wearing a torn white shirt and floating in Dry Creek in Kewin Park. A firefighter aiding the search soon determines that the body was that of a large—and very much alive—beaver. The screams reportedly came from a pool party at nearby apartment building. “It’s a fairly close distance to the Peterson home,” Lt. Janelle Flint later tells reporters.
June 23 In the morning, Al Delucchi meets with Scott Peterson and attorneys from both sides in a closed session. For more than 2 hours, the judge individually questions all the jurors and alternate jurors. Justin Falconer defends himself against what he says are false statements. “Since I’m here, and all the other jurors want me to say this, and I want one of y’all to get on the news to say I don’t say, ‘Yo, yo, what up, peeps?’ to anybody,” he says, seemingly referring to a report by Nancy Grace in which she noted him greeting Scott Peterson by saying, “Yo, yo, peace out.” Falconer tells the judge, “My girlfriend wants to kick the crap out of the Court TV lady,” although he later denies discussing with family and friends any media coverage of the Scott Peterson trial. Returning to the courtroom, Delucchi announces that he has dismissed Falconer and replaced him with Alternate Juror 1, but does not cite a reason. Months later, John Guinasso will say the ouster was predicated by a letter he sent to Delucchi, complaining that Falconer continually spoke about the case with other jurors. Immediately, Mark Geragos again asks for a mistrial. “The media has insinuated itself into this case like you wouldn’t believe,” he argues. “I don’t believe that a juror should be called names on TV.” His voice filled with anger, he charges that “the media is choosing off jurors,” possibly because they seem defense-oriented. “I think this is an outrage,” Geragos shouts as a seemingly confused jury looks on. “I have a client who is on trial for his life. I object in the strongest terms and move for a mistrial.” Delucchi promptly rules. “The motion is denied,” he states. “The media is here. They have to do what they do and we have to do what we do.” He orders the jury members to avoid speculation about the dismissal, saying he wants to “strike home” his order that they avoid hearing, seeing or discussing anything about the case. Falconer takes a back exit, but is nevertheless mobbed by bookers and reporters. In a short time, it becomes clear that the dismissed juror is no fan of the prosecution’s case and would have voted for Scott Peterson’s acquittal if asked. “He’d be innocent,” Falconer contends. “They haven’t shown me one thing that proves he did it.” A key theme of his statements is “distraction”: He says he was “distracted” by media accounts of his brief conversation with Brent Rocha, and himself dismissed when he became a distraction to others on the jury. “It was just a lot of attention that I was getting. It was just distracting to everybody,” Falconer tells reporters. “I didn’t do anything wrong. If this was a situation where there was no media and this was just a regular trial, I would still be in there.” Most startling, he addresses the defendant on a first-name basis as he point-by-point dismisses all the prosecution’s evidence, nearly echoing the statements of Geragos. Falconer tells the media that he does not have a problem with the lack of emotion shown by Scott Peterson. “I can kinda understand where he’s coming from,” Falconer muses. “I’m not a very emotional person either.” He says he finds nothing unusual about Scott Peterson’s relentless vacuuming following Laci Peterson’s disappearance. “I got friends who do crazy stuff when they’re stressed,” he explains. He also handily brushes off the damning statements Scott Peterson made about having “lost” his wife prior to her disappearance. “Honestly, guys say pretty stupid stuff to get a girl,” he notes. Even the affair with Amber Frey, which turned friends and family against Scott Peterson, is dismissed as a “little side thing” not worthy of prosecutorial efforts. “If they try to say that Amber is a motive for this after four dates, then …” he says, shaking his head. In one of his most shocking statements, he claims that the testimony of Laci Peterson’s relatives and friends that she was too tired to walk McKenzie are invalid. “I know this to be true,” he states. “I’ve got a kid myself. Pregnant women are crazy. They one minute, one day, could be couch-ridden and not want to move; the next day they’re up thinking they’re fat and want to go run a marathon.” He is especially critical of Debbie Wolski, calling her recent testimony “a joke,” after she had said Laci Peterson was unable to make it to her car unaided. “I didn’t believe two words of that woman,” he states. Even the fact that Scott Peterson went fishing in the very place his wife’s body surfaced seems lost on the former juror. “Now, if I’ve got a new toy, and I haven’t gotten to play with it, I’d want to get the damn thing out, too,” he points out. Scott Peterson’s changing alibi and inability to answer simple questions from investigators is also downplayed. “I can kind of understand where he’s coming from,” Falconer notes. “I think if somebody I was very close to was missing and nobody knew what was going on, and some guy—some police officer—is asking me what I fished with, I’d be pissed, too. Your wife’s missing. She’s pregnant. You don’t know where she is. You came home expecting her—you know—to be there, and she’s not there. The last thing you’re thinking about is what you did all day and why people are asking you that. You can’t blame people for how they act when they are under stress. It’s not like he was saying, ‘Don’t go out and find her.'” He adds that he finds it hard to believe the prosecutor’s theory that the defendant used his boat to dispose of a body. “How do you toss all that in without going in with it yourself?” Falconer asks rhetorically. “It’s hard to swallow some of the things he said happened. How did he do that, with witnesses right there? Show me, tell me.” Although admitting that he had not seen all that prosecutors have to offer, he suggests Rick Distaso took a “butt-whooping” on the “meringue” incident in the opening statements. “It was the first day, and the prosecution got smacked upside the head with their own story,” he says. “It was kind of shocking.” Since then, he says, Distaso has put jurors to sleep by allowing repetitive testimony and making apparently unrelated points. “I was feeling like he needs to tell a story, at least get us involved in a story, and I didn’t feel like he was doing that,” Falconer says. “Sometimes you’re sitting there left going, ‘What was that for? Why was that person there?'” Not surprisingly, Falconer fawns over the defense work. “Geragos is actually almost creating a story now,” he points out. When asked by one reporter about his theories on who killed Laci Peterson, Falconer replies, “I don’t know, and I feel very, very bad for the Rochas.” When asked if he was interested in a book or movie deal, he grins and says, “Yeah, I’ll do a book.” After the late start, Det. Al Brocchini testifies for only about an hour. He confesses to missing the mention of meringue during his review of the tapes of the December 24, 2002, Martha Stewart Living program. After Geragos points out the mistake, Brocchini acknowledges his report was erroneous. “That’s what I wrote,” the detective testifies. “But I was wrong.” Geragos presses on. “Apparently when you watched this video, you missed it?” he questions. “I missed it,” Brocchini agrees. Geragos plays excerpts of Scott Peterson’s initial interview with the detective. Although using the same source as the previous day’s presentation by the prosecution, the defense presentation has better audio and video quality, and includes subtitles so that jurors do not have to refer to transcripts. During the cross-examination of Brocchini, Geragos begins shouting at him, demanding to know why the detective does not look at him during questioning. Delucchi breaks in to defend the witness, telling the attorney that Brocchini can “look anywhere he wants to” as he answers the questions. When Geragos resumes his hostile questioning, Delucchi offers, “Maybe this is a good time to take a recess so everybody calms down.” Ron Grantski says he is relieved that Falconer was tossed. “It looks like Laci was watching down over us,” Grantski says. Adam Stewart, speaking on behalf of the Rocha family, states concerning Falconer, “It’s obvious this gentleman would not be able to fulfill his duty, and his comments on TV confirm that.”
June 24 Justin Falconer appears on The Early Show, largely echoing his remarks of the previous day. Asked if he would vote to acquit Scott Peterson, Falconer states he would—given what he heard during his tenure. “He’d be innocent, because the prosecution hasn’t given us any reason to believe otherwise so far,” he explains. “I can’t imagine a person uprooting their life for four dates. Laci was worth a lot more money alive than she was dead.” Falconer continues to defend his own actions, saying he was dismissed only because he had become a media target. “I was being hounded, and it was around the other jurors,” he says. “So I understand why I’m not in the jury.” Falconer also appears on Good Morning America, saying that Rick Distaso has scored as many points for the defense as he has for the prosecution. “It really makes you wonder why he’s calling the people that he’s calling right now,” Falconer explains. On Today, Falconer reiterates that he was not concerned by Scott Peterson’s changing alibi. “It could have been he was just confused,” Falconer argues. “It could have been he wasn’t thinking straight.” Janey Peterson tells reporters that the defense cross-examinations are proving that her brother-in-law told investigators the truth about his actions on December 24, 2002. “It’s being revealed that everything that came out of Scott’s mouth the evening of the 24th was nothing but truth,” she contends. She also says the Peterson family was encouraged by Falconer’s statements that prosecutors were showing nothing proving Scott Peterson’s guilt. “To see that juror walk out yesterday and see that he saw that is such a relief to our family,” she says. “He’s seeing the truth, and the truth is Scott is innocent. He’s going to walk out the door.” She does, however, note her disagreement with Falconer’s assessment of Rick Distaso: “You can trash Distaso all you want, but the man’s been handed an impossible case because Scott’s innocent. You cannot weave this together and convict Scott. It cannot happen.” Sharon Rocha tells reporters she believes Falconer should never have made it past voir dire. “I think he should have let the court know he was prejudiced against pregnant women before he ever took a seat on this jury,” she states. “I mean, obviously, he said all pregnant women are crazy—then he shouldn’t have been on this jury.” As cross-examination of Al Brocchini resumes, Mark Geragos questions why the detective kept a gun he removed from Scott Peterson’s truck on December 24, 2002. Brocchini contends that, since he had obtained the defendant’s consent to search, the gun was taken legally. A frowning Geragos asks that the response be stricken. Al Delucchi agrees that Brocchini cannot assess the legality of his actions, and the judge instructs the jury to disregard the detective’s answer. Distaso objects, but is overruled. Continuing his running theme that investigators ignored leads that did not suggest the defendant as the perpetrator, Geragos questions why Brocchini did not follow up with a Monterey man who said he had seen a pregnant woman walking a golden retriever the morning of December 24, 2002. “He said he couldn’t see her face,” Brocchini explains. “What about the dog—He saw the dog, didn’t he?” Geragos prods. “Did you ask him specifically what the golden retriever looked like?” Brocchini quietly replies that he did not, but Geragos refuses to let the issue die. “Wouldn’t it have been the prudent thing to do, to have actually driven to the guy’s house and shown him a picture of Laci and shown him a picture of the dog…to eliminate that lead?” Geragos continues. Brocchini explains that investigators did a “thorough search” of the area where the man saw the pregnant woman. “We searched the bushes,” he states. “We went to the area he said. He said he couldn’t ID her.” In what some observers will later hail as a breaking point in the trial, Geragos plays an audio tape for the jury in which Brocchini speaks about Peggy O’Donnell’s sighting of Laci Peterson at the Tradecorp Warehouse just before her disappearance. Along with the recording, Geragos displays an enlargement of the transcript on a projection screen. Although at first the transcript matches Brocchini’s spoken words exactly, it skips over the detective’s recounting of the O’Donnell sighting, before picking up again after he switches to another subject. As the tape is played, Scott Peterson leans forward in his chair, jurors stare intently at the transcript, and there are continuing whispers in the gallery. “Can you tell me how that particular piece of information got excised out of your police report?” Geragos asks. “I excised it,” Brocchini confesses. “You did?” Geragos asks, feigning shock. “I guess I did,” Brocchini answers. It is a moment that the Modesto Bee will later report as being a “stunning blow” to the prosecution. Geragos then mentions two additional witnesses who reported seeing Laci Peterson walking McKenzie the morning of December 24, 2002. “I never had information that Laci was seen walking in the park,” Brocchini testifies. Apparently attempting to portray the witness as trying to bring down Scott Peterson in any way possible, Geragos discusses Brocchini’s request that Tradecorp start an embezzlement investigation of the defendant. Geragos also gets Brocchini to admit he overlooked evidence, pointing out that the detective wrote a report in which he says that Scott Peterson’s sneakers were missing, when in fact there were Modesto Police Department photographs showing them sitting on a wet bar at the home. “You were looking in the wrong location, correct?” Geragos questions. Brocchini agrees that he was at first mistaken, and never went back to correct his original report. During the questioning of Brocchini, Geragos plays for jurors what the New York Post will later call “a syrupy-sweet voice mail message” that Scott Peterson left on Laci Peterson’s voice mail on December 24, 2002. The defense attorney asks Brocchini to read a transcript of the call. According to Lt. Mark Smith, Scott Bernstein uses his false identification for the first time while investigating the Laci Peterson case. Ron Frey announces plans to pay $53,040 out of his own pocket to lodge 17 jurors for 120 days at a Redwood City hotel. He contends that the sequestering of the jury is necessary, saying he made the offer formal in a letter to Jim Brazelton. In that letter, Ron Frey says he argued, “The overwhelming daily discussion in the media of your staff’s efforts in court make it obvious to me that justice is going to be best served in this case by having the jurors sequestered.” He says he made the offer not to be a part of the trial, but because it was needed. “Do you think I want to pay 53,040 bucks?” he asks. “At least I’m putting my money where my thoughts are.”
June 25 Asked about the trial by a reporter from the New York Post, Lee Peterson replies, “It’s going real well—That’s all I can say.” Sgt. Ed Steele tells a reporter that there is a reasonable explanation for Al Brocchini deleting from a report any mention of Peggy O’Donnell’s sighting of Laci Peterson. “It’s Geragos’ spin,” Steele tells the Associated Press. “The information he’s alluding to was not omitted. It was already reported. The information is actually documented in a report by another detective. That’s why he left it out of his report.” Even on a break from trial, prosecutors have a bad day when Court TV’s Catherine Crier reveals that there is evidence that presumed star witness Amber Frey was contacting Scott Peterson on the sly even as she was working with investigators. “Apparently, we’ve all been a bit misled about Frey’s level of cooperation with police,” she says in her report, which she says is based on informed but anonymous sources. Crier speaks with Gloria Allred, who replies, “I think I will let Amber give any explanations—if any explanations are necessary—when she testifies. All I can say is that Amber has been extremely cooperative with police, and I think when the police testify we will hear the level of cooperation.” Ultimately, Allred states, it will not be her client that damages Scott Peterson’s case. “On the many, many hours of recordings that were made,” Allred says, “I think Scott Peterson will be his own worst witness against himself—not Amber.”
June 26 Ron Frey appears on The Big Story With Rita Cosby. He states that the evidence shows Scott Peterson killed his wife. “I think he’s a criminal,” Ron Frey states. “He’s terrible. Cad is too minor. Cad and liar—that doesn’t even start to touch what he’s all about. He is a criminal. And you know, I can’t believe they haven’t had psychiatric evaluations of him yet. I don’t even know if he knows what he’s doing.” The Modesto Bee reports that Det. Doug Ridenour is refusing to comment further concerning statements made by Sgt. Ed Steele. “There is more testimony to be given in this case,” Ridenour says. “There will be more testimony by Det. Brocchini, as well as numerous other witnesses. Because of the protective order, we cannot comment about the specifics in the case.”
June 27 Newsweek releases its July 5, 2004, issue in which Justin Falconer extends his 15 minutes of fame as the booted-off juror. “I really wanted to ask the others, ‘Are you as confused as I am?'” he states in the report. The report also reveals that Scott Peterson told friends he was taking tranquilizers in December 2002. The reports speculates that defense attorneys may use information to explain Scott Peterson’s lack of emotion and sometimes contradictory statements, although it is unclear how the information can be introduced without the defendant taking the stand. Many other media outlets review the case, with most agreeing that it was a bad week for the prosecution.
June 28 Entering the San Mateo County Courthouse along with Sharon Rocha, Ron Grantski delivers his assessment of the strategy of Mark Geragos: “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, you baffle them with bull.” Al Delucchi begins the court week with a strong message for the Modesto Police Department, responding to the comments made over the weekend by Sgt. Ed Steele. Delucchi calls Capt. Joe Aja to stand before the bench. “I’m telling you that this has to stop,” the judge commands. “You’re my delegate. You can go tell the chief that he has to sit on his folks…or there’s going to be trouble.” Delucchi states that, although he has no desire to be a “policeman” in the case, he will use his authority if pushed. “If it doesn’t stop, I’m going to have to do something about it,” he warns. Mark Geragos continues his long and detailed cross-examination of Det. Al Brocchini, focusing chiefly on the detective’s investigation—or lack thereof—into Kim McGregor’s burglary of Scott and Laci Peterson’s home and her possible connection to Laci Peterson’s disappearance. In what the Associated Press will later term as a “rambling cross-examination,” Geragos asks about tips received early in the investigation, including one that Laci Peterson was being held in a storage bin in Tracy. Brocchini tells the court that he was aware of the tip but did not investigate it personally, and knew little information about it. Geragos states that, although investigators followed up on the tip by using a helicopter equipped with a heat-seeking device, and found evidence of a sign of life, there was no ground search of the area. Geragos questions Brocchini about another reported crime: an attempted kidnapping of a 15-year-old girl by a man of Pacific Island descent. The detective replies that he did not follow up on that tip. Then, Geragos begins a long series of questions concerning Kim McGregor and her break-in at Scott and Laci Peterson’s home. Brocchini admits that McGregor said she was infatuated with Scott Peterson, although she had not met him before Laci Peterson’s disappearance. Brocchini recalls that, when he told the defendant about McGregor’s interest in him, he answered sarcastically, “That’s great.” According to Brocchini, Scott Peterson decided not to press charges against McGregor because “he just didn’t want to deal with it.” The detective recounts his investigation of McGregor, saying that he asked her to provide an alibi for December 23 and 24, 2002. Brocchini says that McGregor told him she had been visiting with a former boyfriend and his friends, who were men of Hawaiian descent—a fact that Brocchini plays up because of Diane Jackson’s sighting of “suspicious” dark-skinned men by a van the morning of December 24, 2002. During questioning, Geragos points out that McGregor’s alibi is later found by Brocchini to be untrue. “At that point did you become suspicious of her?” Geragos asks. “No,” Brocchini replies. “In my mind, she’s eliminated. She’s been investigated, and I don’t think she’s involved.” Despite seeing no link between McGregor’s friends and the brown van, Brocchini insists that investigators worked hard to investigate the van sighting. “We were looking for a van from Day One, and we kept on doing it after that day,” he contends. “I’m only one person, and we had a huge investigation going on with a lot of people doing a lot of different things.” Geragos then asks Brocchini about his involvement with Amber Frey, hinting that she may have had money on her mind because she telephoned the tip line a day after the reward fund grew to $500,000 (actually, her call came 2 days later, but Geragos is not challenged on the fact). Geragos also suggests that Amber Frey was making secret calls to the defendant even after agreeing to be an informant for detectives. By the end of the tedious questioning, Brocchini is reported as appearing “frustrated and frazzled.” Throughout the questioning, Rick Distaso and Dave Harris are described as “listless,” making few objections and barely looking up. Delucchi releases to the media dozens of evidence photographs, including shots of Scott and Laci Peterson’s home and his fishing boat and anchor.
June 29 Det. Al Brocchini takes the stand for a fifth day as Rick Distaso, seeming more self-assured, attempts on redirect questioning to rehabilitate the detective from the seemingly damaging revelation that he excised potentially exonerating information from a police report. Scott Peterson wears a navy suit and “mustard-colored” tie. He stares straight at Brocchini during the examination. Brocchini explains that he deliberately left out information about Peggy O’Donnell’s sighting of Laci Peterson because the focus of his report was an interview with Greg Smith, and because another detective had included O’Donnell’s information in a separate report. He also points out that he willingly turned over his notes, and that a tape of the O’Donnell interview was turned over to the defense. Distaso then asks a series of questions concerning other tips that were not followed. One of those tips, Brocchini recalls, came from a man who stated that he was a college friend of Scott Peterson’s, and in 1995 engaged in a conversation with him in which he discussed the best way to dispose of a body. “He said he would tie a bag around the neck with duct tape, put weights on the hands and throw it into the sea,” Brocchini says, recalling the conversation. Even though the details of the man’s account—eerily similar to what may have happened to Laci Peterson’s body—would have fit well as the state made a case against Scott Peterson, Brocchini says he dismissed the tip. “I don’t know if it was false,” Brocchini admits. “I just couldn’t corroborate it, and I just didn’t put a lot of stock in it.” As the witness recalls the details of the tip, Sharon Rocha dries her tears, and Ron Grantski simply shakes his head. Distaso begins to ask a series of questions about tipsters who were mentioned by Mark Geragos on cross-examination, but who apparently had no real information to provide. As Distaso attempts through questioning to get this point across, Geragos raises objection after objection until Al Delucchi finally admonishes the attorneys, saying, “We are going to conduct this in a lawyerlike fashion, not like bickering children.” At one point, Distaso lists calls placed by the defendant to Amber Frey on December 25, 2002—a time he had told her he would be visiting his parents in Maine. “Where was he?” Distaso questions. “In the police station,” Brocchini replies. “So, he wasn’t in Kennebunkport, Maine?” Distaso asks. “No,” the detective replies, prompting chuckles in the courtroom. Shortly after the end of the lunch break, Ron Welsh takes the stand. He testifies about the handgun Brocchini took from Scott Peterson’s truck during the initial search. Walsh tells the court that he tested the gun and found it to be operable. On cross-examination, he concedes that there was no blood on the weapon, and that it appeared to have not been fired recently. Waiting to testify, Eric Olsen wipes the perspiration from his forehead as he walks back and forth in the courtroom hallway. As he takes the stand, he still appears uncomfortable as he occasionally glances at the defendant and tells the court about a dinner he shared with Scott Peterson and Shawn Sibley in October 2002—a gathering in which the conversation turned sexual. Asked to be specific about what was discussed, Olsen replies, “Mainly abut sexual positions and that sort of thing.” He pauses, swallows, then continues. “Sexual positions, and what she liked, and what he liked.” Olsen also reports that he was later contacted by Sibley, checking on Scott Peterson’s marital status. “As an employee of Scott’s, I didn’t want to be drug into the situation that was going on,” he explains. “I told her she should speak to Scott about that.” Olsen is also asked about his employment with, and eventual resignation from, Tradecorp. He states that he never received the benefits promised him, and that he saw problems with the company’s operation. “Things weren’t getting done on time,” he offers. “It was frustrating.” Dave Harris asks him who was responsible. Olsen answers, “Scott.” On cross-examination, he admits that Scott Peterson also seemingly expressed regret at his affair, telling Olsen, “I shouldn’t have met her. I did something stupid.” David Fernandez, who also was at dinner with Olsen, Sibley, and Scott Peterson, takes the stand next. He echoes Olsen’s sentiments that the conversation at that dinner was lewd. “It kept getting more and more personal,” he recalls for the court. “I guess he was trying to figure out how committed she was in her relationship with her fiancé. I finished eating as quickly as I could and then took off.”
June 30 Al Delucchi meets in chambers with attorneys from both sides before the start proceedings. Prosecutors seem to be setting the stage for their supposed star witness, Amber Frey. Having brought in the two men who shared dinner with Scott Peterson and Shawn Sibley, the woman who introduced the defendant to Amber Frey, they next call Sibley herself. She says that Scott Peterson told her during that first meeting that he had “lost” his “soulmate and was not sure if he could find another. Among the stories he told, she said, were that he owned two homes and had sold a business in Europe. According to Sibley, he asked for a suggestion on what he could write on his name tag that would attract a woman. “I wrote on the back of it, ‘I’m rich.'” She recalls that Scott had his own ideas about what to write on his business cards: “HB”—for horny bastard. According to Sibley, he then repeatedly brought up the subject of sex. “We’d be talking about something else and he’d bring up sex,” she testifies. Although stating that the defendant asked her about her sexual preferences and favorite sexual positions, she admits, “He was kind of joking.” During this initial meeting, Sibley recalls, “Scott acted like he wasn’t married,” but she was later “freaked” when finding out that he was. According to her testimony, she immediately called to confront him with the revelation. “He kept denying it,” Sibley remembers, but adds that he called her “sobbing hysterically,” implying that he was a widower, and apologizing for not revealing that fact. Sibley recalls that she was so suspicious of the defendant that she carried out her own Internet searches to find out more about him, but was unsuccessful. She states that she was at a birthday party with Amber Frey when the two learned that he was connected to the Laci Peterson case. “Amber immediately called the police,” Sibley recollects. The witness also shows that the relationship between Scott Peterson and Amber Frey was deeper than the “four dates” mentioned by Mark Geragos. Sibley recalls, when babysitting Amber Frey’s daughter, having to call her in the morning to come home so that Sibley could go to work. On cross-examination, Geragos attempts to downplay the sexual banter as typical for young men and women away at a convention, and suggests that Sibley, rather than being a victim, was participating. “It was a two-sided discussion?” Geragos asks. “Yes,” Sibley answers. “Is it unusual at conferences for people to drink and say stupid things?” he questions. “No,” she replies. “You ever know married men to act idiotic?” he continues. “Yes, but I’ve never known a married man to lie to me about being married,” she counters. Acting shocked, Geragos questions rhetorically, “Really?” At this exchange, Delucchi states, “We’re not getting into the mores of married men, Mr. Geragos.” The attorney asks the judge how long he has been married. “Almost 40 years,” Delucchi replies. Sibley also admits sending an e-mail message to the defendant in which she asked if he was “chickening out” about getting together with Amber Frey for the first time. Just before court adjourns at about 10:30 a.m., Delucchi again admonishes the jurors. “Don’t be looking at anything about this trial.” After the recess, Delucchi again meets with attorneys.