#24) August 2004
Laci Peterson Case Information:
When: August 2004
August 1 The Modesto Bee runs an article concerning the public funding of Scott Peterson’s defense. In the article, Gerald Uelmen speculates that the postponing of prosecution witnesses had to do with questions over payment to their defense counterparts, who would normally be in the courtroom to hear the prosecutors’ experts.
August 2 Gary Nienhuis testifies that Scott Peterson’s finances were in shambles when Laci Peterson disappeared, but the witness also acknowledges under cross-examination that investigators did not turn over to him information about an impending inheritance that could have altered his opinion. Among the defendant’s money problems: failure to withhold payroll taxes, owing roughly $12,000 on a personal credit card and paying medical bills late. Nienhuis states that the defendant’s fixed debts required monthly payments of $2,543, translating to a debt-income ratio of about 67 percent that was about 11 percent higher than the year before. Nienhuis also reports on the condition of Tradecorp USA, noting that Scott Peterson spent $136,000 more than he earned for the company in the first three quarters of 2002, and that company liabilities were $47,000 greater than its assets. “It was not in good shape financially,” Nienhuis tells the court. “Was the defendant’s job in jeopardy?” Dave Harris asks Nienhuis, but Al Delucchi does not allow the witness to speculate for the court. The witness relates that he told Tradecorp executives to take a closer look at some of Scott Peterson’s expenses, which included charges at Marshall’s and Trader Joe’s. Nienhuis also reports that he caught Scott Peterson in lies when applying for additional credit, listing an annual net company profit of $150,000 on one application, and revenues of $500,000 on another. Mark Geragos gets Nienhuis to concede that Scott and Laci Peterson were set to come into a small fortune when she disappeared: about $100,000 from her grandmother’s jewelry, and another $140,000 to $160,000 as her share from the sale of her grandparents’ home. “Wouldn’t they be sitting pretty?” Geragos asks. Jeffrey Coleman takes the stand to shed further light on Scott Peterson’s financial situation. Coleman tells the court that Tradecorp was lost about $40,000 in 2000, but acknowledges that startup ventures typically lose money in the beginning. “In 2001, they lost another probably $200,000,” the witness says. “In 2002, they continued to lose money.” Kipp Loving provides relatively brief testimony, but does indicate that, when he was helping in the February 19, 2003, search of Scott and Laci Peterson’s home, the satellite signal to the television cut out. Kirk Stockham testifies concerning his examination of computers taken from Scott Peterson. Lissa McElroy views Scott and Laci Peterson’s photograph albums in preparation for the next day’s testimony.
August 3 Al Delucchi rules that the prosecution will be allowed to present evidence that Scott Peterson ordered hard-core pornography channels less than three weeks after Laci Peterson was reported missing. The ruling upholds the prosecutors’ contention that the defendant’s action was relevant in showing he had foreknowledge that the victim would not be returning home. Kirk Stockham completes his testimony, telling that court that Scott Peterson had researched San Francisco Bay water currents on December 8, 2002. Donald Toy takes the stand, discussing primarily Scott Peterson’s subscriptions to sex-oriented programming immediately after Laci Peterson’s disappearance. Lisa Krueger, Mike Wilson and Ken McCall testify concerning the demeanor of Scott Peterson at the December 31, 2002, vigil. Lissa McElroy testifies concerning helping Scott Peterson choose photographs of Laci Peterson to be shown to the media. McElroy, characterizing the defendant “nonchalant,” notes that he made what she found to be inappropriate choices: one in which a man was mooning the camera, one of Laci Peterson in a bathing suit, and one with her partying with friends. “I said, ‘Scott, aren’t you glad I’m here so you don’t screw this up?'” McElroy says. Mark Geragos objects to her testimony based on the fact that, when she was shown Scott and Laci Peterson’s photograph albums on August 2, 2004, she did not see the photographs in question—a fact never disclosed to the defense. Geragos also points out that Krueger is the sister of Patty Amador, a friend of Sharon Rocha, but that he had to track her down in a courthouse hallway to find that out. After excusing jurors, Delucchi thumps the bench and scolds Rick Distaso for not sharing information. “I am getting sick of this,” he yells, twice ordering Distaso to keep quiet as he tries to offer an explanation to keep the testimony from being stricken. The judge, holding his hand to his forehead, tells Distaso, “I’ve had it about up to here with these violations.” Delucchi tells Distaso that a public rebuke may be the only way to get the district attorney’s attention. After the jury returns, the judge tells them of the prosecution’s violation and orders that McElroy’s testimony be excised in its entirety. Lydell Wall begins his testimony concerning Scott Peterson’s computer usage. Wall tells the court that he examined five of Scott and Laci Peterson’s computers that had been seized as evidence.
August 4 Lydell Wall continues his testimony, sandwiched around testimony from Greg Reed. Wall recounts the Internet activity of Scott Peterson during the critical time period of early December 2002, when Shawn Sibley had discovered he had lied to Amber Frey concerning his marital status. Of particular interest to the prosecution is Wall’s statement that the defendant began looking for a boat on December 7, 2002, just one day after being confronted by Sibley. Interestingly, Wall notes that the defendant spent about 26 minutes on the computer on the morning of December 24, 2002—the same day prosecutors claim he disposed of his wife’s body. On cross-examination, Mark Geragos attempts to mitigate the damage, pointing out again that one page carried a December 5, 2002, date, but Wall replies that the page was most likely not updated every day. Reed’s testimony cuts both ways. He seems to lend credence to the theory that Scott Peterson was putting on an act during the early hours of the search for Laci Peterson, recalling that the defendant left a message asking, “Have you or Kristen seen or talked to Laci today or yesterday?” On the other hand, Reed portrays Scott and Laci Peterson as enjoying a loving relationship. As his friend testifies against him, describing how they once laughed over a catalog that featured camouflage clothing for kids, Scott Peterson begins to wipe tears from his face with a tissue—crying for what most believe is the first time during his trial. Det. Ian Frazer visits Redwood City and is told by Al Delucchi that he is under the gag order, although speculation swirls that his visit involves investigators’ failure to test duct tape found on or near the remains of Laci Peterson.
August 5 The day begins with a closed-door meeting in Al Delucchi’s office. After the meeting breaks up, Scott Peterson emerges, in the words of the San Francisco Chronicle, “smiling broadly.” The jury is brought into the courtroom, only to be told their services would not be needed for several days. Mark Geragos requests a continuance until August 10, 2004. “There’s been information—potentially exculpatory information—that’s been provided within the last 48 hours,” he tells Delucchi. “Based upon that information, there’s scientific testing that needs to be done. And there’s also consultation with my experts that needs to be done. I am not prepared at this point to go forward with any other fact witness—at least until the preliminary testing results come back.” Delucchi grants the continuance. “I think it’s imperative you do that,” he agrees. Addressing the jury, he then explains, “There’s been some newly discovered evidence that requires an investigation on both sides. We can’t go further until this situation is resolved.” He adds, “I had a dream last night that there was a jury rebellion, and I hope that doesn’t come to pass. Maybe this was a precognition.” The jurors laugh. Det. Richard Byrd is contacted by a reporter and calls himself a “nobody” in the Scott Peterson case.
August 6 The San Francisco Chronicle reports that “sources close to the case” are saying that the delay over evidence involves “duct tape and other items found near the remains of Laci Peterson” that were never tested by Modesto Police Department investigators. The article further states that “East Bay Regional Park District police were somehow instrumental in revealing to the defense that the tape and debris found by Laci Peterson’s remains were never examined by forensic experts.” Capt. Tim Anderson confirms an August 4, 2004, visit to court by one of his detectives, but says the gag order prevents him from commenting. Jim Brazelton announces that private investigator Scott Bernstein is being charged with five felony counts of impersonating a peace officer while investigating the Laci Peterson case. Amber Frey, traveling at the expense of Stanislaus County to testify at Scott Peterson’s trial, orders a pint of Anchor Steam beer and a Corona Light. She is charged $8.65 and submits her receipt for reimbursement, which will later be denied in accordance with the county’s no-alcohol policy.
August 7 The Modesto Bee reports that John Goold and Lee Peterson both declined to comment about the trial delay. The article also offers speculation from Jim Hammer that the issue could be a defense tactic to distract from the impending testimony of Amber Frey. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that sources say prosecutors called the closed-door meeting on August 5, 2004, to alert the defense that someone from the East Bay Regional Park District Police Department had told them this week that a plastic sheet recovered with Laci Peterson’s remains had a “death odor.”
August 9 Asked about Amber Frey, Gloria Allred replies to reporters that her client is set to take the stand the following day. “All I can say is that I believe she’s mentally ready,” Allred states. “She would need a lot less mental preparation than Scott Peterson would need, because she will be telling the truth while Mr. Peterson would be trying to escape from a veil of lies.” Allred promises that Amber Frey and her tape recordings will set the record straight one way or the other. “We’ll find out tomorrow about the relationship, and I think the jury will find out if this is just the four dates that Mr. Geragos has tried to portray, or if this was a case of Mr. Peterson trying to worm his way into Amber’s life and her heart,” she states. She also tries to clear up untruths about her client, including an account in the New York Post that she was traveling with an entourage that included a therapist. “That’s totally false,” Allred points out. “She doesn’t have a therapist, and she’s certainly not traveling with one. It’s a lie. That reporter has my home phone number and never called me to confirm.” Allred does not deny another claim made in the same article: That Amber Frey was clothes shopping for appropriate courtroom attired. “Amber is brave just to trip into the courtroom,” Allred argues. “For as long as she’s on the stand, people will be analyzing her every word—what she’s wearing and whether she’s glancing at Mr. Peterson during her testimony. I just think she’s very courageous.”
August 10 Al Delucchi gives a hint about the reasons for delaying the trial for 5 days. He says new tests were done related to the trailing dog Trimble. Amber Frey is set to take the stand. The long-awaited star witness for the prosecution brings new media energy to the trial. By 7:15 a.m., there are 252 members of the public lining up for the 28 available public seats. Photographers receive special permission to take pictures from the roof of a county building across from the courthouse. As she arrives at the courthouse shortly after 8:00 a.m. in a red sport-utility vehicle, she holds a black bag in front of her face in an attempt to block the cameras pointed her way. She is dressed in what the San Francisco Chronicle calls a “conservative, fitted black suit.” She is also wearing a cream blouse and a silver cross necklace. CNN later notes she has on “2-inch black stiletto heels.” She is escorted into the courthouse through an underground tunnel, accompanied by Gloria Allred, three Modesto Police Department detectives, an investigator from the Stanislaus County Office of the District Attorney and two bailiffs. She is escorted into the courtroom at 8:43 a.m., as a bailiff blocks Brent Rocha and others from entering the courtroom until she passes. Prior to being called, the star witness sits in the second row behind Laci Peterson’s family, flanked by Allred and Jon Buehler. Dave Harris replaces Buehler, and Rick Distaso kneels next to her as the two attorneys engage her in conversation. Scott Peterson, dressed in a gray suit, a powder blue shirt and a navy striped tie, enters the courtroom and smiles broadly. Amber Frey turns and appears to watch her ex-lover, then speaks with Allred. At 9:28 a.m., Amber Frey is called to the stand, and takes the stand at 9:31 a.m., with Dave Harris opening the questioning. She is asked to identify Scott Peterson. “He’s wearing a blue striped tie and gray suit,” she says, pointing to him at the defense table. On the stand, she begins by speaking about her first encounter with Scott Peterson, after the two of them were introduced by Shawn Sibley. The witness recalls that, on her first date with the defendant, they had strawberries and champagne, exchanged life stories over dinner in a Japanese restaurant and then, after dancing and singing at a karaoke bar, went back to his hotel and had sex. At times, she speaks so softly that Al Delucchi has to prompt her to speak into the microphone. “I know you’re nervous,” he says. The Contra Costa Times later states that she at first appears “nervous” but slowly gains momentum, rarely looking at her former lover except when first asked to identify him by Dave Harris. According to the same article, the defendant seems to shudder when the witness says his name, and then, sitting back in his chair, alternates between looking at the witness stand and a notepad on the defense table. Through much of the testimony, he sits with a white notepad resting on his right leg, and his right foot propped on his left knee. According to a later account in the Modesto Bee, he seems nervous, repeatedly bouncing his right leg up and down, when Amber Frey recalls him telling her that 2002 “would be his first holiday that he would be spending without” his “lost” wife. Lee Peterson and Ron Grantski also take notes. According to a later account in the Modesto Bee, Sharon Rocha seems “shaken” as tapes of Scott Peterson wooing Amber Frey are played. During the testimony, every seat is filled on the prosecution side. Joining Rocha family members are Jim Brazelton and Kim Petersen. According to a later CNN account, some jurors appear to be fascinated by the testimony, leaning forward in the jury box and scribbling notes, whereas others write nothing, and one alternate juror frequently looks around the courtroom. According to the Modesto Bee, several jurors slack off on note-taking as Amber Frey begins talking about her second date with the defendant. One juror audibly chuckles as prosecutors play an audio tape of the defendant describing an “unreal” New Year’s Eve celebration “near the Eiffel Tower,” when he was actually still in Modesto. Some of her testimony about the defendant’s imaginary travels appears to point toward premeditation of the crime: He said he was taking the trip to “make changes” in his business so he could spend more time with her. Although a crowd remains outside the courtroom, they do not get a glimpse of Amber Frey, having to settle for news updates from Gloria Allred at lunchtime and after the close of court. “I don’t know anyone who would wish to trade places with Amber Frey,” Allred tells reporters. About the defendant’s relationship with her client, she states, “He was very much worming himself into her life.” Susan Caudillo notes that the witness admitted Scott Peterson was always a “gentleman” and that his affair is irrelevant to the matter at hand. “We all know he had an affair,” she says. “That’s not the issue here.” Geragos downplays the damaging testimony, saying, “The karaoke was fascinating.”
August 11 Amber Frey, dressed in a black suit, continues her testimony, which largely consists of simply verifying the voices on recordings made of her conversations with the defendant. Recalling one such conversation, Gloria Allred notes the irony in Scott Peterson pointing out The Shining as one of the best-made films of all time, inasmuch as it features a man trying to kill his wife. “Frankly, that gives me more chills than the chills I experienced when I actually saw The Shining,” she tells reporters. Janey Peterson, asked to reply to Allred’s comment, says, “I don’t even think it merits a response.” Amber Frey also tells the court that on January 6, 2003, she left her home and was placed under police protection. She confirms that a dog heard barking in the recordings came from Scott Peterson’s end of the line. During most of the day’s testimony, Scott Peterson sits calmly, and seems to follow along with the transcripts. Amber Frey leaves once to nurse Justin Markovich.
August 12 The court day begins with a 45-minute closed-door hearing in Al Delucchi’s chambers with Scott Peterson and attorneys from both sides. Some of the attorneys leave the room at about 9:45 a.m. Pat Harris meets with members of the Peterson family. Just after 10:00 a.m., a bailiff announces that the start of testimony will be delayed because a juror is stuck in traffic. Shortly after 10:20 a.m., Amber Frey again takes the stand. The prosecution plays four taped conversations between Scott Peterson and Amber Frey. According to later articles in the Modesto Bee, Scott Peterson, wearing a dark suit, sits “calmly” at the defense table and is “appearing to follow transcripts” as the lengthy tapes are played, but the conversations bring “laughter, disgust and tears” elsewhere in the courtroom. As the tapes are being played, Amber Frey sits behind the Rocha family. She cries when she hears her own voice telling Scott Peterson on tape, “I didn’t need this in my life.” Sharon Rocha shakes her head when Scott Peterson, on tape, refuses to acknowledge Conner Peterson as his child when asked directly by Amber Frey. During taped discussions of how a friend of hers fell victim to a scam offering a vacation to Hawaii, Amber Frey gets up and leaves the courtroom, followed immediately by Gloria Allred and Birgit Fladager. Moments later, Fladager returns, followed momentarily by Allred, who later explains that her client has permission to leave the courtroom to nurse Justin Markovich. Asked about the morning’s closed-door session, Mark Geragos refuses to comment. Ron Frey has dinner with Rita Cosby.
August 13 Gloria Allred refuses to respond directly about whether charges by Patricia Hinojos, grandmother of Ayiana Frey, will impact her client. “Amber’s privacy has been invaded so much because of the sacrifices she’s made that I wouldn’t want to invade it further,” Allred states. “I am hopeful the judge will place limits on fishing expeditions.”
August 15 The Modesto Bee runs an article in which Patricia Hinojos defends her son Anthony against charges by Amber Frey that he did not want to be part of Ayiana Frey’s life.
August 16 Amber Frey returns to the stand. Five more recordings she made with Scott Peterson are played for the the court. The tapes reveal him still hoping for a “miracle” to salvage his relationship with the witness, even though she tells him, “I’d have to be out of my mind.” She challenges him on several points, including his insistence that he told Laci Peterson of their extramarital affair after the first date, pointing out that his wife remained a secret to her even during a nationwide search. At one point, he refuses to answer whether he slept with Laci Peterson the night before she was reported missing. Sharon Rocha repeatedly dabs her eyes with a tissue. She leaves the courtroom late in the morning session and does not return. Susan Aquino and Jackie Peterson are also seen crying. Scott Peterson seems to maintain his typical calm demeanor, taking notes, reviewing the transcripts and occasionally whispering to his attorneys. When not on the stand, Amber Frey again sits in the second row, spending much of the time with her head bowed forward, her hair shielding her face.
August 17 Amber Frey continues her testimony. In the morning, a February 7, 2003, taped conversation she had with Scott Peterson is played for the court. On it, he pleads with her to rendezvous with him at the vacation home of a Peterson family friend. Ron Frey suggests to a reporter that if she had taken the defendant up on that offer, it would have been a fatal choice. “He was going to kill her,” Ron Frey says. “That’s what this is about. This was serious. The man was dangerous. That’s why I gave Amber surveillance. There wouldn’t be an Amber here if she had gone on that mountain trip with him.” During the playing of the tapes, Amber Frey, wearing a black suit and a small butterfly necklace over a gray satin top, sits quietly, returning to the witness stand periodically to verify the contents of the recordings. Over the course of the day, 16 calls are played for the court. Some of the calls seem to throw a serious dent in the defense argument that Scott Peterson would not have thrown away the life he had for a woman with whom he had only dated four times. “I desire so much to be, you know, for the rest of our lives, your best friend, your biggest comfort and the second-most joy in your life,” the defendant tells Amber Frey on one recording. Al Delucchi stops the questioning in light of an upcoming 402 hearing. A Modesto Bee article speculates that “the hearing could regard information from wiretaps the defense wants to use when cross-examining Frey” or could involve newly discovered evidence that has to be scientifically tested. Following the closed-door session, the judge rules that defense attorneys cannot question Amber Frey about relationships not discussed in the recordings presented by the prosecution.
August 18 The public is not allowed into the courtroom for nearly an hour into the scheduled court day. After they are let in, Al Delucchi addresses the jury, stating that there will be a delay in the proceedings. “I’m sorry for the delay,” the judge states, “but I’ve got more bad news for you—for today, at least. I’ve just had a conference in chambers with the attorneys, and there’s been a potential development in this case that has to be checked out before we can go any further.” Apologetically, he adds, “I’ve done everything I can to try to prevent these delays, but because of the nature of this case, stuff like this happens, and there’s nothing I can really do about it.” Attorneys from both sides depart without comment on the delay.
August 19 In light of Al Delucchi’s announcement the previous day, court is not in session.
August 20 The Modesto Bee runs an article commenting on Court TV’s transcript of a January 15, 2003, conversation that Det. Craig Grogan and Det. Phil Owen had with Lee Peterson.
August 21 According to an article in the Modesto Bee, members of the California legislature are preparing to vote as early as August 23, 2004, on a financial bailout for the Scott Peterson case. In the article, Roy Wasden states that his agency has had to leave eight positions vacant because of financial issues related to the Scott Peterson case and state funding cuts. A related article discusses the daily lottery to determine who will get seats inside the courtroom for Scott Peterson’s trial. “Crowds have swelled, and the daily raffle has taken on a game-show quality,” the story states.
August 22 Mark Geragos meets with prosecution witness Mary Anderson from AT&T Wireless, asking her questions about Scott Peterson’s cellular telephone records. She contacts the AT&T Wireless office in West Palm Beach, Florida, to request additional information.
August 23 At about 4:00 a.m., Mary Anderson discovers the answers to the questions being posed to her by Mark Geragos. She provides the information to the defense. After another 5-day pause, the trial resumes. Anderson takes the stand. Geragos is seemingly able to inflict serious damage to the prosecution’s case during cross-examination, getting the witness to concede that the timeline investigators had built from Scott Peterson’s cellular telephone records was all but useless in pinpointing his location. After Geragos points out that the telephone records show that Scott Peterson’s calls from his front yard were routed through towers in Newman, Keyes, Manteca and Modesto, Anderson replies, “There appear to be some anomalies, yes, sir.” Like a shark circling for the kill, he keeps pressing her. “Is it a reasonable conclusion,” he asks, “that if you’re trying to pinpoint the location when they’re checking their voice mail, that you just can’t do it?” Still not ready to collapse, she replies, “I think it makes it more difficult.” Then, when Geragos suggests that one “can’t draw any conclusion whatsoever” from the records, Anderson finally concedes, replying, “I think that’s a fair statement.” Later, Amber Frey returns for cross-examination by Mark Geragos. Geragos opens with a tongue-in-cheek, “No questions, your honor,” a remark that brings a smile to Scott Peterson and some members of the jury. After a brief pause, the attorney explains: “Just kidding…trying to lighten it up a little.” She ably deflects his direct questions concerning her truthfulness with investigators. “I reported all conversations and recorded all conversations,” she tells the court. “I turned over every tape that I recorded.” Outside the courtroom, Gloria Allred dismisses the cross-examination as ineffective. “Maybe he’s fishing,” she speculates. “So far, he hasn’t caught anything.” Not resisting the chance to turn his earlier joke back on him, she says, “He would have been better off if he had said, ‘No questions,’ and meant it.”
August 24 Mark Geragos continues his cross-examination of Amber Frey. She admits that the defendant never told her that he loved her, and did not try to persuade her to keep away from authorities. She also acknowledges that Scott Peterson could have been evasive because Kirk McAllister had advised him not to talk about certain issues. Nevertheless, Geragos seems unable to prove that she misled detectives or withheld any information from them. Geragos suggests to the jury that they have heard only a portion of the tapes, and that other tapes may be played when the defense gets its turn. In support of that, and frustrated as Al Delucchi limits his questioning, Geragos reserves the option of calling her as a defense witness to question her about other calls. “You may have to do that,” the judge tells him. Dave Harris asks her to talk about the first time she suspected Scott Peterson was not what he had portrayed himself to be. She says it was when he told her to send a Christmas gift to a commercial mailbox in Modesto to be rerouted to Europe. “At that point, my heart basically sunk in my stomach,” she recalls. “I thought, ‘There’s something not right with what he’s telling me.'” Daniel White testifies, then Steve Jacobson takes the stand. Outside the courtroom, Gloria Allred again offers her opinion of the cross-examination of her client. “The arguments Mr. Geragos engaged in,” she tells reporters, “were just total garbage.” To emphasize her point, she crumples pieces of yellow paper with one hand, depositing them in a black plastic trash bag she hold with her other hand. Concerning the threat by Geragos to recall her client, she says, “If he wants another shot, she’ll be ready for him.”
August 25 Steve Jacobson continues his testimony, as the prosecution plays additional taped conversations involving Scott Peterson. In these tapes, Scott Peterson is portrayed as lying not only to his unwitting mistress, but to his family and closest supporters. He tells them he has been consulting with investigators in Washington state after an alleged sighting of Laci Peterson, when in fact he had not yet called authorities there. One recording shows he erased a voice-mail message about the sighting from Jackie Peterson before listening to it. In another, he tells a friend that he was unable to return her calls because he had spent the previous four days “out in the hills” for grief counseling. In yet another, he lies to Jackie Peterson about his whereabouts. According to a Modesto Bee article, some jurors alternately shake their heads, nod and smile. At one point, Al Delucchi instructs jurors to ignore the comments on transcripts when they suggest the defendant laughed when listening to Jackie Peterson state that missing-person posters were going up in Washington state in response to the sighting there. “You heard the tape,” the judge states. “Nothing is better than your ears.” During cross-examination, Mark Geragos makes the point that Amber Frey was also considered a suspect. “Law enforcement was mistaken,” Jacobson explains. “All of you came to the conclusion that you were getting bad information from Miss Frey based on what you were hearing?” Geragos questions. “Yes, sir,” Jacobson admits. “Last week somebody goes back and takes a look and it turns out you guys were wrong? All seven of you?” Geragos presses, sparking an exchange during which Jacobson offers to explain but Geragos replies that he had not asked for an explanation.
August 26 Steve Jacobson concludes his testimony. According to a later article in the Modesto Bee, the defense goes into “damage-control mode” but jurors seem “uninterested.” as Mark Geragos spends hours “carefully going over phone and computer records to score points” that some legal experts later characterized as weak. For the first time since August 4, 2004, Lydell Wall takes the stand. As Geragos cross-examines him, a reporter notes “several jurors yawning.” Geragos tries to get Wall to agree that Scott Peterson’s allegedly incriminating Internet searches began as early as December 5, 2004—prior to his confrontation about his marital status; however, Wall does not go along with the defense interpretation. Al Delucchi asks, “Has the jury had enough for today?” Greeted with nods, he ends court 10 minutes early. “This is Thursday,” he says, “and we’re up to our armpits in computers.” The California State Assembly and California State Senate pass separate bills related to a state bailout for the costs associated with the Scott Peterson case..
August 27 The California State Senate begins a session that will last to the wee hours of the following morning. On the table is a possible state bailout for the costs associated with the Scott Peterson case.
August 28 The California State Senate adjourns at about 3:30 a.m., with Democrats successfully holding off a final vote on the bill proposing state aid for Modesto, Stanislaus County and San Mateo County, reimbursing them for costs related to the Scott Peterson investigation and trial. The Modesto Bee reports that Sharon Rocha wrote a letter to the California State Assembly Public Safety Committee supporting the bid by some state lawmakers to approve a financial bailout for the cost of Scott Peterson’s investigation and trial. According to the article, she wrote, “Every family, every person deserves an equal opportunity to receive the best help and protection that our law enforcement agencies can provide. This help and protection should not be limited due to lack of financial resources available.”
August 30 Lydell Wall continues his testimony. He testifies regarding Scott Peterson’s computer use. Mark Geragos suggests that it may have been Laci Peterson using the computer the morning of December 24, 2002, noting shopping searches for an umbrella stand and fleece scarf. Jason Tardiff takes the stand. Steve Jacobson returns to the stand for further cross-examination. He counters the defense suggestion that the defendant may have called the Longview, Washington, Police Department in one of the calls that was not intercepted by noting that he corroborated the information with the authorities there. After Geragos indicates he has no more questions, Jacobson says something. “I barely heard it,” Al Delucchi tells the jurors. “Whatever Jacobson said—if you heard it—you can disregard it.” Capt. Christopher Boyer begins his testimony. The National Enquirer runs an article that claims Scott Peterson wrote Amber Frey from jail about two weeks after his arrest, telling her, “My prayers are always that you and the little one are happy…you deserve the best in the world.”
August 31 Capt. Christopher Boyer concludes his testimony, which seems to bolster the prosecution’s contention that Scott Peterson showed little interest in finding his lost wife, but at the same time leaves the door open to the defense charges that investigators zeroed in on him from the beginning. Boyer says that he had to improvise a receipt for scent items taken from Scott and Laci Peterson’s home because he had never been asked for one from anyone else. He also recalls another odd request. “He asked me not to take notes on the table,” Boyer states. “He would prefer the table not be damaged.” Boyer tells the court that he asked Scott Peterson what Laci Peterson might have been wearing, and he replied that she usually wore one of his coats, but he did not know if one was missing from the home. During cross-examination, Pat Harris suggests that the defendant asked for receipts because items were taken from the home without permission during the first night of the investigation. Pat Harris gets Boyer to admit that one of the items taken—a brown and green slipper—actually belonged to Scott Peterson, not Laci Peterson. Boyer insists, though, that it was another slipper—a pink one—that was used in the search at the Berkeley Marina, saying he has a photograph to prove it. That contention prompts an immediate response from Mark Geragos at the defense table. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. A photo?” he asks. “Where is that photo?” Boyer explains that the photograph shows him holding a double plastic bag containing the pink slipper, but does not actually show the dog handler, Ron Seitz, presenting the item to the trailing dog. Boyer also concedes that it would be impossible to determine the exact time a scent was deposited. Pat Harris attacks the reliability of the dog trailing information, suggesting that Boyer would be unable to write a scientific paper on the subject. The attorney questions the skills of the dogs used. “Fluffy the Wonder Dog has been used before,” he jokes, saying he could use a dog “sweet as can be but dumb as a post” belonging to Mark Geragos for trailing. Boyer quickly strikes back, saying that not only could he could produce articles and books showing that scent theory was an accepted scientific standard, but that he could provide an article from Andy Redmond, the defense expert witness. With that volley, members of the gallery whisper, and one reporter elicits an audible, “Oooh!” Eloise Anderson takes the stand during the afternoon session, telling the court that trailing dog Trimble indicated Laci Peterson entered the Berkeley Marina from a parking lot entrance but did not leave. Anderson points out the scent trail on a large map of Berkeley Marina. The defendant watches Anderson’s presentation, then gestures and talks to Pat Harris. After Dave Harris asks Anderson a question about a blue tarp—an item determined to be off-limits in relation to dog-trailing testimony at an evidentiary hearing in February 2004—Mark Geragos objects, prompting a short closed-door meeting with Al Delucchi and attorneys. Delucchi emerges to tell the jurors that he has made a decision, but does not elaborate. He tells them that court will be cut short by about 15 minutes because Dave Harris is not feeling well. He tells Anderson to not speak with prosecutors until she is cross-examined by Geragos.