#28) December 2004
Laci Peterson Case Information:
When: December 2004
December 1 At 9:40 a.m., Carl Jensen interviews Lt. Xavier Aponte at the California Rehabilitation Center. Aponte gives a statement concerning a January 2003 conversation between inmate Shawn Tenbrink and Adam Tenbrink. Pat Harris gives the opening statement for the defense, then calls Lee Peterson to the stand. He offers an explanation for why Scott Peterson has been painted by some as “emotionless,” saying that the Peterson family was brought up to be stoic. Pat Harris asks him for his possible reaction if his son should receive the death penalty. “I don’t even want to entertain that thought,” he replies. “I just can’t imagine anything worse.” He says the emotions surrounding his son being found guilty were “beyond belief.” His testimony ranges from his own upbringing as a poor child in the Midwest, to Scott Peterson’s pneumonia as a baby, to his later accomplishments. Painting verbal scenes of an idyllic family life, the witness tells of how the convicted murderer loved to snuggle at story time and once nursed back to health a rabbit that had nearly drowned in the family’s swimming pool. “I love him very much,” he tells the court as he looks at his son. “I just have great respect for him.” Also testifying for the defense are Joanne Farmer, Jeff Cleveland, Craig Farmer and Susan Caudillo. Mark Geragos questions only Caudillo. “The bottom line is, I don’t think my parents are going to make it if he goes,” she tells the court. “We try to keep a strong face for Scott, but it just keeps getting worse. I can’t imagine it getting any worse than him being put to death.” Scott Peterson appears to shed a tear as she calls him her “baby brother.” Referring to the fact that the defendant was the only biological child of both Lee and Jackie Peterson, Caudillo suggests that his birth helped bring the family together. “He kind of completed our blended family,” she states. “He made us all whole.” Prosecutors do not cross-examine any of the defense witnesses.
December 2 Testifying for the defense are Aaron Fritz, Britton Scheibe, Joan Pernicano, Janey Peterson, John Peterson and Alison Peterson. Sharon Rocha leaves the courtroom twice during the morning session, and does not return for the afternoon session. Asked for his feelings about giving the defendant the death penalty, Fritz says, “It would be a horrendous tragedy. It would be a terrible loss of a friend, of a brother figure in my life.” In one remark that is later widely criticized, Fritz seems to compare the defendant to a deity, saying that, when confronted with a dilemma, he would ask himself “what Scott would do” in the situation. Fritz also says that, in high school, Scott Peterson was a “renaissance kid.” Scheibe showa the court a page from a middle school yearbook showing that Scott Peterson had been voted among the “friendliest” in his class. “Of all the people I grew up with and knew, he would be the absolute last person I would ever expect to be accused of something like this,” Scheibe says. “I don’t believe he deserves to be executed.” Pernicano, too, says she cannot fathom the Scott Peterson she knew with the convicted murderer seated before her. “I can’t reconcile the accusations with the person that I’ve known,” she testifies. Fairy Sorrell turns away from Pernicano when she openly questions the defendant’s guilt. Janey Peterson tells the court about a time she was touched by a gift from then-teenager Scott Peterson. “I think it was the first Christmas, when Joe and I were married,” she says. “He gave me a big pair of fuzzy bear slippers.” During her testimony, Scott Peterson wipes away tears from his face. She says that Scott and Laci Peterson enjoyed being with her children, but noted that “watching their rambunctiousness probably was good birth control.” Thinking about the tragedies of the past two years, she has a moment of reflection. “I think one of the things I’ve learned in all this is how important life is,” she says. “Every one of us would give up everything we have—whether it’s money or homes or every stitch of clothing—because that’s how important life is.” “He was a great kid brother,” John Peterson testifies. “He hardly ever told on me.” Asked about the possibility of his brother being executed, John Peterson replies, “I’d be devastated. I can’t even imagine it. I’d be wrecked. He’s my little brother. I love him.” Alison Peterson confirms that her husband and her brother-in-law were close. “They were always holding hands or hugging—very happy together,” she tells the court.
December 3 Testifying for the defense are Joe Peterson, Coni Fritz and Paul Fritz. Paul Fritz says that Scott Peterson was a “first-class gentleman.” Coni Fritz predicts that the defendant could be a “great mentor and teacher” in prison should his life be spared. “Arrogance is not a word he even knows how to spell, because that’s not who he is,” she says. Looking directly at the jury box, she insists, “Scott will make a positive contribution to whatever is dealt to him.” She also notes that the defendant “had a twinkle in his eye” and a “sideways smile” that she likens to a trademark. “AT&T has its logo,” she explains. “Scott has that crooked smile as his logo.” She then appears to blow him a kiss. Ironically, Joe Peterson tells jurors that the defendant “always loved being around the water.” He says that his three children are taking the conviction “very hard,” explaining how Scott Peterson has been a friend as well as an uncle to them. In one of the infrequent times of levity during the day, Joe Peterson draws chuckles from observers when he explains how he and another brother used a young Scott Peterson for target practice on the tennis court. “He’d put the racket up in front of his face in defense mode, and we’d take shots at him,” he explains. Again, media accounts report the jurors as appearing disinterested in the witnesses. John Guinasso closes his eyes during testimony, and other jurors appear to doodle or look around the room.
December 6 At about 9:00 a.m., attorneys arrive and head to the judge’s chambers for a 15-minute meeting. Scott Peterson, sporting a navy blue suit and a blue-and-white striped tie, is brought into the courtroom and smiles at Lee and Jackie Peterson. Al Delucchi announces that the defense plans to call 14 witnesses—11 of them in the morning session. Shortly after Scott Peterson’s entry, the jurors file in. The judge tells them to expect testimony to run through December 8, 2004, with closing arguments to follow. Fairy Sorrell drops her head at the news. Actually testifying for the defense are 15 people, who complete their collective testimony in about three hours. The witnesses include three of Scott Peterson’s former educators and coaches (Ronald Rowe, Marvin Threatt, and Dave Thoennes), his former business associates (Chuck Courtney, Sandra Bertran and Jim Gray), his relatives on his mother’s side of the family (John Latham, Rachel Latham, Robert Latham, Leeta Latham, Abraham Latham and Kelly Beckton), and his friends (Bill Archer, Carrie Archer, and Julie Galloway). Sharon Rocha arrives in court about an hour after the start of the proceedings, and listens to the testimony of five witnesses before leaving. Brent and Amy Rocha stay for all the proceedings. Ron Grantski is absent, attending the funeral of Wilbur Smith. Rowe describes Scott Peterson as a “cooperative” student and shows yearbook photos of him. Threatt notes that the defendant was never a troublemaker. “In the whole time I was there, he was never in my office for disciplinary purposes,” he offers. Thoennes lauds the defendant as “one of the finest young men that I coached.” Under questioning from Mark Geragos, Courtney remarks, “This whole thing is inconceivable to me.” Bertran recalls that “Scott was a pleasure,” and says, “I can’t think of one negative thing about this child or his family.” She is one of several witnesses who questions the verdict. “I do not believe Scott is guilty of this crime,” she says. “I don’t believe he could have done this.” John Latham tells the court how he and Jackie Peterson’s early lives were marked by tragedy because their father was murdered when they were young children. Concerning the defendant, John Latham remarks, “I, for one, I don’t believe he’s guilty.” Rachel Latham characterizes Scott Peterson as a role model, and recalls that he did gardening work for a neighbor with multiple sclerosis. She says that he and Laci Peterson used to attend her soccer games. Robert Latham tells the court about lean times he and Jackie Peterson shared in their youth. “One Christmas, my sister and I split a TV dinner,” he recalls. The court then takes a short recess. After the break, Leeta Latham recounts Scott Peterson taking an elderly woman to mass, and says that he is “very much the man I hope my son becomes.” “There is not a violent bone in his body,” Abraham Latham tells the court. “I’ve never seen him react with any anger.” He recalls happier times. “It’s the same Scott that I’ve known as a kid,” he says. “The same Scott that I went to the zoo with and learned that animals come from different continents and that monkeys climb trees.” Recalling the time when Scott Peterson met Laci Peterson, the witness says the defendant had “this glow” about him. Steve Cardosi turns to look at Sharon Rocha, who gets up to leave. Kelly Beckton tells the court that the defendant is “definitely the kind of person I felt I could trust.” She predicts that executing Scott Peterson “would be the death of” the Peterson family. Concerning the defendant’s ability to enchant, she says, “It’s kind of like the rest of the room melts away because he’s paying attention to you.” The court takes a recess for lunch. At about 1:30 p.m., court resumes. Scott Peterson is witnessed crying as a weeping Bill Archer tells the court that the “little things” came to his mind when remembering times shared with the defendant. Carrie Archer opines that the defendant could be an asset in prison if allowed to live. “He’s a great person and I think he has a lot to offer,” she says. As she describes the convicted murderer as her inspiration to be a better person, Gil Aquino is seen shaking his head and frowning, and John Guinasso also apparently has a negative reaction. Julie Galloway, the day’s final witness, recalls how the defendant helped her reconcile with her estranged mother. Calling him “the most generous man” she ever met, she, too, offers that he should be spared, saying, “Scott has great things left to do.” When Galloway states that she was never sexually intimate with Scott Peterson, one juror whisperes to another and they both smile. Court adjourns at 2:28 p.m. Strong winds tear down several structures at the media tent village.
December 7 At about 9:00 a.m., Sharon Rocha arrives in the courtroom. Brent and Amy Rocha also attend the proceedings. The defense section is full with scheduled witnesses. Sitting behind Lee and Jackie Peterson is a bellboy from the hotel where the defense team is staying. At 9:38 a.m., a smiling Scott Peterson enters the courtroom. He is decked out in a gray suit. Al Delucchi tells jurors they will hear from seven witnesses, but only six take the stand. They are Eric Sherar, a former neighbor; Jim Gray, who bought a packing business from Scott Peterson; Hugh Gerhardt, a college coach; Abba Imani, a family friend and former employer; Bob Thompson, one of Scott Peterson’s college professors; and neighbor Susan Medina. Sherar characterizes Scott and Laci Peterson as a happy couple. “I never heard any arguments,” he tells the court. Gray likewise says he saw the two as “the perfect couple.” Gerhardt characterizes the defendant as generous and confident, but not arrogant. The witness recalls that, when his brother was lost, Scott Peterson offered to help search. Imani says Scott Peterson is the “most courteous person I’ve ever seen in my life.” The witness recalls how good the defendant was with customers, especially elderly ones, when working at the Pacific Cafe. “Such a tragic thing to happen to both families,” he says. “Just not believable.” Thompson recalls that the victim and the defendant stood out among some 10,000 students he has taught over the years. He states that the defendant asked him to dinner, to golf, and to a baseball game. “He seemed more mature, more focused—like he was fully formed and well-raised,” Thompson tells the court. Thompson also admits he took in the defendant after Laci Peterson’s disappearance. “He was kind of living a nomadic life, I got the impression,” Thompson explains. He becomes the first witness in the penalty phase to be cross-examined. Asked by Dave Harris asks how Laci Peterson’s murder has affected him, Thompson replies, “I miss her terribly.” Susan Medina’s testimony ends the day. She recounts how Scott Peterson gave her a ride after she had car problems. In what analysts call some of the most effective defense testimony, she recalls her grandfather’s murder and the effect that witnessing the execution of the perpetrators had on her father. Richelle Nice cries during the testimony. After the witness steps down, she hugs Sharon Rocha. The jury is dismissed at 11:58 a.m. After the lunch break, attorneys from both sides return to court to discuss jury instructions with Al Delucchi. Jackie and Janey Peterson are present, but no members of the Rocha family attend. Dave Harris objects to Delucchi’s proposal that jurors not be instructed that they can disregard the testimony of a witness they believe has lied. The prosecutor argues that there could be inconsistencies between one witness’s testimony in the trial and another witness’s penalty-phase testimony. “Will this be included in your argument?” Delucchi inquires. “I won’t know until one witness testifies tomorrow,” the prosecutor replies—a remark that some observers say may be directed at Jackie Peterson, who testified that she walked for hours with Laci Peterson during a trip to Carmel, despite Lee Peterson’s testimony that his wife’s physical condition limited her to no more than “a two-block walk.” At 2:22 p.m., court is adjourned.
December 8 In the morning courtroom seating lottery, 100 people try for 27 available seats. Just before 9:00 a.m., Sharon Rocha and Brent Rocha take their seats. A few moments later, Lee Peterson and Susan Caudillo arrive in the courtroom. Jackie Peterson, wearing a gray jacket and black skirt, comes in and greets people in the defense section. At 9:21 a.m., Scott Peterson, wearing a khaki suit, is led into the courtroom. Al Delucchi tells the jurors that they will hear from five witnesses, and may be back tomorrow for further testimony. He explains again that they will be sequestered for deliberations, and should plan to meet at the hotel with their luggage. Testifying first for the defense is Tom Beardsley, who notes that Scott Peterson, the fertilizer salesperson, was honest, hardworking and helpful. Some of Beardsley’s words, though, seem to be less than helpful to the defense. “He’s got plans, he knows what he wanted to do, and he executed it,” he testifies. Shelly Reiman begs jurors to spare Scott Peterson’s life. “It’s not going to bring back Laci, it’s not going to bring back Conner,” she sobs. “It’s just going to add another tragedy to this horrible event.” Reiman becomes the second witness to be cross-examined during the penalty phase. Dave Harris asks, “Did the Scott you knew ever talk to you about Amber Frey?” Reiman says he did not. The prosecutor asks, “Did he ever tell you he was telling Amber he didn’t want to have children?” She again says no. Ed Caudillo takes the stand, telling the court how the defendant made him feel welcomed into the Peterson family. He also notes that Scott Peterson has a close relationship with Ed and Susan Caudillo’s daughter, Danika, who has written him during his time of incarceration. Brittney Peterson tells the court she requested to speak “because this situation is completely tragic, and I can’t stand back and watch my innocent uncle go through this.” As she cries on the stand, jurors are reportedly “stonefaced.” The court takes the morning recess. At 10:38 a.m, Mark Geragos calls Jackie Peterson to the witness stand. She tells the court it was difficult to see Sharon Rocha testify. “We all lost Laci, and I have empathy for her,” she says. As a slide show featuring Scott Peterson begins, Steve Cardosi turns his attention to Sharon Rocha. “If you asked me about Scott, I would say he was a joy from the moment he was born,” Jackie Peterson says. Inexplicably, she tells the court that, if her son is sentenced to die, “it will be like a whole family is wiped off the face of the earth” and that “it would be like Laci never existed.” She states that Scott and Laci Peterson were “the perfect match” and that the two were “inseparable.” Downplaying the fact that Scott Peterson continued his relationship with Amber Frey even as others combed central California looking for his wife, she calls his acts “bizarre things he did because he didn’t know what to do as a 30-year-old all alone.” She confesses that she and Lee Peterson feel like empty “shells” because of the emotional wringer they have gone through. In a final plea for her son’s life, she asks them to realize that the death penalty is “irreversible.” She seems to wrap up the primary themes of the penalty-phase strategy, noting that killing Scott Peterson would only wipe out any remnant of what was once a happy family, and to consider that the defendant, along with his flaws, can do good. “I beg you to consider how he helped people,” she says. Dave Harris and Birgit Fladager seem to discuss between themselves whether to cross-examine Jackie Peterson, but then decline to. Kristy Lamore appears to wipe tears from her eyes during the testimony, but some panelists do not even look at the witness stand. Scott Peterson, staring straight ahead for much of his mother’s testimony, dabs his eyes. As Lee Peterson is getting into his car to leave, he asks media members following him, “When are you guys going to hold your next lynching?”
December 9 The prosecution and the defense give their closing arguments for the penalty phase. Calling Scott Peterson “the worst kind of monster,” Dave Harris tells jurors during a 45-minute speech that the defendant deserves the death penalty. “There is no way around it,” the prosecutor contends. He displays a projected photograph of Scott and Laci Peterson posing in front of a Christmas tree, then follows with a shot of him with Amber Frey in front of another Christmas tree. The prosecutor also plays audio tapes of the defendant wooing Amber Frey during a vigil for the victim, and shows two photographs of a smiling Scott Peterson at that event, contrasting them with one of Sharon Rocha and others apparently grieving during the same night. The jurors also hear snippets of telephone calls during which Scott Peterson makes plans for a beach trip with his family, then tells a supporter that he is at grief counseling. The prosecutor plays the video of the defendant breaking down during a televised interview. “He played the part of a grieving husband,” Dave Harris tells the jury. “The great fraud. He turned on tears and played the part.” Dave Harris dismisses the penalty-phase defense witnesses as further proof that the defendant is “the worst” kind of criminal “because he’s the kind of person…you trust, who’s manipulative.” The prosecutor states, “Those 39 witnesses pretty much all said the same thing: ‘This man who sits here, this convicted double murderer, is not the man that I know.'” He then walks over to the defense table, stands in front of Scott Peterson and points at him. “They didn’t know the real Scott.” The prosecutor also shows several pictures of Laci Peterson and a sonogram of Conner Peterson. Sharon and Amy Rocha are observed quietly crying during parts of the presentation. “Laci Peterson was an anchor around his neck,” Dave Harris summarizes. “So he put one around hers.” Holding up a photograph showing the remains of Laci and Conner Peterson, the prosecutor implores the jurors to “Remember the victims, remember Laci and Conner.” Although noting that the death penalty is “a hard choice,” he contends “it’s the right choice” for Scott Peterson. “Someone who shows no mercy and is so heartless, so cruel to his own family, deserves death,” the prosecutor argues. An emotional Pat Harris suggests there may be “lingering doubt” in a case decided on circumstantial evidence. The attorney pleads for his client’s life during his 35-minute rebuttal. “It is a life worth saving,” he argues. “I’m asking you—I’m not asking you, I’m going to beg you: When you go back there, please spare his life.” After the lunch break, Mark Geragos resumes the defense argument, emphasizing to jurors that Scott Peterson will not have a cushy life in prison. “He will stay in that cell every single day until he dies,” Geragos states. “He’s going to have to look over his shoulder at all times.” Geragos plays out potential future scenes in which a prison guard tells Scott Peterson that Jackie Peterson, then Lee Peterson have died. During this argument, Susan Caudillo breaks into tears. Telling the jury that “there does not need to be any more death in this case,” Geragos pleads for a life-without-parole sentence. “Just don’t kill him,” he begs jurors. “That’s all I am asking of you. End this cycle.” The defense attorney appeals to each juror individually, asking any opposed to the death penalty to stand firm. “I’d get down on my knee if it wouldn’t look so contrived,” he tells them. The Modesto Bee reports that Richelle Nice cried during the prosecution’s argument, and that “most jurors appeared impassive” during the defense statement. The jury begins deliberations, which last for about two hours. The annual Laci Peterson blood drive begins at Modesto’s DoubleTree Hotel.
December 10 The jury deliberates until 11:40 a.m., when they break for lunch. Al Delucchi meets with attorneys from both sides to certify the record of trial proceedings. “The jury is still hard at work,” he announces. “I haven’t heard a word.” Jurors take a straw poll and are split, with six voting for death, two for life without parole and four abstaining. The annual Laci Peterson blood drive continues at Modesto’s DoubleTree Hotel.
December 11 The annual Laci Peterson blood drive continues at Modesto’s DoubleTree Hotel. The jury remains sequestered at the Crowne Plaza Foster City.
December 12 The annual Laci Peterson blood drive continues at Modesto’s DoubleTree Hotel. The jury remains sequestered at the Crowne Plaza Foster City.
December 13 Jurors request to view a series of evidence items, most notably photographs of the remains of Laci and Conner Peterson. Around 9:20 a.m., attorneys on both sides meet in Al Delucchi’s chambers. A court reporter leaves and then soon returns to the judge’s chambers. Later, jurors are seen sitting and talking in a separate courtroom. A bailiff brings another chair into the Delucchi’s chambers. The jury breaks off deliberations from 10:05 to 10:25 a.m. Delucchi polls jurors individually in his chambers. Just before 10:30 a.m., Delucchi states, “The jury has resumed deliberations, so we’ll see what happens.” Tom Marino, the last holdout against the death sentence, agrees to the ultimate verdict. Before noon, court officials announce to the media that a verdict has been reached and will be read at 1:30 p.m. After the news breaks. hundreds of people gather outside the San Mateo County Courthouse. A later Modesto Bee report will say that Scott Peterson struts to his chair and grins “broadly” as he enters the courtroom. He speaks at the defense table with Mark Geragos. The jury returns. Before the reading of the verdict, Richelle Nice winks at members of the Rocha family. After deliberating 11 hours and 32 minutes over three days, the jury, at 1:47 p.m., pronounces a death sentence on Scott Peterson for the murders of Laci and Conner Peterson. Julie Zanartu cries as the jurors are individually polled. Scott Peterson shows little emotion. Sharon Rocha is observed quietly crying. Rose Rocha, sitting behind Brent Rocha, puts both hands on his shoulders as he bows his head. As jurors file out of the courtroom, Geragos and Pat Harris kneel and speak quietly with Lee, Jackie, and Janey Peterson. As this discussion takes place, Scott Peterson is left sitting straight in his chair, eyes focused on the now-empty judge’s chair. As jurors depart the courthouse, most of those remaining from the crowd cheer them. One person shouts, “You did the right thing.” At a news conference following the verdict, Ron Grantski tells reporters, “This shouldn’t have happened. It hurt too many people for no reason.” Roy Wasden states, “A family such as this has some sort of sense that justice has been done.” He says that the Modesto Police Department will respond to criticisms at a later time. “We had to endure too much criticism we could not respond to, and such criticism we will not respond to today,” he announces. Dave Harris praises the support given prosecutors by the Rocha family. “That kind of support is why it’s important we do what we do,” he says. “Justice is done for a wonderful group of people.” Adam Stewart says that, now that the trial is over, the Rocha family members “just really want people to respect their privacy and their time to be alone right now.” Gloria Allred says that Amber Frey was “emotional” after being told of the verdict against Scott Peterson. “He murdered two people who didn’t have the benefit of a judge or a jury or the legal process when they were put to death,” Allred states. “He took two lives, and now justice demands that his be taken. His life of deception and denial will come to an end.” Jim Brazelton praises detectives for their immediate action after Laci Peterson was reported missing. “They didn’t treat this like a missing person’s call,” he explains. “They didn’t say, ‘Give us a call in three or four days if she doesn’t come back.’ They took it seriously from the beginning.” Mark Geragos also addresses the media. “Obviously, we’re very disappointed,” he says, promising an appeal. He says that the Peterson family has no comment. “All I ask is that you respect the family’s privacy for the next week or so,” he states. “In the interim, I hope you can understand this is a very difficult time.” Greg Beratlis, Steve Cardosi and Richelle Nice take questions from reporters. She states that Scott Peterson’s betrayal of those closest to him helped lead her to a decision. “There were so many things,” she says. “One being that Scott Peterson was Laci’s husband and Conner’s daddy—the one who should have protected them. For him to have done that….” Mary Mylett goes to the Crowne Plaza Foster City but finds that her car is surrounded by media vehicles. The annual Laci Peterson blood drive concludes at Modesto’s DoubleTree Hotel.
December 15 Richelle Nice is hospitalized with bladder and kidney infections. The Modesto Bee runs an article quoting several of the participants in news conferences held immediately following the penalty-phase verdict.
December 16 Don Horsley holds a news conference in which he comments on the demeanor of Scott Peterson after being sentenced to death. “He has been his normal self,” Horsley states. “He is very cheerful. He is very compliant and very helpful.” Horsley characterizes the convict as a model prisoner and “not suicidal.” “He gets a lot of mail,” the sheriff says. “He does have a fan club.” ReganBooks announces a deal with Amber Frey, saying they will publish her book, scheduled to go on sale on January 4, 2005. “I am very gratified that Regan Books has agreed to publish Amber’s story,” Gloria Allred says. “We think her story of courage in crisis will inspire others who have been betrayed to fight back for truth and justice.” Having been released from the hospital, Richelle Nice states, “I was a mess. I’m better now.” The Associated Press issues an article entitled, “Geragos Takes a Hit With Defeat,” in which the Scott Peterson verdict is examined in relation to the career of Mark Geragos.
December 17 Mary Mylett grants an interview to the Modesto Bee. She recounts her own tragedy in accidentally running over her 22-month-old son, saying that, during the trial, she “tried to keep a stiff upper lip” because Sharon Rocha’s strength inspired her. “I know what it’s like to lose a life,” Mylett states, “and I know what’s it like to take one.” She recalls dreaming about the Rocha family throughout the trial. “Every single night since July or August, every night when I go to bed, I am part of the Rocha family,” she says. “I was at Laci’s baby shower. I was there for Christmas, for their graduations. When I dream at night, I’m part of their family. They are all very nice dreams—there isn’t a nightmare among them—and it’s helped me a lot because Laci is always smiling and Sharon is always smiling.” Greg Beratlis calls in sick to work. Steve Cardosi attends the funeral of his aunt, who died during jury deliberations.
December 18 The Modesto Bee runs an article featuring Tom and Barbara Marino and how the Scott Peterson trial affected them.
December 19 The Modesto Bee runs an article focusing on how different religions view the death penalty. The article quotes Joseph Illo, Wade Estes and others.
December 20 The Modesto Bee runs an article following up on the jurors in the Scott Peterson trial. The article states that Richelle Nice and Greg Beratlis have both been ill since the verdict. Steve Cardosi laments the death of his aunt. “It kind of sucked because I didn’t honestly get a chance to see her,” he says, noting that she died during the time the jury was sequestered. Cardosi and Beratlis report having received death threats. Most of the article focuses on Mary Mylett, who offers a hope for the Rocha family: “Tell them this for me: We have taken care of business. But you can’t change history. My hope for the future is in Brent’s children. I know they’re young. The only thing they’ve known is that their father isn’t there very much, and they’re growing up in the shadow of Laci and Conner. I hope they get on with their lives for those children.”
December 22 In a meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m., the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors are presented a proposal by Jim Brazelton to give five weeks of leave to Rick Distaso and Dave Harris, and four weeks of leave to Birgit Fladager—eight hours of leave for every week worked in Redwood City. The report lists the fiscal impact as $28,385. The issue is on the consent calendar, and will not be discussed unless it is removed from it. The Modesto Bee reports that the web site of Geragos and Geragos is asking for monetary support “to help continue the search for the murderer of Laci and Conner Peterson.” The article also quotes from a message by Sharon Rocha on the official Laci Peterson site. “There are no winners in a case like this one,” she states. “We are families who are suffering horrendous losses.” She dismisses the concept of “closure” now that Scott Peterson has been convicted and given a death sentence, saying “Closure will only occur for me when I complete my book of life, when I die.” In the note, she expresses gratitude to those who supported her.
December 25 Scott Peterson, in San Mateo County Jail, receives a special visit from the chaplain, dressed as Santa Claus. He delivers a small, white gift bag, decorated with cheerful messages and drawings by schoolchildren, and containing an apple, candy and a half-dozen cookies home-baked by volunteers with the Service League of San Mateo.