On November 12, 2004, Scott Lee Peterson was wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife Laci and their unborn son, Conner. On December 13, 2004, the same Jury recommended the death penalty. On March 16, 2005, Judge Al Delucchi sentenced Scott to death row at San Quentin.
This wrongful conviction began when detectives prematurely concluded Scott was guilty and failed to follow legitimate leads to Laci's location. The horror is not just that a wrongful conviction resulted, but that Laci and Conner may have been saved.
But the detectives are not the only ones at fault. Many people contributed to this wrongful conviction:
Reporters and legal analysts who failed to verify the information they were given and thus assisted in polluting the jury pool with false information and outright lies.
Prosecutors who misrepresented and exaggerated the evidence. Prosecutorial Misconduct
Experts who used junk science to bolster the State's theories. Junk Science
Jurors who refused to give heed to the exonerating evidence that was presented and who didn't follow instruction. Juror Misconduct
A Judge who failed to call a mistrial after repeated misconduct by the prosecutors and jurors. Judicial errors
The State of California argued that Scott strangled or suffocated Laci either on the night of December 23 or the morning of December 24, 2002, in their home at 523 Covena, Modesto, CA.
He wrapped her in a blue tarp, removed her from the house to his Ford pickup truck, put some market umbrellas on top of her, and transported her to the Warehouse.
Once at the Warehouse, he unwrapped her from the tarp and put her into the boat, tied weights around her, and attached the boat cover so she could not be seen.
His next stop was the Berkeley Marina, the small boat launch ramp. He stuffed the boat cover around Laci and motored out towards Brooks Island. There he dumped Laci's pregnant body into the Bay, expecting it to never surface.
Then, on April 13 and April 14, respectively, Conner and Laci washed ashore in the same spot where Scott said he was fishing.
More than enough evidence exists to prove that Scott had nothing to do with Laci's disappearance and did not murder Laci and Conner.
First, we have strong, certain evidence that Scott did not put a pregnant Laci into the Bay on December 24. Since by the State's own admission, Scott is fully accounted for at all times during the investigation, if he did not put pregnant Laci into the Bay on or before December 24, he had no opportunity to do so.
Conner did not wash ashore.
Substantial evidence exists, and was available to both the State and the Defense team, that Conner did not wash ashore. This proves that Scott did not put a pregnant Laci into the Bay on December 24.
Conner did not wash ashore
Conner lived beyond December 24, 2002.
Without exception, every person who observed Conner's body described him as a full-term baby or nine-months, thus confirming that he lived beyond December 24, 2002. The measurements taken by Dr. Brian Peterson, the forensic pathologist who performed Conner's autopsy, confirm that Conner lived beyond December 24, 2002. The measurements taken by Dr. Alison Galloway, the forensic anthropologist tasked with determining Conner's age at the time of his death, confirm that Conner lived beyond December 24, 2002. Furthermore, Conner's macerated condition is not consistent with a 3.5 month intrauterine retention. This proves that Scott did not put a pregnant Laci into the Bay on December 24.
Conner's age proves Scott's innocence | Conner's Maceration is not consistent with a 3.5 month intrauterine retention
The twine did not wrap around Connerís neck accidentally.
Sufficient testimony was given, from the criminologist and medical examiner, both State witnesses, to conclude that the twine could not have wrapped around Connerís neck accidentally. As Dr. Cyril Wecht noted, "never in a million years." This proves that Conner was handled outside the womb, and therefore, Scott did not put a pregnant Laci into the Bay on December 24.
Plastic Tape/Twine wrapped around Conner's neck
The material over Conner's left ear.
Conner's left ear was permanently flattened against the head and a rectangular piece of material was over the ear. This could not have been kelp, as argued by the State, because Conner did not wash ashore. Nor would kelp have the strength or the sticking power to permanently flatten the ear. This is further evidence that Conner was handled outside the womb, and therefore, Scott did not put a pregnant Laci into the Bay on December 24.
Material over Conner's left ear
Evidence from Laci's Autopsy
Some of Laci's injuries or bodily conditions are not consistent with the State's theory: two ribs fractured at the time of death or shortly thereafter that is not consistent with a soft-kill, a shoulder bone injured well after death is not consistent with being in the Bay, and a missing neck is not consistent with any known disarticulation in aqueous environments. Moreover, Laci's uterus was at least 10 cm (3.9 inches) smaller than it should have been, explaining why the incision to remove Conner was not visible on her body, and the injured 9th rib (another postmortem injury) is in the same location where such an incision would have been made. This is further evidence that Scott did not put a pregnant Laci into the Bay on December 24.
Exonerating evidence from Laci's autopsy
Second, we have a total absence of incriminating evidence from a multi-million dollar investigation whose sole target was Scott Peterson:
No incriminating evidence from any of the Crime Scenes
In spite of using every modern investigative tool available, and employing the help of the FBI and the CADOJ, the State could not produce any trace evidence of Laci's murder or dead body from any of the multiple crime scenes or items that came into direct contact with her deceased body. Nor could the State produce any evidence of a clean-up. The sole evidence produced consisted of two strands of hair of dubious origin that might have been Laci's found in a pair of pliers that the State criminologist concluded was not used in the commission of this crime.
523 Covena | Blue Tarp | 2002 Ford Truck | Boat Cover | Sears Gamefisher Boat | Warehouse | Bay Searches | No Clean-up
The tests don't lie | Laci's rib fractures
No eye witnesses
In spite of making repeated calls to the public for information, the State could not produce a single eye witness that saw Scott Peterson committing any part of this crime, in spite of the fact that much of the crime occurred over several hours, in broad daylight, and in public places.
No scent trail from the house to the warehouse
A trailing dog did not trail Laci from 523 Covena to the warehouse, as expected. Instead, Merlin trailed Laci to the Gallo Winery, in the Airport District, very close to where the Medina burglars lived and stolen goods were recovered.
Dogs Used in the Investigation
No cadaver scent at any of the alleged crime scenes
Cadaver dogs did not discover any indication of Laci's dead body at any of the crime scenes, in spite of the State's argument that Laci had been dead 12 hours before Scott moved her from the house; he wrapped her in a tarp, put her into his Ford truck, and then covered her with heavy patio umbrellas to transport her to the warehouse; put her into the boat to transport her to the Berkeley Marina and put the boat cover on to conceal her body; and then tucked the boat cover around her body before dumping her along the fishing route.
Dogs Used in the Investigation
No evidence that Laci and Conner were ever in the Bay
The MPD and multiple other agencies spent 30 or more days searching in the Bay before the bodies were found and 25 days after, using the most sophisticated diving teams and sonar detection systems, and still did not produce a single piece of evidence that Laci and Conner were ever in the Bay. The Ralston theory was rejected by other experts and not presented as evidence at Trial. Bay Searches | Ralston Theory
No incriminating statements
In spite of using trusted friends and family members to spy on Scott, taping over 3000 calls on Scott's phones, and using Amber Frey to tape record personal conversations, the State could not produce a single incriminating statement.
Wiretaps | The Amber Tapes | Phone call between Sharon Rocha and Scott Peterson, Feb 13, 2003
In spite of hours and hours of prejudicial taped conversations between Scott Peterson and Amber Frey, the State could not present a credible love-motive for the murder of Laci and Conner. Even ADA Rick Distaso admitted Frey was not the motive. Amber Frey In spite of a rigorous financial audit, the State could not present a credible financial motive. In fact, it proved just the opposite, Laci was worth much more alive than dead. No Financial Motive
No accomplice, no grudge against Scott
ADA Rick Distaso said it was ridiculous for anyone to consider that Laci was abducted in an effort to frame Scott Peterson. He is absolutely right, the State's multi-million dollar effort to convict Scott Peterson could produce no evidence that anyone had any grudge against Scott Peterson, or had any involvement with Scott Peterson that could have resulted in a plan to abduct his wife. It could produce no drug connection, no jewelry fencing operation, no insurance fraud attempt, no illegal activity of any kind. And, it could produce no evidence of an accomplice that turned against Scott for lack of pay-off or other reason.
Third, we have major elements of the State's argument proven to be false, or, at best, not trustworthy:
Contrary to the State's argument, Laci was not found in the clothes she was wearing the day before. The tan pants, the blouse, and the shoes were all found in the house and identified by Amy Rocha.
10:08-10:18 window of opportunity for an abduction
The State argued that an abduction by any one other than Scott had to occur between 10:08-10:18 a.m. The 10:08 time comes from cell tower information for a voice-mail check, which is not reliable for indicating exact location. Multiple calls placed by Scott while standing in his front yard the night of the 24th were picked up by different towers. Karen Servas is the only witness to establish the 10:18 part of the time. Servas changed her story multiple times and her 10:18 time is challenged by other witnesses and events. Yet, the State relied on her to rule out any other possible explanation for Laci's disappearance. The 10:08 call to check voice mail | Karen Servas Ė The Real Story | Laci's Walk
Fourth, the State ignored valid leads that may have saved Laci's and Conner's lives:
The Medina Burglary
All evidence points to the Medina burglary as having occurred at the time Laci disappeared. Merlin, the trailing dog, led Valentin to the Gallo winery, very near the Airport district where Todd and Pearce lived and where stolen goods were recovered. Diane Jackson reported seeing the burglary in progress on the morning of December 24. Tom Harshman reported seeing Laci later that afternoon being forced into a van similar to the one Jackson saw. Adam Tenbrink told his brother Shawn that Laci interrupted Todd and others during the burglary and Todd threatened her. Todd and Pearce gave conflicting information about the timing of the burglary.
The Medina Burglary | The Hidden Harshman Tip | The Aponte Tip - Exculpatory Evidence Withheld | The Reward for Silence: Shawn Tenbrink
Laci Peterson, the Medina Burglary and Occam's Razor
Credible witnesses independently reported seeing Laci walking in the neighborhood along the same route and during the same time period. These sightings are corroborated in time and location by McKenzie's aggressive barking and the McKenzie sighting in the park.
Laci Sightings Were not a Priority
The truth is, the lead detectives were not looking for a live Laci -- Al Brocchini concluded she was dead on the night of the 24th, and Craig Grogan arrived at the same conclusion on Christmas Day. This irresponsible and incompetent tunnel vision may well have cost Laci and Conner their lives. People who reported sightings were not even called back. Many of them had to call their information in multiple times.
Laci Sightings were not a priority
Fifth, the State relied on junk science to convince the Jury of critical "facts" -- facts without which the State had no case. Dr. Devore used junk science to convince the Jury that Conner died on the night of December 23, and Dr. Cheng used junk science to convince the Jury that the bodies washed ashore from Scott's fishing location. As with other appeals issues, the determining factor is the importance of the expert testimony to the State's case. In each of these instances, correct facts would have undoubtedly resulted in an acquittal. Each of these expert witnesses is well-qualified in his field, but not in the specific area of his testimony. Each is well published in his field, but not in the specific area of his testimony.
Junk Science | Dr. Devore | Dr. Cheng
Obviously, this conviction must be overturned because an innocent man is sitting on death row for the sin of adultery. That's what it amounts to -- Scott Peterson was sent to death row for adultery.
But, it's not just about Scott Peterson.
It's about the eroding standard of evidence used to convict
It's about the growing menace of a strong presumption of guilt mentality among the public
It's about the increasing irresponsibility of various media who care more for ratings and exclusives than for justice
It's not just for Scott Petersonís sake, but for the sake of all who have been and who may yet be wrongfully convicted.
Not just for the wrongfully convicted, but for the victims of crime, and their families, who are deceived into believing Justice has been served.
Not just for the victims of crimes that have already been committed, but for all those who will yet become victims unnecessarily, because when the innocent are convicted, the guilty are free to commit more crimes.
For news from the Peterson family, to sign up for their newsletter, and to make a contribution towards Scott's appeals, go to http://ScottPetersonAppeal.org. Their blog is at http://scottpetersonappeal.org/cblog/index.php. The Peterson family offers a reward for information that will lead to Scott's exoneration. Click here for details.
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