Peterson hearing delayed for third time

Friday, October 17, 2003 Posted: 2:29 PM EDT (1829 GMT)

MODESTO, California (CNN) -- A judge Friday set an October 28 preliminary hearing date for accused murderer Scott Peterson -- the third time the court date has been changed.

Peterson is charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of his pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son, whom they planned to name Conner. Prosecutors believe he killed Laci in their home and transported her body in his boat, later dumping her in the San Francisco Bay.

During the brief hearing in Stanislaus County Superior Court, the defense was granted a continuance because defense attorney Mark Geragos was at a murder trial in Los Angeles.

When asked if he agreed with the change, Peterson said he did.

The hearing initially was slated for September, then moved to October 20. Those changes also were made because of scheduling conflicts with defense attorneys.

A status hearing is set for next Friday. At that time, the prosecution is to provide defense attorneys with a list of who they expect to testify at the trial.

The remains of Laci Peterson, 27, and Conner washed up in San Francisco Bay in April, five miles from where Scott Peterson said he was fishing Christmas Eve, when his wife was last seen.

Thursday, defense lawyers filed court documents seeking to throw out a police search warrant and the evidence gathered using it during searches of Peterson's boat.

The documents say that "on December 27, 2002, cadaver dog handler Eloise Anderson of the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team placed her cadaver dog, Twist, into Scott Peterson's boat for the purpose of detecting cadaver scent."

"The cadaver dog did not alert in the boat," the documents said. "This information was purposely omitted from the search warrant affidavits because it destroys the theory on which the prosecution has based its case."

The documents cited other court cases with similar circumstances in which such a "willful, misleading omission" invalidated probable cause.

No amount of prosecutorial trickery "can overcome the fact that the prosecution's own investigation proved that Laci Peterson's body was never in Scott Peterson's boat," the filing said.

Scott Peterson could face the death penalty if convicted of their murders.