Police Believe Laci Was Drugged And Strangled


POSTED: 7:18 a.m. PDT June 6, 2003
UPDATED: 8:44 a.m. PDT June 12, 2003

Police believe Scott Peterson drugged his pregnant wife with the date rape drug -- GHB -- and then strangled her in the couple's Modesto home, numerous sources revealed to KTVU Channel 2 on Friday.

Sources on both sides of the case told KTVU's Ted Rowlands that the prosecution's theory of the crime had been pieced together using information salvaged from a computer taken from the Peterson home.

The murder, one source said, was being classified as a 'soft kill' -- meaning there was very little evidence of the crime at the couple's home. The leaks came just hours before a series of hearings were take place in Modesto.

At the 8:30 a.m. hearing, Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Al Girolami ruled on a laundry list of legal issues. Girolami ruled that autopsy results of Peterson and her unborn son will remain sealed, and declined to issue a gag order on lawyers in the case.

Prosecutors have said they support some form of a gag order, while defense attorney Mark Geragos said in court papers that he opposes any effort to curtail discussions about the case.

Prosecutors also made the request last week to unseal the autopsy after extensive news leaks of the results. The prosecution team argued in a motion that the leaks were prejudicial toward the defense case. Among details reported by MSNBC and confirmed by an Associated Press source close to the case on condition of anonymity, the report said there was 1 1/2 loops of plastic around the fetus' neck and a significant cut on its body.

Analysts said the results could be used to bolster a defense argument that Peterson was kidnapped by a satanic cult.

Attorneys representing 22 reporters had asked to review to tapes of their calls to Peterson so they could determine if they might be barred from becoming evidence.

The lawyers said those conversations were protected under the California Shield Law, which protects reporters from turning over unpublished work. They claimed the wiretaps are the same as journalists' notes.

But Girolami said he did not think journalists were entitled to any privilege protecting their phone calls. He did, however, delay for 10 days the release of the tapes so reporters could appeal the ruling.

Girolami also set a June 26 date to rule on defense motions regarding wiretaps of Peterson's calls.

Scott Peterson's lawyers want the judge to dismiss the prosecutors assigned to the case and to toss out the results of two wiretaps that monitored thousands of Peterson's calls after the disappearance of his pregnant wife, Laci.

During the court-approved wiretaps, the first of which began two weeks after Laci Peterson vanished when investigators thought they had exhausted normal evidence-gathering techniques, police logged 3,858 phone calls made to her husband, according to court papers.

Some of those conversations will be questioned by defense lawyers, who claim police eavesdropped on protected conversations between Scott Peterson and his lawyer.

There was also to be the presentation of evidence behind closed doors in Judge Roger M. Beauchesne's chamber by defense attorney Mark Geragos that will reveal "the real killers" in the case.

At a hearing on Tuesday, Geragos' associate -- Mark Dalton -- told Beauchesne the defense would present "information that could possibly affect the arrest of other suspects who are still out there" when they meet in chambers at 1:30 p.m.

It's no wonder that the national media began to gather outside the Stanislaus County Courthouse on Thursday evening.

And if the atmosphere wasn't charged enough, Fox News revealed new provocative photos of Amber Frey --Scott Peterson's former mistress -- late Thursday afternoon.

Fox News said Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt had told them that he had been approached by David Hans Schmidt, who claims to own the rights to about 27 pictures of Frey, most of them in the nude.

The network aired several of those photos.

On Wednesday, anticipating such attacks, Frey's attorney Gloria Allred filed papers asking the court not to issue a gag order. Allred argued that such an order would not allow Frey to respond to personal attacks.

"She is very offended by those photos," Allred said outside the Modesto courthouse on Friday. "It's hurtful to her. She's in tears about it. It's really unfair to her."

Allred said she had sent a letter to Flynt on Thursday, challenging the right to publish the photos.

"Yesterday morning, I sent him a letter saying that Amber does not authorize the publication of those photos," the famed Los Angeles attorney said. "I am in contact with him."

Scott Peterson has been charged with two counts of capital murder, was being held without bail and faces the death sentence. A preliminary hearing in the case has been set to begin in mid-July.

The badly decomposed bodies of Laci and Conner washed up last month on the shoreline of a San Francisco Bay waterfront park. Peterson has told authorities he went fishing at the nearby Berkeley Marina on Christmas Eve, the day Laci -- who was eight months pregnant at the time -- disappeared from the couple's Modesto home.

He was arrested in San Diego days after the bodies were recovered.