Peterson talked of a kidnap, witness says
Fresno jail inmate gives account during lie detector test

By Michael Baker
The Fresno Bee
(Published Saturday, September 20, 2003, 4:15 AM)

A Fresno County Jail inmate says accused murderer Scott Peterson broached the idea of kidnapping his wife while meeting with two members of a neo-Nazi gang about a month before a pregnant Laci Peterson disappeared.

Cory Lee Carroll, 34, was interviewed in jail this week by investigators from the Modesto Police Department and the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office, said Carroll's attorney, Frank Muna.  Muna said he contacted law enforcement after Carroll's account checked out in a polygraph test administered by Muna's private investigator.

Modesto police spokesman Lt. Doug Ridenour said a court-imposed gag order prevents him from speaking about Peterson's case, but in general, it is the duty of law enforcement to follow up on all leads.  "It doesn't matter where or what time; if it has a potential connection to a case we're going to investigate it."  The Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office did not respond to inquiries but has in the past referred to the gag order when questioned about potential evidence.

Peterson's lead attorney, Mark Geragos, also cited the gag order.  "Unfortunately, I can't comment," Geragos said. "I would love to, but unfortunately, I can't."  Peterson, 30, has pleaded innocent to two counts of murder that could bring the death penalty. His next court date is his preliminary hearing, set for Oct. 20, to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for him to stand trial.  Prosecutors allege he killed his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son on Christmas Eve. Their remains washed up in April on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay.

Carroll's statement is detailed in a memo that summarizes the polygraph exam. The memo, obtained by The Bee on Friday, was written by polygraph examiner and private investigator Melvin W. King, a former Fresno police lieutenant.  Carroll truthfully answered questions during the examination, according to the memo. Polygraph, or lie detector, tests are not admissable in court.

While he questioned how the memo was leaked, Muna said it is identical to the document he received from King.  According to the memo, Carroll gave King this statement:

He met Peterson in November at the east-central Fresno strip club City Lights on Clovis Avenue. The two men watched strippers, talked and played pool before heading to a nearby bar and then a fast-food restaurant.  Peterson, who had discovered Carroll had spent time in prison, asked if Carroll knew anyone who could steal his wife's car. Peterson wanted to report the vehicle stolen for insurance purposes.  Peterson agreed to pay Carroll $300 to set up a meeting with two men Carroll knows as Tony, who goes by the name "Dirty," and Anthony, also known as "Skeeter." The pair, who often live in a beige van with orange and red stripes, are members of the Nazi Low Riders gang.

Peterson met with Carroll and the other two men Nov. 29 at Chili's Grill & Bar in northeast Fresno. The four men went to a nearby motel to continue talking.  Peterson drove a Ford F-150 pickup.  Carroll overheard something about kidnapping and left because he didn't want to get involved. He stayed away about 45 minutes. When he returned, the two neo-Nazi gang members said they were going to take care of something. Carroll said he didn't want to hear anything about it.

In December, Carroll was arrested for violating parole after a conviction for receiving stolen property, records from the California Department of Corrections show.  Carroll said he recognized Peterson later when he saw him on a television report about the Modesto man's arrest.

According to the polygraph report, these questions and answers were given during the examination:

Question: "Have you lied to me about anything during our interview?"

Answer: "No."

Q: "Did you lie when you said you introduced Dirty and Skeeter to Scott Peterson?"

A: "No."

Q: "Did you lie when you said you heard Scott Peterson mention to Dirty and Skeeter something about kidnapping Laci?"

A: "No."

"Mr. Carroll appears to believe his statement about meeting Scott Peterson and introducing him to Tony and Anthony also known as Dirty and Skeeter," the report concludes, while suggesting a second polygraph outside jail if there is further investigation into Carroll's claims.

"I can't confirm or deny anything," King said when asked about the report. "It's been made very clear to me -- I'm under a gag order." 

A few things in Carroll's statement match what has been reported in the media.

Peterson owned a Ford F-150 truck, which police took into their possession. And a van similar to the one Carroll said Dirty and Skeeter owned has been described by a witness as being across the street from Laci Peterson's home the day she disappeared. Police have discounted reports of a suspicious van in the neighborhood, saying it belonged to landscapers.

Muna defended his client's statements, saying Carroll had nothing to gain by coming forward. "We've never asked for anything, and we don't plan to," Muna said. "This puts my client in a lot of danger."  Muna said Carroll has been attacked twice since he was released from prison in July. The last time, the attackers told him to keep his mouth shut, Muna said. Muna said he didn't know who the attackers were.

Carroll was arrested Aug. 1 after missing a court date for driving with a suspended license. He is being held without bail because he is on parole.