Press Conferences on Laci Peterson Case; Panel Discusses the Crime
CNN Larry King Live
Aired April 18, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Good evening. Welcome to a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We have an arrest in the Laci Peterson case, and we have upcoming a press conference being called by the attorney general of the state of California, Bill Lockyer. He is in Richmond, California. And as soon as that begins -- and it is beginning -- we're going to go to him. I think they're just testing the mikes now. Bill Lockyer will be out shortly and we'll have his press conference. Then, in a few minutes, there'll be another press conference being held by the police in Modesto, California, concerning the arrest today of Mr. Peterson. He was arrested in San Diego.
Then we'll have our panel discussion. The panel will include Mike Brooks, the CNN correspondent who's been covering this case. He confirmed the news today, by the way, of Scott Peterson's arrest. And then we'll have Nancy Grace, the anchor from Court TV; Mark Geragos, the defense attorney; Marc Klaas whose daughter, Polly, was abducted from her home and murdered in '93. He heads the Klaas Kids Foundation. And Dr. Henry Lee, one of the world's foremost forensic scientists.
While we have a moment, Mark Geragos, awaiting all this, if they can't identify -- if they don't know the cause of death, can they charge the murder?
MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely. And they...
KING: They can?
GERAGOS: Absolutely. There's no problem with that, in terms of coming up with a specific instance. They've already ruled that it's a homicide before they even recovered the body. I think why you're seeing two press conferences here tonight...
KING: Well, why?
GERAGOS: ... is you're going to see that the attorney general -- who, by the way, I think just got married three hours ago -- is...
GERAGOS: Yes. I don't think this press conference is to announce his marriage. I think he's going to announce that there's a DNA match and that it's Laci Peterson. Then I think they're going to go to the police. The police are going to, my guess is, announce that they've issued probably a no-bail special circumstance arrest warrant, and that they anticipate he'll be arraigned on Monday.
KING: With the condition of the body being what it was -- no head, right, limbs apparently missing -- Nancy Grace, how are they going to tie that all together? How can you prove she doesn't jump in the water?
NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Well, that would be a very, far, far leap of logic to have her out walking the dog at one moment and then jumping into the cold waters off Berkeley Marina the next. There's a very slim chance they could determine cause of death from these remains. I doubt it. It would have to be a nick of a knife, a gunshot wound, a blow to the head, if those portions of the remains are ever found. But Larry, I don't think that there is any chance this was suicide. However, I think that would be a very good defense argument.
KING: Is this a very difficult forensic concept here, Dr. Lee?
DR. HENRY LEE, FORENSICS EXPERT: Not really because DNA probably positively identify that's her, also the fetus, and probably identify that's their baby. Because no head, no hand, which more likely indicative the body have to be anchored with some heavy thing into the water. If jump into the water, should be floating with a short while, instead of three months later. There must be something, the head decapped and must be some wire, tied up with a cement block or some heavy thing sink the body in the bottom of the water.
KING: Marc Klaas, is one of the things that has Scott Peterson up against it, apparently, his lack of very much interest in this? Like, when the body was found, why didn't he rush up there to see if it was her?
MARC KLAAS, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION: Well, I mean, that's just one in a long line of inconsistencies for this guy. But I think, right now, Larry, all of us have to give our thoughts and prayers to Laci's family because they've been holding out even threads of hope for so long. But the magnitude of the information that's coming out this evening is just some of the most devastating stuff that -- well, it is certainly the most devastating stuff they will ever hear in their lives. And this is the kind of information from which some people are unable to extricate themselves ever.
KING: If they're charged -- if he's charged with two murders here, does that lead to capital punishment?
GERAGOS: Yes. I mean, there's actually two special circumstances they could charge in this case that could lead to either a life without parole or a death penalty. One would be multiple murders. The other would be for financial gain. If somebody were to make the argument that the insurance policy was taking out in expectation of this and if it was done for financial gain, that would be the other.
As Marc has indicated, obviously, it's an awful time for everybody involved. But the one thing that I would say has got him most up against it is the fact that the bodies and the remains are found within one mile or two miles of the very location that he provided to the police as his alibi. That is devastating, in terms of why they've arrested him so quickly. In fact, I -- you know, my feeling was as soon as these bodies washed ashore, the fact that he -- that it was a mile or two miles away meant to me that he was going to be arrested any moment.
GRACE: You're darn right!
KING: Mike Brooks is our CNN -- hold on, Nancy. Mike Brooks is our CNN correspondent in Modesto. What do you expect to happen now, Mike?
MIKE BROOKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, in just a matter of moments, we're going to be hearing from a number of different police chiefs that have been involved in this investigation. I was also told that Scott Peterson is under arrest, and they are driving back from San Diego, as we speak, and they have not gotten back here to Modesto.
We also have learned, Larry, from sources close to the investigation that where the bodies were found in San Francisco Bay -- back -- as you recall, there were divers in the bay that were looking for any signs of Laci Peterson. Well, back on March 12 and 13, they were using side-standing sonars, the same kind of things that they were looking to use during, like, TWA 800. They used them during the shuttle recovery. You look for anomalies in the water.
Well, in that vicinity where the bodies were found, they saw what they thought could be a body that was attached to possibly some kind of weights, like concrete blocks. Now, they went back, and because of the -- it's such a turbulent bottom right there in the San Francisco Bay, Larry, they went back, and they did not see them, but they saw some other anomalies. They feel that there's a possibility that they now could go back and look for these weights, and there possibly could still be something attached to these weights, Larry. So maybe we'll hear some more about that. If not, we probably will see them go back to that location and look for additional evidence in this case -- Larry.
KING: You hang with us, Mike. Now, we're holding off any commercial breaks because we're awaiting the press conference of the attorney general and the press conference of the Modesto police.
Now, Nancy, you were going to say what, in follow-up to what Mark said?
GRACE: Well, actually, what Mike just said is incredibly interesting because throughout this ordeal, two common things have been concrete and a tarp. And we now know that a black tarp was washed up in the general vicinity of the remains.
But what I was going to say, agreeing with Mark Geragos, is that by his own words, with the fishing expedition he claims to have gone on, basically, places him at the scene where the bodies were found, a little less than two miles away. But that tarp and the concrete have been a recurring theme, and those could be the keys to the case, as well as the fact that, even in the end, Larry, Laci was protecting the baby, in the sense that the fetus, Connor, as we have come to know him, was less decomposed than Laci, if this is truly Laci, and it was the fetus that gave the DNA match. So to the very end, as sad as this is, Laci, in her own way, was protecting that child.
KING: Dr. Lee, without being too morbid, can you explain what you think happened to the head?
LEE: Well, the head will not separate from the body. And initial speculation of a marine fish or something ate the head, which, based on my experience, that's almost impossible. Must be something sharp enough, like a wire, which I had a case before in Long Island Sound, a body being put in cement block with a wire tied the feet and head. And because the decomposition and the wire cut into the tissue and the bone and separate from the body, and the body floating. Meanwhile, other part maybe still anchor, maybe float in different locations.
KING: Marc Klaas, this is awful tough on the family, as you said earlier, especially when you learn of it this way. It's Good Friday, Easter weekend. Are you going to be in contact with them?
KLAAS: Well, they need peace. They need to be separated right now from any of us. They need to depend upon themselves. They need to explore their own faith, and they need to have to find -- they need to find the strength within their own unit to be able to move forward with this. Of course, I would like to reach out to them and talk to them, but I think that the best any of us can do is -- is use the forum of your show to do that right now.
KING: Mark Geragos, is this case kind of plea-bargainable, or will they not go for that?
GERAGOS: I can't imagine...
GERAGOS: Right. I can't imagine...
GRACE: Forget it!
GERAGOS: ... unless something comes up that I'm not aware of, that any prosecutor's going to plea bargain this. This case, from a prosecution's standpoint...
KING: Is it a slam dunk?
GERAGOS: ... even though it's -- even though it's a circumstantial evidence case, the most damning piece of circumstantial evidence comes out of his own mouth and his own hands, when he hands the police that receipt from the very location where two miles away, she's found. I mean, that is just a devastating thing. And if you believe that he's the one who, for whatever reason, got into it with her, killed her, put her in a tarp, put her in the boat, did all of that... KING: I mean, in a sense, could they say, We're going to try...
GERAGOS: Oh, they're going to try him...
KING: ... first-degree murder...
GERAGOS: They'll try him for -- with special circumstances. I'll be shocked if they don't.
KING: Can he say, Look, I'll save you the expense of a trial, I'll plead guilty for life?
GERAGOS: Well, if he were going to do that...
KING: Would you bargain that?
GERAGOS: Yes. I mean, if he were going to do that and say...
KING: Course, save you money.
GERAGOS: He could -- he could say, I'm going to save the money. I doubt most prosecutors would do that. It might...
KING: Nancy, what would you do?
GERAGOS: I can't see that.
GRACE: There is no way on God's green earth, if I believe this man murdered Laci Peterson -- whether in a fit of anger doesn't matter -- and that baby, I would take it to a jury and let them decide what to do with Scott Peterson. No way would I plead him out to a lesser offense!
GERAGOS: Well, and you know, the one -- and Nancy and I are agreeing way too much tonight, but the one thing that I would say along those lines is if Scott Peterson did this crime -- and everybody's, you know, innocent until proven guilty, and as I've said, it's a damning, circumstantial case -- the man is a sociopath if he did this crime. I mean, there's no other way to put it. This is his wife, his unborn baby boy. If he's the one who took the two of them up there and put concrete around them and threw them into the ocean and concocted this story and went out onto Diane Sawyer and gave that impassioned plea with the tears -- I mean, that's not somebody that generally you're going to want to give a manslaughter too.
GRACE: Oh, yes! The jury'll have a lot of sympathy for him!
GERAGOS: Well, can you imagine the females in that jury box, after they find out about the affair?
KING: Are they going to have to show motive?
GERAGOS: Well, the motive could be -- they don't have to show motive in a criminal case. It's something that is not required...
KING: Of course, having an affair doesn't... GERAGOS: ... but it helps.
KING: ... mean you kill your wife.
GERAGOS: It does not. But the fact that -- the fact he's up there and the fact that he's giving them the evidence, the fact that if it's true -- and we don't know if it is -- that there's apparently information on the tides and currents on his computer when they do the search, that is some pretty compelling evidence.
KING: If you just joined us, let me get you up to date. We're awaiting two news conferences, one to be conducted by Bill Lockyer, the state attorney general, and then a panel -- we think, a panel of police in Modesto, concerning the arrest and the cause of death or the condition of the body and the like and the identification of the body. Mike Brooks, our correspondent, is now going, I think, into the San Modesto area to cover the press conference, and we're talking with Nancy Grace, Mark Geragos, Marc Klaas and the renowned forensic physician Dr. Henry Lee about this extraordinary case which got so much attention and then seemed to be lost in the news.
In fact, it had gone dead, as they say, right, until, of course, this body recovery. And it happens almost right at the end of Iraqi war. If you're looking at news timing, it's kind of weird, like it waited.
GERAGOS: It is. It's almost unbelievable, in terms of the news cycle...
GERAGOS: ... that all of a sudden, it washes -- or the bodies wash ashore.
KLAAS: You know, this...
GRACE: You know, another thing, I think, that will aggravate a jury is that it wasn't just a murder, it was leading the family along for all these months, wondering what happened to the baby, what happened to Laci. And if he is responsible, not only has Laci and Connor been victims, but the family every day wondering, looking out the window -- and I know we all thought this was coming one day, but that family -- I know, I've been there -- held out hope that maybe, just maybe Laci would come home. That's all over, and he could be responsible for these months of pain.
KING: Marc Klaas, you were going to add something.
KLAAS: Well, you know, Larry, from all accounts, Laci was a lovely, wonderful person. Everybody had nothing but good things to say about her. And the levels of hatred and disgust that had to be present to commit this crime are just -- are -- it's unfathomable, quite frankly. It's unfathomable to...
KING: I'm going to cut you, Marc.
KING: All right. Hold on. This is Bill Lockyer, the attorney general of the state of California, and this is his press conference on the matter. Let's watch and listen.
BILL LOCKYER, CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Anyone need wide at all? You're all set?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're on the air.
LOCKYER: OK. I'm California attorney general Bill Lockyer. Earlier this week, as you know, East Bay Park authorities discovered two bodies, an unidentified adult female and a full-term fetus, in the Richmond Point waterway. After concluding that an identification could not be made using traditional coroner investigative techniques, the Contra Costa sheriff coroner, Warren Rupf, provided our DNA lab with samples from the unidentified bodies.
And just to mention what we worked with -- on Monday, we received these samples: from the unidentified female, a tibia bone -- that is a shin -- and muscle tissue. From the unidentified fetus, a femur, or a thigh bone, and muscle tissue. On Tuesday, with the assistance of the Modesto Police Department, we received DNA reference samples from the regional lab in the Department of Justice in Stanislaus County. The reference samples are required in order to help make an identification of the unidentified bodies. Specifically, we received oral swabs from Laci Peterson's parents, Dennis and Sharon Rocha, a reference blood sample from Scott Peterson, hair samples from a brush owned and used by Laci Peterson.
In order to identify the bodies, we needed to develop usable DNA profiles from the remains, as well as these reference samples. With respect to the remains, we were able to develop usable DNA profiles from the bones from both the fetus and the adult female. Also with respect to the reference samples, we were able to develop usable profiles from Laci's parents and also Scott Peterson. We were unable to develop a usable DNA profile from the hairs that were cleaned from Laci's head brush -- the hairbrush.
Over the last 24 hours, our criminalists have been working to compare the DNA from the remains with those reference samples. And tonight, we informed the Modesto police chief and Contra Costa sheriff coroner of our results. There is no question in our minds that the unidentified female is Laci Peterson. The unidentified fetus is the biological child of Laci and Scott Peterson. The Contra Costa coroner, of course, makes the final legal determination, but we are scientifically convinced that the match is one in billions.
The family law code in California presumes paternity when the parental index exceeds 100, and in this instance, it's in the billions. I want to thank the lab, and I should probably say that there are other families stricken by these terrible kinds of missing children and family members. We try to do expedited DNA work with all of these types of samples. I'm complimentary of our lab that works diligently here in Richmond and other labs throughout the state for this extraordinary kind of work.
So I want to introduce now the gentleman you've talked with in the past, but -- so he can maybe describe a little more of the science, unless you have questions for me, and the supervisor of the missing program -- missing persons DNA program is John Tonkyn. So lab scientists and others that are with us, congratulations. Great work. We're proud of you.
JOHN TONKYN, MISSING PERSONS DNA PGM. SUP.: Thank you. To go into a little bit more detail of what was done in this case -- a DNA genetic profile was obtained from the tibia of the adult female found along the Richmond shoreline. That DNA genetic profile was compared to the DNA profiles collected from cheek swabs of both Dennis and Sharon Rocha. What we do is to calculate a statistic that compares the probability that Sharon and Dennis Rocha are the parents, as compared to randomly selected individuals in several populations. And when we do that, we generate this statistic that is on the order of billions. In other words, it's more than a billion times likely that Sharon and Dennis Rocha are the biological parents of the body found in the Richmond shoreline.
Similarly, we analyzed the DNA from the femur recovered from the unidentified fetus. The DNA profile from that fetus was compared with the DNA profile generated from the blood stain from Scott Peterson, as well as from the unidentified female adult. Again, we generated a statistic that calculated -- excuse me -- the parentage index that the probability that Scott Peterson and the adult unidentified female are the biological parents of that fetus are on the order of billions, compared to randomly selected individuals.
QUESTION: Sir, when did you notify (OFF MIKE) findings? And (OFF MIKE) make an arrest (OFF MIKE).
LOCKYER: I called the sheriff, the police chief, the sheriff and district attorney in Stanislaus County and the chief in Modesto, about an hour ago to tell them the...
DET. DOUG RIDENOUR: I'm Detective Doug Ridenour, the public information officer, and I'm going to hand the microphones over to Chief Wasden.
CHIEF ROY WASDEN, MODESTO POLICE: Thank you, Detective Ridenour. Thank you for being here today. This has been a long four months, we could go through -- we've prepared quite a bit of background information. We've prepared some Power Point information. And we could go through all of that, but I don't believe that it's really what we're here for. Prior to making what I feel are -- you've already heard the one announcement, and I'd like to follow up on that.
I'd like to introduce some of the people that are here with me today. This is Chief Norm Lapera from the...
WASDEN: ... East Bay Regional Park Police, District Attorney Jim Brazleton, Chief Joel Samuels (ph) from -- the chief of Richmond Police Department, Sheriff Warren Rupf from Contra Costa County sheriff's office and also the county coroner, under-sheriff Myron Larson (ph), assistant sheriff Myron Larson, Stanislaus County sheriff's office, and Kim Petersen from the Sun-Carrington Foundation.
It's been truly a difficult four months, and not just for our community but for our nation, as we have really worried, tried to, hoped for, prayed for a different outcome than the one that has occurred. The recovery of Laci and Connor is truly -- while it's happy to have a conclusion, it's truly sad to have that conclusion.
The information that's important to get out is that Laci and Connor have been found and identified because of the efforts of law enforcement throughout this country. The coordination, the cooperation -- you'll find in the background information that you'll be provided a long list of the agencies that have stepped up and worked tirelessly to try to reach a resolution in this case.
I have to credit Chief Samuels, Chief Lapera for their efforts, their diligence in bringing the Modesto Police Department into the investigation and the recoveries of the bodies that they located, that they had the ability, the -- and wherewithal to bring that into this investigation.
The only other piece of information that's critical, I believe, to share at this point in time is to let you know that Scott Peterson has been arrested, that he is in the custody of Modesto Police Department detectives, that he is being transferred here to Stanislaus County. He will be booked into the Stanislaus County jail when he arrives, and that the jurisdiction in this case will be turned over to the district attorney, Jim Brazleton, to move this case forward.
Now, I'm sure you're going to have a million questions, and I'm going to tell you, we are not going to get down into the detail of this investigation. Out of the interest in your time and the effort to make sure we get relevant information out, I've abbreviated that. In the background package, you'll find the depth of information that we can go into, that we can drill down to, so that you can get that information. We have with us the group here that can answer some of the questions, if you have questions about things specific to their area.
I'll share with you that the thing that makes our country great is the freedoms that we enjoy, and as a free society, we do depend on our public safety and law enforcement to work together for the safety of our citizens. I can honestly tell you that the coordination in this investigation has been tremendous. Not at any time during the four months, as we made wide-ranging requests for help, have we been refused, whether it meant significant expense to other agencies or to private volunteers. At no time was there a reluctance of people to step up and put resources and energy into this investigation.
And you know, as we deal with the homeland security issues and the need to have available resources, I can assure you that law enforcement does work together. And I'll add one other note. Chief Samuels is the current president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. And so he can -- he can speak to you about the nationwide effort that we make to ensure in law enforcement we're doing our part with the community to accomplish the critical public safety mission.
With that, I will allow questions.
QUESTION: Chief, what were the circumstances of the arrest of Scott Peterson? Did he put up any resistance? And when will he be charged? And what with?
WASDEN: Scott Peterson was arrested this morning between 11:00 and noon. I am not going to go into details of that arrest. It was necessary, we believe, to take him into custody at that time. And that's as much as I'll comment on that.
QUESTION: At his parents' home?
WASDEN: It was not at his parent's home. I'll ask the district attorney if he wants to speak to when charges will be filed.
JIM BRAZLETON, STANISLAUS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Yes. Hi, I'm Jim Brazleton, district attorney of Stanislaus County. We anticipate that Mr. Peterson will be brought here, as the chief indicated, some time during the night. And we will be more than likely arraigning him on Monday, possibly Tuesday, in the superior court of Stanislaus County. He'll be charged with capital murder.
QUESTION: Does that mean you're going to seek the death penalty?
BRAZLETON: It doesn't mean we're going to seek the death penalty automatically. There are a number of things that we take into consideration when making that decision. But by charging special circumstances, that is one of the options.
BRAZLETON: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: Will there be special circumstances.
BRAZLETON: Yes. Special circumstance of double homicide.
QUESTION: Question for the chief. Detective Ridenour commented the other day, on Tuesday, to the effect that the department was not prepared to make an arrest, did not have a suspect in mind when the identification came back. Was that intended to keep Scott Peterson off guard so that he would not flee the country?
WASDEN: I'm not going to go into detail about the strategies we've used. I'm going to tell you that...
QUESTION: Well (OFF MIKE) your department made a statement that was not true. So we're asking (OFF MIKE)
WASDEN: Well, clearly, we were working the case and the information that we had. Clearly, the media wanted us to name Scott as a suspect. Clearly, we were working in eliminating all leads. I will tell you honestly, I would love to have had egg on my face, and after we declared this a homicide investigation, have to say we were wrong and found Laci alive and well. So you know, I guess we always hold out that hope.
However, the investigators working this case -- and there was a core team led by Detective Grogan (ph), pursued the logical investigative leads and where they went. And as that investigation moved forward, we thought -- it was important to keep track of Scott, and we did those prudent and reasonable things so that we could move forward in the investigation. And you know, if the DNA results had have turned out otherwise, we maybe would be doing a different outcome right now today. The nature and the importance of the DNA testing, the availability of the DNA lab to law enforcement and communities cannot be overemphasized. It's a critical part of this investigation.
QUESTION: Your department took a lot of criticism from the Peterson family. Did they help you this morning with the arrest? Did they tell you where he was, or did they give you any kind of assistance?
WASDEN: I'm not -- you know, I guess we ought to focus -- I'll answer that by saying that this is a tragedy. This is affecting many lives. The Petersons, Lynn and Jackie Peterson, are Scott's parents, and they've got to deal with that. I understand their fears and concerns, and I don't criticize them. I don't -- I'm not going to make any negative statements. They wanted to believe in their son, and they chose to do that.
I would not -- we went forward with our investigation today and the team from the Department of Justice, from the Modesto Police Department, felt like that it was important and necessary a little after 11:00 this morning to make arrests. Scott was not at anyone's home. Scott was driving a vehicle when the arrest was made.
WASDEN: Right back here.
QUESTION: Was there something found on or near the bodies that led the police to arrest Scott, or it was purely the DNA testing results?
WASDEN: Well, I'm not going to get into that kind of detail.
QUESTION: Was he arrested before the DNA tests were completed? And if so, why?
WASDEN: I'm not going to get into why. I will tell you that we did make an arrest before we had DNA results.
QUESTION: The classification was changed from a missing person to a homicide. WASDEN: Yes.
QUESTION: What set of facts and circumstances made you change that classification...
WASDEN: ... missing person investigation, you look at, you know, the -- who the person is, all the background you can find on him, all the information you can find. As we developed this case, as the information came forward, there was nothing that we could find that would suggest Laci was missing of her own free will.
Additionally $500,000 had been posted as reward. I'm convinced that based on my experience, based on the amount of money that it -- had anyone known where Laci was, had any information about where she and was if she was alive, we had of heard about it.
QUESTION: Was there substantial evidence that contributed to that...
WASDEN: I'll finish answering the question I'm working on, OK?
And so we moved forward. When we declared this as a homicide we offered -- the reward was given as $50,000 for information to the whereabouts of Laci in any condition.
Again, we had many phone calls and information. Nothing that took us to the body, continued to reinforce the idea that one person knew what had happened to Laci and where Laci was.
QUESTION: How did you track Scott Peterson and secondly, are there any other suspects in this case? Is Scott the only suspect this?
WASDEN: There are a number of investigative techniques that we can use to keep track of people. I'm not going to disclose those or discuss those.
QUESTION: Suspects? Are there any other suspects in this case? Have there been any other suspects?
WASDEN: There are no other suspects in this case.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) a struggle or...
WASDEN: The arrest was made in San Diego. I've been here all day. QUESTION: Chief, the crime lab mentioned that a blood stain from Scott was to help in the identification process. Did he offer that voluntarily? Where did the sample come from?
The blood evidence used in the DNA sample I believe was -- we obtained through a search warrant.
QUESTION: Chief, motive?
WASDEN: We're not going to discuss motives.
QUESTION: Do you have a -- what is your belief of her date of death?
WASDEN: The investigation -- and this will be contained in the background information. The investigation revealed that on 8:30, the day before Christmas Eve Laci had spoken with her mother, 8:30 in the evening. We could find no credible sighting after that time.
QUESTION: Chief, has there been a cause of death determined yet with the autopsy results?
SHERIFF WARREN RUPF, CONTRA COSTA COUNTY: My name is Warren Rupf. I'm the sheriff coroner of Contra Costa county and have coroner jurisdiction in this case.
The cause of death has not been determined. As you, I'm sure know now, our responsibilities focus on establishing the matter and means or motive of death, identifying the deceased and notifying the next of kin. I can tell you that the latter of those have been addressed and we continue to pursue a scientific means of hopefully identifying sufficient more information with regard to the manner and means of death to assist in the prosecution of this case.
QUESTION: Was the body intact (OFF-MIKE) day it was recovered at the park?
RUPF: All specific, very specific information with regard to the condition of the body and any resulting analysis of that will be given directly to the Modesto Police Department. And until such time as they and/or the district attorney decide to release that, we will remain silent.
QUESTION: How hopeful are you that you will determine a cause of death? Have you already ruled it out that you would be able to...
RUPF: No, no we've not ruled it out. The science associated with these things is just remarkable. It's, you know, a decade ago it would be described as magic. And we were, were and are optimistic that that science will lead us to facilitate this prosecution.
QUESTION: Do you have a timeframe for that? For determining cause of death?
QUESTION: Can you talk more about the DNA linkages between the bodies and Scott?
RUPF: In what respect?
QUESTION: In how that was done. The blood stains to the femur to...
RUPF: That's best left to the state lab. Our criminalists are working on the evidence, the trace evidence from the scene and from the remains. But the DNA analysis and that part of this I think is best referred to the state lab or to the chief.
QUESTION: Sheriff, (OFF-MIKE) water (OFF-MIKE) period of time?
RUPF: I think it's safe to say that she was, yes.
RUPF: She -- she and the fetus had been in the water for some time.
QUESTION: Have your experts come up with a time (OFF-MIKE) estimated time (OFF-MIKE)?
RUPF: I'm not prepared to answer that.
QUESTION: Will you be returning back to the bay to continue a search for any additional evidence that you possibly can glean from...
RUPF: Keep in mind that the coroner's investigation is parallel to the criminal investigation. And so my role, our role is to support the Modesto Police Department and the district attorney of Stanislaus County in that regard.
QUESTION: Chief, will you be returning back to the bay?
WASDEN: Thank you, Sheriff.
There's still a lot of work to be done. There are still things that we need to complete. We will be doing additional work out in the area.
QUESTION: Can you tell us where Laci was killed?
WASDEN: I cannot.
QUESTION: Do you believe she died in Stanislaus County?
WASDEN: I guess it would probably be irresponsible for me to share my beliefs.
WASDEN: By what's charged and what we're doing, I think it's clear that we believe the crime occurred here and that's probably as far as we should go into that.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) the house?
WASDEN: I guess I'll tell you, I'm not going to share my beliefs.
QUESTION: Who gets the reward?
WASDEN: It's way too early for us to discuss that.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) can you tell us if you're worried about having to do a change of venue because there's been so much media attention surrounding this?
I think the fact that there's been this much media attention cuts both ways. There has been maybe attention here, of course. You're here.
But everywhere I've gone in the past three months statewide and nationally, everybody seems to have a lot of knowledge about this case and there's a widespread interest. I mean, the national media is here.
So I think that kind of cuts in favor of there not being a change of venue. Where are you going to go to find somebody that hasn't heard about this case? That's going to be, of course, up to the judge to decide eventually. I have no doubt that the change of venue motion will be brought by the defense. And we'll address those issues at that time.
QUESTION: Can you fight that motion, sir?
QUESTION: Can there be a fair trial?
I would hope there is a fair trial wherever it's held.
QUESTION: Why wouldn't you charge the death penalty in this case? (OFF-MIKE).
BRAZELTON: There are a number of factors that go into that decision. I'm not prepared at this time to address that because I don't have all of the information.
QUESTION: If Scott Peterson had not offered the alibi or offered that he was at the Berkeley Marina that day, how would this have impacted this investigation?
WASDEN: There were a number of reasons we searched and we didn't just search in the Berkeley Marina area. As you're all well aware because you kept track of us all over the place, we searched on land, we searched in lakes, we searched in rivers. There's a litany of information in the background that we didn't go through about all of the work that we did.
I guess the story for me, the -- we covered a tremendous amount of area. There are other missing persons that we know aren't in those locations as well as we know Laci wasn't in those locations either.
As we -- as the investigation moved forward, it was clear to us that we needed to focus our attention in the Berkeley Marina. It was -- part of that was because of the information Scott provided. Much of that was from other information in the investigation that we gained, other factors, other information. And that will all be a part of the information that will be presented during the course of the trial. We won't go into great detail now.
QUESTION: Can you say when you notified the Rocha family what (OFF-MIKE) their mood and (OFF-MIKE)?
WASDEN: I met with the Rocha family myself and Captain Savelli about between 5:00 and 5:30. They're devastated. I can't put it any -- I mean it doesn't need a lot -- they're devastated.
QUESTION: When was the arrest warrant issued for his arrest?
WASDEN: The Ramie (ph) warrant was issued yesterday in the afternoon? Jim? Late afternoon yesterday.
QUESTION: Chief, what led you to go ahead and obtain a warrant before the identifications came back?
WASDEN: I'm not going to go into that. There are a number of factors that led us to believe it was important to pursue a Rhamie warrant and be prepared to make an arrest if -- if -- if the teams that were keeping track of Scott felt it was necessary.
WASDEN: I can only listen to one at a time.
QUESTION: With him being in San Diego so close to the border were you fearful he might make a run...
WASDEN: That was a concern, yes.
QUESTION: Can you go through how the DNA matched up (OFF-MIKE) if there was enough evidence to go ahead and make the arrest?
WASDEN: I am -- I don't have a background in that area.
QUESTION: Is there anyone here who can talk about that?
WASDEN: Sheriff? Or...
RUPF: That's a crime lab question.
WASDEN: Yes, that's a crime lab question. I guess we could have left the crime lab on longer and maybe they'd have covered it. They told me some pretty compelling numbers when they called. QUESTION: Can you talk more about the tarp that was found....
WASDEN: Wait -- wait a minute. They told us that it was 1.9 billion times on the identification of Laci to the hair and that it was 18 billion times on the identification of Connor to Laci and the identification of Connor to Scott.
So, you know, the -- the factor of those all put together is, you know, large billions of probability.
QUESTION: Is Scott talking (OFF-MIKE)
WASDEN: Let me -- let...
QUESTION: I'm saying, is Scott talking to your investigators at all or what kind of cooperation are they gaining from him?
WASDEN: I'm not -- I'm not going to discuss any of the statements may or may not be making. It wouldn't be appropriate to do that for the investigation. And we do need to give to the District Attorney Brazelton -- Jim Brazelton --a case as free of we can of defects. So I'll just leave it that Scott's being transported back.
QUESTION: Is he being flown or driven back to Modesto?
WASDEN: They're -- they're driving back.
QUESTION: Can you talk more about the carpet reportedly found and then the bodies separated -- how they -- the theory of them washing up to a day apart.
WASDEN: Of the way outside -- sheriff do you want to talk about how the bodies would separate?
RUPF: No, I can speak about the tarp.
WASDEN: Come on, chief.
CHIEF NORM LAPERA, EAST BAY REGIONAL PARK POLICE: Thanks. Chief Norm Lapera from East Bay Regional Park district.
The -- the tarp is actually what we're describing was a piece of black plastic approximately. It was 42 inches wide and almost 20 feet long. It was not at the scene on Monday, the day that we found Laci's body. It came ashore, we assume on the high tied the following day.
We received a phone call around noon on Tuesday. A person saw it in the rocks. As a -- as a precautionary measure, we had evidence technicians respond to the scene, photographed it in place, recovered it for the potential of submitting it for the crime lab for trace evidence. It came ashore approximately 60 yards south from where Laci's body was found the previous day.
QUESTION: Do you know (OFF-MIKE)?
LAPERA: We don't know it's related. But in any criminal investigation want to recover anything that could possibly in the future have evidentiary value. So as I said -- or as a precaution, it was recovered by evidence technicians, processed, needed to be dried out and then, if during the course of the remainder of the investigation, it's decided, collaboratively with the Modesto Police Department that it needs to be submitted to the crime lab, it would be submitted to the crime lab to be processed. But the key in evidence is to get it into our custody, preserve it and make sure no damage can be done to it and then process it.
KING: You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. We're going to cut away from the Modesto Police Department press conference and we now have an exclusive interview with the attorney general of the state of California, Bill Lockyer, who spoke to the press earlier.
Bill, I thank you very much for joining us. What is the attorney general's involvement in this?
LOCKYER: Well, we had investigators involved with the investigation, the surveillance and arrest of Scott. But principally it's the DNA lab that's part of our state system that provides the scientific evidence that helps us put this case together. So that's just what we just announced, that we had now been able, with the science at the lab, to prove that compelling case exists.
The numbers are stunning. Billions of odds that this is the body of Laci and her -- Laci and Scott's fetus.
KING: And so you credit a lot of people here tonight, do you not?
LOCKYER: Yes. There's a wonderful team. I'm very proud of the people here.
You know, four years ago, when we started this, we were catching one criminal a year using DNA science. We are now catching more than one a day using DNA science. So it's a remarkable technology. It's making the state safer and we're really proud of the work of these scientists.
KING: We know about your concern about the protection of the -- the -- the accused's rights, et cetera. Do you expect them to ask for a change of venue? Do you expect that to be important here?
LOCKYER: Well, our job is really to do the appellate work after Jim Brazelton, the district attorney in Stanislaus County, the Modesto area, attempts to put on the case. And if there's a conviction and there are appeals, then we step in. But it is very common that the the defense lawyers will want to get out of the venue where they think the town is perhaps already convinced that Scott was the perpetrator.
KING: Bill, Mark Geragos has a question.
GERAGOS: Bill -- well, first of all, Bill, congratulations. I know that today's mixed emotions. You got married this afternoon, I understand, and you're here -- I guess it in this kind of unfortunate situation.
My question is you mentioned the surveillance. Did you have any GPS tracking or warrants on cell phones or things of that nature in order to track Scott?
You know, we were careful about it and I think probably the story will unfold soon of the extraordinary teamwork with the Modesto P.D., our agents and others that have been following Scott for a number of days, and maintaining surveillance, wiretaps on phones, trackers on vehicles, all the things you can do to try to accumulate the evidence you need to conclude an investigation of this sort.
So it was a team that did it. They did a great job.
GERAGOS: Was he -- was he evasive in any way over the last couple of days or after the discovery of these bodies?
LOCKYER: Well, we -- we started to worry that there was slight risk. You know, he was in San Diego, near the border and that perhaps, since he was aware of the fact that there was surveillance, that he might try to run and that created some nervousness because we wanted the DNA evidence if we could get it. Today I haven't seen the press conference of the chief and others. But, basically what happened is the driving up and down the freeway, he was aware of surveillance teams, was waving at them and being, you know, kind of a smart aleck and so they finally decided that they ought to just pull him in.
GERAGOS: Did -- I was just -- the one last question I was going to ask is did they issue a no-bail warrant arrest for him -- arrest -- a Rhamie (ph) warrant.
LOCKYER: I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you, mark.
GERAGOS: Did they issue a no-bail Rhamie warrant for him?
LOCKYER: I believe so.
KING: Concerning the -- the trial itself. Did -- in your wildest --in your wildest guessing here, Bill, what -- what would the motive be?
LOCKYER: Well, you know, it's perhaps unfair to speculate, but a lot of people know of the romance he had with this extramarital affair and perhaps that created some tensions and crisis that we don't know the details of. That certainly would be one motive. There might be others that the district attorney would be the one that ought to reveal at trial.
KING: Now the district attorney will determine whether this is a case that he's going to ask for the death penalty, is that correct?
LOCKYER: That's correct.
KING: All right. Will you have input in that?
LOCKYER: Well, that -- that D.A. and I are very close friends. We work together, collaboratively. We provide him with the staff assistance on occasion and we can do that again if he needs it. That's his call.
I am convinced that he probably will be -- be considering this a first-degree capital case unless there's some other evidence that we haven't yet heard that changes his mind.
KING: Nancy Grace, the anchor for Court TV's "Trial Heat", are you still with us? And if you are, do you have a question for the attorney general?
GRACE: Yes. Yes, I do. Yes, I do.
Two things. One, regarding the fight earlier this month with the media to release the search warrants that police had been conducting, police protected those search warrants. They did not want them released to the media. Is that because it would have revealed a tap on his phone, a tap on his cell phone and the GPS locator?
LOCKYER: I believe that's the case, though it could only be told conclusively by the police chief as to whether that was their reasoning.
GRACE: Right. Right. And as to motive, Larry, there have been certain wires that suggested just before the time of her death Laci had learned about Scott's relationship, a lot of speculation that could have been a motive.
LOCKYER: I've heard the speculation and I don't know the facts. I rely on the D.A.
KING: By the way, we understand that Kim Petersen is talking at the Modesto news conference. Bill, thanks for spending time with us. Have a happy wedding night.
LOCKYER: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Let's hear what -- let's hear what Kim Petersen has to say in Modesto.
KIM PETERSEN, ROCHA FAMILY SPOKESPERSON: As I said, I was down here at the police department. I was not with them at that time. They were notified at about 5:30 and I was down here at 5:30.
PETERSEN: I can't comment on any private conversations that go on on the phone or in the home of Laci's family.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) WASDEN: There will be a continuing investigation by the Contra Costa County coroner's office and coordination, whatever coordination needs to occur between the Stanislaus County coroner's office and the Contra Costa county's coroner's office to move forward the forensic examination. Sheriff, you can talk about maybe the time length.
RUPF: I don't -- I don't have a specific time. Keep in mind that we have to put in balance the need to release these remains to parents and siblings and other relatives. At the same time ...
KING: Let's rejoin the panel in our remaining moments. Where do we go from here, Marc Klaas?
KLAAS: Oh, boy, this is just unbelievable. This guy is -- he's a homicidal maniac. Can you imagine what he did to his family? Listen, I think what -- this story is not going to end any time soon, Larry. We'll probably or you will probably be discussing this for years to come on this show. It will probably be a good two years before this thing even comes to trial would be my guess. That's what happened in our case. Three years from the time the crime was committed to the time it went to trial. These characters, they ensure that they'll live on death row twice as long as their victims had a chance on this earth.
KING: And again, he is the accused. And we want to point that out.
Dr. Lee, will the forensic experts be important in the testimony in this trial?
LEE: Well, very important. Of course, the first issue already DNA -- congratulate him, the DNA scientists made a positive I.D. So we know the victim's identity. But the next thing, the manner of the death, cause of death. The manner of the death, they already say that's a homicide, but without a cause of death. So that's going to be a little bit difficult to link to somebody, and so need physical evidence, so forensic evidence is going to be the important factor in this case.
KING: Mike Brooks, when is Mr. Peterson due to arrive in Modesto?
BROOKS: They said he's due to arrive some time this evening, Larry. And he will then go into the Stanislaus County jail. He'll be processed and finger printed, photographed and then he'll be turned over to the district attorney's office here in Modesto. He is on the way back in the custody of Modesto police as we speak, and they're driving back from San Diego by vehicle. So it will be some time late this evening -- Larry.
KING: And while we were talking to the attorney general, Kim Petersen did make a statement at the news conference. We want to show that to you. So let's show you the statement made by Ms. Petersen earlier. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PETERSEN: Just as Christmas Eve is a family time, Easter is also a time for family. We request that you'd allow our family to have this weekend to deal with these recent developments together in private. We ask for your understanding during this difficult time and respect our need for this privacy. Please do not call any of our family members at their homes or on their cell phones. The family will make a statement Monday afternoon at 4:00 here at the police department.
We appreciate those of you who have in the past honored these requests and will continue to do so. They are keeping that in mind. It means a lot to them that you do respect their wishes.
KING: You are watching LARRY KING LIVE. Mark Geragos, what now does the defense attorney do?
GERAGOS: His lawyer will meet him presumably at the jail when he gets booked in late tonight. After they're finished with the booking process, we'll explain to him that he's going to go to court either on Monday afternoon or Tuesday ...
KING: That's called the arraignment?
GERAGOS: Yes. That's the arraignment where presumably he'll enter a not guilty plea. There will be some argument made for bail. That argument will fail. He'll be denied bail, and they will either -- one of two choices, they'll continue the arraignment for a period of time, or they will set it for a preliminary hearing. They can do that technically within 10 court days, or they can wave time and put it over for a longer period of time.
KING: Any wild chance of a guilty plea at arraignment?
GERAGOS: No, there's no chance in the world that he's going to plead guilty at the arraignment.
KING: What, Nancy, do the prosecutors do now?
GRACE: Well, we learned a lot. If you read between the lines and listen carefully, we learned that the DA has already decided grounds for special circumstances, that being double homicide. That means in my opinion there will be a death penalty sought by the state. We also can expect to see evidence of flight. Plans for flight, taps of phone conversations, as well as GPS tracking of movements. And also, Larry, tonight has all been about the bodies and DNA, but look forward to a linkage between that crime scene on those rocks near the Berkeley Marina back to the home and all those bags of evidence taken out of Peterson's home.
KING: It would seem, Marc Klaas, that Mr. Peterson is up against it.
KLAAS: You know, Larry, for the past several days, all of us have been sitting on tenterhooks wondering if this body was Laci, and apparently Scott's been driving up and down the freeway taunting the chase teams. His behavior has never been consistent with somebody who is grieving the loss of his wife and child.
KING: Dr. Lee, does it look like a tough shot for the defense to you?
LEE: Well, it's going to be tough unless no direct linkage, physical evidence found. Then the defense maybe have some argument, but here, you know, the timeline analysis, the means, opportunity and the motive, it clearly indicates his involvement. Of course, physical evidence, hopefully they can look at the trace evidence on the tar, on the carpet and on the body because when you look at that -- when they bring the body out of the water, the body looks like pretty intact to me, so it may have some physical evidence attached to the body.
GRACE: Larry, Scott Peterson was driving up and down the interstate through the McDonald's drive through while they were trying to identify his baby boy. What worst impression could you make on a potential jury?
KING: Would you say, Mark Geragos, that his attorney has got a long road to haul here.
GERAGOS: That's not exactly a position that a lot of guys are going to run and volunteer for.
KING: You don't envy the position.
GERAGOS: It's a tough, tough spot to be in. I mean, this is a guy who has from day one not helped himself in any way.
KING: If his client admitted it to the lawyer, would the lawyer try to get him life in prison?
GERAGOS: Well, any lawyer makes certain decisions when you talk to him. And there's -- without getting into speculating what happens in the attorney-client relationship, lawyers always try to analyze what the evidence is, what the chances are and make a decision from there.
KING: Thank you all very much. Mike Brooks, our CNN correspondent, Nancy Grace of Court TV, Mark Geragos, defense attorney, Marc Klaas, his daughter Polly was abducted and murdered in '93, and Dr. Henry Lee. Tomorrow night, we'll have many, many relatives of prisoners of war coming home soon, and then on Sunday night, another edition of LARRY KING LIVE with religious leaders, and then Monday night, more on the Peterson case.