Analysis of Laci Peterson Murder Case
CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Aired April 29, 2003 -
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: "Who Killed Laci Peterson?" a new documentary, promises to take us deep inside the investigation and offers one of the very few interviews granted by Laci's husband, Scott, since her disappearance. Joining us tonight is veteran newsman Bill Kurtis, host of that new documentary, Court TV's Nancy Grace, a former prosecutor, defense attorney Chris Pixley, famed forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, 25 years New York City's medical examiner and internationally renowned criminalist Dr. Larry Kobilinsky. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
This documentary -- this special presentation on A&E is called "Who Killed Laci Peterson?" It premieres Wednesday night -- that's tomorrow night -- at 10:00 Eastern, and Bill Kurtis is its host. Bill, what's the gist of this?
BILL KURTIS, HOST, A&E'S "WHO KILLED LACI PETERSON?": Hi, Larry. Well, basically, it's a linear presentation in the good old documentary form. Much of the evidence is out there. What we don't know is what is interesting, and prosecutors say that they have voluminous evidence. We have been told the prosecution case is a slam dunk. Once you see all the evidence, what we have now is a circumstantial case. We have no direct evidence. It's nice to see it in a lengthy form, to be able to see both sides, defense and prosecution, and weigh the evidence in this, the court of public opinion.
KING: You've become very used, Bill, to hosting shows on crime. When the case is current like this, do you walk a tinderbox here? I mean, you know, we have to assume innocence. And is there a danger of the media creating guilt?
KURTIS: Well, there is. I think a lot of people feel Scott Peterson is guilty right now. The nice thing about having enough time to tell the story is you can present two sides. I think it's incumbent to us to always remember that he has not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He is still innocent to this time. But the audience, I think, is smart. And given the opportunity to see the evidence, they're going to come to their own conclusion and, I hope, give him a fair shake. We know the media is overwhelming. We know that inside the courtroom, things are fine. But outside on the steps is where a defense attorney can lose the reputation of his client.
KING: Now, unless there are eyewitnesses, all cases are circumstantial, aren't they?
KURTIS: They are. And you have other direct evidence. You can have a murder weapon, blood, DNA to connect the defendant to the crime. And you have some wonderful criminalists whose job it is to find the evidence and prove those links.
KING: Now, there is a portion of an interview with Scott Peterson that he gave to KOVR, a local station. We're going to show a clip of it, and then I'll ask you about it, and then I'll bring our panel in. Here, watch this with Scott Peterson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know that you mentioned on "Good Morning America" that it wouldn't surprise you if they found blood...
SCOTT PETERSON, LACI PETERSON'S HUSBAND: Sure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... in your vehicles. Explain why.
PETERSON: Well, take a look at my hands. And you can see, you know, cuts here on my knuckles, numerous scars. I work on farms. I work with machinery. I know I cut my knuckle that day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On what day?
PETERSON: On Christmas Eve.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doing what?
PETERSON: Reaching in the toolbox in my truck and then into the pocket on the door.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What's most puzzling about this case, Bill -- and we'll bring the panel in in a moment -- is why? If he did it, why?
KURTIS: Everybody is jumping to the conclusion that he had a girlfriend. He was in love with Amber Frey. He probably wanted to be with her more than Laci. There is a theory that in the house on that Christmas Eve or later, there may have been some kind of a passionate confrontation in which there was a fight and Laci was killed.
What I want to see is not his blood but blood in a house, on a tarp that was found at San Francisco Bay, in his truck, in his boat, and then you have a connection if the defense witnesses don't prove to give him a good alibi. Across the street, you will find his story actually corroborated. He said that he left for fishing on the day before Christmas at 9:30 AM, and Laci was supposed to go walking in La Loma Park (ph). Two people saw her and say that she was very pregnant. She was with a dog. They identified a white shirt, black pants. And I have not received or found a good explanation that they may be wrong. And also, there was a house burglarized across the street, proving that there were some bad guys in the neighborhood. That's what makes this case interesting. KING: Nancy Grace, do those facts give you pause?
NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Well, frankly, Larry, they did when I first heard them. However, both of those have been thoroughly investigated by police, and it's my understanding -- and I believe this to be true -- that following the sighting of a woman, I believe in her 70s, down the street from 523 Covina, that stated she saw Laci going for a walk, the police canvassed the area and discovered three pregnant women in the same area that were similar to Laci and that one of them had stated she had walked by the witness's home, walking her dog at that time, so they ruled that eyewitness out.
As to the burglary -- the burglary happened before Laci went missing. Those people have been found and polygraphed and ruled out. Can you imagine burglarizing the house across the street and then being suspected of the murder? They would do anything to cooperate, and they did.
KING: I understand we have a sound bite from one of the witnesses who said they saw something. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's the lady I saw. And she's so striking, a beautiful lady and a beautiful dog. And he's a golden retriever. And she was so pretty, and the dog was so pretty that you couldn't help but look.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Chris Pixley, is this anything but an open-and-shut case to you?
CHRIS PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh, it's definitely not an open- and-shut case at this point in time, Larry. It's evidence like this kind, Vivian Mitchell's testimony, just coming out now that we're going to be hearing more of. And what it demonstrates is that this rush to convict Scott Peterson in the media is, if anything, a sign of the weakness of the prosecution's case. An announcement just two weeks after the charge and arrest of Scott Peterson, that he, in fact, is going to be charged with the death penalty -- all of this, I think, is just a smokescreen that masks the weakness in the prosecution's factual case.
And of course, most of what we've heard to date is evidence that's really a character assassination on Scott Peterson. So it's great to see the Vivian Mitchells come forward, and I think that we're going to see more testimony, more evidence of that kind in the coming days and weeks.
KING: I want to get everybody in. Then we'll get into a free- for-all discussion here. Dr. Baden, you're not only chief medical examiner for New York City and chief forensic pathologist for New York State Police, you're part of this documentary. What's your overall read on this case? DR. MICHAEL BADEN, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Well, my read, from a forensic pathologist's point of view, is we try to determine what happened not whodunnit. And as far as what happened, that's still up in the air because the cause of Laci Peterson's death has not yet been determined or released, and that's a problem for a prosecutor -- not an insurmountable problem, but a big problem.
I think also the medical examiner in Modesto has already examined the skeletal remains. There's been some separation, according, to the media of the head. If that head has been separated by a saw, by an axe, by a knife, it will leave certain marks, tool mark evidence, that if it can be matched up -- these marks to a tool in Scott Peterson's home or somebody else's home -- that's like having a fingerprint match. And that gives you the kind of direct evidence that Mr. Kurtis alluded to. And we don't know any of this yet because the Modesto police must have a lot of stuff that they haven't -- properly -- that they haven't released yet.
KING: Dr. Kobilinsky, you are a criminalist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. You also appear in the documentary. By the way, what is a criminalist?
DR. LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, CRIMINALIST: A criminalist is a person who uses scientific methods and technology to solve problems related to the law -- mainly, criminal law. And we attempt to associate a suspect with a crime scene or a victim, and we try to reconstruct the events during the crime and leading up to the crime and explain our results to a jury, so that they can make an informed decision.
KING: All right. Let me get a break. We'll come back. We'll get your read on this and get the panel going. We'll be including phone calls, too. And the documentary which airs tomorrow night on A&E is being produced by CBS News Productions. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KOBILINSKY: There's very little doubt in my mind that the body was weighted down. And the fact that the body didn't come up for so many months would argue that it was weighted down with something -- an anchor, concrete.
KURTIS (voice-over): In fact, police found bags of cement in Scott's home and traces of cement in his boat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Bill Kurtis, would you say that one of the puzzling aspects of this is that Scott -- all of his actions seem to act like a guilty guy?
KURTIS: Looks like it. He changed his hair color from brown to an orange-blond. He had $10,000 in his pocket. He was 30 miles from the Mexican border. He appeared that he was ready to go. I think that's why they arrested him. He went fishing and revealed that not far from where he went fishing in San Francisco Bay, the body of Laci Peterson was found. That's very, very suspicious. The other, of course, is Amber Frey, his girlfriend. One big question I have is whether the police records will show that he called Amber Frey on Christmas night. He apparently was talking to her, we are led to believe, all the way into April. This gives him a motive, as does insurance money. But again, we're leaping to conclusions. We need more to fill in to actually get the conviction.
KING: Now, Nancy Grace has already made that leap to a conclusion. Why?
GRACE: Well, Larry, of course, I'm anxious to see what police have in their files that we don't know about yet. But you often refer to people, suspects being presumed innocent, but that's not the end of that jury charge. The full statement is -- and this is what judges charge to juries -- a suspect is presumed innocent unless and until the state pierces that presumption. From the evidence that I have heard, in my mind, he seems guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But obviously, I have not heard all of the evidence, and that presumption is in a court of law. We, obviously, are not in a court of law.
KING: Right. Right.
GRACE: We are not sitting on a jury. I am deducing...
KING: But you have -- you have made it...
GRACE: ... from what I have heard.
KING: Right. You have made a conclusion based on what you've heard.
GRACE: Unless I hear otherwise. What I know now tends to indicate that he is guilty.
KING: Now, Chris, you would take the opposite view of that?
KING: Oh, Bill, absolutely. It's so early. And take, for example something that -- excuse me -- Larry. Take, for example, something that Bill said a moment ago. We have this relationship with Amber Frey, and there's been a great deal of focus on what was going to between Scott Peterson and Amber Frey. The defense, at some point, is going to have to acknowledge that this reflects very poor judgment on Scott Peterson's part. But at the same time, looking at the duration of the relationship, the emotional commitment cannot be there over a 30-day relationship to have any role in the disappearance or death of Laci Peterson. So every time we come up against...
GRACE: That doesn't make sense.
PIXLEY: ... one of these damning pieces of evidence, we face the fact that we know very little about it.
GRACE: That really doesn't...
KING: Dr. Kobilinsky...
GRACE: ... make sense.
KING: Dr. Kobilinsky?
KING: Do we have to know the cause of death for there to be a trial?
KOBILINSKY: Well, you don't even need a body to have a trial. People have been convicted without a body. But the point is, is it's a major gap in the case. We know that it's a probable homicide, but we don't know the manner of death. Was she strangled? Was she bludgeoned? And we don't know the time of death. These are major gaps. But the thing is, is scientists don't make jumps and come to conclusions, don't make these leaps. They look at physical evidence, and they hypothesize and see if the evidence is consistent with what their theories are.
KING: Dr. Baden, would you guess that they have an awful lot of evidence?
BADEN: Yes, very much, Larry. Certainly, from day two, they were already looking into his apartment. They were sending divers down into the water. That's not the usual way that police react to a missing adult. They wait a while until they make sure the adult hasn't gone off voluntarily or something. So that they must have had a lot of stuff right away. Maybe the neighbors saw something. They talk about the tarp and the umbrellas. Maybe they found all kinds of -- see, the blood in the house isn't just a matter that she lived there, but it depends on the amount of blood, the blood spatter pattern. They did do luminol and other trace blood analysis of the home. And that would distinguish innocent blood from blood that got there in a violent manner. There's all kinds of stuff that the police must have had in order to have immediately seized on this and treated it as a homicide.
KING: We'll be back with more of the documentary. Airs tomorrow night. It's called "Who Killed Laci Peterson?" on A&E at 10:00 o'clock Eastern time. We'll be including your calls in a little while, as well. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTIS: Investigators in Laci's case thought this could be the big break they've been waiting for. But the body that had been submerged in the bay waters for perhaps four months would not easily yield answers to their questions. Dr. Laurence Kobilinsky is an expert in criminal investigations.
KOBILINSKY: The body was highly decomposed. They certainly think it's a probable homicide. But in terms of the manner of death, was she stabbed? Was she shot? Was she strangled? Was she bludgeoned? It is not clear how much they will be able to determine from the autopsy. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Nancy Grace, last week, when I brought up the possibility of there being an argument in the house and an accident, she hits her head and falls down, and he panics, you discounted that. Why?
GRACE: Well, the scenario you're giving -- say you and I have an argument, which we often do about the law and the facts of various criminal cases. How does it go from you and I verbally arguing to me being dead? I think we're leaving out a big step there. It's called mutual combat or an attack. Now, in this particular case, I find it very difficult to believe that even under your scenario, Larry, that there's an argument, then there's an accident, and after she's dead there in the home, he feels incumbent to go dispose of her body instead of calling 911 or trying to resuscitate her.
And another thing, Larry. I disagree with something Chris Pixley said earlier, the defense attorney on the panel tonight. He said that a one-month relationship is not a good enough motive for murder. Question to you, Chris. Have you ever seen a good motive for murdering your 5-foot-1 eight-month pregnant wife? I'm all ears!
PIXLEY: Well, exactly, Nancy. That's the problem that the prosecution...
GRACE: We don't have to prove motive!
PIXLEY: ... has in this case. There's no good motive that they have for what has gone on here. They've got...
GRACE: The state doesn't have to prove motive!
PIXLEY: ... Scott Peterson -- oh! They have to prove premeditation. That's the charge that they're forced to make here. They've got two counts of first-degree murder. They have to prove that it's a premeditated murder. And right now, all we have is evidence regarding what Scott Peterson has done surrounding this case. We have no evidence whatsoever that's been released by a police -- by the police and a prosecutor that is very eager to use the public and use the media for their own advantage, no evidence whatsoever telling us...
GRACE: That's not true, or they would have leaked...
PIXLEY: ... what Dr. Baden would want...
GRACE: ... all the information. They haven't leaked the information. They're not using the press.
PIXLEY: Oh, they're absolutely using the press. Nancy, that's the problem here. The defense team doesn't seem to understand that the press is the way to get this story out, that the jury pool...
KING: Bill Kurtis...
PIXLEY: ... is being polluted. KING: Where do you stand on this, Bill? Do you think the prosecution is using the media.
KURTIS: Probably. Prosecutors usually do. The defense can also use the media. We now have a new trial, two trials. You get your day in court inside, and then you have to go out and defend in the -- we must ask why Laci Peterson? Why are we so interested in this?
KURTIS: Well, for one reason. It's timing. Starting with O.J. and Chandra Levy and Van Dam and JonBenet Ramsey, all -- Elizabeth Smart, these cases fit nicely into a 24-hour news service, radio talk shows, TV, news talk. They fill the time. We're very interested in a boomer couple. That's the all-American couple. We all identify with them. The storyline is as old as Sherlock Holmes, and the stakes are very high. It's death, death on both ends, an American tragedy playing out as a real reality show.
KING: Dr. Baden, does it also increase the viewers' knowledge of law?
BADEN: I think greatly so, and it also increases the public, police and lawmakers' knowledge about the importance of forensic science. I'm out here in a forensic course with the Pennsylvania police right now, and all of these courses have been stimulated and increased around the country because the police, the public, potential jurors, defense attorneys, prosecutors and the people who give out the money know that forensic science and the proper role of the criminal justice system, the ability of science to be independent and to determine -- help determine what happened fairly and unbiasedly is very important. And the technology for this -- DNA, toxicology, hairs -- a single hair can tell more than a whole autopsy sometimes. It is just amazing.
KOBILINSKY: I agree.
KING: Dr. Kobilinsky, what kind of solid evidence is the prosecution going to have to bring to this trial? For example.
KOBILINSKY: Well, the prosecution has made the case, at least, they're arguing that Laci Peterson was murdered in Modesto. That means she had to be transported, presumably through the truck, her truck, which he tried to sell. Also, there's a boat. Somehow you have to get the individual out to the water. So there's a trail here. There's not only a timeline, but there's a trail. And there's got to be physical evidence from the time she was murdered to the time she was put into the water until the time she came out of the water.
And so finding powdered cement in the boat -- that's a piece of physical evidence. Finding charts on the tides on his computer -- that's physical evidence. Finding blood, as Dr. Baden point out -- it's not just the finding of blood, but it's the extent to how much you find and what the pattern is. When you put that all together -- and plus a lot of information we don't have. They collected a lot of samples from the home we don't really know about. And they really feel they've got a solid case. But we just don't know, so we have to speculate.
GRACE: And Larry? Larry, it's not over yet. Even though -- we discussed this last night. The state is still amassing evidence. Even now, they are using a technique called sidescan sonar, and they are going back along the bottom of that bay looking for, in my mind, a concrete anchor that will be tied in to Laci. And more recently, sources suggest a drum. Police asked Scott Peterson about a drum he had had that he cannot now account for, and they're wondering if that's connected.
KING: Chris, would you admit that the defendant in this matter acted guilty?
PIXLEY: Well, Larry, there's no good way to act when you're the defendant in a murder case. This is a terrible situation for Scott Peterson. He's lost his wife and his unborn child, and none of us know how we would react in the same situation. So I imagine that Nancy would sit here and tell us that if Scott Peterson had acted the model citizen for the past four months, that that was evidence also of his guilt because he was too perfect. There isn't...
GRACE: I disagree!
PIXLEY: ... a right way to act as a defendant. And I will acknowledge that Scott Peterson has made a number of missteps here, but none of them are evidence of his guilt. And that's what's important.
GRACE: Well, I -- yes, I agree, Larry, regarding his demeanor. And I'm not just speaking as a former felony prosecutor but as a crime victim. There is no textbook way to act when someone you love is murdered. I know that for a fact. But I can tell you this much. A jury will find it highly suspicious that when the medical examiner was trying to identify his wife and his baby's remains, he was off setting up a tee time, all right? That's not consist with a grieving husband! I don't care what any defense lawyer says!
KING: Is that definitely going to be introduced, where he was at the time they were looking at the body.
GRACE: Well, yes. He was arrested at that time! The jury can count two plus two equals four. They'll be able to see he was arrested at the time the medical examiner was analyzing those remains.
PIXLEY: Nancy, we were told that that medical examination would take weeks to be conducted. We were told that the DNA testing would take weeks before it would be conclusive. And then it turned out that it took only days. Now, did we expect Scott Peterson to sit in a dark room for that period of time? Certainly not.
GRACE: No, I would expect him to go to the ME's office! Dr. Baden, you've been there.
KOBILINSKY: Yes, but Larry (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I think this is the kind of case where the defense attorneys should be having their own medical examiners and their own forensic scientists...
KOBILINSKY: ... looking at the body, looking at their remains and drawing their own independent evaluations because they should not be relying just on one person's analysis. This is absolutely a time for a second opinion, as happens in most medicine now. And the California capital defenders are well educated in this.
KING: Let me take a break, and we'll come back and include your phone calls. We'll reintroduce the panel, too. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTIS: Any investigation into a missing spouse is governed by a stark statistic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to remember the fact, when you deal with law enforcement, that 80 percent of women who are victims of homicide and assault are killed or hurt by people with whom they're in a relationship. This investigation begins in the home and with the people closest to Laci Peterson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. In Chicago is Bill Kurtis, the host of A&E's special presentation "Who Killed Laci Peterson." The show premieres tomorrow night on A&E at 10:00 Eastern.
In New York is Nancy Grace, the anchor of "Trial Heat," a former prosecutor. In Atlanta is defense attorney Chris Pixley. He's based in Atlanta but his practice takes him throughout the United States.
In Seven Springs, Pennsylvania tonight is Dr. Michael Baden, the same forensic pathologist, former chief medical examiner of New York City, he is part of the documentary, as is Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky in New York. Criminalist of John J. College of Criminal Justice, he is also in that documentary.
Let's go to calls.
Chehalis, Washington, hello.
KING: Yes, go ahead.
CALLER: Hi. First I have a comment about the media that it is being talked about. I am a person who watches the media, and I do believe the media had Scott Peterson convicted before everything was even found about him. So I don't think how it would be easy to find a jury to be on trial for him, to try to convict him or keep him innocent. And I'd also like to know was the baby that was found, how can they tell if it was a coffined baby. KING: Nancy, do you know?
GRACE: I know somewhat. The sources have revealed that the child's corpse, the infant was less decomposed than Laci, which means that the baby was somewhat protected from the elements on the bed of the bay and then gave birth. And a coffin birth to my legal understanding is when gas is amassed in a decomposing body and pressed the child out post-mortem. And because of the two varying degrees of decomposition they seem pretty firm that Connor was born, to put it that way, under water, post-mortem.
KING: Dr. Baden is that correct explanation.
BADEN: Nancy is terrific for that lawyer to give this medical correct evaluation. What happens is as water warms up, and we've had this in New York as bodies who are coming to the surface who drowned during the cold day, the bacteria in our body that are in the abdominal cavity start producing gasses and bloat the body. And that causes the buoyancy for the body to rise to the surface. At the same time those gas, as Nancy said, also push the baby out so that it's kind of the same gas-making process that does both.
KING: Greenville, South Carolina, hello. Greenville, hello. Greenville, good-bye.
Cleveland, Ohio, hello. Cleveland, are you there?
Yes, Cleveland are you there?
KING: Yes, Cleveland, are you there. Someone is giving me the wrong list or they're not there.
Tampa, Florida, hello. OK. We're having a problem with the phones, we apologize. I'll try one more.
Boston, are you there. Boston.
KING: Go ahead.
KURTIS: I was going to say you might find that caller might find it comforting to know that you can always get a jury. It's as easy as asking can you separate your opinion about this case and render a fair and impartial verdict, so we can always get a verdict. The fact of the media, I think it starts with a condensation of time. Short, local newscasts, bumpers, we call them and teases that go into some that are being played on this program.
And they seem to condense the most dramatic evidence which very often is the prosecution's evidence. We want to know s there enough of a case here? That's why it appears that the media is really all over it, but given the chance and they'll go right back to the other side which is the defense side. That's why you have to be discerning, you have to seek out programs and of course, radio talk show, there are some shock jocks or radio talk hosts that indeed get out with the megaphone in front of a house and really plug their case.
KING: That does a lot for the media when they do that? Makes you proud to be in the business.
Chris, what's the effect of the defense on media coverage?
PIXLEY: Well, the effect can be positive or negative, it really depends on the kind of coverage that you get and that really goes to the issue here in this case. The defense at this point in time, Larry, has got to get out there. They haven't made their case. They need to take a page from the prosecution's playbook, and start parading evidence and facts and most importantly, the character witnesses, friends of the Peterson family.
You'll remember just four months ago they all stood firmly behind Scott Peterson. Even Laci Peterson's family stood behind him. I know they're rattled by the revelation that he was having a relationship, but I imagine that what we hear is much positive news about the strength of the relationship, that he had with Laci that there's someone that will step forward and provide a counter weight to the real character assassination that's going to now.
KING: I understand we fixed the phones. Westerly, Rhode Island, hello.
CALLER: Yes, my question's for Nancy.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: First of all, Nancy, I think you're a great asset to the show.
GRACE: Thank you.
CALLER: Second of all, -- and second of all, early on, Scott Peterson he said he told Laci about the affair and so she already knew about it.
CALLER: My question is if she had done that, as close as Laci was to her mother and wouldn't she have picked up the phone and said mother guess what, I'm eight months pregnant and Scott's had an affair. I don't understand why he said that.
GRACE: That brings me to something that Chris Pixley, the defense attorney just stated. The defense has to get out there. If you take a look at what they've done with Scott Peterson. Lying on TV to Diane Sawyer. I don't know if they need to trot Scott out there if he is going to lie his way though interviews.
KING: How do you know he lied?
GRACE: Because he police -- he told Diane Sawyer that he immediately told police after Laci went missing about Amber Frey. The police gave a press conference with Amber Frey and said they learned about the relationship when she saw Scott Peterson and Laci on the TV screen, got upset and called police. That is a lie. So getting out there and lying is not going to help the defense. But I find it really hard to believe that an eight month pregnant woman in Scott's terms was OK with an affair. I don't believe it.
KING: Chris, doesn't that put the defense up against it?
PIXLEY: It does. It puts them up against the wall. I think that Nancy is exactly right. One of the issues that the defense is going to contend with is the fact that Scott has shown a willingness to lie. He's shown a willingness to lie for his own personal advantage. But the fact of the matter is that anyone charged with two counts of first-degree murder would have a reason to lie. So the fact that he has lied about an extra marital relationship, something that is fairly -- I wouldn't say it's normal, but it's to be expected in some respects, doesn't mean that he's a killer. And again, the Amber Frey relationship.
GRACE: That's not what he lied about. He lied about a homicide investigation to police. Lying to your wife about a mistress, OK, I don't condone it, but it happens all of the time. Lying about a homicide investigation, whole different animal, Chris.
PIXLEY: What you're talking about though, Nancy is whether or not he lied actually about having a relationship. This is a man, obviously, who had not revealed to friends and family that he was involved in an extra marital relationship, so you can just imagine the pressure he was under at the point in time where he is first interviewed by investigators at the same time that he's aware that his wife's now missing. That's asking an awful lot to expect that he's going to come forward and reveal a great deal of personal information his hope was most likely that she would show up.
KING: Let me get a break and come back with phone calls, with Bill Kurtis, Nancy Grace, Chris Pixley, and Dr. Michael Baden, and Dr. Larry Kobilinsky. Dr. Kobilinsky and Dr. Baden and Bill, of course, is the host. they're all involved in the A&E special "Who Killed Laci Peterson," which will air tomorrow night at 10:00 Eastern. Friday night on this program, Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore are reunited, and next Monday tight, Lisa Marrie Presley. Back with more calls after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETERSON: I informed Amber about Laci's disappearance, and the fact that I was married.
SAWYER: On the 24th?
PETERSON: No. Not on the 24th. I believe it was a few days after.
SAWYER: She says that you called her on the 24th, December 24 and told her you were with your parents in Maine, is that true?
PETERSON: No. I called her and informed her about Laci's disappearance.
SAWYER: On the 24th of December.
PETERSON: No. No, I did not. Just a few days after that, I called her and told her I was married.
KING: Greenville, South Carolina. Hello.
CALLER: Yes. I don't know if Nancy kept up with (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- I think that was her name -- who killed her two sons. And I was under the impression that her state was pretty much sealed after the jury viewed her silly-strain incident at the graveyard actions, of course, and I also have a question for Dr. Michael Baden. I was just wondering if, by chance, he thinks there may be a way for them to determine whether she was dead or alive upon going into the water?
KING: All right. Two questions. Nancy, go first.
GRACE: Right. You know, that's really, actually, very important, Larry, because the judge will charge or instruct the jury that they may take into account the defendant's actions before, during, and after the alleged crime. And in the case of viewers calling about a mom convicted of killing her children was viewed having a party, literally, Larry, a party at their grave, and the jury saw that.
So Scott Peterson's actions following Laci's disappearance -- like calling Amber Frey all of the time -- if that's true, the jury will hear about it.
KING: Dr. Baden, do you know if the body was dead.
BADEN: I think that's a very good question. It's very difficult to know if a body in water was dead after going in the water -- especially after decomposition has set in. And that will be determined largely by the circumstances. There are controversial tests to look for diatones, little one-cell organisms that can be inhaled by a drowning person, and that may or may not be tested for in this case.
But the circumstances will help determine whether she was alive or dead when she went into the water, but it's difficult. May I say one other thing about the prior discussion about the media?
I would put in a word for less media, less posturing by advocates for the defense and advocates for the prosecution -- and wait until the evidence, the scientific evidence, and the witness evidence that comes out in the orderly fashion, in the hearings, etc., that it's supposed to be to get a fair hearing. The British have something more honest than that.
GRACE: Now, you were on the O.J. case so are you telling me that the media surrounding that case gave him an unfair trial? You were an expert for the defense in the Simpson criminal case, right?
BADEN: Right, Nancy. I think that there was too much media in the O.J. case.
GRACE: So they acquitted him because of the media?
BADEN: I'm not saying too much media goes to convicting or acquitting. I just think that it's distracting and it does influence the jury pool before the jurors are picked.
KING: Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Hello.
CALLER: How long had Amber Frey and Scott Peterson been dating before Laci found out about it?
KING: Bill Curtis, do we know?
CURTIS: I don't know before Christmas Eve. I know on the 24th, he said -- in the interview you saw a moment ago -- that he called on the 24th to tell her that Laci was missing and that he was married. Then Gloria Gomez kind of presses him on that, and he backtracks and he said "No, no, it wasn't the 24th. It was a few days later that I called her, and I told her I was married."
So this is going to be a very revealing interview and a difficult one if you are a defense attorney like Chris -- trying to grab hold of your client and just get him to not cause more problems. But he wanted to come to his own defense. He thought he could handle it out there, and he said that he gave the interview and because he wanted to find Laci and bring this thing to a close.
KING: Chris, do you agree?
PIXLEY: I do. It's very difficult when you come upon a client that that has already put himself in this situation, but Larry, it's very human. It's not at all unusual, and the fact that Scott Peterson was backtracking with respect to statements that he made about extramarital relationships, it's just par for the course. .
GRACE: They had been dating, my understanding, it's a little over a month at the time Laci went missing.
KING: North Bay, Ontario. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. I've got a question for Nancy.
CALLER: I watch her on Court TV all of the time, and when she sees somebody she doesn't like, she always pronounces them guilty without seeing all of the evidence. Why does she do that when we tell jurors not to do it.
CURTIS: She was a prosecutor.
GRACE: Actually, in this case, all we have seen so far is the little bit we know from the state -- which I find highly incriminating -- and what Scott Peterson himself has put out there.
Now who should I believe? The police or Scott Peterson, who has already lied several times on national TV. Now, on a credibility contest, I'd have to go with the police until I hear more at trial.
Believe it or not, Larry, nothing would make me happier than to think this woman -- Laci, this beautiful girl -- and her baby were not killed by her husband.
PIXLEY: Nancy, the viewer raises an interesting question. Have you ever entertained the thought that Scott Peterson isn't responsible for this death.
GRACE: Yes, I have -- at the beginning.
PIXLEY: What changed your mind?
GRACE: What changed my mind was when I examined the timeline -- when he told police he went away from the home to go fishing alone in a boat that he had kept secret from most people. And at that moment in time, she gets kidnapped by an unknown assailant.
The timeline, in my mind, is damning.
CURTIS: We call this a little bit of expectational bias. Prosecutors have a tendency to zero in on a suspect when they feel they have their person.
Now the problem with that is that they pull the police off their investigation. There were 8,000 leads on this case that are not being investigated. Same thing happened in the Ramsay case.
So they can build a case against Scott Peterson. So very early on, the prosecution wants to gather all the evidence and have a good solid case.
KING: Good point. Let me get a break and have Dr. Kobilinsky's thoughts. We haven't heard from him in a couple of moments. And get a couple more calls in. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAWYER: Sources have mentioned to me that there were cement bags that were in the storage area, and apparently a few of them were empty.
SAWYER: Explain that.
PETERSON: Well, I'd have to take you out in the backyard and show you all the cement work and brick work that we've done to this home, you'd find, you know, cement bags around her.
SAWYER: So this is something that it was a home remodeling, or what were you doing with the cement?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Dr. Kobilinsky, before we take the next call, have you come to any conclusions in this case?
KOBILINSKY: Well, I just -- no, and as a scientist I don't want to come to any conclusions, until I know all the facts, but I must say hearing about this bleach makes one very suspicious. Bleach is a big problem, because even the luminol testing can be fooled. Luminol is a test, presumptive test for the presence of blood, and it can be tricked, so to speak. You can get a false positive in the presence of bleach. But let me just say this, that police know where to look when they enter the home. You may try to clean up a scene. You may try to use bleach. You may try to vacuum trace evidence. Police know where to look. They're looking in drains, for example, in sinks. There would be traces of blood and other trace evidence. Police know where to look. You can't just wash it away with bleach.
KING: Riverside, California. Hello.
CALLER: Hi there, Larry.
CALLER: Hi, Nancy. Love you. Just calling, first of all, my question is, in regards to the eight-foot umbrella that the neighbor alleged seeing Scott with, what was Scott's response to that? Has anybody ever asked him that question? Has that ever been made public to the media and -- excuse me -- it seems to have kind of dropped out. I don't hear anybody talking about this any longer. And just quickly one more comment. In regard to the thousands of tips that the police were supposedly pulled off of, apparently there never was a real true lead that the police felt was worth notifying the media about, and obviously any tips that did come in were false or wrong, since her body showed that she's been in the water since the time she's been missing.
KING: Do you have an answer to the first question about the umbrella?
CURTIS: I don't have any -- excuse me, Nancy.
GRACE: I have an umbrella answer. Yes, the next-door neighbor, and I'm not sure, Larry, if it was next door or front door -- saw him that morning and has stated this publicly and to police, putting something that was in, she said, a blue tarp, a large blue tarp in his vehicle. When asked about that, he said it was restaurant or industrial umbrellas, the big kind that shield you from the sun, that he was putting them in his warehouse to get them out of the rain. The umbrellas out of the rain. What's significant is the tarp, because near where Laci washed ashore, the next day a tarp washed up, and I'm just wondering if that's connected.
KING: We're out of time. Bill Curtis, thanks so much. We look forward to watching this. The host of A&E's special presentation, "Who Killed Laci Peterson?" It airs Wednesday night, that's tomorrow night, at 10:00 Eastern. We thank Nancy Grace, Chris Pixley, the defense attorney who's based in Atlanta. Represents people all over the United States. Dr. Michael Baden, the famed forensic pathologist, who is part of the special, as is Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky.