Analysis of Laci Peterson Murder Case
CNN Larry King Live
Aired May 27, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Larry King Live, aired May 27, 2003
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK GERAGOS, SCOTT PETERSON'S ATTORNEY: What happened in court I think was significant from our standpoint, in that it allows the investigation to go forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: Scott Peterson in court today. Will we ever get to hear his 69 wiretapped phone calls? Did he tell his girlfriend, Amber Frey, that he knows who killed Laci? And what about those sealed warrants and autopsy reports? Lots to talk about. We'll get to it all with Ted Rowlands of KTVU, all over the story, in Modesto, California, Court TV's Nancy Grace, a former prosecutor, defense attorney Chris Pixley, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, assistant district attorney, San Francisco, and defense attorney Jan Ronis. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
It's great to have the panel all with us here in Los Angeles. A real treat to have Nancy and Chris and Kimberly and Jan aboard. We'll be including your phone calls.
Let's go to Ted Rowlands, reporter for KTVU. He's been covering the Peterson case from the start. We're going to get him to give us an update, but he is not ready yet.
Can you tell us, Chris, as you see it, that decision today that the judge orders logs of intercepted calls between Scott and his attorney turned over to the defense. What does this mean?
CHRIS PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think the judge had to do that. The question really is whether the 69 intercepted phone calls are going to really reveal much to the defense. It may be that there actually is a conspiracy and the police were really going after conversations between the defense team, but you know, I've said all along, Larry, that we can't rush to judgment with the prosecution's case. Yes, they took a lot of evidence out of the home. There's a lot of evidence out there. By the same token, I don't think that we can assume right now that there's going to be a lot in the 69 phone calls.
KING: Kimberly, why do they tap the conversations between a lawyer and his client?
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE NEWSOM, ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SF: Well, obviously, the prosecution did not intend to do that. The allegation is that this was done, and Chris Pixley's saying there's some kind of conspiracy. I don't think that's the case at all. It was inadvertent, I'm sure, at best, and that information cannot be used. It'll be excised, and they won't be allowed to present it.
KING: Jan, why did they have to go to court to get to hear it?
JAN RONIS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I think -- I'd be hard pressed to think that they inadvertently wire-tapped those phone calls 69 times -- perhaps once or twice. But they are entitled to them. I'm surprised they haven't turned them over thus far, and they did seek the order of the court today. So it will be interesting to see what they say.
KING: Any relevance, Nancy?
NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Yes. Definitely. Wiretapping is not uncommon. I've handled several wiretaps myself. And you expect when you wiretap a defendant, his or her attorney may very well call.
KING: But shouldn't you click off as soon as he calls?
GRACE: Well, yes. And that is addressed specifically in the California law. Larry, the statute says that when attorneys call and there's a wiretap in place, that the procedure called minimization comes into play, which means very simply that once you identify it's the lawyer, you realize who you're listening to, you're supposed to cut it off. And then, after about two more minutes, you can start listening in again to see if there's a different phone call going on. This is not uncommon. And the best of scenarios for the defense is that these two conversations will be thrown out. I don't think the entire wiretap will be thrown out.
KING: But basically, if that's true, then, Chris, it's going to be blah listening, right? Hello? How are you? And as soon as they start to talk about a case...
PIXLEY: Well, that's what it should be, Larry, and that's why, again, as Jan already explained -- you know, 69 phone calls -- that's a really large number. We may find out that it's just a momentary lapse and they really didn't get any meaningful information. But until the defense has had an opportunity to look at that -- you know, they made the point today they haven't had access to those records. They haven't even had access to the autopsy reports. So it was appropriate for them, I guess, to make the request if the prosecution wasn't going to bring it out to them.
KING: All right. How about the intercept of calls to the media? I got a notice that one of my talks -- I only talked to him once -- to Scott -- was intercepted. Ted Rowlands will be with us in a minute. He got a notice. Why don't -- why don't they give -- turn those over?
NEWSOM: Well, I mean, I guess they're going to seek to do that, I imagine, but the bottom line is all different conversations are picked up during these wiretaps, and it isn't something they purposely set out to do. So you're going to get a notice like that, Ted Rowlands. But again, they weren't seeking to tape or intercept a conversation from you or from Ted specifically. KING: Mark Geragos said today that Scott wanted to get into court as soon as possible, but that he persuade him to waive the right to speedy proceedings so they could be totally prepared. Why wouldn't he want a speedy trial, Jan?
RONIS: Well, I think this is one of those cases where the defense is wise to listen to their attorney because there's -- this is a huge case. The bottom line is they're trying to execute him, if they're successful in convicting him. The defense needs as much time as possible. I'm sure the prosecution needs time, as well. But this is the kind of case where, really, time is on the defendant's side because they need it for preparation purposes.
KING: Nancy, "The New York Post" reports today in a headline, "I know Laci's killer, Scott in shock call to his mistress." According to the story, Scott called Amber five or six times a night after she went public with their affair, and they reported the taped conversation -- "Do I need to be afraid of you?" "Absolutely not," et cetera. How do they know that?
GRACE: Well, apparently, they've gotten to listen to some of the transcripts or some of the tapes. And very quickly, it was said here on the panel there's going to be a lot of boring listening. If there are tapes, conversations between Scott Peterson and Amber Frey, I can guarantee you it's not going to be boring.
KING: No, I said the boring would be with his lawyers.
GRACE: With the lawyer. Now, you may be very right about that. But regarding this, I...
KING: But how do you know that that's fact?
GRACE: ... it was quoted...
KING: How do you know -- I mean, "The New York Post"...
GRACE: And it was also reported by several other news outlets. Apparently, there's a leak on one side or the other that is releasing this, either the transcript or the tape, which is very interesting...
KING: Chris, why are you laughing?
GRACE: ... both sides want privacy, but yet they're both leaking. So they want their cake and they want to eat it, too!
KING: Why are you laughing?
PIXLEY: Well, because from the very beginning...
KING: Do you (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
(LAUGHTER) PIXLEY: Larry, from the very beginning of this case, the prosecution has been leaking. And one of the travesties today is that, suddenly, we're talking about a gag order, Nancy.
GRACE: Satanic cult!
PIXLEY: And Mark Geragos' team has only been on the case for two weeks, Larry. Now, think about it. Going all the way back to January, we were hearing about a blue tarp. It was the police that told us about Amber Frey.
GRACE: Oh, the neighbor told us about...
PIXLEY: They told us about the life insurance...
GRACE: ... about the blue tarp!
PIXLEY: ... policy that Scott had taken out on his wife. They even went on national television, said, We're going to seek the death penalty. Their case has been leaked for the last four-and-a-half months. Now, for two weeks, for only two weeks, we've been getting information about the defense case...
GRACE: And believe (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
PIXLEY: ... and now the judge is considering a gag order. So...
GRACE: A lot of it, too!
RONIS: One more thing. If there's leaks of these wiretaps going on, the defense doesn't have any of them, so it could only be coming from the...
GRACE: Aren't you guys...
RONIS: ... prosecution. It can't be...
GRACE: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the headline!
RONIS: ... coming from the...
GRACE: ... "No, I didn't"...
RONIS: ... from the defense side.
GRACE: ... "do it, but I know who did, and I'll tell you later." Isn't that the headline...
KING: Do you -- what...
GRACE: ... not what the police did wrong!
KING: I keep going back to this, Kimberly. Do we know that that phone -- it's reported in "The New York Post."
NEWSOM: Right. KING: They've been wrong before.
KING: They're the one with this headline, "Bring in the monster." Right? OK. So they've been occasionally wrong. Do we know that that's a factual call? And is it going to be introduced in evidence? Do we know that?
NEWSOM: Right. Well, we don't know that it's actually a fact. We're not going to know any facts. All of this is speculation until the case is presented, first and foremost, in a preliminary hearing or to a grand jury, but it looks like a preliminary hearing now...
KING: So it's all -- it's all...
NEWSOM: ... and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) trial. Exactly. And unless someone comes into court and presents that evidence, authenticates it and the prosecution seeks to introduce it, then that's how it's going to come in.
KING: So what is evidence is determined only in court, right, Jan? All of this is speculation, as we hear it.
RONIS: Absolutely. That's why I've said, at least to myself, on a number of occasions, right now, all we know for sure is that she's missing, she turns up a mile from the boat, he's arrested with money and orange hair. And those are really all the facts. Everything else is speculation.
KING: After the break, I'll be bringing Ted Rowlands in. But Nancy, you say we know more than that.
GRACE: I think we do know more than that because, No. 1, first and foremost, Scott Peterson gave very lengthy interviews, giving his alibi, his feelings about his wife, and basically lied on national television!
KING: Those are facts that we know...
GRACE: Those are facts, according to him. Also, statements have been made by Amber Frey's family. We have no reason to think that they are lying. Certain neighbors, regarding the blue tarp, for instance -- they leaked that, not the police. Witnesses have come forward and given certain tidbits that we piece together.
PIXLEY: I don't think the neighbors are leaking the story about the blue tarp...
GRACE: Well, there's...
PIXLEY: The police are leaking the story...
GRACE: But what... (CROSSTALK)
PIXLEY: And Larry, in terms of what do we know? You know, we know that the prosecution doesn't have witnesses. We know that they don't have a murder weapon. Now we know, because of further leaks, that they don't have a cause of death. We don't even think that they have, really, any good forensic evidence. I mean, think about it. They were in the house...
KING: Why do they have an arrest?
PIXLEY: We don't have an arrest until April 18, though, Larry. We had search warrants executed on the home, the boat, the cars, his storage unit in February. No arrests until April 18.
KING: Well, let me get...
PIXLEY: They don't have any blood or DNA evidence.
KING: I'm going to get a break, and we'll be right back...
PIXLEY: ... more that we don't have.
KING: We'll bring Ted Rowlands in. We're going to be including your phone calls on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERAGOS: I think the court hit on exactly what the problem is here. They're swimming upstream against law of the case. The 5th District has already considered all of the arguments that they've made this morning. The 5th District has resoundingly rejected all of these arguments. And once again, the 5th District has said in unequivocal language that this argument that she's just made, that somehow, the object of the investigation has the documents, so therefore, the public has a right to know -- the 5th District said just because there is a criminal filing of a criminal complaint does not mean that the real perpetrator is not still out there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Ted Rowlands of KTVU-TV now joins us. He's been covering this case from the start. He's been on the air on his local channel. We've been discussing what happened in court today. We understand that you have brought another woman concept into this. What's that all about, Ted?
TED ROWLANDS, KTVU-TV: Well, it's actually -- it's something that's surfacing out of San Diego. A dancer down there claims that she was with Scott Peterson the night before he was arrested. She says that he asked her to drive her to Mexico. We have confirmed that Scott apparently may have been there, but nothing else to it, right at this point. But we're working on it. And the story -- just when you think it's starting to slow down a bit, something else pops up. KING: Ted, what does the media, the collective groups, "The LA Times," I think, CNN and others -- what are they asking for?
ROWLANDS: They're asking for the warrants to basically be unsealed in this case. They would -- they want to see, basically, why Scott Peterson was arrested. And today in court, the representative for the media basically brought up the point that, you know, there have been cases bigger than the Scott Peterson case, O.J., for example, and in those cases, the warrants were unsealed, at this point. And they -- she -- the attorney didn't see any viable reason why they should remain sealed.
KING: And the judge, what, did not rule?
ROWLANDS: Didn't rule. He says he'll rule later this week, but he did give an indication that, at this point, he's leaning towards keeping all of those documents sealed. They did meet in camera by themselves today for an extended period of time to discuss it. And when they came out, the judge basically showed his hand and said that he plans to keep these things sealed.
KING: Kimberly, why shouldn't the media see them?
NEWSOM: Well, again, you're trying to balance here the defendant's right to...
KING: You think they shouldn't see them.
NEWSOM: Think that it's OK to deep keep the documents sealed right now, and I think the issue should be revisited after the preliminary hearing has been conducted.
KING: Why should they be sealed?
NEWSOM: Because you have to balance the defendant's right to a fair trial. There's already so much publicity and information out there. Now, Mark Geragos would have you believe that the reason why the 5th District is doing that and keeping everything sealed, et cetera, in their rulings was to protect this whole thing of maybe there's someone else out there who's responsible, the real killer that Mark Geragos and his team is apparently still looking for and has yet to turn up information about.
KING: Jan, what about the point, in the O.J. case, they were unsealed?
RONIS: Well, a different case a long time ago. I think the publicity is running this case, and the atmosphere of which these things are now played out in the press more, I think, kind of is in favor of this at least remaining sealed until the preliminary examination. I mean, I hate to say that on national television and on a media show, but I think the defendant's right to a fair trial probably outweighs...
KING: So you disagree with the media's position. RONIS: I understand the position, but I know the defendant's right to a fair trial seems to me paramount, at least until July the 15th.
KING: Nancy's shaking her head no. You think they should be released?
GRACE: Well, as a former prosecutor, I would like for my evidence to remain sealed for strategic purposes. However, under our Constitution, I disagree. Strategy be damned because we do not have secret proceedings in this country. You have open court. You have open records. Nothing is kept secret, to my knowledge, after this point. There are formal charges. A preliminary hearing has been set down. And the only reason to keep things secret, at this point, is strategic to both sides. The evidence will help and hurt both sides.
PIXLEY: Well, there's a balancing that has to go on, though. You know, California has a rule on the books about this. It's their rule 243, and it says you've got to balance the defendant's right to a fair trial against the public access rights. And here -- remember, we don't just have the defense asking to keep these documents sealed. We have the prosecution asking, as well. So you know, we don't know what's in there, but when both sides are standing firmly against the media, there's a reason right now.
And Judge Girolami didn't have to stretch very far, Larry, to do this. Remember, you know, the 5th District Court of Appeals came down with a decision saying it would be an abuse of discretion to open these records. And they just came out with that decision two weeks ago.
KING: Ted, what did the judge say about gag orders? Did he threaten them?
ROWLANDS: A gag order? Yes.
ROWLANDS: Well, he definitely -- he brought it up, and a chill ran through the courtroom, I think, especially with the reporters. And I think both sides, as well. It's something, definitely, the defense doesn't want to see happen, at this point, because, as was discussed earlier, really, they're just entering this battle. And most of the leaks have come, presumably, from the prosecution's side because they've had four months to do it. And the defense side, they're just really getting started. They're trying to shape public opinion. And Mark Geragos said that right away, his goal is to get some of that 80 percent of the American population over had to his side. He says he's a convert, and he believes that when he's done, everybody -- everybody will be, too.
KING: Kimberly, does the prosecution want a gag order?
NEWSOM: Well, the prosecution may want one in this case, but the defense clearly does not. And I think that Mark Geragos and the defense team are getting a very good job of catching up in short order with disseminating all this information, like Satanic cults, et cetera, to try and muddy the waters and poison the jury pool.
RONIS: I bet they don't want it to be retroactive.
RONIS: I bet they don't want it to be retroactive.
KING: What do you think of the gag rule, Nancy?
GRACE: Well, again, I've had cases with gag rules when things were getting out of hand. We saw...
KING: Are we close in this case?
GRACE: Yes. I think the judge may very well enter a gag order. But again, I don't like to see it, Larry, although, when I was trying cases, I didn't mind a gag order. But I still say the public's right to know, the fact that our country is built on open courtrooms -- if I were being tried, I wouldn't want it off in some private room where nobody could see and nobody could hear and nobody knew what the evidence was. That is not what our Constitution guarantees.
KING: Let me take a break. When we come back, we'll ask about the other woman, what her role might be in the court. And Gloria Allred was at this hearing today, and we'll find out all about that. And then we'll be taking your phone calls. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKIE PETERSON, SCOTT PETERSON'S MOTHER: I am happy because I hope we're getting closer to the truth coming out. And I believe now the police are looking for the real perpetrators, and I think if they look, they will find them. And I just hope they do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, Ted Rowlands, what was Gloria Allred doing at this hearing today?
ROWLANDS: Well, she said that she was there to protect her client's interests in this. She wanted to meet with the prosecutors in this case, to get a feeling for what type of role Amber Frey will play in not only the trial itself, but also in the preliminary trial. She said she wanted just to be here to meet with those folks and get a better idea what she should be doing to protect her client.
KING: Chris, why does Amber Frey need a lawyer?
PIXLEY: She doesn't need a lawyer that I can see right now. If Amber's lawyer thinks that she is a focus of the defense team's efforts, if they're trying to pin this on Amber, then that might be a reason for having her involved and out there stating the case. But we haven't heard that yet. And in fact, all the theories seem to...
KING: Is this...
PIXLEY: ... focus in another direction.
KING: ... grandstanding, Kimberly?
NEWSOM: Well, I mean, listen, if it makes Amber feel better to have representation by Gloria for...
KING: I mean, why did she have to be there today? What did Amber have to do with today's hearing?
NEWSOM: She had absolutely nothing to do with today's hearing. However, Gloria did say that she had a meeting with the prosecution team today to discuss Amber's role in the case. But again, what is Amber's role going to be? She has to be able to answer a question, who, meaning is Scott Peterson responsible, how the crime was committed, or why, motive. And the same with the other women.
KING: Jan, what -- the attorney can't tell Amber what to testify, right?
RONIS: I smell a book deal.
RONIS: I smell a book deal. That's the best I can think. I mean, I don't know why she was there, and I don't know why -- Gloria is a wonderful lawyer. I don't know why she had to be there, as well.
KING: Does the prosecution get suspicious of that, Nancy, why a witness needs a lawyer?
GRACE: Well, sure. I would. However, in this case, we heard all the talk shows and radio call-ins attacking Amber simply because she had a makeover. Can you imagine what's going to happen on cross- examination? She may very well need a lawyer to protect her. But in a criminal forum, Gloria Allred will not be able to make real objections...
KING: Well, the lawyer can't do anything, you can't jump in court and say, Don't answer that."
GRACE: But who knows, at this point, she may very well need some type of a protective order against someone else. You know, I'm sure she's been deluged with phone calls, harassing phone calls, attacks, and so forth. So I don't blame her for getting a lawyer.
NEWSOM: She can actually sit in on the preliminary hearing, and when her client, if she does take the stand -- she could advise her, if she feels there's areas that would infringe on Amber's right against self-incrimination, she could jump in. That's the only purpose.
RONIS: Well, I disagree. I mean, look, if Amber has right against some incrimination, she's not going to testify at all, if she...
NEWSOM: Depending what areas they get into.
RONIS: Well, she's not going to be able to pick and choose. She's either going to testify or not testify. I don't see it as an issue.
GRACE: This woman is not taking the 5th, all right?
GRACE: She's been investigated up the ying-yang! She's had a polygraph. She's been cleared. She cooperated in a press conference!
RONIS: And the question is, why does she need a lawyer?
NEWSOM: Then she doesn't need a lawyer.
RONIS: And I'm suggesting she doesn't need a lawyer.
PIXLEY: Exactly. She's now irrelevant, Larry, and especially with the revelation about the other women, she's doesn't matter.
KING: That's what I was going to ask. If the other women are true, is that a help to him, in a sense, that he wouldn't commit murder over one adulterous affair to want to get married because he's had other women? Or is it a hurt in that it makes him more of a cad than he appears?
PIXLEY: The question is, how does the jury -- how's the jury going to take it? And they can take it either way, Larry. But you know, the fact of the matter is, this guy's public image has already been destroyed by the prosecution. And so...
GRACE: I disagree.
PIXLEY: You know, there's...
KING: You don't think his...
PIXLEY: ... really no additional damage...
GRACE: His reputation...
PIXLEY: ... that comes from it, but it makes Amber's testimony irrelevant.
GRACE: His reputation has been destroyed by his own bad acts! If reports...
NEWSOM: I agree with that.
GRACE: ... are true, he's already got three girlfriends and a stripper to deal with...
NEWSOM: Maybe more.
GRACE: ... at the trial. So you know, the press had
nothing to do with concocting that. That was all Mr.
KING: Is it your indication, Ted, as you know this judge and that area, that this trial will be telecast?
ROWLANDS: It sure seems that way. The judge asked for both sides to submit briefs on that subject, and he is going to address that at one of the upcoming hearings. But you know, he's allowed a camera into each of the proceedings. And today there was a bit of a problem because so many people from the media who are here, they were not able to get into the courtroom. Every agency wasn't able to get a representative. There's a valid argument, really, to have at least a feed of some sort for an overflow section. And you start with that, and you can just see where it's going to go. Most likely, it'll be televised.
KING: Jan, will you be opposed or in favor of a televised trial, from a defendant's standpoint?
RONIS: Well, I'm wearing two hats now. From the lawyer's point of view in a case of this nature, it does become a distraction. But I do feel real strongly that the public needs to see these things in an open forum because we don't have secret proceedings. And I think judges are nicer and fairer in televised proceedings than in proceedings that aren't televised, so I support it.
NEWSOM: Well, again, I think it's important, as well, to have open proceedings. And we shouldn't have secret proceedings, other than grand jury proceedings, which no one's allowed into. But I don't want it to impact the case, like the O.J. trial, you know, turned into a three-ring circus and impact the jurors or the trial judge. So if this judge is going to control the courtroom and control the lawyers, I think it can be handled. And I think it's of value to the public.
PIXLEY: It's an additional burden on the judge, but I think, as Jan put it, it's a positive burden. You know, the judge can't allow the grandstanding, the speaking objections because he knows that he's being watched, and in real time. You know, it's one thing for a trial to be taken down on transcript, the way they are. It's another thing for it to be broadcast, where panels like this one can assemble and on a daily basis kind of dissect everything that's been done.
KING: As they did in the Simpson trial.
PIXLEY: And it's a real positive because I think it instills confidence in the public in the trial system itself because most of what goes on in the courtroom I think is fair.
GRACE: I have a response. You know, the camera did not create the three-ring circus that was the Orenthal Simpson trial. It exposed it. Cameras in the courtroom have around been a long time now, almost a thousand cases covered gavel to gavel.
KING: Court TV.
GRACE: Court TV. And there's been one O.J. You know, people want to know. We've had a right to go into courtrooms in this country since the get-go, 200 years.
KING: But this will be the second most famous trial, will it not?
GRACE: I don't know. Who knows what's to come?
KING: Become that, hasn't it?
GRACE: Yes, it has so far. I have to agree with that. But from what I can tell, with the judges we have seen so far, this will be no O.J. trial.
KING: You are impressed?
GRACE: I've been very impressed. I don't always agree with their rulings, but especially Judge Girolami has been very impressive.
KING: Why so many hearings, Jan? It seems like every other day, there's another hearing.
RONIS: Well, because there's some issues that aren't present in most cases. We have the wiretap issue. We have this issue of the prosecution allegedly leaking information. They kind of want to put a stop to that. There's the issue with respect to them not giving them all the information they think they're entitled to. And so it's just a little -- obviously, a stranger (ph) case. The stakes are bigger.
KING: We're going to take a break. When I come back, we'll reintroduce the panel and go to your phone calls. One reminder. Tomorrow night, we're going to do a major show on one of the major diseases in this country, the disease of depression. It affects over 20 million Americans. Depression with a full panel tomorrow night.
We'll be right back with your phone calls for our panel. We will reintroduce the panel, as well. Don't go away.
KING: We're back and this just in. An arrest has been made in Atlanta of a man who authorities believe may be the suspected serial killer, a source from the U.S. Marshal's Office has told CNN. The source said they are currently working to verify the captive man's identity.
This man is suspected of serial killings of five Louisiana women. He was supposed to have spent the last week in a dingy Atlanta motel where he charmed residents, grilled ribs and chicken at a party and set up a Bible study. And apparently, an arrest has been made -- is verified now, an arrest made in Atlanta tonight of that man who may be a suspect in those killings in Atlanta, those serial killings. Let's reintroduce our panel.
In Modesto is Ted Rowlands, reporter for KTVU.
In Los Angeles, all here -- the rest in L.A. -- Nancy Grace, anchor of "Trial Heat" on Court TV.
Chris Pixley, the defense attorney from Atlanta who is with us in L.A.
Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, the assistant district attorney from San Francisco who's here with us.
And Jan Ronis, the defense attorney from San Diego.
Before we take the first call, Ted you wanted to add something about the Satanic cult story as it being played in Modesto?
ROWLANDS: Well, Mark Geragos did not, as we anticipated that he might, talk at all about these other theories, the Satanic cult and all of the rest of it.
However, very, very reliable source was involved in that in camera proceedings today in the judge's chambers. And at that -- in that venue Geragos asked the Modesto police investigators if it was true that Modesto police are now actively following his own investigators around, reinterviewing witnesses, witnesses that he says produces this theory of another person and that investigator acknowledged to the judge that indeed the Modesto police is looking into it.
So whether they are looking into it, just to make sure and cover all bases, we don't know. But a very reliable source, is indeed -- the Modesto police department is taking Mark's investigation somewhat seriously.
KING: Good addition.
Let's go to calls. Arlington, Texas, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry.
KING: Yes. Hi.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: My question is for Nancy Grace.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: And I would like to know if they have ruled out the possibility that Scott hired someone to murder Laci and that he was actually headed to Mexico to pay some one off for the murder?
KING: That's a stretch, but go ahead.
GRACE: Well, you know, if you take a listen to what Scott allegedly said to Amber Frey on the phone when she said did you have anything to do with her wife's disappearance, if it is to be believed, and he says, Well -- no, I didn't, but, but I know who did it.
KING: You knew that coughed?
GRACE: There was hum hawing around and he says no I didn't, but I know who did and I'll tell you when I see you.
Now I could see that they're being thrown out there, but I think we would see an unnamed co-conspirator in the indictment. That has not happened yet.
KING: Vancouver, Washington, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: Love your show.
KING: Thank you.
CALLER: I have one quick statement and a question. The statement is that not every one out here thinks that Nancy Grace walks on water.
But to the rest of your exceptional panel, what other family members may be testifying?
PIXLEY: What other family members for Scott Peterson or for...
KING: Either side, I guess.
PIXLEY: You know, I don't know what's going to come out about the relationship and I don't know what testimony will come out, but what we've heard in the media so far is both families standing squarely behind Scott and saying at least that he was a good husband.
Now the Rocha family obviously has some serious concerns about what he might have been doing that they weren't aware of. But I'm not sure that the families are going to be testifying a great deal.
KING: Is his character germane?
NEWSOM: It's not going to come in, unless the, you know, they -- one side tries to introduce character like the defense and the prosecution....
NEWSOM: And/or, someone seeks to introduce it through that or through other people. But the bottom line is family members will be able to testify and give victim impact statements in the penalty phase. But again, as Chris points out, not in this portion of the trial.
KING: Jan, if I testified that I saw him with another woman is that germane to this case?
RONIS: Well, I -- it's -- if they are going to try to establish that his love or affection for some other women formed the motive for him to kill his wife, then they're going to. But if all these conversations are just that he's going to meet Amber at Motel 3, and they're going to, you know, meet, then I don't think these things are going to come in. But if he's saying some thing to Amber like, Amber, I love you and I'm going to be in the a month for the rest of my life, then he's in trouble on those issues.
KING: Los Angeles, hello.
CALLER: Yes, Larry?
CALLER: Thank you. I wanted to tell Nancy Grace how much I love her.
KING: She was starting to panic over that walking on water call. Go ahead.
CALLER: I just wondered why the police would not interrogate Scott Peterson more after they heard who that he knew who the killer was.
GRACE: Oh, yes. You know what? That's a good question. But the reason is when they heard this conversation, when the tape his been -- had been publicized as they have been, he was already under arrest. When they first got it, I don't think they were prepared to make an arrest.
But another question you asked earlier, Larry, I think we will see family members testify. First of all, we will hear from Laci's mother and father as to their last conversations with her. The sister, Amy Rocha, the last time she saw her, the day before. And Scott's parents because for a while he lived with them and their home was searched. So I think we'll hear from all of the parents.
RONIS: Well, you know -- can I answer the question the woman asked? With all due respect to Nancy, he has a right not to talk to the police and I think he exercised that right upon his arrest so every defendant has a right to not speak to the police and that's why he didn't.
GRACE: But he did speak to police to some extent at the beginning before they had the statement.
RONIS: Right. But after arrests, the question was why didn't they interrogate him more, and I think it's because he invoked his right not to talk to police after...
KING: Plano, Texas, hello.
CALLER: Yes, Larry, thanks for taking my call.
CALLER: And Nancy does walk on water.
Any way, Nancy....
KING: One for the water, one against water. Go ahead.
CALLER: What information can you provide related to the friend that introduced Mrs. Frey to Scott Peterson?
GRACE: From what I understand...
KING: Why is that germane?
GRACE: The friend that worked with Scott Peterson also thought Scott Peterson was unmarried, came to Peterson and said I've got a friend that's been dating a married guy. She wants to meet somebody single. Would you like to go out with her? And Scott says OK.
KING: What does that mean?
GRACE: What does it mean? It's an answer to the ladies question. Will it come into court? Possibly, when Amber Frey takes the stand as to why she was involved with a married man. Why? Because the defense is going to attack her credibility on cross on that very issue.
KING: So she has a right to protect herself and give reasons, right, Chris?
PIXLEY: If she can get on the stand and talk about this case at all. You know, again, if the storyline is that Amber Frey is the motive for murdering his wife, then...
GRACE: You're going to try to tell the prosecutor the other woman who is the subject of these conversations that were taped cannot take the stand? Give me one legal case to support your theory.
PIXLEY: Well, without discussing all of the legalities of it, the fact of the matter is, you know, if Amber Frey is the motive in this case -- if that's the best that the prosecution can do, without any murder weapon, without any cause of death, without any witnesses, without any forensic evidence, blood or DNA.
GRACE: I know who did it.
PIXLEY: The prosecution loses the case and these discussions about -- yes, he's had an investigator on this case since two weeks into it. You know, he was being investigated. We've got divers in the water a week after his wife disappeared. KING: Wait a minute. Hold it. Maybe he knows who did it.
GRACE: Well if he knew who killed his wife and his baby, do you think he may have called 911 and said, listen, I want you to find the murderer...
NEWSOM: Or cooperated with the police and provided some insight into this situation?
KING: If she is the reason, Kimberly, why didn't he just get divorced?
NEWSOM: Well that's what Nancy Grace has been saying the whole time along. I mean, yes. Why didn't he? But again, maybe that was some thing he didn't want to do. He thought he would be more handsome and charming to women if he was a widower, like he suggested in a conversation prior...
KING: Perry, Ohio, hello.
CALLER: Hi, I have a call for Nancy Grace.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: Nancy, you are wonderful.
I'm wondering, the defense has all these theories about who really killed Laci. In the past I've heard a lot about an umbrella, a bunch of umbrellas that were carried out in the tarp in the middle of the night, also that the home of Scott and Laci smelled like bleach which is suspicious.
Does the defense have any explanation for these things and when they say there's no evidence, it sounds to me like there actually is a lot of suspicious stuff.
GRACE: Well, you know what? Each one of these facts taken by itself may not amount to a lot, but when you add it up together there's quite a bit of circumstantial evidence.
The neighbor did say that about the umbrellas. We have heard those reports regarding the home reeking of bleach. I think all put together the caller is correct.
KING: Would you like to be prosecuting this case?
NEWSOM: I'd love to.
KING: Would you, Nancy?
KING: All right. We're going to go to break, come back with more phone calls.
Again, in case you missed it, an arrest has been made in Atlanta who authorities believe may be that suspected Louisiana serial killer, a source from the U.S. Marshal's office has told CNN. The source said they're currently working to verify the captured man's identity. He's suspected of serial killings of five Louisiana women. Arrested in Atlanta tonight.
Be right back.
KING: More on that story out of Atlanta. Atlanta police late Tuesday arrested a man who authorities believe may be Derrick Todd Lee, the suspected serial killer wanted in Louisiana for five killings. A source from the U.S. Marshals Service has told CNN. The source said they are currently working to verify the captured man's identity through fingerprints. Initially it appears that he is Derrick Todd Lee, the source said. It was a tip from the public that busted this guy. The Atlanta's Police Department Metro Fugitives Squad working in conjunction with the FBI and U.S. Marshal's agents made the arrest at around 9:00, just about 40 minutes ago, the source said. Kimberly, have you been following this?
NEWSOM: Yes, it's been the breaking news that's been happening on it, it's an interesting case, but I noticed here some of the similarities in terms of this man described as a handsome man, charming, had a way with the ladies, dating several women at a time, grilling, having barbecues and everything, someone that you would not suspect to be guilty or responsible for these kind of heinous crime, kind of like Scott Peterson.
KING: And people we most think are not likely are likely, right?
GRACE: Very often, and that's the problem.
KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is a classic example.
GRACE: Was very charming and handsome, and that's another burden for prosecutors because you've got to convince this jury, this great- looking, smooth, articulate guy is a killer.
RONIS: Once in a while, the most unlikely are the people, but in the far majority of the cases, the people that are the most likely, in my experience, there are other aberrations.
KING: Palm Springs, California, hello?
CALLER: Yes, hi. My question is for Chris.
CALLER: I thought Mark Geragos had mentioned last week that he knew who the killer was or was going to name them, so why wouldn't he name them and get Scott Peterson out of jail and that we wouldn't go through this whole exercise?
KING: Did he say that? PIXLEY: I heard reports that Mark said, yes. We are zeroing in on the suspect. And I'll tell you, it's very unusual to come out and say that. I don't -- I think Mark has made a very calculated risk here and said we are not just going to prove reasonable doubt, we are going to find the killer, and although the prosecutors here think that he's floated a lot of different theories, I think he's floated one very consistent theory. He has a woman that has evidence as to who the real killer is, and they have some very good eyewitness testimony regarding this tan van, and they think it may be a wandering group of people, maybe just some transients.
KING: Has Geragos said anything to you, Ted, about this knowledge he has?
ROWLANDS: Well, he, you know, he said publicly that they were looking for this woman. We are hearing these stories, it may be hours or days, but you ask Mark about it and he'll back away from that. He does maintain, though, that they have solid information that they're pursuing, that will lead them eventually, they hope, to what say is Laci's real killer. Now, the prosecution has pooh-poohed this from the beginning, saying it's ridiculous, and the prosecution points out that a lot of the stuff that the defense is looking into came over in discovery, stuff that the prosecution themselves have already looked into. They say they looked into it, it is a dead end, and now the defense is picking up the ball.
GRACE: He promised last week -- I'm referring to our friend, Mark Geragos -- that it was just hours away to announcing the identity of this woman that would clear his client. Mark, if you're listening, you're late. OK?
KING: Platteville, Wisconsin. Hello?
CALLER: Yes, thanks for taking my call.
CALLER: I have a question for anybody on the panel.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: Just something that's been bothering me. If Scott Peterson is guilty of killing his wife, why wouldn't he dump her body somewhere else other than out where he was fishing at?
KING: Doesn't it look, Kimberly, one of the things that people have said in his defense is you couldn't have done stupider things.
NEWSOM: Well, yes. Well, criminals that commit felonies and we call it felony stupid. And not to be cavalier, but the bottom line is, I think he thinks he's a clever, smart guy that he was going to outsmart the police and authorities.
KING: I'm going to go fishing where I'm dumping the body.
NEWSOM: You know what? And I think he thought he was seen there, and that's why he admitted to the police that that's where he was. He set up his alibi there because he was seen there and he had the ticket, et cetera and I think he saw that somebody noticed him there. And we have information and witnesses that say they saw him and his boat.
KING: It looks pat, though, doesn't it, Jan?
RONIS: Well, I don't know if it's quite that simple. You know, the case is more complicated than her body washing up a mile from his boat. I mean, it's still strange credulity to think that he's guilty of first-degree murder merely because of that one fact that I think we all assume is a fact.
KING: And ask for the death penalty, right?
RONIS: And ask for the death penalty.
KING: Wister, Oklahoma, hello?
CALLER: Hello. Great panel of professionals. I love you all. When documents are sealed, I've heard said at some point, they always become unsealed. Does this apply in cases where the defendants plead guilty before trial? And then in another question, no secret proceedings, I'd like to know what that means and if that applies to all states.
GRACE: The Constitution guarantees you an open trial with a right to confront your accusers, in other words, the witnesses who are testifying against you. That's what I mean when I say no secret proceedings that we have heard of, for instance in other countries, where their justice is done behind closed doors. Not so here in America.
As to sealed documents, once a guilty plea has been taken, the documents normally become unsealed. In this case, I don't care who the judge is or how great he is, Girolami is great, he cannot keep these documents sealed forever. They will come out, and the public will find out the truth.
NEWSOM: We do have, though, with the caveat that we do have grand juries, right? That are impaneled, and those are secret proceedings, like Gloria Allred and all these other attorneys, Mark Geragos, no one is allowed in but the prosecutors and only the prosecutors, not other prosecutors from that office are allowed in to hear the evidence that they are presenting and go through that case. So that is a secret proceeding, and I see now that they're trying to proceed by way of preliminary hearing, which is going to look better to the public, because it's open and no one's trying to hide anything, and it gives the defense an opportunity to test the case.
RONIS: The right to a public trial in the state of California in this country is so sacred -- I saw a California case reversed because the bailiff had inadvertently locked the doors to the outside of the courtroom so people couldn't free (ph) to come in for a period of 15 minutes, and the case was reversed for denial of the right to public trial.
PIXLEY: The judge has some discretion, though, here right now. At this point in time, he can seal these documents and he's kind of shown his playbooks. If you're trying to read the tea leaves here, Larry, he said I'm considering a gag order at this point in time. I'm likely to keep these records sealed. He wants to try to scale down the press coverage of all of this.
KING: We'll be back with more moments and more phone calls. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN GOOLD, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We're interested in any information that goes to show someone is guilty of what they're charged. We're just as interested in any information that goes to show someone's innocent. And if anybody provides us with that, we will absolutely review that information to see if the wrong person is charged.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Concerning that arrest in Atlanta of Derrick Todd Lee, the serial killer wanted in Louisiana for five killings. There will be -- there's his picture up on the screen -- there will be a press conference at 10:30 Eastern time. If you're watching this when the show is repeated it will also be repeated at 1:30 a.m. Eastern time. But at 10:30 Eastern time there will be a press conference concerning that arrest tonight.
Back to the calls. Ottawa, Ontario, hello.
CALLER: Good evening, Larry. Hi.
CALLER: And hi to all your panel.
KING: What's the question?
CALLER: Nancy Grace.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: OK. Thanks again for taking my call. I've tried unsuccessfully several times to make comments as well as important questions. But I'll ask Nancy Grace. I did see your biography with Larry and I'm so sorry of your personal loss of Kevin. I believe his name was Kevin.
I wondered if Dr. Henry Lee has any new reports on Laci and Connor, the DNA...
KING: Do we know if Henry Lee has been involved in this at all? GRACE: I've heard him comment publicly. But regarding the actual autopsy reports about 25 pages long and of course, it's the point of a lot of controversy regarding the latest defense theory that Laci was carved up by a satanic cult. A lot of people who have seen the autopsy reports say that's simply not true.
KING: Paris, Tennessee, hello?
CALLER: Yes. I'd like to ask the question, assuming that Scott Peterson is not guilty, has he asked to see the corpse of his dead baby?
KING: Do we know?
PIXLEY: Well, Larry, we know that he asked the sheriff if he could attend the memorial service...
GRACE: ... during the memorial service he had access to a TV where it was televised. And instead of watching that memorial service he chose to confer with his lawyer.
Also at the time they were identifying his wife and baby's remains he went and met his tee time at 7:30 a.m. So I think we can figure out that he has been asked to see the remains. That was before his arrest.
PIXLEY: ... identification, the DINA (ph) identification of those bodies would take weeks. As it turned out, it took a matter of days.
PIXLEY: ... Scott Peterson to sit at the M.E.'s office day in and day out for 12 hours.
Put yourself in this man's shoes. He's also on trial for his life right now. And if his attorney says I want to meet with you on the day of this memorial service and he's already been turned down, the opportunity to go? I think you're probably sit and meet with your attorney.
KING: Shelbina, Missouri, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. Thanks a bunch. I'd like to know if either side has taken any depositions and if they were taken, are they open to the media? Thank you.
KING: Jan? RONIS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) there are no depositions allowed in California criminal cases. In fact that's the roll rule in most states unless there's a witness in a foreign land.
KING: Vancouver, British Columbia, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Nancy. You are great. And I'm glad there is someone out there not only with a brain, but a conscience. Thank you.
I do not believe in the defense's case. Is it necessary for the defense attorneys to believe -- I mean, really believe, the not just do their jobs and do what they're paid to -- do but really believe in their client's innocence in order to represent them? Thank you. You are wonderful.
KING: The role of the defense attorney is see that the client gets a fair trial, right?
PIXLEY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is an incredibly important one. You take this case. Our system is based on a set of principles of fairness and equality. And if we're true to those principles we will convict a man for what he's done and not for who he is.
And so we're finding out in this case that Scott Peterson is not perfect. Is that really a surprise? If any one of our lives was put under the microscope by the press the way this man's life his been put under the microscope...
KING: ... if you know he's guilty to you still defendant him?
PIXLEY: You still defend him.
KING: ... there to see he gets a fair trial.
PIXLEY: Exactly. You have a right to a fair trial. This idea now that all of a sudden...
GRACE: No, last time you said if you thought your client was guilty you'd have to reject the case.
PIXLEY: I think if you know that out of the gate, you better reject the case. Yes. I don't think you want to do that, Nancy. And I don't think you have to do that.
RONIS: ... I don't agree with that principle. A lot of people come me. I might suspect they're guilty of what they're accused. I don't know where the case is going to end up. And 90 percent of them end up by a plea.
But the fact that I might think a client is guilty wouldn't stop me from taking the case.
KING: La Pine, Oregon, hello?
CALLER: Yes, this is a question for the awesome Nancy. I would like to know, I've heard many, many, many times that Scott Peterson's family is a middle-class, middle-income family. How on God's green earth did he get on that exclusive golf course?
GRACE: You know, the fees for his membership at one golf club was $25,000...
KING: How do you know if the family doesn't have money?
KING: Why is that a bad rap if they have money?
GRACE: I don't know that it is a bad rap, one way or the other.
GRACE: I don't have a problem with playing golf. But the lady asked especially since he tried to claim...
KING: Well she asked how could they afford that.
GRACE: He was trying to get a public defender and have me and you, the taxpayer pay for the defense.
KING: He asked for a public defender.
GRACE: At the beginning he claimed indigency...
RONIS: ... for a couple of days. He had attorney, he hired an attorney. That attorney went into court, probably couldn't -- you know for a couple of days he had a public defender. But that's not uncommon. They made the switch...
GRACE: He claimed indigency. And if he can afford $25,000 to play golf, I would think he can afford a lawyer.
KING: Thanks Ted Rowlands, Nancy Grace, Chris Pixley, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom and Jan Ronis.
Mr. Lee has been identified as the person at in Atlanta. Press conference a little over a half hour.
We'll be back to tell you about tomorrow night right after this.
KING: Tomorrow night a major panel discussion. A subject you won't want to miss. The subject is depression.