Laci Peterson's Mom Outraged
CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Aired July 17, 2008 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight's special guest on LARRY KING LIVE is Sharon Rocha, Laci Peterson's mother. Laci's husband, Scott, was
convicted of her murder.
Scott Peterson may be locked up in San Quentin and facing the death penalty, but he is not cut off from the world. He and other notorious
convicted killers are able to reach out via the Internet. Scott has a personal Web site, a page, that includes photos of him and his
murdered wife. It also links to his family's Web site and that Web site includes a blog message from Scott discussing what he calls
his "wrongful conviction."
Joining us now from Modesto, California, Laci Peterson's mother,
What do you make of all this?
SHARON ROCHA, LACI PETERSON'S MOTHER: Hi, Larry.
ROCHA: Well. First of all, I think I could say that being on death row is supposed to eliminate a lot of rights and privileges of the
inmates. In the whole scope of things this is a very minute matter, but it isn't right that they should have access to the Internet,
either direct access or through somebody else. Because there's (INAUDIBLE).
KING: How and when -- I'm sorry. How and when did you first find out about Scott having this Web page?
ROCHA: Just a couple of days ago. A friend of mine had told me about it.
KING: Have you seen the page?
ROCHA: I have. And I understand it is -- it's the family blog, which, you know, they're entitled to have that. But I still feel that it's
not right that Scott has the -- the ability to speak on the Internet through his family or friends or whomever.
KING: So you think a family blog is OK?
ROCHA: Everybody's entitled, you know, to their opinion and I see nothing wrong with having a family blog. No, I don't.
KING: He has only two blog entries on his personal page. One says he's encouraged by the mail he receives and he enjoys hearing from
people. His prison mail address is also posted.
What do you think of that?
ROCHA: Well, I think that is public knowledge. You can -- there are different Web sites that you can go to get that prison. But as far as
being encouraged from other people, I'm sure he is. But the point is I don't think he should be able to access the Internet, either
directly or through anybody else. Most people...
KING: How do you feel about people...
ROCHA: Most inmates...
KING: I'm sorry, go ahead.
ROCHA: I was going to say most inmates, I'm sure, don't have that same privilege. If they want to speak to the public, it's through
letters, through writings or through meetings.
KING: Wait a minute, why do you think he would get a privilege that others don't?
ROCHA: I'm not saying that he is getting it and others cannot have it. I'm just saying that he does have that privilege, through his
family and through his blog.
KING: Do you have any -- any qualms about people writing to him? Does it bother you at all?
ROCHA: No, it doesn't bother me. To be perfectly honest with you, Larry, I really don't spend a lot of time thinking about Scott.
KING: Because he's at...
ROCHA: I think about Laci all of the time, but I don't give -- give a lot of thought to Scott.
KING: In his first blog posting Scott writes: "Some people have done things to profit off my wife and son having been taken from me and
How do you react to a statement like that?
ROCHA: Well, that's true. There have been a lot of people who have profited from that. But I don't feel that he should be one of those
because he did -- he is the one -- he's responsible for Laci not being here. I know many inmates are claiming that it's -- it violates
their rights -- their right to freedom of speech not to be able to have communication with -- through the Internet or what have you. But
they are there for a reason and that reason is that they took the right of their victims. They took their freedom of speech away from
them and literally slammed the lid on their opportunity to ever speak again.
KING: Have you complained to the prison or anybody in authority about all of this?
ROCHA: No I haven't. I haven't.
KING: Do you plan to?
ROCHA: No, it's not something that I've even thought about. I read an article in "The L.A. Times" about victims in other states who
attempted to have legislation passed only to have it ruled as unconstitutional by a judge. So I don't know if there's really anything that can be done about it.
KING: So you have no recourse, in a sense.
ROCHA: At this time, it seems to be that way, unless there's some new legislation that can actually be passed and not ruled
KING: Have you talked with other victims' families about this?
We know that Marc Klaas's 12-year-old daughter Polly was murdered in 1993. He's outraged that Polly's killer has a Web page.
ROCHA: No, I haven't spoken to anybody else, nor have I heard from anybody else about this -- any other victims' families.
KING: Frankly, Sharon, you don't seem outraged.
ROCHA: Well, it is outrageous for this to even be happening. I just feel that, you know, it just does a great injustice to the victims
and their families. They can no longer speak for themselves. And being on death row is supposed to eliminate an inmate's privileges.
And this just flies in the face of justice, as far as I'm concerned, that OK, so they said they can't use the Internet, they go around it
and they use it in another way. And it is outrageous. I am outraged.
KING: The director of the ACLU's National Prison Project says that this is a First Amendment freedom of speech issue. She says that: "Crime survivors and victims families should steer clear of Web sites that might give them pain." In other words, they've got a right to do it, don't pay attention to it.
ROCHA: I read that. I read that in an article. And that is much easier said than done. I mean, for example, I could have easily steered clear from this Web site. However, it's been brought to my attention more than once and by many, many, many people, including the media. So it's impossible to steer clear of it. And it is -- it is hurtful. It is -- it is an injustice, again, to families of victims, because they cannot speak for themselves. I'm sure if they were here, they would be outraged.
KING: Our guest is Sharon Rocha.
What's Sharon's relationship with Scott's family today?
We'll ask after the break.
KING: We're back with Sharon Rocha.
Lieutenant Samuel Robinson is the public information officer at Sam Quentin and here is part of a statement from him from the prison: "Inmates have a First Amendment right of free speech and as long as no laws are being broken, CDCR has no opinion or position on this issue. However, we caution people who correspond with inmates via pen pal -- if anyone suspects any kind of illegal activity through their communication with a prisoner, they should contact CDCR and it will be investigated.
Do you accept that, Sharon?
ROCHA: Yes. I mean that sounds good in theory. I don't know if it's actually happening. I mean, I don't know if it is.
KING: Do you keep in touch with the Peterson -- with Scott's family?
ROCHA: No, not at all.
KING: Because you were once very friendly, weren't you?
ROCHA: I haven't talked to them for a couple of years.
KING: You were once very friendly.
ROCHA: Yes, we were. We were. Yes, we were.
KING: About two years ago, LARRY KING LIVE got a unique look inside San Quentin. We talked to prison's then spokesman, Vernell
Crittendon, about Scott.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM JUNE 20000)
VERNELL CRITTENDON, SAN QUENTIN, SPOKESMAN: Well, Scott Peterson really has maybe an adjustment to death row. I recall the very first
day he showed up, on St. Patrick's Day, March 17th, about 3:45 a.m.. And when he first stepped foot into the cell there on the first floor
behind me in the adjustment center, I can remember that he gave that blank stare and flopped down on the bed and just stared aimlessly at
the wall. And then now you see him today, he's laughing and joking, he's...
CRITTENDON: ...with the other death row inmates. He's establishing relationships or rapports with our correctional staff that work in
the death row. And he's adjusted very well to life. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Sharon, there's no other way to put this, do you want to see him put to death?
ROCHA: You mean do I want to be there when it happens?
KING: No, do you want it to happen?
ROCHA: Is that what you're asking me?
KING: No, do you want it to happen?
ROCHA: Well, that -- that is what the jury sentenced him to and that is what the judge sentenced him to, so that is his punishment. I
don't want to be there when it happens, if it ever happens.
KING: What do you make about the constant claims of innocence? Do you ever, ever have a doubt about his guilt?
ROCHA: No, I do not. Any time, if it ever creeps into my mind, I just -- I just go back and I go over the facts of what had transpired
at that time. And there is no doubt in my mind...
KING: All right. Do you ever wonder...
ROCHA: ...that he is responsible for Laci's death.
KING: Do you ever wonder why he did it?
ROCHA: Yes, of course, I do. I do wonder why. It makes no sense. And at the time when all of this happened, I was not aware of how often
this really does happen. Since Laci's murder, I've heard about it quite often, how seemingly perfectly happy couples end up in a situation like this, where the husband kills the wife and it seems to be shocking to everybody who knows them.
KING: The idea that Scott has adjusted to death row, as said by Mr. Crittendon, how do you feel about that?
ROCHA: You know, that doesn't -- that doesn't really surprise me. I would think that -- in my opinion, I think that he would have to form
his own little world to be able to survive on death row. I mean I've thought about it myself many times. I can't imagine being inside a little tiny prison cell and literally having no freedom whatsoever. So it has not surprised me at all that he has adjusted in that way.
KING: Death row inmates in California are not allowed to be interviewed on camera or on audiotape or by telephone.
Do you -- do you agree with that?
ROCHA: Yes, I do. I do agree with that. And I think that's -- one of the issues with this Internet blogging -- because even though they are not allowed to have any of the other types of interviews, they are still getting their message out and getting their point across. And most people do it on a one-on-one basis. Of course, when you're on the Internet, you're reaching millions of people.
KING: Yes, well put.
Well, by the way, what's coming up in October?
There's going to be a -- I know I'm going to be a part of it.
What is -- what is that event?
ROCHA: Well, we're really excited about it. We're having a benefit for the Laci and Connor Search and Rescue Fund. And it's going to be on October 11th at the Gallo Arts Center in Modesto. And we're having a comedy show.
Laci was always a happy, upbeat person. And she loved to laugh and she loved to make people laugh. And we decided a comedy show would be perfect as a fundraiser for her.
And we have -- our comedians at this time are Colin and Brad. And they are from the -- what's -- let me see if I can say this right --
"What's My Line, Anyway?" And then Wendy Leibman (ph). And we have a wonderful guest host and we're looking forward to it. And that host will be you, Larry King.
KING: It will be my honor.
We're going to have a little more with Sharon.
By the way, we asked the Peterson family some questions about Scott's blog and how he's doing in prison. Our questions and their answers, a little more with Sharon Rocha, ahead on LARRY KING LIVE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury in the above entitled cause, find the defendant, Scott Lee Peterson, guilty of the crime of murder of
Laci Denise Peterson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We'll be going to the Q&A with Scott's family in a little while.
We remain with Sharon Rocha. She's in Modesto, California.
We'll take a call.
Lansdale, Pennsylvania, hello.
Mrs. Rocha, I would like to just give you my sympathy on the loss of your daughter and grandson.
ROCHA: Thank you.
CALLER: And I am outraged that Scott is able to use the Internet at all. I don't know if anyone on the show can answer this question, but
I understand that ingoing mail to the prisoner and his mail going out is censored. And I don't understand -- you know, I assume that the
prison has authority over the Internet that he uses. And I don't understand why they cannot at least censor that. I think it's very
hurtful to you, your family, Laci's friends, anyone involved. I think it's sick and I cannot believe that it's allowed.
I think the law should be changed and this is really upsetting. I wish that you would fight, because your name is out there, people
know you. And I wish that you would fight to make it so that he cannot communicate with the outside world.
And I am very sorry for your loss.
ROCHA: Thank you.
KING: OK, Sharon, how would you respond?
ROCHA: I really don't know how much of the mail, incoming and outgoing, is censored, or to what extent. And here again, I don't know if there is anything that can be done about it. Like I said, I just learned about all of this a couple of days ago and I haven't had time to even research -- or at least not do very much research on what kind of rights we would have as a victim's family.
But I will be looking into it, I'm sure of that.
KING: Are you very upset over him having this Web site?
ROCHA: Yes, I am upset. It is just -- it's just not right. It's not right that he should be able to have this type of communication. Laci can't communicate with anybody, nor the victims of any of the other inmates on death row.
KING: Again, the caller apparently was wrong. He does not have direct access to the Internet.
ROCHA: That's correct. That's my understanding.
KING: You've got a wrongful death suit against, what, his family?
ROCHA: No, against Scott.
KING: Now, how do you collect something...
ROCHA: Yes, we filed that actually -- from somebody in prison. Actually, we filed the suit in December of '03, before the trial ever took place. And one of the reasons I've decided to go ahead and continue with it is because Scott has not yet admitted to what he has done. And I know he doesn't admit to it, because he claims that he did not do it. But I know that he did it. And he should take that responsibility for what he has done.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
This is Carolyn (ph). And, Sharon, I wish you all the luck in the world and I hope that you're at peace now.
And my question was -- is does the Peterson family still -- are they still investigating Scott as far as his innocence?
KING: Well, I don't know how Sharon could answer that because only the Peterson family...
ROCHA: Only what I've seen on -- right on their Web site, which is, you know, that leads me to another point, Larry, and that is, there
has been an awful lot of money on the table as far as rewards; first of all, for the safe return of Laci; then, of course, for her return.
And the Petersons have offered $250,000 for the arrest and conviction of the real killer. And you would think with that kind of money out
there, the real -- somebody would have already turned in the real killer if that person was still out there.
So it's obvious that the real person -- the person responsible for Laci's murder has already been arrested and convicted and is serving his time.
KING: You said that -- Sharon, you said that you don't think about Scott at all, right?
You don't think about Scott at all?
ROCHA: No, I really don't. I don't -- you know, occasionally, of course, he'll cross my mind. But I don't spend much time think being Scott. I think about Laci constantly but...
KING: How much?
Do you think about her every day?
ROCHA: Every single day. Oh, absolutely. There's always something that brings her to my mind. She'll never be out of my mind or out of my heart. She'll always be with me.
But as far as Scott is concerned, the way I feel about Scott is that when he murdered Laci, he died also. He ceased from exist in my life.
KING: What happened to the place where they lived?
ROCHA: It was sold at one time and then apparently -- I believe it was -- well, I was going to say -- no I don't think it -- I think it went into foreclosure, but it has been purchased again. And I don't know anything about the people who live there.
KING: Do you have any fear or worry about Scott's appeals?
ROCHA: No, not really.
Not really. I mean, you know, occasionally Scott will cross my mind. But I'm not
really concerned about it. And it would do me no good to worry about it. That's
just something that will come as a matter of time.
KING: All right, Sharon, we'll hold you just for a couple more minutes. We'll take a break. When we come back, we'll tell you what the family thinks, right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRITTENDON: Those sounds that you hear now, those are the death row inmates, about 250 to 300 of them, that are outside exercising just
on the other side of the wall with the razor wire. Scott Peterson is actually assigned to this location and he does go out to this location to exercise here on the exercise yard for death row.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: OK. A couple of other things, Sharon.
Scott's Web page -- and those of many other condemned killers -- was created by the Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty.
Would you say anything to that group?
What do you make of that?
ROCHA: You know, I really don't know anything about that group, other than my understanding is that, of course, they are trying to help
death row inmates or get rid of the death penalty, even. I don't know. I think maybe if -- if some of the people involved in that organization had a family member murdered by another family member -- or by anybody else, for that matter -- they might -- they might think differently.
KING: Before your daughter was killed...
KING: Before your daughter was killed, did you have an opinion on the death penalty?
ROCHA: Not so much. I mean I mean, well, yes, I had thought about it, of course. And I felt that, you know, if you committed murder, then
you should be put to death. But it wasn't anything that I actually went out and preached or talked about.
KING: Sharon, it is always great seeing you.
We want to add that most of the photos we've seen of Laci Peterson show her smiling. So it is certainly fitting that a comedy show is planned to raise money, as we mentioned, for the Laci Connor Search and Rescue Fund. Laughing for Laci is scheduled for October 11th in
Modesto. I'll be the emcee. For more information, check on the Web at Lacipeterson.
Thanks again, Sharon.
ROCHA: Thank you, Larry.
KING: We asked the Peterson family for comments about Scott. Here are our questions, and their answers.
What do you make of the controversy about Scott blogging from San Quentin?
And their response, "It is important to understand that neither Scott nor any other death row inmate has access to the Internet. The Web
site's blog was recently established to share the thoughts and feelings of the Peterson family and encourage public feedback. Scott's contribution is mailed to us and we post it on his behalf."
Next question: Does Scott play a role in the Web site? If so, how is his participation facilitated?
Answer, "The family, not Scott, created this Web site as part of our overall efforts to correct misinformation, provide the facts showing
Scott's innocence, and encourage anyone to come forward who can provide information on the case. That will continue to be its primary
purpose. We urge to anyone who is interested in knowing the facts to visit our Web site at ScottPetersonAppeal
Next question: Can you tell us what a routine day is like for Scott, what items does Scott surround himself with? Does he have interaction
with other inmates?
Answer, "A routine day for Scott is no different than a routine day for any other death row inmate on California's death row. Scott has a TV, typewriter, CD player, books and photos of his family. He usually has daily access to yard time, during which he can interact with other inmates.
Next question: Do you receive regular mailings from Scott and do you mail him? If yes, do you believe any of your correspondences to be
censored in any manner?
Answer, "Scott's family and loved ones receive mail from Scott and write him as well. We have no reason to believe his correspondence is
treated any differently than the correspondence of any other inmate on California's death row."
Next question: Tell us about visiting privileges for Scott. Do you visit often? Are all family members allowed to visit?
Answer, "California death row inmates are allowed one weekday and one weekend visit each week. Someone is usually able to visit Scott each week. Visitors must be over 18 and approved by both the prison and the inmate."
Next question: How are his spirits? Response, "He remains devastated by the loss of Laci and Connor. He's grateful for the support he's
received, but by the tremendous support he has received."
Finally: Does Scott believe he will be exonerated one day?
Answer, "We know Scott is innocent. And together with Scott, our family will continue to work together towards his exoneration. We'll
also continue to offer our original 250,000 dollar reward to anyone with specific information leading to Scott's exoneration, or specific
information leading to an arrest and conviction for the abduction and murder of Laci and Connor Peterson."