Will Mark Geragos Be Scott Peterson's New Defense Attorney?
CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Aired April 30, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: What's going
on with Scott Peterson's defense? There are reports that
none other than Mark Geragos, the high-profile attorney
who's been a frequent guest on this program, could be
the new lawyer for the man charged with murdering his
pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Connor.
Joining us to discuss this and all the latest
developments in the case, Ted Rowlands of KTVU in
Modesto. He's been over this story from the get-go.
Court TV's Nancy Grace, a former prosecutor, defense
attorney Chris Pixley, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom,
assistant district attorney in San Francisco, and
defense attorney Aissa Wayne. They're all next on LARRY
We're going to start things off by going back a bit. We're going to go back to April 24. Mark Geragos, who's almost a permanent part of the LARRY KING LIVE scene, was on this program. Here's what occurred on April 24.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
There have been stories that they may widen it from the public defender?
MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, if they widen it from the public defenders, I don't know. I mean, I would never say never about any case. And this case is intriguing, if for nothing else than the more there's a lynch mob mentality out there for him, the more that it's intriguing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining us now by phone is Mark Geragos. And what can you tell us, Mark? Where do we stand with you and the Petersons?
GERAGOS: Hi, Larry. How are you?
GERAGOS: I've met with them. I've talked to Scott, and I'm going to make a decision, obviously, very shortly.
KING: You met with the parents and with Scott?
GERAGOS: Yes, I've met with the parents on a couple of occasions. They've called me up, and I've talked to them, and we've had some in-depth discussions. And I can tell you that Scott's mother especially is a very compelling advocate for her son. And I've met with Scott, and I've talked with the public defenders. I was up in Modesto yesterday. And I'm going to sleep on it and make a decision.
KING: What -- can you give us -- just a couple things, Mark. Can you give us what are the balancing points, what's for, what's against?
GERAGOS: Well, I'll tell you, the -- one of the things that -- I guess two of the things that are for, so to speak, is I think he's already universally been convicted in the court of public opinion. I mean, I don't think that there's anybody that you can talk to that doesn't just assume his guilt, and I think that -- going back to your clip on April 24 -- and by the way, I was -- I suppose I've been one of them who's been out there agreeing with Nancy Grace on occasion, much to -- to the chagrin of some your viewers, I think. And I -- you know, as a defense attorney, that is -- that's a part of what presents a challenge to you. I mean, part of why people go into criminal defense is to defend the underdog and to try to make it a truly adversarial system. And that is definitely intriguing in this case.
KING: So what's on the down side?
GERAGOS: Well, the down side is, is that it's a monumental undertaking, in terms of time, number one, and effort, and I suppose, as well, the other clients and the impact to the other lawyers in my practice. I mean, I -- there's other people that I have to think about, and I suppose that's weighed by the fact that he's -- here's somebody who is truly up against it, in terms of public opinion, if you will. And there's a whole lot of factors, others that I won't even get into, at least on the air.
KING: Knowing you, Mark, would you say you're leaning toward helping him?
GERAGOS: Yes, I would definitely say I'm leaning towards helping him.
KING: And if you were to take the case -- this is an "if." If you were to take the case, could you still appear, like, on this program?
GERAGOS: Subject to some judge placing me under a gag order, I don't see a reason not to. I mean, at a certain point, you have to wonder if -- why you would want a gag order, at this point. I mean, he's -- he's been -- as I indicated, he's been convicted basically on a drip, drip, drip. I'm sure that there'll be plenty of programs who will play some of my comments in which I indicated that there was more than enough probable cause for him to be arrested, and that's something that needs to be explained.
KING: What did -- I'm not going to go into lawyer-client confidentiality, but how did you find Scott Peterson?
GERAGOS: I was tremendously impressed by Scott, tremendously impressed. And obviously, that's something that leans towards me taking the case, as well. KING: In other words, you believe in him.
GERAGOS: I don't think that there's any doubt that I believe in him. And in a case like this, that's always a helpful thing.
KING: And your final decision will be made tomorrow?
GERAGOS: Yes, I think I will make the -- like I said, I'm going to sleep on it tonight, and I'll make the decision tomorrow.
KING: What if I bet that -- we're both -- you love horses, I love horses.
GERAGOS: Yes, we both -- we both are friends of the ponies.
KING: OK, if I bet that you would take it, would you advise me not to bet?
GERAGOS: Well, it depends, Larry. What are the odds, and what's the pole position and...
GERAGOS: ... at Santa Anita or not.
KING: I'm going to -- but you do like him very much, though.
GERAGOS: Look, I have to tell you that I -- one of the things about taking on clients is you end up practically living with them, for better or for worse. And before taking on a case, I think you'd have to -- at least, I like to be comfortable enough, especially in a case like this, that would require just such a large amount of my time and energy.
KING: OK, so the decision will be made tomorrow, but it looks like you're leaning toward defending him.
GERAGOS: Yes. You want to post the odds? I don't know, seven to -- what do you think?
KING: I'd say one to two, you defend him.
GERAGOS: One to two? Wow.
KING: Looks like a sure shot.
KING: Thanks, Mark.
GERAGOS: Thank you, Larry.
KING: See you soon.
KING: Will he be well represented, Kimberly?
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE NEWSOM, ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SF: Oh, I'll say. And I'll tell you, right now, Scott Peterson is no longer the underdog. As a prosecutor...
NEWSOM: ... my heart just dropped because we were joking about it here on the 24th, saying, Hey, the best thing that could happen to Scott Peterson is Geragos takes the case.
NEWSOM: I've had a case against Geragos, when I was a prosecutor in Los Angeles. Not only is he very bright, he's intelligent, he's ethical, judges love him, DAs love him. With him on his side, I think this just changes the whole thing.
KING: You are a fellow member of the bar. Is he...
AISSA WAYNE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, I am.
KING: Will he be -- it looks like he's going to take it. Will he be well represented?
WAYNE: I think he will be. As Kimberly said, it take a rapport with the judges, with the people, and he's going to have to establish that with the jury eventually if (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
KING: You don't like every client you represent, right? You can't.
WAYNE: You can't like every client.
KING: The fact that he likes him -- is that a plus in Scott Peterson's corner?
WAYNE: Oh, very much so.
KING: Nancy Grace, as a constant combatant with Mark Geragos, what do you make of this?
NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Well, I think that Scott has got an excellent attorney. I think that he will do all he can to get Scott Peterson off the hook. I think there's a good chance he may be able to do it, unless more evidence is turned over by the police, which I believe it will. But we can go on and on about what a great lawyer Mark Geragos is, and I agree with that. However, the jury is not made up of 12 fools that just fell off the turnip truck. They will be able to sift through the evidence, regardless of the attorneys. And can we just get real for a moment? What did you expect Mark Geragos to say, I had to hold my nose the whole time I interviewed him? Of course not. He's going to say he liked him. And Scott Peterson is very charming. He charmed Laci Peterson, her family, and Amber Frey all at the same time.
KING: Chris Pixley, do you think Geragos will represent him well?
CHRIS PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh, I think he'll represent him very well, Larry, and I do expect him to go ahead and take the case. There's no way to know right now. But Peterson needs a straight- talking defense attorney that will get out there in the public, and I love hearing that Mark will come on your show if offered the opportunity. That's what we've been saying that Scott Peterson and his camp need.
KING: And Ted Rowlands, will this be big news in Modesto?
TED ROWLANDS, KTVU-TV: Well, I'll tell you, people here are definitely betting that Mark Geragos will take this case. Folks at the public defenders all but said it this afternoon, saying they met with him yesterday and they fully expect him to take the case. On Friday, they're washing their hands of it. You could tell they're a little bit disappointed of it. But this definitely changes the mood here in Modesto and I think everywhere else.
KING: We'll take a break, come back and get into a major panel discussion with all of our panelists. We'll be including your phone calls. And it looks like Geragos is on board. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN ABRAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: There are a lot of lawyers who've been interested in representing Scott.
MATT LAUER, CO-HOST "TODAY": High-profile lawyers.
ABRAMS: Some -- well, I can tell you one person that -- Mark Geragos, who's a well-known lawyer, represented Winona Ryder, a lot of other high-profile people, has been in Modesto in the last day or so. And we know that there have been other lawyers who've been contacting Scott and their family or who the family has been contacting themself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: By the way, there has to be an official hearing if Geragos takes over, and that will take place on Friday, I think, to change counsel. Kirk McAllister, who was Scott Peterson's first attorney, you'll remember, will be on "DATELINE" later tonight, and here's a quote that he says on that show, and I want you to comment. He says, "The police put the bull's-eye on his chest from the beginning," meaning Scott. "All the hokum that they were saying about, We don't consider him a suspect, is hokum. The police, knowing that I was representing him, made end runs around me to directly talk to Scott without me there. I knew that the rules of engagement had changed, and this was going to be a street fight. The police approached this entire case with the attitude of a theory to begin with."
What do you make of that?
NEWSOM: Yes. I think that he's speaking out of school, and I totally disagree. I think that the police did a fair and thorough investigation in this case. And again, I don't think this was the conclusion that they wanted to arrive at, that her husband was the one responsible for killing his wife and his unborn child?
KING: They wanted another conclusion?
KING: Aissa, what do you think?
WAYNE: Well, from the very beginning, who's going to be the first suspect? It's going to be the husband. And it seemed to appear that way. I just don't think they had enough evidence at the time to charge him. And obviously, they're going to go through to the lawyer to try to get to the defendant prior to criminal charges being filed, and that's what they did.
KING: Aissa, by the way, in case you see any likeness, is the daughter of the late John Wayne. If you haven't heard of him, you're living on another planet.
KING: Nancy Grace, what do you make of that statement made by the former lawyer?
GRACE: Well, I would expect that. That's a very typical defense ploy. When you don't have the facts, argue the law. When you don't have the law, argue against the police and against the prosecutor. And that's what we will see shaping up at trial. I predict that is the theme we will hear over and over.
But let's just remind everyone, our viewers -- and Mr. Geragos, if you're listening, Mark -- the police interviewed over 200 sex offenders registered in that area. They canvassed the park. They interviewed transients, neighbors, old boyfriends, family, you name it. If anybody put a bull's-eye on Scott Peterson, it was Scott Peterson, by his refusal to cooperate with police, his lies on national TV and his alibi that stunk up the whole room! Let me just be blunt!
KING: Really, Nancy?
Chris Pixley, what do you think of the statements made by the former lawyer, Kirk McAllister?
PIXLEY: Well, I think they're consistent with what we've seen throughout the case. There are no other suspects in this case. The police were using sonar to scan the bottom of the San Francisco Bay from day one in this case. If there was some other suspect, we've never heard it, Larry. So I don't know that you can come to the conclusion that the prosecution panelists have come to this easily, that the police and the DA's office were actually looking for someone else. I don't know that there's any evidence of that.
KING: Ted Rowlands, you're on the scene. Did the police do, in your opinion, a thorough job?
ROWLANDS: Well, they sure seemed to take their time with it. And they will tell you that they explored every possible lead in this case, and maybe they didn't publicize it or come out and said, We were doing this or this, on any given day, but they say that they explored everything and it just kept coming back to Scott Peterson. I ran into Mr. McAllister today on the street and have talked to him before. He believes that his investigation has yielded enough clues and enough evidence to clear Scott Peterson. But one thing that he'll admit and everybody else will admit is that there are 5,000 pieces of discovery that have yet to be turned over. So nobody really knows what the prosecution's going to have here.
KING: Ted, why is he no longer the lawyer?
ROWLANDS: Well, that's a good question. I don't know. I think, originally, it was a financial decision made by the Petersons. They sat down and discussed what it was going to cost the family, and I think they made a decision at that time that they wanted to, at least in the interim, go to a public defender. And who knows what situation developed with Mr. Geragos or anybody else, but money was the issue to get rid of Mr. McAllister.
KING: Kimberly, what kind of prosecutor should prosecute it? Should it be a -- the mild type, or should it be a, for want of a better term, a Nancy Grace type.
NEWSOM: A Nancy Grace type?
KING: Nancy Grace would be a good prosecutor on this.
NEWSOM: She'd be a good prosecutor...
GRACE: I'm taking that as a compliment.
NEWSOM: ... match, Mark and Nancy.
KING: It's a compliment, Nancy.
NEWSOM: Then that would definitely -- I'd say advantage prosecution. Sorry, Mark. But...
KING: If Nancy -- oh, that would be...
NEWSOM: Absolutely. Absolutely. Then I'd be happy tonight.
KING: So you'd want an aggressive prosecutor. NEWSOM: I'd want an aggressive prosecutor that's going to show that this person is not who he pretends to be, that he's been misleading the whole time, and that he's the one responsible. And I think the prosecution's going to put a case together, a strong one, to show that.
KING: What does the defense have to do, Aissa?
WAYNE: Well, it's just amazing that all the prosecution's theories and evidence are out there in the media, but we haven't heard much from the defense.
KING: And Mark says the other night...
WAYNE: There's a lot we don't know.
KING: ... the defense has not come forward.
KING: The prosecution's had the media ballgame so far, right?
GRACE: Well -- well...
KING: And you think there is -- hold it, Nancy. You think there is another story to tell.
WAYNE: Oh, absolutely, there is. We haven't heard anything from the defense.
KING: Nancy, isn't that true? The public defender hasn't made any public statements.
GRACE: The lawyers? Forget about that! What about Scott Peterson? Am I the only one that saw him lying to Diane Sawyer on national TV and then in his local television, as well? I pity Geragos, in the sense that -- not that I don't think he's a great lawyer because I think not only is he a good lawyer, but he's very likable and personable, which goes a long way with a jury. But Scott Peterson has torpedoed himself by giving inconsistent statements to national media. And as far as what kind of lawyer it takes to prosecute a death penalty or defend a death penalty, you've got to believe. You've got to believe that your cause is so important, it is worth life and death! That's the kind of prosecutor you need.
KING: And the same kind of defense lawyer, too, right?
GRACE: Absolutely. You've got to have...
KING: Both parties should have...
GRACE: ... the feeling in your stomach, in your heart, all your strength, all your energy, all your focus, all your time on that case. That's the kind of lawyer both sides need. KING: Chris Pixley, what does the defense have to do?
PIXLEY: Oh, I think, first of all, if Mark Geragos gets his hands on this case, Larry, one of the first things that he's going to do is trot out everything that's right about Scott Peterson. You know, Nancy points out the lies and the fact that he's been reluctant to talk about this extramarital affair he had. But remember, there's so much that's right about Scott Peterson. This is a man who was a provider for his family. He has, by all beings, been a supportive husband. And he has no past criminal history, no past criminal record.
And Larry, one other thing that happens in these cases -- you know, when a case gets this kind of national attention, people come out of the woodwork. There has been no one -- no former high school friend and no former sweetheart -- no one that's come forward that said, You know, this guy was creepy. He was dangerous years ago, and I always thought that he was capable of something like this. We've heard nothing but that Scott Peterson is a good person, and we've heard that, in fact, from family friends and even from Laci Peterson's family until very recently.
I think Mark Geragos, if he does get his hands on this case, will make everyone aware of that fact and probably get the discussion going again.
KING: Ted Rowlands, I understand, what, a newspaper up there is reporting about Geragos already?
ROWLANDS: Yes, "The Modesto Bee" this morning has a picture of Scott in the middle, and surrounded by Scott is a pictorial of Mark Geragos with some of his other clients -- Gary Condit, Susan McDougal and Winona Ryder. So this came out yesterday, that he was in town and he met with the public defender's office. And you could imagine, it sent a buzz here at the -- here in Modesto, around everybody who is following this case.
KING: And based on Geragos's conversation with us at the beginning of the show tonight, it looks like, as they say in the parlance, a mortal lock.
We'll be back with more. We'll be including your phone calls. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP -- "HARDBALL")
MICKEY SHERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think what Mark Geragos has done over these many months that this case has been talked about is basically stand up for the proposition that, Hey, this guy is in trouble. The evidence points against him. There is literally mountains of bad PR. And everyone seems to be spinning against him, and his goose is cooked. But that doesn't mean -- and he in no way conceded he's guilty. I think he's only been talking, as we all have, about the public's perception of whether he's guilty or not.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Tomorrow night at the beginning of our show, President Bush will have remarks about the end of the war in Iraq. We'll follow it up with a major panel to discuss those remarks.
Chris Pixley has a question for Nancy Grace, and I will allow it. Mr. Pixley, go.
PIXLEY: Thank you, Larry. Well, among other problems, Nancy, I want to know how you contend with the fact that there is no evidence of physical abuse in this relationship between Scott Peterson and Laci Peterson.
GRACE: Well, unfortunately, the only witness to that is dead. So -- I don't know...
KING: If it occurred. You assume it, then. You're assuming it.
GRACE: Well, yes, that was the question. I'm going -- I'm answering the question I've just heard. And having been a volunteer at a battered women's center on a hotline for about 10 years in inner- city Atlanta, let me assure you that Scott Peterson, if he is, in fact, guilty, is not going to get a gold star or an A-plus from his jury that his first act of violence was double murder. I do agree with you that it's to his benefit that we don't know about any prior abuse, but I've handled many, many murder cases where there was no prior abuse, and I'm talking about domestic homicide.
PIXLEY: But Nancy, you believe...
PIXLEY: ... that we can show premeditation in this case, that the prosecution is going to be able to show that.
GRACE: Well, yes, but premeditation can be formed in an instant, the twinkling of the eye. It doesn't require a long, drawn-out plot. But here there seems to be evidence on such a plot, plotting the current, the tide, the wind at the location where Laci was disposed. I mean, there's a lot of premeditation evidence here.
KING: Kimberly, someone asked me today, how about the fact -- how did he get the body, cement and the whole thing in a 14-foot boat?
NEWSOM: Well, I mean, obviously, he took some planning into this whole thing. I think it...
KING: If he did is.
NEWSOM: ... if he did it on the 23rd, then transported the body in the truck to the boat, and I think he was able to do t. I think it would all fit. I saw pictures of the boat, and I think it was definitely doable, and I think that's what occurred.
KING: Prosecutors (UNINTELLIGIBLE) have discounted them. Will the defense introduce those witnesses who say they saw her on the 24th? WAYNE: Well, it depends on the defense's theory. And we really don't know what those witnesses are going to say fully. We've heard parts of what the witnesses have said. We don't know about the girlfriend.
KING: Is the theory based a lot on what the client tells you? In other words, do you do a full -- do you want the full story from your client? Some lawyers don't want to know anything.
WAYNE: No, not necessarily.
KING: You don't necessarily want to know the whole story?
WAYNE: No, you don't, necessarily, want to know...
KING: What do you want to know?
WAYNE: You want to know -- you want to know the facts, as who has the facts out there. Other people who have the facts. You want to know those facts are going to come into evidence. And you want facts in favor of your client. And one very important fact that Chris brought up is that it really has been -- he doesn't fit the profile of a murderer in the domestic relationship.
KING: Nancy, how do you respond to that, that he -- everyone seems to like him? He doesn't fit a profile.
GRACE: That's what we know now, and I would like to just fall back on the experience I had of prosecuting murders week in, week out. Very often, you don't have a known history of violence on behalf of a murderer. But I would welcome the defense to attempt to bring in good character of Scott Peterson at trial because once that is done, that triggers the state being allowed to bring in bad character evidence. Right now, we don't know of any good or bad character evidence, but bad character evidence is not allowed at trial unless and until the defense opens the door with good character. So I would challenge the defense to bring on good character and see what the state has to offer.
KING: Chris, it doesn't appear that -- does this case appear to you very winnable for the defense?
PIXLEY: Larry, I think it can be won, actually. I know that I have been the lone voice of reason on this point, and I'm in the minority, but there's still so much that we don't know about the case. You know, consider this. A rational man doesn't premeditate murder without some motive, and yet there is no motive in this case. There's nothing to explain the behavior of Scott Peterson here. So either he's a madman and completely irrational, which I don't think anyone believes, or he must have premeditated this murder, and there's no explanation for that, Larry. So there's so much that the prosecution still needs to do if they're going to win this case.
KING: Ted Rowlands, what is the mood in Modesto? Is there any change in that mood, or is it still universally against Scott?
ROWLANDS: Well, it's hard to really assess that. I think maybe after Friday, if Mr. Geragos takes this case, we'll be able to assess it a little bit more. Today, really tough to get a feel for it. But you know, it's -- either you're on his side or you're totally against him right now. Whether that will come together a bit remains to be seen. The folks that know Scott Peterson, the folks that have known him the longest continue to stay by his side and say that there's nothing in his history that would make them believe that he could be capable of this.
GRACE: Hey, Larry?
KING: Yes? I'm sorry. Go ahead, Nancy.
GRACE: Larry, you asked Chris, could the case be won by the defense? I think there is a very good chance that the defense could win this case, based on the facts as we know them now. You've asked me to speculate as to guilt or innocence, but if you take a hard look at the facts, the state has got to come up with something besides demeanor and circumstantial evidence. They've got to come up with a DNA link, a cement link, some type of statement or confession on line or to his girlfriend or those anchors.
KING: So your feelings are based on the fact that you think they will come up with something?
GRACE: I firmly believe that and...
KING: Or have something already.
GRACE: Yes. I'm assessing the amount of evidence they took from the home, their very guarded statements and the fact that a lot of that evidence they took from the home went to the serology unit of the crime lab, which is blood, saliva or sperm. That tells me they've got DNA.
KING: Is there little they give out, Kimberly?
NEWSOM: Yes, they're keeping that under wraps. But again, I think this is going to shape up to be a very strong circumstantial evidence case. DNA and fingerprints are circumstantial evidence...
KING: Of course...
NEWSOM: ... not direct evidence, so...
KING: Everything that's not circumstantial is eyewitness, right?
NEWSOM: Absolutely. That's direct.
KING: Everything else is circumstantial.
NEWSOM: Or confession.
KING: Or confession. That -- that's cincher.
NEWSOM: We'd like to see that in this case.
KING: We're going to take a break, come back and include your phone calls. We'll reintroduce our panel. Don't go away.
KING: Let's reintroduce the panel. In Modesto is Ted Rowlands, reporter for KTVU-TV, KTVU-TV. He's been covering this since the start. Nancy Grace, our anchor of "Trial Heat" on Court TV, former prosecutor. Chris Pixley's in Atlanta, the famed defense attorney. Here in Los Angeles, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom. She's the assistant district attorney from San Francisco. And Aissa Wayne, the defense attorney who formerly, by the way, was the deputy city attorney for the city of Los Angeles. Let's include some calls. Newcastle, California. Hello.
CALLER: Good evening, Larry.
CALLER: I want to say good evening and good evening to your panel, and a special fantastic compliment to Nancy Grace. You are such an icon for anyone that's interested in the legal aspects here. Thank you so much for your sincerity. I have a question, my question is this, does anybody know if Scott Peterson made a phone call with his cell phone that day to check on his wife's condition or if she was OK? That I have not heard anybody mention. I know he's got...
KING: Chris is shaking his head no. What's your answer, Chris?
PIXLEY: And Nancy's shaking her head yes. No, that evidence is out there, we haven't seen it.
GRACE: I've seen it.
GRACE: I've heard it, and I heard it from Scott Peterson, in his interviews. He stated he called Laci a couple of times and nobody answered.
PIXLEY: He has expressly denied that. He has said that he called Laci days afterward. We watched the tape together.
GRACE: Laci -- I think you're referring to Amber Frey, the girlfriend.
PIXLEY: It's Amber. Excuse me.
GRACE: She asked about Laci, and he stated repeatedly on national television that he tried to call Laci several times that day on his cell phone, and never did he contact anybody else until late in the afternoon around almost 6:00 p.m.
KING: Is there any witness, Chris, who can help the defense in your opinion? PIXLEY: Well, I think that we saw two last night. Bill Curtis was on last night, discussing this A&E special, Vivian Mitchell, Homer Maldonado (ph), each came forward and said, listen, I've seen, I saw Laci Peterson, this beautiful, dark-haired, pregnant woman walking her golden retriever in La Luna (ph) Park on the morning of December 24, and they've even said this is the same person I've seen, obviously, now in the media.
KING: Why are they being -- why are they discounted?
PIXLEY: I don't know that they are being discounted.
KING: All right. Are they, Kimberly?
NEWSOM: Yes, I think the Modesto Police Department thinks that they are mistaken and in fact, that was not Laci, but another pregnant woman in the neighborhood.
KING: Ted Rowlands, you want to chime in on that?
ROWLANDS: Yes, the Modesto Police did not call Ms. Mitchell back, they say, because she left a very detailed message. They took that information and took it into account within that investigation, and they say -- that's all they needed from her. They knew that for whatever reason that it wasn't Laci that she saw, and as Kimberly mentioned, there were two other pregnant women in that area, one of them had a golden retriever.
GRACE: Hold on. They actually interviewed the woman that was walking her dog. They've talked to the pregnant lady that was out that morning walking her dog in front of Ms. Mitchell's home. So I hope the defense does bring that up, and the state will be able to counter that with the actual woman who was taking a walk.
KING: Aissa, would you put her on?
WAYNE: Yes, I would. I mean, how coincidental is it to have a pregnant woman with long, dark hair walking the same type of dog? I mean, that's something that needs to be explored a little bit.
KING: Greeley, Colorado, hello.
CALLER: Hi, I have a question for Nancy.
CALLER: Nancy, I was wondering, I've been following the case rather closely and it was mentioned a couple of nights ago that Scott's parents are of moderate or average means. How do they intend to pay for someone like Mark Geragos?
KING: Let me answer that for you, Nancy, and then you can respond, but Geragos did tell me they are of adequate means to pay his fee.
GRACE: And not only that, very often you'll see lawyers come into a case for reasons other than the money. Of course, a lot of Geragos' clients have been wealthy and have been able to pay him a handsome sum, but in this case, it may not be all about the money. And also, as sad as it is, I've seen families hock their homes, sell their cars, cash in their whole life insurance policies, all to pay for a defense, and we know he just sold his country club membership for $25,000. That's a nice downpayment for Geragos.
KING: Milwaukee, hello.
CALLER: I would like to ask either Ted or Chris, voices of reason in this panel, can they possibly refuse to change -- have a change of venue, and do you think the police or whoever it is had a rush to judgment? I don't want Nancy interrupting everybody, like she usually does. It was awful with Mark and Mickey Sherman the other night. She let nobody talk.
KING: Chris, you want to respond first and then we'll let Aissa and Ted respond -- Chris?
PIXLEY: Well, I think there definitely has been a rush to judgment here. I think that Mark Geragos, if he takes the case, or whoever takes the case, does have a lot to go on. I think Ted may actually have more information, though, on this.
ROWLANDS: Well, investigators we talked to say, you know, we don't do this as a hobby. We do it for a living. We would never rush to judgment in this case. We've looked at everything, and it just keeps coming back to Scott Peterson. I've (AUDIO GAP). We'll have to wait and see. There's a lot of evidence, I think, that hasn't come out yet, and right off the bat, they had a confidence level for a small town and a small police department that led folks who were watching this closely to believe that they have something, something that hasn't come out yet that brings them toward Scott Peterson.
PIXLEY: And Larry, if I could.
PIXLEY: The only thing that's disturbing about all of that is the fact that the search warrants have been sealed. That's not really the norm. And what it means is we can't see the probable cause affidavits, we don't really know what the prosecution is going after. Earlier, Kimberly and Nancy talked about all of the evidence that's been brought out of the home, but the prosecution hasn't let us know what evidence it is, and so we don't know what they still don't have.
KING: And when, Aissa, do you get to see that evidence? When does the defense get to see it?
WAYNE: It depends on how the court's going to rule on it. I think they're going to have a hearing on whether we unseal those or not.
KING: And what would deny -- why not unseal them? What would be an argument to leave them sealed?
WAYNE: Well, an argument would be that it gets out.
KING: So what?
WAYNE: This case is starting out in the press, and he's already guilty, like his first attorney said, so I think they would want to keep it sealed and just have the courts see it.
KING: Nancy, would you want it kept sealed?
GRACE: Well, in this case the state has articulated why it wanted the documents to remain sealed. The media mounted a huge battle to unseal the search warrants before Peterson was arrested. Those search warrants, I disagree with what Chris Pixley said, included evidence as to wiretaps, and wiretaps search warrants are hardly ever made public until the time of trial. You don't want to tip off the suspect that they're being recorded. And also, as to the lady caller, I would like to apologize for my manners. I take murder very seriously, as a crime victim myself, especially the murder of a defenseless woman like Laci.
KING: Kimberly -- yes, go ahead, Chris.
Ted, I'm sorry.
ROWLANDS: OK. Just to clarify a little bit on the search warrants, the media took this to court, asked for them to be unsealed. The judge at the time said no, not until an arrest has been made. Well, an arrest was made, but in the interim, this subject got pushed up to the court of appeals, and they've just been sitting on it for the last week. So as a personal point of contention, I don't see any reason why they shouldn't be unsealed when the presiding judge when it was first brought up said as soon as someone is arrested in this case, they should be unsealed.
KING: Why are they sealed, Kimberly?
NEWSOM: There's a lot of reasons. In my particular case, the dog mauling case, there were so many sensitive documents and salacious material that the judge said in public interest, a lot of this is irrelevant, we've got to keep it out. In this case, I think they're doing it because it could affect the change of venue motion as well. And also, as Nancy said, they don't want to tip off the defendant, Scott Peterson, and let them see where they're going in this case. It might open up soon, though. He'll lift the order.
KING: Aissa, there's no doubt they're going to ask for change of venue, right?
KING: Which you would do, too. WAYNE: Yes.
KING: Do you think it will be granted?
WAYNE: I don't think so. We've got a lot of other cases, high profile case that it's been denied, and O.J.
KING: So you think the history is on the side of leaving it where it is?
WAYNE: I do.
KING: We'll take a break, we'll be back with more calls on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't forget, tomorrow night President Bush addresses the nation right as we go on the air, and then we'll follow that up with a major panel.
Friday night, Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke. Next Monday night, Lisa Marie Presley. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like Mark Geragos of Winona Ryder fame may be well on his way to representing Scott Peterson. Here's what we know. We know that Mark Geragos has been in Modesto recently. We know he's met with the Peterson family. As far as we know, he has not yet taken the case, but it appears from what happened on CNN last Monday night that something is brewing and here's what we know.
Mark Geragos is a regular on the Larry King show and he talks about the Scott Peterson case a lot. He was on with Nancy Grace of Court TV last Monday night and they had an exchange which may have played Mark Geragos' hand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back. Knoxville, Tennessee, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry.
CALLER: My question is for Chris and Aissa. How hard is it to get potential jurors selected and feel comfortable going to trial for the defense team? And I'll hang up.
KING: Good question.
KING: Yes. Let Aissa go first and then Chris.
WAYNE: The question is how difficult is it to pick the jury?
KING: Yes, to find jurors that are going to be, let's say, totally have no opinion on this case.
WAYNE: Well, I think it will be difficult in this case because he really has been branded guilty. But you just have to interview the jury and really sort them out, ask a lot of questions of the jury. And I think in court it will be incumbent on the court on the judge to do that.
KING: Chris, do you think you could get an independent jury?
PIXLEY: Well, I think that a lot needs to happen between now and the time of trial if you're going to have a chance, Larry.
We talked last night about the fact that right now the jury pool is being polluted with evidence, character assassinations on Scott Peterson. If the defense counsel steps forward and reminds everyone about what's right about Scott Peterson, evens the playing field, then I think there's a chance.
Of course, the downside is everyone around the country has been following this case with intense interest. So you're going to have a jury pool of no matter how many hundred of people you poll that will know a great deal more about this case than the average juror knows when they go with the jury.
KING: Kimberly, you agree?
NEWSOM: Yes. I already know who I would want on this jury. I would want women and men that have children at home, that are family people. To me, men that I've talked to tend to be more open-minded about jumping to any conclusions as to his guilt or innocence, although everyone's outraged and thinks he's done it. Women tend to be very firm about their opinions on this case.
KING: Nancy, the prosecution wants a fair jury, right?
GRACE: That's right. I believe they will be able to get a fair jury. We are all speculating based on the trickles of evidence that we have heard. We do not know the state's case. We don't know the defense case.
And Larry, those jurors are sworn under oath. Not just witnesses are sworn. That they will be fair and impartial. And if they can't do that, if they can't take that oath and swear to impartiality, they're out. They're booted. And I think that people love our system of justice and that they will be honest and impartial.
KING: Baker, Montana, hello?
CALLER: Hi, my question is for the entire panel and thanks for taking my question.
CALLER: I was wondering, since Mark Geragos has been on your show, Larry, and he and Nancy have had some exchanges and has basically agreed with her about Scott Peterson, are some of those comments going to come back and affect him in the courtroom?
KING: Ted Rowlands, do you think it will?
ROWLANDS: I wouldn't think so. What happens in the courtroom and what happens outside shouldn't matter. My legal expertise is about zero, but he sure has said some things on this program and others that lead folks to believe that he thinks there's quite a case against Scott Peterson.
I'm sure that he'll retract those arguments. In fact someone said the last couple of times he appeared on this show he seems to have changed his tune a little bit.
NEWSOM: First off, anything that Mark Geragos has said on this show cannot be used against Scott Peterson. What will happen is the media will play it. And we'll see sound bites just to show inconsistencies. But it's going to be kept out of the case.
KING: Pleasanton, California. Hello.
CALLER: Yes. Good evening. I believe my question was probably already answered, but the question is with the major part of the country, the feeling being that he's guilty why does an attorney like Mark Geragos take on a case like this, is it the notoriety, the money? Or what is it?
KING: Chris, why?
PIXLEY: There's a great challenge in this case, Larry. I think that it will ultimately come down to something that Mark said at the top of the hour and that's simply whether he believes in Scott Peterson.
One of the things I love about Nancy Grace is that she believes and is passionate about her cases. Good defense attorneys feel the same way and they take the same approach. If Mark believes in Scott Peterson and believes in his family and their story, then I think that he will take the case and do a good job with it.
KING: Ted Rowlands...
KING: Nancy, go ahead.
GRACE: There's another issue regarding things that Geragos has said on air. Any good lawyer, any lawyer worth their salt takes a long hard look at the other side, weighs the strength of argument and decides how to combat those arguments. And Geragos, analyzing the state's case, saying they've got a pretty strong case is what any good defense attorney will do in preparing the defense.
PIXLEY: And, Larry, if I can break in also, I think Mark, from what I have seen of his interviews, has been very consistent throughout and say, listen, I do think there's a case of probable cause here. But it's a long way from probable cause to reasonable doubt.
KING: Ted Rowlands, I understand they've removed the shrines from in front of the house. Is that true?
ROWLANDS: Yes. It was completely cleared out when we drove by this afternoon. It wasn't the case yesterday. Presumably it was the Rocha family taking those things. They have donated all of the items that were in the Peterson home's front yard to a charity. Presumably, that's what happened.
KING: We'll take a break and come back with the remaining moments, get more phone calls in. Don't go away.
KING: We are told that we have Lee Peterson on the phone. He is Scott Peterson's
father. Are you there, Lee?
LEE PETERSON, SCOTT PETERSON'S FATHER: Yes, sir, Larry I sure am.
KING: How did it go with Mr. Geragos? He was on at the beginning of the show. He said he's sleeping on it and is going to make a decision tomorrow. What do you expect?
PETERSON: Well, we'll just have to see what he has to say. Larry, the reason I called, I'd like to address a question to Nancy.
KING: Go ahead.
PETERSON: Nancy Grace. Nancy, I've watched
many programs, I don't like to watch them, but it kind of keeps me informed, and
I can feel the public sentiment. And I just have to say, for some reason you
seem to have a personal stake in this, a personal vendetta against my son and I
do not understand it. When you come on and you state things about my son, it is
so obvious that you are just caught up in this thing and there's no room for,
you know, innocence until proven guilty. And I'm just appalled by that. I don't
think that's your place to be a spokesman for -- for the district attorney, and
KING: Before she responds, Lee, are you hopeful that Mark Geragos takes the case?
PETERSON: Yes, I am. I am. Mark's a wonderful man. We met him twice.
KING: I know, it appears he's going to. All right, Nancy, how do you respond?
GRACE: Well, I respond like this, Larry -- in all the many, many cases that I prosecuted I felt that I not only represented the state, but as a crime victim of murder, the victim as well. I do not presume to be representing the DA's office. That would be highly presumptuous. I take the facts as I hear them and I apply the law as I know it. And after trying well over 100 felony trials before juries, it's my belief that there's a very strong case against Scott, but in response to his father's call, I know he may not believe it, but my heart goes out to him and the pain his family's having, but I am speaking on behalf of what I believe to be true, on behalf of Laci Peterson, neither against Scott, for Scott, for the state, against the state, but what I believe to be true regarding her murder.
PETERSON: Nancy, do you hear me?
KING: Yes, she can hear you.
PETERSON: You are speculating on these facts as much as I am...
GRACE: And you are believing what your son is telling you.
PETERSON: Please don't interrupt me. You've had your say here for months, and you've crucified my son on national media. And he's a wonderful man. You have no idea of his background and what a wonderful son and wonderful man he is. You have no knowledge of that and you sit there as a judge and jury, I guess, and you're convicting him on the national media, and you should be absolutely ashamed of yourself.
GRACE: Sir, I think he should be ashamed of himself, as whoever is responsible for the death of Laci Peterson, and lashing out at me -- I completely understand where you're coming from. I am simply stating what has been leaked or what has been put in formal documents, and if you find them disturbing, I suggest you ask your son about some of them, sir.
PETERSON: There you go, Nancy. Look at this look on Nancy's face. You absolutely hate my son. I don't know what it is.
GRACE: No, I don't hate your son. I don't know your son.
PETERSON: You don't know my son, that's exactly right.
GRACE: But I hate what happened to Laci.
PETERSON: You should be...
GRACE: I hate what's happened to Laci.
KING: I assume, Lee, you hate what happened to Laci, too, don't you? Don't you? You loved Laci, didn't you, Lee?
PETERSON: Oh, absolutely. Laci was like a daughter to us. When we lived near them, we saw her every day. We loved her deeply as any of our daughters.
KING: Would you admit...
KING: Would you admit -- and Nancy may be (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at times, it's certainly the indications are that your -- if your son wasn't involved, he sure has acted differently, wouldn't you admit that, Lee?
PETERSON: Differently from what, Larry?
KING: Different from...
PETERSON: Is there a game plan that shows how you should act?
KING: No, I guess there isn't.
PETERSON: He's lost his wife. He's lost his baby. He's lost the support of his in-laws who loved him, who couldn't say enough about him the first couple of months, and then when this affair turns up they all turn against him.
KING: Do you think it was the affair that turned the people?
KING: Nancy, Lee is saying no affair and there wouldn't be this national feeling that he did it.
GRACE: I disagree, and I'm basing this on the facts as I know them. It's the facts that -- they have been released, and I recall distinctly speaking with the Peterson family prior to the revelation of Amber Frey, and they swore up and down there were no marital problems, there were no affairs, because that is what Scott told them. In my mind, it ruined his credibility. This is not just lying about an affair. This is lying during a homicide investigation where your wife is the victim. And I don't mean to be harsh on you, sir, but these are the facts as I know them. Maybe they'll turn up different in court.
PETERSON: You don't have any facts. All you have is your anger and your speculation. I think you hate men.
KING: There are -- there are, Nancy. Nancy, there are no facts in this case, are there, Nancy?
GRACE: ... they have been reported, Larry.
GRACE: They're facts as they have been reported.
KING: Oh, that's different. Facts, an actual fact. It is not a fact until it's in evidence, right?
GRACE: Well, in a jury trial, of course.
KING: OK, so we don't know that there was cement on his boat, do we? We only know what the prior -- we only know what the prior owner stated, that he observed cement in the boat that was not there when he sold the boat.
KING: We also know a lady said she saw Laci walking with -- we don't know -- what facts do we know know?
PETERSON: Larry, may I address that?
PETERSON: That's Scott's boat in custody, and there you are, for two months, prior to calling the former owner. Now don't you think the police have made a thorough investigation and know exactly what's on the interior of that boat? And they get this former owner over, and he said, well, I see some powder in here. Well, I mean, how absurd can you be? The police know what that...
KING: Isn't one of the dangers we all face, Nancy, is that we do jump to conclusions?
PETERSON: Nancy is...
KING: Based on what's reported to us. We don't know know.
GRACE: Well, Larry, I mean, without a videotape of what went down on the 23rd or 24th, we will never know exactly what happened. But as a trial lawyer, I take facts as I know them, as they've been reported to me on the media, by witnesses, by news outlets, by leaks from the police, and we apply the law as we know it, and that is a conclusion that I've come up with. And Mr. Peterson, I understand you're angry, but if you want answers to these questions, ask Scott. You claim I don't know, you may be right. He's the only one that knows what happened that day.
PETERSON: I'm not angry about these facts that you seem to come up with. I'm angry about your position...
GRACE: I didn't come up with them, sir. Your son went on national TV and lied.
KING: All right, let's ask this way, if his son is innocent, his son doesn't know what happened that night.
Lee, how is your son?
PETERSON: He's hurting, Larry. He's lost a lot of weight. He looks terrible. He's in this jail where there's no natural sunlight. He gets out for exercise 45 minutes twice a week.
KING: We're running close on time. We are going to invite you to come in again, Lee. I will ask you this, though. Does he have a theory of the case?
PETERSON: Does he have -- yes, well, he believes she was snatched off the street, as we all do. That's why the dog was running around in the neighborhood.
KING: All right.
PETERSON: She was picked up by someone who -- I don't know -- an impulsive act, I suppose.
KING: We have run over. Lee, we are going to have you back on. I hope you'll agree to come back on. Nancy, we thank you very much.
PETERSON: Nancy, could I just say one more thing, Larry?
PETERSON: Find a little room in your heart to -- for innocence, would you please? Don't -- don't convict him over the airwaves. Please. Thank you.
KING: We thank Ted Rowlands, Nancy Grace, Chris Pixley, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom and Aissa Wayne, all for joining us. We have run over in time. We thank CNN for relinquishing that time to us so that we could hear from Scott Peterson's father, Lee. And we are going to turn it now directly over to "NEWSNIGHT," and I finally get the chance to do it again. Here's my man, Aaron Brown.