Defense raises questions about neighbor's odd behavior


Modesto Bee

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. -- Kim McGregor appeared to be infatuated with Scott Peterson, and she robbed his home after his wife disappeared.

Monday, Peterson's defense team pointed to McGregor as an indication that police ignored other suspects in the missing person case that turned into a double homicide.

Lead attorney Mark Geragos also suggested that Peterson's former girlfriend, Amber Frey--after she agreed to secretly record her conversations with Peterson--did not reveal some of the calls.

The questioning about McGregor and Frey came as Geragos cross-examined Modesto, Calif., police Detective Al Brocchini for a third day. The defense scored a blow toward the end of last week when Brocchini admitted that he "excised" a key piece of information from a police report.

Sgt. Ed Steele came to Brocchini's defense Friday in an interview with The Associated Press, violating a gag order in the case. This led to a sharp warning--but no sanctions--from Judge Alfred Delucchi to the Police Department.

"I'm telling you that this has to stop," Delucchi said to police Capt. Joe Aja as the fifth week of the trial got under way Monday morning. "You're my delegate. You can go tell the chief that he has to sit on his folks."

Peterson neighbor McGregor was the focus of much of Brocchini's testimony Monday. The defense maintains police turned McGregor into an informant instead of thoroughly investigating her.

Geragos elicited testimony that she had a faulty alibi for Christmas Eve 2002, the day that Laci Peterson's family reported her missing.

Brocchini testified that McGregor at first lied to police before acknowledging taking Laci Peterson's Social Security card, a video camera and clothes, including a pair of men's underwear from the Peterson home.

Geragos appeared to suggest that McGregor, whose former boyfriend had two Hawaiian roommates, might have been linked to three non-African-American dark-skinned males with a light-colored van that another neighbor reported seeing across the street from the Peterson house on Christmas Eve 2002.

Answering "no" in staccato succession, Brocchini testified that he never interviewed the former boyfriend or his roommates, or determined what car the boyfriend drove or if he had access to a van.

"In my mind she was eliminated (as a suspect)," Brocchini said. "She'd been investigated and I don't think she was involved."

Prosecutors contend that Peterson murdered his pregnant wife and unborn son, Conner, late Dec. 23 or early Dec. 24, 2002, and dumped her body in San Francisco Bay, using a recently purchased fishing boat.

The defense contends that Peterson was likely abducted while walking the couple's dog, or after she interrupted a burglary across the street, or that she was taken by people linked to different van sightings in the neighborhood, or by vagrants in a park near the Petersons' Modesto home.

"If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, you baffle them with bull," her stepfather, Ron Grantski, said Monday before entering the San Mateo County Courthouse.

McGregor told police she broke into the Peterson home in the early hours of Jan. 19, 2003. A neighbor saw McGregor throw a bundle of items into the trunk of her car and also saw her walking in the Peterson's front yard talking to herself, Brocchini testified.

At the time, Brocchini said, McGregor was intoxicated, and she was not taking medication for her mental illness. Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department records show McGregor has been booked at least three times for public drunkenness since May 2001.

McGregor used a coffee cup to smash a glass pane on a door, opened two gifts under the Christmas tree, drank some of the Petersons' Jack Daniels whiskey, made a phone call, rifled through drawers and closets, and may have lain on the couple's bed, Brocchini testified.

Scott Peterson found a pair of black cutoff sweatpants on the bed when he returned home, but McGregor denied they were hers, Brocchini testified.

Jackie Peterson, Scott's mother, previously told The Bee that items taken in the burglary included Laci Peterson's wedding dress. She said her son got the dress back, then had it cleaned and boxed. But there was mention of the wedding dress in Monday's testimony.

McGregor told police she had never met Scott Peterson before Christmas Eve 2002 but had met his wife once or twice before, Brocchini said.

In a police report, Brocchini said McGregor appeared to be infatuated with Scott Peterson. When told of that, Peterson answered: "That's great" in a sarcastic tone of voice, according to Brocchini's report.

When asked what she did on Dec. 24, 2002, McGregor gave different stories, the detective testified.

In other testimony, Brocchini said "there possibly were" some calls between Frey and Peterson that the Fresno, Calif., massage therapist did not disclose to police. But he said another detective was Frey's handler.

Last week, Brocchini said he knew about a witness who said she saw Laci Peterson on Dec. 23, 2002, at a Modesto warehouse complex where her husband kept his new fishing boat.

Brocchini acknowledged that he deleted the reported sighting from a police document.

Prosecutors have argued that Scott Peterson did not tell anyone about the boat, because he planned to use it to dump his wife's body in the bay.

Laci Peterson's presence at the warehouse also could explain how a hair _ which prosecutors contend was hers _ wound up on a pair of pliers found in the boat