Scott Peterson’s defense attorney wants the preliminary hearing in the case closed to the public, citing “exonerating evidence” received during the past week that would tip off the “true killers,” according to court documents filed Tuesday morning.
The paperwork does not indicate what type of evidence the defense allegedly possesses.
“The evidence, which demonstrates Mr. Peterson’s innocence, also provides evidence of the true killer or killers’ modus operandi and provides clues as to the method of and circumstances surrounding the killings,” lead defense attorney Mark Geragos wrote.
The defense assertion came in paperwork outlining their position on media coverage for Peterson’s preliminary hearing.
The 30-year old fertilizer salesman could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering his 27-year-old wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner.
Prosecutors are expected to lay out well-guarded evidence against Peterson at the hearing, scheduled for Sept. 9. The defense also has the opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence.
At its close, Judge Al Girolami will decide if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.
In their paperwork filed today, the defense also contends that an open preliminary hearing would compromise Peterson’s right to a fair trial because of “unprecedented” media attention.
Geragos cited Girolami’s earlier ruling imposing a gag order on attorneys and others connected to the case, which noted the media’s ability to easily “store and recall bits of information in order to relate them at any time, including during jury selection.”
Allowing the public, and thus the media, into the courtroom would allow evidence in the case to be widely disseminated among potential jurors, the defense argued.
District Attorney James Brazelton has said he wants an open preliminary hearing to counter misinformation swirling around the case.
Brazelton told The Bee earlier that prosecution evidence at the preliminary hearing would “open some eyes.”
Prosecutors are opposed to allowing cameras in the courtroom for the hearing, saying the glare of the media spotlight could intimidate witnesses and turn them into potential targets outside the courtroom.
Laci Peterson’s mother and stepfather, Sharon Rocha and Ron Grantski, also wrote Girolami opposing cameras in court.
“We can only hope that we will not be forced to relive the ugliness of the trial and forced to endure the relentless hour-after-hour, day-after-day, play-by-play broadcasts on television,” they wrote.
Girolami is slated to hear arguments Aug. 14 on how to proceed at the preliminary hearing.