shown video of cop quizzing suspect
Peterson was calm, emotionless, detective testifies
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Scott Peterson appeared calm and
emotionless even as a police detective grilled him on
his whereabouts the day his wife disappeared and later
when the detective accused him of having multiple
extramarital affairs, according to testimony at his
double-murder trial Tuesday.
Peterson sipped from a coffee cup, stuck his hands in his pockets, talked in a steady and calm voice and even joked about misfiring his gun, during the interview by Detective Al Brocchini at the Modesto Police Department. The interview, recorded by video camera and played for jurors Tuesday, took place just after midnight Dec. 25, 2002, six hours after Peterson reported his wife, Laci, missing.
Throughout the hour long video, Peterson expresses little concern for his missing pregnant wife. He also appears unconcerned about questions relating to what he'd done and where he'd been earlier that day.
Peterson was arrested four months later and charged with killing his eight-months pregnant wife and their unborn baby.
Brocchini testified that his job in the investigation was to eliminate Peterson as a suspect since he was the last person to see his wife alive. But it wasn't long before police focused on the fertilizer salesman as their prime suspect.
On Feb. 1, 2003, Brocchini, acting on information culled through a wiretap, started tailing Peterson in Fresno, the hometown of Peterson's mistress Amber Frey. Peterson, however, spotted Brocchini and approached him, thanking the detective for appearing on America's Most Wanted about the case.
But Brocchini didn't return the pleasantries and instead challenged Peterson.
"I said you've got some explaining to do, you're not acting like a man who's missing his wife,'' Brocchini testified.
When Peterson tried to explain why he had stopped on the side of the road, Brocchini again confronted him, this time about evidence of other girlfriends.
"I've got pictures,'' Brocchini said he told Peterson, who then walked away. "He was emotionless, matter of fact, calm."
The taped interview shows Brocchini testing Peterson's hands for gunpowder residue, because police found a pistol in his glove box. Peterson shows little concern when he asks Brocchini if exhaust from the boat would test positive for gunpowder. He tells the detective that he hadn't fired the gun in the past year and kept it because he was a hunter. He laughs as he describes trying to shoot the gun once, only to have it misfire.
In the interview, Peterson tells the detective that he left his home at 9: 30 a.m. on Dec. 24 to go fishing at the Berkeley Marina. He had recently purchased a new fishing boat and tells Brocchini, "A lot of the reason I went there was to get that boat into the water."
Earlier trial testimony from other police officers described Peterson at a loss for an answer when they'd asked what he'd been fishing for earlier that day.
During the Christmas interview, Peterson tells Brocchini that he stopped off at his warehouse, where he kept the boat and trailer. He says he fiddled around a bit, sending a holiday greeting to his boss in an e-mail. Then he says he left for the marina.
He tells the detective that while he was fishing, his wife intended to mop the floor, walk the dog and shop for the fixings to make a large Christmas breakfast for family and friends. When he got home later that day, Laci Peterson was nowhere to be found. The couple's dog was in the backyard with a leash dangling from its neck and the french doors were unlocked -- both seemed unusual, Peterson told the detective.
In the tape, Brocchini asks Peterson if he has a good marriage. Peterson answers that he does.
Weeks later, police would learn that Peterson was having an affair with a Fresno woman. They would also find out that it wasn't his first extramarital affair.
In the video, when Brocchini wrongly suggests Peterson isn't telling the truth about the timing of phone calls made to his wife on Dec. 24, Peterson remains calm, showing the detective his cell phone and the date and time stamp of the call. Brocchini admits he's wrong.
During testimony in a Redwood City courtroom, Brocchini tried to clear up what was seen as one of the prosecution's most embarrassing moments during opening statements in the trial. In doing so, the detective brought forth a discrepancy in Peterson's stated timetable.
Peterson told police in the taped interview that on the morning of Dec. 24, he and his wife watched the Martha Stewart show in which Stewart talks about meringues. Brocchini reviewed a tape of the show from that day and found no mention of meringues, indicating that Peterson was lying and suggesting that the show on meringues actually aired the day before.
But during opening statements, Peterson attorney Mark Geragos took much pleasure out of showing a video of Martha Stewart mentioning meringues on the very show Peterson said they'd watched.
On Tuesday, Brocchini acknowledged to prosecutor Rick Distaso that he'd missed the reference to meringues, which was mentioned only once in the Dec. 24 show, but eight times on the Dec. 23 show.
However, Brocchini noted that Stewart didn't mention meringues until 9:48 a.m., nearly 20 minutes after Peterson said he'd left his Modesto home to go fishing.
Police are trying to prove that Peterson left his home later than he has stated -- and are expected to produce cell phone records that place him at the home as late as 10:08 a.m.
Their contention is that it would have been improbable that Laci Peterson mopped the floors, changed her clothes, walked the dog and was kidnapped all before 10:18 a.m. That's the time the Peterson's next-door-neighbor said she found the dog with its leash wandering in the middle of the street in front of their house.
Peterson's lawyer, Mark Geragos, is scheduled to start cross-examining Brocchini today.
Gun removed from truck
On the night Scott Peterson reported his wife missing, Modesto police Detective Al Brocchini removed a loaded handgun from the glove compartment of Peterson's truck. Brocchini questioned Peterson about the gun in an interview at the Police Department six hours later. Peterson called Brocchini at 2:15 a. m. and asked him if he'd removed the gun from the truck. Brocchini said that when he told Peterson he had, Peterson said he had wished the detective had informed him that he was taking it.
After Brocchini took pictures of Scott Peterson's boat in the warehouse unit where he stored supplies for his job, Peterson, a fertilizer salesman, told Brocchini he didn't want him to show the photographs to his boss.
Peterson interested in dogs
One day after Laci Peterson was reported missing, Scott Peterson asked Brocchini if police were using cadaver dogs to search a heavily wooded park near their house and he wanted to know where police were concentrating their efforts. Brocchini said police hadn't used the dogs, which are specially trained to find dead bodies, because he did not consider Laci Peterson dead yet.
Cement anchor displayed
Brocchini held up a cement anchor found in Scott Peterson's boat for the jury to see. The homemade anchor was about the size of a child's sand bucket and had a rebar ring embedded in the top. Peterson told police he made the anchor for his newly purchased boat out of a 90-pound bag of cement and used the rest of the cement on his driveway. But police believe it was one of several anchors he made and used to weigh down his wife's body, which they say he dumped in the bay.
Testimony was surprise to prosecution
Before Brocchini took the stand, Judge Alfred Delucchi warned the jury that some of what Debra Wolski, Laci Peterson's prenatal yoga teacher, testified to Monday had never before been told to prosecutors or police. Wolski testified that Laci Peterson was so weak from her pregnancy and her feet were so swollen that she needed help from class to her car in December 2002. Wolski said Laci Peterson also needed help walking on uneven surfaces.
The prosecution was trying to show that the mother-to-be was too fatigued to have left her house on the day she disappeared. Under cross-examination by defense attorney Mark Geragos, Wolski said she'd told prosecutors and police about Laci Peterson's condition and difficulty walking. But prosecutors admitted Tuesday that Wolski had never before told such a story until she testified Monday.
E-mail the writers at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.