More Peterson wiretap calls found

Thursday, June 19, 2003 Posted: 0328 GMT (11:28 AM HKT)
MODESTO, California (CNN) -- Prosecutors in the case against Scott Peterson in the slayings of his wife and unborn son revealed the existence Wednesday of 176 audio recordings they said were stored in a computer without anyone's knowledge.

The recordings were found June 13 when Detective Steven Jacobson reviewed calls from two wiretaps to be sure all the recordings requested by the court had been turned over.

In his affidavit, Jacobson said he and Kevin Clements, a software company employee, listened to one of the calls and Jacobson realized he had never heard it.

In a filing in Stanislaus County Superior Court, prosecutors said the recordings were stored on the collection server but for some reason were never sent to the agents monitoring the phone calls during the wiretaps.

Prosecutors want the court to review the recordings because it is unclear what they contain and they might have recorded privileged information, such as Peterson talking to his lawyer.

"It is unknown how many of these calls contain actual conversations versus simple dial tones, or 'dead air,' until each call is listened to," Jacobson wrote. "Therefore, without listening to these calls, I am unable to determine the nature of these 176 audio-buffered calls."

The calls have been saved to a CD and sealed, pending the court's instruction, the filing said.

The one call Jacobson and Clements listened to contained a conversation between Peterson and a person with a Southern accent, Jacobson wrote, in what appeared to be a business-related call.

The wiretaps have been a major point of contention in the case so far. Defense attorneys have accused prosecutors of improprieties in their handling of the wiretaps, including violations of attorney-client privilege for listening to calls between Peterson and his lawyer.

Peterson is charged with killing his wife, Laci, and their unborn son. Peterson reported his wife missing December 24.

His defense attorneys have subpoenaed the judge who approved the wiretap on Peterson's telephone, arguing he violated rules governing a capital murder case.

Judge Wray Ledine allowed police to intercept Peterson's phone calls beginning in January and met with investigators for updates as they built a case.

The case became a capital one in April when the bodies of Laci and her fetus turned up on the shores of San Francisco Bay, just miles from the marina where Scott Peterson said he was fishing the day she disappeared.

In another matter, attorney Gloria Allred, who represents Peterson's confessed mistress, Amber Frey, responded Wednesday to a motion to have her cited for contempt of court.

Peterson's defense attorney, Mark Geragos, said Allred violated a gag order in the case when she was interviewed on the Fox News Channel last week. He said Allred's actions should be considered "as nothing short of brazen contempt."

Allred, in a court filing Wednesday, said that in her role as attorney for a potential witness she is not bound by a protective order prohibiting certain people from commenting on evidence in the case.

Geragos' request to have her cited, she said, "is so utterly without legal or factual merit as to give rise to serious questions regarding his good faith." Allred called it a "hopeless motion."

The gag order pertains only to prosecutors, defense attorneys, court employees, members of law enforcement, and anyone expected to testify, Allred contended, and thus does not apply to her.

Geragos disputed that interpretation in his recent filing, making the resolution strictly a matter for the court.

Further, Allred wrote, she "went to great lengths" to say in the interview that the views were strictly her own. She said Geragos misrepresented to the court the statements she made.

CNN Producer Chuck Afflerbach contributed to this report.