Defense X-Rays Body of Peterson's Unborn Child


Wed Aug 20, 8:09 PM ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Defense experts took steps on Wednesday to try to prove that Laci Peterson's unborn son lived past Christmas Eve to foil prosecutors' theory that Peterson's husband killed the 8-months pregnant woman and their child.

A radiologist for the defense in the double-murder case against Scott Peterson (news - web sites) took X-rays of the remains of Laci and the couple's unborn son at the Contra Costa County coroner's lab in Martinez, California.

Attorneys agreed in court last week to try to turn the bodies over to Laci's family by Friday. Defense experts in the capital murder case will compare X-rays of the fetal remains with Laci Peterson's Dec. 23 sonogram.

If the experts find that the fetus continued to live and grow past Christmas Eve -- the day Laci disappeared -- that could undermine the police theory that Peterson murdered his wife in the couple's Modesto, California home Dec. 23 or 24.

Peterson told authorities that he went fishing off Brooks Island early Dec. 24. The bodies washed up in mid-April in a nearby area of San Francisco Bay.

In further defense of their theory, prosecutors revealed this week that they hypnotized a key witness who was as far along in her pregnancy as Laci Peterson, 27.

Sources said prosecutors want to prove that witnesses who thought they saw Laci walking her dog on Christmas Eve really saw Kristen Dempewolf, who delivered her baby at a Modesto hospital in early January, around the same time Laci was expected to deliver Conner Peterson.

Investigators hypnotized Dempewolf to help her remember exactly when and where she walked her dog on Christmas Eve, and were satisfied that people who thought they saw Laci instead saw Dempewolf or another pregnant woman, sources said.