Premeditated I – the Alibi

Premeditate: To think out or plan (an action) before hand

Oxford Concise English Dictionary

If Scott Peterson already knew that he would dispose of Laci’s body in the Bay (hence the purchase of the boat), why did he say to Amy on the night of the 23rd that he was going golfing and would pick up the basket?

Some have suggested that golfing was going to be his alibi. Why? First, is it really comprehensible that someone who had committed a preplanned murder would believe that there wasn’t a risk of someone witnessing him with the boat during the middle of the day. A 14ft boat not only draws attention, but it’s not easily hidden either.

Any number of people could have seen him towing the boat. Those people include workers or cleaners of the office next door to the warehouse, friends, family or neighbors also driving the neighborhood, any number of people driving the road between Modesto and Berkeley, as well as people at the marina that day (workers, those who lived on the houseboats, fellow fisherman, dog walkers).

Scott also picked up gas on the return journey, using a debit card  – a very bold act for someone not wishing to be either known or noticed to have visited the Bay that day and furthermore of course, the use of the card could be traced very simply by Law Enforcement.

There have been some suggestions that Scott hoped to dispose of Laci’s body in the Bay and then go golfing and pick up basket, creating an alibi. This only begs more questions.

He needed approximately 2 hours to get to Berkeley, around 2 further hours to launch the boat, do the deed of dropping off the body, taking the boat out and cleaning it and putting it back on the trailer. Add the two hours return journey and we’re close to 6 hours. Then he would require time to return the boat to the warehouse, unhitch it, tidy it up, drive home, clean up, shower, change his clothes, possibly clean up the home and drive to the golf club. Estimate another hour and a half… Being a premeditated murder which Scott allegedly started planning several weeks before, he would already have known that this was going to take him between 7 and 7 a half hours. It begs the question as to why he stayed at the Covena home until (according to the prosecution) close to 10am. Not only that, but he then goes to the warehouse, sits with Laci’s body sitting in either the bed of the truck or boat and sends emails, surfs the internet and tries to put together a mortiser!

Had he left for the Marina at 10am, he’d still not have got back in time to create a new alibi. And even if he’d made it to the golf club by late afternoon, it still would not have stuck as an alibi since that in itself would have been proof that that he had time to dispose of her body first - there would have been a block of his time unaccounted for. It certainly doesn’t sound like a well thought out plan.

Additionally, why bother to buy the fishing equipment since nobody was even going to know he’d been to the Bay? And why buy fishing licenses which he didn’t require?

A premeditated murder scenario does not make sense, and neither does the suggestion that golfing was to be Scott's original alibi. What does make sense is that Scott did exactly what he said – he had a change of mind and decided to go to the bay instead of the golf course. He either forgot about the basket until last minute or arranged with Laci that he’d call her if he wasn’t going to get back in time and that’s exactly what he did on the way home: 

“Hi, beautiful. I just left you a message at home. 2:15. I'm leaving Berkeley. I won't be able to get to Vella Farms to get the basket for Poppa. I was hoping you would get this message and go on out there. I'll see you in a bit, sweety. I love you. Bye."

[Previously published as part of the Misconceptions series by Nadia Taze.]