Scott's Character & Behavior
Much of the State's "circumstantial evidence" case against Scott rested on perceived lies and deception and just being a jerk in general.
Mark Geragos began his Opening Statement at the Trial with these words:
One of the first things that I think that we have to address in this case is that, as you know, as the Judge read to you, he's charged with two counts of murder. He's not charged with abuse of Amber Frey. He's not charged with having an affair. In fact, I don't think there is going to be any dispute, and I asked, told most of you that he did have an affair.
There is, clearly you want to call him a cad, you want to say his behavior is boorish. We're not going to dispute that. But the fact of the matter is, is that this is a murder case, and there has to be evidence in a murder case. And I'm going to run through, if I could, with you what the prosecution's theory is as they told you yesterday, and then I'm going to also show you what the actual evidence is in this case so that you understand what we're dealing with here in a special circumstance murder case where they are seeking the death penalty.
Their first item, as you saw yesterday, they showed you the pictures of Amber and Scott, then they showed you the picture of Laci sitting in a chair, and contrasted the fact here is Laci by herself, and here is Amber with Scott, and Scott is looking like he's partying. The fair import of that is to get you to hate Scott and --
The attack on Scott's character began during the investigation. The trial had to be moved to Redwood City because Judge Girolami was convinced that Scott could not get a fair trial in Modesto.
As noted in People v. McCall:
The fact that the very existence of a prosecution tends to throw suspicion upon every act of the accused and to cause trifles "light as air" to assume the appearance of "confirmations strong as proofs of Holy Writ", should give pause to any heedless imprudence in the admission in evidence of circumstances that are barren of incriminating significance. As is well said by the learned author of Wharton's Criminal Evidence (vol.2, sec. 915), "circumstances, trivial in themselves, take on an exaggerated character the moment that suspicion is directed toward a person accused of crime . . ." (borrowed from the Peterson Blog)
Some of the claims of lies and deceptions are either blatantly false or grossly misrepresented. For example, Scott was accused of lying about the life insurance policy when he denied stories that he purchased it after Laci got pregnant, when in fact, he was telling the truth and the story was a lie. Many others simply are trivial and inconsequential -- their only value was character assassination.
We also must note that behavior observed in Scott was suspicious, but the same behavior observed in others was not. Going fishing on Christmas Eve: suspicious for Scott, not suspicious for Ron Grantski. Speaking of Laci in the past tense: suspicious for Scott, not suspicious for Brent Rocha. Correcting the past tense to present tense in the same sentence: suspicious for Scott, not suspicious for Sharon Rocha.
This list covers most, if not all, of the character and behavior issues raised at the Trial and in the various public forums. The unrelenting question is, "If he were innocent, why would he . . ." We will be adding more items under this category as part of our on-going research and analysis.
Scott said "Laci is Missing" when he first called Sharon
The Life insurance policy
Not wanting Conner
The affair with Amber
The secret boat purchase
Not telling anyone about Amber
Romancing Amber instead of looking for Laci
Not cooperating with the investigation
Not taking a polygraph (lie detector test)
His whereabouts on January 11
Trying to sell the house
Disinterest in the Longview WA sighting
Scott said "Laci is Missing" when he first called Sharon
This paramount on almost everyone's list of behaviors that incriminate Scott, and may be the very best example of how the MPD used misinformation to distort the memories of key witnesses.
Brocchini was very willing to use misinformation to turn Scott's friends into
spies. And, Brent Rocha, in a phone call with Scott, admits that the MPD told
Laci's family that they had blood evidence in the house. Armed with proof of the
affair with Amber Frey, why did Brocchini and other detectives even find it
necessary to use such misinformation? Is it just a routine procedure? Or did
they somehow sense that the affair wasn't enough, by itself, to turn Laci's
friends and family against Scott. Hence the need to embellish it with
incriminating misinformation that would both add to motive and give the illusion
of forensic evidence that Scott had murdered Laci.
Grogan's efforts were no less insidious. Not only was he party to giving this life insurance and blood evidence misinformation to Laci's family and friends, he also encouraged them to now "remember" what they could about Scott.
First, let's look at possible distortion of Sharon Rocha's memory. Sharon testified at trial that in Scott's first conversation with her on the night of December 24th, he told her "Laci is missing." Simple words with great potential to incriminate. However, a timeline of Sharon's statements, as provided by Grogan in his testimony during the Defense CIC, reveals that she is the first to assume Laci is missing, not Scott.
December 29, 1st interview with Grogan: No mention of
Scott's "Laci is missing" remark.
December 30, phone call with Grogan: No mention of Scott's
"Laci is missing" remark.
December 30, appearance on the Today Show, no mention of
Scott's "Laci is missing" remark.
January 2, phone call with Grogan: No mention of Scott's
"Laci is missing" remark.
January 6, meeting with Grogan at the MPD: No mention of
Scott's "Laci is missing" remark.
January 9, phone call from Grogan: No mention of Scott's
"Laci is missing" remark.
January 14, another appearance on the Today Show, Sharon
says: "I just immediately, I knew she was missing" by the panic rising in
Scott's voice. No mention that Scott said the "missing" word first.
January 15, Sharon is given the information about Amber and
the misinformation about the life insurance and the blood evidence.
January 20, Grogan told Sharon and several friends that if
there were any behaviors that they had noted previous to this that were odd,
he wanted to know about it.
January 25, Sharon met with Grogan again, still no mention
of Scott's "Laci is missing" remark.
January 27, another phone call with Grogan, and still no mention of Scott's "Laci is missing" remark.
Then we have this event:
27 Jan 2003 Sharon & her friends remembered incriminating things about Scott
Sandy Rickard, Sharon's best friend, testified that the night before the Diane Sawyer interview, she and some other ladies were gathered with Sharon at Patty Amador's house for the purpose of trying to remember things about Scott. Patty called Grogan to tell him that she heard Laci was afraid of Scott because he was making concrete weights. Sharon made a call to Grogan to report remembering Scott had said Laci was missing when he called her on December 24. Sandy called Grogan to report that she remembered Scott coming up to her on the night of the 24th, with his hands raised, and saying that he wouldn't be surprised if they found blood in his truck.
For more information on how misinformation distorts memory, please read The Effect of Misinformation on Memory.
The life insurance policy
[Originally published as part of the Misconception series by Nadia Taze.]
Many press reports during the investigation into Laci Peterson's disappearance claimed that Scott Peterson had taken out an insurance policy on Laci just after she became pregnant.
"Modesto police told Laci Peterson's family that her husband was having an affair and recently took out a $250,000 life insurance policy on her, a family member said Thursday. Detectives met with Laci Peterson's side of the family Wednesday night to tell them why they believe Scott Peterson is responsible for the disappearance of his 27-year-old pregnant wife, the family member said."
From Modesto Bee online Edition January 17, 2003
The implied accusation was that this was a financial motive for her murder. However, the truth is that Brian Ullrich called Peterson to suggest making an investment, with a life insurance policy as part of that investment, 20 months before Laci disappeared, well before she became pregnant and it was Laci who decided on the amount of coverage for herself.
Testimony of Brian Ullrich, friend and insurance salesman, July 26, 2004:
GERAGOS: You understood that at the housewarming party they had just bought the house?
GERAGOS: Shortly after that at some point you enter this new career?
GERAGOS: You call Scott, say financial planning, and then he comes in with Laci?
GERAGOS: You originally suggest that Scott should get 250 worth of life insurance?
GERAGOS: And that Laci should get a hundred?
GERAGOS: And Laci said No, I want more?
GERAGOS: Okay. It wasn't Scott who said I want more life insurance, was it?
ULLRICH: Laci said I believe they both should be equal.
GERAGOS: Right. She wanted it equal. It wasn't Scott who said Give me some more life insurance on Laci?
GERAGOS: In fact, at no time was it Scott's idea to get life insurance, it was your idea?
ULLRICH: It was my recommendation.
GERAGOS: Right. Because it was, as far as I understand with life insurance salesmen, and I don't mean that in the derogatory sense, you know that old Woody Allen joke about hell is being stuck in a hole with a life insurance salesman? The way you make your money is, when the premiums come in, you get a percentage, correct?
GERAGOS: So the more insurance you sell, the more premium gets paid? I mean if there's a hundred thousand dollar policy is cheaper than two fifty?
GERAGOS: Okay. So you specifically recommend that they get these policies, correct? And that Scott's be larger than Laci's? That was your original plan?
GERAGOS: Okay. And it was Laci, not Scott, who said I want to be equal with him?
GERAGOS: And Scott said Fine, honey, whatever you want?
ULLRICH: He said that's, that's fine.
The knowledge of an existing insurance document was used by Law Enforcement in two ways. It was firstly applied to create suspicion in the minds of family, friends and the media, and secondly to put added pressure on Peterson. In order for it to achieve maximum impact, Brocchini delivered news of the policy to the family on January 15, 2003 at the same time as presenting the existence of Peterson's mistress, Amber Frey - an emotional double whammy! He didn't give anyone the full and true details of the policy, not the family and certainly not the media.
In the Preliminary hearing of November 12, 2003 Brocchini agreed that he had known the policy was not a recent purchase and during the trial testified on June 24, 2004, that he had first spoken to Brian Ullrich regarding the policies early in the investigation, on January 4 2003. Therefore, he was aware of all the above facts, including that the policy was agreed upon in April 2001, nearly 20 months before Laci's disappearance.
And yet, on January 17 2003, ModBee, SacBee, ABC, CNN news, and San Francisco Chronicle were just some of the media that reported that Peterson had taken out a $250 000 insurance policy on Laci the summer of 2002 soon after she became pregnant and just a few months before she went missing.
Despite the fact that Brocchini knew these facts to be incorrect, Investigators refused to confirm or deny the reports and the misreporting surrounding the policy continued despite Peterson describing them as "a bunch of lies".
Brocchini, also admitted under oath that he told Laci Peterson's family that the policy had "recently been taken out". Even Kim Peterson of the Sund Carrington Foundation fell foul of the lie. She verified to ABC the existence of a policy, again telling them that it had been taken out the summer after Laci fell pregnant.
Not only this, but Brocchini positively went out of his way to point out these erroneous news articles to friends of Scott Peterson, omitting that they were inaccurate.
In addition, Brocchini, confirmed that it had been his intent to "plant the seeds of suspicion" in the mind of Peterson's friend Aaron Fritz:
Testimony of Detective Brocchini, Modesto Police Department, June 24, 2004:
GERAGOS: Now, some time on January 4th, you went to go talk to a Brian Ulrich; is that correct?
BROCCHINI: I spoke to him on the phone, I think.
GERAGOS: Okay. And you told him that you recently received a tip that Scott had recently taken out a life insurance policy on Laci; is that correct?
BROCCHINI: A second life insurance policy.
GERAGOS: And you tried to substantiate that, and you were checking into it; is that correct?
GERAGOS: Now, there was, as you determined, only one life insurance policy, correct?
BROCCHINI: No, I never determined that.
GERAGOS: You never determined that?
BROCCHINI: I didn't. And,
GERAGOS: Somebody during the investigation determine that?
BROCCHINI: I think so.
GERAGOS: Okay. And, at some point, the family, meaning Laci's family, Sharon and Ron, were told that a $250,000 life insurance policy had recently been taken out; isn't that correct?
BROCCHINI: I don't know.
GERAGOS: Wasn't, there was an article in the Modesto Bee about January 17th; isn't that correct?
BROCCHINI: I imagine there was an article in the Bee on January 17th. Probably a whole bunch of articles.
GERAGOS: You wouldn't know, you would know about that. You remember specifically that article, don't you?
BROCCHINI: I do.
GERAGOS: And the reason you specifically remember that article is because you got up at 6:40 in the morning, and you called some of Scott's friends and told them to take a look at that article, right?
GERAGOS: So when you got up, you saw that article about the recent taking out of a life insurance policy, and the first person you called was who? Regarding Scott's friends, who did you call?
BROCCHINI: I called Mike Richardson.
GERAGOS: Okay. Did you also call at any point an Aaron Fritz?
BROCCHINI: I have spoken to Aaron Fritz before.
GERAGOS: Did you write in a report that you were attempting to plant the seeds of suspicion in Aaron's head?
BROCCHINI: I was.
GERAGOS: Okay. And that's what, you have testified to that as well. I was attempting to plant the seeds of suspicion in Aaron's head, correct?
BROCCHINI: I was.
GERAGOS: Who was Aaron Fritz?
BROCCHINI: Good friend of Scott's.
BROCCHINI: Let me correct that. I'm sorry. Aaron Fritz was a good friend, and his wife were good friends of Laci that they met Scott through.
GERAGOS: Did he consider him himself to be a friend of Scott, as far as you know?
BROCCHINI: I did.
GERAGOS: As you were trying to plant, as you say, the seeds of suspicion; is that correct?
BROCCHINI: I was.
GERAGOS: You were trying to get him to call Scott and question him about various things that you wanted answered; is that correct?
BROCCHINI: That's correct.
GERAGOS: Then you asked Fritz to call you back when he got the answers; is that correct?
BROCCHINI: That's correct.
During the trial Mike Richardson confirmed that Brocchini had contacted him to point out the story in the Modesto Bee, this despite Richardson not even living in Modesto:
Testimony of Mike Richardson, friend October 4, 2004:
HARRIS: You also, I think Mr. Distaso mentioned, you interviewed, had an interview with Detective Brocchini. Do you recall that?
HARRIS: You recall, I believe, it was a phone call?
HARRIS: And during that phone call, he called you approximately January 17th. Does that sound about right?
RICHARDSON: I'm not sure.
HARRIS: Just have you take a quick look, refresh your recollection. Just kind of read that to yourself. Does that refresh your recollection, it was around January 17th?
HARRIS: He called you and asked if you had read the Modesto Bee, had spoken with Sharon Rocha or any of Laci's family in Modesto, is that right?
HARRIS: He asked you if you had. You replied that you had seen the 11:00 o'clock news in which reported that Scott had a girlfriend and had recently taken out a $250,000 insurance policy on Laci, is that right?
HARRIS: Detective then told you to go online and review the Modesto Bee article. And he encouraged you or your wife Heather to call Sharon Rocha for further information, is that right?
HARRIS: You, according to Detective Brocchini, he told you that Scott is no longer welcome in any of Laci's friends or families' homes right now, and they are suspicious of him. And he asked you, after saying that, to keep an open mind, is that correct?
RICHARDSON: I believe so, yes.
On January 29, 12 days after the first media reports regarding the policy, Scott Peterson spoke out about the insurance issue during a recorded interview with ABC's "Good Morning America".
Despite this public statement, which was both accurate and truthful, the flawed reports continued with the document still being cited as a motive for murder even after Peterson's arrest in April.
So here with have the timeline, in black and white:
November 2000: Brian Ullrich meets Scott and Laci at their Covena housewarming
April 2001: Brian Ullrich approaches Scott to suggest they discuss financial planning. An meeting is arranged which Laci also attended, resulting in their purchase of the life insurance policies (one each.
May 2001: The papers are signed.
June 9 2002: Laci announces to family that she is pregnant.
December 24 2002: Laci goes missing.
January 4 2003: Brocchini speaks to Brian Ullrich regarding insurance policies Laci and Scott took out with him.
January 16, 2003: Laci's family are told by Law Enforcement/Modesto Police Department that Scott took out an insurance policy on Laci's life, just after she became pregnant. At the same time, they are told about the existence of Amber Frey.
January 17, 2003: Media (including the Modesto Bee) report that Scott Peterson took out an insurance policy just after Laci became pregnant. Investigators refuse to confirm or deny the details.
January 17, 2003: Brocchini calls Mike Richardson and tells him to read the Modesto Bee article.
January 17, 2003 onwards: LE continue to refuse to comment on the insurance policies and media reports with regard to it continue.
January 29 2003: Scott Peterson appears in a television interview and tries to put the lies about the policies to rest by confirming what Brocchini has already known for 25 days - the policy on Laci had been existence for nearly 2 years.
Brocchini kept the truth about the insurance policy hidden from everyone outside of Law Enforcement/Modesto Police Department. The objective was to place suspicion on Scott Peterson from family, friends and media, and in turn, place him under even more stress. No doubt this strategy was with the intent of exacting a breakdown and confession from Peterson - it didn't succeed.
Unfortunately, for Peterson the press and media never retracted their stories or pointed out their errors so the misconception that he had taken out a policy on Laci just previous to her disappearance stayed in people's minds, helping to convict him in the public eye before he'd even stepped into the court room.
Hundreds of newspapers, internet news sites, television stations etc. covered the lies about the insurance policy filling airtime and column space for months, but uncovering the truth in the court room was momentary and not enough to stamp out the fallacy. Still the false impression of the policy lives on...
Not wanting Conner
Part of the evidence presented by the State to support this claim came from the testimony of Rose Rocha, Brent's wife.
D. HARRIS: And they were trying to get pregnant. At some point in time when you were expecting one of your children did the defendant make any particular comment about Laci being pregnant or her getting pregnant?
ROCHA: Yes. We were talking about pregnancy or having a family, and I believe I said something to the effect of, to Scott, "Are you ready for this," and he looked at me and said, "I was kind of hoping for infertility."
On cross-examination, Rose admitted that she did not mention this to any of the investigators until after the Amber affair was revealed, and that she told them she couldn't tell whether or not Scott was joking.
P. HARRIS: Okay. Mr. Harris asked you about a comment that was made, a passing comment wherein Scott, you were discussing the pregnancy or the possible pregnancy of Laci, and Scott mad a remark, I believe your quote was, "I was kind of hoping for infertility"?
P. HARRIS: Is that a correct quote? Okay. You recall telling the police officers after the -- well, let me just stop on that. You interviewed with a police officer on January 21st, correct?
ROCHA: I don't recall the date but --
P. HARRIS: Does that sound about right?
P. HARRIS: Detective Grogan?
P. HARRIS: And this was after the revelation that Scott had had an affair with Amber Frey, correct?
ROCHA: I believe so, yes.
P. HARRIS: Okay. You had actually interviewed also with Detective Grogan ten days earlier on January 11th, do you recall that?
ROCHA: I know there were I believe two interviews. I don't remember the exact date again.
P. HARRIS: You recall the first interview being prior to the revelation of Amber Frey?
P. HARRIS: Okay. And during that entire interview did you ever mention to Detective Grogan the comment about Scott saying "I was kind of hoping for infertility"?
ROCHA: I do not.
P. HARRIS: That comment came up after the revelation of Amber Frey, correct?
ROCHA: Yes, I told Detective Grogan that.
P. HARRIS: In fact, what you told Detective Grogan is, you weren't even sure, but you thought it might have been a joke, but you weren't even sure because Scott was, quote, hard to read?
ROCHA: He was not laughing, he was not smiling, so when I heard that I was kind of surprised that -- I was kind of shocked by what he said and I didn't know how to read him at that point.
P. HARRIS: And so you didn't know whether he was joking or not, did you?
ROCHA: He wasn't laughing and he wasn't smiling, so I can't say, yes, he was joking, no, he was not joking.
P. HARRIS: Well, you told the police you didn't know?
P. HARRIS: That's all I have.
Dr. Keith Ablow, in his libelous book, Inside the Mind of Scott Peterson, combined this statement with some quadruple and incorrect hearsay to conclude that Scott Peterson tried to prevent Conner's conception.
Rick Distaso used it, exaggerated of course, in his portrayal of Scott living two lives:
He said: I kept hoping for infertility. I looked at the quote last night.
It's actually: Kind of hoping for infertility. That's what he tells Rose Rocha when Laci announces her pregnancy: Darn, she got pregnant; I wasn't, I didn't want that to happen. He tells Brent Rocha: You know, I'm doing bad at my job, I'm turning 30 and becoming a father all in the same year. Boy, life really stinks for Scott Peterson. You know, most people would be overjoyed to have this. Maybe not the lousy salesman part, but the rest of it for sure. But not this guy.
The other part of the evidence came from Gwen Kemple, suggesting Scott wasn't at all interested in being a daddy:
KEMPLE: Well, I'd ask him if, I said, "Are you ready for the football games." And he said, "No, I didn't play football." And I said, "Well, then baseball." I said, "You'll have to practice on your catching and throwing. My grandsons play baseball, so that was just a common thing to say to him. And he said "No." He said, "I have friends that can do that. I said, "You didn't play baseball in school?" He said "No."
DISTASO: Did you ask him in the context of are you going to teach the baby to play baseball?
KEMPLE: I didn't say that.
DISTASO: Okay. Did you ask him anything about was he interested or excited about, you know, teaching the baby anything?
KEMPLE: I didn't ask him if he was excited, I just said he better get busy because he's got a job to do.
DISTASO: And what did he say?
KEMPLE: He said he had, at that particular time I thought it was strange because he said, "I've got friends to do that."
The evidence is overwhelmingly to the contrary. Scott very much wanted Conner. He participated in the effort to get pregnant -- Laci did not complain that he wasn't willing to do his part. He went to pre-natal appointments with Laci. He attended Lamaze classes with her. He talked about his anticipation of being a daddy with a friend, who was expecting a baby, too.
This description of Scott's and Laci's efforts to have Conner comes from a SFGate article, "Fun and Unpredictable, that was the real Laci":
So in 2000, the couple sold The Shack and moved back to Modesto, where they bought a $177,000 fixer-upper on Covena Avenue, in a neighborhood with tree-lined streets and well-kept one-story bungalows. With Laci's taste and Scott's handiwork, they painted the walls and tiled the bathroom, and turned it into a charming bungalow with Pottery Barn appeal.
They reconnected with her old high school pals and started to make new friends. Laci began exploring a number of entrepreneurial ideas, including the possibility of producing her own mustard. She finally settled on something that would instead give her both joy and flexibility: substitute teaching.
And as other couples they hung out with started having babies, Scott and Laci surprised friends when they reversed an earlier stance of not wanting children. Laci, who had had surgery years earlier and was left with one ovary, knew it would be difficult to conceive and methodically tracked her cycle. Richardson said she recalls Laci expressing frustration that Scott always seemed to be traveling at the wrong time, and it took some time before Laci was pregnant.
By early June, she got the good news. She enrolled in a prenatal yoga course and attended Lamaze classes with Scott.
They also got to work early on the baby's room. Consistent with the decorations for The Shack and with Scott's interest in fishing, the couple chose a nautical theme, even hanging a life preserver decoration that read: "Welcome Aboard."
Brent Rocha confirmed that Scott did indeed plan to have a family, and was quite emotional about becoming a father:
Mark Geragos: And also fair to say that she was very excited about the kid?
Brent Rocha: Yes.
Mark Geragos: Okay. And Scott was as well?
Brent Rocha: Yes.
Mark Geragos: When he talked about, when you talked to him, he would express the fact that he's, I mean he's a goal-oriented person; you heard that description earlier today. You would agreed with that, right?
Brent Rocha: Yes.
Mark Geragos: And is, one of his goals was to have a child and a family?
Brent Rocha: Yes.
Mark Geragos: Okay. And he told you that he was thinking about what kind of father he was going to be and he was crying and he said he was going to be great; isn't that what he told you?
Brent Rocha: That's what he was saying.
Sharon Rocha confirmed, on Larry King Live, that Laci told her Scott had changed his mind about having a baby shortly after they moved to Covena in October 2002:
ROCHA: “that's when she told me that Scott had said that he didn't think he wanted to have children. Of course that concerned me because we'd had conversations before in his presence or they had had conversations in my presence about having children.
KING: So then it shocked you?
ROCHA: It did. It really surprised me.
KING: But then she got pregnant.
ROCHA: Well, then she went on to say that not only did she -- that he didn't think he wanted to have children, she also said that he didn't want to. So, I was -- I was really upset about that knowing that he knew how she felt about having children.
And then it was about a month or so later, it was around Thanksgiving time she and I were in the kitchen preparing dinner when she told me that she's going to stop taking birth control pills in December. Well, that surprised me because it had only been a month ago that Scott didn't want to have children.
So, we had a conversation about that and I said, "Are you sure? Are both of you absolutely sure because you can't put the baby back once he's here"? Well, it was an it at that time. It was nothing at that time. And she said, yes, that they had talked about it and they were ready that Scott was ready also.
Greg Reed gave testimony about Scott's and Laci's relationship, and Scott's participation in Laci's pregnancy.
HARRIS: And at some point you became pretty good friends with Scott, enough that you talked to him on a fairly regular basis, is that,
REED: That's correct.
HARRIS: In fact, I think you mentioned to the police maybe once or twice a week, does that sound about right?
REED: One more time?
HARRIS: I think you mentioned to the police maybe once or twice a week you would talk to Scott?
HARRIS: Does that sound right?
HARRIS: You also, Kristen, your wife, became friends with Laci, is that fair?
REED: All four of us met at the same time.
HARRIS: And they became friends separate of you and Scott? Kristen and Laci became friends?
REED: Yes, they did.
HARRIS: And at some point you and your wife began a Lamaze class at your home, is that correct?
REED: That is correct.
HARRIS: And you asked Scott and Laci if they would like to join in the Lamaze class?
REED: That is correct.
HARRIS: And they agreed to do that, right?
HARRIS: Okay. During about a one month period, they came to your house on a weekly basis to participate in the Lamaze classes, is that right?
REED: That's probably about right. About once a week.
HARRIS: You got a chance to see them interact quite a bit during that, didn't you?
HARRIS: And your impression, from telling the police, your impression was that they were a very happy couple?
HARRIS: And, in fact, you told the police Scott treated her very, very well?
HARRIS: They both, I believe your quote to the police was they were both very excited about the baby coming, is that right?
REED: That's what it appeared, yes.
HARRIS: And you were called in an interview you did with the police, excuse me. Let me take that back. Do you recall an incident at one point where you were looking through a catalog called Cabella's catalog?
REED: Yes, I remember that.
HARRIS: What is the Cabella's catalog?
REED: It's a hunting, fishing, outdoors-type of magazine. And equipment.
HARRIS: And they actually sell kids' camouflage outfits, is that right?
REED: In that magazine they were.
HARRIS: In that particular one?
HARRIS: During that time you were looking at it, both you and Scott were going through the, the kids' section or the kids' outfits,
hunting and fishing, or whatever outfits, and the two of you were talking and laughing about how much you couldn't wait to buy your kids those kind of outfits, is that correct?
REED: I remember that clearly, that's correct.
HARRIS: Okay. Scott was very excited about that possibility, wasn't he?
The evidence simply does not support the argument that Scott didn't want Conner. It does support the conclusion that Laci's resulting disinterest in sex, as reported by her friend, Rene Tomlinson, again made Scott vulnerable to the temptation of adultery, and when Shawn Sibley repeatedly offered Amber to him, he let himself indulge.
GERAGOS: Now, you've also spoken to a Rene Tomlinson; is that correct?
GROGAN: She's been interviewed as part of this case. I don't know that I, I've done any interviews with her.
GERAGOS: Okay. Is it a fair statement that she said that she had talked to Laci about her sex life and that she was not having sex anymore and that it was not a priority for her because of the pregnancy?
GERAGOS: Okay. And that was a conversation, she had apparently talked to Laci on or around December 20th of 2000 and 2? . . .
The affair with Amber
The affair itself is inexcusable. However, what bothers most people the most is the lies he told to Amber. According to Amber, he first told her he was single, then told her he lost his wife about a year earlier. According to Amber, Scott told her that he had two homes, one in Sacramento (neither in Modesto); he went fishing in Alaska over Thanksgiving, was in Maine over Christmas, and would be in Europe the whole month of January. According to Amber, and as caught on tape, he pretended to be in other locations during phone calls, including at the Eiffel tower on New Years Eve.
The reality is, adulterers lie -- to their spouses and often to their mistresses. Deceit is a companion to adultery. Furthermore, the lies Scott told Amber served a very real practical purpose if he in fact did intend this to be only a short-term relationship:
Another factor in the Amber affair is his failure to tell Amber he was married when he was caught by Shawn Sibley. Again, this makes sense if he still intends to have only a short-term relationship with her, and absolutely no sense if he wants something long-term or permanent. Twice having lied to her, he couldn't ever expect to have her trust again.
The reality is, the affair and the lies did not do nearly as much damage to Scott's public image as his continuing to talk with her during the weeks after Laci's disappearance -- not because of what the continuing relationship was in substance, but because of what the State made it appear to be -- romancing Amber instead of looking for Laci. This accusation has as much resemblance to the truth as Scott's claim that he was at the Eiffel tower. The Amber Phone Calls: Evidentiary Value Analysis
Not telling anyone about Amber
Even people who do not believe the affair with Amber was in anyway connected to Laci's disappearance are very disturbed by the fact that he kept it a secret, even after being asked repeatedly. Particularly disturbing is that he let his parents and Sharon Rocha hear about the affair from the MPD. We do not believe that telling the MPD about the affair would in anyway have "eliminated" him as a suspect. That argument is indeed very disingenuous.
We do, however, have to seriously question whether admitting the affair would have mitigated the impact on Sharon Rocha and Laci's family and friends. It does not appear that it had any impact on Brent Rocha, as he had already decided on January 4 that Scott murdered Laci and he purchased a gun with the intent to kill Scott. He obviously didn't go through with it. The MPD didn't tell Sharon about the affair until January 15. But, all reports are that Sharon did a 180 degree turn-around when she found out about the affair, as did Amy, Laci's half-sister.
The MPD did not just tell Sharon about the affair, they lied to her and told her they had blood evidence taken from the Covena home and that Scott had taken out a $250,000 insurance policy on Laci shortly before her disappearance. How much added weight did these two lies have? Would the affair have been enough to turn Sharon against Scott? Apparently, the MPD were afraid it might not.
The attempt to conceal it is not only understandable, it is admirable. The only honorable motivation Scott could have had to reveal the affair to the police, and to family members, is his own suspicion that Amber was involved. Indeed, had Scott Peterson been guilty, he had the perfect opportunity to throw Amber to the wolves and direct suspicion towards her. Her past vengeful behavior, if he knew anything at all about it, would have provided very good fodder for a hungry media and given the MPD something else to chew on for awhile. Had he been guilty, he had much to gain and little to lose by making the affair known.
But, he didn't throw Amber to the wolves, probably because he never seriously considered that she might be involved. In all of the phone conversations with Amber, there is only one indication that he might have considered her involvement as a possibility, in the January 8 phone call, but he quickly backs off. But more importantly, the fact that he did not disclose to anyone any information about Amber protected her from the media onslaught for at least a month. Yes, that's right, and that is what millions of people fail to give him credit for, including Amber -- his silence kept the wolves at bay for her, while doing nothing to further his own vindication.
Not cooperating with the investigation
The argument that Scott did not cooperate with the investigation is a blatant lie. Scott was extremely cooperative with the police for several days. He immediately told them where he was that day and gave them evidence to confirm his timeline. On the first night he allowed them four "walk throughs" of his house which actually were preliminary searches (with no warrants). He consented to let ID Tech Lovell take pictures and collect evidence after he left with Brocchini. He allowed them full access to his warehouse. He answered questions from the officers and from Brocchini all through the evening without having a lawyer present. He went with Brocchini to police headquarters and allowed him to tape an interview.
Even after discovering
that Brocchini collected his gun without telling him, he continued to be
cooperative on the second day, Christmas Day. He spent 2 1/2 hours being
interviewed by Grogan and Mansfield. This interview was not videotaped or
recorded. He consented to have some blood drawn on the 25th. He
answered questions from Chris Boyer on the night of the 26th, to assist with the
Not taking a polygraph (lie detector test)
Originally published in the Misconceptions Series by Nadia Taze
are still under the notion that Scott Peterson refused to take a polygraph (lie
detector) test. They are mistaken. From Modesto Police Department's own records,
it is clear that within the first few hours of Laci’s disappearance, he agreed
not once, but twice to take a polygraph.
First time. From interview held with Detective Brocchini 24-25 December 2002:
Would you be willing to take a polygraph?
BROCCHINI: So what you’re telling me Scott is there no, you have no idea where Laci is.
In the above, Brocchini didn’t determine when this test would take place. How could Scott have known that Brocchini didn’t have the intention to immediately take him to be tested that evening? And yet, further into the interview, he agreed again with no mention of consulting an attorney or any other person first:
BROCCHINI: Would you be willing to take a polygraph?
PETERSON: Yeah . . . They're accurate, right?
BROCCHINI: Yeah, yeah, I mean I, it's not nothing that can be used against you, but yea, I believe they're accurate.
PETERSON: No, I'm certainly willing.
BROCCHINI: It wouldn't be now, it'd be, ya now, in a day or two.
PETERSON: Now . . .
BROCCHINI: It's just like the next step in this thing.
According to Catherine Crier's book "A Deadly Game", by the next day Lee Peterson had advised his son against taking a polygraph and Scott subsequently relented to take the test. That same day, Christmas Day, Douglas Mansfield, a polygraph examiner for the California Department of Justice, arrived and Scott was interviewed jointly by Mansfield and Grogan. However, a polygraph was not given.
Later on in the investigation, Scott Peterson again consented to taking a polygraph. This time at the request of Amber Frey.
Detective Jon Buehler instructed Amber to ask Scott to take a polygraph the next time he called her. On January 31, Amber told Scott, "You keep telling me how much you love me and want to be with me. But I have to know that you had nothing to do with Laci's disappearance. Will you take a lie detector test and put my mind to rest once and for all?" Scott did not yet consent. Within seconds, Amber called Buehler and talked to him for 12 minutes. They talked again at 11:40 p.m., followed by an immediate phone call from Amber to Scott to tell him, "If you'll take the polygraph, I'll come with you and take one to prove that I knew nothing about what has happened to Laci." Brocchini testified that "he vaguely recalled officers telling her to pretend she was a suspect in the disappearance so that Peterson would feel sorry for her and take the rap."
In her book, Amber says she asked Scott to take a lie detector test and he "had the gall to tell me he had already taken it, which I knew to be a lie, so I asked him to take another one" (pg. 149).
He arranged an appointment with Melvin
King for February 1, 2003. He was due to meet Amber Frey at the office of Expert
Polygraph Services, but upon arrival Peterson saw Brocchini and could not see
Frey in attendance. Believing that Amber was in collusion with Law
Enforcement and that this was a set up, Peterson left.
The Truth about Polygraphs & How they Work
"There are no whole truths: all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil" Alfred North Whitehead
There is no science involved in polygraph testing. Even the test itself is based upon the deception of the polygrapher.
Here, in simple terms, is how a polygraph works. The polygrapher, will warn the examinee that all their answers must be truthful, however, the truth is that he/she actually assumes that denials in response to certain questions will be untrue, or that the examinee will at least have doubts. These questions are known as “control questions." In other words, they are questions designed for the examinee to (probably) lie about when answering.
For example, in the instance of a polygraph being undertaken for employment purposes, the control question could be "Have you ever lied to a person of authority?" Now both we and the Polygrapher know that we have ALL at some time or another lied to someone of authority, be it a teacher at school or a police officer, but by implying that a person who would do so is unsuitable for the prospective job, the polygrapher tries to maneuver the examinee into responding untruthfully. The answer is known as the “probable lie.”
All answers to subsequent questions are then compared to the control question/probable lie. The polygrapher scores the test by comparing physiological reactions to these probable-lie control questions with reactions to relevant questions such as, "Have you ever used an illegal drug?" If the reactions to the control question are greater than that of the relevant question, the examinee passes; if the reactions to the relevant question are greater than that of the control question, he fails. If reactions to both are approximately equal, then the result is “inconclusive”.
Having read this, it is easy to see that this test is biased AGAINST those who are honest. The person that answers truthfully to the control question is the most likely to fail!
On the other hand the “liar” can easily beat the test by secretly enhancing their physiological reactions to the “control” questions.
Why Polygraphs are
The physiological reactions the polygraph measures are based on variations in breathing, pulse rate, blood pressure and perspiration. Those that are advocates of the polygraph, assert that these are all relative indicators of deception, however, there has yet to be a compelling theory found connecting these measurements and none of the above has been validated by scientific research. According to the American Civil Liberties Union:
“those physiological changes can be triggered by a wide range of emotions such as anger, sadness, embarrassment and fear. In addition, a variety of medical conditions such as colds, headaches and neurological and muscular problems can distort the results.”
In addition, lack of food and/or sleep or, interrogation immediately prior to the polygraph are all likely to affect the outcome of any test.
The American Medical Association has such grave doubts about these relative indicators of deception that one expert testifying before Congress in support of the 1988 Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) was forced to pronounce: "The [lie detector] cannot detect lies much better than a coin toss." (The EPPA prohibits the use of polygraphs by private companies in the hiring process).
Can individuals deceive the Polygraph? In a word – yes! And very easily. Techniques are simple to learn – they are known as Countermeasures and are considered very successful. According to retired Supervisory Special Agent Dr. Drew C. Richardson who holds a Doctorate in physiology, is a graduate of the Department of Defence Polygraph Institute (DoDPI) basic polygraph examiner’s course and worked in the Bureau’s now obsolete polygraph research unit, “…anyone can be taught to beat this type of polygraph exam in a few minutes.”
Browse the internet and you’ll find countless companies freely offering information on how to defeat the test. Those that charge do so with money back guarantees. Polygraphers have claimed they can detect such countermeasures, but to date, there has been no evidence provided to back up this claim.
Advocates of the Polygraph
The groups which hold belief in the Polygraph’s viability are Law Enforcement, Government Agencies at federal, state and local level and the American Polygraph Association (who of course have a vested interest).
Law Enforcement and Government Agencies alike are equally partial to the polygraph because although it may be unreliable, it encourages confessions/admissions. Having said that, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) holds reservations about the polygraph and has some stern advice:
"The FBI uses the polygraph as an investigative tool and cautions that the results should not be relied upon to the exclusion of other evidence or knowledge obtained during the course of an investigation. This policy is based upon the fact that, a) the polygraph technique has not reached a level of acceptability within the relevant scientific community, b) scientific research has not been able to establish the true validity of polygraph testing in criminal applications, c) there is a lack of standardization within the polygraph community for training and for conducting polygraph examinations." James Murphy, Director FBI Polygraph Unit
So, too, does the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA):
“Polygraph is more art than science, and unless an admission is obtained, the final determination is frequently what we refer to as a scientific wild-ass guess (SWAG)" Retired CIA Examiner John F. Sullivan"[The CIA's] reliance on the polygraph is truly insane"
Former CIA Director John M. Deutch
Proponents often claim that Polygraph results are 95-99% accurate, however the studies quoted have received no scientic reviews and have usually been conducted by those with a vested interest in the results.
Opponents of the Polygraph
The list of those who have voiced both opposition and concern at the use of the Polygraph and it’s unreliability is great. It includes the American Civil Liberties Union, Professor David T. Lykken, former President of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and now the US's foremost expert on the failings of polygraphy, the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council, the American Health Foundation, members of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and Fellows of the American Psychological Association and an array of former FBI and CIA Special Agents to name but a few.
Dr Drew C Richardson, former Supervisory Special Agent at the FBI Laboratory Division, is another adversary of the Polygraph. He asserts that; "[Polygraph screening] is completely without any theoretical foundation and has absolutely no validity...the diagnostic value of this type of testing is no more than that of astrology or tea-leaf reading."
In 1997 Journal of Applied Psychology survey put the polygraph test's accuracy rate at only 61%, and, according to William G. Iacono, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience University of Minnesota who gave evidence to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 2001 entitled "Issues Surrounding the Use of Polygraphs", Polygraphs are defective with approximately 40% of those innocent, unsuccessful in passing: "The best studies of polygraph tests, using real-life cases and published in top scientific journals, find that innocent people fare little better than chance on these tests, with 40% or more failing on average."
In short, the Polygraph is an interrogation tool. It's main purpose is to intimidate the examinee. The fact that it is not admissible in court proves that even Law Enforcement and it's agencies do not hold it’s results as unequivocal. With reference to criminal cases, it is not used to clear suspects, it’s sole purpose is only to attempt to elicit a confession which CAN be used in a court of law.
So back to the Peterson case. Having read the above, had Scott Peterson taken a test, would you accept as 100% true the results, irrelevant of whether he passed or failed?
His whereabouts on January 11
LE intentionally made it a big media story that divers would be going down on the 11th to recover the object found by sonar searches on the 9th--reportedly a body. They monitored Scott's whereabouts through his cell phone activity.
Around 10:30 he was known to be near the Berkeley Marina because he checked his voice mail and it was activated at the Berkeley Marina switch, but no one saw him. Later in the day he checked voice mail again in the Gilroy/Hollister area. The following calls were admitted as evidence to show Scott lied about his whereabouts. The following indicates the time of the call, the person Scott was talking to, and where Scott said he was compared to cell site locations. Click on the overview map to enlarge.
•People's 207A-2 & A-3 10:48 am, Jackie Peterson, west Fresno
•People's 207A-5 12:55 pm, voice mail from Sharon Rocha (Scott whistled)
•People's 207A-6 & A-7 12:56 pm, Sharon Rocha, Bakersfield
•People's 207A-8 & A-9 1:01 pm, Lee Peterson, Bakersfield
•People's 207A-10 & A-11 1:21 pm, Guy Miligi, coming home from Bakersfield
•People's 207A-12 1:25 pm, voice mail to Mike Richardson
•People's 207A-13 & A-14 1:31 pm, Heather Richardson, in Button Willow
•People's 207A-15 2:02 pm, Robert Weaver, not specified
Especially reprehensible to many people is the fact that he lied to his own Mother. But of what consequence is it? Was he doing something illegal? Was he somewhere disposing of Laci's body?
A reasonable interpretation is that he suspected his calls were being illegally tapped by the media. He was regularly hounded by the media, and often trailed. And when he was trailed, he always suspected it was the media trailing him. We have some indications that he had a pre-arranged agreement with his family and close friends that he would not disclose his location, even if they asked.
Trying to sell the house
January 14, 2003 First hint at selling the Covena home
Scott's first mention of selling the house was to Terri Western.
WESTERN: Yes, I did. As I did every morning. I was either the first one or one of the first that had arrived. And Scott was there that morning, and he was visibly upset. So I sat down next to him while he was going through the e-mails on the computer. And I said, "Scott," you know, "Are you okay?" And he said no. He goes, "I need to talk to you about selling the house. I can't have Laci come back here."
DISTASO: And what did you respond to him, if anything?
WESTERN: I responded with, "Well, Scott, I understand. However, now is not the time nor the place to discuss this."
DISTASO: And did he mention that to you again about selling the house?
WESTERN: No, he did not.
No effort was made by MPD or by the Defense, apparently, to determine what upset Scott so much. Scott didn't mention selling the house again to Western. Instead, he turned to Brian Argain.
January 22, 2003 Scott again inquired about selling the Covena house
Scott called Brian Argain to inquire about selling the house. Transcript The phone conversation lasted 4 minutes and was captured in one of the wiretaps. Scott asked Brian about getting together with him to discuss the possibilities. He wanted to put it on the market right away, as a furnished home, and wanted it kept secret from the media. Scott said, 'no way is Laci coming back to that place.' Brian said since LE had already searched the house, he didn't know of any reason why Scott couldn't sell it, but he would check for him. They arranged to meet for lunch the next day to continue the conversation.
January 23, 2003 Scott met with Brian, but didn't discuss selling the house
In a wiretapped voicemail to Brian, Scott confirmed that he met with Brian as arranged on the 22nd, but they didn't have an opportunity to discuss selling the house. Transcript MPD acknowledged they had undercover officers on hand.
January 27, 2003 Scott talked again with Brian Argain about selling the house
In a captured wiretap conversation, Brian agreed to speak with his manager about Scott selling the house. Transcript
January 29, 2003 Scott talked again to Argain about the house
In a captured wiretap conversation, Brian told Scott he would probably have to obtain a court order to sell the house since Laci's name is on the Deed. Scott then brought up the possibility of renting it, and Brian said he could have his Property Management group handle it. Brian was not to proceed, however, until he heard back from Scott. Transcript