Conner's last sonogram
Collected on: December 26/27, 2002
Collected by: Rudy Skultety, Crime Scene Manager
Collected from: Nursery
The sonogram gets first mention in Distaso's Opening Statement:
What I want to do now, though, is go way back and kind of start in the beginning, start in September, and I want to, to go through there and tell you about the things that the detectives learned as they went through and investigated this case. So we go back to September 24th. That's kind of the first date that really has any relevance. Laci has her last sonogram. The way sonograms work, if any of you have children, I think some of you do, there's an initial sonogram done and one done I think three or four months later, and unless there is a problem pregnancy or there's issues they need to check the baby with, those are really the only two sonograms that are usually completed. And that's what was done in this particular case. And based on that sonogramís measurements, what the doctors are going to tell you, and the doctors, Laciís OB-GYNs are Dr. Yip and Dr. Tow-Der. What they're going to come in here and tell you is that based on those sonogram measurements, Laci, or Conner Peterson, the baby in this case, would have been approximately 33 weeks old on December 24th.
Go ahead and click on that record real quick. Let me show you this record. It's going to be hard for you to read, but what it says is on, on September 24th the baby was 19 and two sevenths weeks with a due date of 2/16. The baby's heart rate was 154. And basically what they said was the baby was fine and growing normally at that time. If you count out the weeks, and I've done that, it would actually put you on December 24th at 32, 32 and two-sevenths weeks. That's what you would get. This technology that the doctors used has a variance of about two weeks, and, and the best way, the doctors are going to come and describe it to you, is when they give a woman a due date, they say your due date, in this case let's say February 16th, what they mean is you can have the baby really pretty much anytime from February 1st to February 28th. You know, you can have it anytime in this range, kind of two weeks on either end. So the technology that they use, while accurate, it's got this two week, you know, variance on either side. So if we want to be completely accurate when I tell you what, on the 24th the baby could have been as old as 34 and two-sevenths weeks, or I suppose as young as 30 and two-sevenths weeks. That's really what you have to look at.
Go ahead and click out. Click out. Now, let's go to October. The reason that's, and I want you to think of that. The reason that's important is there was another doctor who came in later after Laci and Conner Peterson were found and did some more detailed analysis. He has more sophisticated ultrasound machines, and he did more detailed analysis of Conner Peterson's femur bone. And based on the growth measurements of Conner Peterson's femur bone, he was able to determine, within a plus or minus of five days, three to five days on either side, how old Conner Peterson would have been on December 24th. But what the initial doctors will tell you is what I just said. Okay.
Notice that Distaso admits in his Opening Statement that the 2nd sonogram put the due date at February 16, and that Conner was 32w2d on December 24. However, he grossly misrepresents what Dr. Devore would be saying in his testimony. Devore took three measurements, and none of the measurements agrees with the 32w2d; indeed, Devore resolutely insisted that the age derived from the 2nd sonogram was not to be used and did all of his dating measurements from the due date imposed by the LMP (last menses).
So 64 is equal to 32.8 from the equation. Remember, I have to take .8 times days of the week, is equal to 32 weeks and six days, which is equal to December 21st. So I will just go through this for each of these. Excuse me. 64.7 equals 33.15, equals 33 weeks and one day, which equals, I think, December 23rd. I apologize for my handwriting. Doctor's writing. It could be better. Okay. 65 equals 33.28, which equals 33 weeks two days, which equals December 24th.
If you project Devore's measurements onto the 2nd sonogram due date, you get possible death dates of December 27, December 29, and December 30. For a complete analysis of the second sonogram and Devore's testimony, see Time of Death.
The sonogram received only passing interest in the questioning of Rudy Skultety and Dodge Hendee (assigned to the nursery), more to establish where the sonogram was collected from than to imply any evidentiary value:
GERAGOS: Was there a sonogram that was taken out of the nursery?
GERAGOS: And that was recovered or taken as an evidence item?
HENDEE: This is a photograph of the top of the dresser. And there is a photograph of, a sonogram photograph that I think we collected as evidence that day.
HARRIS: Okay. So you think you collected as evidence. Let's talk about that. You were saying before it was kind of up to the Scene Manager whether something is collected or not. When you were working through that room, that sonogram was located at some point in time?
HENDEE: Yes. When I say I think we collected that, we may have collected it the next day. I'm not sure if we collected it that night. We did, for sure, collect the sonogram.
GERAGOS: Now, in addition to that, you found a sonogram; is that right?
HENDEE: There was one in the room, yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Okay. And that was of, apparently of baby Conner?
GERAGOS: And it was on the dresser; is that correct?
HENDEE: It was collected from the dresser.
Geragos also brought it up in his cross examination of Detective Al Brocchini (part of the Kim McGregor line of questioning):
GERAGOS: All right. Now, also she told you that Scott was at the volunteer center one morning; is that correct?
BROCCHINI: One morning?
GERAGOS: Yeah, she had seen Scott at the volunteer center?
BROCCHINI: She had seen Scott at the volunteer center.
GERAGOS: Okay. And he was upset because you, meaning the detectives, had gone through the house and had taken his baby's sonogram picture and he was very upset about that?
In the penalty phase, Sharon Rocha testified that Laci gave her a copy of the sonogram:
ROCHA: She shopped a lot. She'd call me every time she went to the doctor's, let me know what the results were. She gave me a copy of the sonogram. Saving a picture, I have the baby. And he was a baby. You could see his little body. That was taken on December 14th and the next day was the last day I saw her, December 15th. She wanted me to put my hand on her stomach and feel him. I never felt him, but I sat there the rest of the evening with my hand on her stomach. I talked to him. I put my fact next to her stomach and I talked to him. She was anxious. She was ready to have him.
Sharon is wrong about the date the sonogram was taken--it was September 24, not December 14.