The Setup -- January 11-19
Why was it necessary for the Modesto Police Department to create
such hatred for Scott Peterson in the minds of Laciís family members and friends
and in the eyes of the media and the public? If Scott were truly guilty, this
campaign of character assassination would not have been necessary. The evidence
against him would have been enough. But there was no evidence whatsoever that
Scott Peterson murdered his wife
The lead detectives in this case, Craig Grogan, Allen Brocchini, and Jon Buehler were not honorable men. They were not men with integrity. When they realized that their entire investigation up until January 11 had been a mistake, they did not admit it. They did not change their focus and search for the truth. Instead they convinced themselves that Scott was guilty, and they began an all out campaign to turn Laciís family members and friends against him.
This is an overview of the week in January 2003 when the detectives put their plan into action:
Saturday, January 11: Lee and Jackie Peterson were in Modesto. Scott left home during the day on business but returned to Modesto that evening. He and his parents were invited to dinner at a Rotary friendís house. Scott then went to two special prayer services for Laci. His mother, made ill by stress, went to the Emergency Room at a hospital in Modesto that night, and Scott spent several hours there with her.
Modesto Police later claimed this is the day they didnít know where Scott was because they stopped trailing him, and because they werenít able to put a GPS monitor on the Silver Saturn he used from this time until January 16. Also on this day, they said they stopped surveillance of the Covena house with the pole camera across the street. They claimed that they were only able to determine where Scott was by using Cell Phone Tower records, a very unreliable, unproven method (junk science) for determining location. The wiretap of Scottís phones which had been approved on January 10 began operating on January 11.
Sunday, January 12: Scott went to the Volunteer Center at 7:00 a.m. and then to special prayer services for Laci at two different churches. He went to Berkeley with Lee and Jackie for the christening of Anne Birdís son, then back to work at the Volunteer center, then to more prayer services. His parents were still in Modesto that night.
Does this sound like a day when Scott would have upgraded to a Porn Channel on his TV? Highly unlikely. All that would have been required for another person to sign up for him was the phone number connected with the account. Brocchini had all of the information about Scottís phones by December 25.
Monday, January 13: Lee and Jackie Peterson were still in Modesto. Scottís sister-in-law, Janey, came to Modesto to appear on Larry King Live that night with Lee, Sharon Rocha, Amy Rocha and Ron Grantski. The Rochas and Grantski had only kind words for Scott.
Tuesday, January 14: Apparently, Lee and Jackie returned to San Diego on this day. Janey Peterson remained in Modesto, and that evening she and Scott went to Sharon Rochaís for dinner; and they stayed for the rest of the evening to watch Dateline NBC and On the Record.
Wednesday, January 15: This was the day that everything changed. Detectives Buehler and Brocchini met with Sharon Rocha and Ron Grantski at the Modesto Police Department at 5 p.m. They showed them pictures of Amber Frey with Scott and told them that Scott had taken out a $250K life insurance policy on Laci in the summer after she became pregnant. Detectives Grogan and Owen went to San Diego on this day to give similar information to Lee Peterson. At this time or sometime the following day, the detectives told the Rochas that they believed Scott was responsible for Laciís disappearance and that there was blood evidence. They told them that Scott was still seeing Amber.
Detective Brocchini knew that the information about the life insurance policy was not true. In the Preliminary hearing on November 12, 2003 he agreed that he had known the policy was not a recent purchase and during the trial on June 24, 2004, he testified that he had first spoken to Brian Ullrich regarding the policies early in the investigation, on January 4, 2003. He was aware that the policy was agreed upon in April 2001, nearly 20 months before Laci's disappearance.
There was no blood evidence that connected Scott to Laciís disappearance.
Scott did not continue to see Amber. He talked to her on the phone. He did not see Amber from the time of their last date on December 14-15 until the day she testified against him in court.
The detectives claimed that it was necessary to give this information to family members because the National Enquirer was coming out with a story about it the next day. They probably knew this because they were the source for the story.
After the meeting with MPD, Sharon and Ron went
home. Gwen and Harvey Kemple , Kim Peterson, Sandy Rickard, Patty Amador, Lin
(Wilson?), Lissa McElroy, Susie and Gil Aquino came to their house that evening.
Sharon said she wanted to close the Volunteer Center. Kim Peterson notified key
people and Buehler about the decision. Terri Western, after a phone conversation
with Kim Peterson closed the volunteer center in Modesto permanently the
Thursday, January 16: The National Enquirer comes out with photos of Scott and Amber together and mentions the life insurance policy, blood evidence, concrete anchors. In a 1:46 p.m. conversation with Brent Rocha, Scott tells him he learned from Terry Western why the Volunteer Center is closed. Scott had been there that day to load up materials for the Volunteer Center in Los Angeles on Sunday. Brent has a copy of the National Enquirer issue. He and Scott discuss the allegations. Brent seems quite willing to listen to Scottís side of the story. The conversation ends with Brentís suggestion that they get together on Monday.
Brent ROCHA: Okay. Hey umÖare you taking off tomorrow?
Scott PETERSON: I think so.
Brent PETERSON: Yeah, okay. All right. Well, then youíll be back when, Saturday or Sunday?
Scott PETERSON: Iíll be back Sunday night.
Brent ROCHA: Sunday night? Okay, then maybe Monday we can get together or something.
Scott PETERSON: Yeah, that will be good.
Brent ROCHA: Okay, Scott.
Scott PETERSON: Thanks, Brent.
In the evening, Detectives Grogan and Buehler come to Sharonís house to set up the recording equipment on the phone. The house is full of people at the time including Brent, Amy and her mother Nancy, Nathan, Sandy, Gwen, Lissa and Sharonís mother. Brent has a copy of the National Enquirer. While the police are still there, Scott calls and asks Sharon if he can come over to discuss the situation. Prompted by Grogan, Sharon says no.
By the time the detectives leave that evening the entire group at Sharonís house believes that Scott killed Laci. The relationships between Scott and Laciís family members are never the same.
On this same day, Diane Jackson, who has information favorable to Scott, is interviewed by Gary Ermoian, the investigator for Scottís attorney, Kirk McAllister.
Friday, January 17: The Modesto Bee runs an article about Scott and Amber Frey, the insurance policy, and the closing of the volunteer center. At 6:40 a.m. Detective Brocchini calls Mike Richardson, a good friend of Scott and Laciís, to ask him if he has read the Modesto Bee yet. He tells him to read the article about Amber Frey and the insurance policy. He suggests that Mikeís wife, Heather, call Sharon Rocha for further information. He says that Scott is no longer welcome in the homes of any of Laciís friends or her family.
Mike Richardson tells Brocchini that he and his wife are expecting Scott to stay the night at their house in Ventura.
Brent Rocha makes a phone call to Scott. His attitude toward Scott has changed significantly since their conversation the day before.
MPD arranges for both Kristen Dempewolf and Diane Jackson, who have information that is exculpatory for Scott, to be hypnotized. The hypnotist is unqualified; and therefore the post-hypnosis memories of both Dempewolf and Jackson are excluded from the trial. They are not permitted to testify in person.
Saturday, January 18: Scott is still in southern California preparing for the opening of the Volunteer Center in L.A. the next day. He spends another night at the Richardsonís house in Ventura.
Sunday, January 19: Scott spends the day at the Volunteer Center at the Doubletree Hotel in Los Angeles passing out fliers about Laci.
He returns home to Modesto that evening to find his house has been burglarized. Several items of his clothing and Laciís clothing have been taken from the house.
When neighbors report that Kim McGregor is the person responsible for the burglary, Detective Brocchini is put in charge of the investigation. He suggests to Scott that this is just a harmless incident and that he shouldnít press charges. When Laciís clothing (what she was wearing at the time she disappeared, and what was found on her body) becomes an important factor in Scottís conviction, it appears that this burglary was not so harmless after all.
Only Brocchini and Kim McGregor know exactly what was taken from the house. Perhaps Brocchini can explain how Kim McGregor took a pair of GAP black pants from the house on January 19 that were not in the house during the search warrant of December 26-27. These pants and other items are returned to the Covena house by MPD detective Sebron Banks during the second search warrant February 18-19, and are rediscovered by the Modesto police. A second pair of black pants also mysteriously appears in the house on that day.
This was the week in January that the set-up of Scott Peterson by the Modesto Police began in earnest. It did not end until mid-April when the bodies of Laci and Conner Peterson were found on the shoreline at the San Francisco Bay.