The Modesto Police Department installed a pole camera on Covena,
to note Scott's comings and goings. Surveillance teams were alerted when he left
his home, and followed him. A total of 15 undercover officers from the MPD
Narcotics Division and the California DOJ participated. The ground surveillance documented hours of putting up flyers, and hours
spent at the volunteer center, and a search effort at a Manteca construction
site based on a tip received. A couple friends were with him at the Manteca
What the ground surveillance team did not provide is any evidence that Scott murdered Laci and dumped her in the Bay. All their eye witness testimony is neutral, and is not an indication of guilt or innocence.
But overall their eyewitness testimony is a definite minus for the State. It adds one more arm of the investigation of Scott that was so thorough as to leave no doubt that Scott did not engage in any activities related to Laci Peterson's disappearance between Jan 3 and Jan 11.
The LE had surveillance on Scott, but some of the detectives and members of the surveillance team realized that Scott could easily detect them on Covena. In a meeting that included Brocchini, Grogan, Buehler, Zarh, and possibly others, they discussed the difficulty watching Scott's house. Officer Randy Bolinger disclosed in his testimony that it was because of the media presence on the street. Officer Bettis confirmed that media presence is the reason it was difficult to monitor Scott's house from unmarked cars.
Sometime during the first week in January, they installed a closed-circuit television that was put on a pole, and was viewed from a van so somebody in a van could watch a screen of Scott's driveway. The surveillance equipment also had the capability to make recordings, and two video tapes were made. Brocchini, who testified about this surveillance camera at the Preliminary hearing, did not know when the equipment was taken down, but the ModBee reported neighbors saw some equipment being removed from line poles after the subject came up in the hearing. Brocchini also did not know whether the camera was furnished by the DEA or FBI, but Jacobson confirmed that it was the DEA.
Failure of the MPD to provide the Defense with the evidence produced by this CCTV camera was discussed in the Preliminary Hearing.
Officers primarily involved in
monitoring the pole camera were Mark Weiglein and Randy Bolinger.
Officer Mark Weiglein (MPD) participated in the pole camera surveillance from January 4-8, 2003. Weiglein described the process:
DISTASO: On January 4th, what time did you start up the surveillance again?
WEIGLEIN: I started it at 0430 hours in the morning.
DISTASO: And what time did, well, looks like at 7:30 you were at the house?
DISTASO: And were you involved in watching the house through the use of the pole camera?
WEIGLEIN: Yes, sir, I was.
DISTASO: At any point during your surveillance did you record any of that information?
WEIGLEIN: Yes, I did.
DISTASO: And when was the first time you recorded some of those tapes?
WEIGLEIN: On the 4th.
DISTASO: And can you just describe briefly for the jury what you did?
WEIGLEIN: Yes. The pole camera has a monitoring unit, which I had in my vehicle. It has a small screen that allows you to monitor the location from a distance. I, I didn't record the entire time I was there because for the majority of it there was no action being taken. And so I simply recorded when I would see movement. A vehicle arrive or a vehicle take off from the residence.
DISTASO: And when did you finish the surveillance? When were you, when was your involvement completely done with this?
WEIGLEIN: On January 8th.
DISTASO: Okay. And what did you do with the tapes?
WEIGLEIN: They were left with the machine.
DISTASO: Okay. So you left them there with the little camera box and everything?
Weiglein monitored the pole camera during his day shift through January 8. He left the recordings he made with the machine.
Officer Randy Bolinger monitored the camera during the night shift. He said visibility was pretty poor at nighttime because of the darkness and also fog on some nights. Any tapes made were given to Agent Perry, who returned them with the equipment to the drug enforcement unit. On some nights Bolinger turned the unit off because visibility was so poor. Agent Pooley relieved Bolinger on the morning of the 7th, and Agent Chris Perry on the morning of the 8th.
January 3. Two 90-minute tapes made starting at 6:22 p.m. This is the only specific mention of tapes from the pole camera.
January 3, 2003
Officer Mark Weiglein participated in the ground surveillance on the 3rd. He began the surveillance around 6 a.m. at the investigation's bureau office, which is where Scott picked up the Land Rover. Weiglein followed Scott to the junction of Tully Road and Kiernan Avenue, then back home. A silver Subaru, with a man in the front seat and a woman in the back seat, followed Scott home. The Subaru belonged to Aaron Fritz.
January 4, 2003
At 7:45 Scott went to the Volunteer Center, and returned home at 1:00. At 1:10 he went to McAllister's office. At 1:45 Scott was seen posting signs near Highway 33, at the intersection of Maze Avenue. At 2:11 he was seen posting a sign at the intersection near Koster Road. He also went up along the "I-5 and 120 areas, those are all areas that are either far east in [the] county or in other counties," and then took 99 south back to Modesto. At 3:03 he returned to the Volunteer Center. Scott left again with some people in a blue Ford Expedition, and they went to Manteco, driving around some of the newer construction areas in response to a tip they had received. At 5:00 Scott returned to the Volunteer Center.
During the night, no activity was monitored by the pole camera.
January 5, 2003
The surveillance team followed Scott between roughly 7:30 in the morning and 11:40 in the morning driving around in Modesto, in the Land Rover. Scott picked up a gentleman from the blue Ford Expedition and at 9:43 they were in Moose Park posting flyers. They visited several churches that were in session, handing out flyers. At 10:04 they were at Kingdom Hall, then Sherwood Bible Church, then Orthodox Mission Church. At 10:28 they were at another complex on Tully Road. At 10:58 they were at a church on the northwest corner of Orangeburg and College. 11:03 at a church on Rumble & Prescott. 11:25 at a church on the north side of California Street. About 11:42 he was followed back to his residence, where the surveillance units watched him go into his house. He came out about an hour later wearing different clothing, he got into a small silver Subaru that belonged to Aaron Fritz and that was parked in his driveway, and then the surveillance units followed him directly to the Berkeley Marina, and he arrived there at 2:08. He pulled into the Berkeley Marina boat launch area, stayed about five minutes, and then looked out over the Bay. Then he drove straight back to Modesto, stopping at 3:08 at a Shell gas station, and arriving home at 3:40. At 4:55 Scott went to the Del Rio Country Club, and left there at 5:45.
At 10:15 p.m. the Ford
Explorer left the house. No other activity was monitored by the pole
January 6, 2003
The LE surveillance units saw Scott leave his house about 7:30 in the morning, he drove to the Red Lion, where he stayed there for about 45 minutes, then went to Kirk McAllister's office at 10:22. From there he went to the Enterprise Rent-A-Car business on 7th and G Street. He rented a small red Honda, and he left his Land Rover in the Enterprise lot. At 10:40 he was at the Warehouse on Emerald and then left at 10:48 left for the Berkeley Marina, arriving at 12:04. He parked just north of the boat launch, stared out into the bay about two minutes, then drove back. From this circular overlook, you can see Brooks Island, the areas where the bodies washed up. On the way back, the LE were not able to maintain constant surveillance the entire trip. Scott was stopping on the side of the freeway, making U-turns in the middle of blocks, pulling into parking lots and stopping, just briefly, and then taking off, and they were unable to follow him. They picked up surveillance again when he returned to the Volunteer Center about 4:45 or 5:00 before going to Enterprise at 5:18 pm to get the Land Rover. Various cross examinations suggest Scott believed he was tailed by media.
January 7, 2003
Scott was driving the Land Rover the entire day. He was at the Volunteer Center from 7:26-12:09.
January 8, 2003
Scott was driving the
Land Rover the entire day. At 3:50 he drove around both the MPD
investigations office and the main police department building, making a complete
circle of each building. He then went to Enterprise Rental where he rented
a white truck, a Chevy S-10 Sonoma. Officer Weiglein testified he put the
GPS device in the truck before Scott rented it. He went to the Bank of the
West, and then home, arriving at 6:00.
January 9, 2003
LE surveillance noted
that at 7:00 am Scott put some suitcases into the truck he had rented the day
before. About 10:30 he left home and drove straight to the Berkeley Marina. Once
there, he circled the parking lot, stopped, briefly stared out into the bay for
a few minutes, and then drove away. From there he went to the San Luis O'Neill
Forebay, and then to the Double Tree in Bakersfield, where he stayed the night.
Divers were doing searches in both the Bay and the San Luis Forebay, and the
ModBee had an article that morning about the search in the Bay.