Preliminary Hearing: Oct 2003 - Jan 2004
4 Oct 2003 More Phone logs revealed
ModBee reported on the phone calls logged between December 14, 2002, and February 19, 2003. In addition to calling Scott and the detectives, Amber also placed calls to various media.
4 Oct 2003 Insurance Company asked for hold on benefits
Laci's life insurance company asked a judge to order the more than $250,000 in benefits held in an account until the outcome of Scott's double-murder trial.
7 Oct 2003 Defense wants evidence excluded
Scott's defense team filed a 70-page document requesting certain evidence be excluded, including the hair(s) found in the pliers, the GPA tracking devices, testimony from Kristen Dempewolf, a woman from Peterson's La Loma neighborhood who police had hypnotized, and evidence produced by the scent-tracking dog named Merlin. The hair is challenged because of an alleged break in the chain of custody and the unreliability of mitochondrial DNA testing. The defense claims the GPA tracking devices were faulty and could not get signals from satellites for stretches lasting "several hours." Dempewolf's testimony is challenged because the investigators failed to follow strict legal requirements for hypnotizing a witness. The scent-tracking dog evidence is challenged because there has been no California cases where evidence from dogs tracking victims, rather than suspects, has been admitted. The defense contends dog tracking evidence has only been admitted in California courts where the dogs were put on fresh tracks that led them directly to human suspects or places suspects were within a half hour.
14 Oct 2003 Prosecution defends evidence
The prosecution filed a 400+ page document defending the evidences the defense sought to have the Judge throw out in their October 7 filing. Prosecutors contend a single hair found attached to pliers in Scott Peterson's boat broke in an evidence package and was not mishandled by investigators. When a criminalist at the state Department of Justice lab examined the two hairs, he found one measured 4› inches and the other 1« inches. Both had damaged ends that "appear to match each other, meaning the hair broke apart in the package." The document also defended the results of the scent dogs who traced Laci's scent from the Covena home to the San Francisco Bay.
15 Oct 2003 Dempewolf won't testify at Prelim
Prosecutors announced they will not introduce from Kristen Dempewolf, who was hypnotized by investigators, at the preliminary hearing, but still intend to call her at the trial. They also claim that the defense objections to Dempewolf must also apply to Diane Jackson, the witness who saw the van parked across the street from the Petersons. Jackson, too, was hypnotized.
16 Oct 2003 Defense challenged wire taps
Documents filed by the Defense say that "on December 27, 2002, cadaver dog handler Eloise Anderson of the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team placed her cadaver dog, Twist, into Scott Peterson's boat for the purpose of detecting cadaver scent." "The cadaver dog did not alert in the boat," the documents said. "This information was purposely omitted from the search warrant affidavits because it destroys the theory on which the prosecution has based its case." The cornerstone of the prosecution's theory is that Scott transported his dead wife to San Francisco Bay on Dec. 24 in the boat he purchased several weeks before, defense attorney Kirk McAllister wrote in documents filed. The information about the cadaver dog arose from a defense challenge to two wire-taps on Peterson's phones. The defense maintains investigators failed to provide accurate information in their sworn affidavits to a judge when they sought warrants for the wire-taps. If Girolami finds district attorney investigator Steve Jacobson willfully omitted material facts in his affidavits, it could lead to the wiretap evidence being thrown out.
17 Oct 2003 Prelim delayed again
Because of Geragos' involvement in a current murder trial in LA, the preliminary was again delayed. It is now scheduled for October 28. The Judge also scheduled a hearing for Friday, Oct 24, to check the status of both sides and determine what witnesses would be excluded from the courtroom during the preliminary hearing. That could mean family members on both sides may be kept out of the courtroom except to testify. The prosecution expects the Preliminary to last 5 days. Girolami said he will hear a series of defense motions to exclude evidence at the preliminary hearing. The defense is seeking to bar from trial evidence ranging from scent-tracking dogs to wiretaps to global positioning system tracking devices placed on Peterson's vehicles.
20 Oct 2003 Amber's $6M lawsuit
ModBee article on Amber's $6M lawsuit against David Hans Schmidt, and his firm by the same name, for posting nude photos of her on his pay-for-use website without her permission. The lawsuit alleges misappropriation of Amber's name and likeness, unlawful or misleading advertising, invasion of privacy, and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The pictures were taken in 1999 at Emerald Photography in Clovis for a "test shoot," according to the lawsuit. Amber was 24 at the time. At no time did Frey "license or authorize the use of her photographs by any defendant or any other person," the lawsuit states.
24 Oct 2003 Scott's jailhouse confession
The Globe published its second interview with James Soares, the Stanislaus County inmate who occupied a cell near Scott during the first few weeks after Scott was arrested. Soares' first interview, on July 18 with KTVU Ted Rowlands was quite positive towards Scott. In the second interview, September 16, Soares describes a very different Scott--a man obsessed with Amber, furious with Laci for getting pregnant, and a drug user. In this third interview, Soares claims Scott confessed to the murder and describes how he used a golf club to kill Laci.
24 Oct 2003 Prelim delayed again
The preliminary hearing was delayed again until October 29 because of Geragos' continued involvement in the Los Angeles murder case.
29 Oct 2003 Preliminary Hearing Day 1
Prosecutors announced that they will not use evidence from the wiretaps or the GPS tracking devices.
Girolami ruled that Gloria Allred can remain in the courtroom as other witnesses testify. He said she can offer advice to her client, but cannot discuss any testimony with her.
Geragos said he intends to call a DNA expert from Shields State University in New York. The witness is expected to testify Monday.
Prosecutors began their case by calling Dr. Constance L. Fisher, an FBI expert on DNA analysis, to both explain the process and to verify its general acceptance in the scientific community.
29 Oct 2003 Preliminary Hearing Day 1: The Testimony
Witness: Dr. Constance Fisher, FBI.
The hair found in Scott's pliers is important to the prosecution to link Laci to Scott's boat. Fisher explained the difference between mitochondrial DNA and nuclear DNA. FBI analysts compared the hair found to one of his blood samples and to DNA on a test swab designated as "SR2," obviously from Sharon Rocha, as mitochondrial DNA is passed from maternal relatives. According to Fisher, the hair did not match Scott's blood sample, but did match the SR2 sample. Because everyone in a maternal line carries the same mitochondrial DNA, it cannot be used as an unique identifier. 1 in every 112 Caucasians would be expected to have the same DNA sequence, as would 1 in every 159 Hispanics. Mark Geragos challenged Fisher’s qualifications. Under questioning, Fisher acknowledged that she had never testified in California state court and that this was the first case where she was testifying about the admissibility of mitochondrial DNA evidence.
29 Oct 2003 The Families in Court
During one point of Geragos’ questioning of Fisher, Sharon Rocha wrote something on a piece of paper for Ron Grantski, as the two sat in the front row. After he read it, the two chuckled slightly. Rocha and nine other family members and friends wore black in the courtroom. During Fisher's testimony, bailiffs handed notes to Scott's parents on separate occasions. The couple sat with other family members in the front row behind the defense table. All Scott's family members appeared to wear pins in the shape of a yellow ribbon overlaid with blue. Pale yellow and blue ribbons were a near ubiquitous symbol during the massive search for Laci Peterson: the yellow to symbolize hope and the blue for the son Laci Peterson was expecting.
30 Oct 2003 Preliminary Hearing Day 2: The Testimony
Witness: Dr. Constance Fisher, FBI
Thursday's hearing was filled with excruciating detail on mitochondrial DNA analysis, as Geragos grilled FBI expert Constance L. Fisher. FBI lab technicians had one of Laci Peterson's bones but did not extract DNA from it to compare with DNA from the hair found in Scott's boat. Geragos tried to get Fisher to say that reliability of such tests is the subject of much debate in the scientific community. "There is always debate going on in a community," Fisher said. But, she said, disputes about mitochondrial DNA are not "sizeable." She conceded that she had not visited six of seven laboratories that contributed tissues to establish a database used by the FBI. Geragos also took aim at the computer program used to analyze the DNA data. Fisher said the program, written by a former lab employee no longer with the FBI, had some built in error but that analysts checked the results manually. "Was he fired for incompetence?" Geragos asked. Fisher said he left to study law, prompting the packed courtroom to erupt in laughter. Scott chuckled with nearly everyone else, then briefly shook his head from side to side as he smiled.
31 Oct 2003 Preliminary Hearing Day 3: The Testimony
Witness: Margarita Nava, Housekeeper
Margarita Nava, Scott & Laci's housekeeper, testified about her cleaning routine, Laci's activities while she was there, and what Laci was wearing. Significant information is that Laci's blinds were shut when Nava arrived, even though Laci was showered and dressed. Testimony
Witness: Amy Rocha, Laci's half-sister
Amy Rocha testified about the Salon Salon visit, what Laci was wearing, Scott's offer to pick up the gift basket and then his failure to do so. Amy told Detective Grogan on Jan. 5 that Salon Salon had a video surveillance and the LE should obtain the tape for Dec. 23 as Laci would be on it. Amy was asked a lot of questions about Laci's level of activity and what Amy knew about the boat and the housekeeper. Testimony
Witness: Sharon Rocha, Laci's mother
Sharon Rocha testified about her phone call with Laci on the night of the 23rd and the sequence of events on the 24th, beginning with Scott's first call to her to ask if Laci was there. Sharon was also asked about the level of Laci's activity. Testimony
Witness: Lee Peterson, Scott's father
Lee Peterson testified about not knowing about Scott's boat and Scott being fishing on the 24th even though Scott apparently called him while he was fishing. Lee named other large purchases which Scott has made in the past without telling him about them for weeks. Testimony
Witness: Jon Evers, MPD
Detective Jon Evers, the patrol officer who first responded to the 911 call reporting Laci missing, testified about his initial interview with Scott in the park, the 5 hour search of the Covena home, and the late night search of the warehouse and the boat. Evers overhead an exchange between Ron Grantski and Scott, in which Scott told Ron he went fishing instead of golf because it was too cold for golf. McAllister did not conclude his cross-examination, so Evers will return next week for more testimony.
31 Oct 2003 The Families in Court
Dennis Rocha sighed audibly twice during testimony. Sharon Rocha and Ron Grantski whispered frequently and at one point passed a note up to prosecutors conducting questioning at the counsel table.
3 Nov 2003 Preliminary Hearing Day Four: The Testimony
Witness: Professor William Shields, New York State University
William Shields, a professor at State University in Syracuse, New York, took the stand as the Defense DNA expert.
Shields testified that the technique used by the FBI laboratory is faulty and fails to adequately address contamination. Under questioning from prosecutor Dave Harris, Shields acknowledged he had never personally extracted a mitochondrial DNA sample in a lab, and garnered his expertise from reading reports done by others, viewing work in other labs and some of his own lab work.
In the afternoon session, Shields testified that the human hair found in Scott's boat could have come from one in any 11 white people. He reached that conclusion by using a computation different from that of an FBI mitochondrial DNA expert who testified at the preliminary hearing last week. "I guarantee you," Shields said, "the way it is presented (by authorities) is biased against the defendant - and it's wrong."
Prosecutor Dave Harris sparred with Shields by squabbling over definitions. Shields grew increasingly agitated with Harris in a string of exchanges about scientific terms and procedures, finally saying: “You’ve been doing this all along. Stop misrepresenting what I’m saying.”
4 Nov 2003 Preliminary Hearing Day Five: The Testimony
Witness: Jon Evers, MPD
Detective Jon Evers, the responding patrol officer, completed his testimony. Under cross, he testified that he did not see moisture on any of the floors and did not smell bleach or other cleansers. He also testified that he and the other officers saw a throw rug scrunched against a doorway leading to the driveway. Testimony
5 Nov 2003 Preliminary Hearing Day Six
No witnesses called. The hearing was delayed because of Geragos' involvement in the Los Angeles trial.
6 Nov 2003 Preliminary Hearing Day Seven: The Testimony
Witness: Allen Brocchini, MPD Testimony
Detective Allen Brocchini, the responding detective, testified.
Met Scott on eve of 24th
Did walk through of home
Saw Purse in closet looked through it
Was notified of scrunched up rug against door
Saw pile of dirty white towels on top of washer/dryer and Scott’s fishing clothes
Reviewed Scott’s cell phone history
Asked Scott about having an affair, which Scott denied
Dog in backyard quiet
Observed two mops and a bucket
Spare bedroom, Nike bag with men clothes unzipped in front of closet
Back of Scott’s truck, umbrellas wrapped in a blue trap, brown canvas tarp (boat cover) bunched up
In tool were box some clothes, nylon rope, shot gun shells and unopened fishing lures
Big 5 Sporting Goods receipt, 2 day 1999 fishing license, Llama .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun in glove compartment
December 27th search warrant observed the boat cover in the storage shed under a leaking leaf
24th after searching vehicles went to warehouse with Scott and Jon Evers
Was told no power in ware house, didn’t check for himself
Rolled up main door so patrol car can shine light into the warehouse.
Saw fax dated 14:28 Hours, came from New Jersey 3 hour time difference
Saw forklift and flat bed trailer, fertilizer products, boat
Looked in boat and took some pictures
Home made anchor inside of boat
Drove back to MPD for interview
Noticed forgot notebook at warehouse drove back to retrieve it.
Found IN the boat.
Drove back to MPD arrived at midnight
One hour audio taped interview
Scott got up at 8am Laci a bit earlier, ate breakfast, watched Martha Stewart, parts he remembered were about meringue
Laci asked him to bring her Mop and bucket
left home around 9:30-9:35 am
Laci’s plans, walking dog, cleaning, shop for brunch
Fishing a morning decision to cold to golf, original plan was golfing
Had boat for a couple of weeks
Bought boat used on December 9th from Mr. Bruce Peterson
Last time saw Laci, black pants, white pullover blouse and barefoot
Left for warehouse, checked e-mails, built mortising machine, hooked up boat and left
Drove to Berkley and launched boat went towards Brooks Island
Short time trolling, water was shallow.
Water choppy, started to rain, powered boat back to marina
People watching him laughing when backing trailer down
Started for home called Laci on her cell phone. No answer left message. Left message at home as well.
Stopped for gas in Livermore. Drove back to warehouse, unhooked boat checked e-mails and went home. Got home around 16:30-16:45 hours.
Went in back yard saw dog running with leash; took leash off dog went through unlocked French doors, emptied mop bucket.
Started to wash his clothes, got some leftover pizza, milk, took shower.
Checked answering machine messages, called Sharon Rocha, went to neighbors Amie Krigbaum, Karen Servas not home left note. Went back home called Sharon again.
Asked Scott to test hands for gun powder residue
Told him have to eliminate him as a suspect
Drove Scott home, didn’t notice any officers present at that time
2am received phone call from Scott wanting t know if took gun
Later that day received phone call from Scott asking if cadaver dogs are being used
100’s of tips coming in hotline daily if not more
December 30th incoming tip from Amber Fry
Took phone and spoke to Amber fry
Went to her home for interview
Had Amber Fry tape phone conversations with Scott
February 18th second search warrant served for Peterson home
Cell phones found
Fishing license for 2002
Present at arrest of Scott
Drove maroon 1984 Mercedes convertible
Bought under the name of Jacqueline Peterson
6 Nov 2003 Preliminary Hearing Day Seven: CTV Cameras & Federal Grand Jury
Defense requested Judge Girolami's assistance to obtain discovery materials from both the FBI and the Federal Grand Jury in Fresno. Details
12 Nov 2003 Preliminary Hearing Day Eight: The Testimony
Witness: Bruce Budowle, FBI senior scientist
Bruce Budowle, a senior scientist from the FBI's laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, testified as a prosecution expert to validate the DNA testing used by Constance Fisher.
Witness: Allen Brocchini, MPD Testimony
Cross-examination of Detective Allen Brocchini resumed.
13 Nov 2003 Preliminary Hearing Day Nine: The Testimony
Witness: Allen Brocchini, MPD Testimony
Brocchini attempted to plant the seeds of suspicion in the minds of several of Scott's and Laci's friends, calling their attention to news stories about Amber and the $250K life insurance and asking them to ask Scott questions he couldn't ask him.
On February 5, Brocchini asked Terry Scott, FBI agent, to obtain a federal Grand Jury subpoena on some purchases Scott made at various hardware stores. A link to an attempt to get Scott fired from Trade Corp was suggested by McAllister. Brocchini maintained that he obtained Trade Corp records through consent from their corporate attorney to look at some expenditures Scott made. Trade Corp conducted an internal review and found nothing inappropriate with the expenditures.
PI Ermoian was conducting a counter-investigation and interviewing potential witnesses before the LE.
Asked Terry Scott, the FBI agent, to use a federal subpoena to obtain the records of the tip line setup by Scott and his mother.
He did not interview either the Mitchell's or the Maldonado's, either on their original call in to the tip line or after reading about their story in the ModBee. He did not instruct any other office to interview them.
Identified the fishing licenses produced by Scott.
Reviewed the examination of the boat on the 24th and noted that Brocchini did not examine closely under the seats.
Revealed the sequence of events whereby Brocchini and Grogan became aware of the pliers with the hair on February 11. Brocchini had Detectives Grogan and Skultety take his original negatives from that film he used to photograph the boat on the night of the 24th out of evidence and had them developed into prints at the Camera Center, and those prints also show the pliers in the boat. Geragos disputed admitting these photos into evidence on grounds of untimely discovery and wanting his own expert to look at the photos.
Brocchini explained the reason he called a tip in to the Peterson tip line and the results. He said he suspected they may be receiving useful tips that implicated Scott and not turning them over to the police.
Detailed the surveillance on January 5, 6, and 9 when Scott went to the Berkeley marina.
Detailed the relationship Shawn Sibley had with Amber Frey, how Sibley came to know Scott and introduce Scott to Amber, Sibley's discovery that Scot was married, and his reaction.
Reviewed the policy of taking evidence into custody without the person's consent.
Reviewed the procedure Brocchini used to examine the hair on February 12.
Reviewed the fishing licenses Scott had that were booked into evidence: a 1994 annual license, and two-day licenses in 1999 (2), 2002, and 2003. Brocchini seemed confused about the latter license, which had the effective dates of December 23 and 24th, but with the year 2003 stamped--he thought it was a 2002 license until McAllister pointed out the 2003 stamp. It also had an ocean enhancement license.
Reviewed Brocchini's call to the Peterson hot line on February 20 to test whether the Petersons would turn the tip in to the police. Buehler also had the FBI subpoena the Peterson tip line records.
Reviewed the searches for evidence conducted in the Covena home on the night of December 24th, including the use of a light source to detect evidence.
Pointed out that Bruce Peterson required cash when Scott bought the boat.
Pointed out that on Jan. 5 when Scott went to the Marina, the ModBee had run an article on divers searching for Laci in the Bay. On Jan. 9, the third day Scott went to the Marina, the ModBee ran another story about divers searching the Bay. Scott also went to the San Luis Forebay on the 9th, which was also being searched that day.
Reviewed the media presence on January 6, the day Scott evaded the surveillance on his return from the Bay. Mentions Detective Grogan telling Scott the National Enquirer was following him.
Reviewed the discovery by Brocchini on Feb. 11 of the photo of the pliers with the hair. Brocchini first insisted that 2 hairs were found in the boat on the 24th, not a single hair. Then he insisted that it was a single hair attached to the pliers, but when the detective shook the pliers to knock the hair loose, the hair broke into 2 pieces. However, Brocchini could not produce any report or any confirmation from the DOJ that he or other detectives believed the single strand of hair broke into two pieces.
Witness: Karen Servas, Neighbor Testimony
Retraced the exact circumstances when she found McKenzie in the street on the morning of the 24th and put him in the Petersons backyard. Explained how she retraced her steps from her 10:34 a.m. purchase at Austins to determine the exact time.
Also mentioned that she left her house again at 5:05 the evening of the 24th, and Scott's pickup was not in the drive.
Witness Amie Krigbaum, Neighbor Testimony
Krigbaum was awakened the morning of the 24th about 10:30 (10:38?) a.m. by barking dogs. When she took her own dog outside, Laci's blinds were not opened and the neighborhood was very quiet.
Because of her work schedule, she often is not awake in the mornings, so she could not verify how frequently Laci actually opened her blinds. She indicated when they were open, it was only about 12 inches.
Also reported seeing the Christmas lights come on about 4:30-ish, but did not notice any interior lights and only Laci's car was in the drive.
She said Scott told her he had been golfing and had tried to call Laci all day.
Witness: Phil Owen, MPD Testimony
Questioned about his interview with Cheryl Smith, nurse practitioner in Laci's OB/GYN's office. Information on Laci's two due dates, the date of Laci's ultrasound, Laci's two complaints of shortness of breath in early November, and that no calls were received from or about Laci on either the 24th or 25th of December.
Questioned about the clothing Laci's body had on, notably the tan pants with a drawstring, zipper, button, and pin tuck, purchased from Motherhood Maternity. Also reported the 12-18" piece of tape attached to the groin area of the pants. Confirmed that either Laci or Scott had purchased this style and color of pants from Motherhood Maternity at the Modesto store.
14 Nov 2003 Preliminary Hearing Day Ten: The Testimony
Witness: Phil Owen, MPD Testimony
Witness: Rodney Oswalt, Criminalist CA DOJ Testimony
Oswalt examined the hair found in the pliers.
Witness: William Hudlow, Sr. Criminalist CA DOJ Testimony
Hudlow prepared evidence items for delivery to the FBI.
14 Nov 2003 Preliminary Hearing Day Ten: Evidence Admissibility
Arguments on mtDNA Transcript
Evidence admitted; Stipulation of Facts Transcript
15 Nov 2003 Karen Servas reported an error in her testimony
Karen Servas called Kevin Bertalotto, Investigator for the DAs office, to report an error in her testimony. She said that on reflection she realized that she couldn't have left her house at 5:05 p.m. and seen the package in the mailbox because it wouldn't have been light enough. So, she checked her Daytimer and Microsoft Outlook and discovered that it must have been 4:05 when she left, as the party she was going to was scheduled for 4:00. She said Bertalotto said he would wait until after the Preliminary to take care of it, and then called her back sometime in December to do a supplemental report.
17 Nov 2003 Preliminary Hearing Day Eleven: The Testimony
Witness: Dr. Brian Peterson, Forensic Pathologist Testimony
Most of the sparring between the prosecution and the defense dealt with the tape around Conner's neck, Conner's gestational age, explanations for the difference in rate of decomposition for Conner and Laci, and explanation for animal feeding on Laci and not on Conner.
Dr. Peterson also testified to the results from Dr. Galloway's gestational age tests, using various bone measurements against 2 different standards. She estimated the age to be 33-40 weeks, after adjusting the 35-38 week results according to a US standard and her expertise and to allow for margin of error.
Witness: Henry Dodge Hendee, MPD Testimony
The prosecution exacted a lot of detail about how the hair from the pliers was handled to establish an unbroken chain. Also gleaned information about the cement on the trailer and the one-gallon pitcher used to make the cement anchor in Scott's boat.
Geragos concentrated on Hendee's failure to measure the hair, his description not quite matching what is in the photos, and his failure to include in a report about the single hair breaking into two fragments. Geragos asked if the photo didn't suggest a much shorter hair, one about 2 to 2 1/2 inches in length.
Brought out that Twist was put into the boat after first being brought to the Covena home, and that Twist shed hairs while in the boat, which Hendee noted. Only after Twist had been in the boat did Hendee find the pliers and the hair.
Geragos also asked if there was room in the warehouse for Scott to pull his pickup in and close the door, but Hendee said it was not possible to get it in between the boat and the roll-up doors.
Hendee had been into every room of the Covena home on the evening of the 26th and the morning of the 27th before going to the warehouse to conduct his search.
Hendee admitted that Contra Costa county notified him on April 14th that a full term male fetus had washed ashore on the 13th.
Witness: Kirk Stockham, MPD Testimony
Computer Forensic Investigator
Testified to finding information on Scott's hard drive of a visit to the US Geological Survey website with information about either wind currents or water currents (he did not know for sure which) in the San Francisco Bay on December 8, 2002.
Under cross, admitted that Scott also visited the Captain Hook Sportfishing website, and the pages he visited included information about sturgeon fishing in Suisun Bay. Stockham could not tell if the US Geological Survey was a link on the Captain Hook page, or in which sequence he visited them.
18 Nov 2003 Preliminary Hearing Day Twelve: The Testimony
Girolami's Ruling to deny Defense Motion to exclude mtDNA. Prosecution can state Fisher's frequency for Caucasians as 1 in 112, but cannot mention the 1 in 159 frequency for Hispanic population. Motion
Witness: Steven Jacobson, Stanislaus County DA office Testimony
Investigator major narcotics
Documented the phone calls between Amber and Scott that used certain cell phones. During the 93 day period from November 19, 2002 through February 19, 2003, Scott and Amber exchanged a total of 241 calls.
Provided detail about the cell phone calls Scott made on December 24, and which cell tower was used to transmit the call. Noted that the technology does not allow for an exact location for the caller, only the radius of each cell tower.
Provided detail about the numerous calls Scott made after he returned home to look for Laci, including a call to 911.
Questioned by Geragos about the surveillance camera setup on Covena by the DEA for the purpose of monitoring when Scott left home. He could not identify who requested the camera, when it was setup, or when it was taken down.
Witness: Jon Buehler, MPD Testimony
He took the receipt obtained by Karen Servas from Austin's on December 24, 2002 to Austin's to verify if it had the correct time. Austin's reported that they setup the time on the cash register used by calling time on the telephone to program it in.
He said Amber Frey learned of Scott through a friend in October and early November. Scott told Amber that he not only was not married, but had never been in a serious relationship before.
Detailed the one-on-one meeting between Scott and Amber on the 9th when he told her he was married but had "lost" his wife.
Detailed the December 14 Christmas party they attended as a couple and the pictures taken.
Detailed the January 6 phone call when Scott admitted to Amber that Laci was his wife. Transcript & Recording
Detailed the articles Scott had on his person and in his car at the time of the arrest.
Judge's Order for Trial, Arraignment set Transcript
"The Court has considered all of the evidence, and it appearing to me that the offenses in the within complaint have been committed, there is sufficient cause to believe the within named Scott Lee Peterson is guilty thereof. I order him to be held to answer to the same. Specifically, I find that there is sufficient evidence for the two counts of murder, that they were committed intentionally, deliberately and with premeditation, further, that as to Count One, the killing resulted in the termination of Laci Peterson's pregnancy, and, also, that, finally, there is sufficient evidence of this special allegation pursuant to Penal Code Section 190.2(a)(3) involving more than one murder."
2 Dec 2003 Opposition to return of evidence
People opposes the return of the Ford pickup, seized on December 27, 2002, so it can be available for the jury to physically view. People contends the pickup was an instrument used in the murder of Laci Peterson; specifically, it was used to transport Laci's body to Scott's warehouse and then to the San Francisco Bay. Further, People argues that Scott's blood in the pickup came from wounds he received to his hands during or after the Laci's murder. People agreed to release the $14,932.31 that was recovered at the time of Scott's arrest on condition that Defense stipulate to the amount, denominations, and location as stated in MPD Det. Jon Buehler's arrest report (Bates 26839-26848).
2 Dec 2003 Motion to seal, and maintain seal of documents
People's exhibits 130 and 131, and Defense exhibits DD, EE, FF, and GG were offered in the Preliminary Hearing on condition they would be sealed. All of these exhibits were various autopsy photographs. Autopsy photographs are exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act. The warrant documents should remain sealed because they were not presented as evidence in the Preliminary Hearing. The protective order should remain in place.
2 Dec 2003 Death of Robert Rocha, Laci's Grandfather
The obituary of Robert Rocha, Laci's grandfather, appeared in the ModBee on December 7, 2003. It read:
Aug. 2, 1926 -- Dec. 2, 2003
Robert "Bob" Rocha, 77, of Oakdale died Tuesday at Oak Valley District Hospital.
Mr. Rocha was a native of Gilroy. He lived in Escalon from 1946-95, then in Oakdale for eight years. He was a dairyman for 37 years. He also rode and bred cutting horses and was very active in the Portuguese community.
He is survived by his children, Dennis Rocha of Escalon, Sharon Rocha of Rio Linda and Robin Maria Rocha of Oakdale; brother, Joe Rocha of Oakdale; sisters, Betty Mericle of Escalon, Emily Burkheart of Gilroy and Barbara Stetbons of Madera; and three grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Helen Rocha; and a granddaughter.
The rosary will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday during visitation from from 4 to 8 p.m. at Lakewood Funeral Home, Hughson. A funeral will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home, with burial at Lakewood Memorial Park.
3 Dec 2003 Scott's Arraignment
Scott pled Not-Guilty [his actual words were: I am innocent]. Jury trial set for January 26, 2004, 9:30 a.m. Other pretrial hearing dates were set. The Court ordered: 1) Protective Order (gag order) shall remain in force; 2) Print Media's request to unseal documents is denied; 3) request to seal the previously concealed Preliminary Hearing evidence is granted; 4) $14,932.31 is to be returned to the defendant by Friday, December 5, 2003; 5) the truck currently in the custody of People is to be returned to the defendant by December 18, 2003. All pretrial motions will remain with the Superior Court in Stanislaus County in the event a Change of Venue Motion is granted.
5 Dec 2003 Hearing on Findings on Sealing Orders
The Court declines to unseal the previously sealed materials and seals the previously conditionally sealed Preliminary Hearing evidence. The Court finds that the facts and findings leading to the sealing orders of May 30, 2003 and June 27, 2003 are still applicable and viable. There continues to be considerable ongoing investigation that can be, and would be, prejudiced by the release of these documents, and the Defendant's right to a fair trial would be prejudiced by release of these documents. The Court also cited the interests of the families of the decedents.
10 Dec 2003 People's Amended Motion to Conduct Venue Survey
The People wish to survey jurors who have already been excused from service and will not be called back until at least 2005. Granting this request will mean that the participants are jury eligible and speed up the survey process. It is not necessary that jurors be ignorant of prejudicial publicity, or that they have not formed an opinion concerning defendant's culpability. It is only necessary that they be willing to set aside all impressions and base their verdict only on the evidence presented in court.
11 Dec 2003 People's Informal Request for Discovery
Request for: 1) any real evidence that the defendant intends to offer at trial; 2) the names and addresses of persons, other than the defendant, he intends to call as witnesses at the trial, together with any relevant written or recorded statements of those persons, including any reports or statements of those persons; 3) any reports or statements of experts made in connection with the case; and 4) the results of physical or mental examination, scientific tests, experiments, or comparisons which the defendant intends to offer in evidence at the trial.
12 Dec 2003 Hearing on Filing Change of Venue Motion
Geragos informed the Court that he needed more time to file the Change of Venue motion. He was given until December 15, 2003, by 9:00 a.m.; Prosecution to file Opposition by January 2, 2004, 2:00 p.m., and Reply to be submitted on January 6, 2004, at 10:00 a.m. Change of Venue Hearing rescheduled for January 8, 2004, 10:00 a.m. The previous order of December 5, 2003, that the truck currently in custody of the People to be returned to the Defendant by December 18, 2003, shall remain in effect. If the Parties wish to negotiate a sale, they may do so without Court involvement. The Court and attorney has reviewed the transcripts of October 24, 2003, and the entire Preliminary Hearing. The transcripts are corrected as stated on the record, and the transcripts are certified.
13 Dec 2003 Assignment for 995 PC Motion
Judge Girolami assigned the 995 Motion Hearing to Judge Marie Silveira, to be heard on January 7, 8:30 a.m. Defense's 995 Motion to be filed by December 16, 2003, at 10:00 a.m.; Prosecution's Opposition to the 995 Motion to be filed by January 2, 2004, 10:a.m.; Reply to be submitted by January 5, 2004, at 4:00 p.m.
15 Dec 2003 Motion for Change of Venue
In the motion, Geragos claims that this case meets the 5-part test established by the Courts: 1) the nature and gravity of the offense; 2) the size of the community; 3) the status of the victim and the accused; 4) the nature and extent of the publicity; and 5) the existence of political overtones in the case. He cites polls taken that show 39%-59.3% of area residents are already convinced Scott is guilty, the editorial nature of the grand-scale media coverage (overwhelmingly against Scott), the fear of social ostracism jurors may likely feel if they are inclined to acquit, and that jurors do not easily overcome "the influence that lurks in an opinion once formed." Over 8000 various media reports appeared during the first 8 months of this case. "In an age of extremely powerful pervasive mass communications, trial courts can no longer look to judicial admonitions during voir dire as the remedy for continuing and prejudicial pretrial publicity." Motion
19 Dec 2003 Grogan interviewed Peggy O'Donnell
Grogan interviewed Peggy O'Donnell, but hasn't yet testified about that interview. Brocchini did answer some questions about it under cross by Geragos. Grogan referred to the previous interview of O'Donnell by Holmes, as part of the warehouse complex canvassing, but he doesn't refer to Brocchini's interview with Greg Smith.
19 Dec 2003 Sharon Rocha filed two lawsuits against Scott
Sharon Rocha filed one of the two lawsuits as an individual, and the other as Administrator of Laci's estate, for a total of over $5M. Adam Stewart, Sharon's attorney, made the following comments about Scott in his filing: Scott's conduct was "willful, wanton and outrageous beyond the ability of ordinary human beings to comprehend" and that he "planned and prepared to assault, batter and murder Laci D. Peterson. . . . The family wants to be sure that Scott suffers the greatest of civil and criminal penalties to the greatest extent that our legal system allows. . . . The imposition of substantial punitive and exemplary damages will in this case be both justified and necessary in order to send out a message from this court to all persons in the United States and throughout the world that such vicious and outrageous savagery inflicted by one human being upon another shall be met with the severest of civil penalties." A case management conference was scheduled for April 22, 2004.
22 Dec 2003 995 Motion to Dismiss
The 995 Motion claims that Scott was not legally committed to the magistrate, and that he was committed without reasonable or probable cause. The Motion claims that the LE did not conduct a legitimate investigation into Laci's disappearance, but focused all of its resources on Scott, ignoring credible leads in other directions and evidence that exonerated Scott. All the LE succeeded in proving is what Scott readily conceded: Scott was an unfaithful husband, Scott took advantage of a day off work to go fishing, and on that same day Laci tragically disappeared. Motion
2 Jan 2004 Opposition to Motion for Change of Venue
(excerpts) Defendant has failed to substantiate any of the claimed facts by admissible evidence, except for one: this criminal prosecution has received widespread media attention. For the most part, the media has attempted to portray this case in a factual format. A few "tabloid" publications have exaggerated claims, or speculated on evidence but these publications are not accepted by the general public as legitimate news sources. Jurors in Stanislaus County have not made up their minds and the defense's own survey says they will wait until they hear evidence in court. If it becomes apparent that a jury cannot be selected during the process of voir dire, a change of venue may be granted to an adjoining county at the time of the trial. The publicity in the instant case has to a great extent been caused by and perpetuated by the defendant, the defense attorney and the defense team. To this day, the defense "team" of experts (Jury consultant Jo-Ellen Dimitrius, Dr. Cyril Wecht and Henry Lee) continues to violate this court's protective order and trumpet the defense theory and/or the innocence of the defendant. Motion
8 Jan 2004 Hearing on Motion for Change of Venue
Judge Girolami ruled in favor of the change of venue, saying that Scott cannot get a fair trial in Stanislaus county or the neighboring counties.
8 Jan 2004 Schoenthaler survey contained falsified data
Several university students said that they fabricated survey results that went into Professor Schoenthaler's survey. Judge Girolami noted, in the hearing, that he considered the Schoenthaler survey the most thorough of the three surveys offered. Professor Schoenthaler told reports that he had not detected the fraud. The University of California, Stanislaus launched an investigation.
14 Jan 2004 Judge Marie Silveira denied 995 Motion to Dismiss
Judge Silveira denied the 995 Motion. She also ordered Professor Schoenthaler, who conducted the survey that figured into Judge Girolami's decision to grant the change of venue motion, to appear in court on January 20.
14 Jan 2004 No-sales receipt from Austin's Christmas store
Mark Geragos' private investigator went into Austin's Christmas store and asked William Austin to have two no-sales rung up on the same cash register that Karen Servas checked out on at 10:34 a.m. on December 24, 2002. According to questions put to William Austin at the trial, the PI timed the receipts for only 10 minutes apart on the same day, but they recorded the times of 1:35 and 2:36 and two different dates (Defense H). The second day involved was January 20. The two receipts have sequential ID numbers (2730 and 2731), indicating they were made in sequence, not 6 days apart.
16 Jan 2004 People's Motion to Reconsider Change of Venue
The Motion asserts that Judge Girolami must reconsider the change of venue because his decision to grant the motion rested heavily on the Schoenthaler survey, which has since been discredited. The DAs office requested information on the identity of the 9 students, but the University refused to provide that information. One witness did come forward and make a statement to an investigator. According to the Motion, this witness has known Schoenthaler for years and has personal knowledge of his falsifying research data in the past. She said Schoenthaler directed her to remove data that did not with is projected outcome of the research project. The Motion asks the Judge to: 1) reconsider the venue change; 2) reconsider asking the AOC to determine whether Sacramento would accept a venue change; and 3) to strike all of Schoenthaler's testimony, survey and report. Motion
16 Jan 2004 People's Submission Regarding the Appropriate Venue and Transfer Site & McGowan Hearing
The submission provides the court with cost information on the 3 Bay area counties and Orange county, including air travel, hotels, and car rentals. Also provides media coverage on the case for the four counties. People's preferences are: 1) Santa Clara County, 2) San Mateo County, and 3) Alameda County.
20 Jan 2004 Venue changed to San Mateo County
Judge Girolami denied the People's Motion to reconsider the change of venue and ordered the venue changed to San Mateo County.
21 Jan 2004 Judge Richard Arnason appointed
The Judicial Council of California appointed retired Judge Richard Arnason to preside over Scott Peterson’s double murder case.
21 Jan 2004 Opposition to Motion to exclude Dempewolf's testimony
People's response to the Defense motion, filed October 7, 2003, to exclude the testimony of Kristen Dempewolf on the grounds that LE did not comply with the requirements of Evidence Code §795 when they hypnotized her. People claims Dempewolf's hypnosis did not render her pre-hypnosis recollection unreliable nor impair her ability to be cross-examined concerning her pre-hypnosis recollection.
22 Jan 2004 Prosecution's Peremptory Challenge
Exercising its right to reject one judge in a criminal case without reason, DA Distaso filed a Peremptory Challenge for the removal of Judge Arnason, on the grounds that he is "prejudiced against the interest of the party, so that I believe I cannot have a fair and impartial hearing before said judge." Challenge
23 Jan 2004 Trial date continued
Judge Girolami ordered the trial continued for one week until February 2, 2004, at 9:00 a.m. in Dept. 2M in San Mateo Superior Court. First issue to be discussed is the timeliness of the Prosecution's Peremptory Challenge. Defense is to file their brief by Monday, 2 p.m.; and Prosecution their response by Wednesday, 4 p.m.
23 Jan 2004 Scott moved to the San Mateo county jail
"Scott Peterson arrived at the Maguire Correctional Facility at approximately 2:27 p.m. on Friday, January 23, 2004. He was brought into the booking area of the jail by Stanislaus County deputy sheriffs. Mr. Peterson thanked the transporting deputies upon their departure. The transporting officers reported that Mr. Peterson had been cooperative and polite during the journey."
26 Jan 2004 Ted Rowlands subpoenaed by DA
According to Rowlands' Motion to quash the subpoena, the Subpoena did not state the purpose of Rowlands' testimony, but "in a meet and confer conversation, the District Attorney stated it is seeking to compel Mr. Rowlands' testimony to testify about conversations he had with the defendant Peterson, regarding Mr. Peterson's alleged affair with Amber Frey. Despite repeated requests by Mr. Rowlands' counsel, however, the District Attorney has declined to further specify the scope of the testimony sought or when such conversation may have been broadcast" (p 7). The motion claims Rowlands is exempt as a journalist "from the compelled disclosure of any 'unpublished information' obtained during the course of gathering and disseminating information to the public" (p 7). A letter from Rowlands' attorney to Distaso further expands on the purpose of Rowlands' testimony: "It is your position that Mr. Rowlands should be compelled to testify about conversations he had with the defendant, Scott Peterson, regarding Mr. Peterson's alleged affair with Amber Frye (sic) and his denial of that affair" (Ex. C, Declaration of Grace K. Won). Motion
27 Jan 2004 Amber and Dr. David Markovich move in together
National Enquirer reports that Amber and the father of her unborn child gave up their separate apartments and moved in together. Ron Frey says he has a wonderful relationship with Amber's daughter and the whole family was delighted to watch them together at Christmas and New Year's. Amber's baby is due in April, and is a boy.
27 Jan 2004 New Judge Appointed
Alfred A. Delucchi was selected to preside over Scott's trial. A trial judge for more than three decades, Delucchi retired from the Superior Court of Alameda County in 1998 after serving on that court for 15 years. He sat on the Municipal Court of the San Leandro-Hayward Judicial District from his appointment in 1971 until his elevation to the Superior Court in 1984. He has been an active member of the Assigned Judges Program since his retirement.