Laci Peterson’s Clothes Subject of Prosecution’s First Foray

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 4, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Laci Peterson’s Clothes Subject of Prosecution’s First Foray

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
June 4, 2004

Redwood City, CA ( — The prosecution in the Scott Peterson double murder trial focused on the importance of the clothing Laci was wearing when she was last seen and when she was found.

Prosecutors have alleged that Scott Peterson murdered his pregnant wife late December 23 or early December 24, then dumped her body in the San Francisco Bay.

Laci’s sister, Amy Rocha, testified that Laci was wearing tan pants the night before she disappeared, not unlike those she was wearing when her body washed up on the California coast.

Scott Peterson had said she was wearing black pants the following morning when he left for a fishing trip in the bay. He also said she was preparing to walk the dog, although prosecutors have pointed out she had stopped walking the dog weeks before when her doctor forbade it.

Rocha also testified that Scott had offered to pick up a gift basket on December 24 for her, as he planned on golfing near the farm. Peterson said he had planned to go golfing but it was too cold. However, after Laci’s disappearance, he told at least two people he had been golfing, and told others he had gone fishing.

Observers of the case have referred to the first full day of testimony as a shaky start, as the other witnesses provided a defense of the Modesto Police department, or raised more questions about the prosecution’s case.

The owner of the salon Laci visited the day before her disappearance testified that police did not ask for the surveillance tape until employees had recycled the tape by recording over it, even though police had visited the salon before the footage was taped over.

When Rocha testified about the black blouse her sister was wearing on December 23, she mentioned it was balled up in one of Laci’s drawers when she and police inspected her room. Prosecutor Rick Distaso later showed a picture of a laundry basket apparently filed with men’s clothes, with the blouse in it – but Distaso never explained to the court what the significance was.

In opening statements the prosecution put forth a case based on Scott Peterson’s erratic behavior, affair, and alleged secret purchase of a fishing boat that could have been used to dump Laci’s body into the San Francisco Bay.

Peterson’s defense attorney, Mark Geragos, has pointed out that the prosecution has no murder weapon, no eyewitnesses, and a case built entirely on circumstantial evidence. He has put forth explanations for Peterson’s strange behavior as well as theories that a satanic cult or men with a tan van abducted Laci on the morning of December 24.

Scott has pleaded innocent to charges that he murdered his wife on Christmas Eve 2002, when she was eight months pregnant, and dumped her body into San Francisco Bay. Her body and that of her son Conner washed up on the California coast in April.

The double murder charges against Peterson have received national attention and spurred the passage of numerous unborn victims laws.

The laws allow prosecutors to charge criminals with two crimes when they kill or injure an unborn child in addition to a pregnant woman.

Laci’s mother, Susan Rocha, has become and outspoken advocate of Unborn Victims Laws, both for individual states and the entire nation.

President Bush signed a federal Unborn Victims of Violence Law in March. Rocha had voiced her support of the bill, and had criticized members of the Senate, including presidential hopeful John Kerry, who had stalled and opposed the bill.

According to the National Right to Life Committee, 30 states have unborn victims laws, most recently Kentucky and Virginia, and 18 cover mothers and their unborn children throughout pregnancy. None of those laws has ever been successfully challenged in Court.