Scott Peterson Defense Team Denied Another Mistrial Request

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 1, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Scott Peterson Defense Team Denied Another Mistrial Request

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
August 1, 2004

Redwood City, CA ( — Scott Peterson’s defense team was denied their requests for a mistrial and dismissal of the double-murder charge against their client on Thursday.

Judge Alfred Delucci denied defense attorney Mark Geragos’ third request for a mistrial as well as Geragos’ first request for dismissal of charges during a hearing with attorneys on Thursday at which jurors were not present.

Geragos claimed that Modesto Police Detective Allen Brocchini lied on the stand earlier this month, and that investigators of Laci Peterson’s disappearance focused on Scott immediately, without considering other leads properly.

While testifying that investigators did not chase every tip implicating Peterson, Brocchini told jurors about a tipster that called after the bodies of Laci and her son Conner washed ashore in April 2003. Brocchini said the caller said Peterson had told him several years prior how he would dispose of a body — using duct tape to "tie a bag around the neck” and dumping the body in the ocean.

However, a source who heard the tape of Brocchini’s conversation with the tipster told the Associated Press that the tipster never mentioned duct tape, although a tape-like substance was found on the bodies that washed ashore.

Geragos claimed that Brocchini intentionally lied on the stand, and cited an earlier case where Brocchini’s apparent disrespect for a judge’s order led to a mistrial. In a 1998 burglary case Brocchini was told by a judge not to refer to any prior crimes committed by the defendants, but Brocchini mentioned a separate investigation involving the defendants during his testimony.

"He knows that in another case when he does a similar stunt the court grants a mistrial … and when they started all over again they got a conviction," Geragos appealed to Delucchi.

An appeals court in the 1998 case found Brocchini’s conduct "improper," but didn’t conclude he intentionally tried to "trigger a mistrial."

To declare a mistrial in the Peterson case, Judge Delucci would have to rule that Brocchini intentionally lied on the stand, and was not apparently willing to make such a judgment Thursday. He did give Geragos permission to mention the discrepancy in his closing arguments.

Judge Delucci also ruled on several other motions during Thursday’s meeting, including quashing a defense motion to bar some of Peterson’s wiretapped phone conversations

Delucci also said ABC would not be forced to provide Peterson’s full interview with Diane Sawyer, in which he lies about a number of things, including his affair with Amber Frey.

The prosecution wanted to show edited portions of the show, while the defense argued that the shows should be shown fully if at all.

A subpoena was also quashed requiring a Modesto Bee photographer and a librarian to verify a picture of Peterson smiling at a vigil for his wife was published in the local paper. Delucci said jurors can see the photo, but prosecutors must have a witness to describe Peterson’s demeanor.

The prosecution has been attempting to 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.

Geragos claims 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, and attacked investors for doing sloppy work and focusing on Peterson exclusively.

Scott has pleaded innocent to the double murder charges. The case has 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 as a result of attacking a pregnant woman.

Laci’s mother, Sharon 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 returned to Washington from the campaign trial to vote against 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.