Prosecution Rests in Scott Peterson Murder Trial, Laci’s Body Discussed

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 8, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Prosecution Rests in Scott Peterson Murder Trial, Laci’s Body Discussed Email this article
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by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
October 8, 2004

Redwood City, CA ( — The prosecution in the Scott Peterson double-murder trial rested their case Tuesday, bringing to the close the first 19 weeks of the trial. The final two weeks of their case were remarkably improved from the shaky and vague opening.

Last week, lead investigator in the Peterson case, Modesto officer Craig Grogan, told the jury that he had tried to clear Peterson in his wife’s murder, but evidence kept pointing to him as a suspect. He pointed out problems with witness accounts involving Laci being abducted, such as inconsistencies or failure of the account to match the investigators’ time frame.

This week, an expert witness testified that Peterson’s fishing route included a point where his wife’s body could have been dumped, and still drifted to the site on the bay’s shore where Conner’s body was found.

Ralph Cheng, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, told the court that there was a "high probability" the child’s body came ashore from a point between the marina and the small island where Peterson went fishing.

However, Cheng admitted in cross examination that his job involved tracking pollutants, not human bodies, and that he was unable to trace a similar route for Laci’s body.

Prosecutors also called friends of Peterson’s to the stand, who testified about his strange behavior before his arrest. Michael Richardson, a friend of Peterson’s from college and who served as Peterson’s best man at his wedding, told the jury that he had asked Peterson why his hair had become an orange-blond, two weeks before his arrest.

Peterson told Richardson he had been swimming in a friend’s pool and the chlorine had changed his hair color. However, Aaron Fritz, who owned the pool, said Peterson had not been in it.

Further doubt was cast on Peterson’s erratic behavior around the time his wife and son’s bodies were found by a neighbor who described Peterson’s preparations as that of a fugitive.

Just days after Laci and Conner’s bodies washed ashore, Peterson was arrested by the Mexico border with a significant amount of cash, his brother’s license, a car bought in his mother’s name, and several changes of clothes and survival equipment.

The prosecution has been putting 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. This week wrapped up their case, in which they called 175 witnesses.

Defense attorney Mark Geragos claims that the prosecution has no murder weapon, no eyewitnesses, and a case built entirely on circumstantial evidence. He will begin calling witnesses on Tuesday, and is expected to wrap up his arguments by the end of October.

Geragos 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 investigators for doing sloppy work and focusing on Peterson exclusively.

Scott Peterson 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 throughout pregnancy.