Laci Rocha Peterson, 27, a popular, vivacious substitute teacher, was nearly eight months pregnant when she vanished from her home on Christmas Eve 2002, while her husband, Scott Peterson, a fertilizer salesman, was fishing for sturgeon. Peterson had bought a two-day ocean-fishing license days before, yet claimed his fishing trip was a last-minute idea. He had receipts from the marina showing he had been there at some point during that day. Everybody described the couple has in love and excited about the upcoming birth of their first child, a son.
Peterson's lack of emotion raised suspicions. Modesto Detective Al Brocchini said, "His major concerns weren't Laci at the beginning of this case. He is very calm, cool, nonchalant, polite, arrogant. He thinks he's smarter than everybody."
Anne Bird, Peterson's half sister, felt his behavior was strange when he lived with her during the investigation. She recalled his trip from the Modesto jail to Redwood City for his trial:
Four months later, Laci's remains and a male fetus washed ashore near where Scott said he was fishing when she disappeared, 90 miles from their Modesto home. Police never established how, when, or where Laci died.
Prosecutor Rick Distaso said Peterson strangled or smothered Laci before throwing her body, weighted with concrete anchors Scott made himself, from his small boat in the the San Francisco Bay.
The day his wife's remains were positively identified; Peterson was arrested for Laci's murder near Torrey Pines Golf Course, in the San Diego area near where his family resides. Driving a Mercedes he bought under his mother's name. He had a grown a beard, and bleached hair and was carrying numerous credit cards, $15,000 in cash and camping gear in the car.
Experts say he is the a psychopath.
According to forensic psychologist Reid Meloy, psychopath have an inability to form intimate bonds and need greater stimulation to feel anything:
Juror Mike Belmessieri said Peterson came into the court laughing. For six-months, he smiled and visited animatedly with his lawyers. Angry outbursts from Laci's family members didn't faze him. But Peterson wouldn't take the stand in his own defense.
At the trial, prosecutors presented videotaped police interrogations revealing Peterson as a liar. His phone calls to his lover, Amber Frey, a massage therapist and single parent were taped for the prosecutions case. Frey testified that Peterson told her he lost his wife two weeks before Laci vanished.
The defense contended Laci was abducted while she walked her dog but the fetus lived beyond that time, and that Peterson was framed after the news announced his fishing-trip alibi. Defense attorney, Mark Geragos, pleaded with the jury not to convict Peterson because he a "jerk and a liar" explaining his lies, inconsistencies, and activities showed a man suffering from grief.
San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Alfred A. Delucchi, replaced three jurors with alternates. The first was Justin Falconer who was replaced in June for exchanging pleasantries with Laci's brother. After the jury had begun deliberating Fran Gorman was dismissed for doing her own research on the case. The next day Judge Delucchi replaced foreperson, Greg Jackson. (In a strange coincidence, Jackson, originally an alternate, was Falconer's replacement. Jackson, a doctor and a lawyer filled 12 spiral-bound memo pads of notes. The New York Post reported Jackson angered jurors when he demanded they review all witness testimony and exhibits before taking a preliminary vote. Jackson complained to Delucchi he was being threatened by other jurors. His replacement was a firefighter in his early 30s.
Friday, November 12, 2004, after seven hours of deliberation, the six-man, six-woman jury found Peterson guilty of the 1st-degree murder of his pregnant wife, and second-degree murder of his unborn son and dumping Laci's body in the San Francisco Bay. As the verdict was read, Peterson stared straight ahead then watched each juror as they were polled. All the parties in the case remained under a gag order until Peterson's sentence was determined.
The "special circumstance" of Peterson killing a person while committing a felony made him eligible for capital punishment. He will receive a lethal injection in California's San Quentin Prison.
January 26, 2005, Amber Frey, Peterson's former lover and the unwed mother of two children, went to court concerning custodial visits of her infant son, Justin Dean Markovich, with his father, Fresno chiropractor, David Markovich.
December 2005, Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Roger Beauchesne awarded Sharon Rocha, Laci's mother, the proceeds from Laci's $250,000 life insurance policy after a legal dispute with Peterson. Pat Harris, Peterson's attorney, claimed insurance proceeds should not be transferred while his death penalty case is on appeal. The Petersons had taken out life insurance policies on each other on June 25, 2001.
Automatic death penalty appeals have two parts: a direct appeal is based on trial errors; and habeas corpus, based on new evidence, evidence that should have been heard, or errors by the defense attorney.
Since the state can take four to five years to appoint a post-conviction attorney, Scott's parents, Lee and Jackie Peterson, hired attorneys Cliff Gardner of Oakland and Lawrence Gibbs of Berkeley to begin appeals they hope will overturn his conviction. Gardner said the Petersons hired him privately and the financial arrangements are between him and the Petersons.
Gardner has worked on death penalty cases for 25 years. He has had three death penalty reversals in the past two years. Gibbs, has 24 years' post-conviction experience in work. Gardner also represents Lyle Menendez, while Gibbs represents Erik Menendez.
Mark Geragos said that the more than 10,000 tips he received, gives Gardner and Gibbs the potential for new evidence. Geragos will review court transcripts and preserve documents for the direct appeal. Gardner said Geragos is a good lawyer, reducing the chances of finding attorney error.
Gardner said Scott is doing fine at San Quentin.
The Peterson's and the Rochas squabbled over the possesions that were in Scott and Laci's home. Many were surprised to a vibrant Jackie Peterson moving furniture without the oxygen mask that she wore during the trial and television appearances.
Sharon Rocha, and her ex-husband a $25 million wrongful death suit against Scott in March 2006. to make sure Scott never receives any financial gain from his crime.
Jackie Peterson filed court papers on March 27 2006, seeking $35,000 from Laci's estate for the mortgage payments, property taxes, utility bills, home repairs, and other costs incurred since Scott's arrest in April 2003 and February 2005. When the house sold in July 2006 and the Peterson's received proceeds from the sale. A hearing on the reimbursement request was scheduled April 13, 2006 in Stanislaus County Superior Court.
March 31, 2006, the Peterson's offered a $250,000 reward for information leading to his exoneration and are requesting the public turn over photos, surveillance videos or satellite photos of Modesto, the San Francisco Bay and the route between taken Christmas Eve 2002 to April 14, 2003.
CNN LARRY KING LIVE Transcripts
29, 2006 Ron
Grantski, Laci's Step-Father
Modesto Police Department Press Releases Sources: MSNBC, Fox, CNN, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Los Angeles Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, the Associated Press, the Modesto Bee, KGO, KCBS and Court TV
Blood Highway by Sheila Johnson -- Hayward Bissell, a murderous madman who led a bloody rampage down an Alabama highway , accompanied by the mutilated body of Patricia Booher, his pregnant girlfriend. Bissell told investigators he killed her because she was a double agent. photos. Original.
Handbook of Domestic Violence Intervention Strategies: Policies, Programs, and Legal Remedies by Albert R. Roberts National estimates indicate that every year, approximately eight million women are abused, battered, stalked, or killed by their husbands, boyfriends, and other intimate partners. The Handbook prepares professionals to meet the needs of women and children suffering from domestic violence by focusing on the advances in legal remedies, program developments, treatment protocols, and multidisciplinary perspectives. It is a guide to the latest research, public policies, and legal and criminal justice responses, covering federal and state legislation and trends in police and court responses to domestic violence. It includes court-based technology developments and new research related to the duration and intensity of woman battering. Highlighting actual cases and promising programs, the handbook addresses social work issues, including risk assessment protocols, a five level continuum of woman battering, intervention methods, and treatment models. This book is recommended for students, clinicians, policy makers, social work researchers, victim services, criminal justice, hospital administration, mental health counseling, public health, pastoral counseling, and law enforcement.
Julio 26, 2011
Copyright Kari Sable 1994-2011