| May 15, 2003
Sources Say Laci Was Mutilated
Details of Laci's Death Gruesome, But Cause Still Unknown
FOX NEWS REPORTS
Laci Peterson's autopsy report is being delayed, apparently because medical
examiners can't pinpoint the exact reason the 8-months-pregnant woman died.
But a source from Scott Peterson's legal team who has seen documents referring
to the condition of the body said it was "horrendous," and "awful, awful, awful."
The source said Laci "was carved up," and "the head is not the only part that is missing."
When asked if the extensive injuries to the body could have been caused by being
underwater for three months, the source said, "No … there are internal parts missing."
The remains of the 27-year-old Modesto, Calif., woman and her unborn son,
Conner, washed up in San Francisco Bay last month. Her husband Scott Peterson,
30, was arrested days later in San Diego. He has pleaded not guilty to two murder
charges. Stanislaus County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Despite repeated and firm denials from the Contra Costa, Calif., coroner's office,
the defense team in the case hoped to get the autopsy results Thursday.
"I thought we'd have it Wednesday," one defense source told Fox News.
"Obviously, someone is taking another look at it."
Stanislaus County District Attorney James Brazelton said Thursday that earlier in the
morning, prosecution and defense attorneys involved in the case stipulated to
conditionally seal the autopsy of Laci and her baby pending a May 27 hearing date.
On Wednesday morning, the country district attorney was notified by
an official from the Contra Costa County coroner that the results
weren't finished and wouldn't be released for at least several days.
The defense source conceded that Scott Peterson could, in fact, have
inflicted such damage to his wife, but the question is when and how?
"With the exception of a single hair that may be Laci's found on that
pair of needle-nosed pliers found in Scott's boat, there is nothing
forensically to link Scott to this crime," said the defense source.
"She was carved up. But where's the blood in the house?" the source asked. "Where's
the blood in the truck? They took those scenes apart and came up with a dry hole."
Forensic scientist Henry Lee said on Hannity and Colmes Wednesday night that if
the hair found in the pliers is determined to be actively growing hair "energy hair",
some force would have been used to pull it out, meaning there was a struggle.
In order to get solid evidence that can convict Scott Peterson, Lee said, investigators
would have to find a sizable quantity of blood spattered at the Petersons' home or
somewhere they believe the murder took place. If it's spattered, it means Laci was
likely alive when the more gruesome activities took place. What also might
help convict Scott Peterson would be the discovery of cement in his boat,
which could connect him with motive, means and opportunity.
"Try to build the crime around it," Lee said. "It's not an easy case.
So far we haven't seen any earth-shaking evidence."
Dr. Cyril Wecht, a forensic pathologist, told Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren
Wednesday that those studying Laci's body likely are finished with the microscopic anatomical
work and are probably waiting for toxicological findings. This could take several weeks, he said.
"The most important feature is going to be whether or not the doctors who
did the examination were able to arrive at a cause of death," Wecht said.
"And what is there in the autopsy finding that supports the cause of death?
If they haven't been able to arrive at a cause of death, that's going to be a step
in favor of the defense attorneys because they can make points on that."
Forensic pathologist Michael Baden said the prosecution may have to piece together its
case if the exact cause of death isn't found, including whether Laci was dismembered
and what tools were used to do so. "If they don't come up with a cause of death,
it's going to be not a slam dunk for the prosecution," Baden said.
He said if there was dismemberment, it would most likely have
occurred in the Petersons' bathtub.
"And that's why the evidence that the police gained at the scene that's never
been released, by looking in the drains, looking for blood, looking for hair,
is going to be very important," he said. "There's something in those documents,
remember, that the defense attorneys don't want released."
Peterson's defense team, led by high-profile lawyer Mark Geragos, is claiming that
Laci may have been abducted on Christmas Eve day. The defense says they have at
least one witness who claims to have information that the pregnant woman was
kidnapped on Dec. 24. Several neighbors said they saw a strange van in the area
that day, parked near the Petersons' Modesto home.
Scott Peterson's attorneys are trying to track down a woman who they say has
information that may tie one of several people seen in the van or individuals
involved in a burglary to Laci's murder. Two men were arrested for burglarizing
the house across the street from the Peterson home on Dec. 26, two days
after Laci went missing. One suspect is still in custody.
"I'd ask anyone to give me one piece of evidence that we know convicts this man for this crime,
aside from the prefactor," criminal defense attorney Joe Tacopina told Hannity and Colmes.
Scott Peterson, who is being held without bail, said he last saw his wife Dec. 24
as he left to go fishing in San Francisco Bay. The Modesto Bee reported Wednesday
that a source close to the investigation said two Berkeley city employees who were
working at the Berkeley Marina on Dec. 24 may be witnesses in the case.
Police reports indicate the two employees saw someone who matched
Scott Peterson's description back a boat into a pylon at the marina that day,
the source said. When the employees went to assist the man, he refused help.
An employee at the marina said Wednesday that the marina's administrative
office was closed on Dec. 24 but a reduced crew of dock maintenance workers
and groundskeepers was on duty, the Modesto Bee reported.
Police have searched the Petersons' home and the storage warehouse where Peterson,
a fertilizer salesman, kept supplies. They also have seized the murder suspect's boat,
truck and trailer. They used a search warrant to get a DNA sample from Peterson.
A judge sealed court documents in the case after prosecutors said the
investigation was ongoing and claimed that revealing evidence would jeopardize
Peterson's chances of getting a fair trial.
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|GOD BLESS LACI, CONNER
and THEIR FAMILIES
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