|Replica of fishing boat
becomes a memorial
Geragos placed it near courthouse
A replica of the fishing boat that prosecutors say Scott Peterson used to dispose of his wife's
body stirred up emotions and caused a run on floral arrangements Wednesday in Redwood City.
Peterson's attorney Mark Geragos parked the replica boat, complete with a headless dummy tied
in duct tape and weighted down with concrete anchors, in the parking lot of an office building
he owns a block from the courthouse where jurors are deliberating the case against Peterson.
The defense attorney had used the 14-foot aluminum boat to videotape a re-enactment of someone
trying to dump a 150-pound body tied with anchors over its side, and hoped to screen the video
for jurors during the trial. The idea was to show that there was no way Peterson could have
dumped his wife's body in the bay without taking on a lot of water and perhaps capsizing.
But the judge nixed the idea, and Wednesday, the boat
turned into an impromptu memorial to Laci Peterson.
Local residents showed up to stand silently. A young mother wept as she
cradled her baby and sat down next to the boat. An elderly woman, who said
she'd been adopted by Cherokee Indians, performed an Indian dance.
Others brought signs remembering Laci Peterson and the couple's baby,
who was to be named Conner. Then there were less flattering messages
apparently directly at Geragos' client, such as the sign that read, "Rot in prison."
"This may have backfired," said Beth Karas, a commentator for Court TV and a former
New York prosecutor. "There's no way Geragos intended for this to be a shrine.''
The boat and headless dummy -- dressed in overalls and filled with large
rocks -- appeared in Geragos' parking lot after the jury asked to see
Scott Peterson's actual boat Monday, their fourth day of deliberations.
After one of the jurors climbed inside Peterson's boat, rocked it and jumped up and down,
Geragos objected and again asked Judge Alfred Delucchi to allow him to show
jurors his video, which reportedly shows the boat taking on large amounts of water.
The judge denied the motion, and the next day the replica boat arrived in Geragos' lot,
directly across the street from where CNN, Fox News and ABC have rented office space.
Geragos said he was just storing the boat on private property,
but some analysts speculated he was interested in publicity.
"Perhaps he's trying to play to the court of public opinion by showing the
press andthe public the great evidence that the judge would not allow,''
said Chuck Smith, a defense attorney and former prosecutor who has followed the
Peterson trial for several television organizations. "If that's the case, it's improper.'
By Wednesday morning, Court TV and national news shows were running
videos of the boat and holding lengthy discussions about its appropriateness.
Employees at the Redwood City Florist said calls began pouring in from all over the
world after lunch. People from as far away as London and Australia sent large
floral bouquets addressed simply to "The Boat" in Redwood City, California.
Some who came by to look at Geragos' craft took issue with the defense attorney personally.
"I think it's distasteful and disgusting, and I'm very upset by it,''
Shelley Gabriel of Redwood City said after lighting several candles at the foot of the boat.
"I can't believe Geragos would stoop this low.''
Geragos apparently got the message.
By evening, the boat had been towed away.
COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GERAGOS
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