DISTASO - Opening statements
Scott was wearing a tan suit, white shirt and a robin's egg blue tie.
The courtroom is packed and very electric.  People are all sitting in
anticipation.  A few of the new members of the public can't believe
they are there.


9:07 Distaso and Harris appeared along with the court reporter.
9:08 Geragos and Peterson appeared.
9:12 Jury arrives.
9:13 Judge arrives and court is in session.  The judge swears in the
jury and gives the jury instructions of how to interpret witnesses and evidence.
9:35 Opening statements.
Rick Distaso starts with the statement:  "Think back to 2002.  Sharon Rocha was preparing for a
Christmas Eve dinner.  Laci and Scott were coming over at 6.  Sharon had put out the presents,
and set the table.  At 5:15 PM the phone rings.  It's the defendant, the son-in-law.

Peterson:  "Mom, is Laci there?"
Sharon answers:  "No?"  She's not supposed to be here until 6.
Peterson:  "I came home after a drive.  I went into the backyard and the dog was there with the leash."

Sharon:  "No, she's not here.  All day.  Did you call her friends?"
Peterson:  "No I haven't."
Sharon:  "Call them and call me back."
Peterson called back in what Sharon remembers is a very short time.
Peterson, with inflection:  "I called back and I'm not able to locate her.  Laci's missing."
Right then Sharon Rocha knew things are wrong.
Sharon:  "Did you check with the neighbors?  Laci might be delivering cookies."
Peterson:  "No, I haven't"
Sharon tells Ron Grantski:  "Something's wrong, Laci's missing." Ron calls the police.
Scott meanwhile is going to the neighbors, and checks with only two homes.  Susan Moblee (?)
was out of town for the holidays.  Scott went across the street and visited
Amie Krigbaum.  Amie
played hooky that day and was preparing a dinner for her family that evening.  She lived there
with her partner, Terra Venable, and Terra's 10-year-old son.


The defendant asked Amie if she had seen Laci.  He answer was no, and she had been in the front
yard part of the time (transcripts from Modesto indicated that Amie usually let her dog relieve itself
on the front lawn instead of the backyard.) 
Amie stated: "We've seen her car in the driveway and he blinds were down." 
Scott replied:  "Laci's missing."


Distaso looks at the jury and says:  Where's he been?  Golfing!"
Amie  Krigbaum and Terra Venable then decided to go help Scott search leaving Terra's 10-year-old
son at home.

Scott then moved down the street to the other neighbors.  Scott calls back to Sharon Rocha's and
tells Sharon he's checked with the neighbors.  Sharon Rocha is in full panic now.  Sharon is very
upset and doesn't know what to do.  She tells Scott:  "We'll meet you at the park."

They (Scott and Laci) live in a small residential area in Modesto.  At the end of their street is
Dry Creek Park, a park that is about 5 miles long and is heavily wooded.  There is a steep path
that leads form the street to the park.  In the park, there's a creek, and there are streetlights
along the path.  This is where Laci used to walk the dog.

In late October or early November, Laci went into the park and got dizzy.  This happened 3 or 4 times. 
The doctor told Laci not to exercise, and Sharon Rocha was afraid that Laci might have done that. 
Sharon called her friend Sandy Rickers  who picked Sharon up and took her to the park.


Ron Grantski called the Modesto Police Department.  The police tell Ron to stay there.

At 6:00, Ron calls Laci's uncle, Harvey Kemple. Harvey is having a huge Christmas Eve party with
40 people, and says:  "We need help in the park.  Meet us at East La Loma Park."  East La Loma
Park has parking lots and also leads into Dry Creek Park.


Sharon Rocha tells Scott:  "We will meet you there."

The park was pitch dark, foggy and cold.  Sharon Rocha was very upset, yelling Laci's name,
even looking in trash cans.  She sees Scott Peterson ahead about 20-30 yards away, and runs
up to him and asks him   "What's going on?"  Scott gave no response.
"Where were you?
"Fishing."
"Where?"
"Berkeley."
Then Peterson walks off.


Ron Grantski called the police officers and they all met at the park.

Officer John Evers speaks to Sharon Rocha and Scott Peterson.  Peterson says he was the last one
to see Laci alive.  Peterson:  "When I left my house, Laci was home, planned to mop the floors and
take the dog for a walk.  I left my house and my wife at 9:30 to go fishing in the Berkeley Marina."


Senior Patrol Officers, Officer Spurlock, and Officer Ledzinger -The officers started to investigate. 
Whenever you investigate missing persons, you always start at the beginning.  Scott was the last
person to see Laci alive, and Laci was planning to walk the dog.  The officer then moved everybody
back to the West Covena residence.  Patrolman Durethal , the patrolman that covers that area was
told it was Christmas Eve and there's an 8-month pregnant woman missing.


**At this time Geragos objects, argumentative.  Overruled.

The police ask the family to leave the park, some people left voluntarily.

During a missing persons investigation, the officers look in to the lifestyle.  They ask Scott if anything
was more suspicious to having a missing person, was it drugs, anyone having problems with her?"


Back at the house, Officer Durafil lines up the other officers, organizes the Modesto PD dogs, and in
comes a helicopter with IR (infrared) heat sensors to look for heat sources.  The officers have to get
everyone out of the park.


Harvey Kemple, Laci's uncle, walks over to Peterson and asks:  "What's going on? Where were you?" 
Peterson replied:  "I was out
golfing and when I came home, Laci was gone."

Officers Evers and Officer Spurlock go into the house to see if anything happened in there,  They look
for forced entry, burglary, and abduction.  They look at the windowsills, look to see if the locks had been
jimmied, checked the door jams, and checked to see if anything was missing.  The police officers ask
Peterson if anything is missing, and he answers:  "No."  Is the jewelry intact?  Are Laci's belonging here?
Peterson says he doesn't know.  Laci puts her purse either on the kitchen table or on a hook in the closet.
The purse is there.  The police open the purse and they find keys; a wallet; a sunglasses case; all personal items.The police close up the purse and put it back on the hook.


The police brief Sergeant Duerfeldt on what they saw.

Officer Spurlock asked Scott:  Where were you all day?"
Officer Evers and Officer Duerfeldt ask:  "Were you working all day/"
Scott answers:  "Fishing."
Officer:  "Where?"
Peterson:   "Bay Area."  The officers are walking and talking with Scott.
Officer:  "What kind of bait?"
Peterson would not tell him, then said:  "Lure.  A silver lure"
Officer:   "Where is your fishing equipment?"
Peterson:  "I keep it in my shop (a warehouse for his fertilizer business.)"

MANY THANKS TO VALERIE!

DISTASO OPENING STATEMENTS

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