|Saying Scott Peterson was "stone cold innocent," defense attorney Mark Geragos trashed
the case against the accused killer and the police detectives who investigated.
Geragos said police believed Peterson had something to do with his wife's Dec. 24, 2002
disappearance and worked to prove it. That came, he said, at the expense of an innocent man.
"The evidence is going to show that Scott Peterson is not only not guilty," Geragos
told jurors, "the evidence is going to show that he is stone cold innocent."
Taking only about 90 minutes, Geragos tried to chip away at evidence that prosecutor Rick
Distaso told jurors Tuesday would prove Peterson killed Laci, 27, and the couple's unborn son.
He jumped on the Amber Frey issue, saying Peterson was not willing to throw his life with Laci
away for the Fresno massage therapist. Nor was he going to do it after only two dates,
which Geragos said Peterson and Frey, a single mother, had before Laci vanished.
"Their theory would be that Scott does not want to have a child ... and therefore
he's going to chuck his entire life that he had with Laci for two dates," he said.
One investigator even told a judge that Frey, who told police of her affair with
Peterson, might have had something to do with the disappearance, Geragos added.
Geragos doled out his harshest jabs to Modesto police detectives, whom he accused of ruining
evidence, lying to a judge and trying to disgrace Peterson during a completely misguided investigation.
"They absolutely told or put out information that was patently false because it was their
way or theory of how to elicit a confession," Geragos said. "They wanted a confession."
Geragos said police leaked information to reporters about an insurance policy they said Peterson
took out on his wife. He stood to benefit if she turned up dead, the police sources suggested at the time.
Peterson told police he was fishing at the Berkeley Marina the day Laci was reported
missing, but they did not believe him, Geragos said. They suggested Peterson secretly
bought the boat he used that day, but a witness will testify that Laci had seen it on Dec. 20.
At every turn of the investigation, police came up with nothing on Peterson, he said. They found
nothing in the boat and they found nothing at the warehouse, he said. They found nothing in Petersons'
house, despite multiple search efforts using the best that Modesto police and the FBI had to offer.
"The department of justice found zip, not one thing," he said. What was discovered after
months of investigation and test upon test of evidence was that police botched the case.
They ignored eyewitnesses who said they saw Laci walking the dog the day she
disappeared. They mishandled evidence at best -- and tampered with it at worst.
"What we will do ... what we hope to show in this case ... are all the holes
and problems with the evidence that was presented to you yesterday."
One gaping hole, he said, was the age of the fetus. "The evidence will show that this baby was born alive,"
Geragos said, displaying autopsy images on large television screens. "If this baby was born alive, clearly
Scott had nothing to do with the murder. Their own investigator could not rule out that this baby was born alive."
Peterson looked intently at Geragos for most of the session. His parents
Jackie and Lee looked on from the gallery just a few feet behind him.
Laci's mother Sharon Rocha left the courtroom when photos of the fetus were presented.
Others in her family and the rest of the courtroom looked away from the grisly images.
Prosecutors will call their first witness, Peterson's housekeeper, this afternoon.
Geragos said that two people saw Peterson put his boat in the water Dec. 24, 2002,
the day Laci was reported missing. Neither said they saw a body inside that boat.
Prosecutor Rick Distaso said Tuesday that dogs tracked Laci's scent to the ramp where Peterson launched
his small craft. Her remains surfaced in April 2003 not far from where Peterson fished on Christmas Eve.
Distaso also focused on the boat, saying no one knew he had bought the vessel, which
Peterson kept at his warehouse But Geragos attacked that theory, pointing out that a
woman in an office next to Peterson's warehouse said Laci was there on Dec. 20.
She knew about the boat, he said, but never told anyone about it
because that was simply the type of person she was.
Wearing a gray suit and blue shirt, Peterson looked on intently.
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By Brian Anderson
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
June 2, 2004