| CONNER WAS BETTER
PRESERVED THAN LACI
September 17, 2004
Autopsy photos of the fetus Laci Peterson had been carrying before her death brought
her husband, Scott, to tears and drew gasps from jurors in his murder trial.
The images, accompanied by expert testimony, were shown Thursday, near the end of the state's
case against the 31-year-old former fertilizer salesman. Prosecutors could rest as early as next week.
A large white-wall screen was the backdrop for the photos, which also
made a few jurors cry and others shift in their seats or cover their mouths.
The fetus' remains appeared gelatin-like, its outer tissue somewhat transparent.
"This body was very soft. It came apart very easily," said Dr. Brian Peterson,
the forensic pathologist who performed autopsies on Laci and the fetus.
Dr. Peterson, who is not related to either Laci or Scott Peterson, testified that the fetus
had not been born before Laci's death and was instead expelled from her decaying body.
The pathologist said the remains of the fetus, a boy the couple planned to name Conner,
was much better preserved than Laci's body and still had all of its limbs and organs.
"My conclusion ... is that Conner had likely been protected by the uterus"
and expelled possibly weeks after Laci's body was put in the water, he said.
However, on cross-examination by defense attorney Mark Geragos, Dr. Peterson acknowledged
he could not determine whether the fetus had been born alive. He estimated its age to be nine
months. Laci was considered by her doctors to be eight months pregnant when she disappeared.
Laci's parents absent, Scott's parents don't look
Prosecutors claim the fetus was expelled from Laci's decaying corpse, while Geragos contends
the baby was born alive and murdered later, which they say proves their client couldn't be the killer.
The fetus was discovered with a tape-like twine wrapped around its neck. Prosecutors
claim the material attached to the body while it floated in San Francisco Bay. Defense
lawyers have implied it may have been used to strangle the fetus after birth.
Dr. Peterson testified there was no indication the tape had been used in such a way.
"I could see neither external nor internal damage that could
have been caused by this material," Dr. Peterson said.
The pathologist said no cause of death could be determined for Laci Peterson or the fetus.
Laci Peterson's autopsy photographs were displayed to jurors Wednesday. Her family
hasn't been in court all week. Scott Peterson's mother, Jackie, used a small notebook
to shield her face from the larger-than-life images. His father, Lee, simply looked away.
Prosecutors are trying to prove that Peterson killed Laci on or around
December 24, 2002, then dumped her weighted body into the bay.
The remains of Laci and her fetus washed up along a bay shore in April 2003, not far from where
Scott Peterson says he launched his boat that Christmas Eve morning for a solo fishing trip.
Geragos maintains someone else abducted and killed Laci as she walked the
couple's dog around the neighborhood after Peterson had left for his fishing trip.
Prosecutors then worked to provide an explanation for why police were
unable to find any of Laci's blood or signs of some sort of struggle.
Dr. Peterson speculated she may have died from strangulation or smothering which could leave
behind no forensic evidence, but it was impossible to be sure because her head and neck were
missing, as well as her forearms, most of both legs and all internal organs, except for the uterus.
On cross-examination, Geragos reiterated for jurors that Dr. Peterson could not
determine a cause or time of death, and that the fetus appeared to be full term.
Geragos then questioned the doctor's findings, implying that because the remains
were so badly decomposed, nothing could be certain about their deaths.
Dr. Peterson acknowledged there "might be other scenarios."
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|LACI & CONNER
"My prayer this day is for you and your family to
have the peace and comfort that God has promised.
My heart goes out to you thousands of miles away--"
CLARIS BOND ~ GEORGIA ~ GUESTBOOK