CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Panel Discusses the Peterson Case
Aired April 28, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: The DA says that Peterson -- Scott Peterson is going to face the death penalty if he's convicted of murdering his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner. Plus: Did investigators find Laci's body weeks before it washed up?
With us tonight is Ted Rowlands of KTVU. He's been on this story from day one. Court TV's Nancy Grace, a former prosecutor; renowned defense attorneys Mark Geragos in Los Angeles, and in New York, Mickey Sherman. He represented Mickey Skakel in the high-profile trial there. And Jeanine Ferris Pirro, district attorney, Westchester County, New York. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Let's start with Ted Rowlands. What's the latest on this sonar detection story, Ted?
TED ROWLANDS, KTVU-TV: Well, over the weekend, it was reported that investigators may have come across Laci and Conner's remains a few weeks before they actually washed up to shore. The story goes is that they detected something with their sonar device, had to leave because of poor weather conditions, went back when the weather changed, and they couldn't find that object.
Now, police today, a spokesperson there, and the chief even says that there's nothing to this, that they found a lot of things that the couldn't get to because of conditions. But sources close to this investigation, according to this report, say that the folks on that boat were pretty sure that they had spotted a body, and they thought it was Laci's.
KING: If true, Ted, why, then, wasn't it reported?
ROWLANDS: Well, the feeling was that they didn't want to -- and you know, this has been their MO throughout this. They didn't want to alert the media to any of this. In fact, according to this report, a lot of members of the media -- I know I was one of them -- were standing on shore, waiting for these crews to come in, and they didn't say anything when they got in after their search. And the reason given was because they didn't want to tip Scott Peterson off to the fact that they might have the bodies there because they claimed that he was a flight risk at the time, and they wanted time to deal with it on their terms. That's the same thing they did with the -- with the anchor scare, when they thought they had a body. They took their time, and it was leaked out, and only then did they divulge it, yes, we think we found something.
KING: Nancy Grace, help us with something. If they've already made the arrest and they have the charges, why do they have to keep searching for things? Don't they know all the facts?
NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Well, they know all the facts that they have up until this point. But Larry, I don't believe I ever tried a single murder case that I did not continue investigating myself or my investigator practically up until the time of closing arguments. If more evidence is out there, then why would you close your eyes to it? And not only that, regarding this discovery, apparently during mid- March -- if they weren't sure, imagine the pain it would have caused Laci's family to believe she had been found and then it not be her.
KING: Mark Geragos, is it imperative that the DA and the police, if they find evidence that might help the defense, they must announce -- turn it over to them.
MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's a Brady obligation, and they're supposed to turn over anything that's exculpatory as soon as they find it or generally before trial. So yes, they've got a duty to do that. You would like to think that if they find stuff that points to his innocence that they're still out there looking for that. But as a practical matter, once they've charged somebody, generally, what they're looking for is evidence that's going to fit into or support their theory.
KING: Jeanine, when or if -- when does the public -- when is the public made knowledge of what they have, of why they made this arrest? So far, nothing has been said, other than he's been charged.
JEANINE FERRIS PIRRO, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NEW YORK: Well, you know, right now, the prosecution is in the mode of trying to make sure that they've got sufficient evidence to support the ultimate punishment that they're seeking, and that is the death penalty. And so I guess it's only at the preliminary hearing that this evidence will start to come out, or at the bail application, where one of the criteria is the determination as to whether or not the defendant is a -- is a flight risk, as well as how serious the crime is and what the evidence is against him.
So we're not going to hear a lot about this until we actually go to trial, although I understand that one of the newspaper outlets is suing to try to get the evidence that is the basis of the search warrants so that they can find out more information about the case.
KING: Mickey Sherman, do you think this is rather quick decision to go for the death penalty?
MICKEY SHERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I personally think it is. And one of the things that bothered me is when the district attorney made his statement about it, he said one of the things he's taking into consideration is the community's attitude. And he's the trustee of the community. What he should do is what he thinks is right, in context with the law, this particular crime and the victims' attitude. But whether or not the community is as enraged as they are I don't think has anything to do with whether or not this man deserves the death penalty. I think that's a mob mentality.
PIRRO: Well, you know, I don't think... KING: Nancy, shouldn't we...
PIRRO: ... the DA...
KING: Nancy -- I'm sorry. Go ahead. Who's speaking?
PIRRO: It's Jeanine. I don't think the DA has said that the reason that he's seeking death is because of the public reaction to this. Remember that this is a case that has been investigated for the last four months. The DA has written the search warrants. The DA is aware of the return on the warrants, as well as all of the other evidence. And the DA has made it clear that this is a case where he's taking in the family's input into consideration, as well as an analysis...
SHERMAN: Yes, but...
PIRRO: ... of all of the evidence.
KING: One at a time. One at a time. Mark?
GERAGOS: If I could weigh in on that? In California, generally, what happens and the policy here is that you go to a committee. And the committee is made up of veteran prosecutors. They weight the mitigating factors versus the aggravating factors. It's listed in the court rules here. There's plenty of court decisions that tell you how to do it.
And what's somewhat disturbing about this case is that it looks like the DA went in before he ever went to that committee, announced on TV that he was going to -- that it was his feeling it should be the death penalty, and then within 72 hours, the committee rubber-stamped it or ratified it. I think that that's...
GERAGOS: ... and I guarantee you that will be...
PIRRO: ... don't know that that's the case, Mark.
GERAGOS: ... the subject of challenge.
KING: One at a time.
PIRRO: Mark, I don't know that that's...
PIRRO: ... the case because I have had death penalty cases that I have reviewed. The district attorney has the ultimate decision as to whether or not to seek death. You get input from these committees that you put together, and the reports are that he did meet with the committee.
GERAGOS: Yes. Here in California...
SHERMAN: Yes, but Jeanine, would you ever make this call this soon?
GERAGOS: Here in California...
KING: Hold on. One a time, please.
KING: One at a time. Hold on. Hold on! Mickey, go ahead.
SHERMAN: Jeanine, would you make this kind of a death penalty call this soon, even before a preliminary hearing...
SHERMAN: ... before the release of the information on the search warrant or any other warrant?
PIRRO: What I do is, I wait the full four months that the New York statute gives us. In this case, the DA has already been working on this case for four months.
SHERMAN: Yes, but you waited four months...
PIRRO: So it's not as though he made the decision in two days!
SHERMAN: But you would wait four months until the -- from the arrest onward, am I correct?
KING: Why is this -- Nancy...
PIRRO: No, from the date of the indictment.
KING: All right. Nancy...
KING: Nancy, why is this a death penalty -- I'm asking it this way. We don't know the circumstances of the killing. It could have been they had a fistfight and something terrible happened. Why -- since we don't know the circumstances, why is this a death penalty case?
GRACE: Well, Larry, you and I, on the inside looking in, don't know all the circumstances.
GRACE: What we do know is they believe Scott Peterson is responsible for the death not only of his wife -- - and they say premeditated death in the home, where she should feel the safest -- of his wife and his child on Christmas Eve, not just the deaths, but then, according to them the cold and calculated decision to put her in the cold depths of the sea and let her... KING: In other words, where you put...
GRACE: ... body basically rot!
KING: ... the body is...
GRACE: That is heinous!
KING: Where you put the body is part of being a death penalty -- in other words, if he...
GRACE: Absolutely not!
KING: If he didn't put the body somewhere, it wouldn't be a death penalty case?
GRACE: Now, see, Larry, you are taking one part of my argument and analyzing it. And you're absolutely correct. Where you dispose of a body certainly does not go into the mode of killing.
GRACE: However, you asked why is this a death penalty case. This is a double homicide of the single most defenseless creature in the world, an unborn child!
KING: Yes, but I -- hold on. Nancy, I know that. But it was you that said he disposed of it. That's why I asked you why that has to do with...
GRACE: I think that is very...
KING: ... being a death penalty...
GRACE: ... aggravating circumstances!
GRACE: The callous nature, the cold nature, and according to what police say or have leaked that they found on his computer, where he had charted the tides and the winds and the currents, so as to more effectively dispose of his wife's body -- if that is true, yes, this is a death penalty case!
SHERMAN: How is it aggravating if she's dead already? If she's dead already, how does that aggravate it?
GRACE: Because it shows me that he planned it long ahead of time! And I'd like to see, according to cookie in that computer as to when! How far in advance he did plan where he was going to dump his wife and baby?
GERAGOS: But Nancy -- Nancy, the fact of the matter is, here in California, the special circumstance that we used to have for something that was especially cruel or atrocious was declared unconstitutional. That is not a basis... GRACE: Yes, I know that! But the last time I...
GERAGOS: That's not an aggravating basis for...
GERAGOS: Hold on! That's not...
GRACE: ... there were two dead bodies!
GERAGOS: ... an aggravating basis legally for...
GRACE: Two dead bodies!
GERAGOS: ... the imposition of the death penalty. The only special circumstance...
GRACE: Double murder!
GERAGOS: ... is the multiple murder. Right.
GRACE: That's right!
GERAGOS: That's the special circumstance. Everything that you just argued...
GRACE: That's right!
GERAGOS: Everything you've argued to Larry has been -- have been arguments...
GRACE: No, Mark!
GERAGOS: ... that reflect the atrocious nature...
GRACE: He asked me...
GERAGOS: ... of the crime...
GRACE: ... why the DA...
GERAGOS: ... which has been declared to be --
GRACE: ... is seeking...
GERAGOS: ... vague and unconstitutional.
KING: Nancy, don't interrupt! Let everybody finish and then talk.
We're going to take a break, and we'll come back. Don't go away.
KING: Laci would have been 28 years old this Sunday. I understand, Ted Rowlands, there's a memorial service planned Sunday?
ROWLANDS: Yes. They announced the plans today. It's going to be at a church. It's going to be public, but there'll be no cameras, so folks will not be able to monitor it at home, the people that have been watching this. But at this point, there's not going to be a camera there. Expecting a huge crowd, as you might imagine.
I talked to a person that is close to the Peterson family late this afternoon. The Peterson family continues to be steadfastly behind Scott. They're not sure how they're going to approach the memorial ceremony, if they're going to show up, send one person or send everybody. They are, I can tell you, infuriated, though, with the district attorney and the way they handled the death penalty decision. They're in Modesto tonight. They plan to meet with their defense team -- with Scott's defense team tomorrow morning. They plan to visit him tomorrow night. Scott apparently is sending a lot of mail out, getting a lot of mail, and they say that they still support him 100 percent.
KING: Jeanine, does -- the way you read it so far -- and again, you don't have all the inside information -- is the prosecution saying that this was a planned murder?
PIRRO: Well, clearly, to be murder in the first degree in California, it has to be willful, deliberate or premeditated. And clearly, the prosecution is saying that, and they're saying that because of the special circumstance of a double homicide, as California law defines it, that this is a death-eligible case.
The DA has made that decision. And I have to say that having sat in his seat, it is one of the most momentous decisions a DA can make. This is not something that we take lightly. It is based on the evidence, the facts and the sufficiency of the evidence and the input of the family and the review by the committee. So to somehow take away the significance of that decision by saying that it is a political decision, I think it is unfair to the sitting DA who's made that decision.
KING: Mickey, would you say the chance for bail is hopeless?
SHERMAN: Yes. Probably is. And just to backtrack a second, you know, he's the one who made the statement, when he made the -- Brazelton -- when he made the public comment about his decision, he said that one of the things he was taking into consideration was the spirit and the mood of the community. I'm pretty sure I'm quoting him fairly well.
GERAGOS: Mickey is absolutely correct.
SHERMAN: And I don't think you pick a death penalty by putting your hands up in the air and seeing which way the wind is blowing. I mean, it's -- there's so much public outrage in this case that I think it wouldn't have been unreasonable to wait three months, two months, even a couple of months just to see what the facts were, what the defense may put forth in any preliminary hearing, before making the final call. KING: Speaking of that...
SHERMAN: But with respect to bail, it ain't going happen.
KING: Nancy, what happens at a pre-trial hearing?
GRACE: Well, in a pre-trial hearing, depending on the nature of the hearing, for instance, the bail, the state's going to argue against it. Since it's a capital case, there probably is no likelihood of it. However, at a preliminary hearing, the state will have to show a little bit of its hand, probably not the whole case.
But I find it very interesting everyone, at least, the defense bar, represented tonight, is all disturbed about how the DA announced the decision to seek the death penalty. What I'm disturbed about is a dead woman and a dead baby laying at the bottom of the bay! I think this is all smoke and mirrors to try to take our focus off Scott Peterson possibly murdering his wife and attacking the DA! It's crazy!
KING: Well, but I think, Nancy, that's because you use the word possibly.
GRACE: That's right.
KING: We don't know that he murdered his wife. So since it is...
GRACE: I know that police believe it.
KING: ... possibly -- since it is possibly, police believe it, but they've been wrong.
GRACE: But, you know, Larry...
SHERMAN: ... Richard Ricci, as well. The police are not always the best judge of who's guilty and who's not. That's why you have preliminary hearings. That's why you have judges. That's why you have grand juries. And no one's vilifying the district attorney. All we're saying is, use the same judgment as Jeanine Pirro. Take the time to deliberate. Make it a call but make it an informed call and one you deliberate on and just is not a knee-jerk reaction to the moral outrage in the community.
PIRRO: Mickey, thank you, but it appears that he has had four months to deliberate over this. And no one, not one of us, no one in the press knows what the DA sitting there knows as a result of the investigation, as a result of the legal assistance that he's given to the police over the course of the last four months. I believe that there is probably a great deal of evidence. District attorneys don't make the decision to seek death unless they are quite certain that they can prove the case of murder in the first degree and there is a good chance of getting death in the case. KING: Mark Geragos, does his character come into play? If he had an exemplary character prior to this, does this come into play at all?
GERAGOS: Absolutely because all of those things go towards what are called the mitigating factors. Anything -- the prior record, productivity, a whole host of who you can put up there and the contributions that he's made, all fit into what are mitigating factors that are then counterbalanced by the existence, if there are any, of aggravating factors. Then you're supposed to make a decision, a deliberate decision, as to whether or not it's ethical for you to seek the death penalty in that case.
The problem with this case -- and I'll say it again. He might have been on the case from day one. He might have participated in the drafting of the arrest warrant. He might have participated in the drafting of the search warrant. The fact of the matter is, is this gentleman has been in custody for a very short period of time. The defense lawyers can't possibly have marshaled all of the mitigating factors in order to make a presentation already. And to have made this decision and sent it to the committee within 72 hours smacks of, as Mickey said, sticking your finger up and waiting and seeing which way the wind blows.
KING: Nancy, what do you think the effect of all the media coverage will be on this?
GRACE: I think that they'll have to work very hard to get an impartial jury. And I think it will end up having a change of venue.
KING: You do?
GRACE: I do.
KING: Impartial means what, a jury that has no opinion?
GRACE: No, absolutely not.
KING: What does it mean?
GRACE: Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Laci Peterson has been missing and that her child is dead, as well as she. Everybody knows that. But what you have to do is get 12, probably 16 to 18, including alternate jurors, that can say they with put aside what they have heard on the media and listen to the case with an open mind. In my mind, that's not going to be that difficult to do. But to ensure the constitutionality, I think they will either bus in jurors, which is what they normally do in that jurisdiction, or move the case to another county.
KING: Let me get a break and come back with more. We'll be including your phone calls, as well. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. By the way, Friday night, Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore together. And one week from tonight, Lisa Marie Presley. Don't go away.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Let's include your phone calls about the case everyone's talking about. Jemison, Alabama. Hello.
CALLER: And good evening to all of you. Nancy just basically touched on what I -- my question is, the fact that is there -- is it feasibly possible to assume that he is even going to remotely get a fair trial? And if he does get a fair trial, how is the conviction going to stick? I mean, I don't see how it could, on the aspect of -- there is any defense attorney would go in and say, Well, he couldn't get a fair trial. There's no way.
KING: What's the argument, if you can't get a fair trial? Is it...
GERAGOS: Well, you have two alternatives here. You move to change the venue or you move to continue the case in time. So you either continue it -- or move it geographically or you move it on a continuum of time.
KING: You mean, like, a year, let a year...
GERAGOS: You put it over a year, you put it over two years and hope that some of this outrage subsides.
KING: You can do that?
GERAGOS: Yes, it is a sanctioned and one of the possibilities that you're allowed in a death penalty case. The other solution is, is to move for a change of venue. In this case, this case has all of the kind of kind of earmarks of the five factors for the change of venue.
KING: And Nancy, you agree with that, right?
GRACE: Well, I do. I normally would oppose a change of venue because you are uprooting not only all the staff but the victim's family. as well. Again, in that particular jurisdiction, what they normally do is bring in jurors from surrounding counties. And let me assure the caller that both sides will insist they go through literally hundreds of potential jurors. I would not be surprised if they went to 400 or 500 in order to get 12 impartial jurors.
PIRRO: And, Larry, if I might say, when I was a judge deciding motions for change of venue, the issue is not so much have people heard of the case. Of course, everyone's heard of the case. The issue is whether or not the individual juror has prejudged the defendant to the point where they cannot objectively listen to the testimony and they cannot listen to the judge's instructions. This case, in particular, although it's gotten a great deal of attention, doesn't involve an alleged confession, where, you know it might have gotten out into the public domain and the public might say, Oh, he already confessed. That's the end of it. It really is an insult to the integrity and to the intelligence of potential jurors to say that they cannot sit in that sterile courtroom and make decisions.
SHERMAN: I disagree, Jeanine. I think if you canvas anybody, whether they're in Wichita or California right now, or Modesto, and nine out of ten are going to say, yes, that guy's got to be guilty. I saw him on TV. I saw him with the girlfriend in front of the Christmas tree. The character damage that's been done alone is enough to convict him.
SHERMAN: I also agree you're going get a jury. I think you'll find 12, 16, 24 people who will say -- and I don't know that they're going to be telling the truth to the judge or to themselves -- that they haven't made up the mind. But the problem with the big cases, people want to sit on the case. They want that interview with Katie Couric or Larry King at the end of the trial. So you have people who will not prostitute themselves but say, yes, I can keep my mind open, and they may not, in fact, have an open mind. And that's kind of disturbing.
PIRRO: But every day, Mickey, jurors say -- potential jurors say -- I know from trying these cases and from sitting on the bench -- is they'll say, You know what? I can't be fair in this case. I mean, it really is -- we've got to have a tough judge who's going to make sure that the potential jurors are questioned thoroughly and that they are able to answer honestly and then make a decision based on the evidence.
GERAGOS: But Jeanine, in this jurisdiction, you don't have to wait until jury selection. In fact, a lot of times, most of the times, you must file the motion for change of venue prior to jury selection so that you can get writ relief. So we may never get to the point where we're interviewing the jurors.
KING: Let me get another call. Windsor, Ontario. Hello.
CALLER: Hi. Good evening. I want to extend my thoughts and prayers, first of all, to the Laci Peterson family. And my question is, Scott's parents have been saying that the police convicted their son before even a trial and insist that the police are avoiding other leads. What other leads are they referring to? There has nothing ever been disclosed with the media.
KING: Nancy, does the -- do the police thoroughly investigate all aspects, truthfully? Do they go into -- do they say to themselves, Let's go down this avenue to see if he didn't do it?
GRACE: Well, let's just take a look at this particular case. We know for a fact that police have interviewed 200 to 300 registered sex offenders in the area. We know that they interviewed many, many transients, dozens of transients that lived in the park where Laci, allegedly, according to her husband, went to walk the dog. They interviewed neighbors, old boyfriends, you name it. They exhausted every lead, and not only to find the correct perpetrator, but to help the prosecution at trial, so none of these loose ends could come up to bite the state in the neck.
SHERMAN: How do we know what they've done, though?
GERAGOS: Right. Exactly. We don't know what they've done.
SHERMAN: How could we possibly know what they've done? I mean...
GRACE: How do I know that they've done that?
SHERMAN: I mean, I go back to the Salt Lake City investigation...
GRACE: Because the police gave a press conference...
SHERMAN: ... of Richard Ricci.
GRACE: ... and told me.
SHERMAN: Sometimes they're not looking for information, they're looking for confirmation.
GRACE: They never charged Ricci!
SHERMAN: Richard Ricci. They looked at him...
GRACE: They never charged Ricci, Mickey!
SHERMAN: ... and that's their investigation.
GRACE: They never charged Ricci, Mickey.
PIRRO: You know what? It doesn't...
SHERMAN: Yes, he died. He died in prison.
GRACE: He never was charged.
PIRRO: It doesn't do the police or law enforcement any good to not cover all their bases and to not examine all of the possible evidence because when we get to that point where we try that case in front of a judge and in open court, we don't want to be embarrassed, and we want to make sure that we have covered the bases and that we are clear in our evidence pointing to the guilt of the defendant. We don't gain anything by focusing on just one person.
GERAGOS: Except, I'll tell you, Jeanine, I very rarely had a case that when the police have not made up their mind as to who the suspect is or should be, that they haven't then just excluded any other leads. It's a rare, rare case where the police go in and say, Hey, we've arrested this guy, but let's go run down these leads over here that may show that he wasn't the one who did it. So I -- you know, I know in an idealistic situation...
GRACE: Mark, are you actually saying...
GERAGOS: In an idealistic...
GRACE: ... you think police arrested the wrong person in this case? Can you really look at the viewers...
GERAGOS: Can I -- can I say that...
GRACE: ... and look at the camera and say, You know, police really, really pulled the trigger, they jumped the gun, and he's the wrong person?
GERAGOS: Let me tell you something, Nancy...
GRACE: You can't!
GERAGOS: I have a real problem...
GRACE: You can't!
GERAGOS: I have a real problem with convicting this guy in the media.
GRACE: That's not what we're talking about!
GERAGOS: Yes, I do have a problem with that.
GRACE: You're saying police...
GERAGOS: Well, that's exactly what we're talking about!
GRACE: ... jumped the gun.
GERAGOS: You're saying he could not be...
GRACE: They spent four months putting this together!
GERAGOS: ... he could not be the -- you're saying he could not be the wrong guy? I mean...
GRACE: No. But I'm not...
GERAGOS: ... you were one of the people who was on the bandwagon...
GRACE: I'm saying police did not jump the gun in arresting Scott Peterson!
GERAGOS: I didn't...
GRACE: And you agreed with me...
GERAGOS: That is not...
GRACE: ... a few nights ago!
GERAGOS: That is not what I said.
GRACE: What's changed since then?
GERAGOS: It's not what I said. I said that this -- it's very possible that this guy could be stone, cold innocent.
GRACE: Well, that's not what you said the other night.
PIRRO: Well, he's presumed innocent.
GERAGOS: I said that...
SHERMAN: The bottom line is we don't know.
GRACE: I was here!
SHERMAN: The bottom line is we just don't know what the answer is. We're willing to let the process work. And I think that's all Mark and I are fighting for...
KING: All right. Let me get...
SHERMAN: ... not to let him out on bond, but let the process work. Don't condemn him until a jury of his peers says guilty.
KING: Let me get a break. We'll take a break, come back. We'll include more phone calls on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE with Ted Rowlands from KTVU TV -- we're going to get right back to Ted in a moment -- Nancy Grace, Mark Geragos, Mickey Sherman and Jeanine Ferris Pirro. Don't go away.
KING: Let's reintroduce our panel. In San Francisco, Ted Rowlands of KTVU TV has been on top of this since the beginning. In New York, Nancy Grace of "Trial Heat" on Court TV. In Los Angeles, defense attorney Mark Geragos. In New York, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Mickey Sherman. And in New York, Jeanine Ferris Pirro, district attorney for Westchester County, New York.
Before we go back to the phone calls, Ted Rowlands, have you interviewed the police and have they said they were very thorough in this investigation, covering all bases?
ROWLANDS: Yes, their stance is, they say, you know, we tried our best to clear Scott Peterson. We investigated every lead that we could. The problem was it just kept coming back to Scott Peterson.
Now, the Peterson family, in reference to the previous caller, I've asked them numerous times where should we be putting our resources as the media to investigate these other potential leads, these other potential things that could have happened to Laci.
They say that they've run a parallel investigation throughout this entire process and they have people that help bolster the doubt within this case but don't want to share those things right now because they don't want those people exposed for fear that they will not participate in the trial.
KING: Tyler, Texas, hello.
CALLER: Yes, thank you. It was reported that Scott Peterson was carrying his brother's I.D. when he was arrested. And I've never seen any brothers on television. I wondered does he look anything like the brother, especially maybe after he had the goatee and the hair dye or, you know, is there any resemblance? Thank you.
KING: Do we know, Nancy?
GRACE: I've seen a shot of the family. He's one of seven. He's the youngest. I think he's got three older brothers and yes, does he favor them. I don't recall any of them with blond hair but they do have the same family resemblance so he could have passed for one of them.
GERAGOS: ... Ted can back me up on this. Ted, I don't think that anybody's blonde in that family.
ROWLANDS: Well, yes. And nobody looks like he looked like when he was arrested in that family with the long goatee and the hair the way it was. The thought that he was trying to make his appearance look like a fake I.D. that he had just doesn't jive. He didn't look like that person.
KING: You would admit, Mickey Sherman, it doesn't look good for the defense.
SHERMAN: Because of the change of appearance or because of everything?
KING: The whole circumstances.
SHERMAN: As you alluded to before, the character evidence is just so strong against him. But the changing the appearance, you know, this guy's been vilified for the last several months. Maybe he just doesn't want to be recognized as the evil Scott Peterson. If he was going to split, I mean, he was just a few miles from Mexico. He could have done that at anytime.
GERAGOS: Right, and he was heading north. Last time I checked that's towards Canada, not towards Mexico. GRACE: I'm glad you mentioned that, actually. I'm glad mentioned that, Mickey, that while the medical examiner was trying to decide is that his baby that's been found on this cement rocks, he was out having a golf game. I find that very interesting.
SHERMAN: That's proof of him having committed what crime?
GRACE: I'm not saying it is evidence of a crime. I'm saying it's evidence that he didn't care about his wife and his baby.
SHERMAN: The fact that he's an evil character is not good evidence against him. It's going to get him convicted, more likely than not...
GRACE: Nobody said it was, Mickey. I'm just telling you that you make it sound as if that is his salvation that he was having a golf game while the medical examiner was looking at a skeleton. I don't think that's such great evidence.
SHERMAN: And it's not proof of flight. It is not proof of flight to escape justice.
PIRRO: It's not criminal conduct. You're absolutely right. But it's not one fact, but the facts taken together as a collective whole that raise a question. You to admit it is not just the fact that he was in southern California. His hair was changed he had a goatee, he had cash, he had a different identification, he had a newly purchased vehicle.
I mean, this is just one of a number of facts. You can take each one separately and criticize it and say it is as consistent with innocence as with guilt. But when you start to build a case as obviously the D.A. has done here, then things start to change and take on a different shadow.
GERAGOS: There's one big problem with that, Jeanine. Virtually every fact you've just strung together there will never make it into the courtroom. They're never -- they're going to be excluded. They're irrelevant. There's specific instance of character that are irrelevant.
PIRRO: They are not irrelevant. Flight is consciousness of guilt, Mark. You know it.
PIRRO: When you change -- it's not just the appearance. It's the cash, it's having a different identification, going under a different name, a newly purchased
KING: Betting is permitted because we are seen in Las Vegas. Winnesboro, Louisiana, hello.
CALLER: Yes, Larry. I'm not convinced that Scott's guilty. And I want to know did the girlfriend wait a month after Laci became missing to go and talk to the authorities? And if so, why did she wait that long?
KING: Ted, do you know? How long did she wait?
ROWLANDS: According to investigators, they cleared Amber Frye because they thoroughly checked her out. According to Amber's father, she went to investigators immediately after she saw Scott Peterson on television. She is described as someone who doesn't watch a lot of news and quite frankly just had no idea all of this was going on. When she did find out, she, according to her father, made a call right away to the Modesto Police.
We have learned also today that, you know there has been speculation that amber and Scott have had discussions after she came forward and according to a source very close to the Peterson family that indeed did happen on a couple of times. Amber apparently sent him a book after she came forward, inside the book was a message, "Don't call me. The police have tapped my phone." He says that he didn't see the note, called her to thank her for the book.
And then there was another communication a few weeks ago actually when there was some discussion that they may have gotten together. Police were concerned about it. Scott called Amber for some reason there and Peterson family says they were -- they are very upset that Scott did that.
PIRRO: No, she reported it on December 30. She reported it within seven days, absolutely.
KING: Pleasanton, California, hello.
CALLER: Yes, good evening, Larry and the panel. My question is for Nancy. I feel that with his actions they seem like he is guilty and I want to know from Nancy what does she think about it because he is acting like that. If someone is innocent, don't they just, you know, face everyone and say, I am innocent.
KING: Nancy does not think he's innocent. I think that's safe to say.
GRACE: Well I think that from what we know right now the state will have to bring on more evidence to prove he's guilty. I think they've got bring on either some type of confession, just for instance he may have made to Amber. Something on his computer or DNA or if they find an anchor or something tying him back to his warehouse down at the bottom of that bed of water. Another thing is, you say that he acts guilty. In my mind, he acts very uncaring. Now you'll have the defense attorneys claim there is no normal reaction to the death of your wife. But you know what, you two go tell that to a jury. And I'll stick with telling a jury, he was out having a golf game while his wife's skeleton was at the medical examiner's office. And I'll guarantee you they will believe that.
KING: We'll take a brake and we'll be right back with our panel and more phone calls. Don't go away.
KING: Back to the calls. Beaumont, Texas, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry.
CALLER: My question is, why did the DA include input from the defense team when making the decision to seek the death penalty? Was it a statute there, or courtesy, a glimpse of where the defense is headed?
KING: Mark, Why?
GERAGOS: Here in California, that is a standard operating procedure is to have the defense present what's called mitigating evidence. And they presumably know what -- or are in the best position to know what the mitigating evidence is, which means all the good things that you can say about the person and all the reasons why they shouldn't impose the death penalty.
KING: Lakeview, Ohio, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. I was wondering about the woman they found in the water, the pregnant one, not Laci.
CALLER: When she was found and how long she had been missing?
KING: Do we know, Mickey? Do you know the details of that, anybody?
SHERMAN: The other woman was found recently.
GRACE: I got it. Her name was Evelyn Hernandez, age 24, and what is unusual about that case is that, yes, she was pregnant, but also drowned with her was her 5-year-old son. And that's going to be a sticking point. The defense may try to argue that there is a serial killer. But if the state has what I suspect they have, which is DNA out of the home, such as vomit or blood from Laci, I don't think they're going to be able to connect
(CROSSTALK) GRACE: ... a serial killer.
SHERMAN: Suppose they don't have that DNA?
GRACE: Suppose they don't, then they're going to have a difficult time out of it. And I have got a question for Mark Geragos. He's practicing out there in California. Mark, don't you think that when the state is supposed to have the conference with the defense before they announce death penalty, at that time the defense will say, listen, DA, I really believe there is a serial killer, and this is why. You've got to think this thing through. Isn't that part of the reason you have the conference?
GERAGOS: What you would hope for is generally that the defense is going to have enough time to digest the reports, do some kind of investigation and get back to the DA. That's generally what happens. And I think this is going to be a potential problem for the death penalty decision.
KING: Ted Rowlands, what are they saying about this other woman? Is that an unsolved murder?
ROWLANDS: Yes, and you know, the Peterson family right away tried to bring attention to it. And, you know, some people have done some reports on it. But the Modesto Police Department says they've looked into that, talked to investigators from San Francisco, the Bay Area, and they just don't see a connection, and they come back to the fact that they say they have looked at every lead, and they have been able to exhaust every lead except for the ones that point to Scott Peterson, and they say that they're basically quietly confident that the case they have will stick.
SHERMAN: Does anyone remember the Tate-LaBianca's murders, when Manson was arrested, the Manson family killed both families, and they didn't connect the two murders, the Sharon Tate people versus the LaBiancas.
GRACE: You're really reaching on this one, Mickey.
KING: Winnemucca, Nevada, hello.
CALLER: This question is nor Nancy. What actually do you think his motive was? I called one time before. My cousin was murdered by her husband, and he was having an affair, just like Scott was. And you know what, I have a hard time believing that he's innocent the way he's acted and the way my cousin's husband acted.
KING: Since an affair is not necessarily a motive, why do you think he did it, Nancy, if he did it? If he did it?
GRACE: You know what, I've been trying murder cases for a long time, Larry, and I've never seen a good motive for murder. And let's face it, Scott had his cake and was eating it, too. He had both women. Now, what I would imagine..
KING: So why murder?
GRACE: What I would imagine the state is going to argue that somehow, and there is some rumor, there are sources stating that Amber Frey called the home, and that resulted in Laci discovering about the affair, and that an argument ensued. However, if he bought this boat and told no one about it weeks before, and its maiden voyage was to dispose of her body, that smacks of premeditation, and frankly, it looks to me he just wanted out and did not want to have the responsibility of a family.
PIRRO: And Larry, in addition to that, the leading cause of death of pregnant women that is not medically related is homicide. And when you ask the question, so why kill her? The truth is that there are men who will have a pregnant wife who see their whole lives changing, they see a new responsibility and a new burden, and they go elsewhere for gratification. And all of a sudden, the wife and the unborn child are an obstacle. I mean, statistically, it is not -- the homicide of women, especially pregnant in their eighth month, is extremely high.
GERAGOS: The statistic is homicide. The statistic is not by the husband or father-to-be.
PIRRO: Homicide by an intimate -- yes, it is.
GERAGOS: But not by the husband or father-to-be.
PIRRO: It is homicide by an intimate, Mark.
GRACE: Hey, Larry, I've got another fact on this...
SHERMAN: But we're all guessing. We're all guessing. No one has anything to base this on.
GRACE: There is another fact about this pregnancy. I guarantee you Scott never thought Laci would get pregnant. She only had one ovary. They never thought that she would be able to conceive.
SHERMAN: How could you know that?
GRACE: It has been released she had a childhood -- a childhood illness. She had a hard time getting pregnant. Guarantee you he never thought she would get pregnant.
GERAGOS: It has been reported in many different outlets that they've been trying to.
GRACE: She had been.
GERAGOS: That they had planned to. Well, if she's the one who knew she only had one ovary, why was she planning to?
GRACE: He never thought it would really happen. And it did.
GERAGOS: I mean, that is just the worst of rank speculation.
PIRRO: Mark, why did, if it's true, why did Scott Peterson tell Amber Frey that his wife was dead and that he was a widower? Where is his head?
GERAGOS: Because he's a cad.
SHERMAN: That's what cheating guys do.
GERAGOS: When guys commit adultery, guys lie to a single woman in order to get them into bed, Jeanine.
PIRRO: I expected you to say that, Mark. But you don't say she's dead.
PIRRO: You say I'm single...
GERAGOS: ... sex from mistress.
PIRRO: Mark, you say I'm single, I'm divorced. You don't say she's dead.
KING: We'll get a break and we'll be back with some more moments. Don't go away.
KING: Augusta, Georgia, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. Thank you. My heart aches for Laci and Scott's families. And my question is, have any of the panel members heard anything regarding the rumor that a girl Scott was dating in college, in California, disappeared? Was there any truth to this?
KING: What was that all about?
GRACE: Yes, I'm familiar with that.
GERAGOS: It was a rumor. It was quickly debunked as just urban legend.
GRACE: Well, hold on.
GERAGOS: OK, Nancy (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
GRACE: All you have to do is research it.
GERAGOS: Nancy, come on. It was debunked. Please don't do it. Please. GRACE: If I could just explain what happened. A girl in his college was murdered, and he was totally exonerated from it. So it's not some urban legend. The girl was killed. But he was not a suspect.
GERAGOS: No, the urban legend was that he was suspected. That's the urban legend.
ROWLANDS: Her name was Kristen Smart (ph), and she did go to college at San Luis Obispo when Scott was there. They did cross paths, and he was given a letter from the sheriff's department to come for questioning, but about 100 people got that letter. Scott never responded to that letter, so when his name surfaced in this case, the sheriff's deputies down there did travel to Modesto, and it took them a couple of days to say that there is no connection.
KING: Las Vegas, Nevada, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: My question is for Nancy. Nancy, I was wondering, since they found blood in the house, if it's possible Laci gave birth to Cooper (sic) while she was being murdered, or if it was indeed a coffin birth? Thank you.
GRACE: Interesting. Interesting. Now, it's still just a rumor out there, but it has come so often and repeatedly from various sources that there is DNA, not only in the home, I'm referring to blood, but also in one of the vehicles. But because of the condition of the fetus, of Connor, I believe he was less decomposed than Laci and therefore that suggests to me that he was not in the water as long as she, which suggests to me further that it was, in fact, coffin birth.
KING: Do we know there was blood in the house?
GERAGOS: We do not know that there is blood in the house. So all these things are based on reports. I mean, when Nancy just talked about in terms of the baby Connor's condition, is based on reports. Nobody has seen, as far as I know, or it hasn't been released publicly, autopsy reports or anything of the sort.
GRACE: I know this much. I know that after that second and massive search of 523 Covena, the home of Laci Peterson, that many of the items were sent to the serology unit of the lab, which means blood, semen or saliva. Now, one of those three things have been found.
GERAGOS: To be looked for.
SHERMAN: Which means they were looking for it; do not necessarily have it. GERAGOS: Doesn't necessarily mean they have it. Exactly. It just means they're looking for it.
SHERMAN: What's the big problem in waiting until we see what they have? Why do we need to jump the gun? Why do we need to fill in the gaps now?
GERAGOS: It's not as titillating. Because it's not as titillating. We can convict this guy and lynch him right now. It's more fun that way.
KING: Jeanine, hypothetically, Jeanine, if they came to you and said, here was this the circumstance, there was a fight, it was an accidental death, he panicked, would you take a plea?
PIRRO: You know, it's hard to say whether or not you take a plea. There is a lot more evidence here, Larry, that none of us know about. And it's hard to say whether or not you should take a plea or whether you should simply charge the appropriate charge and hold them as charged. I mean, that's really what prosecutors should be doing. If they want to plead guilty as charged, then fine. But you know, it's a little too easy to say that, you know, when this body is found and the condition that it is with all of the unusual circumstances, that, you know, he may have had a fight and may have lost it and it may have been accidental. I need some proof, some medical evidence, some testimony, something indicating that it was a fight, that it was spur of the moment. There are too many questions here that surround it. I wouldn't be ready at this point.
KING: Mickey Sherman, would you ask for a quick trial?
SHERMAN: Yes, on the defense side, you probably would. Although generally you do that in order to keep the prosecution up short, to keep them from getting their full forensics back. But I have to believe that the prosecution has been working 24/seven to put their case together. And also sometimes time is on your side because people are going to forget or they are going to move on to the next big case.
In this case, time is not on anyone's side here. This community is going to remember this case now, and a change of venue is not going to make a difference and a change in time element is not going to make a difference. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) just going to be as morally outraged now and later on as well. It is not going to make a difference.
KING: Thank you all very much. Ted Rowlands of KTVU-TV, Nancy Grace of "Trial Heat" and Court TV, Mark Geragos, defense attorney, Mickey Sherman, defense attorney, and Jeanine Ferris Pirro, the district attorney for Westchester County, New York. I'll be back to tell you about what's upcoming right after these words.
KING: Tomorrow night, another fascinating aspect of this pending case with noted criminologist. And one reminder, Friday night, Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore reunited again on LARRY KING LIVE. And a week from tonight, Lisa Marie Presley will join us. Arthel Neville will have the news headlines, and Anderson Cooper will host "NEWSNIGHT." See you tomorrow night. Thanks for joining us. And good night.
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