The Web     
Powered by
powered by Yahoo!
Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With Russell Yates; Panel Discusses Scott Peterson's Defense

Aired May 12, 2003 - 21:00   ET


J.B. SMITH, SMITH COUNTY SHERIFF: She goes from a fetal position of crying to walking around the cell, singing gospel music. She stops and prays. Then she goes into a crying hysteria.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: A mother's emotional turmoil. She's charged with brutally killing her 8-year-old and 6-year-old boys over Mother's Day weekend. She reportedly said God told her to do it. We'll get the latest from Tyler, Texas, with Reed Kerr, covering for KLTV, Joe Dick Smith, a neighbor who's known the accused mom for 10 years, and Judge James Meredith, a justice of the peace called to the scene of the crime after the two little bodies were discovered. And then exclusive, Russell Yates. His wife, Andrea, also said God made her do it after she killed their children.

And then the latest on Scott Peterson's defense, including new word on a potential key prosecution witness, with Ted Rowlands of KTVU, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, assistant district attorney from San Francisco, defense attorney Chris Pixley, Jeanine Ferris Pirro, district attorney of Westchester County, New York, defense attorney Jan Ronis and jury consultant Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Let's begin in Tyler, Texas, with Reed Kerr, reporter for KLTV covering the story of Deanna Laney, the Texas mother accused of killing two of her three young sons and severely beating the third.

Get us up to date on this, Reed. When did it happen? What happened?

REED KERR, KLTV: Well, it happened -- the 911 call happened just after midnight on Friday night, Saturday morning. Deputies were called to the house, and when they got there, when the deputies went inside, they saw some blood on the floor. Inside the bedroom they, found the 14-month-old, Erin (ph). He had -- was in a pool of blood. He had apparently been beaten within something. He had a pillow across him, but he was still breathing.

Also, the deputy found in the house the father, Keith Laney, who apparently did not wake up until the deputy arrived there. The deputy went out into the yard, found the woman who had made the call, Deanna Laney, who called 911 and had said, I just killed my boys. They found her in the yard. She was wearing pajamas. The pajamas were covered in blood. And they asked her where the bodies of the two children were. She said, I'll tell you, but I can't go there. Deputies found the boys in the front yard. The two of them -- the 8-year-old and the 6-year-old -- were both out there in their underwear.

The sheriff's department thinks they were taken out one at a time and beaten to death with large rocks. They were both found in their underwear with the rocks still on top of them.

She was arrested, at that point. She was brought back in for her second appearance in court today just to make sure that she understands the charges against her. She faces two counts of capital murder and also one count of aggravated assault in her youngest, the 14-month-old.

KING: What, Reed, is the condition of the 14-month-old?

KERR: As of today, the 14-month-old was still in critical condition. The father, Keith Laney, is not a suspect in this case. He has been in Dallas for most of the time with his 14-month-old, who actually will turn 15 tomorrow. Last we heard, he was still in critical condition at a Dallas hospital.

KING: Does she have legal representation?

KERR: She does have legal representation. They held a press conference this afternoon at 4:00. Buck Files (ph) has been named as her attorney. He says it's still very early in the case. He's only spoken to her once. We obviously had a lot of questions. They didn't have a lot of answers this afternoon, as it's still very early in the case. But she does have legal representation. So at this point, Buck Files will attempt to try to come up with some kind of defense, start talking to her, find out what her emotional state is.

KING: And we understand, Reed, the judge imposed a gag order on the attorneys, prosecution and defense, right?

KERR: That's right, Larry. This morning -- this story happened on the weekend. And sometimes the media doesn't get everything going until the week. You know, occasionally, this will happen. And this morning, everybody came to town. We'd been covering the story for 48 hours. We've been at the crime scene. This morning, everybody comes into town. They begin to do live shots on various morning shows. About 10:00 this morning, we got word that restrictive order had been placed with Sheriff J.B. Smith.

About 10:00 o'clock this morning, we got word that that restrictive order had been placed. It's not technically a gag order, but it will severely limit the amount of information coming out. As we said, we had a press conference today at 4:00 o'clock, and we're still waiting for more words.

KING: Thank you very much, Reed Kerr, reporter of KLTV. He's been on this scene from the get-go.

Joining us now in Tyler, Texas, Judge James Meredith, justice of the peace. He was a police officer in Tyler for 24 hours. You were called to the scene, right, Judge?


KING: What is that procedure? Why does the justice of the peace come to the scene? Are you also a coroner?

MEREDITH: Yes. We do not have a coroner or a medical examiner in this area, so the justice of the peace -- we take on that role.

KING: What did you find when you arrived?

MEREDITH: Well, upon arrival -- actually, I contacted the sheriff's office first, and they basically were telling me what was going on. And I didn't see anything until after we had -- they had talked to me for a little while, explaining what had happened.

KING: You've been a police officer for a lot of years, 24 years. Have you ever seen anything like this?

MEREDITH: This is the worst thing I've ever seen.

KING: And they were beaten within rocks? Is that it?

MEREDITH: Yes, sir.

KING: Did you find the rocks, too?

MEREDITH: The rocks were still at the scene, yes, sir.

KING: And now we're joined by Joe Dick Smith, a friend and neighbor of the Laney family. He's known the Laneys for 10 years. Joe, how did you hear about this?

JOE DICK SMITH, NEIGHBOR: Larry, I heard about it over a telephone conversation that my wife called me on Saturday afternoon while I was working.

KING: Did you have any knowledge of the problems this woman obviously was having?

SMITH: No, I didn't. They were terrific neighbors, terrific people, very loving, very caring. They were very nice to my children. They were very good to their own children. I mean, we had no idea that this would even happen. And if you'd have told me that this would have happened five days ago, I would have argued with you because Dee Laney was one of the nicest people I've ever met.

KING: What does the father do for a living?

SMITH: He owns a compressor service that -- a very good one, at that, very -- a very diligent worker, very hard worker, very fair. And he's very nice and just a very good businessman.

KING: A stable middle-income family up to Friday night.

SMITH: Yes, sir.

KING: OK. What about her and her saying, God made me do it? Was she -- was she very religious?

SMITH: Very religious. They go -- they attend a very good church. They have a very strong congregation and a very good pastor. And they're very -- they're very involved. And this -- this really throws us all aside that she would do anything like this. But very religious and very stable, and very good people. And we need to pray for them.

KING: Have you seen her husband at all?

SMITH: No, I haven't. No, I haven't. He's in Dallas watching after Erin. And our prayers go out to him and Erin, and we hope he makes it. And if there's anything we can do in the community, our neighborhood is shocked, but we're there for him and Erin.

KING: How are you reacting to all the media being there?

SMITH: We're OK with it. We've had a couple of discussions in the neighborhood to try to show love and compassion and try to help these people. They're going through a traumatic experience, and what we need to do is, we need to show love and compassion and give our prayers to them. They're good people. They've treated everybody fairly, and they will give you the shirt off their back. I've known him for a long time, and Keith is a very outstanding man. His father is very outstanding, his father and mother. Even Dee's mother and dad are living in the community, very, very good outstanding people, very well respected. And our compassion and prayers are going out for them in the community and this neighborhood.

KING: And there's no way in the world you can comprehend this.

SMITH: No, sir. No, we can't comprehend this at all. It's tragic. We love them. But there's no way on earth that I would say that the Dee that I know could ever go through this and do this. And I'm sure Keith feels the same way, and so do the other parts -- other members of the family. It's just very tragic, and we want to show them love and compassion. And we love...

KING: Yes.

SMITH: You know, we love the whole family and the kids. My kids played with their kids, rode many bikes together. and she was very nice to my kids, always offered them soft drinks. She took care of her kids. They were dressed well. They were always...

KING: Well...

SMITH: ... mindful, with, Yes, sir, and No, sir. And there's just a very, very traumatic experience that...

KING: Something snapped.

SMITH: ... we've got to show our prayers and compassion toward them.

KING: Thank you, Joe. Joe Dick Smith, a friend and neighbor of the Laney family.

When we come back, Rusty Yates will join us. You remember Russell Yates, the husband of convicted murderer Andrea Yates, father of the five children Andrea drowned. He's next. Don't go away.


J.B. SMITH: She has not been given medication yet. An attorney has been appointed to her. Her emotions are wide and varied. She goes from a fetal position of crying to walking around the cell, singing gospel music. She stops and prays. Then she goes into a crying hysteria. She has all of a sudden realized what she's done, and then she'll go into a flat-line, blank stare.


KING: Joining us now from Houston, Texas, is Russell "Rusty" Yates, the husband of convicted murderer Andrea Yates, the father of the five children Andrea drowned. She is serving life in prison for the June, 2001, drowning -- actually, was convicted of three of those five deaths. The children were Noah, 7, John, 5, Paul, 3, Luke, 2 and 6-month-old Mary. You all remember this tragic case. She called her husband at work and told him to come home. She also phoned 911.

Are you still with the space center, Rusty?


KING: What did you make when you -- what did you think when you heard this story?

YATES: Well, my brother heard about it first. He called me, and you know, he commented to me how similar it seemed to our own. And I went and read about it and, you know, really, on the surface, it really does. I just feel so sorry for the family, you know? I mean, it's really hard for me to even hear, you know, to see -- you know, just to think about what the children went through and what, you know, the father is going through, how sick the mother is, how really, you know -- and how in some respects, they got a long way to go because the -- you know, the media, you know, can be very cruel and -- as can the state.

I was really disappointed to hear that they issued a gag order in their case. You know, it's -- it's, like, the one time you need to be able to speak is the time when you think the state's proceeding wrongly against you. And it's really uncalled for. And I feel so sorry for that family.

KING: The gag order, I don't think, would -- the husband could appear, couldn't he? He's not a witness. Or is he?

YATES: I wasn't able to. I wasn't able to. They -- no one in our family was able to speak. I went on TV at my own risk, you know, and I had to severely limit what I said because of the gag order. I was told not to discuss the case with the media. That's pretty broad. So...

KING: Do you keep in touch with Andrea?

YATES: Oh, yes. Yes. I see her every two weeks. And she's she's in Ross (ph), Texas, which really isn't too far from Tyler. It's, you know, 30, 40 miles away from Tyler.

KING: How's she doing?

YATES: You know, medically, she's back to being fairly stable again, although she still seems pretty depressed, and she's having a very, very difficult time dealing with all of what's happened. I mean, just -- she misses the kids so much. She just grieves for them every day. And she has -- you know, being in prison is really hard for her because she's really kind of an outdoors person. It's really difficult, you know, being apart from everyone she loves and not having the freedom to do the things that, you know, we take for granted, so...

KING: You have totally forgiven her, Rusty?

YATES: Yes. I mean, you know, when you have something like this happen, you really have to go and look for the reasons why it happens. And I know, you know, it was just like these people -- and I think it's great, you know, that the community is speaking up in favor of this family because it's so important to remember who they really are and who she really is and to know that had she not been ill, this never would have happened. And I understand that. I can't blame her for getting sick. Right.

KING: Is Andrea, your wife -- is she still very religious?

YATES: She is, you know. But one thing people have to remember is that with these illnesses, oftentimes, a symptom of the illness is that the person gets kind of spun up about religious themes or they get spun up about political themes. So you know, if you look at the cases like this where women have killed their children, there's almost always a religious theme involved.

KING: Yes, as is this case. She's saying God told her to do this.

YATES: I think that's very common. And that somehow, she may have been saving the children, just -- that's exactly what Andrea thought.

KING: What would you say to the father?

YATES: Man, I feel so sorry for him. I mean -- I mean, I hope that the little one makes it, you know, the little 14-month-old. But you know, I think one thing he has to eventually come to know is that, you know, what's happened doesn't invalidate the beautiful family that he had, you know, and he has to remember that, just as I do. I don't think that...


KING: This is obviously -- Rusty, this is obviously tearing you up tonight, isn't it.

YATES: Well, it's hard. I mean, it is. I mean, it's like...

KING: Brings it back.

YATES: You know, it brings back a lot of -- for me, but it's also for him, you know, for their family, for the woman. And I think about the state, and I think about, you know, when in our society are we going to respond more appropriately to these things? You know, it's like what possible good comes from prosecuting a psychotic person? There's no good that comes from it at all. And here's a family that needs to be comforted. They need to be consoled, you know, just helped. You know, they're in great need right now, you know? And what does our state do? It's like -- it's, like, enough that they've lost their children, and now the state, you know, is going to put them through hell all over again, you know, in the court system. It's wrong.

KING: You make a strong case. Hang with us, Rusty. When we come back, Rusty Yates will remain with us. We're understand we're going to be able to talk with a lady who is Deanna Laney's best friend. We'll be right back.


KEITH LANEY: November 30 of 2000, and we have a new addition to our family. This is our little girl that was born today. We haven't named her yet. Look at that! She's cute. She's a precious little girl. She went to sleep. I think that her eyes are like John's and her nose and chin are like Luke's.


KING: And we are now told we are unable to make contact with Deanna Laney's best friend. We will certainly be staying with this story and covering more of it tomorrow at the bottom of the hour. Our panel on the Scott Peterson case and the attorneys involved may have some thoughts on this one.

We're talking with Russell "Rusty" Yates, the husband of convicted murderer Andrea Yates, on this terrible night for him, bringing back memories.

Let's take a call. New York City. Hello.

CALLER: Hello. Good evening to you, Larry King, as well as to your panelists. I would like to first say that I'm very awfully sorry to hear about the atrocity. And my question basically is, could anyone on the panelists state...

KING: We don't have a panel here. We just have Rusty Yates. What's your question.

CALLER: I'm sorry. To Mr. Yates. I'd like to know if you can honestly say if you saw any indicators regarding this incident that transpired with your wife before it actually took place, that your wife was going through depression?

KING: Rusty?

YATES: Oh, yes. I mean, yes, she was depressed, you know. But there's -- you know, when you see someone standing, you know, there quietly and they're basically functional, you know, there's a pretty large leap from that to dangerous. And there was never any indication that she was a danger. And I imagine the same thing was true in this case. I mean, everyone seems shocked that this woman could possibly do this. So I doubt there were very many indicators that an untrained eye would recognize.

KING: In this -- you knew that your wife was depressed. In this case, they're all saying there were no signs of any depression.

YATES: Yes. I don't know. I don't know what -- you know, what the circumstances of her case is. Sometimes -- you know, like, maybe there was a bipolar illness involved. Sometimes people become bipolar in their mid-30s, and it can come out of the blue, you know? Maybe she was on, you know, some unusual medications. I don't know. But, you know, there's a reason for it. We need to look into it. And that's the only way we're ever going to, you know, work for prevention is to understand why these things happen, make some changes in our society.

KING: You remember, Rusty, some people blamed you for not having helped her enough, and you had to go through that, as well. Do you think Mr. Laney might have to go through the same thing here? He was in the house and sleeping.

YATES: You know, really, all you can do is seek medical treatment, and that's if you recognize the signs. You know, if someone in your household has a mental illness and you're not familiar with the symptoms of mental illness and you're not familiar with the symptoms of mental illness, you just think they're feeling a little sad. You really don't know. And, you know, in my case, you know, we'd been through it once before. I knew the signs to look for, diligently sought medical treatment for Andrea. You know, they failed us.

KING: Yes.

YATES: And I don't know in this case, you know, how she appeared or what measures they took to seek medical treatment. But there's not a lot you can do. You can't protect yourself from a psychotic person in your household. It's just like, you know, this man was in his home. He was asleep. I mean, it can happen at any time, you know, and...

KING: Yes.

YATES: Really, it's an insidious disease, and it needs to be treated very -- and taken very seriously.

KING: Take another call. Clarkton, Missouri, for Rusty Yates. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. Mr. King, I'm glad you took my call. And I was wanting to ask Mr. Yates -- he seems more sorry for his wife than he does his own kids. But I just want to know, why do they think that God is telling them to kill these babies? Because he's not! It's Satan.

KING: Rusty?

YATES: I don't know if I want to respond to that one. I mean, it's symptomatic of the illness. They believe things to be true which aren't. It's very much like having a nightmare superimposed on your reality. You take normal concerns, a concern about being a good mother, which any good mother would have that, you know, concern or concern about the children developing properly or concern about their standing before God, ordinary, manageable concerns. When they become psychotic, those concerns become delusional realities. And they can't distinguish between, you know, their surroundings, their normal reality and their delusional reality. So they're acting -- it's like -- look at that movie, "A Beautiful Mind." It's a good movie to go watch. They're living in a distorted reality. And everyone just presumes that they're living in our reality, which they're not.

KING: Simi Valley, California. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. Rusty, I just want to let you know that a friend of mine is going through this herself. Her situation happened back in January, and I'm standing by her. Do you have any suggestions on how I can stand by her and support her?

KING: Did she harm her own children?

YATES: I'm sorry?

KING: Did she harm her own children?

YATES: Yes, she killed her baby.

KING: Yes.

YATES: Oh, really? Wow.

KING: Any suggestions for her friend?

YATES: I mean, it depends where she is, I guess, but just comfort her and know that, you know, there's no amount of encouraging or, you know, saying, you know, Get yourself well -- it's not going to work. You know, she needs proper medical treatment. And that's -- I mean, pray for her and seek medical treatment from -- try to find a competent psychiatrist.

KING: Obviously an illness. Dallas, Texas. Hello.

CALLER: Thank you for taking my call, Larry. As a mother...

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: As a mother of two who formerly suffered from postpartum depression, I can tell you that the way to treat this is when you know that the mother is extremely depressed -- in other words, what I did is, I checked myself into the hospital, and I was in there for, like, four weeks.

KING: Well, but you don't know that -- you don't know, caller, what condition Laney was in. You don't know if she had postpartum.

CALLER: Well, this is true, but she was still depressed.

KING: Obviously.

CALLER: And depression is depression, no matter whether it's postpartum or not. But...

KING: So what do you -- what's your question?

CALLER: OK. My question is, with Rusty knowing the signs of depression now, does he think he would have done something different, like have her hospitalized?


KING: Knowing what you know now, you would have hospitalized her, right, Rusty? Of course.

YATES: Well, I can't hospitalize a -- I mean, we were in the doctor's office two days before the tragedy, and he chose not to hospitalize her. So I can't -- you know, but one important point to recognize, and I think a popular misconception is that, you know, the symptoms of depression aren't the same from woman to woman. And just because one person's had an illness doesn't mean someone else's mental illness is going to manifest itself the same way.

KING: Some person could be depressed and act very happy.

YATES: I don't know about that. But I mean...


YATES: ... grab bag of symptoms...

KING: Yes.

YATES: Exactly. It's just kind of, like -- yes, well, I'm not going to get into that. But it's a grab bag of symptoms, and for each woman or each man, it's different, so...

KING: Always good seeing you, Rusty. I wish the situation was better. And thanks for spending this time with us.

YATES: Thank you, Larry. And I wish the family well. You know, I'm sorry for what happened to them.

KING: I know you do. Rusty Yates.

When we come back, our panel will assemble, and back to the Scott Peterson story. We'll get their thoughts on this case, as well. Don't go away.


KING: We're now going to discuss the Scott Peterson matter, although I do want to get some opinions on what we've just discussed.

Our panel in San Francisco, Ted Rowlands, reporter for KTVU, has been covering the Peterson case from the beginning. Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom is in L.A. with us. She's an assistant district attorney in San Francisco. In Atlanta, Chris Pixley, the well known defense attorney. In New York is Jeanine Ferris Pirro, the district attorney for Westchester County. In San Diego, the well known defense attorney Jan Ronis. And in Los Angeles is Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, jury consultant. She's co-chairman of Vincent and Dimitrius, one of the worlds top jury and trial consulting firms.

Before we talk about the matter at hand, the Peterson matter, I want to get the opinions of our panel, the legal panels on this case. Jeanine, what is your opinion on trying this woman?

JEANINE FERRIS PIRRO, WESTCHESTER COUNTY D.A.: Well, you know, I thought that Russell's comments were very interesting when he said what good comes from prosecuting an obviously psychotic person? Well, the truth is that we don't know whether the woman here is psychotic. But it's almost as though we have to find that someone is insane to accept this kind of thing as happening. We don't go to the issue...

KING: Well, what else could it be?

PIRRO: Well, wait a minute. The jury specifically in the Andrea Yates case said that she was not psychotic, that she was not suffering from a mental disease.

KING: So then why would she kill her children?

PIRRO: Well, but you know what? It may be about good and evil, Larry. It's too easy to say you're insane and therefore you kill your kids. The jury specifically said she was not. And before we jump to the conclusion that this mother is insane, I think we need to know a little more about it.

KING: Right.

PIRRO: And I also think it is somewhat sad for Russell Yates to be concerned about his wife when he has five children who are all dead. He's worried about his wife at this point?

KING: Chris Pixley, what do you think?

CHRISTOPHER PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well on Russell Yates' account, I think it just shows compassion, Larry. And obviously, he's been through so much, you don't know how he's going to react. I think he's done well.

On the issue that Jeanine brings up, you know, regarding how you treat someone in this situation, I think we do all jump to the conclusion that this is going to be an insanity defense. But remember after the John Hinckley trial, there was an uproar over the fact that he was acquitted for being insane. And so many states turned around and said all right, we're now going to pass laws that say that you can be found guilty, but mentally ill.

That may be the case in this situation. I find it hard to believe that a tragedy of this kind with no prior history of mental illness is a situation of good and evil. I don't know that Jeanine is wrong. She may be right, but there's more to this case.

KING: Kimberly, what's your read?

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE NEWSOM, ASSISTANT D.A., SAN FRANCISCO: Yes, basically, I mean obviously, it's a sad case to see something like this happen again so soon after Andrea Yates.

KING: Would you prosecute her?

NEWSOM: So far, yes, based on the evidence that we've been hearing, or at least the preliminary reports. But again, we don't know whether or not she was suffering from a psychotic episode. It's too soon to tell. I would expect the defense to go that route, to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

KING: Should the prosecution openly go that route, too? Would they have their own psychiatrists?

NEWSOM: They can have an absolutely an expert appointed as well. And then it becomes the battle of the experts. And so, this case could be a guilt phase and an insanity phase. And then depending if they decide to go capital on this and seek a death penalty.

KING: And Jan Ronis, what's your thought?

JAN RONIS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Russell is obviously a well spoken young man who is full of a lot of compassion. He certainly didn't eliminate talking about his children. He was talking about his wife's sickness. And Jeanine hit something that I think Russell talked about. And that is the state -- Russell said the state can be very cruel.

In his case and the case of the state of Texas, they have executed 300 people since 1982. And they tried to execute his wife. Juries sometimes get confused, thinking that if they find somebody insane, they're likely to Release them.

His case, the jury spared his wife life and gave her life without possibility of parole. I think it's probably a reflection that they felt she was insane, but they didn't want to take any chances. So the state can be very cruel. KING: Jeanine, what would you -- I want to get back to the Peterson case, but Jeanine, what would you do if your psychiatrist told you -- the prosecution appointed psychiatrist...

PIRRO: Right.

KING: ...told you that she was -- there was something the matter? PIRRO: Well, we do it on a regular basis, Larry. When we have a prosecution psychiatrist that says that a defendant is suffering from mental disease or defect, we then go into by law a phase where the defendant is not then convicted. The defendant is then sent to a mental institution.

The law is very clear. There's very little discretion we have. If our psychiatrist agrees with the defense psychiatrist, then the defendant is taken to a hospital.

KING: All right, let's swing to the Peterson matter. Jo-Ellan, what kind of -- if you were handling this for Geragos, what kind of jury do you Want?

JO-ELLAN DIMITRIUS, JURY CONSULTANT: Well, first of all, you want a juror that hasn't formed an opinion based on everything that they've heard. I think you want to find someone who doesn't necessarily believe that the next step from having an affair is killing your wife. I think you want to have someone who possibly can understand the reason why he changed his appearance was...

KING: You can ask these questions and questions...

DIMITRIUS: Oh, sure.

KING: You can ask anything?

DIMITRIUS: Sure. And that's going to be a sensitive question, obviously, is how do you feel about adulterous scenarios? You can't -- well, I mean, you can ask a juror themselves, but they don't, you know, frequently want to share that with you. But you might ask it in a questionnaire.

KING: Ted Rowlands, what's the latest about this alleged burglar who may be a witness for the prosecution?

TED ROWLANDS, KTVU-TV: Well, apparently a burglar was in the area where Scott and Laci lived on Covina on the 24th earlier in the morning. This individual was casing the area for a burglary that took place on the 26th across the street from the Peterson home. And he, according to sources, is telling police that he may have seen Scott Peterson outside his home doing something in the early morning hours. And this could add into the prosecution's time line that they're establishing and that Scott Peterson made two trips to the Berkeley Marina.

That's the timeline that we understand they're working on, that he first went early morning, came home, and then for whatever reason went back to the Berkeley Marina again.

KING: But didn't he tell you in an interview that he thought he saw someone when he was loading, what, umbrellas?

ROWLANDS: Yes, he -- I asked him if he had any interaction with that person. And he said he didn't see them, but he did acknowledge that someone could have seen him loading umbrellas with a blue tarp wrapped around it. But I asked him if he had -- if he talked to that person? He said no, I'm not sure who saw me doing that.

KING: Chris, from what you now know, is this a highly defensible case?

PIXLEY: I still think it is, Larry. Remember, we don't have any witnesses. We're now hearing today that we may have a witness, one whose credibility is highly questionable, a burglar in the neighborhood. But still to this point, no witnesses, no murder weapon, no real theory on how Laci was killed. We also don't have a cause of death. And with each passing day, there's a greater question in everyone's mind whether there ever will be a cause of death determined.

And we also, Larry, don't have anything tying Laci's body to any of the paraphernalia that's been paraded around in the media, the rope, the tarp, the cement, you know, items you can find in anyone's garage anywhere in America. I imagine right now, Scott Peterson is thanking his lucky stars that he's a golfer and a fisherman, and not a hunter or somebody that collects knives, because you can just imagine what the prosecution would do if they had that kind of evidence in the house.

KING: Kimberly, was -- it was mentioned early on slam dunk. That's no longer the case here, is it? This is not a slam dunk prosecution?

NEWSOM: Well, I agree with Chris. The more time that progresses and passes and we still don't have a cause of death, I think it is unlikely that they're going to be able to come up with one. And what's troubling in cases I've done, homicides, where you have women that have been strangled, there's the hyoid (ph) bone that's in the neck area here. And you can tell if that's been fractured, that someone's been strangled or they could tell if, you know, there was some other cause of death in this case. Then you could maybe tie that into, you know, how Laci was killed. And maybe to Scott with a piece of physical evidence.

KING: But if you don't have the cause of death, it's a tougher prosecution?

NEWSOM: It is a tougher case, definitely.

KING: We'll get the comments of Jeanine and Jan. We'll be including your phone calls. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Jan Ronis, do you think it's highly defensible, this case?

RONIS: Well, I hope the prosecution has something better than a burglar as one of their key witnesses. Burglary is a mandatory prison sentence in California. So it's clear that somebody could certainly try to cut a deal in exchange for testimony that might help them out of their own particular situation.

But I think we have to emphasize all we really know factually is that she's missing Christmas Eve. She turns up close to the Marina, where his boat was moored. He's arrested. He's has yellow hair and $10,000 in his pocket. Those are really the facts. And it's pretty hard to extrapolate or come to an opinion about guilt at this point. And I again, I just emphasize, everybody has to hold on until we know facts other than the facts we know. Not rumor and innuendo.

KING: Jeanine, what are your thoughts?

PIRRO: Well, you know, we really don't know all of the evidence right now. But I think that if we're going to rely on a witness at 3:00 in the morning, I guess nobody other than a burglar is going to be out at 3:00 in the morning on Christmas Eve, trying to figure out what's going on outside the Peterson house.

But I mean, you deal -- you know...

KING: With what you have.

PIRRO: play with the cards that you're dealt.

But there's a lot of evidence. And this is a circumstantial case, not unlike so many circumstantial cases that we've all tried. It's not about an eyewitness. It's about piece by piece putting evidence together, block by block until you get to the point where there's a wall that the defense cannot hurdle.

KING: Generally speaking, Jo-Ellan, in this kind of case for the defense, would you rather have a man or a woman on the jury?

DIMITRIUS: Probably -- I probably think about a man. And I think that -- just to follow up on what everybody else has been saying that the prosecution has some significant problems, too. Aside from the burglar, we've got a psychic and we've got wiretaps. And wiretaps aren't necessarily viewed in a positive light by, you know, people out there.

KING: Public?

DIMITRIUS: Sure, absolutely.

KING: Let's get a call. I'm sorry, Jeanine, you want to say something?

DIMITRIUS: But wiretaps are a legitimate way for law enforcement to investigate crimes. I mean, we do it all the time. You've got a wiretap that has to be signed by the D.A. And in fact, I just did one today. It's got to be signed by a judge. There are several hurdles that have to be met before a wiretap is issued.

It doesn't make the evidence less credible. In fact, it usually is in the words of the defendant himself.

KING: State College, Pennsylvania, hello.

ROWLANDS: Hey, Larry?

KING: Hold on, we take the -- was that you, Ted?


KING: Okay, Ted, go on. Hold on State College. I'll come to you right away. Go ahead, Ted.

ROWLANDS: Well, you're talking about wiretaps. I received a couple of certified letters this morning in the mail from the district attorney's office in the Stanislaus County. They are tapping my phone as well, along with some other reporters and other folks involved in this case.

KING: Why?

ROWLANDS: That's a good question.

KING: You're shocked? Hold it, hold it. Kimberly's mouth is agape.

ROWLANDS: I don't think his phone was tapped. I think what that means is his conversation was probably intercepted when he called somebody whose phone was tapped.

PIRRO: Exactly.

RONIS: I'm sure they didn't tap his phone.


RONIS: That's a receipt and inventory that they have to give.

KING: OK. It must have been -- did you call Scott? They tapped his phone. State College, Pennsylvania?

ROWLANDS: Yes, that's what I thought it was, too, but...

KING: That's no what it says?

ROWLANDS: It's very vague. And I have to get clarification on it. But talking to one prominent defense attorney, he seems to believe that my phone was tapped.

KING: Oh, wow.

ROWLANDS: It is not...

PIRRO: I find that hard -- I find it hard to believe. KING: Let me get State College through. I've been holding him for an hour. State College, go ahead.

CALLER: Good evening. What about Scott Peterson's employer? Did they fire him once the police became suspicious of him? And I haven't heard any interviews of any of his co-workers or anything about that. Thank you.

KING: Oh Scott -- was he fired right away, Ted?

ROWLANDS: No, from his employer, not at all. They supported him and I think they still support him, his employers. He's a guy that works for a company, that's an international company based outside the United States in Argentina. They came and visited him. And they seem to support him publicly. And from what I understand, he has enjoyed full support from his employer.

KING: They wouldn't tap a reporter's phone, would they, Kimberly? NEWSOM: No, I've never seen that done. I think that is highly unusual. And that's why I was so shocked to hear that, they're doing that With Ted so.

KING: Jeanine, you ever heard it?

PIRRO: You know what? That would be -- there would be a very high burden for a prosecutor to look to tap a phone of a reporter. I think more likely Ted got a notice that his voice was on a wiretapped recording. And so he was probably talking with the defendant. I can't imagine that his phone was tapped. I just can't.

KING: Sunnyvale, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. I just have a quick question for Kimberly, the lady who did the great case on Whipple.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: My question is, is if she prosecutes cases, we know that the defendant does not have to take the stand in his own defense. But he has all this videotape of him saying, you know, on the video, well, I had to sell my other truck to get a truck, and now he winds up with a Mercedes, is he -- are we allowed to call him to the stand and say is that you on the stand? And...

KING: You can't force a defendant to the stand?

NEWSOM: No, absolutely not. You can't do that. You cannot be compelled to give testimony against yourself. But they could call people involved with those transactions to testify against Scott Peterson.

KING: Now Chris, what must the prosecution show?

PIXLEY: Well, the prosecution...

KING: I mean, two and two has to equal four, right?

PIXLEY: That's exactly right, Larry. And we don't have that right now, but the prosecution needs more. They need to tie the bodies, I think, at this point, to something in Scott's possession. They need to be able to show that the death occurred in the home.

They may very well have this evidence, but everything that's being leaked right now is kind of missing the mark. Now if they do have a witness, as "The Inquirer" has reported, that can put Scott at the Marina at 3:00 in the morning, that's going to be...

KING: Yes.

PIXLEY: ...a real problem for him. But they don't have it right now.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more phone calls and more comments from our guests. Don't go away.


KING: Before I ask Ted Rowlands another question about the tapping story, Kimberly wanted to explain when she thinks a defendant would take the stand.

NEWSOM: Yes, in this case, Mark Geragos is going to keep Scott off the stand if, you know, depending on the circumstances of the case. He'll have to get on to explain if they want to go to heat of passion or try and get it down to a voluntary manslaughter to say something terrible happened. Then he'll have to explain it, if the case is strong.

KING: If the case is strong.

NEWSOM: If the case is weak, then he's going keep him off the stand and let the D.A.'s case fall apart.

KING: Ted, the staff wants you to read the letter you got. Can you do that for me?

ROWLANDS: Sure, I'd love to.


ROWLANDS: "Pursuant to penal code Section 62968, you are hereby notified on April 15th, 2003 the Stanislaus County Superior Court authorized Stanislaus County wiretap number three authorizing the interception of wire communications for a period of 30 days commencing on that date, monitoring under this order was terminated on April 18. During the period covered by the order, communications were intercepted."

KING: Jeanine, that sounds like his phone was tapped.

PIRRO: Well, no, it does not.


PIRRO: I think that what he's saying -- what they're saying is that pursuant to the penal law, he is notified, as happens across the country, that his voice was intercepted. It doesn't mean that it was his phone that was tapped. But everyone who speaks to the person who was on the -- whose phone is tapped gets a notification because apparently that is relevant. KING: Oh. Then why does it say for one month?

PIRRO: Because it's -- it's in 30 day intervals, Larry...


PIRRO: ...that a wiretap is legitimate. Then we go for extensions after 30 days. And then the next extension and the next extension. That's the normal time period within which a wire is issued.

KING: OK. Rapid City, South Dakota, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello. To the attorneys on the panel, especially Chris Pixley, shouldn't it help in Scott Peterson's defense or at least create reasonable doubt in two ways that, one, that the dog was wandering around aimlessly with the leash? And then secondly on the morning of the 24th, there were two or three eyewitnesses in the neighborhood who may -- looks like they may have seen Laci walking the dog? Thank you.

KING: Chris?

PIXLEY: I agree. You know, we've heard that the police have discounted these witnesses that say they saw Laci Peterson walking her dog on the 24th. We've talked about it before. It would be awfully strange for there to be another short dark-haired, attractive pregnant woman almost full term walking the dog on that day.

It's possible. And Nancy Grace has made the point many times, that it's been discounted for good reason. But there's a lot of evidence of that kind that needs to be analyzed. And the police may possibly still be analyzing it all. It's one of the reasons that the search warrants have been sealed and why the prosecution is arguing to keep them sealed as with the defense.

But I do think all of those facts play in favor of the defense.

KING: Binsens (ph), Indiana, hello.

CALLER: Hello, sir.


CALLER: I just was wondering if this Mark Geragos has information that could clear his client and get him out of jail, why would you not just come ahead and bring it out instead of the way he's going about it? And two, I can't see how anybody, I mean, this is my opinion, if my wife had been murdered and son, you know, I would have been -- you couldn't even -- I couldn't have even have stood in front of the TV. And I've watched this from the beginning. And all I've seen is a guy that is smug and like he's laughing at everybody, like he got away with something.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: And it don't take a genius to see -- you know, you change your appearance and if he was doing that...

KING: Yes, it don't look good.

CALLER: If he was doing that to -- because people was...

KING: All right, I'm running low on time. I understand where you're going. But Jan, if the attorney has information, why not come out with it?

RONIS: Right. Well, certainly I'm sure he has information we don't have. But the system doesn't really work that well. He may have information which he believes exonerates his client. That doesn't mean the district attorney's going to believe it now if he presents it to him. It'll be a jury issue.

So Mark is doing it the way attorneys do it. He's doing it the right way.

PIRRO: But Larry, there is one interesting point here.

KING: All right, hurry up.

PIRRO: And as a judge, what happens is I've said to juries at the end of the case, look, the defense has no burden. So Mark can say whatever he wants at this point, but when we get to the point of proving the evidence, that's on the prosecution alone, and the judge will say specifically you cannot seek evidence from the defense.

KING: Kimberly, I got 10 seconds.

NEWSOM: I think Mark is trying to create a presumption of innocence. I don't think that witness necessarily is going to show up. And he's trying to change public opinion about this case.

KING: Creating a (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Thank you, all. Ted Rowlands, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, Chris Pixley, Jeanine Ferris Pirro, Jan Ronis and Jo-Ellan Dimitrius. And I'll be right back to tell you about tomorrow night. Thanks for joining us.

Guests, we'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: Tomorrow night, a discussion on the royals with experts on the topic. Dr. Phil returns to LARRY KING LIVE Wednesday and Thursday night. The whole cast of "60 MINUTES" looks at their 35th anniversary of that venerable program. It's all ahead on LARRY KING LIVE. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT

Peterson's Defense>

International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.