CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Panel Discusses Laci Peterson Case
Aired June 3, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, GUEST HOST: Tonight: A California courtroom heats up, and lawyers go head to head in the Scott Peterson case. Burglary, Satanic cults, a mystery woman -- we have heard it! But the defense now says a pair of Laci's shoes could be important to the case. Also, could new evidence gut the original alibi? Tough talk (ph) was today's surprise in court. It's keeping speculation at an all-time high.
From Modesto with the latest, Ted Rowlands of KTVU, famed defense attorney Roy Black, Westchester County New York district attorney Jeanine Ferris Pirro, defense attorney Chris Pixley and Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, assistant DA for San Francisco tonight on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening. I'm Nancy Grace, in for Larry King. Thank you for being with us tonight. Let's go straight to Jeanine Pirro, joining us from New York. Jeanine, what happened today in court?
JEANINE FERRIS PIRRO, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, WESTCHESTER CTY, NY: Well, my understanding is that today there was an issue as to whether or not the search warrants would be made public, and the judge reserved the decision on that. And I think it really is a reflection of the whole issue of the public trial, a fair trial versus the public's right to know. And as a prosecutor, I come down on the side of making sure that the public has information. Making sure that we have a fair trial for the defendant is really a function of voir dire and jury selection. But from the beginning of the criminal justice system in this country, we've recognized the right to a public trial. This case should be no different.
GRACE: Roy Black, isn't it odd that, at this point -- I'm talking post-arrest -- so much of the information remains sealed and secret?
ROY BLACK, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I don't -- I'm amazed that anything is secret in this case, being the amount of time we spend talking about it. But I don't know anymore where the line between justice and entertainment is drawn. I mean, we have such -- this voracious need to know every fact in this case. Maybe it's a good idea we ought to wait until the trial to hear about the evidence.
GRACE: OK, Roy Black, I'm going to steer you back into the middle of the road here. In all of your cases, Roy, and you have tried a ton -- I find it very unusual that documents are still secret, they're still sealed in a double murder case. Do you find that odd? BLACK: Not at all. I just finished a trial in which entire cases, entire files were sealed in the courthouse that we were trying to open up. So it's not that unusual in the criminal justice system for judges to seal parts of files, seal records, and not release them until they're necessary in court. And particularly in this case, with all of commentary going on -- it's on every channel, every day -- I can imagine the judge is feeling like he ought to keep something private until the trial.
PIRRO: But Roy, isn't the truth that, in light of the what the DA did in Stanislaus County, isn't a little information worse than having all of the information? Part of this autopsy report was leaked, and the DA made the decision to ask the judge to unseal the whole thing because we -- if we're going to know a little bit, we should know the whole story, not just part of the truth, but the whole truth. And that's the problem with sealing these records. Leaks and leaks come out and rumors start and the spin begins.
BLACK: Yes, but the problem...
GRACE: Good point. Let me go to...
BLACK: ... with that is if somebody commits an offense, like contempt of court, by releasing information, that means we ought to let everything out.
BLACK: Under that theory...
GRACE: Let's go now to...
BLACK: ... the law doesn't work.
GRACE: ... Kim Newsom there in San Francisco. Kim Newsom, do you think it's harming either side, the fact that leaks are continuing, as opposed to the entire, for instance, autopsy report being released?
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE NEWSOM, ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SF: Yes, I do. I think, at this point, the judge is running out of excuses and reasons to justify keeping these documents sealed. We're soon approaching the preliminary hearing date, and I expect at that point, I think even before that, he should open up the records. And in fact, we've seen a number of other high-profile cases where documents were not sealed, like the Polly Klaas case. And I think in this case, I think too much misinformation, half truth and innuendo and speculation are hurting both sides, and it needs to stop.
GRACE: Chris Pixley, we know that bits, tidbits are being leaked. For instance, today the issue of the brown van has taken center stage in the courtroom. But we don't have a real explanation. What do you make of it? CHRIS PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I don't know exactly what to make of the brown van just yet, Nancy. Obviously, the prosecution has said at every step of the way that any evidence that the defense comes up with, they have an explanation for, they've already looked into it, it doesn't mean anything.
With respect, though, to the unsealing of the search warrants, you know, the judge is going to have to go, or the judges, in this case -- and that's part of the problem. You've got the civil and criminal suits here. But the judge is going to have to go one way or the other. If you want a gag order and you want to gag everyone, then the idea is that you're going to try to rein in the release of evidence. If, on the other hand, you're considering opening up the search warrants, opening up the autopsy, then you want to get it all out there. But you've got to go one way or the other. And on Friday there's going to be a clash of these two different ideals.
GRACE: All right, Jeanine Pirro, we heard the judge discussing today his leanings toward releasing all the documents. In the end, when it's all said and done -- we haven't even struck a jury yet. So are you pro or con?
PIRRO: Pro or con the release of the documents?
PIRRO: I believe the documents and this information should be made public. Right now, there are so many leaks going on and so much spin going on that it's starting to be a game and it's starting to be public entertainment. You know, when I was a judge, one of the things I did swearing in a witness was said to them, Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? By this spin, there is so much damage that's being done that I think that that is unfairly prejudicing the public and, ultimately, the jury that will sit. I think that the public has a right to know. The side that we should err on is giving the public information.
PIXLEY: Of course, the two really interesting points here, Nancy, is, first of all, the prosecution is the side that has been -- and the police have been issuing all the leaks from the very beginning of this case.
NEWSOM: Oh! Not true!
PIXLEY: And we've only had -- well, listen...
GRACE: Guys, hold on.
PIXLEY: We go back to January. We talk about, you know, they found anchors back in January. That turned out to be a red herring. We had a tarp. We've never heard anything more about the tarp. They leaked the information about...
GRACE: Well, actually...
PIXLEY: ... Amber Frey and the affair. GRACE: ... a tarp has been found near Laci and Conner's body. Is it the same tarp? You're right about that. Don't know.
Guys, I'm hearing in my ear that we are being joined now by Ted Rowlands, there at the courthouse.
Ted, you were in the courtroom all day today. Give me the bottom line.
TED ROWLANDS, KTVU-TV: Well, the bottom line is that media lawyer had some decent arguments, it seemed, to unleash the -- or to unseal these documents, these search warrants, the pre-arrest search warrants. And keep in mind, this is another judge that heard today's arguments. And he really seemed inclined to go in that direction. He wants both -- attorneys from both sides to have in-camera hearings on Friday, but he's expected to release a decision next week.
Outside of the courtroom is where the real action came. We got a lot of information today in terms of the Satanic cult theory from defense sources, specifics revolving around a possible rape suspect -- or rape victim near Laci and Conner's home.
And then late this afternoon, the district attorney came out with a bombshell in a press release that they just released about two hours ago, basically saying that that brown van has been located. It has been tested, according to the district attorney, at the state crime lab in nearby Rippen (ph) here, and they have determined that the crime -- or the van had nothing to do with Laci Peterson's investigation -- disappearance. They searched for clues. They say they found nothing. They also interviewed the suspects, according -- the suspects, according to the defense, that were associated with this van, and the district attorney has cleared them.
So where do we go from here, in terms of this Satanic cult theory it'll be interesting to see.
GRACE: Well, Roy Black, that is a bombshell for the defense. This brown van, or tan van -- it's morphed over the past few weeks -- was a mainstay for the defense. The Satanic cult allegedly had been using the van. There had been other alleged eyewitness accounts that Laci had been put into the van against her will. Now the prosecution says, Hey, we found it. It's not related.
BLACK: Well, obviously, that's a problem for the defense, if, in fact, they were the ones floating this theory about the brown van. But as I heard today, earlier today, it was a rape treatment counselor who came up with this idea about the Satanic cult. It didn't necessarily come from the defense.
And here's one of the problems with wanting all the records in this case. Everybody's saying, Well, if we have the files, then we can, you know, discuss the whole thing on television. What's going to happen then is we're going to retry this case every day from now on until the trial. That's all that's going to happen if we have all these files. PIRRO: Roy, think about what we're discussing now. What we're discussing now is the fact that there is some leak now that there was a noose around baby Conner's neck. There's no evidence or no indication that there were bruises or tearing or any kind abrasions. And so that whole idea of the noose kind of curiously fits in with the Satanic cult thing. And so, you know, we've got a little piece out there. If we had whole thing, we'd say, You know what? Maybe it truly was debris. There's no injury that is relating to the noose.
BLACK: Now, Jeanine, you know that...
PIRRO: And therefore it's debris.
BLACK: ... wouldn't happen. We'd be here discussing every single line of that autopsy. We'd be talking about...
PIRRO: Of course we would!
BLACK: ... how many pints of blood were missing, which organs were cut.
GRACE: Roy, Jeanine...
BLACK: What kind of knife marks...
GRACE: ... we've got to go to break, but...
BLACK: ... there were...
GRACE: ... before we go to break...
BLACK: ... ad infinitum.
GRACE: ... a quick question to Chris Pixley. Was Mark Geragos wrong? Was it a big defense boo-boo to promise the Satanic cult, the mystery woman, the brown van up front? We haven't even struck a jury yet, and now three of the defense strategies have been torpedoed.
PIXLEY: Again, though, Nancy, I don't know that these are different defense strategies. I don't know that they've been torpedoed. You're right, it's a problem if you make promises and you can't come through on those promises. But the fact of the matter is, remember, we have a prosecution, we have a state here that's responsible for finding the real killer, and so far they haven't proven capable of finding any evidence. They never found the bodies. As Ted has so eloquently put it, the bodies had to find them. And they've never found these missing body parts. You know, Jeanine talks about the noose around the baby's neck, but what about the missing body parts...
PIXLEY: ... and what about the anchors?
GRACE: Jeanine, as we go to break, he does have point because when you and I were discussing the Elizabeth Smart case, who would have ever guessed in million years the possibility of a religious zealot stealing girl and marrying her out in the forest?
PIRRO: Well, you know what?
GRACE: So Pixley does have a point there.
PIRRO: Well, I don't know if he has point. But what I do know is that we're familiar with Satanic cult homicides, from the Manson case to the Son of Sam in New York. There usually is a signature left with the body. And by the way, isn't it curious, Chris, that the bodies show up just close to where the defendant went fishing on Christmas Eve? Do you think the Satanic cult knew where he was fishing and left the bodies there?
GRACE: Good point, Jeanine. It would have to be a Satanic cult that also wanted to frame Scott Peterson, from the drift of your conversation.
Everybody, we are taking a quick break. More on the Scott Peterson murder trial when we come back. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should the court consider what many individuals have heard in the news media regarding that there may be a Satanic cult involved, and so on and so forth? Should I consider that as part of my ruling as to whether or not there might be another suspect involved?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think the -- I can't say that. The burden is on these parties to tell you that they are looking for a Satanic cult and that some witness might be dissuaded from coming forward or something like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: After today's court hearing, evidence remains secret in the Scott Peterson case, leaving only one thing certain: Laci and Conner were murdered. They were disposed of in the icy waters off the Berkeley marina. Cause of death? Don't know. Time? Unsure. Motive? All unknown. Theories range from Satanic cult to drug dealers to suicide. The only triable issue here is homicide.
Jeanine Pirro is joining me from New York. Jeanine, today the latest regarding a pair of shoes belonging to Laci Rocha Peterson -- apparently, some shoes have been taken from the home, according to one of the defense attorneys. In fact, Jeanine take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we want is for anybody (UNINTELLIGIBLE) who took shoes out of Laci's house, please return them. Please return the shoes that were taken out of Laci's house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's important evidence. (END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Jeanine, wouldn't you think that, by now, anything that was relevant in the home would have been removed by either the prosecution or the defense?
PIRRO: I don't think that there's any question, Nancy, but that if these shoes were at all relevant to the case, they would have been taken by the prosecution, by the police. There were search warrants of that house. The defense would have had them taken out. I think this is, interestingly enough, just a spin again by the defense, who said that they wanted the Peterson or the Rocha family arrested for burglary last week. And all of a sudden, there was this public outcry that said, Wait a minute. You've got the mother of a young woman who is dead, who was eight months pregnant, looking for her wedding dress and a rocking chair, and the defense is involved in a spin that makes them sound like Scrooge, like they don't want the family to have the rocking chair or Christmas gifts that belonged to Laci. I think the defense totally loses on this point. And to raise a trial balloon about a pair of shoes that everybody would have had six times over is an indication of how weak the defense is in this case.
GRACE: Well, Roy Black, at this point -- you've tried so many, many murder cases, including multiple homicides. At this point, Scott Peterson has been behind bars for some time, since in April. Wouldn't you think the defense would have brought in, for instance, their own independent medical examiner, made their own independent defense videos of the home, categorized whatever was in that home?
BLACK: Oh, absolutely, Nancy. We all know how a homicide investigation proceeds, and the scene, or the alleged scene of the crime is one of the most important pieces of evidence. But could you imagine if Scott Peterson or his lawyers had gone into the house while the police were searching it? They would be outraged, and they would threaten to arrest them. Now, I think it's absurd to threaten to arrest the victim's family, but it's very important to preserve the scene of the alleged crime to search for evidence. You don't know what's going to be relevant. And in fact, you know, shoes, whatever it may be, may become relevant at any time during the investigation. So it's not so absurd to say that they have a right to be upset about this.
GRACE: Ted Rowlands, bring us up to date on the shoes. What is the significance? Do they exist?
ROWLANDS: Well, keep in mind there are two separate investigations going on from the beginning because Scott Peterson retained an attorney right away, Kirk McAllister. The shoes are stemming from the McAllister investigation, where they apparently talked to a neighbor that said this individual saw a pair of shoes and described the shoes as sandals with flowers on them, which Scott from jail says were -- appear to be Laci's. He says that he saw these shoes in his driveway for a couple days, or at the end of his driveway, called police twice. This is someone with standing in the community here in Modesto. The defense came across this individual early, and what they wanted to do is to videotape the entire house. And they had it all set for this Tuesday, today, and they were taken aback by the Rochas' entry into the house, and they're not sure if the shoes were there or weren't there. Of course, a theory -- or reports that they are walking in and out of the house willy nilly -- they say that simply isn't right. They just hadn't gotten around to completely clearing this as the crime scene, and they wanted that opportunity. And now they're bringing up these shoes, saying that they would like to see these shoes.
GRACE: Right. Chris?
GRACE: Sure. Go ahead.
NEWSOM: They had plenty of time to do this and to go through the home and to videotape it. I think this is just more shenanigans by the defense. They're going to, at the time of trial, accuse the Rocha family and everybody else and the police to be involved in some conspiracy, a rush to judgment against Scott Peterson, and say, We don't know what else is missing. We can't do this case right because we don't know what the prosecution, allowing the Rocha family to go in, has now disrupted the crime scene. And again, I think it holds no merit.
And with respect to accusing the family and saying they should be arrested on burglary charges? Well, perhaps the defense should familiarize themselves with the penal code because there was no such thing as a burglary there. You have to enter a residential dwelling with the intent to commit a felony therein. Removing your daughter's personal property is not committing a felony. So if they want to even go down the road of trespass, again, I don't think that's going to work, but that's the best argument they have. And again, there's property rights that come into play since Laci and Scott were joint tenants of this property and no death certificate was issued. So her parents have a right to be there, as well.
GRACE: Chris Pixley...
BLACK: Yes, but how many times...
GRACE: ... does the defense have...
BLACK: ... did the police go in there?
GRACE: ... a leg to stand on?
PIXLEY: Oh, I think the defense absolutely has a leg to stand on. Part of the problem here, Nancy, is the fact that the Rocha family is now being defended by all these prosecutors on the panel for having broken into this home. Now, one of the real ironies, too, here is that, as Ted pointed out, today was the day that the video investigation was -- the videotaping of the home was to take place, and then today was also the day that the Rocha family was to be allowed in the home.
My real question is, what went on on Thursday or Friday between the Peterson and Rocha families that set Sharon Rocha off, where she wanted to make a statement? I don't think that this a matter of Sharon Rocha simply wanting to see her children's things, her daughter's things. She actually broke into the home and took a whole catalog of property out of there.
PIRRO: Chris, what are you saying? Chris, what are you saying? What are you saying the mother of this deceased victim did? Are you saying that she went in for an ulterior reason? Isn't this nothing more than a preview of what we will see throughout this trial of the defense now blaming the victims for criminal acts!
PIXLEY: No, Jeanine, I'm not saying that she went for an ulterior motive, but I am saying that it's a problem for prosecutors, like you, Jeanine, to sit here and say that this break-in is something that's OK, it's no harm, no foul. Remember, this defense team, Mark Geragos's defense team...
PIRRO: It's not a break-in!
PIXLEY: ... only came in...
PIRRO: Chris, I decide cases like this all the time as a DA and as a judge. This is not a break-in, Chris!
GRACE: OK, guys, hold on one moment. Let me go to you, Roy Black...
PIXLEY: ... the Rocha family doesn't have rights to be in this home.
GRACE: Roy, let me go to you...
PIXLEY: This is Scott Peterson's home.
GRACE: ... on the issue of the Peterson family that you just brought up, having been in and out of the home from the get-go.
BLACK: Well, Nancy, the police went back to this house several times to search it. There's -- one time may not be enough. Remember, this is a complicated investigation because new information comes up all the time. That's why you want to preserve as much as you can of this crime scene, in order to test new facts as they come up. And I think it was perfectly proper for the defense for saying, Please wait until we have a full chance to videotape it, examine it. There was no rush...
GRACE: So you think, Roy...
BLACK: ... to get all these things -- the wedding dress...
GRACE: ... since April...
BLACK: ... is going to be there...
GRACE: ... has not been a full chance?
BLACK: ... three days later. What was the big rush to get a rocking chair...
PIRRO: Oh, my God!
BLACK: ... and a wedding dress? I mean, it's very hard to see...
GRACE: Well, don't you think...
BLACK: ... a reason for that.
GRACE: ... Roy, that since there has been a defense team in place since April, that they have had quite some time to go into the home? And also, how do you reconcile the defense claim that the home has now been contaminated because the Rocha family has been in there, when the Peterson family has been in and out at will?
BLACK: Well, Nancy, you know that there are many cases that sometimes take several years of investigation before charges can been brought. So the fact that they've been involved in the case since April does not answer this question. It depends on the complexity of the case, more than anything else.
NEWSOM: Nancy? Also, why is it, then, that the Peterson family wanted the defense team to move into the home, if they're so concerned about preserving the crime scene and any evidence or items that might be disturbed? Not only that, Kirk McAllister was representing Scott Peterson, and Scott Peterson hired investigators in this case well before Geragos came on the case at the end of April. So they've had more than sufficient time. Their argument doesn't hold water. They're insensitive to delay the Rocha family from getting into that house to retrieve Laci's belongings, period!
GRACE: Well, the battle is raging on, the controversy surrounding the Scott Peterson trial -- the jury hasn't even been struck -- is mounting. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN GOOLD, DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We did not authorize the Rocha family to go into that house. We are not -- we have no legal authority over the house. This is something between the Rochas and the Petersons that should be handled between their respective counsel.
GRACE: From the get-go, Scott Peterson insisted he was fishing off the Berkeley marina on Christmas Eve, the day his wife, Laci, eight months pregnant, went missing. But now a tee time may just bogey Peterson's alibi.
Let's go back to Ted Rowlands with KTVU there at the courthouse. Ted, give me the lowdown on seemingly new evidence regarding golfing or fishing.
ROWLANDS: Well, this is something that apparently came from the Rochas, from, specifically, Amy Rocha. It was reported that she says that she had a conversation with Scott Peterson and he had explained that he was going to be going golfing rather than fishing on Christmas Eve day. Defense sources and others say, Well, golfing, fishing. The guy had the day off. Really, you know, it was raining here. Maybe he just changed his mind at the last second. But other folks say that it shows that he may have been hiding something from -- and had been planning something.
GRACE: So Ted, has it been investigated? Did he have a tee time set up? Was it already arranged with other parties? Was it a done deal?
ROWLANDS: Yes, that I don't know. It -- the -- nobody seems to be officially talking about this. This was a published report. And I -- you know, whether or not this was just something he said -- and I'm sure it's something that they're looking into.
Meanwhile, I should update you, Nancy and everyone. I just got off the phone with Mark Geragos, and he says they're not done with this van. They were given an opportunity to look at the van today, his Modesto-based attorney and investigators. He said that while the prosecution says this van has nothing to do with the Laci Peterson case, they're not so sure yet.
They have not been given the van. They have not been given any sort of results from the state crime lab. They say the results aren't even in, and it's inappropriate for the DA to release something that says that they're clearing this van. They say that the suspects -- or the people associated with the van were simply cleared because they agreed to let them search the van. And he said that there was a Satanic symbol of some sort etched in one of the windows. So they're not ready to give up this van, at this point.
GRACE: Judge Pirro, isn't that the pot calling the kettle black here for the defense to claim or to complain that the prosecution has actually issued a press release?
PIRRO: You know, I'm sitting here chuckling, Nancy, because the press release indicates that shortly after the defense was given an opportunity to view the van on Tuesday afternoon, the media reports -- the media started calling. And we come back from a break, and Mark Geragos just got off the phone with Ted Rowlands. I mean, who's spinning what here?
The truth is that the DA already looked at this van, apparently some time ago, and excluded the occupants and the owners of the van from being involved in this case. They viewed it again a second time, apparently, because the defense asked them to. They found nothing again. And the -- by the way, the people who apparently own the van or were occupants of the van agreed to cooperate a even a second time. And so I think this is just more and more spin to fit into the Satanic...
GRACE: Well, let me...
PIRRO: ... cult theory. And my hat's off to Geragos. He's doing a good job.
GRACE: Well, let me ask you this, Chris Pixley. Aren't the defense team members looking down the barrel of a libel or a slander suit if they keep insisting the owners of this van not only had something to do with Laci's death and disappearance but are members of a Satanic cult?
PIXLEY: No, Nancy. They haven't identified these people by name right now, and these -- this is a relevant lead that they're following up on. You know -- and in response to something Jeanine said -- you know, Jeanine says that the defense is spinning this case. The prosecution has issued press releases all week long. They issued press releases last week when the autopsy leaks came out. We don't know where they came from, but rather than simply saying, We're now filing a motion and saying we're going to reverse field on the arguments that we made two days earlier that the autopsy report should not be unsealed -- rather than doing that, they issue a press release to say...
PIRRO: But -- but Chris...
PIXLEY: ... Hey, this is what we're going to be doing.
PIRRO: Chris, at least...
PIXLEY: So nobody is above reproach here...
PIRRO: No, no, no, no, no!
PIXLEY: Jeanine. No one...
PIRRO: No, this is different, Chris!
PIXLEY: No one...
PIRRO: Chris -- Chris, there is a difference!
PIXLEY: ... is not spinning.
PIRRO: What you have here is a DA who's issuing a public press release that can be reviewed. What we just saw was Mark Geragos calling a reporter who's reporting on TV show, and that's behind the scene. That's make-believe. At least the DA...
BLACK: Let's go back...
PIRRO: ... is being up front.
GRACE: ... to California with Ted Rowlands. Ted Rowlands, regarding the brown van -- why, if Geragos told you, did he turn down the offer to go take a look and examine the van, if the state provided that opportunity?
ROWLANDS: Oh, they didn't turn down the offer, they embraced it, according to the defense folks. They saw it today briefly, or yesterday, and they say the were given an opportunity to look at it. They were not given the van, even though they technically own the van. They purchased the van. They were not given the van until Friday, and they say they haven't gotten any results back. I think the underlying...
GRACE: Who purchased the van?
ROWLANDS: ... theory is, is that the defense -- who owns the van? The defense team bought the van. They purchased the title somehow by the previous owner because the folks that had it didn't pay for it or never picked up the title. So they were able to gain ownership of the van.
GRACE: Wait a minute.
Are you telling me during all of the press releasing, the discussion about the mysterious brown van, the defense has had ownership of it the whole time?
ROWLANDS: Well, not the whole time but at some point during the investigation they saw an opening to purchase the van and took it, thinking it would give them a legal right to inspect the van and that actually seems to be what's happening, because in this press release from the D.A. They mention the defense team does have legal ownership to it, so they'll deliver it to them. I think the underlying theme from the defense side is that they are accusing the Modesto Police Department of a rogue investigation which basically pinpointed their client from the top. They didn't want to hear anything else. From the other side prosecution is saying they looked at over 3,000 leads. They looked at every single one and kept coming back to Scott Peterson. I think it's up to the jury to decide.
GRACE: Roy Black, without a witness placing Laci Peterson in this van, what good is the van?
BLACK: Well, Nancy, I don't know what importance, if at all this brown van has. But I have to disagree with everybody regarding what Mark Geragos is doing. I don't think this great strategy. I think mark still this he is on LARRY KING SHOW and float out any theory he wants. I think it's a mistake for defense lawyer to leak -- not leak it, but to state this information and give the prosecution an opportunity to disprove it. By the time the trial comes around, you're going to lose a lot of credibility. In my practice, I like to keep things close to the vest. I don't raise any defenses until get to the trial. You don't give everybody a chance on television to knock down everything that you have to say. So I have to disagree with the idea this some brilliant strategy.
GRACE: Kim Newsom.
NEWSOM: I was going respond to the press release and defense's allegations and the two attorneys on the panel, that the prosecution was improper in issuing this. I think they are, absolutely, incorrect. The prosecution has an absolute right to correct misstatements of fact and specifically accretions levied against them by the defense in this case. That they are trying to have this conspiracy against Scott Peterson, that there a rush to judgment, that they are failing to do their ethical obligation as prosecutors in this case and fully investigate. And what we see is for the second time, these people have been investigated, interviewed and excluded and the van again, looked at. Not only that, the prosecution cooperated, assisted the defense with their case by locating the van that the defense obtained title to so the defense could further examine the van to see if they can find any connection to the disappearance of Laci. So, far be it from the defense now to say again that this is a rush to judgment. It's absolutely untrue. I think this a huge blow to the defense. And their whole theory and case is sinking quicker than the Titanic.
GRACE: OK, so far, we got the brown van, we've got a missing shoe.
When we come back, what about the dope dealing devil worshipping Donny?
He's the latest. Stay with us.
GRACE: The state says they will prove double homicide in the deaths of Laci Peterson and unborn child Connor. But the defense says they'll prove Scott's innocence, even find the real killer. And a mystery woman and satanic cult could help them do that. Well, whatever the truth may be, much remains sealed and secret after today's court hearing.
Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Nancy Grace in for Larry tonight. Thank you for being with us. Right now, special guest over the phone, Rocha family attorney Adam Stewart is joining us.
Adam, bring us up to date. We're on the outside looking in. You are on the inside.
What is happening regarding the shoe, a burglary, a brown van?
ADAM STEWART, ROCHA FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, this afternoon I received several media calls that Mr. Dalton had released some information about shoes being taken from the home. Shoes being found in the vicinity of the home. And essentially claimed that Sharon Rocha and family members had contaminated the crime scene and taken shoes or perhaps dropped some shoes.
GRACE: Adam, they had to be very upset hearing these accusations.
STEWART: Absolutely. Sharon was devastated, Adam I thought we had a deal with Mr. Geragos, I thought he was going respect our privacy and our feelings, what's going on? We're abiding by it, why aren't they?
GRACE: Long story short, at the end of the day, where do we stand regarding the shoes, do they exist, did the Rochas take them and are they really a significant piece of the defense case or is just all smoke and mirrors?
STEWART: Absolutely, Mark's been aware that the Rochas have removed the shoes. He's aware they've been cataloged, inventoried, photographed. That inventory was made available to Mr. Geragos. He does not seem very impatient about getting it. He asked get it to him when you can. In regards to Mr. Dalton's inflammatory comment, there were no shoes found a block from the home. There is nothing to that story.
GRACE: Are these shoes, Adam, suppose to be shoes, that Laci was walking in the day she went missing?
STEWART: Nancy, I think you know about as much as do I. It was a comment Mr. Dalton made as he left the courthouse. And I put the challenge out to him, if you found shoes bring them to my office tomorrow morning, and we'll be happy to tell you whether they are Laci's or somebody else's in the neighborhood.
GRACE: OK, Adam, buckle your seat belt, Chris Pixley, defense attorney got a question for you.
Hit it Chris.
PIXLEY: Adam, if I heard you correctly, you said that the Rochas had an agreement with the Peterson's and Rocha's violated that agreement, is that the case?
STEWART: No, no. I'm sorry if I misspoke.
It's the agreement with regards to what, sir?
GRACE: The agreement -- what, Adam, I am sorry, we couldn't hear you?
STEWART: I'm sorry, you are speaking of which agreement concerning what?
GRACE: I think he was referring to the agreement about going into the home after it had been video'ed if such an agreement existed.
STEWART: There was a one-sided proposal last week, I believe it was going to occur, in fact, today that Mark had floated around simply saying why don't we put under my terms and conditions, I'll be present, Sharon will be there in the presence of Mr. Geragos, which she's not thrilled about doing, obviously, and we'll videotape it catalog it and do that in one fell swoop. And we had never responded and never reached a meeting of the minds on that.
GRACE: So, what I'm getting from you, Adam, is that the item taken from the home have been cataloged and that list handed over to Mark Geragos and there is no urgency in getting shoes back until today?
STEWART: This first we've heard of some shoes that Mr. Dalton has discovered. I think you saw some of the coverage from Friday, Mr. Dalton and my interaction. And of course, today there has been something prior to your show about my response to that, but this is the first we've heard of shoes and the first...
PIRRO: Nancy, can I ask Adam a question
PIRRO: Adam, can you tell me whether or not the quote that is attributable to Mark Geragos is accurate?
And that is after the Rocha family went into the house the quote, He said that "He was vowing a war with the family here." Is that accurate?
STEWART: Let me back you up there a little bit like before that, I had asked Mark -- and we've talk on many occasions about shutting down the media, not talking about it...
PIRRO: No, I'm talking about a war with the family.
STEWART: The war -- the war -- reference to the war if you want a war you can have a war was with me, with our firm, with regards to what's going to be said to the media. We've just completely asked Mr. Dalton, Mr. Geragos and the Petersons to respect the extremely sensitive feelings of the Rocha family right now. In particular, Sharon Rocha because it's been very, very difficult the last few weeks.
We want everybody to -- do all you need to do to represent Scott Peterson, but please these other issues really, really have nothing to do with it.
GRACE: Adam Stewart let me move you on to the issue of jewelry. Was jewelry taken by Scott Peterson to a local jewelry belonging to Laci, including diamonds from her grandmother?
STEWART: Nancy, I'm not authorized by my client to speak to that particular issue. I do have information on that but I'm not authorized at this point to get into it.
We've asked Mr. Geragos and the Petersons to respond to us, be it fax, be it letter, to do it in a professional manner and that what is we would like from this point.
GRACE: Well put.
Let me go to you, Ted Rowlands. What is the word on jewelry? Apparently, it's been reported that the Rocha family went and got from a local jewelry. Reports have stated that Scott had taken quite a bit of Laci's jewelry to a jeweler for some unknown reason.
ROWLANDS: Well, apparently, Laci's family knew about this so I'm sure Laci knew about it as well. I really don't have the details behind this report. I just know what you just said, and that is that some jewelry was at a jeweler. And apparently according to this report, which I didn't report, the Rochas have possession of that and Peterson family is upset about this.
I think one thing that needs to be kept in mind is that the Peterson family honestly believes and has from the beginning that their son is completely innocent and their feelings in this too should be at least considered here. They took a lot of offense, according to a family spokesperson when Rochas signed off on the death penalty and this relationship dropped off considerably.
And when the Rochas went in to get the possessions that they believed were theirs, the Petersons honestly believed that some of those were Scott's. And so that's where you have feel things coming out. And I believe that if you look at it from both sides, they are completely responsible.
GRACE: Yes. Well, Ted, which of the items, while we've got Adam Stewart, the Rocha family attorney on the phone, which items taken by Laci's family do the Peterson family believe was theirs?
ROWLANDS: Specifically things relating to the nursery and the crib and Scott himself has expressed interest in keeping those items in the house or did express some interest, according to defense sources and Peterson family, too, claims that they have an interest in all of that, too, and they are hurting as well.
GRACE: So, Adam Stewart, explain. What is the split on these items taken from the home? What exactly did the Rocha family take? We've heard Laci's diplomas, her wedding dress, the baby rocker she planned to use to nurse baby Connor. Anything in this list, Adam Stewart, the Petersons have a right to?
STEWART: I don't want to speak as to what the Petersons have a right to. I will tell you this, Mr. Geragos and Petersons have not made it clear to us what if any of the items they are really attached to. Perhaps the manner in which the items were removed or perhaps the stalemate that we had reached is of concern.
But I never knew Laci and I never met her, but what I do know about this wonderful girl is this is not how she would want to see these two families, even under the circumstances, she would not want to see these two families airing their private personal issues in media and public like this.
And she was a person that brought people together. Not someone that wanted people torn apart. Even under these circumstance. I believe those would be her wishes.
GRACE: Adam, there have been quite some talk regarding a burglary. How did the Rocha family respond to that allegation?
STEWART: You know, I talked with them and some of these things are approaching slander. I mean in terms of where these things are coming from. I've been assured by Mr. Geragos, no intention whatsoever to consider, contemplate or pursue burglary charge against my client. I think that says enough.
GRACE: Roy Black, would not that have been a PR nightmare for the Peterson camp or the defense to claim burglary on the Rochas? I mean who would go into court, the police were there. They chose not to apprehend the Rochas in any way. Apparently the D.A. had signed off on the Covina, 523 Covina no longer being a crime scene they were interested in processing.
BLACK: Nancy, I think you still think you are running grand jury in Atlanta after this kind of interrogation.
But the important part here...
GRACE: Can't take the heat, buddy.
BLACK: ... it's not the personal property or burglary or what have you. People ought to be able to split up the property in a rational fashion.
But if it deals with actual evidence in the case, that's a much more more serious manner. These allegations of theft are ludicrous. but remember, and, Nancy, you know this very well, in a circumstantial case, every piece of evidence is crucial. There may be a spot blood, there may be hair, there may be anything that might be relevant to the case on a piece of furniture, on a piece of clothing, anything like that.
So, the concern I have is that it may have affected the evidence, not that it affects ownership of the property.
GRACE: Everyone, we'll be right back with more. Stay with us.
GRACE: Tonight, a brand new centerpiece in the Scott Peterson defense strategy. Not a satanic cult member, not a drug deal are, not a mystery woman but a pair of shoes. That's right, a pair of Laci's shoes are now the source of mystery and controversy.
Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Nancy Grace from Court TV in for Larry tonight. Thank you for being with us.
Ted Rowlands, we saw today the emergence of a new figure named "Donny." From what we can gather, he's a dope dealing, devil worshipping, evil kidnapper. What can you tell me about Donny?
ROWLANDS: Well, apparently this is one of the folks that the defense says was associated with this van, one of these few people that took part, supposedly, in this rape near the Peterson home and then later were found and associated with this van. Things that the prosecution says they looked into and that there is no connection between any of this and the Laci Peterson case.
In fact, they were not charged with anything, these folks that were found reportedly on Friday, according to the district attorney. That they haven't been charged with anything. The defense maintains that indeed these are some people they would like to talk to further.
GRACE: Judge Jeanine Pirro, legally speaking, what will the defense have to mount in a court of law to bring this evidence in front of the jury, a phantom third party?
PIRRO: Well, it's an interesting question, Nancy, because all the defense has to do is appeal to one person. The defense has no burden. They have no obligation to prove anything. As you know, prosecutors have to prove every element of their crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
So our arguments are based on evidence, on fact and on law. The defense can say there was some dope dealer, Satanic cult -- they can say anything they want and if they raise a reasonable doubt in one juror's mind, that's enough to get a defendant off because we need a unanimous verdict.
But as trial lawyers it's called a trial balloon. And you throw up the cult and drug dealer, see what floats, if something drops you move on to some thing else. And that's what Geragos is doing here. he's floating all of these theories, not having to back any of them with evidence.
He's got that luxury. Prosecutors don't.
GRACE: Roy Black -- go ahead, Kim.
NEWSOM: I'm sorry. I was just going to say specifically in California and other places, this an issue of third party culpability and the defense is going to present some credible evidence to support their theory because they cannot just cast falsehoods in court to try and shift the blame to some one else. it's some thing the defense always tries to do but hopefully the judge is going to keep a tight rein on this and follow the rules of evidence, and they're going to have to make a showing.
And again they'll have to make a showing, even if they present evidence in court that there is substantial evidence to support, under California Supreme Court Law -- the Pawns (ph) case -- they have to have evidence so to support their theory, even if they want to argue in closing arguments.
GRACE: Let me break it down.
Roy Black, quickly, before we go to break, the defense has to come up with some thing more than a theory. It could be an arrest report, it could be a woman that claims she was raped by the mysterious Donny (ph) with the 666 tattoo. But they've got to have something to give them a leg to stand on to get this in front of the jury.
BLACK: Absolutely, Nancy.
This idea that you can float a balloon that's full of hot air and that is enough to raise reasonable doubt is simply not the case. In a trial, you have to raise evidence. You have to come up with some type of a defense. You have to explain away the prosecution's case.
Judge Pirro, sorry to cut you off but we've to go to a quick break, every body.
We'll be right back. Stay with us.
GRACE: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.
I'm Nancy Grace from Court TV in for Larry tonight. Thank you for being with us.
Chris Pixley, basically, today, we got nothing. There was no ruling. It's been deferred until Friday. What's going to happen on Friday?
PIXLEY: Oh, so much is going to happen on Friday, Nancy.
On Friday, we're going to look into the wiretaps, whether or not there's going to be a sanction issued against the prosecution because of all of the wiretaps of the attorney-client conversations here.
We've got the autopsy reports -- you know, the reversal of field that the prosecution has made here asking to have wiretaps -- or, excuse me -- the autopsy reports unsealed.
There's also going to be the issue of a gag order now, whether or not a gag order should be issued. The briefs on that issue will come out tomorrow.
GRACE: So, Jeanine Pirro, bottom line, will the evidence, at least the warrants, be released on Friday?
PIRRO: Well, the evidence regarding the warrants, I suspect -- you know, I don't know how to call what this judge will do. But what I do know is that with respect to Chris and the wiretaps -- I mean, this whole thing with the wiretaps is a tempest in a teapot.
You've got 69 intercepted conversations between the defendant and his attorney. One of them was improperly intercepted and the judge will determine number one, not what the sanction should be, but whether or not there should be a hearing, what evidence in the hearing will be and the determination that if there's been a violation, it's about the pattern, whether there's a pattern and what the degree of the interception is and not what the sanction will be. We haven't gotten there yet.
GRACE: So Roy Black, regarding the autopsy, the state has dropped its request it remain private. Will we at least get the autopsy report in its entirety on Friday? BLACK: Not if the judge knows what he's doing. I think the judge would be far better off keeping the evidence sealed, having a gag order and advising the lawyers as I would advise them -- why don't you prepare for the preliminary hearing of the trial and try the case there instead of on LARRY KING.
GRACE: And so we've got about 20 seconds left.
Kim, will we get the autopsy and the warrants?
NEWSOM: I think basically that rampant speculation is always worse than the release of accurate information. I think we're going to get the autopsy. He may do a gag order and I think he's going to release the information in the affidavit.
GRACE: A big thank you to Ted Rowlands, Chris Pixley, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, Roy Black and, of course, Judge Jeanine Ferris Pirro, joining us from New York.
Every one stay with us.
GRACE: State versus Scott Peterson. Man, what a case. Thank you to all of our guests tonight.
Every one stay tuned. Coming up next, Aaron Brown on "NEWSNIGHT."
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