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


Analysis of Laci Peterson Case

Aired June 6, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: Scott Peterson's back in court for what became an emotional and eventful day. The judge turns down the prosecution's request to release Laci's autopsy and denies reporters access to their wiretapped phone calls with Scott. And that's not all.
With us tonight to go over all the latest, Ted Rowlands of KTVU, on the scene in Modesto; Court TV's Nancy Grace, a former prosecutor; defense attorney Chris Pixley; renowned forensic scientists Dr. Henry Lee; and jury consultant Jo-Ellan Dimitrius. Plus, Mike Chiavetta, a neighbor of Scott and Laci who says he may have seen Laci walking her dog the day she vanished, last Christmas Eve. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

And we begin with Ted Rowlands, on the scene in Modesto with the latest developments of today. And as soon as he's available, we will go to him. But the obvious -- what was the highlight of the day, Nancy, for you in that court hearing today?

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Well, I think the highlight today was the Oscar-winning performance by Scott Peterson. I saw a big hanky but no tears.

KING: And what, to you, Chris Pixley, stood out today?

CHRIS PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Larry, I think the fact that the autopsy report is going to remain sealed. Obviously, the judge did not agree with the DA. If the information that had been leaked out had been that misleading, the judge obviously would have been well within his authority to release the autopsy. Obviously, it's very unusual to keep it sealed. So this is a victory for the defense. I think that's probably the big news today.

KING: Jo-Ellan, why can't we see everything?

JO-ELLAN DIMITRIUS, JURY CONSULTANT: Well, I think that the judge, in his determination, after looking at the materials, feels that the proper place for that to be disclosed is the courtroom, and so he's not going to allow anything to be released before this. But you know, it's interesting that he did that, but he did not gag the attorneys in the case. So it's a bit contrary, I think.

KING: Didn't you expect a gag order to be...

DIMITRIUS: I really did expect a gag order because, certainly, as we've seen from day to day, both sides have been warring. And one side comes out with information, and then the other side does literally five minutes later. And what I think is fascinating is that the judge did not, whether or not he feels within his wisdom it's because he wanted to preclude sort of the outside leaks from coming through, I don't know.

KING: Judge -- Nancy, why would he decline to grant a motion by reporters, CNN among them, to listen to tapes of their phone calls with Scott? The judge ordered the calls sealed. Why?

GRACE: I've read all the briefs very carefully, and right now, those wiretaps have so far not been heard by anybody. The original wiretaps, Larry, are with the judge in his chambers. Everyone hasn't heard the wiretaps' result, including the parties. So I think all the parties, the defense and the prosecution, will be allowed to hear them first, and then the journalists.

KING: Yes, but Chris, if my conversation -- and I am one of those who was taped because I got a notice because I spoke to Scott. Why can't I hear what my conversation was?

PIXLEY: Well, Larry, I actually agree with Nancy on this. I mean, the fact of the matter is, the defense hasn't seen these conversations. The prosecution hasn't seen them. You ultimately will have a wonderful argument and a wonderful right to that information, but before the press runs with these stories, I think it's appropriate for the prosecution and defense to be able to see the documents, see the tapes, listen to them, see the transcripts first. And I think it's really just a matter of time.

GRACE: Well, there's one other issue, Larry, and that is the journalists' request is a civil request. Everything else here is about a murder trial. Their request to hear themselves asking Peterson to do an interview is secondary to this murder trial. So once the parties involved hear those tapes -- the prosecution nor the defense is battling the journalists. They're saying, Fine. Listen. And the judge has said, Yes, you can listen when it's your turn.

KING: All right, Ted Rowlands, we can see -- the death certificate is released, is that correct?

TED ROWLANDS, KTVU-TV: Yes, that was released about an hour ago up in Contra Costa County in the city of Martinez, the death certificate for both Laci and Conner Peterson. Under "manner of death," it is "undetermined" -- or cause of death is undetermined. The manner of death is listed as homicide for Laci Peterson. There is no cause or manner of death checked off for Conner Peterson.

KING: And for Laci Peterson, it says the manner of death is undetermined, but they know it's a killing?

ROWLANDS: The cause of death is undetermined, but the manner of death is listed as homicide. And that was just released within the last hour. The judge today, while he did rule to keep all of the autopsy reports sealed, he did say that a death certificate should be ruled -- or should be unveiled today.

KING: Unusual to you, Jo-Ellan? DIMITRIUS: Well, certainly, it's unusual. But to me, it indicates that, you know, there's a lot more, in terms of the expert analysis of the bodies and the pathology that's going to happen. And as I've said all along, I think this case is going to boil down to a battle of the experts.

KING: Has you or your firm been -- gotten any inquiries from either side to possibly work on this case?

DIMITRIUS: No, we haven't. No, we haven't.

KING: Do you expect you might be?

DIMITRIUS: I would anticipate that. Sure. Sure. I mean, we've worked for both sides in some of the biggest cases the country has. So I would expect somebody might be knocking on the door.

KING: Now, Ted, what is this story that you broke about an investigative report and the possible use of GHB? What did you break?

ROWLANDS: Basically, today we reported, after confirming with multiple sources on both sides of this, that investigators early on in this case, after they initially served the first search warrant on the Peterson home, they took out a computer. And from that computer, they garnered some sort of evidence which led them to the theory that Scott Peterson may have used the drug GHB to sedate Laci Peterson before they say he killed her in the home. They characterize the homicide in the home as a soft killing, meaning there was very little evidence left in the home. We don't know if there was any GHB found. In fact, it doesn't appear as though there was any actual GHB found in the house.

And according to folks that have seen the autopsy toxicology reports, there was no GHB found in that report, as well. But we do -- we do know that something on that computer led investigators to lean towards this theory that he may have utilized GHB in the murder.

KING: And David Mattingly asked Mark Geragos, the attorney for Scott Peterson, about that today. Let's hear what happened.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's a news report out today that police had a theory that Scott killed Laci using a date rape drug. I wonder what your response is to that.


MATTINGLY: What about their theory about a date rape drug? Where does that come from?

GERAGOS: I don't know what -- I'm not going to comment on their theories. I'll just tell you that Scott had nothing to do with Laci's disappearance and nothing to do with her death. Certainly, there's nothing, absolutely nothing, to suggest anything about a date rape drug. That's just more -- unfortunately, it sounds to me like the police are doing some reaching, and once again releasing misinformation and false information.


KING: And we have copies here of the death certificates of both individuals, of Laci and of Conner, both here. And the cause -- Nancy, mean anything to you the cause is undetermined?

GRACE: Absolutely not, Larry. When you find a body, you've got three choices -- suicide, homicide or accident. You can also take a look at natural causes, but when you turn up bound in duct tape at the bottom of Berkeley Bay, I think that rules out natural causes. So you've got three choices -- homicide, accident and suicide. The prosecution doesn't have to show cause of death. I think it's very obvious that this is a homicide. Laci certainly didn't tape herself and then jump into the icy waters of Berkeley Bay.

And back to what Mark Geragos just said, that the police are stretching -- this is coming from a man who's trying to convince us that Laci was the victim of a satanic cult. I would advise Mark that he save that for a campfire, not for a court of law.

KING: Chris, you want to respond before we bring Dr. Lee in?

PIXLEY: Certainly. First of all, Larry, I think, you know, the GHB story may actually be very good news for the defense. If you think about it, it definitely confirms that the prosecution doesn't have any good blood or DNA evidence from the home. Now, obviously, from what we're hearing, they also don't have any real evidence of GHB. They just have some hint of it on a computer, allegedly. But if they had blood or DNA evidence from the home, they wouldn't have a theory that she had been drugged and strangled. So this is just proving how little evidence the prosecution actually has.

GRACE: But, Larry, anyone familiar with GHB, the date rape drug, knows that it metabolizes in your system within 48 to 72 hours. You would not expect to find it in either Laci or Conner. And remember, anything that is found in Conner's system -- he was in much better physical condition when his little body was found -- is a reflection, a mirror reflection of what would be in Laci's system.

KING: All right. Let me get a break, and we'll come back. Dr. Henry Lee will join the panel. We'll be including your phone calls, of course, as always. Later, Mike Chiavetta will be joining us. He says he may have seen Laci and her dog in East Laloma (ph) Park on Christmas Eve after Scott had already left to go fishing. We'll be right back.


JOHN GOOLD, PROSECUTOR: Eventually, this case is going to end up in a jury trial. This case is going to end up before, as I see it, a jury, 12 people who are going to have to make a decision. And what I want those people to be is not biased from me, not biased for the defense based on what they hear in the media. (END VIDEO CLIP)


KING: Joining our panel from New Haven is Dr. Henry Lee, one of the world's foremost forensic scientists. There are stories around, Henry, that Mark Geragos is talking to you about the possibility of coming on board for the defense. Are they true?

DR. HENRY LEE, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Larry, I cannot confirm or deny their parties contact me...


-- regards to case.

KING: Well, you could deny it, so in not denying it, you're, in a sense, confirming it.


LEE: I'm not confirming it. But you're an excellent television producer, host, and you should know what my situation.

KING: I understand. OK, Jo-Ellan has a question for you, and then we'll get more in with the panel

LEE: Sure.

DIMITRIUS: Henry, I've heard speculation that one of the things that was found by the prosecutors in the home was a mop that had traces of vomit. And now that we've heard stories about this potential GHB...

LEE: Yes.

DIMITRIUS: ... one of the questions I have is, with the traces that were left of the vomit, would the potential of GHB, if it exists, be found in that? Could they find it?

LEE: Excellent question. Excellent question, Jo-Ellan. First of all, for the viewers, GHB represents gamma hydroxybuturic (ph) acid, commonly refer as a date rape drug. In human body, we produce small amount of GHB in our system. So if you found a trace amount GHB, not necessary somebody drugged because the nature -- our body nature produce small amount of GHB. GHB, in contrast to our public belief, is not going to, say, disable somebody. Some -- you know, only subconscious. People will still have some amount of conscious.

And GHB, the half-life in the blood pretty fast. Usually, between two to four hours, it's gone. Then it goes to urine about another four to six hours. In other words, about 12 hours, and you already metabolized. And so vomiting material, that's kind of interesting. Whether or not the trace amount, that could be the body system produced. If a larger amount, definite that's a proof some drug been used. KING: OK. Ted Rowlands, how seriously is that area of discussion being taken?

ROWLANDS: Well, it was definitely a theory that the prosecution went with after they pulled that computer out. What it was on that computer, whether it was some sort of transaction or just research on it, I just can't -- we don't know. But it's a theory that made sense, if you went with the soft kill. Why would Laci not fight back? Why would there be no evidence in the home, if, indeed, that was where this occurred? So from the prosecution's standpoint, it was a theory. How far past that, who knows? And quite frankly, we don't know if any actual GHB was ever found.

KING: Nancy, a lot of people have said to me, since the prosecution asked so early for the death penalty, they must have a lot more than anybody knows. Would you agree with that?

GRACE: Yes. Having worked on death penalty cases in the past, I would say yes, that you have to feel very strongly about, A, the circumstances surrounding the nature of the death, and your element of proof. Larry, it is very, very difficult to get a jury to go along with the death penalty, the ultimate. You can advance it, but you've got 12 people deciding life or death.

KING: Yes.

GRACE: I feel they must have a very strong, strong case. And we've only seen a tiny tidbit, a tiny sliver here and there of what their case may be.

KING: Chris Pixley, would you agree with that, that they must have something stronger than it would certainly appear?

PIXLEY: I wonder, Larry, right now if they aren't questioning how intelligent that was to make that claim, to make that suggestion that they were going to go for the death penalty that early on. The fact is, the prosecution is floating their own new theories on a regular basis. And you know, the leaks are not a sliver here and there, as Nancy says. I mean, we've got two leaks in the past week, one about Amy Rocha having this story that Scott had a tee time rather than a boating and fishing trip scheduled for the 24th...

GRACE: That's all consistent with the same theory!

PIXLEY: ... a second one that says now that they think this was a date rape drug that was used and that she was...

GRACE: Still consistent.

PIXLEY: ... strangled. Well, if that's consistent with their theory, as Nancy says, the fact is, they don't have a lot of evidence to go on. We know from what we've seen leaked of the autopsy report that the head is off of the torso and that it's off at the base of the throat. So if it's a strangulation that they theorize, they're going to have to come with the head.

GRACE: Well, actually...

PIXLEY: And remember, Larry, they haven't come up...

GRACE: ... they don't have to come up with...

PIXLEY: ... with any of the missing body parts.

GRACE: ... any cause of death. And anyone that has ever handled a murder case would know the prosecution doesn't have to prove cause of death.

PIXLEY: No, they need to come...

GRACE: The woman is at the bottom of the Berkeley Marina without her head. I think we can deduce it's a homicide, Chris.

PIXLEY: Well, actually, it's interesting, Nancy, because you were agreeing with Cyril Wecht on the show a few weeks ago when he said that he thought the tides or the shipping activity in the bay itself could have actually torn the limbs off. Interesting that it would tear them off at the same spot, tore the head off not at the base of the jaw and the skull itself, but actually...

GRACE: Once again...

PIXLEY: ... the base of the throat.

GRACE: ... those are consistent.

PIXLEY: Kind of a strange place.

KING: Dr. Henry Lee -- Dr. Lee...

LEE: Yes?

KING: ... might they never find cause of death?

LEE: Well, the manner of death, as Nancy says, homicide, suicide or accidental, but have a fourth one called "undetermined." That's why this case they call homicide. And cause of death is undetermined. So by process of elimination, prosecution try to say must be strangulation because they not found any gunshot wound, no stabbing wound, no blunt object and no drugs were found in the system. So by process of elimination, they have come up something, say it could be a strangulation. Strangulation, of course, GHB, maybe say disable her somewhat, then the strangulation, to cover why they not find any blood in the house.

KING: Jo-Ellan?

LEE: Yes?

KING: I'm sorry. If you were picking the jury for the defense, what would you be looking for here?

DIMITRIUS: Well, first of all, I think I would be looking for people who themselves are problem solvers, crime solvers, people who might like detective novels. I think that I would probably be looking more for men. And I'm making a very gross...

KING: Men more than women for this?

DIMITRIUS: Yes, I think so. I think that there's just an element to the pictures we see of Laci that there's really such a dichotomy between the two in the pictures. And what I've heard most people perceive, that, on one hand, Laci is, you know, this effervescent, lovely charming, girl next door, whereas Scott has just a facial expression that some people have said is not what seems to be real pleasant. And men -- that's not as important to guys as it is to women.

KING: We'll take a break and come back. We'll start to include your phone calls for our panel. Don't forget Mike Chiavetta, who may or may not be an eyewitness in all of this, will be with us, as well. Don't go away.


GERAGOS: The idea of allowing the media to go and listen to all of these items now, and then, if it turns out that all of these things should have -- were received or were obtained illegally and are going to end up being either suppressed or determined to be inadmissible, then we will have created a hornet's nest of a situation.



KING: We're back with our panel. We'll go to some phone calls, as well. Bayonne, New Jersey. Hello.

CALLER: Yes. Hi. My question is for Nancy Grace.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: I would like to know, if Scott is found guilty and he appeals the verdict and he hires a new attorney, could that new attorney claim that he did not have good representation because Mark Geragos is floating all these crazy...

GRACE: Right.

CALLER: ... theories...

GRACE: That means...

CALLER: ... that someone else did it.

GRACE: Let me save your breath.

CALLER: And Nancy, also, you are fantastic. Thank you for sticking up for victims' rights. Thank you. GRACE: Thank you. Let me tell you something. If Peterson is convicted, if he gets the death penalty or if he gets life, I guarantee you, like every other criminal defendant, he will most likely have a new appellate lawyer for the very reason of filing an ineffective assistance of counsel claim on Geragos, whether it's true or not. We could all think that Geragos is the greatest lawyer that ever existed. Doesn't matter. That's a constitutional claim the defendant can make. And I promise you he will, regardless of what happens in the courtroom.

KING: Why, Chris, would he make that claim when he may have other claims, a myriad of claims on appeal?

PIXLEY: Well, Nancy's right. You get an appellate attorney involved, and they're going to throw everything and the kitchen sink in. And ineffective assistance of counsel is one of those arguments that's summarily made.

GRACE: Very common.

PIXLEY: Of course, they're also going to, you know, make a number of other arguments, including the fact that, you know, the prosecution and the Rocha family may have evidence that wasn't turned over, that they -- the evidence that was taken from the home this past week may have been important to their case. There may be some good appellate arguments. I don't think ineffective assistance of counsel is going to be a good one, even though there are some people in the public that don't like the theories that are being floated.

KING: Fort Worth, Texas. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. My question is for Nancy Grace. The first thing I want to say is Nancy Grace represents the common people. I don't care where you're from, who you are. All of America bases their opinions on common sense, and I believe that that's what Nancy Grace represents for everybody out there. We're not responsible for digging up facts and determining the actual cause of death. We're here to use our common sense and talk about it in and discuss it, and that is exactly what this is all about. So first, I have to thank you for that.

The question that I have for you that I have never heard is, has Scott Peterson ever been tested with a lie-detector test? Has anything ever, you know, come up about that at all?

GRACE: Larry and I have kicked that around since day two of this. Remember when all the press was calling on him to take a polygraph, take a polygraph? Did he take it? Don't know. But I do know this. If he had taken it and passed it, we would have heard about it. So you can go to sleep tonight knowing he probably has not taken it and passed it.

KING: Niederland, Texas. Hello.

CALLER: Yes. My question is for Nancy Grace.

KING: Go ahead. CALLER: You are the greatest! My mother and I both enjoy you. My question is, if Laci Peterson -- on these panel discussions all the time, the question of motive comes up. If Laci Peterson was getting tired of his extracurricular activities and the thought of divorce was entering her mind, doesn't California have alimony and child support?

GRACE: Oh, yes, they do!

CALLER: And wouldn't that have been enough motive for somebody 28 years old not to want to spend the next so many years paying?

GRACE: Absolutely. They do have those laws.

KING: If that were true, there'd be a lot more murders in the state of California, ma'am.

GRACE: But you know what, Larry? I've prosecuted a murder over a $10 debt before. So it doesn't take a whole lot to send somebody off. But she is right. The threat of alimony and child support, quote, "for the rest of your life" -- I could see that throwing someone into a rage and then acting spontaneously. But premeditation can be formed in the blinking of an eye. So that would qualify as murder one, if that's a scenario.

PIXLEY: Of course, the problem, Larry I think, with that whole concept is the fact that -- you know, I think there's a general theory around water coolers in America that this was either an accident that occurred during a fight or that this was a murder that occurred in the heat of the moment, maybe because of a discussion over Amber Frey, maybe for another reason. The problem there is that we've got this physical evidence to suggest that there may very well have been a mutilation of Laci's body.

And if that's the case, it's entirely inconsistent with what we know of this man. This is not somebody who has a history of violence. This is not somebody with any criminal record at all. So to suggest that he went off and killed his wife because he didn't want to pay alimony because there were financial concerns involved in getting out of the marriage, even if you can prove that he wanted out of the marriage -- and I don't know...

GRACE: Well, he obviously...

PIXLEY: ... that you can prove that based on a few affairs...

GRACE: ... didn't want in the marriage. I mean, he was clearly dating other women, out with a stripper, not happy about having the baby. So I'm not saying that that makes him a killer. I'm just saying that that proves he doesn't have those warm, tender feelings for Laci Peterson.

PIXLEY: I think the evidence is actually very inconclusive on that. Scott Peterson accompanied his wife to the doctor to check on the baby's progress...

GRACE: Well... PIXLEY: ... the day before her disappearance. And he renovated a room in their home to build a nursery. I mean, there is -- and of course, what the family, what Laci's own family...

GRACE: I don't know how he had time to do that.

PIXLEY: ... had to say about him before they knew about the affair was...

KING: Don't interrupt!

PIXLEY: ... that he was a wonderful man and a wonderful husband.

KING: I got to get a break. We'll take a break. I'll reintroduce the panel. We'll get more phone calls. Joining us in a little while will be Mike Chiavetta, who says he may have seen Laci and her dog in that park on Christmas Eve. Don't go away.


JUDGE AL GIROLAMI: I'm keeping the order the same as I did from May 30. All those findings I made at that time are still valid at this time. And the mere fact that someone leaked out part of that report does not justify releasing all of it until the parties have had an opportunity to thoroughly investigate this matter and all the issues and whatever motions are necessary regarding it. So the previous order remains. I'm not changing that.




GLORIA ALLRED, AMBER FREY'S ATTORNEY: Amber Frey is not authorizing anyone to sell or give away posed photographs of herself. She's upset and she's offended that anyone would try to profit from such photos. And this is hurtful to Amber, and she has been in tears over it.

She's doing the right thing in this case. She is completely devastated by this news and what is happening to her is very unfair. And those who are doing it to her should be ashamed of themselves.


KING: That was Gloria Allred. We'll ask that in a moment.

Let's reintroduce the panel. They are in Modesto, California Ted Rowlands, reporter for KTVU who has been covering the Peterson case from the get-go. In Atlanta is Nancy Grace, anchor for "Trial Heat" on Court TV and a former prosecutor.

Also in Atlanta is Chris Pixley, the well-known criminal defense attorney.

In new haven is Dr. Henry Lee, one of the world's foremost forensic scientists.

In Los Angeles, Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, jury consultant, co-chair of Vinson and Dimitrius, one of the world's top jury and trial consulting firms.

One program note. If you missed the interview with John Eisenhower, Dwight Eisenhower's son, it will be repeated Sunday night. It was aired last night. And tomorrow night we'll repeat the last interview we did with Martha Stewart. And Tuesday night, in her first live interview since the publication of her book, Hillary Clinton will be aboard.

Ted, the story goes that Amber Frey and Larry Flynt of "Hustler" says he's been approached by a man who says he owns the rights to more than two dozen photos of Amber Frey, many of them showing her nude. What do you make of that?

ROWLANDS: Talking to Gloria Allred today, Amber Frey is extremely upset about this. Apparently, someone claims they have the rights to these photographs. As you mentioned, there's about 200 of them. Larry Flynt wants to buy them. We're also hearing that "Penthouse" wants to buy them and they're basically putting in bids.

Larry Flynt had a photographer come in and show him actually paging through them. Some of them, as you mentioned, nude. Others of her pregnant and clothed.

But you know Gloria Allred pointed out today this is really a sad by-product for someone like Amber, who has been thrown into this, and now this stuff, which obviously has nothing to do with Scott Peterson, is coming out. And that's where it stands at this point. Nothing has been published, and Gloria is trying to proactively stop it.

KING: Nancy, if true, it certainly affects the credibility of a witness, doesn't it?

GRACE: Frankly, Larry, I don't care if she's got nudie pics. I've had witnesses that were hookers, dope dealers...

KING: It doesn't affect credibility?

GRACE: It depends on your jury. We're talking about a double murder of a pregnant lady and an unborn child. If the defense makes a big brouhaha out of Amber Frey's nudie pics, it's kind of the pot calling the kettle black, huh?

KING: Chris, what do you think?

PIXLEY: I agree with Nancy that you don't attack a witness over something like this. Even if the defense never says a word about this in court, the fact that it's received this much play and attention already today, and it will for many weeks to come, means that it's going to be in people's minds.

Remember, this is not the only issue they'll have to consider when it comes to Amber Frey. They also will know that Amber not only had taped conversations with Scott Peterson, but that she worked with the prosecution to try to get an admission or confession out of him. They know she's been lied to. They know she's gone through this physical metamorphosis of sorts in the media lately. And, of course, now they know about the nude pictures.

So they're going to have some reasons to question her motivation and bias in this case. So I don't think it helps her.

GRACE: I don't get the connection, Larry, between getting highlights in your hair, having nudie pictures done a couple of years ago that have now resurfaced for money from some other guy, and being mad because you find out your boyfriend is really married and suspected of murder. I don't see how that fits into her being incredible.

Now, can you imagine on the stand, after she gets a bomb shell for the state about these tapes, and then the best the defense has to say is didn't you pose for a nude shot about five years ago? It's going to fall flat. Good luck, Mark.

PIXLEY: And it's a good point. But, Larry, I think, as Jo-Ellan would point out, a lot of it's all going to come down to how Amber comes off on the stand, what kind of person she really presents herself as.

DIMITRIUS: Absolutely. With any witness, it's about their likeability.

KING: If she's a bad witness she's going to hurt the state?

DIMITRIUS: Sure. But I can certainly share with you that I think, with that information being disseminated about the nude photos, plus being involved in the occupation she is as a massage therapist, there are some that would say there are legitimate massage therapists and not so legitimate massage therapists. So she, unfortunately, comes to this from a real disadvantage point.

KING: Somerville, New Jersey, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Excellent panel.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: My question is for either Ted or Nancy. Can either of you please tell us what Scott did with Laci's golden retriever?

KING: Does anyone know?

ROWLANDS: Yes. The golden retriever is being cared for by friends and/or family down, I believe, in San Diego. And it's being taken care of quite well. There were a lot of people that were very concerned about, Mackenzie, the golden retriever. As soon as Scott started to leave the house, he made arrangements to take care of the dog.

GRACE: And you know, there was a kitty cat too, Larry. Let's don't leave out the kitty cat. Friends and family took both of them.

KING: We're going to ask Mike Schiavetta about that dog in a couple of minutes.

Seattle, hello.

CALLER: Yes, good evening. We've been told to use common sense and based on the information that has been given to the viewers so far, we're told that Laci Peterson has -- is not exactly somebody who is afraid to speak her mind, being confronted with the evidence that her husband had affairs. There are alleged witnesses to his leaving very early in the morning and alleged witnesses to seeing her in the park walking the dog.

What does it say that Scott did not return to the park and take Laci leaving the dog in the park. She would not refuse to get in the vehicle with him and whatever happened after that point could have occurred down at the...

KING: Is that another theory, Dr. Lee?

LEE: Yes, that's another possibility. Just so many different theories now.

Of course, as a scientist, we have to look at the physical evidence. So far, we haven't had any earth shaking evidence. Even the tape around the fetus neck is still unknown. So that's why I don't like to speculate that much. We'll have to see where the chips fall and see what happens. That's a possible theory too.

KING: Staten Island, hello.

CALLER: Yes. Regarding the rape that occurred in Modesto in mid-December, it's alleged the rapist told the victim that a kidnap and murder would occur on Christmas Eve. I'm wondering now, with the date rape information found on his computer, does anyone know where Scott was on the night of the rape?

KING: Well there's a stretch.

Ted, what do you make of that?

ROWLANDS: Well, I could tell you the victim in that rape case on December 18 near the Peterson home says that she was raped by a group of people who participated in some sort of satanic ritual, and she told a rape counselor that they had predicted this murder on Christmas and that this woman would read about it in the newspaper.

I can tell you that the Modesto Police Department says that they looked into it and there's nothing to it, meaning that the victim or said victim in this case may not be credible. Talked to defense sources. They completely disagree, and they are looking at her as a potential witness in this case.

KING: We're going to get a break. When we come back, Mike Schiavetta will join us as he may have seen Laci and her dog on Christmas Eve, and that was the day or so. He's going to tell the story to the police. We'll get the story from him rather than me reading it off a card. Don't go away.


JOHN GOOLD, PROSECUTOR: Whether happy or unhappy, this is a process. It's a criminal case. I've had lots of things like this happen before. They'll happen again. It's just one step in the process. It remains sealed. That's the judge's decision. We'll certainly abide by it.



KING: Joining us now in Modesto, and our panel may have some questions for him as well, is Mike Chiavetta, who lives in the Laloma district of Modesto. He teaches history and coaches water polo at Modesto High School. All right, Mike. What did you see and when did you see it?

MIKE CHIAVETTA, NEIGHBOR, MAY HAVE SEEN LACI DAY SHE VANISHED: Well, I was walking in -- I was running in the park on Christmas Eve, about 9:00, in that range, and I finished my run. And I was -- I had my dog with me, and we decided to play catch or fetch. And I was kind of off the main path and making sure my dog wasn't going to affect other people, because there were quite a few people in the park. And I looked across at a place really close to where I go down to the park and where Laci would go down to the park, and I saw -- I saw the dog. I was looking out for other dogs, and I can almost -- I'm certain I saw their dog down in the park.

And as I looked, I was trying to focus on the dog. I might have seen a round person. I mean, I can't say. It was about 30 yards away. In a white smock and black leggings walking with the dog. But I'll be honest with you -- and I told this to the police -- my focus was really on the dog and not the person, again, because my dog was off its leash and we were -- didn't want him to go and run after somebody.

KING: Mike, do you know Laci?

CHIAVETTA: No. It's unusual that we live only two houses away, but the way the flow pattern is in the neighborhood, they kind of went south on Covina to leave the neighborhood, and we went west on Edgebrook and didn't really know them. I mean...


KING: But you knew the dog?

CHIAVETTA: When I -- actually, when the dog was in the paper the next day, I said to my wife, "I saw that dog in the park. I'm almost positive." You know, he's a golden retriever. He's a little bit older. He had kind of long hair. And I feel pretty certain I saw the dog. And there might have been ... KING: So you can say -- go ahead.

CHIAVETTA: I was just going to say, and then, in that picture in my mind's eye, I see somebody walking the dog. It appeared to be a woman, again about 30 yards away, and she was large, meaning she could have been pregnant. And I do remember the white smock and black leggings. That's what the vision I have in my head, or the memory I have.

KING: And you told the police, in your opinion, that was the dog that you knew as the dog that belonged to the Petersons?

CHIAVETTA: I felt pretty certain that that was the dog. I talked to the police either the day after Christmas or two days after Christmas. We had a motorcycle policeman come around and he was asking questions, and I had told him what I had seen and what I thought, I said I can't be definitive if I saw Laci Peterson, and I don't know her by seeing her. But this is what I saw.

KING: The weather was clear?

CHIAVETTA: Yes. You know, I read in the paper they said it was foggy. It was actually a really nice day. It was, you know, in the winter here, we get a lot of fog where we really get socked in. But it was kind of hazy, and the sun was breaking through at about the time I was done with my run. And what amazes me, Mr. King, is there were dozens of people in the park that day. I mean, we have a frisbee golf course, and there had to be 25 people playing frisbee golf. Lots of people walking in the park and running.

KING: And other people say they saw Laci on that day, Homer Maldonado (ph) and Vivian Mitchell. Let's see if anyone on our panel has a question for mike. Ted, do you?

ROWLANDS: Well, I think Mike represents a potential problem definitely for the prosecution in that there are other people like Mike that think they saw Laci. And unless the prosecution comes up with an alternative to it, it could pose a problem, because as you hear, he's fairly believable, and he honestly believes he saw that dog. You talked to Vivian Mitchell. She honestly thinks she saw it. Mr. Maldonado (ph), the same. And there is another key witness too that has the same experience. Unless there's a viable explanation for it, it may go a long way in providing some doubt.

KING: Nancy, do you have a question for Mike?

GRACE: Yes, I do. I noticed in an earlier statement of yours you stated that you think you saw the dog around 10:45 a.m. Is that correct?

CHIAVETTA: No. I'll be really honest with you. I've been thinking about this. "The Modesto Bee" reporter asked me yesterday, as I was driving in the car, can you give me a definitive time? And I'm thinking 10:30. Now I'm not sure. It's the one thing I'm sketchy on. I do know -- and this sounds kind of convoluted -- but the police talked to me two days after, and I knew exactly when I got home from my run. I just can't remember when that time was, because I told the policeman...

GRACE: I was just wondering about the 10:45, because the woman took the dog back into his yard no later than 10:17. My only other...

CHIAVETTA: And I'm thinking I'm too late. I think that my timing is off. You see, it was Christmas Eve, and our family has a lot of activities. I went on a run. I was paying attention to the time. I know I looked at the clock when I walked in. I'm just getting old, I guess. I can't remember exactly.

GRACE: You just said something interesting. You said, I went home, and I told my wife, "I saw that dog in the park." But you didn't tell your wife ...

CHIAVETTA: That was the next day.

GRACE: ... I saw Laci, did you?

CHIAVETTA: No, that's really true. We had this conversation, and I basically said that I -- I saw the dog. Can I say I saw the dog or no?

KING: All you're telling us today is, all you're telling us today is, tonight is you saw the dog and you saw a woman with the dog, but you couldn't positively say it was Laci. Right?

CHIAVETTA: No. I couldn't definitely say it was her. That's probably the safest way of saying it.

KING: Chris, you have a question?

PIXLEY: Yes, absolutely, Larry. You know, Mike, I think it's a really brave thing to not only come forward and talk to the police -- I understand that you did that the day after Christmas -- but now, in the face of all of this publicity, much of it against Scott Peterson, to come forward and talk to the press. What made you decide to come forward and speak publicly about this?

CHIAVETTA: Well, I teach political science at the junior college, and I teach history to my students. I think it's my responsibility to get this information out there. I sure don't like doing this. I would much rather be out tonight, like I normally go out on a Friday night, but it's what you have to do. I mean, we have a man's life at stake here, and I'm not trying to color that in any other way than what I saw. And I think, again, it's my responsibility as a citizen to come forward and say this is what I saw. I can't be sure, but I think it's, again, the right thing to do.

KING: Thank you, Mike. Thanks for spending time with us. Mike Chiavetta, who says he's pretty sure he saw the dog, saw a woman with the dog, can't positively identify who the woman was.

We'll come back with more calls for the panel and their comments on Mike right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Jo-Ellan, people like Mike and others are going to be witnesses for the defense, obviously, right? They're going to be called and subpoenaed by the defense?

DIMITRIUS: Right, they sure will be. And what will happen is, I think Mike and -- sort of will become part of the time line that the defense will create, and maybe even the prosecution will try to create, to show that, you know, stories may be conflicted with one another. But certainly, I think he's a real credible guy.

KING: Nancy, all they have to do is try to create doubt, right?

GRACE: Absolutely. And they've only got to do that with one juror, and they've got a hung jury. But the judge will instruct the jury, as they do across this country, this is a doubt based on reason, not a fanciful doubt. And my theory is, if you try to have a jury swallow the notion of Satanic cult, that is not a reasonable doubt.

KING: Well, how about the notion of Mike and others like him say they saw the dog?

GRACE: That would be more of a reasonable doubt, if it does not fit at all within the state's time line.

KING: Yes.

GRACE: However, a caller called in earlier and said couldn't both of these things be true? That is possible. But I want to remind you, Larry, that the bloodhound indicated Laci went in a completely different direction than the park. So what all these people say is going to be refuted by a bloodhound.

KING: Chris Pixley, what do you make of what Mike may be like in court?

PIXLEY: Well, first of all, I'm comfortable with the bloodhound being the best witness for the prosecution in this case. That makes me feel warm all over.

As far as Mike -- I mean, you know, Larry, you have witnesses like this. We've also seen some statements from Homer Maldonado and from Vivian Mitchell that are very compelling. I'm impressed by Mike. And I think that if you have a number of defense witnesses like this and if their stories do fit together factually along a consistent timeline, it will go a long way toward raising a reasonable doubt.

I also don't think that you necessarily -- that it's necessarily bad that right now Mark Geragos is trying to prove Scott's innocence. He can still always fall back on reasonable doubt later.

KING: Dr. Lee, is timeline a key here?

LEE: Yes, it's a key and a very important key.

Also, don't forget Mike just described the woman wear something white. And apparently, there are some clothes found on victim's body. You've got the clothes, what she wear, in fact, is white. That can prove, you know, what the witness says, and it's a very important witness for the case.

KING: Rancho Bernardo, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Thank you for taking my call.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: My question is for Ted and Nancy.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: Very early in the case, it was reported that a neighbor heard a woman screaming, Help me. And I'd like to know what became of that report because I haven't heard much since.

KING: Ted?

ROWLANDS: yes, I recall that report coming out, and there hasn't been much said about it, whether or not this is something the prosecution has or doesn't have or whether the defense -- I would speculate that if the defense knew about this and thought it was credible, we'd have heard about it in these last few weeks here.

Quite frankly, I don't know the answer to that question, but I do remember that report.

KING: Nancy, do you know anything further?

GRACE: I recall the report as well. In fact, you and Ted and I talked about it on air, and in a sense disappeared. Don't know if she has turned into a state's witness or very possibly a defense witness.

KING: Toronto, Ontario, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I have two questions.

The first question is why wasn't Laci wearing her wedding band? And the second question is this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a case situation for Mark Geragos, because if he gets him off, then he's the lawyer who got Scott Peterson off. And if he doesn't, you know, the guy is guilty. There's no way he could have got him off.

KING: Is it a win-win, Chris for Mark?

PIXLEY: I think it's a win-win in that Mark gets an awful lot of attention from this case, and he will be famous almost no matter which way it goes.

The good news for Mark is that the prosecution did such a masterful job in the press early on that the whole nation thought the guy was guilty. So the caller makes a wonderful point.

At the same time, I think Mark is committed to this family, and I think it will be a big blow to him if he fails to get Scott off. KING: And Nancy, what about the wedding ring?

GRACE: I was not certain that she did not have her wedding ring on.

However, there is a theory, a very strong theory out there, that Laci was killed in the home that evening, that night, after she got back from Salon Salon, not the next day. That night, as she was preparing for bed. Also, it's my understanding her fingers had swollen up to a certain degree due to her pregnancy.

I do notice, regarding wedding rings, however, that in his booking report, Peterson himself is not wearing a wedding band.

KING: And had he worn one previously?

GRACE: I think he had worn one previously but had began to take it off, claiming that with his line of business being a salesman, it was inconvenient.

KING: I only got 20 seconds.

Ted, there's a June 26 -- there's a date to deal for -- to deal with defense motions on wiretaps, right?

ROWLANDS: Yes. That will be the next time that Scott is back in court, and the next time everybody's back here in Modesto for a hearing and who knows what else will come up before then.

KING: Thank you all very much, Ted Rowlands, Nancy Grace, Chris Pixley, Dr. Henry Lee, and Jo-Ellan Dimitrius.

And I'll be back to tell you what's ahead this weekend. Some exciting programming.

Don't go away.


KING: Tomorrow night, we'll repeat the last interview we did with Martha Stewart. It was before all this fuss, but there's a lot of talk about business.

Sunday night, we'll repeat our interview with John Eisenhower. And don't forget Tuesday, Hillary Clinton's first live interview in regard to the publication of her autobiography.


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.