CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Panel Discusses Laci Peterson Case
Aired June 26, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT PETERSON: Well, I think we're forced to, without the information coming from the prosecution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, do you give up that right?
PETERSON: So it's not my wish, but yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: Scott Peterson speaks in court. Laci's family makes a heart-rending plea to the judge. And the judge rules the gag order doesn't apply to Amber Frey's attorney, Gloria Allred. All this during a very busy hearing that also dealt with wiretapped phone calls, contempt claims against the DA and more.
Here to sort it all out, Ted Rowlands of KTVU on the scene in Modesto, Nancy Grace of Court TV, the former prosecutor, defense attorney Chris Pixley, Jim Hammer, assistant district attorney for San Francisco, defense attorney Jayne Weintraub and Gloria Allred.
But first: a guilty verdict in less than an hour in the incredible Texas murder case of the woman who hit a man with her car, drove home with him struck to the windshield and left him there to die. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Ted Rowlands will join us later, when we get to the Peterson matter. We'll devote the first two segments of LARRY KING LIVE tonight to that incredible trial of Chante Mallard. Today she was found guilty, a Ft. Worth, Texas, jury coming back in less than an hour. In Texas, they immediately have the sentencing hearing, and the convicted defendant then takes the stand in her own behalf.
Let's show you part of Chante Mallard's testimony today at her sentencing hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you were going around that curve, what happened?
CHANTE MALLARD: As I was going around the curve, I hit Mr. Biggs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And when you hit Mr. Biggs, did you see him before you hit him, that you remember?
MALLARD: No, sir, I did not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And what -- how -- what was the first thing that happened that made you know that you hit Mr. Biggs?
MALLARD: When I hit him, there was a real loud, very loud noise, and all this glass started flying the car, followed by a lot of wind. And the glass was just -- it was just cutting in my skin. It was just stinging me. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you know what happened first when you heard the sound and felt the glass?
MALLARD: No, I didn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Jim Hammer, you're assistant district attorney in San Francisco. You're head of the homicide unit. This was not a classic homicide, was it.
JIM HAMMER, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SAN FRANCISCO: Not at all, Larry. The really unusual thing, in California, especially, this would have been prosecuted based upon her actions in driving that night under ecstasy and marijuana and alcohol, the rest of it. Texas prosecutors really used this unusual felony murder theory of tacking on failure to render aid, together with the fact that she parked this car in the garage and let this man die. It's really -- these trials are morality trials, Larry. And if you add together everything she did, but especially leaving this poor man to die hidden in her garage, where nobody could come upon him, I think you understand why the jury came back so fast in the case.
KING: Chris Pixley, what do you think's going to happen to her?
CHRIS PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you know, there's the possibility of anything from parole to 99 years or life imprisonment. If the jury's deliberations over the course of 55 minutes and the fact that you are in Texas -- welcome to Texas -- is any indication, I think that she's going to get the upper end of that. Now, this case is just so shocking to the conscience. And I think the jury going out for 55 minutes, coming back with a guilty verdict, says that they probably have a lot in store for her still.
KING: Were you surprised, Nancy, at how quick the jury took?
NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: No. Larry, after hearing the evidence the past couple of days, I was not surprised at all. However, there is a similar analogous case in California I wanted to remind Jim Hammer of. Just recently, two people convicted, one of them for murder for drag racing on a public street, rammed into another car, killing people in the car. And there was a murder, a manslaughter conviction, kind of similar to here. This is not your usual murder prosecution, Larry. They're relying on a theory called "felony murder," which means during the course of failing to render aid, over hours and hours with the man begging for his life, he then died. That is the theory, not necessarily premeditation.
KING: Jayne, what do you think she should -- what should be the sentence?
JAYNE WEINTRAUB, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the sentence? You know, I'm not so sure, but I'm sure that it shouldn't have been a first-degree murder. You know what, Larry? As horrible as it is -- all homicides are horrible. All deaths are horrible. But this was a true accident. This -- you know, murder is a deliberate act. No matter what you call it, felony murder, murder one, murder two, murder is a deliberate act. What happened here was panic. She did not see him. We don't even know where he was standing. She hit him. And she did all the other stupid stuff after. So that shows -- it negates the intent.
Don't forget, this is a woman who was so drugged out and intoxicated, she never could have formulated any specific intent to kill him. She didn't want to kill him.
WEINTRAUB: And what troubled me more, I think...
WEINTRAUB: ... is there was no defense.
KING: Even if she had stopped right there and -- if she had called 911, nothing would have happened to her, right?
HAMMER: Well, she might have -- she might have still been liable for driving, you know, on ecstasy and marijuana, the rest of it. I want to disagree with the last guest, in that, Larry, all murder does not require the intent to kill. That's the whole idea of implied malice. If you do something really dangerous and you, you know, run that risk intentionally and someone dies, that can be murder, as well. So...
WEINTRAUB: Well, Jim, that would be...
HAMMER: ... this is the wrong idea...
WEINTRAUB: ... drag racing.
HAMMER: ... about murder.
HAMMER: It's called implied malice murder across this country.
WEINTRAUB: This is a woman who had a car accident and somebody got killed.
HAMMER: And waited for two hours, while he suffered and begged for his life in her garage.
WEINTRAUB: That doesn't mean she...
HAMMER: I call that murder, and I think the jury's right.
WEINTRAUB: A fire rescue guy said that he may have lived. A little speculation for me.
GRACE: No, that's not what...
WEINTRAUB: He didn't even call a medical doctor.
GRACE: ... the facts were, Larry. Those are not the facts. In fact, Chante Mallard gave a statement to police. We don't have to rely on what a firefighter may have thought. Chante Mallard told police what happened, that she continued to go out into the garage, and the man was moaning and begging. And then, instead of calling 911, she called a friend to hide the body.
GRACE: They wrapped it in a blanket as the man moaned in pain! Those are her words, not someone speculating as to what may have happened. The man's left leg, Larry, was amputated by her car!
KING: Chris, what would have happened...
WEINTRAUB: But you take away her...
KING: ... if she stayed -- Chris, what would have happened if she stayed at the scene?
PIXLEY: Well, You know, Larry, so many different things -- there are so many things that she could have done that would have changed the outcome here. And I think Jayne raises an excellent point. You don't want to attack the defense team here, but I don't know that the jury had any other conclusion that they could have come to. You know, they seem to have been raising this voluntary intoxication defense, but then they only put on a medical examiner to raise doubt about whether or not this man was actually dead at the moment of the accident, as opposed to, you know, lying there alive and moaning and in pain.
If you're putting on that kind of defense, you want to put up experts that are going to explain the condition that she was in because of the drugs and alcohol that she had in her system. You also, you know, want to consider putting up a psychiatrist, someone that's going to explain, in the following days after this, what might have been going on with her, whether it's post-traumatic stress disorder or something that is inherent in Chante Mallard that would have caused her to hide this all. None of that was put up. The defense team only put one witness on the stand. And you know, maybe they realized it was a foregone conclusion she was going to be convicted, but you would want more done, I think.
KING: Nancy, would you have aggressively prosecuted this woman? GRACE: Yes, Larry, there's no doubt in my mind I would have tried for a murder conviction because I believe that in torturing Mr. Biggs the way he was tortured, begging for his life, that equals murder. And I want to point out something that came up today at sentencing phase. Unusual, Larry. Across the country, in most jurisdictions, you get a murder conviction, you get life. It's mandatory. Here a Texas jury was hearing evidence up until just a few moments ago in a Texas courtroom! Chante Mallard took the stand!
And now I know why they didn't put her on the stand during the guilt/innocence phase. She told this jury, Larry, that for the past nine years, basically, she's been stoned! Larry, she has been working in rest homes, as a nurse's aide, taking care of somebody's grandmother stoned! And to tick the authorities, more than once, at least about a half a dozen times, four to six, she would get somebody else to urinate so she could pass a drug test!
KING: Stoned doesn't make her a murderer, though.
GRACE: When she is driving, Larry, under the influence of marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol, and runs down a man, that is commonly known as vehicular homicide.
WEINTRAUB: Not murder.
KING: Vehicular homicide is not murder, though, right?
GRACE: Well, in this case, under a felony murder charge, she would be guilty and a jury has found her guilty.
KING: All right, let me get a break, and we'll take some phone calls on this, and then we'll get to the Peterson matter. We'll be right back with Nancy Grace, Chris Pixley, Jim Hammer and Jayne Weintraub. Ted Rowlands will join us in a little while. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALLARD: I sat in the car for a few seconds. Then I got out of the car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, wait a second. Well, what were you doing when you were sitting in the car?
MALLARD: I was just screaming. And I got out of the car. And I was just screaming and I was crying. And I eventually walked around to the passenger side of the car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And when you walked around to the passenger side of the car, what were you thinking?
MALLARD: That I seen a man's leg. And I didn't know what to do!
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MALLARD: I was scared and I didn't know what to do. And I was asking God to tell me what to do. I didn't know what to do. And I was just scared and I was crying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's go to some calls on this -- this really tragic circumstance. Haynesville, Ohio. Hello.
CALLER: Good afternoon. Or good evening, rather.
CLINTON: Nancy, I just want to say I think you're wonderful. I love the way you don't back down. My question is, how long was the victim, I guess, stuck in her windshield before she actually called and got help, or who reported it?
KING: She never called and got help, did she.
KING: What happened, Nancy?
GRACE: We think a couple of hours, but it's based on her very blurry memory. Then you can time it out by the time she finally called friends. And she said she asked God to tell her what to do. Larry, I don't think God told her to call her friends and dispose of his body out in a local park. So she knew enough to dial for help -- help her dispose of the body, not help Mr. Biggs. A couple of hours.
KING: So that's the answer. A couple of hours. To San Diego. Hello.
CALLER: Yes. Larry, my question to the panel is, with only one defense witness being presented, doesn't she have a perfect excuse to claim an inadequate counsel was provided to her?
KING: Jayne, what do you think?
CLINTON: And to Nancy. Is there anybody that she wouldn't prosecute aggressively?
KING: Yes, that's a good question! Nancy would prosecute jaywalkers aggressively.
KING: Jayne Weintraub, was she well defended?
WEINTRAUB: Well, I think, from what I've seen, it's not just because he only called one witness. But I do think that, from what I've seen, she would have a claim for ineffective or an inadequate counsel. Unfortunately, in Texas particularly, these claims are not looked at, and cases are not reversed easily at all. There have been lawyers sleeping in capital cases, and that's been found not to be reversible. So your answer is, it probably should be. It won't be. And I expect a very stiff sentence. Remember, the people that testified against her got 10 years, and all they did was help dispose of the body. So I think she's looking...
KING: Jim Hammer...
WEINTRAUB: ... probably 25 years to life.
KING: What did you make, Jim Hammer, of her defense?
HAMMER: Well, it did seem thin, Larry. Under the U.S. Supreme Court law, you have to prove you would have gotten a different outcome, though, to overturn the sentence. There is an interesting question about -- apparently, in Texas, the defendant can choose whether or not to have the jury do the sentencing or the judge. You have to wonder why she's thrown herself at the mercy of this 55-minute jury. But maybe the judge was even meaner than the jury.
KING: So it's the jury that will decide.
HAMMER: That's right.
KING: San Dimas, California. Hello.
CALLER: Yes, Larry. I like your program. And Nancy, I'm all for you. You're for the victims. And my question is, how -- what kind of a sentence -- what's the biggest sentence that they can hand down to her?
KING: What's the range, Chris?
PIXLEY: Well, the range is from probation to 99 years in prison or life imprisonment. So the jury that's actually going to be deciding the sentencing here -- and that is fairly unusual, as Jim pointed out -- will have great latitude. Again, 55 minutes of deliberations suggests that this Texas jury is probably going to come back with the higher end of that.
KING: But you could then have...
GRACE: Larry, correction!
KING: You could then -- hold on. You could then have, Chris -- you could have the jury out forever. One guy wants 6 months, one guy wants 40 years, another guy wants 80 years, another guy wants life, right?
PIXLEY: And that's why, while Jim says, you know, it's sort of unusual to go with the jury, and I agree with that -- it's unusual to even have the option of going with the jury -- you know, anytime you can go with the jury, you want to do it because you're playing the odds. First of all, your counsel had the opportunity to select that jury. You don't have the opportunity to select your judge. Secondly, you know, there are -- this group of people -- seven women, five men, is my understanding -- who will be making this decision, not just one man.
KING: Nancy, what were you going to say?
GRACE: I just wanted to make one correction. We keep discussing disposing of the body. The man was alive, minus a leg, when they threw him in an abandoned area. He was moaning and begging until the very end. So when we say "all" the other two did was dispose of the body -- uh-uh! The man was still alive! He could have lived. Instead, his only son no longer has a father. Even though that father was living in a homeless shelter, he doesn't even have that anymore, thanks to these three!
KING: Nancy, what would you give that woman?
GRACE: What would I give her?
GRACE: If I were -- I would put it up to a jury and I would put it up to a judge.
KING: I know, but if you were on the jury?
GRACE: Well, as much as I felt sorry for her on the stand today, I watched her very carefully. And she cried, she apologized, she did show remorse. And I've got to tell you, it hurt me to see that. I don't want to see her suffer, either. But frankly, I would give her the maximum. I would have her behind bars as long as Mr. Biggs is under the earth! That's how long.
KING: Jim Hammer, what would you sentence her?
HAMMER: I'm glad I'm a prosecutor and not a judge, Larry, because I wouldn't have to have to choose her sentence.
KING: What would you give her, Jayne?
WEINTRAUB: I don't know, Larry. You know, I think that it really was a sad act. I think she's sick, with her sobriety or lack of sobriety. And I think that 10 or 15 years is an awfully long time behind bars. People have no regard for the time that I see people in jail. And it's amazing. So I mean, the witnesses who testified got 10 years. And if Nancy's right and they're equally culpable, then that's probably an appropriate sentence. But I think...
KING: Chris, what would you give her?
WEINTRAUB: ... even 10 years is a long time.
PIXLEY: Yes. A jail sentence is reminiscent of Sartre's novel "No Exit." You know, you're just sitting in a room with nothing but time to consider what you've done. And the fact that you're there is the daily reminder of your act. So I agree with Jayne. I think you can give her the lower end of the sentence and also give her some treatment, and that's the best...
GRACE: Hey! Well, it wasn't your father that got...
PIXLEY: ... for society.
GRACE: ... his leg chopped off and dumped in a park, either! I bet the victim's family doesn't feel that way.
PIXLEY: Yes. And Nancy, I think you're probably going to be right in this one. You know, we've got a Texas jury here. These people did not go easy on her in their deliberations, from all appearances. I think they probably are going to go with the higher end.
HAMMER: I'd bet with Nancy on this one.
KING: All right, let me -- let me get a break. And then Ted Rowlands will join us and we'll get up to date on the Peterson matter and take your calls on that, as well. The panel will remain. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALLARD: I have ruined lives of other people! I have ruined my family's life! I have put people through pain! And I am so truly sorry!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back. Our panel remains. We're joined by Ted Rowlands of KTVU, who's been covering this from the get-go for us and for his station in San Francisco. What happened today?
TED ROWLANDS, KTVU-TV: Well, a lot happened today. Probably the most surprising thing is that Scott Peterson actually spoke out today in court and seemed to be upset when he was asked if he was willing to waive time. He said, "Yes, I'll waive time," begrudgingly, in effect, and he sort of pointed at the prosecution, he said, "because they're not giving us the evidence," they've pushed back the preliminary hearing. It was to be July 15. It will now take place on September 9. That has been expected. But it seemed like Peterson was generally upset about it and wanted to say something in open court.
Other things that -- the big other thing that happened was that Mark Geragos and Gloria Allred sure seem to be at battle here. The sparks began to fly in court, then afterwards, as well. An interesting thing to watch from here on out. Geragos was denied his -- he wanted, basically, Allred to be held in contempt. The judge said no. he didn't even set a hearing. The judge did, however, say that there was enough evidence to set a hearing for contempt with the DA here in Stanislaus County. That has yet to be scheduled. In fact, the judge said he'd rather do that after this whole thing is over. So a pretty busy day here in court.
KING: And Gloria Allred will join us later. Nancy Grace, what did you make of those rulings?
GRACE: Well, actually, I found it very significant that the judge clearly said Allred, Gloria Allred, is not going to be held in contempt. So we will expect to hear from her. if she wishes to comment on this case, as long as it's not on the evidence. However, he didn't do the same thing, didn't give the same free pass to Brazelton, the DA. That tells me non-verbally, he does think Brazelton is in contempt. However, it's not unusual that you handle that proceeding at the end of the trial. On some of the times I was held in contempt, that motion was held at the end of the trial so it would not slow down proceedings by having the DA or one of the DAs thrown off the case.
KING: What about this speedy trial thing, Chris? What do you make of that?
PIXLEY: The fact that -- that -- Scott Peterson, you mean, Larry...
KING: Yes, that he spoke out and seemed annoyed.
PIXLEY: Yes. Well, you know, the fact of the matter is, early in this case, the prosecution said, We've got the evidence. We're going to move forward. We're going to go for the death penalty. They had the prelim set a long time ago on July 16. You know, it's been part of their whole motivation, it's been part of their playbook to try to maintain the momentum in this case, to stay ahead of the defense, to always have their evidence out there, and let the defense team play catch-up.
And now, out of nowhere, they've said, Well, you know, we've got a problem with a witness. We've got to postpone it. You know, and Mark was very careful today to say, Hey, you know, we stipulate to that, but we're not joining it. And his client even said, I'm not happy about it at all. If the prosecution has a great case, at the prelim, they've only got to show probable cause, Larry. So it makes you scratch your head. So what if they have a witness that's not available for the prelim? They just have to show probable cause. If they've got the great case they've suggested that they do, why can't they go forward on July 16?
KING: OK, Jim Hammer, does that mean nothing can happen now at all until September?
HAMMER: Well, a lot's going to happen. We're going to continue to hear leaks, I assume, and other murder theories go on. And then we're going to have rulings on wire taps and whatnot. But I want to point one thing out, which is the defense is entirely in the driver's seat right now. That is, if Mark Geragos or his client wants a prelim in California, he has a right within 10 days, anytime he wants, to say, Bring on the evidence. So it's kind of curious that Geragos is not forcing the DA to show his hand now.
KING: And Jayne Weintraub, what was significant to you today? You want to comment on what we've just discussed?
WEINTRAUB: Well, I think that it's important to notice -- you know, I agree with Chris that it's interesting that the state was not ready to go forward with the prosecution of this preliminary hearing, saying a witness's schedule made it inconvenient. Didn't they ever hear of a subpoena? I mean, first of all, they only need very little evidence, as Chris already told us. And second of all, one or two witnesses is probably ample enough to make a probable cause threshold.
What I found disturbing was that I think Scott's first time speaking with the judge publicly was, unfortunately, so frustrated that perhaps the public didn't get the best eye of him. There was no "Your Honor." There was no "respectfully." You could clearly see how upset he was. Of course, I understood that, but I wish that it was tempered a little bit.
WEINTRAUB: As far as the gag order, I was surprised that Gloria will be permitted to keep speaking and that the first thing she did was go outside and trash Geragos. I mean, I think they all have to just take it all and keep it inside of them because they are the responsible parties and governed by the rules of ethics.
KING: Yes, Nancy?
WEINTRAUB: And she has a responsibility...
GRACE: Larry, there are...
WEINTRAUB: ... not to be talking about...
KING: All right, let her finish.
WEINTRAUB: ... the evidence.
KING: Yes, Nancy?
GRACE: You asked if nothing was going to happen until September. However, there are already two hearings set for August. One, August 14, a hearing regarding cameras in the courtroom. We already know, as of today, that Laci and Conner's family do not want cameras in the courtroom and the prosecution agrees. Friday, August 15, there will be another hearing on alleged wiretap violations sanctions.
Another interesting thing that I feel that it's my duty to point out today is, along the lines of what Jim Hammer said, we originally heard the defense and the prosecution wanted a continuance from the prelim next month -- in other words, set it over. Then, once the state made it clear they were going to ask for a continuance, the defense did not oppose the continuance.
GRACE: They simply did not join. So this is basically, you know, a way out of saying, We're not ready, either.
PIXLEY: Yes, but Nancy...
KING: Chris -- well, Chris... PIXLEY: ... in open court today, the defense team said, We still aren't getting evidence from the prosecution that they have a responsibility to turn over to us. And Rick DiStaso (ph), the assistant district attorney, actually acknowledged that and said, Listen, we're having trouble getting some of that information over to the defense. So it is still going on, this discovery problem, the slow discovery making its way to the defense.
KING: Jim, what's going to happen if, horror of horrors, if cameras are not allowed in the courtroom?
HAMMER: You'll have to have talking heads tell you what happened. I think...
KING: Oh, my gosh.
HAMMER: What happened today, Larry, is the Gloria Allred full employment act. That is, Gloria Allred's the only person connected with the case who gets to say anything she wants to say. So good for Gloria.
KING: And we'll take a break and come back. Gloria will join us in the last segment of the show. We'll be including your phone calls. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK GERAGOS, SCOTT PETERSON'S ATTORNEY: I'm not interested in finding Ms. Allred in contempt. What I am interested in is some kind of an even-handed fair play in terms of this prosecution. And I know the court wants me to deal with them separately, but there is -- there is a fundamental problem here when somebody has been the subject of four months or five months of non-stop leaking that all points to his guilt, to the point where we get these polls coming out that have this gentleman convicted before there's been one shred of evidence presented into a courtroom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You give up that right so it can be set on September 9 at 9:30 a.m.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're forced to without the information coming from the prosecution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you give up that right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not my wish, but yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Lets reintroduce the panel in Modesto, Ted Rowlands of KTVU covering the case.
In New York its, Nancy Grace, of "Trial Heat," Court TV, a former prosecutor.
In Atlanta is defense attorney, Chris Pixley.
In San Francisco is Jim Hammer, the assistant district attorney in San Francisco, heads the homicide unit.
And in Miami, the well known defense attorney, Jayne Weintraub.
Before we go to calls, Ted Rowlands, are television and networks going file a brief or make an appeal to have it telecast?
ROWLANDS: Yes, the judge is going to hear this on August 14. And today, in fact, CNN and Court TV were given permission to join in an earlier argument from the Modesto Bee. So there will be a full fledged argument for coverage in the courtroom led by Court TV and CNN and I'm sure others will join as well. The judge will hear than hear all of the arguments. The D.A. today, did file an opposition to coverage, any cameras in the courtroom. And attached to that was a letter from the Rocha family, saying it would be too unbearable for them to have to endure this daily, live coverage on television.
KING: Nancy, why wouldn't the prosecution want it telecast?
GRACE: Probably in deference to the wishes of the victim's family. When I prosecuted cases on camera, I did not notice the camera. I actually had a serial rape case where the victims wanted it publicized.
When your victim does not wish a camera in the courtroom, the D.A. is hard-pressed to go against that wish.
KING: Grand Rapids, Michigan.
CALLER: Yes, I am here.
KING: Go ahead your on.
CALLER: When Scott Peterson stated he took some patio umbrellas to a warehouse and stored them the weekend that she became missing, was that ever proven? Did they ever go and find them?
KING: I don't know what you mean by proven. There's been no case yet to prove.
But what do we know about this?
WEINTRAUB: There's been no return of inventory on it. We don't know if they found it or not. They did a search warrant on, but we don't know if they have it.
PIXLEY: Based on the way the prosecution, the state, the investigators have handled this case from the very beginning, leaking all the information that they do find that's damning for Scott Peterson, I've got to believe that those umbrellas were where Scott said they were, or we would have heard about it in January.
KING: Charleston, South Carolina. Hello.
CALLER: When they started this case, they said it was a slam dunk case. If I is, why isn't the prosecutor giving all the evidence to the defense?
Don't they have a right for a motion of disclosure?
KING: Jim Hammer.
HAMMER: It raises an interesting question. There's a whole other way if the prosecution wanted to speed this case up, they could go to the grand jury any day of the week they want, without even giving notice to the defense, probably finish in two or three weeks, get an indictment, set up a trial. It's a bit mystery why the D.A. doesn't do that. I think the reason was betrayed by the D.A. himself, when he said he's tired of bogus stories and wants to put the evidence in front of the public. But the D.A.'s entirely in charge of whether or not he speeds this case up, puts it to grand jury, gets this to trial quickly.
KING: Nancy, would you have gone to a grand jury or we don't have enough information?
GRACE: I would go to a grand jury because I like speedy justice. If I've got a murder case, I like to go to grand jury, get an indictment, put it in front of a petit jury, which is a jury of 12. But here the D.A. wants all out in the open. And I understand where he's headed with all the theories abounding. As to the callers question, we just discovered that there were 176 calls basically, caught in technology. Nobody's fault, not the defense not the state. This is a continuing process. Those calls have to be processed and given to the defense. Sometimes you're doing the best you can to get results from crime labs, scientific evidence, and hand it over. But you can't rush a case. It goes at its own speed. So I don't really fault the prosecution.
KING: Hampton, Virginia, hello.
Hey, I'd like to ask Chris, the defense attorney -- let ask you this, Chris, if a defendant doesn't want to take a polygraph does that not make you feel like he is guilty or -- I don't understand. The whole process of this, and I've been watching it from day one. And to me, the fact -- I mean he should be the first one to say, I'll take the polygraph.
Why wouldn't he do that?
KING: What's your position, Chris?
PIXLEY: For one thing, right now we don't know that Scott didn't want to take a polygraph. For all we know, he may have gone to his initial counsel Kirk McAllister and said, "Let me do this," and it may have been Kirk's standard sense that, no, I don't let my clients do that. There are very different views on whether you do or don't want your client to be taking a polygraph test.
GRACE: That's not what Scott said.
PIXLEY: Well, let me say one thing about it -- well Nancy, you may be the librarian of all the facts in this case, but the fact of the matter is that if you don't want to take a polygraph test, it's a very legitimate -- there's a very legitimate claim for that. And that's because in many senses, they are junk science. They are not reliable enough to be admitted in court. And that is reason alone not to use them or rely on them as a defense attorney.
WEINTRAUB: Nancy, if he took the polygraph, would you think he was innocent?
KING: Nancy, if you wanted him to take it and he took it and passed, would you say, I'm going looking elsewhere?
GRACE: As a prosecutor?
GRACE: It would carry great weight with me. As it had in the cases I prosecuted. If a defendant or suspect passed a state-issued polygraph, if the state made up the question. I would look elsewhere, I would certainly consider other suspects. And I just want to correct something...
KING: You have faith in the technology?
GRACE: Yes, I do. I have great faith in the technology of state-administered polygraphs. But I want to correct something. Mr. Pixley can call me a librarian or whatever he wishes to call. Don't care. I watched the Diane Sawyer interview and other interviews Mr. Peterson gave. At first he said, friends and relatives told him, don't take a polygraph, it might hurt you. Then he switched blame to his lawyers. But you know what, just remember Marc Klaas, when his daughter was missing, he asked to take a polygraph so police could than focus on other suspects. You draw whatever conclusion you wish, Mr. Pixley.
PIXLEY: Well, you can as well. You can attack his demeanor, say that Marc Klaas looked better on the stand or looked better in the court room or seemed to be sincere, you liked his tone of voice.
GRACE: I'm talking about polygraph.
PIXLEY: None of those things including polygraph have anything to do with guilt or innocence and they certainly aren't going to come in at trial. So, what matters is the fact that we don't have any good physical evidence.
KING: Jim Hammer, what do you think of the polygraph?
HAMMER: I don't have faith in them. I will say this, I've had several close cases where I had questions about the case, and it was the willingness of the defendant, or suspect, to come forward and say, I'll do anything you want including taking a polygraph. In that circumstance where a suspect passed it would weigh. Otherwise I don't put much faith in it.
KING: Simply put Jayne, if you charged him with something, I didn't do it, I'd take the polygraph, why not?
Jayne, why not?
WEINTRAUB: Larry, we don't know that he wasn't given a polygraph, and I think that's the most honest answer. I mean, his own counsel might have given him a polygraph, and for whatever reason, maybe he didn't pass it. On the other hand, maybe he's scared of polygraphs. A lot of people are. There are a lot of false reads. I've seen people pass polygraphs that shouldn't, and people fail that shouldn't. So sometimes you just don't know.
KING: Chicago, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry, I love your show.
KING: Thank you.
CALLER: This question is for Nancy and I've never heard this addressed. On Christmas Eve, Laci and Scott were supposed to go to her mother's for dinner.
Did she prepare a dish?
Did anybody ever check to see whether these dishes were prepared, because everybody knows on Christmas Eve, you prepare something to bring.
I've never heard this addressed.
GRACE: You know what was addressed, caller, you're so right on, whether she went to the grocery store. She was supposed to go to the grocery store that day to get items to fix for the meal that night. She never made it to the grocery store is, is my understanding, because she was kidnapped that morning.
KING: All right, we'll get a break and come back with more, more of your phone calls.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK GERAGOS, ATTORNEY: The fact of the matter is that my client's the one in jeopardy. And I have a duty to defend my client with the utmost zeal. Otherwise, we're going to be back here on some kind of an IAC claim at some later date because I was more worried about whether or not I incurred your honor's wrath by violating the order as opposed to doing what I'm supposed to do, which is defend my client to the best of my ability. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: Before we get back to the calls, Ted Rowlands, what's the local press -- what are they saying about all of this?
ROWLANDS: Well, actually, there was an article in this morning's "Modesto Bee." Apparently, a few people who work with this newspaper, who were also pregnant and also live in this area and use this park to walk their dogs during the time that Laci disappeared, were reinterviewed or interviewed by the Modesto Police Department just last week. So it appears as though the Modesto Police Department, as we've said and they've said all along, are hard at work on the investigation side of this. So it could also explain why the discovery is trickling in. Quite, frankly, they're still accumulating discovery in this case.
KING: And what was the demeanor in the courtroom today?
The family was there of the deceased. Scott Peterson of course was there.
Any interaction, any eye contact?
ROWLANDS: There didn't seem to be any interaction between the two families. Sharon Rocha was there for Laci's family. Ron Grantski, her husband was not there. Laci's brother Brent Rocha was not there either. The Peterson family was there in force. They're a regular crew. But it didn't seem there was any interaction between the families. There was more interaction than we've ever seen between Scott and his family. When he first walked in and turned, acknowledged them, smiled. Then at one point his mother got up and left. After a recess, Scott tried to inquire about how his mother was doing. The bailiff told him to be quiet. Then on the way out, Scott acknowledged his family again. He appeared to be more confident today than we've seen him before.
KING: Minooka, Illinois, hello.
CALLER: Thank you for taking my call. My question was for Ms. Allred but she's not there yet?
KING: She'll be here next segment.
CALLER: The question was, I was wondering why she wasn't -- she didn't defend Amber Frey better. Because it seemed she's been attacked about this supposed makeover. And...
KING: She has defended that, hasn't she?
CALLER: And I felt like the first time I saw her on TV, I thought, wow she looks bad on TV. I wouldn't be caught dead on TV like that. Then I thought, no wonder, it's indicative of the stress she's been through during this time. And I...
KING: Gloria's going to be here. What's the question?
CALLER: Why she isn't defending her because most of us would put some makeup on.
KING: Hasn't Gloria been defending her, Chris?
PIXLEY: I would want this woman on my jury. She may be the only one who hasn't been watching all the television shows.
KING: Vancouver, British Columbia.
CALLER: This for, Nancy.
Nancy, in all this deliberation, do you believe you are separating fact from opinion?
KING: What do we know, and what do we think we know?
How do we separate fact from fiction, since no evidence has been introduced?
All we know what is we hear, right.
GRACE: All we know what is we hear, as well as what we have observed. We have seen, for instance, shots of the police coming out of the house with nearly 100 bags of evidence.
KING: We don't know -- 100 bags of something, not necessarily evidence. They could have been Tootsie Rolls.
GRACE: Might have been bags of nothing. Yes, as I was saying, we know the boat, the car, the truck, the warehouse was searched. We know Scott himself was searched. That DNA samples were taken. We know quite a bit. And the most we have learned, in my opinion, is what we have heard from Scott Peterson himself that has later been disproved.
KING: OK. To Kansas City, Missouri. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Mr. King. It's an honor to speak with you.
My question is for Mr. Pixley. On many occasions, I've heard him refer to a series of murders that took place in Modesto, and specifically on Laci's very street I heard him say.
And My question is, can he please elaborate on that?
Because I have looked and searched and I think watched every single program with this -- involving this case, and I have not heard of one even. And I'm just a little confused. Because he's used that several times.
PIXLEY: I think I've referenced it one time. And the fact is, it was -- there were four people murdered in Salida, it isn't Stanislaus County, However. It was prosecuted by Jim Brazelton, the same D.A. that's involved in this case. It was back in 1990. The fact I think that I misstated was it was that it was in Modesto. In fact, it was in Salida.
KING: To Fayette, Alabama. Hello.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: Yes, my question is for the whole panel. I would like to know, is it unusual for them to let the family members come in and take items out of the house before they have a trial?
Because what if there was something there that was missed, and all this tramping around outside in the yard and everything.
Don't you think it's very unusual for them to do that?
WEINTRAUB: Yes, I do. I think the whole situation with that was unusual. I think it should have been monitored by the police and the lawyers.
KING: And we have disagreement.
Jim, what do you think of taking articles out of the house?
HAMMER: It is. It was a human drama where Laci's family, just as human beings, wanted to retrieve some of her objects. It was really a sideshow I think, Larry.
GRACE: Wait a minute, we're leaving something very important out. Before Laci's family went in to get her wedding dress, diplomas, journals, plant water can, Scott Peterson's family had been in and out of that home for months. They had the locks changed so the Rocha family couldn't come in. So the Rocha's weren't the only ones in and out. And the only reason they were allowed is because police had been in there, processed the scene, and no longer thought they needed to continue to process.
PIXLEY: But that doesn't change the fact. What the police may consider to be evidence and what the defense may consider to be evidence could be two entirely different things. You've pointed out police took 100 bags out of there. No they haven't had the same opportunity, Nancy.
When you're defending a case, you want to put this evidence, all of the evidence they find in the home in front of their experts, run it through different scenarios. They're just building their case right now. And they don't have the access to evidence from the home. So while you understand where the Rocha's are coming from, Scott's rights come first, and they're more important.
GRACE: Who had the key to the door -- Chris.
PIXLEY: I'm sorry, Nancy...
GRACE: The Peterson's and the defense team.
PIXLEY: As we've heard from the defense team...
GRACE: I'd like to finish.
WEINTRAUB: It was his house, Nancy.
GRACE: The Peterson's had access to the home from the get go, they could take whatever they wanted.
PIXLEY: And they were planning...
KING: It was their house.
GRACE: That's right.
PIXLEY: In the week following the break-in to actually videotape all of the contents of the home. So, obviously they were still working with that evidence, Nancy.
KING: OK, we'll take a break and come back. We'll be back with more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You give up that right so you can be September 9, at 9:30 a.m.?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're forced to without the information coming from the prosecution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you give up that right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not my wish, but yes.
KING: She was a subject in part of the proceedings today. Joining us now from Modesto is Gloria Allred, the attorney for Amber Frey. Were you expecting the outcome?
GLORIA ALLRED, AMBER FREY'S ATTORNEY: Hi, Larry. Yes, I was. I have said from the beginning that I was not covered by the protective order, that the judge did not intend to cover me, and that nothing I said was prohibited or a violation of the order. I was completely vindicated today.
We had a double victory, and there was a double defeat for Mr. Geragos, because the court said just exactly that, he never intended to cover me. The court said I didn't say anything that was prohibited. And also, when Mr. Geragos attempted to get the gag order modified, the judge did not include me in that. So even though Mr. Geragos tried to take some cheap shots at me -- you know, cheap shots, Larry, are not a substitute for having the law and the facts on your side. We had the law and the facts on our side. All he had was cheap shots and theatrics, and it just didn't work, he lost.
KING: What was the cheap shot, for example?
ALLRED: Well, I'm not going to repeat them. You know, he engaged in name-calling, and that kind of thing. It doesn't get anywhere in a court of law. And if that's the way he's going to try the case, well, that's up to him. But his attempt to try to have the court hold me in contempt was totally unsuccessful. What he did was he tried to use me as a wedge to get a reconsideration of the gag order so that he could speak. But he didn't need to slime me in order to do that. And he lost in attacking (ph).
KING: Nancy Grace, is there anything that Gloria Allred cannot comment on, or is she like any other citizen in this, can have an opinion on anything?
GRACE: Well, I think right now she's been very circumspect in her comments. They have not been about the evidence in this case. They've been to do with her client, Amber Frey, for the most part.
KING: Now, can she discuss evidence?
GRACE: I think that if Gloria began to comment on the evidence, I think that the judge may reconsider and think he's being too lax. But I think his order, I'm convinced his order does not include her. It would be a very tenuous theory to say she's speaking and commenting on the evidence on behalf of Amber Frey. I just don't see it.
KING: Chris Pixley, do you agree with...
ALLRED: Larry, he tried to say...
KING: I'm sorry, go ahead, Gloria.
ALLRED: He tried to say that something -- he tried to say that something I said on your show, on the Larry King show on CNN, he included that as an exhibit as to why I should be held in contempt. All he could cite in the transcript was that I'd said that I met with prosecutors. I never disclosed what I talked about, and refused to confirm or deny whether Amber even met with them. And that was before the issuance of the protective order. That's how poor the lawyering by Mr. Geragos was today.
KING: Chris Pixley, do you think Gloria got a bad rap?
PIXLEY: Well, I think the judge would have had a difficult time extending the order to her. I think it probably would have been overbroad. Remember, the media is already arguing that the order itself is overbroad on its face as it stands right now.
But I got to say something, Larry. Gloria's also doing a very interesting juggling trick here. She's saying on the one hand that her role in this case is by virtue of a relationship with Amber Frey. However, she's speaking as a private citizen, and that's why she has rights to speak that Amber doesn't have rights to speak as. The problem is that media outlets aren't going to her, asking her opinion as a private citizen, they're going to her because she represents Amber Frey and presumably she has knowledge, intimate knowledge of this case.
ALLRED: Well, Chris, you're wrong about that.
PIXLEY: She's straddling the law...
ALLRED: I mean...
KING: Let her respond, Chris.
ALLRED: Chris, how do you read minds? I was on commenting about the Laci Peterson case before Amber Frey ever contacted me and before I ever represented her. I commented regularly on the case. Maybe you're not watching enough of other shows.
HAMMER: So did Mark Geragos.
HAMMER: The real irony of this case -- it was Mark Geragos on your show who said any DA in California could get a conviction on Scott Peterson. So it's kind of ironic, the whole thing.
WEINTRAUB: Larry, the truth is that Gloria is not looked at as a regular citizen. She's a lawyer. And as a lawyer she has conducted, and must conduct herself according to the rules of professional responsibility.
HAMMER: But only lawyers actually in the case are covered by that rule, and she's not in the case.
WEINTRAUB: Well, I think as an agent of a witness, she is in the case. And she is a participant.
KING: All right, only got 30 seconds, Nancy?
GRACE: Larry, the way that this motion hurt the defense today, is if the defense continues to bring up what the court may consider frivolous motions, one after the next get overruled, one time after the next, pretty soon he may lose credibility. Geragos is a good lawyer and I'm sure he doesn't want to see that happen.
KING: And we're out of time. I'm sure we'll do more. Ted Rowlands, Nancy Grace, Chris Pixley, Jim Hammer, Jayne Weintraub, and a very happy Gloria Allred from Modesto. I'll come back in a minute to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING: Interesting things are happening in jolly old England. Prince William is 21 and is much in the news, and we will discuss the royals, royals tomorrow night with our outstanding panel.
Speaking of outstanding, he's an outstanding journalist who's the host of "NEWSNIGHT," he's my man, he's Mr. B, he's the one, the only, Aaron Brown. Mr. Brown, it's yours.
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