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Interviews With Chris Filippi, Lawrence Kobilinsky

Aired August 11, 2003 - 20:19   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The remains of Laci Peterson and her unborn son washed ashore back in April. Now four months later, they're again under the microscope and under the watchful eye of Scott Peterson's defense team. KSBK reporter Chris Filippi is joining us now live from Sacramento with the latest. Chris, tell us what happened today.
CHRIS FILIPPI, KSBK CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the defense team finally got to look at the remains of Laci and Connor Peterson. They've been waiting to do this for some time. They've brought in a couple of very well known forensic pathologists, Dr. Henry Lee, who you may recall from the O.J. Simpson case, and Dr. Cyril Wecht, who is also very well known for his work in this field.

They did some very close examinations of the body. They spent about three hours at the coroner's office. Took some fluid and tissue samples that they'll do some more testing on. And really, this is part of the defense's effort to try and gather as much information as possible about the autopsy, because they're sure to attack it once the trial begins.

BLITZER: How long did the whole process last, this second autopsy, if you will?

FILIPPI: Yes, it lasted about three hours. It had been decided a couple -- about a month ago that the defense would get a crack at seeing this body firsthand. And that was in fact today, the one day that they would be able to do this. So it lasted about three hours. Again, they did take some samples of the tissue and fluids from the remains. They also took some photographs and they used an X-ray machine. So they really went over things very carefully.

BLITZER: We heard briefly from the lead attorney for Scott Peterson, Mark Geragos, afterwards. They're limited in what they can say, because of the gag order. They and now two forensic scientists as well.

FILIPPI: Yes, very much so, and you've really seen the impact of the gag order on this case. It's been in place for about two months now, and the leaks have really stopped. You don't see the nonstop reporting that you had before the gag order was in place. In fact, it's very rare at this point to hear about -- to hear from Geragos outside of the courtroom. He speak a little bit, just saying overall he was pleased with how things went. He felt like he got some good information. But he wouldn't tell specifically what that information is. BLITZER: Have we heard anything from Laci Peterson's family about this second investigation, this second autopsy?

FILIPPI: No. In fact, we have not, because they're covered by the gag order as well. Although I can tell you just from the leaks that we have heard, this autopsy, you have to remember, is under seal. We're not supposed to know anything about it. But I can tell you they were very upset about the leaks about the original autopsy report. I don't think they've really gotten over that, so they're not going to be very anxious to comment on this.

BLITZER: Chris Filippi, thanks very much for joining us.

FILIPPI: You're welcome.

BLITZER: Scott Peterson's defense is hoping there is something in remains that will clear him of the murders. Lawrence Kobilinsky joins us now with more on what that evidence might be that they are looking for. He is professor of forensic science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice here in New York. Professor, thanks very much for joining us.


BLITZER: What are they looking for?

KOBILINSKY: Well, there are a number of questions that remain unanswered. We don't know the time of death. We don't know the cause of death. Interestingly, if you look at Connor, as has been reported, there is a nylon...

BLITZER: The unborn son.

KOBILINSKY: The unborn son. There is a nylon tape that was wrapped around the neck. I think Henry Lee would be very interested in looking at that.


KOBILINSKY: Well, it's a piece of physical evidence. If there is any resemblance between that and something that they would find in Scott's home, that would be a very important piece of information. There is also a wound on -- what was considered a postmortem wound on Connor going from the right side of the shoulder down the chest. What's very significant is the umbilical cord, which is about a half a centimeter long, and it is not clear whether it was cut or it was bitten off.

The bottom line here is, people are going to be asking, was this child born and then killed, or was this the so called coffin birth that we're hearing about.

BLITZER: Because of the satanic cult, the notion, the theory that's been out there, discredited by the police, by local law enforcement, the district attorney, but raised by presumably those who think Scott Peterson might have had nothing to do with this. KOBILINSKY: Well, anything that creates reasonable doubt works for the defense. Laci is a whole other story. There is no skull, there are no limbs. The intestines are gone. So I don't believe that this team is going to be able to generate all of a sudden new information that is going to free Scott Peterson from this charge. They probably are taking tissues to do some toxicology, but I really don't have high hopes that there is going to be much new information.

BLITZER: No bombshell, if you will.

KOBILINSKY: No bombshell.

BLITZER: But they spent under three hours, Dr. Henry Lee, Dr. Cyril Wecht, someone very familiar to all of our viewers who watched this case and other cases over the years. What do you make of the fact that they spent under three hours?

KOBILINSKY: Well, you know, an autopsy can take a very short time or a very long time, depending upon the nature of the body and the condition of the body. Here we have two bodies highly decomposed. And it really makes it very difficult to generate information. I don't really think that they really have obtained a hell of a lot of information in the three hours. I think Geragos made a very smart move hiring two very well known scientists.

BLITZER: Among the best in the business.

KOBILINSKY: Among the best in the business. But you know, science is science. And it is said that two people can look at the same item and come up with different conclusions.

BLITZER: Very briefly on that very last point. Is it your sense that they did this because, A, they didn't trust the local forensic scientists who did the initial autopsy, or because they thought these guys were so much better they would glean some new piece of information that might help them in their defense?

KOBILINSKY: I really don't think they're going to glean anything new. I think that they had a choice. Either don't do it and then challenge the ME's office there, or do it and see if they can find fault with procedure.

BLITZER: All right, Dr. Kobilinsky, as usual, thanks very much for joining us.


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