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


Panel Discusses Laci Peterson Case

Aired August 18, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: The judge pulls the plug on television coverage of a crucial hearing in the Laci Peterson murder case. The prosecution is set to go public with its evidence against her husband, Scott, for the first time. And it's sure to include graphic details and gripping testimony, but a no-cameras ruling means you won't see or hear any of it. Will this hurt or maybe help the defense? And when live coverage of high-profile trials like O.J. Simpson's draws the eyes of the world, can justice still be blind?
Joining us, Ted Rowlands, who's been covering the Peterson case since day one for KTVU; Nancy Grace, Court TV anchor and former prosecutor; defense attorney Chris Pixley; and noted psychologist Dr. Robi Ludwig. They're all next, plus your calls, on LARRY KING LIVE.

Ted Rowlands will be joining us momentarily to give us an update. But I can tell you this. The Stanislaus County superior court judge, Al Girolami, ruled that cameras will not be allowed in the courtroom for the September 9 preliminary hearing in the murder case. The ruling bars both TV and still cameras.

What do you make of it, Nancy?

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Well, I think that it is a blow to the facts coming out, in the sense that we will now not hear what's going on in the courtroom, we will hear the spin from reporters in the courtroom and the continued leaks we've been hearing for the past couple of months. Also, Larry, after seeing several of these type trials, when there is no camera access, it adds to the frenzy there at the courthouse. People will be stacked up five feet deep, trying to peek in, get in, sneak in, run in and out with tidbits.

But I think it all boiled down, Larry, to this letter that was written by Sharon Rocha, in which she begged for every one to be reminded this is not a story, this is their life and that they are still in a lot of grief. I think that is what tipped the scale.

KING: Chris Pixley, how can a public trial be public if only those who are there get in?

CHRIS PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. Fantastic question. You know, the U.S. Supreme Court, Larry, has sounded off on this issue on a number of occasions. The bottom line is, it is their position, under Nixon v Warner Communications, that the judge has complete control over the courtroom. And that means control over how the public actually gets access to the trial. And Judge Girolami's position on this issue is simply that because the public will have access to its surrogates, the media that are present in the courtroom, that that is sufficient. Those media will go out to the curbside and then report the case or go back to the newspapers or their Internet sites. And he makes reference to those three possible sources of communication of the information.

The problem is, one of the things that the judge said in his order was that every nuance of what goes on in the courtroom will be reported. Well, if that's the case, then you have to ask yourself, isn't that prejudicial to Scott Peterson's defense? If it's not, then why does it make any difference that cameras are in the courtroom? So I think the order itself that came down today and the findings that it's based upon, a seven-page order, was surprising in that it may support Mark Geragos' position for closing the preliminary hearing more than anything that Mark has said in his pleadings.

KING: The judge added, Robi, that, "To the extent that the television coverage would transform this very serious criminal trial into a reality television show, the court is reluctant to allow it." Is that true?

DR. ROBI LUDWIG, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I think that's the concern that, all of a sudden, it becomes like a story, and people want to know how it turns out. And when the cameras are in the courtroom, yes, it does give people a peek into the process. But the concern is that it also distorts it a little bit and it makes it seem less real, in some regards. But my thought was that the judge's primary concern was potential jurors, in that the jury pool could somehow be tainted in some way and have a really hard time listening to the case objectively if there were cameras in the courtroom.

KING: Nancy, is this appealable?

GRACE: No, I do not think that this is going to be appealed. There are always avenues of appeal. But the law is, in this jurisdiction and pretty much uniformly across the country, that judges control, as the law says, decorum in their courtroom.

I disagree with Chris. Although I see Mark Geragos teeing it up, as Chris is suggesting, regarding closed preliminary hearing. The judge's ruling today, the seven-page finding of fact, does feed into the theory that there should be a closed prelim. Well, let me just tell you right now, there's not going to be a closed preliminary hearing. You've got to have extraordinary facts to have a secret proceeding. Such as, Larry, when you've got a child molestation victim, very often, I'd clear the courtroom for cases like that. This is not going to be a closed hearing.

PIXLEY: And that's perfectly true, Larry. And in the traditional case, Nancy is absolutely correct. I mean, sex crimes, especially sex crimes involving minors, are one of the only situations where we typically will get a closed preliminary hearing.

However, this case is entirely different than the normal case under which all of these decisions are made. And so for Mark Geragos to potentially go to the court of appeals -- remember, he hasn't had a right of appeal on some of the other issues that he's taken up to the court of appeals so far. He's taken two other issues up. He has 1,000 percentage batting average right now on those two issues. I don't know that he won't go to the court of appeals and say, Indulge me, listen to this issue, because it's major issue in terms of the public's perception of this man and the potential jury pool in this case.

KING: Might your network and other networks file an appeal, Nancy?

GRACE: Yes, I think there will be appeals on this matter. I don't think they will be granted because a trial judge is allowed, even by appellate judges, Larry, who very often have never tried a case in their life -- they know that when it comes to courtroom procedure, the judge must be given leeway to control his or her courtroom. Here I think it's actually going to be more difficult for the judge.

Do I have to point back to the Rodney King case, where there was an acquittal, and as a result of that, with everyone not seeing what happened, not seeing the testimony as it came from the witness stand, there was looting, there was burning for days afterwards. Do I predict that here? No. But I do think there will be a frenzy attached to people trying to find out what's happening. Look, we've gotten attached to Laci. Some people have gotten attached to Scott Peterson. And over the course of events, people want to know.

KING: Yes. Does this indicate to you, Chris, that absolutely no coverage of the trial?

PIXLEY: No, not at all, actually, Larry. I think the judge's decision, if you are listening to what he says in the order -- and he does say that it was a compelling factor that the Rochas didn't want cameras in the courtroom. But what he says is the most compelling factor is the fear of the jury being tainted by the camera coverage. Now, once you impanel a jury at the time of trial, Larry, you don't have that fear anymore.

KING: I got you.

PIXLEY: So he could...

KING: So there's a good possibility...

PIXLEY: ... legitimately decide to allow cameras in the courtroom for the trial and not allow them in for the prelim.

KING: Psychologically, Doctor Ludwig, what, in your opinion, is the effect of cameras in the courtroom?

LUDWIG: Well, some people say that a lot has to do with the personalities in the courtroom, that whoever is the most persuasive lawyer wins, so that if you have a lawyer that's very adept to working with cameras in the courtroom and knows how to tell his story in a very persuasive way, that it certainly could influence the jury. And also, there's kind of this relationship between the poll of public opinion and the jury. And is the jury influenced by what is going on in the public? Does the jury feel that they have to come up with a certain verdict because it's popular or it would be unpopular?

GRACE: But that's always true, Larry. I mean, if you get a good lawyer in a courtroom that knows his or her way around the courtroom, they're going to win the case. No, it's no popularity contest. They know how to speak to a jury. Same thing with the camera.

KING: So how does it...

GRACE: So I don't think cameras matter one way or the other.

KING: All right, let me get a break and come back with more. We'll be including your phone calls on this historic day in this case, which seems to have historic days every other day. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


ROCHELLE WILCOX, MEDIA ATTORNEY: For decades, for years, since the early 1800s, the government has recognized that it is important to let as many people as possible view public proceedings. This is an issue of very significant public interest. It's not entertainment, any more than the Iraqi war was entertainment when it saw current, all-around-the-clock coverage. The fact is that this is news.



KING: Nancy Grace, what's your reaction to this aspect of the judge's ruling -- "Because this case remains in its earliest stages, the possibility exists that the actual perpetrator of these crimes remains at large. To the extent that easily assessable television coverage of the preliminary hearing will reveal considerable facts of the case, including possibly some amount of previously sealed information, such coverage could do more harm than good." Good point?

GRACE: I think the judge is very wisely making findings of fact, including arguments that Mark Geragos earlier made when he wanted a closed courtroom. His theory all along, from the get-go, Larry, even when he has made it behind closed doors, is that the "real killer" is still out there somewhere, and that if the search warrant, the return on the search warrant, the thinking of the police or their movements is made known, then the "real killer"...

KING: Well, why are you...

GRACE: ... will be able to figure that out and further hide from police.

KING: Why do you do that sarcastically, since the judge did it seriously?

GRACE: Well, as I recall, I still have a right to 1st Amendment free speech!

KING: No, I'm asking you -- I'm not...

GRACE: And I think that...

KING: No, no. Nancy, the question was, why did do you it sarcastically, not that you -- you have the right to do it sarcastically. The question is why did...

GRACE: Because I think...

KING: ... you do "the killer" as if you think Scott Peterson is the killer?

GRACE: Well, I think I've made it very clear all along...


GRACE: ... that statistically speaking, that the most likely perpetrator in this case is someone close to a pregnant...

KING: That's statistically.

GRACE: ... murder victim. And in this case, placing himself at the scene of her dead body is a huge, huge clue. And I think to ignore that would be derelict in the duty of the police and the prosecutor.

KING: OK. But Chris Pixley, has he got a point?

PIXLEY: Oh, isn't it telling that the judge, who's seen all of the sealed documents, Larry, actually makes the point in his order on this issue that, you know, there could still be a perpetrator out there that's responsible for this crime. And to that extent, we don't want to open up the preliminary hearing too much to that perpetrator and give them knowledge of what the sealed documents have to say. Of course, again, that belies his finding that the preliminary hearing should be kept open. It's a very strange order.

GRACE: It's ridiculous. The perpetrator can't read the paper?

PIXLEY: That's what I'm saying. That's exactly what I'm saying, Nancy. You misheard me. Because the perpetrator...

GRACE: No, I agree with you!

PIXLEY: ... can read the paper, because the perpetrator -- we are in agreement on this -- can watch the broadcast, there's no reason why you don't have cameras in the courtroom, allowing all of us to see the witnesses firsthand.

KING: Dr. Ludwig, have you ever had to testify at a preliminary hearing?

LUDWIG: I have not. But the first thought I had when I heard about this judge's decision was Scott Peterson is not the only public case we can look at historically. Dr. Sam Shepard (ph), I believe, was a doctor who also was on trial for murdering his wife. In fact, there was a TV show and Hollywood called "The Fugitive" that was based on his life.

KING: Right.

LUDWIG: And because he was so condemned in the court of public opinion, you know, he was convicted of second-degree murder and life in prison, and the case was reversed 10 years later because it was felt that he could not get access to a fair trial. And even after the fact, he was never able to resume a normal life because he was notorious, at that point, and died early. So I think the judge is trying to cover all the bases, and he's being wise in doing so.

KING: Nancy, what -- what's the purpose of a preliminary hearing?

GRACE: The purpose of a prelim in this jurisdiction is for the state to go to the next level and take case to trial. In many jurisdictions, there is a grand jury, where 20 to 30 citizens hear the evidence put up by the state and decide the correct charge. The person is indicted. There are formal charges brought, and then it proceeds to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) jury, or jury of 12. Here the preliminary hearing supersedes that. They have chosen to go forward prelim instead of grand jury.

KING: And Chris, at a preliminary hearing, conceivably, could a judge say there's not enough evidence here and no trial? I mean, that's not going to happen here, but could he say that?

PIXLEY: Oh, yes. It happens. Now -- it happens, Larry, and that's part of the reason for testing the state's case, at least forcing them to demonstrate that they have probable cause to bring the case to trial. And that is what the entire purpose of the prelim is for. So it's conceivable, yes.

KING: Do you think the jury is affected by public opinion, Dr. Ludwig?

LUDWIG: It's certainly possible. I mean, if they know that their decision is going to be made public at some point and they know that the public strongly is convinced of a person's guilt, it's going to certainly be more conflicted. However, I'd like to believe that when jurors are picked, that they can legally make an unbiased decision once they're in the courtroom, and I do believe in the process.

KING: What do you believe, Nancy?

GRACE: I believe that the Simpson case, the O.J. Simpson case, is a perfect example where the jury made a decision in direct conflict to huge public opinion polls. I think that the public may get a surreal view of what's happening in the trial sometimes because they're seeing it on television, but that does not translate to a jury. Larry, I have tried cases where a camera was in the courtroom, and I have covered cases because of the camera in the courtroom. It made absolutely no difference, in my mind. In fact, I think the lawyers do a better job when they think they're being watched.

KING: In fact, Chris Pixley, Court TV changed all of this, didn't it?

PIXLEY: I think they really did. In fact, they were the ones that were even polling people during the O.J. Simpson case to determine what the effect of the television coverage was on the case and on the public's perception, both of the trial process and of the defendant. So they absolutely changed it. In fact, I think Court TV and people like Nancy Grace continue to change it.

And where we are apparently all in agreement is that it's a positive to allow the public inside the courtroom. Most American citizens never get access to the courtroom. They don't understand the court process. And that has the potential, I think, Larry, to you know, at least create the seeds for distrust. You don't want the public to ever believe that courtroom proceedings are kind of back- room justice.

KING: No television when they wrote the Constitution.

PIXLEY: Right.

KING: We'll take a break and come back and start to include your phone calls. Ted Rowlands should be joining us momentarily. We're with Nancy Grace, Chris Pixley and Dr. Robi Ludwig. Don't go away.


KING: Welcome back. Ted Rowlands of KTVU, who has covering this case from the start, is now with us. We'll go to your calls momentarily.

Ted, you were there, I guess, today. Give us a summation of what -- or weren't you there?

TED ROWLANDS, KTVU-TV: No, I wasn't there. This was a written order by the judge, so it was just released to the clerk of courts, and everybody pretty much read it as soon as it came out, about 8:00 o'clock this morning.

KING: The reaction from you and your fellow members of the media?

ROWLANDS: Well, a bit of surprise, in that during the hearing, he was very specific in his questioning, and a lot of people in court thought that that meant that he was leaning towards some sort of camera allowed in the courtroom, some sort of coverage.

The other thing is the access problem. So many reporters are covering this. So many outlets are covering this. It'll be interesting to see how they deal with who gets into the courtroom and how those that are left out will be able to cover it. So a little bit of surprise, but then when you read the order, it was extensive, seven pages long. And he went into -- while he didn't have to, he could have just said, No cameras, he went into all of the reasons why. And you know, that's his opinion, and it seemed to make sense.

KING: Will there be certain preferential treatment? Will CNN or "The New York Times" or Court TV definitely get a seat?

ROWLANDS: Well, up until now, what they've done is they've opened up a fax machine in the city of Modesto, and every media outlet has an opportunity to start faxing in requests for a seat, beginning at a certain hour on a certain day. You can only get one seat per agency, to begin with. The problem, of course, is the fax machine gets tied up. And as bad as it's been thus far, it's going to get much worse. It's a fair way to do it, but a difficult way to do it. And somebody who maybe was covering this from the beginning won't get in if he or she's fax machine isn't working properly.

KING: How many seats open to the public?

ROWLANDS: Well, there's 21 seats, I believe, reserved for journalists. There are a few for the public. But the public has not taken advantage of those seats. So that overflow has gone to either the journalists or other family members that wanted to get in.

KING: How can the public take advantage if the hearing hasn't taken place yet?

ROWLANDS: Well, I'm talking -- from this point -- looking back from the beginning, from his first court appearance up until now. The first time he was in court, there was a long line of people from the public that wanted to get in. That has pretty much gone away now. And the media, the people that didn't have their fax go through, have taken advantage of those seats. I would presume that the public will be back, waiting in line, and they'll ask for those remaining seats for the prelim.

KING: Let's start going to calls for the full panel. Bonhomme, Texas. Hello.

CALLER: Yes. My question is for Nancy.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Given the fact that a defendant is to be tried by a jury of his or her peers, I was wondering what criteria will constitute peerage in this case? Will it be age, background, socioeconomic, what?

GRACE: Well, that's a great question. The U.S. Supreme Court has been arguing about that one issue for about 75 years. It has gone up on appeal, as to does it mean race, does it mean age, does it mean sex? And basically, what the Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court, has said is that you cannot strike a juror based on race. Basically, every other type of strike is allowed. Now, both sides can be, as we call, battsened (ph). In other words, they can be questioned as to their motivation as to striking a potential juror. Everybody that's tried cases has been battsened. When the other side doesn't like who you strike, they want to know why you struck them and you've got to be able to articulate that. But basically, the only criteria is that they are a citizen of that jurisdiction and that they say they can be fair and impartial. That's a peer.

KING: So we don't have a definition of a peer.


KING: A peer is a person.

GRACE: A peer is a person in that jurisdiction that swears under oath they'll be fair.

KING: San Francisco. Hello.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: Hi. I'm still wondering, what the connection is between the Evelyn Hernandez case and this Laci Peterson case?

KING: Chris?

PIXLEY: Well, I think that we're all right now wondering if there is any connection between Evelyn Hernandez. I think in terms of the reason that we've heard about it and what the defense is looking for, there are a number of similarities. Evelyn Hernandez was, I believe, eight months pregnant, just as Laci Peterson, when she went missing. Her body washed up on the shore of the San Francisco Bay in much the same condition that Laci Peterson's was. It was missing limbs. It was missing the head. Very similar to Laci Peterson's.

I think it's those factors alone that piqued the interest of the defense, and I think it was reasonable for the defense to suggest that if there's any connection, they have a right to look into it. Beyond that, we don't know what they may know, now having viewed the autopsy photos. Of course, they wanted the investigative file in that case, and because the case is still open, they didn't get it.

KING: Ted, what have officials said about the Hernandez case?

ROWLANDS: Well, you know, San Francisco police off the record will tell you there's absolutely no connection here, but they'll also tell you that they have a suspect in mind that they've been following from the beginning. From the defense standpoint, they haven't solved it. So it's an unsolved mystery of a pregnant woman whose body was found in the San Francisco Bay. But San Francisco police investigators believe that they know where they're going with this case, and they don't believe it has anything to do with the Peterson case.

GRACE: And the judge seems to agree, Larry, based on what Ted was just saying. The judge invited Mark Geragos back into this chambers, so as not to taint a potential jury pool, and asked Geragos to, Please show me a connection, show me what you've got to give me a reason, a peg to hang my hat on, to give you this file on Evelyn Hernandez. And at the end of the day, he refused to give him the file. All he gave him was the autopsy report and some photos. The autopsy report was already public.

LUDWIG: And statistically...

KING: Yes, go ahead, Robi.

LUDWIG: I was just going to say, statistically, the highest form of death amongst pregnant women is homicide. And typically, it's due to an intimate partner, not a stranger. So the fact that you have another pregnant woman who is dead, statistically, you know, would suggest what the study finds.

PIXLEY: But again, if the best that the state can do in this case is cite statistics as their basis for fingering Scott Peterson with this crime, it will be a good day for the defense.

GRACE: Agreed. Agreed.

KING: In other words, statistics can't convict.

Philadelphia, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry?

KING: Yes. Go ahead.

CALLER: I have a question for Nancy Grace.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Being this is a death penalty, does the family or the defendant have to pay for this, or does the state pick up the -- the tab for this?

GRACE: That's a darn good question, and here's the answer. Right now, Mark Geragos is a privately retained attorney. I do think, at a certain point, the state is going to kick in. That is not unusual. It's not that Peterson is getting any preferential treatment because, let me tell you, just to use -- to get an independent expert as to DNA, as to Laci's and Conner's remains, much less Henry Lee and Cyril Wecht -- but any independent expert will cost about $100,000. So at some point, the state is going to cough up, and they've got to. This is a death penalty case, and certain rules must be followed.

KING: Rome, Italy. Hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry. Charlie (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of First Data wants to kill me. First Data, FDC (ph)...

KING: OK, we'll look him up.


GRACE: I'll look him up!

KING: And Nancy Grace will definitely think he did.


GRACE: He did it!

KING: And Chris will defend him, sir. I just want you to know this.

PIXLEY: I want a reason to go to Rome.

KING: We'll all go to Rome and cover this. Well, good luck to you, sir.

We'll take a break, and we'll be back with more calls. Don't go away.


KING: Let's re-introduce our panel. In San Francisco, Ted Rowlands, reporter for KTVU, who has been covering the Peterson case since the beginning.

In New York, Nancy Grace, "Closing Arguments" on Court TV.

In Atlanta, Defense Attorney Chris Pixley.

And In New York, the well-known psychological Dr. Robi Ludwig.

The next caller is from Tampa, hello.

CALLER: My question for you panel is regarding the leaks of information.

How much that this affected the defense or prosecution and also if either team wants to prevent this or perhaps investigate the leaks, how can one do this?

KING: Ted.

ROWLANDS: Yes. The leaks, as we've been saying, first started pretty much from the prosecution side. The Modesto Police department, numerous leaks coming out of there. Pretty much set up the entire case. Since Geragos took over initially, there were a few leaks coming over from his side. Then after the gag order, pretty much things were sealed up, because of Al Girolami, the judge in this case. We haven't gotten much in terms of specific leaks. Now, what else is out there, we'll have to wait and see. I'm sure in the prelim we'll find out a lot more, especially about the state's case.

KING: Ted, a police officer might say, hey, Ted I saw this and here's what it looked like.

ROWLANDS: Or you talk to somebody familiar with the case, very familiar with it, knows all of the evidence. And you go back and forth, have a conversation, completely off the record, then talk to someone else who has knowledge, back it up. You get two sources, you can be pretty much sure it is true and you can go with it. That's where you get the sources say. Typically, you know, personally I have to have it from two different sources that are reliable before we'll air it. Since the gag order, we've gotten a lot of stuff, but it's not stuff that we're comfortable with reporting on. Not stuff that we're comfortable with sharing with the public.

KING: Nancy, every famous trial has had them, right.

GRACE: They have. As to the viewer's question, who it's hurting?

Right now the leaks hurt the defense only in the sense that every time part of their strategy trickles out, such as these artistic drawings along the pier known at "the bulb," and they are trying to link them to a say the satanic cult, every time a leak like that comes out, then the state finds out about it and have ample time to refute it, as they have done this time once again, a la the brown van and the mystery lady.

KING: Johnson City, Tennessee. Hello. Johnson City, hello. Are you there?

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yes. Go ahead.

CALLER: I wanted to ask Nancy -- could she tell me why he would place hisself right there at the bay if he did kill her?

GRACE: Well you know, I'm going quote Dr. Cyril Wecht, who has now been employed by the defense team. When he said, I guess he didn't count on the effect water would have on the human remains, he didn't think they would float up the way that they did.

LUDWIG: Also, psychologically, it could be grandiosity. They feel like they have gotten away with murder so far, so they won't get caught. In some cases, just reliving the crime in their mind gives them a sense of high. And also sometimes they go back to the crime scene to cover their tracks.

GRACE: And strategically, Larry, apparently there were witnesses that saw him there. A trucker, a government employee, two of them, as a matter of fact saw him, placed him there at the marina. So, He Was kind of stuck with it. He was stuck with being there and so, hence, you've got the fishing alibi.

KING: Chris, you have a response -- Chris.

PIXLEY: Simplistic in thinking. It's where he was on the day his wife disappeared, he had no reason to give any other information to the police. You can point out Scott didn't tell them about the relationship he was having with Amber Frye, but to our information right now, what we do know is that Scott was forthcoming with the police when they initially interviewed him about where he was and what he was doing. So...

KING: Pleasanton, California. Hello.

CALLER: Good evening. My question is for Ted Rowlands.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: I was wondering what Scott is doing these days while he's behind, you know -- held up?

Is he -- is his morale changed any, and what does he do to keep you know, busy?

ROWLANDS: Well according to his family, his morale is up and down, as you might imagine. He's taken up yoga, according to his family. And spending a lot of time by himself in a very small jail cell with only a couple opportunities each week to go get a little bit of exercise on the roof. But for the most part, he is spending a lot of time with himself, getting a lot of mail. His family says he's getting a lot of support mail. According to the inmate housed next to him for a considerable amount of time, he's playing chess and talking a lot with the inmates around him. But otherwise, just like any other prisoner. He's just spending a lot of time by himself in a small jail cell.

KING: Winnipeg, Manitoba, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Now that the judge made the decision not to allow cameras into the hearing, I'm wondering how this Peterson camp, and in particular, Scott Peterson, is taking this news?

Is he's relieved or depressed or how that...

KING: How would you gather, Chris?

How do you think they're handling it?

PIXLEY: Interesting, Larry. I think initially the defense team's position and, of course, Scott is intricately involved in what his defense team is doing, was that there shouldn't be a gag order in this case, because they wanted to be able to respond to evidence. Then, when there was gag order issued, they said that's fine if that's what it takes to protect Scott's interest, buts let's keep the preliminary hearing closed for the same reason. Lets protect his interest. So to open up the preliminary hearing now, to deny the request to have it closed in the interest of protecting Scott's rights to a fair trial, I think has to be a blow to them, knowing the kind of coverage it's going to receive. And I think that's why I do expect that Mark Geragos will step up, go to the court of appeals and it may be a long-shot motion, but he'll take his chances, I would think.

KING: Robi, you agree?

LUDWIG: I think so. Again that is Mark Geragos strength. He certainly knows how to tell a powerful story. He likes the media, and the media likes him. And what we saw when he was talking about the case in front of the media, we went from Scott Peterson being public enemy no. 1 to, well, maybe he didn't do it. So I think he would try to change that, reverse the decision.

KING: Do you agree -- Nancy.

GRACE: Yes, I think Mark will appeal. I fully expect that, and I think he would be derelict if he did not. Every time there's an adverse rule, he will appeal. Also, the nuts and bolts result of such an appeal may be a continuance in the preliminary hearing date. Because, he'll appeal and have to wait for that decision for the prelim.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more and more of your phone calls. Don't go away.


LEE PETERSON, SCOTT PETERSON'S FATHER: I hate seeing the kid in jail. It's not right, he shouldn't be here. And there's someone out there who murdered his wife and child. And the investigation was flawed in my opinion. That's about all I have to say.



KING: Before we take our next caller, good question from one of our technicians. Nancy Grace, has anyone ever been caught leaking, convicted of leaking and been sentenced for leaking?

GRACE: I have never heard of a sentence for leaking. It's basically tampering with evidence and subverting justice. I've heard someone reprimanded before for leaking, but never convicted and tried for leaking.

KING: I got you. Modesto, California. Hello.

CALLER: Yes, I have two questions for your panel.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: If they decide to move the trial from Modesto because they can't get a fair jury pool, would it be possible to bring jurors from another community to Modesto so the trial could be in Modesto and would that also be cheaper to do it that way?

KING: OK. Chris?

PIXLEY: Yeah. I think the answer is yes on both counts. I mean, that's one of the possibilities. You can ship in the jurors. The only possibility is that you actually, physically move it, take the show on the road, and the judge and the prosecutors would have to go, most likely, to a much larger venue, like Orange County or L.A. or San Diego.

But, yes, that's very possible that you'll just ship in the jurors and the trial will still occur physically in Stanislaus County.

KING: Dr. Ludwig, would that automatically mean a fair trial? LUDWIG: Not necessarily. You know, with all the media coverage, you don't have to just live in Modesto to have an idea about what happened in this case. So it's going to be challenging either way. That they're going to need to look at several factors, not just location when picking a jury that can be objective.

KING: Turlock, California. I got it. Turlock, hello?

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Love your show.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: I was -- after the preliminary hearing, I know the judge ruled today about no cameras, but is it possible when we do actually go to trial that it's possible we will have cameras?

KING: Both Chris and Nancy have said yes. Ted Rowlands, what do you think? Do you think based on -- since you referred to the jury pool, the jury will have been chosen, you might well see this trial televised?

ROWLANDS: Yeah, if you read the judge's explanation for barring the camera into the prelim, he sure does leave the door open for allowing a camera after a jury is seated. And, of course, that would be the only time that it would be broadcast, anyway. So, yeah, sure. The door seems to be open, but I'm not going to try to figure out this judge. That's for sure.

KING: London, Ontario. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, yes, I have a question about this theory of the satanic cult being responsible for this. Is it just a rumor or is the defense just grasping at straws? I find it a very strange theory.

KING: Chris?

PIXLEY: Well, you know, the interesting thing is, I don't know that the defense has ever come out and said that it's a satanic cult. What they've said is that they believe that someone else, in particular, they've described the people that they think may be involved, is responsible for this murder, and there are some occult signs related to those people. A lot of it comes from the testimony that is going to be forthcoming for the defense of some of these witnesses who saw Laci Peterson walking the day, the morning of her disappearance and who also saw the brown van, who saw men with tattoos with 666 on their arms or arm.

But I don't know at this point that the defense actually believes it's a satanic cult. I think they may very well believe that it's a transient or a group of transients or someone that was in this brown van on their street the day of Laci's disappearance.

KING: Pittsburgh, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: Hey, I wanted to know, Cyril Wecht has been hired by the defense, or is he working pro bono?

KING: Defense. Being paid. Is that the question?

CALLER: I wanted to know if he was working pro bono or has he been hired, is he being paid for this.

KING: Nancy, he's being paid, right?

GRACE: Right.

KING: Now, the state also pays people, is that right, Nancy?

GRACE: Well, the state's witnesses so far are government employees. So no, they don't get any type of bonus for their testimony or specific fees for this trial. They get paid their regular salary.

KING: Can the state bring in an expert that they might regard as more competent than their own?


KING: They can.

GRACE: They certainly can, and we've seen that in many high profile trials. And the problem with Cyril is that he's given a lot of opinions indicating he thought that the defendant was guilty in this case. However, now that he's seen the remains, he could have an epiphany.

KING: Ermo (ph), South Carolina, hello.

CALLER: This question is for Nancy Grace.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: I've got a question about the wedding ring. Did she actually have the wedding ring on the day supposedly she died? Or did she take it off early because she was pregnant? Because most people wear it when they're pregnant. I just think it's awful strange. And another thing is the day she was leaving, supposedly some people saw her walking with the dog, did they actually prove that was her or was it someone that looked like her? Because possibly, you know, something could have happened to her in the house, before she even left the house. But those things are really kind of strange to me.

KING: Nancy, what about the ring?

GRACE: Absolutely. It's my understanding that she did have the ring on. We'll never know that, because her arms have been severed. And to my understanding, her hands have not been recovered. It's very difficult when I am looking at this picture to think of her hands not being recovered. I do know, however, the shoe on the other foot, that when Scott Peterson was apprehended, based on his booking report, he was not wearing his wedding band, this was before Laci's body was recovered.

KING: Kurshner, Ontario. Hello.

CALLER: Yes. At the beginning of the case when the police entered the Peterson home, they detected a strong odor of chlorine. Would that have destroyed any DNA evidence that was left there? Does chlorine destroy blood at all?

KING: Ted?

ROWLANDS: Well, I don't know that police detected a strong odor of chlorine or not.

KING: Where did that come from?

ROWLANDS: Well, that was one of the things that was supposedly leaked, but I never reported that. I'm not really sure where it came from. It may have come from the "Enquirer," which has been right on in a lot of things, but also out in left field on another -- on other things, according to people familiar with the case.

As far at the chlorine, I don't know. But you know what? We will find out eventually, probably early on, when the warrants are unsealed, at least the information from the warrants are presented in the preliminary hearing. So we'll find out then.

KING: So that is not a fact?


KING: What did you say, Nancy? I'm sorry.

GRACE: Larry, I think Clorox or bleach does destroy DNA.

KING: I know. But we don't know that it's a fact that they smelled it.

GRACE: No, I don't know that. I have read it in the reports, too. But she asked us does it destroy DNA, and I think it does.

KING: Oh. We'll take a break and be back with some more moments and more phone calls for our panel on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: Back with our panel. Tarzana, California. Hello. Tarzana, Hello? Tarzana, good-bye. Buffalo, New York. Hello.

CALLER: Buffalo?

KING: Yes.

CALLER: I was just -- I have a question for the doctor.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: I have never in my life seen anybody that has such a detached affect as Scott.


CALLER: What's with his new hair coloring? He looks like he has nubs. He looks like he was falling asleep in his last appearance and the appearance before that. It's very obvious he was trying to make himself cry. He was dabbing at dry eyes. When somebody cries their chin quivers. He was cursing his lips. This guy is really out of it. What's going on? Thank you.

KING: Doctor, ah-ha!

LUDWIG: Yes it is possible he is being advised by his defense team on how to present himself. So he looks like a more clean-cut, upstanding citizen.

He certainly does look more upstanding with his dark, short hair, in a three-piece suit. He may be on medication. I mean, this is very stressful, guilty or not, to have the cameras glaring and have the public know your personal life.

But I agree with you. His affect was bizarre. His tears didn't seem quite the way a sad person would respond, and I think that's why a lot of people jumped to the conclusion, What's going on with this guy? He doesn't quite look innocent.

KING: Chris, frankly, does the jury look at the defendant a lot and make judgments based on how he or she appears?

PIXLEY: Oh, yes. Absolutely, Larry. And you see that just from the volume of calls we get over the weeks and months on this subject.

They will be watching Scott Peterson, not only throughout the hearings that are televised but as members of the public, but once impaneled, they will watch him throughout the trial. Remember, they are also going to be taking into account the demeanor and the presentation of all of the prosecution's witnesses, and the prosecution can put on, as Nancy well knows, just one bad witness for their side, someone that comes off the wrong way or a detective that really sinks their case because of his or her demeanor, and then everyone loses their focus on the defendant.

GRACE: You know what? That's an excellent show of playing hide the ball, Chris. We're talking about Peterson trying to -- impeach himself and have a little tear in the courtroom? Even a viewer in Canada could see there wasn't a tear. And somehow, you're attacking a state's case that hasn't even happened. I give you credit for that.

PIXLEY: Well, you know, Nancy, it's interesting. You and the caller suggested that Scott wasn't crying. I'm sorry, but I didn't see that in that picture. I did see him take...

GRACE: Well, take a look, buddy.

PIXLEY: I did see him bring his handkerchief to his eye, and you know, I have to got to assume that Scott Peterson is going to be reliable in his behavior in the courtroom.

Quite honestly, he's been attacked for how morose and calm he's been. Even Laci Peterson's only family, own mother, has suggested, you know, he didn't act normal and hasn't acted normal. Well, again, who knows how each of us would act in this situation?

KING: Yes. Trenton, Tennessee, hello.

CALLER: Hi. First, I'd like to say thank you to you and your panel. I followed all of this very closely. But have there been any comments from Laci's family or any statements made as to whether any of Scott's family will be involved in any service for Laci and Connor?

KING: Ted?

ROWLANDS: Well, the remains are to be turned over to the family of Laci Peterson by the 22nd of this month, brought back from the earlier date of September 5. That's coming up next week. What will happen then is, we're presuming there will be a private ceremony by the Rochas. Scott Peterson technically has a right to try to petition to get to any sort of ceremony. The Petersons earlier said that they were going to conduct their own private service as well so Scott could take part in it. A lot of time has passed since then. So I'm not quite sure what the plans would be from the Peterson side of things. You could assume, though, that the Rochas would have a ceremony once they get the remains back.

GRACE: Larry...

KING: Yes.

GRACE: Larry, I'd like to point out, when the funeral pretty that was much open to the public took place, the memorial service -- correction -- at that time, Scott did not even -- pumped in to the jail on the television, and Scott Peterson did not even attend by television, all right?

KING: The question is, though, was about Scott's parents. Will they be invited to the service? They lost a grandchild, didn't they? They lost a daughter-in-law and a grandchild. And they didn't do anything.

GRACE: I understand that. But I am saying, she also asked would Scott Peterson have the opportunity to go? I don't think he will be allowed out of the jail to go to a funeral. And if he was -- had it pumped in, he probably still wouldn't watch, because he didn't watch last time. He met with his lawyers.

KING: Sacramento, California -- Chris, you want to say something. PIXLEY: Well, Nancy spit it out at the very end. In the interests of fairness, Scott Peterson was meeting with attorneys that day. As a client in a death penalty case, you do what your attorneys tell you to do. And I can tell you one thing that Mark Geragos did from the get-go was get control of his client and let him know that he controls the agenda. So when your attorney says jump, you say how high.

His attorneys on that Sunday needed to meet with him. They had a hearing the following week. They did meet with him. And don't forget, Scott requested tht the sheriff allow him to attend that memorial service. That request was denied.

KING: Sacramento, California, hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Larry. This one's for Nancy.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: Will the prosecution present all of its evidence at the time of the preliminary hearing or will they hold something back for trial?

GRACE: Absolutely not. Good strategic question.

This is what is called a prima facie or bare bones case. They've got to get over a very small hurdle, and that is put up just enough evidence to convince the judge there is reason to go forward. So you will hear a bare bones case. You'll hear scientific evidence, search warrant evidence and possibly a little motive evidence. But that is not necessary. I'm talking about Amber Frey.

PIXLEY: But Larry...

KING: Ted, when will the preliminary hearing take place?

ROWLANDS: Well, it's scheduled to take place on the 9th, but the odds of that happening, it's tough to tell at this point. As Nancy and Chris pointed out, there's a good chance that Geragos could take this to the fifth in terms of the closed preliminary hearing. He still wants that to take place. But technically. it's supposed to take place on the 9th. There is a discovery conference on the 2nd. I think we'll find out then what the defense is going to have to -- or what they're planning to do in terms of timing.

KING: Thank you all very much. We'll be right on top of it with our outstanding panel.

Ted Rowlands in San Francisco of KTVU.

Nancy Grace of "Closing Arguments" on Court TV.

Defense attorney Chris Pixley.

And psychologist Dr. Robi Ludwig.

And I'll be back in a couple of minutes and tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Tomorrow night, we'll look at the life and times of Elvis Presley.


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.