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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Analysis of Scott Peterson Murder Case Developments
Aired January 14, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK GERAGOS, ATTORNEY FOR SCOTT PETERSON: This case is nothing more than the prosecution deciding early on, This man's having an affair, don't bother me with the facts, I've got to convict this guy. Period. End of story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: Mark Geragos tries to get the murder charges against Scott Peterson thrown out, but the judge says no and his motion to dismiss is denied. With the trial set to start in less than two weeks, will Geragos appeal this to a higher court?
Here with all the latest, Court TV's Nancy Grace, the former prosecutor; high-profile defense attorney Chris Pixley; and Johnnie Cochran, the one-time member of O.J. Simpson's dream team; plus jury consultant Jo-Ellan Dimitrius and Court TV reporter Beth Karas, who was at the courthouse today. And they're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
A couple of quick program notes. We're going to do two shows live on caucus night, Iowa caucus night, Monday at 9:00 and midnight. Outstanding guests, and Bob Woodward will be our expert analyst. And we'll also follow the State of the Union address Tuesday night, going on at 10:30 Eastern time with a full-hour edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Let's get into what happened today, and let's get Beth Karas, who was at the court date today, to give us an update. What happened today, Beth?
BETH KARAS, COURT TV, IN COURT TODAY: You know, no great surprises, Larry, that this defense motion to dismiss was denied. It's a routine motion, and routinely it's denied. Occasionally, it's granted, but no one expected the judge to dismiss the charges today.
Arguably, the more interesting part came after that, when the prosecution tried to get a professor who was responsible for a survey used by the judge last week when he changed the venue in the case -- tried to get the professor to turn over some documents. The professor refused. He has to come back to court next week because some of the data were falsified. That has come to light since the last hearing date on January 8. So that's going to be a big issue next week, whether the judge will rescind the venue change order.
KING: And also, this was a different judge today, right?
KARAS: Yes. And that's because the judge who sat at the preliminary hearing and made the probable cause determination is the trial judge. This had to be an independent review of the evidence, so a different judge had to do it.
KING: Ah. OK, before we get -- our panel starts and bring Beth back and the whole panel in, let's hear a bit of the Geragos theory of the caper. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERAGOS: The infant itself had a tape that was wrapped around its neck, that was also knotted in such a way -- and if you took a look at the exhibits, I would ask you to tell me if you think that that just got on, like debris. Clearly, it did not get on like debris. There's no way that that's what happened. In fact, the more likely explanation is, is that that baby was disposed of in the bay while wrapped in a bag, which was coincidentally found right next to the baby, and that the plastic binding tape was used to wrap the baby in the bag. And when the bag came loose, that's when the baby, after hitting the rocks, goes ashore to where the baby was found.
That appears to be the only thing that makes any sense that one could argue from the state of the evidence that we have right now, that she is abducted, she's abducted on the morning of the 24th by those people who were in the park. There are -- there is testimony that the baby then survives for anywheres from three to seven weeks, based upon how old the baby was on the 23rd of December, at which point, Laci and the baby are killed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Nancy Grace, what do you make of that theory?
NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Well, Larry, we see something very, very important today. We see Mark Geragos finally in a court of law, not through a leak or some other source, giving us what the defense theory is going to be. We don't hear about the brown van. We don't hear about a satanic cult. What we hear about is, finally, a road map of where the defense is headed. They are going to say that between 10:08, the last phone call that Scott Peterson made in that area -- that is based on cell phone triangulation -- and 10:18, when McKenzie (ph), the dog, was found running free in that area -- in those few moments, Laci was abducted by strangers. We see where he's headed.
We also hear him falling back on another theory, the tape around the child, Conner's, neck, as well as his alleged growth of the fetus up to 32 weeks. As you know, the last time Laci went to a doctor, she didn't have a sonogram done, so Geragos is going to argue this child was born and held and then thrown into the bay where Laci was thrown earlier.
KING: Chris Pixley, is that a sound theory?
CHRIS PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: ... defense has to go with something. Nancy's right. We're hearing -- we're beginning to hear, at least, what that is. Three points that did come out, in addition to what Nancy has pointed out. One of them was that there is substantial eyewitness testimony. Mark Geragos again pointing to it. And he pointed out that the prosecution just can't get their mind around some of these facts -- in particular, the fact that the baby may be older, that the gestational age shows that the baby was up to seven weeks older than he would have been at the time that Laci went missing.
Those facts, Larry, will be important to a jury. They are not -- they are not necessarily enough to overcome the probable cause or to defeat probable cause in this case, but they will raise reasonable doubt, and that's what is most important when you get to trial.
KING: Johnnie, you have taken on the police in the past and represented them in the past. And he is arguing, Geragos, that Modesto police ignored or failed to follow up on other leads. What do you make of that argument?
JOHNNIE COCHRAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I'm not surprised by that because, very often, the husband is considered the prime and only suspect, and so it's really basically a rush-to-judgment argument. No one else really -- they don't look at anyone else, and that he also argues, of course, that they were negligent in the handling of the strand of hair. They put in one strand of hair, goes in the envelope, and when it comes out, it is two strands of hair.
So I think that the police department will be somewhat on trial. But I think Chris Pixley's absolutely right. They have to come to grips with the fact there are some witnesses who identify Laci Peterson walking the dog in the park at a time after Scott Peterson has allegedly gone fishing. And that very well may amount to an alibi, that plus the age of this child, according to the doctor who was treating Laci Peterson. So I think that there are -- this is a case where there's a question of reasonable doubt and a very triable case, it seems to me.
GRACE: That's not what her doctor said, Larry! Her last sonogram, according to the doctor, was way back in September. And as we all know, the child had certainly grown to a certain extent by the time Conner went missing. And we also know that Conner's body was in the water for a period of time. And as Johnnie knows from trying a lot of murder cases, bodies become bloated and larger in the water. The only real way to tell how old Conner was at the time of his death is a calcium test done on the skeleton. That's the only way.
COCHRAN: There may be a dispute, Nancy, with regard to that. But as I understand it, the doctor indicated the baby was about 32 weeks old on or about December 23. And by the time this baby's body's found, they're talking now anywhere from 33 to 39 weeks, perhaps six weeks older. And if that baby was alive during that period of time, that plays right into the defense aspect that the child was abducted, held for a period of time and didn't die back on December 23. That's, of course, the importance of it.
KING: The secret, Chris, is -- for the defense, is to create the reasonable doubt, right?
PIXLEY: Well, that... COCHRAN: That's the issue of whether or not there's reasonable doubt, based upon all the evidence, where a jury can't decide to an abiding conviction, to a moral certainty, of the truth of the charge.
KING: And I want to move to what happened with the jury, too. We'll be taking calls in a little while. And Beth will get us up to date again. We'll also hear the prosecution's point of view of this crime, and we'll continue with our discussion of the Peterson matter.
Governor Ann Richards tomorrow night, and she has an announcement to make, too. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK DISTASSO, DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY, STANISLAUS COUNTY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the detectives and pretty much everyone else said he leaves his house at 9:15 to go to the shop, and his cell phone records show that he actually left at 9:08. He gives a description of Laci Peterson when he left that includes black pants, bare feet and a white shirt. Of course, she's found in the khaki pants, the exact same ones that Amy Rocha described from the night before. He -- Karen Service (ph) finds the dog at 10:18. So we're talking about, if he left at 10:08, as his cell phone records show, not as he told us, we're talking a 10-minute time window when Laci Peterson must have finished mopping the floor, changed her clothes, gotten -- gotten the dog together, gone on a walk, gotten far enough away where then she got abducted and had time for the dog to come back. All of these things were impossible. If those things are impossible, then this man murdered Laci Peterson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERAGOS: The one thing he just won't deal with -- they just will not get their arms or their head around -- is the fact that that baby grew for anywheres from three to seven weeks. They can't get around that. And the fact -- and the fact of the matter is, until they deal with that, they're never going to find out who did this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We'll hear the prosecutor's side in a moment.
But Beth, about this tainted question of people who were polled with regard to change of venue -- are they asking that that be rescinded, somehow to have it back in Modesto, or does the change of venue stand?
KARAS: You know, right now, it stands. The hearing is next Tuesday. We understand that there will be a filing, a request by the prosecution for the judge to reconsider that decision because they, the prosecution, have subpoenaed documents from the university, from the professor. They want to do their own investigation, even though the university is doing an investigation. They believe that because the judge relied on this survey and the survey is no longer reliable, that he should review his decision and maybe even keep the trial here or move it to another neighboring county. I'm not sure the judge is going to change it. He relied on other factors, as well.
KING: If (UNINTELLIGIBLE) correct, though, Nancy, didn't you think that there would be a change of venue, no matter what was reported?
GRACE: Yes. Larry, no matter how we twist and turn, and even if Schoenthaler's students did commit fraud, A, they did not know this was going to be used in the Peterson trial. But B, it is up to the lawyer, putting that witness up to verify the information before it is sworn to under oath. I don't think Schoenthaler realized his students basically fudged all the numbers.
But you know, Larry, we talked about this last week, you and I, the fact that the judge had made up his mind when he got up on the bench before he even heard arguments. So better safe than sorry. Better to change the venue now than get a conviction...
KING: Yes. So...
GRACE: ... and then have an appellate problem.
KING: So Tuesday's hearing is moot.
GRACE: They're going to move the trial.
KING: Yes. OK.
Now let's hear a word from the prosecutor today, Rick Distasso, presenting his side of the issue. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DISTASSO: The defendant's story that he went fishing in the San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve -- you can just look at that, and that by itself is ludicrous. Somebody who buys a small aluminum boat and then on Christmas Eve, in the late morning, decides to take a fishing trip on a whim because, as he told some of the other people, that it was too cold to go golfing -- who in their right mind does that?
It's too cold to go golfing here in Modesto, so I'm going to get in my car in the late morning hours, when I have something to do later on in the day. I'm going to drive then over an hour-and-a-half to the San Francisco Bay. I'm going to launch my small aluminum boat in a storm. I'm going to drive out and fish for less than one hour. Then I'm going to return to my home, when, of course, I can take my boat out in any -- you know, it's common knowledge that there's probably 100 different places between here and the bay that you can actually go fishing.
Of course, he does this because -- I suppose the argument is that he's such an avid and fanatical fisherman that he wants to go out when his wife is pregnant, I mean, you know, her latter stages of her pregnancy on Christmas Eve. He just has to get his fishing in. He does this, of course -- he doesn't even own a year-long fishing license. He has a two-day license that he just bought. He has fishing equipment in his boat. As the court's aware of from the photographs, it's not even put together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Johnnie Cochran, pretty strange, isn't it?
COCHRAN: Well, I think the prosecutor is pretty cynical in his argument there. But I think, you know, one of the real important thing -- I think no one expected -- maybe even Mark Geragos -- that the court would dismiss this. It would take a very, very strong judge to dismiss a case like this, given the burden that you're faced with.
But I'll tell you what's important, Larry. You certainly get an opportunity to see what the prosecution thinks about the various -- and you hear the prosecution's argument. And I think there are reasonable arguments about -- you know, I don't know all the things that Geragos will say in that regard, but it gives him an advance -- a preview of where they're going and what they're thinking. And that will help him as he prepares for trial, it seems to me.
KING: And Nancy, how strong was the prosecutor today, in your opinion?
GRACE: Well, I got to tell you something, Larry. I've been thinking the prosecution was a little laid back up until today, and finally, somebody lit a fire under the prosecution table and they got up and fired back. I think this whole poll, the Schoenthaler thing, has finally pushed them over the edge. But I saw a certain fire in the prosecution that I hadn't seen yet.
And Johnnie is right. We saw more of the state's case today. They laid it out like a road map. And we saw Geragos, ever the pro, falling back on the evidence that is the most suspicious, that being the piece of tape and the age of the fetus. He keeps falling back on the strongest things he's got, and that's what he's going to do at trial.
KING: Now, Chris, do they -- what -- do they need a motive? What does the state need?
PIXLEY: The state doesn't have to prove...
KING: To prove this.
PIXLEY: ... a motive, but...
KING: Don't need a motive.
PIXLEY: No, they don't. They don't have to prove that, Larry. But we talked about this. The motive will be important. And I think, ultimately, Scott Peterson has the better arguments when it comes to motive. Right now, the prosecution has to demonstrate, or at least, under their theory, they're trying to demonstrate that Scott Peterson murdered his wife because he was in love with a woman he'd met 30 days earlier.
PIXLEY: The defense says, Look, there's something else that occurred, and in fact, all of the eyewitness testimony points to someone else being responsible for this, to...
GRACE: That is not true!
PIXLEY: ... to Laci having been abducted. What is untrue about that, Nancy?
GRACE: Well, No. 1, the eyewitness you keep referring to -- I interviewed one of them myself. He's got a glass eye and wears a pair of glasses on the other eye.
PIXLEY: We've interviewed him here on the show.
GRACE: Yes, that's right. And I did, as well. And another thing. You keep talking about Amber Frey as the motive. The BS-o- meter is way off the chart on that! I don't think that Amber Frey is the motive. His lifestyle...
PIXLEY: That's fantastic. Then she shouldn't testify.
GRACE: He did not want to be...
PIXLEY: ... would you agree with that?
GRACE: ... married!
PIXLEY: Yes, well...
GRACE: He did not want to be married. He had so many women, strippers, you name it! It wasn't about Amber.
PIXLEY: And we have all of these ridiculous...
GRACE: It was about being free.
PIXLEY: ... like "The National Enquirer" now that there was a woman that he was seeing that walked in on he and Laci after they were -- shortly after they were married. None of that...
GRACE: I don't know anything about that!
PIXLEY: ... is coming into evidence.
GRACE: I don't know anything about that.
PIXLEY: None of that is going to be...
GRACE: This is not about Amber Frey.
PIXLEY: Well, then, if you don't know anything...
KING: One at a time!
PIXLEY: ... about it, Nancy -- the point is, who is going to step forward and testify that they were having a relationship with Scott Peterson at a period in time that is not so remote from this case that it will be reliable and can come into evidence? Who's going to do that? Amber's the only one that can do it.
KING: Beth, what is the trial date?
KARAS: Well, the trial date right now is January 26. That's awfully close. If the judge moves the venue or chooses the venue next Tuesday, supposedly, you know, they can go to trial the following week. However, Geragos has a lengthy trial in Orange County scheduled for the same day. That case may not go, but he does have conflicting trials on the same day.
KING: All right, we'll take a break. By the way, we had announced at the beginning of the show that Jo-Ellan Dimitrius will be with us, and she might still be with us, but you know how cold it is in the East? I'll tell you how cold it is. Jo-Ellan is in Bridgewater, New Jersey, where she's a jury consultant in the Jayson Williams matter. He's the former basketball star accused of killing his limo driver. It is so cold in the East that the satellite truck is frozen. The truck is frozen, and they're trying to unthaw the truck.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: All they want to do is get up and say, Who would go fishing on Christmas Eve day? Well, first of all, it wasn't Christmas Eve. They keep talking about Christmas Eve as if the guy was out there, finished decorating the tree and then decided, Before I go to bed, I'm going to run out to the bay. It was in the morning. The guy doesn't work in the morning. He decides to go to the bay to fish. They didn't believe it. The testimony was, by the officers, that he had to prove it to them.
Then he says -- there's this oblique reference again to the fact that he visited the bay. We established at the preliminary hearing and the cross-examination of Detective Brocchini that the reason he did is that each of those mornings, there was an article in "The Modesto Bee," and on each of those mornings, it said that somebody was going to be searching for his wife in the bay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE PETERSON, SCOTT PETERSON'S BROTHER: We just talked about our families and, you know, brother stuff. And you know, his mood is -- is OK, you know? He's staying strong. We're all supportive of each other. And you know, we're going to -- that's how we're going to get through this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: By the way, I think I said they're trying to unthaw the truck in New Jersey. They're trying to thaw out the truck in New Jersey. If they unthaw it, they'll freeze it to death. Trust me. It's late.
We're going to go to calls for our panel. I'll reintroduce the panel in a little while.
Ashtabula, Ohio. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: How are you?
CALLER: My question is for the panel.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: What I would like to know, from the time that Laci went missing until the time that Laci and Conner's remains were washed ashore, Scott was free. He was not arrested. And so I would like to know if any of you could tell me what evidence did they glean from the remains of Laci and Conner, where that they could conclusively conclude that Scott Peterson was the one who committed this crime?
KING: Good question. Nancy, what led to the arrest of Scott Peterson?
GRACE: From her remains, they're not even sure the cause of death and that is because she was submerged in water for so very, very long and parts of her limbs were missing. This is a circumstantial case, and in my experience of trying murder cases, juries love circumstantial cases!
KING: Yes, but her question was, what prompted them...
GRACE: About the body.
KING: ... to file against him?
GRACE: His behavioral evidence, the way that he had behaved, his timeline, and in my mind, his lack of alibi, conflicting statements about his whereabouts and many other matters, including his demeanor with police, I think, led them to arrest him. KING: Did they have...
GRACE: Plus, he was fishing where the bodies turned up, the exact spot!
KING: Did they have to wait until the bodies were found?
GRACE: No, they really did not, Larry. In fact, the police have stated they were going to arrest Scott Peterson before they found the bodies, and then they found the bodies before they could effect the arrest.
KING: Ah. Gotcha. Sydney, Nova Scotia. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. I'm calling just (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this question to either Nancy or to Chris. Just wondering, I don't know how far along Amber Frey is in her pregnancy. Will there be a paternity test on the baby after the baby is born, just to rule out Scott Peterson as the father?
KING: Chris? Is that germane?
PIXLEY: I don't think that they're going to have any pregnancy tests done because right now, there's no suggestion whatsoever that Scott Peterson could be the parent. And our understanding is that, at some point after the police got enough out of the conversations between Amber and Scott, Amber sometime around February 19 told Scott she didn't want to speak to him anymore. My understanding also is that she had not physically seen him after December or January, and so she actually could not have been in contact with him to bear his child. So the timeline doesn't seem to line up, and for that reason alone, I don't think there'll be a paternity test.
KING: By the way, Beth, have witness lists come out? Is she on the witness list? Or they're not released yet?
KARAS: ... any of the witnesses lists publicly, but we understand that Amber Frey will be testifying.
KING: Boston, Massachusetts. Hello.
CALLER: Yes. Hi. One thing that really -- the question is, basically, is that it doesn't seem like anybody really knows much about ultrasounding because there's a huge variance with ultrasounding. I know that, for a fact, my child -- I had four ultrasounds in the pregnancy, and my child was two pounds heavier than what they said he was going to be, which would make him anywhere between four to six weeks older.
KING: Johnnie, any comment on ultrasound in this case?
COCHRAN: Well, I'm not an expert on ultrasound, but I'll tell you this. At the trial there will be experts probably on both sides. And I think that it is a science of which experts may tend to disagree. But you know, from the defense standpoint, what they want to show is that the child was older than the child would have been if he had died on December 23, and as such, continued to live for a period of time, was part of an abduction and then was placed in the bay at a later time. I think that's what Geragos is going to argue. And I'd be surprised if there aren't experts who will back them up on that point. Don't you think so, Nancy?
GRACE: Well, a friend of yours and mine, Dr. Michael Baden, who is very well respected, has spoken directly on this issue and this case, and Dr. Baden says that an obstetrician's estimate can be way off by several weeks when it comes to 32 weeks and on. Why, Larry? Because at 32 weeks, the fetus typically doubles in weight. The caller is absolutely correct. And because this body had been in the water and can be bloated for that reason, I think the only way they're going to be able to tell is to measure the calcium in the bones, bottom line.
PIXLEY: But Larry, Nancy will have to admit also that the fact that this county coroner is the one that made the determination regarding the gestational age hurts the prosecution. It will be the prosecution's own witness, or one of the state's own potential witnesses, who made that determination. Now the prosecution has to undue that with their own evidence and their own experts.
GRACE: That's true.
PIXLEY: And if they come up with somebody, as Nancy is suggesting, then maybe it will all work out for them. But Johnnie's right, there will be competing experts on the issue.
KING: Help me with something. If that child was a different age, would that mean that Scott is not the murderer?
GRACE: If they can prove...
COCHRAN: It could.
GRACE: ... that the child is definitely much older than the 32 weeks it was, the state's got a big, big problem. But frankly, in the condition of baby Conner's body, Larry, and the tests they've done, they're comparing it to an ultrasound, as the caller said, that was done back in September, all right? They're going to have a hard time proving he was over 32 weeks.
KING: Let me get a break and come back, reintroduce the panel and more phone calls. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE MARIE SILVEIRA, STANISLAUS COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT: The court's duty is limited to decide whether the magistrate, acting as a person with reasonable caution and prudence, could consciously entertain that a reasonable suspicion of a public offense had been committed in which the defendant had participated. Having read and considered all the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing, the court finds that the defendant has failed to show an error by a magistrate in this matter. The 995 motion is denied.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back. Let's reintroduce the panel. In New York is Nancy Grace of Court TV, the former prosecutor. She's an anchor on Court TV every day. In Atlanta, defense attorney Chris Pixley. In New York, Johnnie Cochran, the famed defense attorney who has represented people like Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson. And in Modesto, California, reporting for us today is Beth Karas of Court TV, covering the Peterson case. Back to the calls. Miami. Hello.
CALLER: The fact is that when a woman takes her dog walking in the park, she doesn't leave her keys home. She may leave her handbag home, but she'll take her keys with her. I believe that Laci's keys were found in the closet along with her handbag. Am I wrong?
KING: Is that right, Nancy? And what does that mean?
GRACE: She is right. And not only that, Laci didn't take her cell phone. And ladies, I don't know if you're like me, but when I go jogging I take that cell phone and those car keys, apartment keys everywhere I go, it's just a habit. And Larry, does it prove anything? Not necessarily. But when you get ladies on the jury that agree with this caller as I do, it will be significant. What woman would leave her house without her car keys or anything else with her? Practically nobody.
KING: Good point, Johnnie?
COCHRAN: I think that's a good point, but you still have to square that, Larry, with people who say they saw her in the park with a dog. I mean, so these are eyewitnesses. If they don't have any ax to grind, you've got to deal with that. You can wish it away, you could talk about what people normally do, but if you have got live witnesses, you have got to come to grips with that at some point.
KING: Baker, Montana. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry, this question is for Nancy Grace.
CALLER: The other evening I was watching a program on CNN, and editor in chief of "National Enquirer" was on, and he said that he had a report from the Modesto Police Department that said that after Scott's first initial interview with them, that he had said -- this is within hours of Laci disappearing -- he said that he was going to need professional counseling, and he said this more than once, and then he backtracked and said, I mean, if Laci isn't found. I want to know if this is true and, if it is, how significant is this going to be in the case?
GRACE: Well, you know, that's interesting, because that came out of a transcript where Scott Peterson was speaking to police. And toward the end of the interview he said, well, what about counseling for the family and so forth, oh, that is, if she's not found.
Also, keep in mind that at the preliminary hearing -- and this is all sworn testimony by the detectives -- that before the body had been found, within the first 24 hours or so Scott Peterson asked, are you going to use cadaver dogs out in the park? So, already, before there was any suggestion Laci had passed away, he was talking about grief counseling, bereavement counseling and cadaver dogs. I can add two and two, all right, and so can a jury.
KING: Of course, does all that come up at trial, Chris?
PIXLEY: Some of it will come up at trial. I find it interesting that someone who doesn't read "The National Enquirer" suddenly knows all these facts. But aside from...
GRACE: It was in the preliminary hearing, Chris. The prelim. The testimony.
PIXLEY: OK. Well, the question was about "The National Enquirer" story, Nancy...
GRACE: I never said I didn't read it.
PIXLEY: All right, fair enough. And I know that you do, and, of course, we all do. For right or wrong.
No, you know, again, I've got to go with what Johnnie said, and this is very important. There's a mountain potentially of circumstantial evidence against Scott Peterson in this case. We've heard a great deal of it. Hasn't been tied together very well by the prosecution, but they like throwing it out there. They did it again today when Rick DiStasso, the deputy district attorney, was goaded by Mark Geragos, who said, look, this guy doesn't know what he's talking about. The next thing you know, the DA stands up and rattles off a list of facts for this case and ties them together in a way that we've never heard before.
But at the end of the day, when you have facts that make the prosecution's theory impossible, like a knotted length of tape tied around baby Connor's neck, something that can't happen in the womb. Like the gestational age potentially being well beyond the age that this baby would have been on December 23, the last time Laci was heard from, and like these eyewitnesses, multiple eyewitnesses who see Laci walking her dog.
You don't overcome that with circumstantial evidence. You couple that with the fact that there really is no motive for this crime, something that you don't have to prove but the jury wants to hear about, and the prosecution still has an uphill battle. These callers' points are important, but circumstantial evidence alone won't win this case and there's no physical evidence.
KING: Nancy, would you call this a tough case for the prosecution?
GRACE: You know, at the beginning I thought there may be a tough case here for them, but the more I hear about it, the more it's stacking up against Peterson. And Chris and Johnnie, God bless them. They can go on and on about these witnesses that placed Laci in the park. One guy says he sees the dog, OK, another person can't make a good ID, one woman is 80 years old with bifocals looking through her kitchen window. Good luck, guys.
PIXLEY: There are no witnesses whatsoever who will step forward and testify for the prosecution. No murder weapon, no cause of death, no blood or DNA evidence suggesting a violent crime, no anchors, no missing body parts, no consistent theory as to how this crime actually occurred. Plus all of the problems that we pointed out, Nancy, you still don't think it will be a difficult case?
KING: Beth, Beth, are there any rumors about where this trial is going to take place?
KARAS: Well, some people think it's probably going to be in Alameda County, some people say Santa Clara. I think Geragos is hoping it's going to be in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, but that's the most conservative. I'm not sure why he would want it there, except that it's easy for him, it's most convenient for him.
I just want to add, Larry, there has been reference time and again tonight, two eyewitnesses in the park, or one eyewitness, seeing Laci with two men. That witness was dealt with at the preliminary hearing. She worked at a facility near the park, she was on a smoke break when they determined when her breaks were, her timing was way off, like by an hour. So she was already dealt with at the preliminary hearing. I mean, it's a credibility issue. She couldn't have seen Laci at the time she said she saw her.
KING: And will Judge Girolami, will he stay the judge?
KARAS: You know, he was supposed to -- well, we thought he was going to, he said he was going to, although the last date, on January 8, he said he may or may not stay with the case, depending upon the jurisdiction.
KING: Pleasanton, California, hello.
CALLER: Yes, my question is for the panel, and it's a three-part question. I would like to know, can anyone go to the court when they start doing their case, and will it be televised on television? And the third question is, has anyone ever seen him break down and cry over his wife and child?
COCHRAN: Well, first of all, I can just take the first part or so. Yes, anyone can go to the court. The court will be open. It's a right of an American to do that. It will be open, I think, throughout and it's like a civics lesson to see, you know, what takes place.
I don't know -- I notice the hearing was covered today by cameras. I know that Beth's out there, she can tell us. Court TV is going to cover the trial. Perhaps they are.
KING: Beth, will it be covered?
KARAS: We are going to try. There is no guarantee. The judge did not let cameras at the preliminary hearing, but we will try to do that, yes. And if you want to come as a member of the public, you got to line up at about 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning as members in Modesto do.
COCHRAN: So you can get a seat right.
KING: And Nancy, has anyone seen him cry?
GRACE: Well, I've seen him cry one time, he managed to eke out one tear, and it got played over and over and over again on TV. He has cried one time in court on one occasion, but there have been no other references to him breaking down and crying.
We know he had the opportunity to watch the memorial service for Laci while in jail. He didn't do that. So there is no indication that he has broken down and cried at all. Does that mean he is guilty? Of course, not. But it will matter to a jury.
And you can argue that everyone reacts differently to bereavement, but I think this jury is going to find it highly unusual. In his last court date, he was laughing and joking. That's not a good look for a guy looking at a murder I charge.
COCHRAN: But Nancy, if he cries too much, then you'll say he's putting on.
GRACE: Yeah, I probably will, but what about a happy medium, Johnnie?
COCHRAN: I think he's in a -- he's in a no-win.
GRACE: What about a happy medium? Please?
COCHRAN: You know, you got to look at each guy, you know, and each person how they react.
GRACE: I'm looking.
COCHRAN: But one other thing, too, Larry, with regard to the last questioner, with regard to the case being moved out of Modesto, there may be more room in the courthouse. There may not be quite the interest, you know, because if it's in San Mateo or Alameda County or Santa Clara, there may be more seats available perhaps.
PIXLEY: And Larry...
KING: We'll take a break and be back with more calls with our panel on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Governor Ann Richards tomorrow night. Bob Woodward on with two shows coming, two live shows coming on Iowa caucus night Monday. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERAGOS: I anticipate that there will be a filing some time within the next two days, as to each side's position. And I think that that filing will probably lay out why one particular county makes more sense than another.
Scott is doing well. We saw him last night and we saw him again today, he is doing very well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DISTASSO: Laci and Conner Peterson both found in the San Francisco Bay. Laci has duct tape on her body. The coroner ruled the manner of death a homicide and she was wearing the clothes she was in from the 23.
I don't see how anyone in their right mind could say that wasn't corpus of a homicide. People don't wrap themselves in duct tape and then go jump in the San Francisco Bay in the middle of winter. So, as far as that issue, I think that's completely taken care of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was the prosecutor. We've seen more of Mr. Geragos tonight only because he took up more of the time today during the proceeding.
And they have thawed out the truck in Bridgewater, New Jersey. And Jo-Ellan Dimitrius is now with us. There she is. Thank heaven she is indoors.
She is in Bridgewater, as we said, for the Jayson Williams' trial. When is that jury selection begin, by the way?
JO-ELLAN DIMITRIUS, JURY CONSULTANT: Well, it actually began yesterday with bringing in 300 jurors and now we're seeing these jurors on an individual basis. And we don't guesstimate, based on what the judge said, the trial will actually begin and the jury will be selected until probably early February.
KING: Jayson former basketball player charged with killing his limousine driver and he's pleading that it is was accidental. That should be interesting. We'll do more on that later on.
Jo-Ellan how important is where this trial is in jury selection, the Peterson matter?
DIMITRIUS: Well, it's going to be tremendously important where the trial is going to be held. There's certainly a philosophy that the farther away from Modesto that you get, the less exposure that there is, the less sources of contamination and, by that I'm just not just referring to newspaper and magazines and television, but that direct exposure that I think was one of the judge initially moved it.
So, if you move it to a continuous county, obviously, there's going to be still a lot of that contamination So the farther you get it away geographically, traditionally the better opportunity to really find fair and impartial jurors.
KING: You're a consultant for the defense, so you would like it as far away as possible?
DIMITRIUS: Certainly. I think, certainly, the surveys that we did showed that, in fact getting it farther away you're going to have much less of that exposure and much more of an opportunity for Scott to really, you know, have jurors that are fair and impartial.
KING: Nancy Grace, how close would the prosecution want it?
GRACE: Well, the prosecution will want it within driving distance. And I believe that the judge on the last hearing date, not today, indicated that there were three factors he was considering in the change of venue.
One, that it be near an airport, an airport for witnesses to come in and out of it. Two, that it be within driving distance, which is significant and gives us a clue to where he is headed. And, three, that it be in an area that is larger than Modesto for a bigger jury pool. So, I think it will be in driving distance. Nothing over an hour and a half.
KING: Any hunch, Beth Karas? Do you have a hunch at all about where?
KARAS: Rock Harmon, who was one of the prosecutors in the O.J. Simpson case -- I was communicating with him recently. And he says, Alameda may not really be able to accommodate comfortably the media, everybody, even though the court says it can handle a case of this size.
We're all hoping, in the media, that it's Santa Clara County, because there's some nice hotels there, probably will not be Orange County.
KING: Johnnie Cochran, where would you like it if you were the defense attorney?
COCHRAN: Los Angeles County.
KING: What a shock.
GRACE: You're so Hollywood.
COCHRAN: There's a special reason.
GRACE: You and Geragos.
DIMITRIUS: Johnnie, I'll come to your aid and say, you know, L.A. would be great.
COCHRAN: It would be a great place. It's diverse, it's got everything. You know, a wide spectrum of Americans from all walks of life and they, perhaps, can put aside what they've heard, probably better than other places.
DIMITRIUS: And they even have an international airport.
KING: Chris Pixley, it can't leave California, but you'd like it in Atlanta.
PIXLEY: It can't leave California. I'd love it in Atlanta. I could be part of it all. I haven't gotten the call just yet, but absolutely.
One of my concerns though, Larry, in light of the revelations, if they're true, about possible falsification of survey results in this independent survey is that the judge could revisit this question of whether or not there should be other counties considered. And, in particular, some of the inland counties he ruled out explicitly, San Joaquin, Fresno, Sacramento.
Those may come back on the table as of January 20. It may not be the case that the AOC tells the judge that those are counties that could accommodate the trial, but my concern for the defense would be that the door's still open to place this trial in some place other than the four counties we've heard of.
KING: Marsville, Texas, hello.
CALLER: This call is for Chris Pixley.
CALLER: Chris, thank you for always being on the side of the defense, much needed. I browse the Court TV message boards quite frequently and they have become a vehicle of propaganda, lies and rumor, much taken from "National Enquirer" articles and "Modesto Bee." Those who post in defense of our justice system, believing in innocent until proven guilty.
KING: What's the question ma'am?
CALLER: OK, I'm getting that. The posts are deleted. The only propaganda that on there are everything that is lie and...
KING: Well, I think Court TV should -- if that's the charges. As Court TV, Nancy want to defend that or Beth? Is Court TV taking a stand in this case?
GRACE: No, Court TV is not taking a stand. In fact, you will hear every take, defense, prosecution and judicial At Court TV. Message boards, just like with CNN message boards, people write in their opinions and what they are thinking and they are largely affected by what they have read.
KARAS: I can add, Larry, that I am not take on the stand, Court TV is not and Mark Geragos who talks to me all the time, would not talk to me if I was taking a stand, especially against him. No, we're not taking a stand.
KING: We'll take a break and be back with a few more phone calls on this edition. Don't go away.
KING: We're back. Philadelphia, hello.
CALLER: Hi, my question is to the entire panel.
CALLER: Do you think he will testify? Do you think he should testify? Does he look cocky, anyone else in the panel besides myself?
KING: Johnnie, we'll start with you.
COCHRAN: It remains to be seen. I would consult Jo-Ellan Dimitrius if I were trying this case and we'd have a long talk. I'd have the top defense lawyer come in and cross-examination, you know, in a real trial setting and make a determination. If he is a good witness and can stand up and not cocky, as the viewer says, it's probably in his best interest to testify, if he can.
KING: Did you do that with O.J.?
COCHRAN: You might say that, yes. All those things were done.
GRACE: He's not going to testify.
Larry, Scott Peterson is not going to testify.
KING: Nancy, what did you say?
GRACE: No way, no way is Peterson going to testify. He has to explain what he was doing driving around with $15,000 and no golf equipment the day that he was arrested and...
KING: He has an explanation.
GRACE: I'll tell you one thing, I would like to hear it. Two words as to why Scott Peterson will not testify. And they are Amy Krigbaum, a neighbor that came out in the preliminary hearing that he told December 24, the day he had been fishing, he told her he had been golfing. He couldn't keep his story straight one day. Don't expect him to withstand cross-examination.
PIXLEY: I have two words for why he won't testify. Weak case. The prosecution has a weak case here. Johnnie is exactly right. You don't make the decision ultimately as to whether you will put your client on the stand when the stakes are this high until you have to.
And that doesn't happen until the prosecution's laid out their evidence. What you do do is just what Johnnie mentioned. You put him through the paces and make sure he is ready to testify. If you wait until the night before you're dead, you're going to get Scott Peterson ready to testify. What makes the decision ultimately for you is whether or not it's a necessity. If you can't win the case without putting your client on the stand, and in many cases, you can't, then you're going to do it.
KING: Beth, the media certainly wants him to testify, right?
KARAS: It's always wonderful when a defendant testifies, but I agree with everyone who says he won't. I, as a former prosecutor, would love to cross-examination him, there's so much to work with but I don't think he will.
KING: Beth, Sharon Rocha was in court today, did you talk to her?
KARAS: No. She doesn't talk to anybody, usually when she comes to court. Jackie and Lee Peterson, Scott's parents usually do, but they weren't here today. He had a brother and sister here today but Sharon usually comes in with some people from the D.A.'s office and she kind of keeps to herself and keeps a low profile and speaks only occasionally.
KING: Austin, Texas, hello.
CALLER: This is for Nancy Grace.
CALLER: I wanted to say, Nancy, you are awesome. We all love watching you on TV because you're right on. Chris, I don't believe this is a weak case at all. My question for you, Nancy, when he went, supposedly, fishing that day, how come he didn't invite anybody from his family? I mean, this is also suspicious. I mean, did anybody even know he was going?
GRACE: You mean when he went fishing on his secret boat, the boat he told nobody about, not anybody in his family or Laci's family. When he was on the phone with his dad, you normally say, hey, dad, I'm out fishing, he never mentioned he was in the middle of the bay fishing or that he had just left. I think that is a very interesting point that will resonate with a jury, just like it did with you.
KING: Jo-Ellan, is this going to be a tough one?
DIMITRIUS: I don't think it will be a tough one. The tough part will be to overcome the aspect of all the media and trying to get people who are going to listen to the defense because the defense is the second one up and that's really going to be the tough part of this, but as I've said on earlier shows, there will be a lot of surprises in this case.
KING: And the trial, again, Beth, will start, if all goes -- January what?
KARAS: January 26. That's a Monday, just a couple weeks away. I don't think it will.
KING: It will?
KARAS: I don't think it will. I think it will be postponed, just a little bit. Probably not too much. The judge is trying to keep to the timetable but it seems hard to believe -- but the 26th won't be jury selection, there's two weeks of hearing then four weeks of jury selection, they estimate, and then 16 weeks of trial.
KING: It will be around. Thank you all, very much. Nancy Grace, Chris Pixley, Johnnie Cochran, Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, we apologize getting her on late because of the situation of satellite and the weather in the east, and Beth Karas of Court TV. I'll be back in a minute to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night, Governor Ann Richards is the former governor of Texas. Strong advocate for many causes, has an announcement to make tomorrow night that might interest you and might affect the Democratic party as well. Meanwhile, we turn things over to New York, where it's a little on the cold side. Aaron Brown is smiling. He's smiling because he's in inside. Little cold and what is it, it's winter, huh?
AARON BROWN, HOST, "NEWSNIGHT": But it's winter in the Arctic.
KING: Only 80 here today.
BROWN: Thank you, Larry. I can't tell you how much I appreciate knowing that.
KING: Have a good night, Aaron.
BROWN: Thank you. I'm going to do my best.
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