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Panel Discusses Scott Peterson Case, Interview with Jeni Stepanek

Aired June 30, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Scott Peterson's murder trial day 18 and the woman who introduced Scott to his mistress takes the stand. What did she say? With all the latest, CNN's Ted Rowlands inside the courtroom today. Court TV's Nancy Grace, the former prosecutor. High profile defense attorney Chris Pixley. Michael Cardoza, leading defense attorney in the area. Chuck Smith, former prosecutor in the county where the trial is taking place. He was in the courtroom today as was Richard Cole, trial reporter for the Daily News group.

And with us Justin Falconer, former member of the jury dismissed from the trial last week. And then, Jeni Stepanek. Her first interview since Monday's funeral of her son Mattie, the remarkable 13- year-old poet and peacemaker whose memorial inspired speeches by former President Jimmy Carter and Oprah Winfrey. All next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Let's begin with Ted Rowlands on the scene in Redwood City. What happened today?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, Shawn Sibley, as you alluded to was on the stand today. This is the woman that introduced Scott Peterson to Amber Frey. She told the jury that she met Peterson at a convention at the Disneyland Hotel in October of 2002.

She started by saying that the night that they met, they stayed up, Peterson and her, till 3:00 a.m. talking about everything from business to sex. She said during that conversation Peterson said that he was looking for his soul mate. That he had had a soul mate in the lifetime but had lost her and was looking for another soul mate.

Sibley said after that conversation, she thought Peterson was single and she thought he was a good enough guy to set him up with her best friend, Amber Frey. She then told the jury about how she babysat for Amber Frey and Scott Peterson on their first overnight date, on their first date. And then she talked about finding out that Scott Peterson may have been married.

She said she called him and confronted him and said that if he was married she was going to kick the blank out of him. She said she was very upset. Peterson then called back, she said, sobbing uncontrollably and told her that he had lost his wife. Sibley then said that her radar was up, she thought this guy was possibly lying and continued to think that until she found out with Amber Frey later that indeed this was the guy who was married to the woman who was missing in Modesto.

KING: Nancy, how damaging is that in a murder case?

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV, FMR. PROSECUTOR: Of course, we are going to hear the usual defense chorus that just because he's an adulterer, that does not make a murderer. In this case, in this case, if you take a look at the jury during this scenario, several women on the jury were looking disgusted, looking over at Scott Peterson. Of course, the adultery doesn't make a murderer. We have heard that a million times.

The reality is what this does is show motive to show that Scott Peterson was over his marriage, did not want children and it also gives us a time line, Larry. This conversation -- p.s., in my book it takes a lot for two grown men to get so embarrassed, they get up and leave the table. His co-workers, Eric Olson (ph) and David Fernandez (ph) were so turned off by Scott Peterson's sex talk with his pregnant wife at home, they got up and left the table but this is where Amber Frey makes her first appearance into this scenario.

KING: Chris Pixley, he mentioned he lost a soul mate. Did they question as to whether that was supposed to be his wife?

CHRIS PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No. You know, the conversation between Shawn Sibley and Scott Peterson really is kind of a cursory conversation and all it really tells us -- I agree with Nancy. It does put things in context but it's eliminating some of the concern that the defense has to have about the widower comment because it now explains it to us.

Scott Peterson was a married man still looking to meet other women, hiding the fact that he was married and when he was confronted with it, he said, oh, no. I'm not married. I was but poor me. I lost her. All it really says to the jury is that this is a guy who wasn't looking to have his new girlfriend walk out on him just yet and now with Shawn Sibley's testimony, we know why he had to tell that story.

He gets a call from her, she says, "I think you're married" and he first denies it. Calls her back an hour later and says, "look, this is the story." It's a much better story than saying, she divorced me because I'm a bad guy. He was protecting his relationship with Amber and it's going to make the widower comment to Amber much less damaging later on.

KING: Chuck Smith, you were in the court. Has the prosecution -- Well, they've certainly proven he's a cad, right? How much further have they shown?

CHUCK SMITH, FMR. SAN MATEO CO. PROSECUTOR: Well, they have shown some suspicious circumstances with his lies on the day of her disappearance, with his lies about what he was doing that day. With the -- where the body was found. They started to put together the chain of circumstantial evidence that along with these comments and the fact that he's a cad, shoot through his guilt.

I disagree with Chris, Larry, if I may. The comment about a soul mate was a different part of the conversation than Scott Peterson's statements about losing his wife. He called back and in tears, crying, sobbing, talked about I have lost my wife with the implication being she's died. I'm a widower. That's powerful evidence against him that three weeks before his wife is murdered, he's predicting her death.

KING: Michael, certainly wasn't helpful. It wasn't a good day for the defense, was it?

MICHAEL CARDOZA, LEADING AREA DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No. It wasn't a good day but it wasn't that bad. Let me tell you. What Amber told Brocchini before was that another man had used that same line on her in a bar. He'd come up and he said, you know, "my wife is passed away," hitting on Amber. So this isn't the first time that she's heard that.

And as for Eric, when he testified, Nancy said he was so disgusted he got up and he walked out. Let me tell you. You had to be in the court to look at Eric. He was nervous. He was almost on the verge of tears. I mean, to the point where Geragos wouldn't cross-examine him. He turned it over to Pat Harris, the kinder, gentler attorney because I think if Mark had gotten up and crossed him with his aggressive style, I really think Eric would have cried on the stand. So to hear he got up and walked out of a conversation like that, I don't think it meant a whole lot to the jury.

KING: And Richard Cole, what is your read? You've been observing this.

RICHARD COLE, DAILY NEWS GROUP: Well, you saw a couple of things. One, you saw, as you've seen from many of the prosecution witnesses, just an attempt -- they're just trying a little bit too hard. I thought it was very strange when Shawn Sibley insisted to Mark Geragos that no married man had ever lied to her about being married. Maybe.

And also we have to remember what she responded when Scott said, "I lost my wife." She didn't interpret that necessarily saying as saying his wife was dead. As a matter of fact, her question to him was, well, you know, I don't care if you're divorced or if you're a widower but just tell me, are you single right now? According to her, he then lied and said he was single. But it didn't sound as if she immediately interpreted that as saying that his wife was dead.

CARDOZA: Well, Larry?

KING: Yes.

CARDOZA: Well, what I thought was interesting today, too, was testimony came out about Amber not coming home that night. That first date with Scott. She doesn't come back home. And Shawn Sibley has to phone her and say come on back and take care of your kids. I have to go to work. So they're already making inroads on Amber. SMITH: Larry, if I can. This is Chuck. There was a sea change in the courtroom today. It was evident, obvious, everybody felt it. Over the last few days, as Geragos has been beating up the police investigation. Scott Peterson has looked like the victim of an inept, improper police investigation.

Today, that changed dramatically. He came across with these indecent conversations with Shawn Sibley and then hitting on Amber Frey and then this tearful, phony expression of "I have lost my wife" with the clear implication being that she is dead, the jury looked at him in a dramatically different way. It was a sea change in the courtroom. This trial has turned and the prosecution needs to keep it going that way but it was dramatic.

GRACE: Larry, I have one response to what Michael Cardoza said. How the first night that Amber Frey spent with Scott Peterson, their first date, they slept together, they spent the night. That's not an inroad to Amber's reputation. She's not married. OK? This is an inroad to his reputation. He's the one with the pregnant wife at home, not Amber Frey. She can date whoever she wants to, Michael.

KING: OK. Was it damaging today, Richard Cole? Was it damaging in the courtroom to him as a cad or to him as a murderer?

COLE: I think you just hit it on the head there, Larry. Certainly if the trial was about whether or not Scott Peterson is a cad, today's testimony would have pretty much put the last nail in his coffin but it's a murder case.

Let's talk a little bit about this conversation he was having. These people are sales people at a convention in Anaheim. Away from home. Away from, you know, their offices. And, they're out for dinner. Shawn Sibley and Scott are staying up until 3:30 in the morning talking in a hotel outside her room. You know, and he's talking about sex.

Well, there are people -- they're salesmen at a convention. I'm not sure that that's really surprising. Even the judge at one point interrupted and said, "Mr. Geragos, that's enough about the mores of married men" and Mr. Geragos turned to him and said, "well, how long have you been married, Judge?" And the judge says almost 40 years and everyone in the courtroom cracked up. But the underlying...

KING: Let me just...

COLE: Men talking about sex and trying to hit on women at a convention just doesn't seem like it's strange behavior.

KING: We'll take a break and come back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


JANEY PETERSON, SCOTT PETERSON'S SISTER-IN-LAW: Nobody could prosecute this case. He's innocent. You can trash (UNINTELLIGIBLE) all you want, but the man's been handed an impossible case, because Scott's innocent. You cannot weave this together, and convict Scott.



KING: Ted, our guests have spoking about the mood in the courtroom, much as may fit their own particular view as to how they -- see this thing coming out.

You're viewing it as an independent and Richard Cole is.

What was the mood today?

Did it change?

ROWLANDS: Yes. You know, the one thing that was very evident today was that the jury was mesmerized by Sibley because he's gregarious gal and she was very well spoken and was obviously telling the truth. This wasn't an investigator that was trying to do something to help out the prosecution. She may have wanted to help the prosecution, but came across as telling the truth, and for that reason and because of the salacious nature of the testimony, I think that people were mesmerized.

One thing that I think the prosecution did accomplish today in part and something they will continue to work on and when Amber Frey is up, they'll be able to accomplish it most likely, is to start to prove that Scott Peterson isn't unlike the cheating husbands maybe at in a fertilizer convention, he also has the ability to lie and turn tears on when he wants to. And the overall affect of that, I think it will be exemplified in the Amber Frey tapes is that he may be a little bit different than the average Joe, the average married man and if jurors now take that the next step as I think investigators did, they may think that he may have had something to do with the wife's death.

KING: Richard Cole, what was your view of the view of the room?

COLE: I believe I agree with Ted. I think that, the prosecution seemed a little more in control today. The testimony went the way they wanted it to. The thing is that I'm not sure how important all of this is. Everybody knows he met Amber. Everybody knows he's a cad. As we said, they stipulated that in effect in the opening statement when Geragos said, you know, my client is a cad, no question about it.

The question is do we have motive for murder?

Is there anything in what he said that sounded like this was a man who was going to fall desperately in love enough with a woman that he went out on four dates with her and then kill his wife and -- I don't -- I didn't see that.

PIXLEY: Larry.

KING: Chris Pixley, do they need motive, Chris? PIXLEY: Sure would help. We've talked about this before when you don't have any physical evidence. And they don't. And be aware, to, in the opening statement, they would have told us if they had other physical evidence. We speculated about it when we got through preliminary hearing and we didn't have anything but three days of fight over a single strand of hair that was in a boat, may or may not be Laci Peterson's. We talked about whether there was any other physical evidence, and everyone on the prosecution side said, there's much more to come. We'll see much more. Well, you don't squander your opportunity in the opening statement to let the jury know exactly what you've got coming for them. And this prosecution team took four hours to present their opening statement. They didn't leave anything to the imagination, and they simply don't have physical evidence. So, you got to have some motive. I don't think you get a jury to make as big of a leap of faith as they need to here, if you don't have the how or why. They need the why. And I agree with Richard Cole, and have from the beginning, a 30 day relationship with Amber Frey, a woman with her own child, isn't a reason to kill your wife and baby on the way.

KING: Chuck Smith, do they need the why?

SMITH: I think they do, but I think it's more than Amber Frey. I don't think it was about Amber Frey solely. What comes across in Shawn Sibley, and the other gentleman's testimony these last two days, is how deeply Scott Peterson did not want to be married. He wasn't nuts about Amber Frey apparently. He just wanted to play the field. He did not want the life style of being a father, being a husband. That's what led him to do what he did. That's what it's really about.

KING: Michael Cardoza, do you disagree with that?

CARDOZA: Oh, absolutely disagree.

Where does Chuck get that?

There's been no evidence to that at all. A lot of speculation that goes back to the circumstantial evidence instruction. And I'm telling you, if you look at trial tactics in a trial like this, the district attorneys ought to be very, very careful, because if they start piling on this salacious testimony and prove he's a felony cad without putting anything else on which they haven't so far to show Scott Peterson committed this murder, the jury may turn on them and go, wait a minute, you want us to convict him because felony cad, we're not going to do it.

KING: Nancy, does there have to be a lot more?

GRACE: Yes, I think there's going to have to be more, but it's very convenient for all the defense attorneys to ignore the actual evidence. Very simply put...

PIXLEY: What evidence?

(CROSSTALK) GRACE: Very simply put, we heard in the opening statements and I think we will hear in the evidence that Scott Peterson is at -- if I could just finish. That Scott Peterson with his cell phone records places himself there a couple of feet away from his driveway at a time she goes missing and puts himself at the location where the body is disposed of.

Now if you guys want to say that's a coincidence, fine. I don't think a jury is going to agree with you.

PIXLEY: Nancy, it must be great being mission?

What do you mean at the time that she goes missing?

You know, the prosecution...


GRACE: You can laugh all you want to, but I'll answer you just like that. I'll answer you just like that. At 10:08, he is in his neighborhood, near 503 Covena. At 10:18 it's over, the dog is running with the muddy leash. So he's there within 10 minutes of her disappearance. And his receipt puts him fishing where her body disposed of. If you guys want to claim that means nothing, go ahead.

Nancy, do you know that Scott Peterson was supposed to use the dog as an excuse, right?

CARDOZA: Here's the dog, McKenzie, with the leash on, and that means Scott put the dog out there. Do you know when he came home, he took the leash off the dog before the police got here?

So, you want the jury to believe, that hey, he used the dog as an excuse, put a leash on it and then comes home and takes the leach off it.

GRACE: That's your take, Michael. That's not what I said.


SMITH: Every killer makes mistakes. That's why the crimes are solved. He made mistakes, that's why he's on trial and those mistakes have to be put together. The evidence has to be more than they have now.

PETERSON: Actually, Chuck, he hasn't made any mistakes. That's the problem for the prosecution. There's no physical evidence at all. Scott Peterson if he committed the murder is a brilliant man. And the only thing that doesn't make sense is how stupid became when he started talking to the police and to the media after the event.

KING: Let me get a break and we'll come right back. I'll be back with more. This ain't going away for a while. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RON GRANTSKI, LACI PETERSON'S STEP FATHER: You (UNINTELLIGIBLE) brilliance, you baffled them with bull. She's very brilliant at baffling.



KING: Want to get phone calls in. Ted Rowlands, what about this photo of Scott's phone book?

ROWLANDS: Well, the court released a number of photos from inside the Peterson house last week -- or earlier this week, rather. And there was a report out that a photo depicting a phone book, open, on the kitchen counter. Was opened up to an attorney's page, a defense attorney's page.

However, Modesto Police Sergeant Spurlock testified in this trial early on that on December 24, when Modesto Police went into the house, they noticed the phone book, as well.

They said and they testified that the phone book open to pizza. We do know that Scott and Laci ordered pizza the night before and invited Amy Rocha. So, most likely an inaccurate report. It did get a lot of report, though.

KING: Fort Wayne, Indiana, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I'm curious. It seems to me like that the hype, high powered attorney, who's paying the bills for this? Is Geragos...

KING: The Peterson family is paying the bill. And they have a profitable business. So the Peterson family is paying the bill.

Anyone want to comment on that? I know they told me they are.

SIBLEY: I will, Larry. They're paying the bill. But, and they have a decent business, but they classified themselves as a hard working middle to upper class family, by no means is this a situation of old money, where they can throw money at it. I think Mr. Geragos took a certain percentage -- a certain amount of money and that's it. He's going to be in it until the end.

KING: They have, though, I think, over 25 employees. Anyway...

SIBLEY: Yes. And I think that they've already put in close to a million dollars, when it's said and done -- I think is what they are in on. But I do think that they'll be done financially when this thing is over.

KING: Kingston, Ontario, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. We just love your show in Canada eh?

KING: What's your question eh?

CALLER: My question is for Nancy Grace.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Nancy, I think you're fabulous. I think you're right on. There's one thing that I can't wrap my mind around. A man who's grieving for his wife who's missing, why would he attempt to sell her car and the house unless he knows that she's not around anymore?

GRACE: She's not coming hope. Tell it, caller. I think the lady caller is right. And of course, the defense cadre will claim that means nothing, too. He didn't attempt to sell her car, he did sell her car.

KING: So in other words, Nancy -- in other words, you can be so dumb as to kill your wife, pretend she's missing and then sell her car as -- that's a good idea?

GRACE: Larry, I really don't think Scott Peterson thought through what he's doing. I've had murderers that had genius I.Q's, Larry, and they make mistakes and they do dumb things. So, the felony stupid defense is not going to work in my book. He made so many mistakes, and as Chuck said tonight, that's why he caught.

And the lady caller is dead on. The reality is, the state will argue he knew he was not going to expect her to come through the front door. So he sold her car and tried to sell the house.

Well actually...

KING: Michael? Michael Cardoza.

CARDOZA: I agree with Chris. What Chris said earlier. Here's a guy that allegedly commits the perfect crime: no scientific evidence. And once he phones into the police that she's missing, or the police come, as Nancy said, he becomes felony stupid? Please, Nancy. I mean, if he's so smart, how did he get instantly stupid?

GRACE: I never said he was smart.

CARDOZA: Oh, come on, Nancy. What he committed the perfect crime then?

GRACE: It's not the perfect crime. That's why he's on trial, Michael.

COLE: There's some interesting evidence about this. One of the things that struck me again, is that when Scott Peterson is at his warehouse, presumably with his wife's body in the boat, if you accept the proposition of the -- I mean, accept the prosecution's ideas, then he spent 20 minutes on the Internet. He went to a woodworking site so he could learn how to build a tool called a mortiser that he had just order and had just arrived a couple days earlier. And that was the last site he visited. He also, by the way sent Christmas greetings to his boss.

Now, he is doing it with the wife's body lying in the boat. Now, you have to assume one of two things. Either this is the most cold blooded, carefully calculated murder in history, or there's something very strange going on. Maybe he's actually doing what he said he was doing, which was building the mortiser and going then fishing.

And I keep getting this thing, and I think that Mike hit on it a bit, it is like he's very smart one moment and then he has to be very stupid the next.

KING: Chuck, how do you explain that?

SMITH: There are always in any crime inexplicable facts. The prosecution has to be upfront about this. The prosecution has to say there are things that we simply cannot explain. But what we can explain and what we can prove is he did it.

I mean, agree, Larry. The caller's question about selling of the car, and things like that, we haven't gotten there yet with the evidence. This is upcoming. We have to see how it unfolds.

But no question about it. The defense has done -- the other question about, you know, how well funded is the defense? What has been evident in this trial is, on the legal talent scale, Mark Geragos and Pat Harris, far exceed their opponents. No question about that.

The notion in trials is if you have two equal opponents, the truth will emerge. It has been difficult in this trial, because there's such a mismatch of legal ability. And these difficult facts are coming out, they need to be explained.

KING: I've got to get a break and come back. We'll have Justin Falconer, the juror has was dismissed join us. Don't go away.


KING: Joining our panel now in Redwood City is Justin Falconer, the former juror number five in the Peterson trial who was dismissed from the jury last week. Last time he was on, he said the prosecution wasn't impressing him and he had a hard time following them. And certainly, he thought Geragos was doing an excellent job. He said then, as well. I'm going to permit each of our panelists if they wish to ask Justin a question. I'll ask one. Anything changed in this trial that sways you another way?

JUSTIN FALCONER, JUROR 5 DISMISSED FROM TRIAL JUNE 23: I don't know if it sways me any way. I'm going to stick -- you know, I've always thought that Scott's innocent until he's proven guilty and I'm going to stick with that. But I have heard a lot that Distaso has really stepped up and he's really starting to do it -- what he's supposed to be doing and I think that's a good thing. I would not want to see a trial where, you know, as a juror, I wouldn't want to see, you know, one -- one side get overwhelmed by the other. I would like the side to be presented to me as they see it and then the defense side as they see it and then be able to deliberate that. I just wouldn't want to see it overwhelming for the other party.

KING: Let's go around the horn. Nancy, you have a question for Justin?

GRACE: I do. Hey, Justin. You and I have talked about this a couple of times. Let me crystallize my question. I know that you have said guys will say anything to get with a particular girl. All right. But in this case, the fact that we are going to learn in court that a few days before Laci goes missing Peterson tells Amber Frey, "I'm not just single, I'm a widow. This is my first Christmas alone" and then in about ten days, boom, he is. Would that have any sway over your decision, Justin?

FALCONER: Well, I think that goes to his character. I think we all know he's, you know, his character is not very good. And as much as, you know, guys will say stupid stuff to women, you have to kind of take it as well, you know, wow, that was pretty dumb to say. But at the same time, why would you say that if you're going to do something like this? He's supposedly planned a perfect crime. He's got no other evidence. You're going to tell somebody that you're going to do this? You're going to announce it? That's kind of hard to believe. I mean, so, you have to wonder, you know, we know the guy's a cad, we know he's a jerk. But I don't think he'd announce it.

KING: Chris Pixley, you have a question for Justin?

PIXLEY: Yes. Justin's taken so much heat in the press but not just really, Justin, for your run-in with Brent Rocha, I think the suggestion's really been made that you were a defense juror and my question is, do you think as you sat there that the other jurors were really hearing the evidence and seeing the case the way you were and the way you've described it since you've been off the panel?

FALCONER: I think in the beginning, I know -- I think that everybody was kind of confused with how Distaso's style was. It was difficult to follow him. I would -- everybody described me as a defense juror. I can sit here and tell you that I wasn't. I wasn't for either side. I had no opinion but obviously people are going to say what they're going to say. But, you know, I think that it was confusing to follow him and I hope that he starts to clear things up a little bit more which I heard that he is.

KING: Ted Rowlands, do you have a question for Justin?

ROWLANDS: Yes. I know, Justin, talking to you earlier, you have had a lot of correspondence from around the country. People mailing you hate letters. Did you feel and do you think other jurors felt the intense pressure that a lot of folks were watching this trial and if so, which way did it play? Do you think -- was there pressure to come back with a guilty verdict or did that affect you or do you think it would affect the other jurors?

FALCONER: No. I don't think that it affected us in the sense -- I know it didn't affect me which way. I was just looking forward to getting all the information. I think you kind of try to block it out. We that knew we're being scrutinized and we knew that, you know, everybody in that courtroom looking to see how we would react to certain things so we were aware of the pressure. But I don't think it swayed anybody either way. I think everybody just wanted to get the information and wanted to take it in the room and deliberate it.

KING: Let's take a break and then we'll see if Michael and Chuck have questions. We'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: Michael Cardoza, do you have a question for Justin Falconer?

CARDOZA: I do. Hey, Justin. You've heard the testimony (AUDIO GAP) was Distaso throwing out to Brocchini when he was on the stand, that in 1995 one of Scott's friends said that Scott told him how he would commit a murder and that's put a bag on the body. Weigh the body down with weights and throw it in the water or a bay somewhere. How would that affect you -- and then Distaso tags on to that, but we didn't believe it. How would that affect you if that came out in trial that way?

FALCONER: Well, coming out as hearsay, I think, you know, I would have looked at it as Distaso's way to throw in an elbow to Geragos saying, hey, if you're going to play this way, I'm going to play, too. But I don't think -- you know, if it had come in as testimony, then that would have been different. And, you know, I think a lot of people have conversations every now and again when you see a "Law and Order" or something. How would you do it, you know, because that criminal with stupid. But, you know, if it had come with those kinds of details, well, you know that would have definitely, you know, really made you start thinking because, you know, wow. You know, it's exactly how the body's washed up so -- but it didn't. Even the police department didn't believe it.


KING: Chuck Smith, do you have a question for Justin?

SMITH: I do. Thanks. Justin, Justin, what did you think about the Rocha family? You saw five or six of their family members testify. How did you feel about them credibility-wise and otherwise? And what do you think about the attack on the police department as being incompetent and dishonest?

FALCONER: You know, the Rocha family, they've obviously been through a lot. Their credibility wise, I had no reason to not believe them. I think even after everything they've been through and all the things that they believe against Scott Peterson, they still had a lot of nice things to say about (UNINTELLIGIBLE) which really, you know, brought their credibility up. I had no reason to not believe them.

And this attack on the police department, I mean, look at all the mistakes that they made. I mean, obviously, they're going to attack them. They're the easiest target. They kept stumbling on themselves and kept messing up. So I think it's the right thing to do if you're the defense attorney is just, you know, get as much against these guys as you can and run with it.

KING: Richard Cole, you're a veteran observer, what about this case is the most mind boggling to you or puzzling to you?

COLE: I think that there's a couple of things that stick out in my mind. I don't know if they stick out in the jurors' minds. I think it would be a good question for Justin. One is that the night that he's killing his wife in this supposedly carefully planned out murder, he invited, he invited Amy Rocha over for pizza. I don't know, for some reason, that just kind of sticks in my mind.

And the second thing is the point that Mike Cardoza made about the leash. He has this carefully planned out plot to try to give police the impression that Laci was out for a walk. He should have come home, found the dog with the leash and started yelling and running around the neighborhood, oh my gosh! The dog still has the leash on, I can't find Laci. Look, there's the dog with the leash. Instead, he takes the leash off and goes in and takes a shower.

I'd -- these things kind of stick in my mind. That, and also, the evidence that he spent 20 minutes on The Internet while supposedly he's got Laci's body in the boat. I'm struggling with it. That and one other thing is how he handled that body. How many different things he had to do from a -- from the home to the truck to the boat to get it into the water, get it out of the boat. The prosecution's never tried to explain that. And when I try to explain it myself, I just had a very difficult time with it.

KING: We haven't heard it as evidence yet.

But Nancy Grace, what puzzles you the most about from prosecutorial stand point?

GRACE: Yes, one quick correction, Scott Peterson did not ask Amy Rocha over for pizza when he was getting the hair done. Laci asked Amy Rocha over and Scott turned around and looked.

So they were in the same room but it wasn't Scott.

COLE: That's not -- that is not true. He was specifically asked...

GRACE: I have a transcript, so...

COLE: He was specifically asked whether or not -- and Amy Rocha was specifically asked whether or not Scott invited her over and she said, yes, Scott invited me over for diner.


SMITH: This is Chuck, can I jump in here?

GRACE: Laci and Scott were together -- go ahead, Chuck.

SMITH: Yes, sure. You know, where I think everybody is wrong on this, and I may be alone, I don't think this was deliberate, premeditated or preplanned. I think they got into an argument that night. I think she confronted him about the girlfriends, about the philandering, and I think he hit her and because of the state being so pregnant, she fell and hit the head or he grabbed her around the neck and it was a crime of passion which would be an involuntary manslaughter under California law, and then flowed from that. That's what I think that happened. I agree, Larry, when you asking me questions about how do you explain all these inexplicable facts?

If it was premeditated, deliberate, well planned, no one's going to buy the fact that he bought the boat as a part of a grand plan to kill his wife. Sorry, that's not going to sell.


CARDOZA: Chuck, there's no evidence of that. Chuck, there's no evidence. You're speculating. That's total speculation.

SMITH: I'm not. It fits the circumstantial evidence.

CARDOZA: Come on you're speculating.

SMITH: It fit's the circumstantial evidence.

CARDOZA: No, it doesn't.

SMITH: It's the most logical explanation.

CARDOZA: It may be somewhat logical, but there is no evidence of that and you know it. You know the judge won't give a lesser included. This will maybe a first or second degree instruction case to the jury. There will be no voluntary or involuntarily instruction to the jury.

GRACE: Hey Larry.

KING: Yes, Nancy go ahead. All right, we're getting repetitive.

GRACE: Larry, you asked me earlier what do I find so hard to believe?

I find it difficult to believe, you know, in my mind it looks like it a duck, it walks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, and what's so hard for me to believe is why everybody's willing to do a back bend to make up excuses to explain away Scott's behavior.

KING: Because -- Because, Nancy, because the system is presumption of innocence. You are not presuming innocence.

GRACE: We are not in court tonight. We're not in court right now. We're looking at the evidence as it really is. And the reality is, he was fishing on top of her body, all right.

You want to call it a coincidence -- fine, have at it.

KING: What bothers you the most, Chris?

PIXLEY: What's bothered me the most from the very beginning has been the way the media covered this case. I mean, quite honestly, the media has done a much more effective job of prosecuting Scott Peterson than the district attorneys have been able to do so far. And you know, just to Chuck's comment, I think the truth of the matter is, what he suggesting is the district attorney was wrong back in April to come out and say we're seeking the death penalty. And the state attorney general was wrong in saying this case is a slam dunk. The attorney general's been attacked for the comment, but the fact remains they're still pursuing the death penalty in the case. And I agree with Michael, you aren't going to get voluntarily manslaughter charges in this. So, what we're left with really is an acquittal.

I mean, even Chuck's saying that.


SMITH: ...a part. I mean, I do. I mean, I think D.A. of the county was wrong in seeking the death penalty. And I think the attorney general...

GRACE: Are you people crazy.

SMITH: It's not a death penalty.

GRACE: These are two dead bodies.


SMITH: Look, we just had a man in this country...

GRACE: If not the death penalty now, then when?

KING: One at a time.

SMITH: Sure we just had -- you know -- you know, you just saw the Terry Nichols matter where he killed 175 people, he didn't get the death penalty.

What makes this a death penalty case?

They have hurt themselves, the prosecution has, by prosecuting it as a death penalty case. That was a mistake. That's what I believe.

KING: All right.


FALCONER: Can I just say this, too, it's -- you're right. And you either asking us to put the man to death or put him in jail for the rest of his life, but they're mainly asking us mainly to put him to death. And so, when it comes to all these questions that we have in our mind, I know for a fact that I had in my mind, if he's guilty and got a body in the back of the boat, why is he putting together this -- this tool? Why is he on the Internet?

Why is he firing these things off?

Why is he driving down in broad daylight to do this, you know, to get rid of this body? You know, there's just too many questions that, you know, he needs to answer. There's demonstrations that need to be made.

How did he get the body in the boat?

KING: Would you say, Justin, he'll have to take the stand?

FALCONER: I would like to see him the stand. But it's not -- but if the prosecution doesn't show us how exactly it is that he got the boat or the body to the boat, how he got the body out of the boat in the water, I don't think he needs to. I think if, you know, that story is attacked enough and there's enough holes in there, I don't think he needs to at all, because if he can't show.

KING: Thank you. We run out of time. Thank you all very much. Ted Rowlands, Nancy Grace, Chris Pixley, Michael Cardoza, Chuck Smith, and Richard Cole, an outstanding panel. We appreciate their being with us. We're go to break little early because there's something special coming up.

When we come up, Mattie's Stepanek's mother. Mattie is the 13- year-old boy poet who died last week suffering from muscular dystrophy complications. He was buried Monday after a very moving service. Thirteen hundred people packed the church to pay their last respects. Among those attending, former President Carter who had become a friend of Mattie's and Oprah Winfrey who helped make Mattie famous with appearances on the show.

President Carter gave the eulogy. Here's some of it.


JAMES CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have known kings or queens. We've known presidents and prime ministers. But the most extraordinary person whom I have ever known in my life is Mattie Stepanek.



OPRAH WINFREY, ENTERTAINER: I know that his heart song has left a heart print in my life. A heart print that abides with me even now. And I know that many of us believed that when we were with him, talked to him, saw him that we were witnessing the presence, as Jan said, of an angel here on Earth. I know for sure that now he has more than earned his wings. Mattie, I love you and you love me.


KING: That was Oprah Winfrey speaking at the funeral, speaking for anyone who knew Mattie and eloquently. I feel exactly the same way. Had been on this program many, many times. Joining us now is his mother, Jeni Stepanek. She is at a fire house -- why a Fire house, Jeni? STEPANEK: Well as most people know, Mattie was very involved with supporting Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the firefighters are huge supporter of that association as well. So most of Mattie's life he's adopted by the firefighters as an actual family member. And, they buried him as one of his own. He had a great honor.

KING: Did he die as gracefully as he lived?

STEPANEK: Not really. The final ten minutes of his life were very graceful, great dignity, but the last several months were difficult. The last several weeks were more difficult. And the last few days of his life were pure agony. The last ten minutes of his life he was given grace.

KING: So he was in a lot of pain?

STEPANEK: He was in great pain. He had a very difficult time breathing. His body was contorted. Something had gone wrong with the motor part of his brain. And the very sad thing was that he was aware of all of it. He understood and recognized and knew what was going on. And there was nothing we could do to help him. During the last ten minutes of his life, he was finally at peace.

KING: Jeni, you have lost four children, Mattie's in the fourth. They're all buried together, aren't they?

STEPANEK: Yes. Yes. All four children I had before I even knew that I have a disease or that any of my children would inherit the disease from me.

KING: How on earth are you dealing with this?

STEPANEK: That's a very difficult question. Publicly, you know, of course I'm doing whatever it is I need to do to carry on my son's honor. His memory, the celebration of his life and his mission. Privately, it's very difficult to deal with this.

KING: Now, I understand we have started a fund called the Mattie Fund. MDA, Muscular Dystrophy has started one. He was the national goodwill ambassador. Is that a special fund?

STEPANEK: Yes. Mattie always supported the Muscular Dystrophy Association. And since his death, they have established a fund for people who want to support the cause directly in his honor and go directly towards research and summer camp, all the things that mattered the most to Mattie in life.

KING: Now, what did you make of the funeral itself?

STEPANEK: I think that the funeral was the greatest honor my son could have had. People from all walks of life coming together to celebrate as he would call it the echo of his life. Who he was. And I am very appreciative that people took the time to honor him that way.

KING: Were you surprised? STEPANEK: Actually, I was. I mean, something that Mattie said -- he knew he was dying and he would ask do you think people will come to my funeral? Do you think I've really made a difference? And, of course, I told him, yes, people will definitely celebrate your life.

But then when he died and the funeral home asking, well, what size crowd do you expect? I didn't know whether to say 10 people, 20 people, 100. And, we filled the church to capacity and then with people standing outside. So, I was very surprised. And I was very surprised at the diversity of people.

I mean, I guess I wasn't surprised. That's who he was. I guess I was more honored than surprised even in his death, his life was reflected.

KING: Was he writing a book before he passed?

STEPANEK: Actually, he was working on two books. He was working one called "Heart Songs: the Final Collection" which would be the last in the series of the Heart Song books that he wanted to put out as a child, as a young man. And then, he was working on a book with Jimmy Carter called "Just Peace." That was really Mattie's book that Jimmy Carter was supporting him in. But Mattie was driving the book.

KING: Will both of them published?

STEPANEK: I don't know. I hope so. You know, right now, I'm still just trying to deal with his actual death. I'm waiting to see what doors open and what happens next. I would like to make sure they're published in his honor. He was very close to completing both of the books. He'd done a lot of work on both of them. So I don't know what happens next to be honest.

KING: Are you going to keep the dog?

STEPANEK: Oh, but of course. I don't know what -- how I could cope if I didn't have the dog right now. He's the dog was Mattie's. And Mattie named the dog, loved the dog. The dog is grieving the loss of his daddy very much so. But I will definitely be keeping his dog.

KING: How about your health?

JENI STEPANEK, MATTIE STEPANEK'S MOM: My health is OK. I mean, I have the same type of disease my son had. Mine is a much slower progression than his. And I don't really think much about my health. My entire life was focused on my son's health.

KING: We only have about 30 seconds. What are you -- are you going to do anything now? What are you going to do in life? You're alone, what will you do?

STEPANEK: Right now, I'm still looking for every reason to get out of bed every morning. I -- you know, I hope to complete Mattie's message, keeping working on that. And finish my doctoral degree.

KING: Jeni, you are an extraordinary lady, you had an extraordinary family and there was no one like Mattie. Thank you so much for sharing this time with us.

STEPANEK: Thank you. Thank you for everything you did for his message.

KING: Thank you. I was happy to have a portion of that funeral taped played. Jeni Stepanek, the mother of the late Mattie Stepanek.

I'll be back in a couple of minutes. Here's a little fitting tribute as we go to break.


MATTIE STEPANEK: There was no darkness in heaven. And there is no death. Even though we must die to enter, as we face the light and the angels, we are beyond any type of death. Don't believe the Christmas tree. Heaven is beyond human description. Believe in the spirit behind the tree. Believe in the light related to decorations. Believe in the word leading us to our future. And always and always and always believe in the light and the angels."



KING: Tomorrow night we'll be on top of a few scenes on LARRY KING LIVE. Of course, the arraignment of Saddam Hussein in an Iraqi court which will take place, by the way, late tonight. You'll see it on CNN and we'll have coverage of that and other topics as well.


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