Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Analysis of Scott Peterson Murder Trial Developments
Aired December 10, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, still no sentence for Scott Peterson from the jury that began deciding his punishment yesterday afternoon -- life or death. What's going on in the jury room? We'll ask CNN's Ted Rowlands inside court for most of the trial. And on top of this story from day 1.
Richard Cole, veteran court reporter for the Daily News Group. He has not missed a day either.
John Blackstone, the Emmy winning CBS News reporter on the Peterson Case.
Taina Hernandez, ABC News correspondent on the scene in Redwood City.
And also there is Hariett Ryan, Court TV online reporter.
And they're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Ted Rowlands, we'll start with you. They reached a verdict in the case faster than they're reaching a sentencing, right?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It took them about 6 hours, this group, to reach a verdict in the first part of the case and find out that Scott Peterson was guilty, or come to that conclusion. Now, they've been at it for about a 8 1/2 hours over the course of 2 days. Today was their first full day of deliberation.
And most folks thought that by the end of today, especially with the weekend looming, that they would come back with a verdict, or at least some sort of communication to the court, but as the judge said, they have heard nothing except that at the end of the day, the jury was ready to go home. Of course they won't be going home, they're going to a hotel home, they can not discuss the case over the weekend. But then they'll be back at it deliberating on Monday morning.
What it's going on in there? Who only knows? A lot of analysts believe that it is split, not necessarily 6-6, more like 10-2, 11-1, because, obviously, there's optimism within the jury that they can come to a conclusion, they're just going to need more time.
KING: But Richard Cole, they were offered the opportunity to meet again tonight and declined it?
RICHARD COLE, DAILY NEWS GROUP: Well, they were the ones that told the judge that they wanted to go home early. They actually left about 20 or 25 minutes earlier than they could have. The judge had told us from the beginning that he would allow them to go home late if they wanted.
So by going home early, it really made it clear that there is something going on, They seem to want to rest up and think about it.
There is another interpretation. I agree with Ted's interpretation, I think there's a split but it's lopsided. Another interpretation could be that they've pretty much reached a verdict, but a man's life hangs is in the balance. And maybe they said, let's all go home, think about this for the next two days -- not home, of course, but to the hotel. Let's think about this for the next 2 days before we come in and decide what to do with a man's life.
That will give us a couple of days to search our souls and decide if we're doing the right thing. That is another interpretation, although I lean towards Ted's.
KING: All this is guesswork, of course. So, what's Taina -- you like Tai? Ti Hernandez, what's your guess?
TAINA HERNANDEZ, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does seem like it's been a very long time here. We all expected them to come home Thursday, even Thursday or Friday of this week, possibly early next week. It seems as if there is a problem in that jury room with coming to a conclusion.
This has been a jury that's been of one mind. I mean they came back so quickly with a verdict of guilt. It is a little surprising now that after a much shorter version of a trial here, that they're taking such a long time.
KING: John Blackstone, how do you see it?
JOHN BLACKSTONE, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, this jury has confounded us before. At least 9 or 10 of jurors have confounded us before. Let's remember, a month ago they were confounding us and doing stories like this is chaos, jurors being dropped. It looked like this might end without even a verdict in the guilt phase.
So, I'm not sure that we should jump to any conclusions on this. I think they're probably hard at work. We just have to watch carefully. We thought before that they were in real trouble in the jury room. I think it's probably too early to guess that now.
KING: Why, Harriet Ryan, guessing that there's some sort of split? Just because they've gone eight hours>
HARRIET RYAN, COURT TV ONLINE REPORTER: I think so. This is a very cohesive group. We see how they interact with each other in the court room. There are definitely bonds that have formed. And I don't think they want to hang. I don't think any jury wants to.
But this group that's been together for 7 months. And I just say, consider we have a lot of parents on this jury and grandparents, and I'm sure they wanted to spend this weekend maybe Christmas shopping or with family or Christmas decorating. And they're not able to do that, they're back in a hotel.
So it's obvious that they thought it was important enough to wait until Monday and reconvene.
KING: Ted Rowland, isn't that obvious? A life is at stake. Shouldn't they be super careful?
ROWLANDS: Yeah. And really, I guess, we should have, as journalists, should have given them the benefit of the doubt of being conscientious people sitting on this panel. The fact that they don't want to go home over the weekend means that indeed they are taking this very seriously as I'm sure anybody who has watched this case would take it seriously if were left with a decision of life or death.
So, hats off to this jury to take the time that they need to come to a conclusion one way or the other and spend the weekend in a hotel.
KING: Richard Cole, they have choice, they have death or life in prison. Are they instructed, if they have a lingering doubt they must give life?
COLE: Absolutely. And certainly the defense played on that. That instruction does not have to be given in that case. The judge chose to give it in this case.
It was largely a circumstantial case. So there's always a certain amount of doubt in a circumstantial case. That means you don't have DNA and fingerprints and signed confession here. So, I think he chose to give the lingering doubt instruction because there was at least a little gap.
Whether or not that's a great thing for the defense to raise is debated by some of the experts. Some people say it kind of insults the jury for the defense to say, well, if you still have a little doubt then maybe you should give him life without parole, because it implies that they weren't quite careful enough on the guilt phase.
So, the defense did certainly emphasize it, it raised it. Whether it's going to work with this jury, I don't know.
KING: Shouldn't a reasonable person, Tai, in a circumstantial case, have some doubt.
HERNANDEZ: Well, the judge explained that what they're looking for here is somewhere between absolute certainty and just a shadow of a doubt. This is what they can consider this time.
But the prosecution made a very strong case for this. They basically told the jury, don't let anyone second-guess you, you did the right thing. They tried to give that jury confidence when they went into that the jury room, that lingering doubt wasn't something they have to consider, it's something they can consider.
KING: And John, the judge said sympathy is not a consideration. Why not?
BLACKSTONE: Well, sympathy for the family is not supposed to be considered for this. And clearly, it's one of the things about this case, it does come down to a family tragedy. I mean sitting in there the last few days of this penalty phase, you see that this is a tragedy on both sides.
And I'm sure that's one off the things this jury is weighing is this family tragedy. Does giving Scott Peterson a death sentence, does that make one family's tragedy worse? Does it make another family's tragedy better? Does it make it worse for everyone?
KING; If you're inclined, Harriet, one would think, to be against death, you would hold out for that, don't you think? We're speculating now, but if it was 11-1 or 10-2, I would doubt if I was saying death, no death, no death, OK, death. Wouldn't that be irresponsible of me?
RYAN: Well, these juries were screened before they got on the panel about the death penalty. And they had to say that they'd be able to impose it. So we don't have people who have strong religious objections to it at all. We have people who said that given the right circumstances, if we found that this was -- the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors, we could impose the death penalty. So, there shouldn't be anybody in that jury room who says I can't do it.
KING: When we come back, we'll ask what happens if this jury can't come to any decision. Does that automatically mean life? Is there such a thing as a hung jury in a sentencing phase?
We do know this, they jury can find for death, the judge can overrule and give life. He can't overrule life and give death, but he can overrule death and give life.
We'll also be including your phone calls. And we'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE ALFRED DELUCCHI, SCOT PETERSON CASE JUDGE: In weighing the various circumstances you determine, under the relevant evidence, which penalty is justified and appropriate by considering the totality of the aggravating circumstances with the totality of the mitigating circumstances. To return a judgment of death, each of you must be persuaded that the aggravating circumstances are so substantial in comparison with the mitigating circumstances, that it warrants death instead of life without parole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: In our next segment we will begin taking your phone calls for our five outstanding journalists. There will be no verdict over the weekend. The jury panel will resume on Monday morning. Richard Cole, can they have a hung jury in a sentencing phase?
COLE: Yes, they can. They can report back simply they can't do it. Then the question goes to district attorney Jim Brazleton whether or not he wants to retry it. That, I think, will depend in large part on whether the Rocha family is militant about it. If they say we don't really want to go through six months more of jury selection and a new trial, even if it's just the death penalty phase, then the district attorney may say, this is a very expensive operation and if we don't have the family's militant support, let's not do it. On the other hand if the Rochas say, no, we want this finished, I think it would be very hard for Mr. Brazleton to just say, no, we're not going to do it, it's too expensive an operation for us.
KING: Taina, I'm a little confused. You mean if two jurors hang tough, they don't want to have death, that counts as a hung jury rather than we couldn't reach a verdict therefore it's life?
HERNANDEZ: That's right. Because this is considered a separate trial. If the jury can't reach a unanimous decision here, there is an option to do this all over again. But as Richard said, it's a very costly time consuming process and it would be up to the prosecution whether or not they wanted to go forward with that.
KING: John Blackstone, what's your observation of this jury, from watching juries based on their verdict, coming in so quick, how they reacted during the trial, how they reacted to the defense's testimony. Where do you think it might be leaning and again we can conjecture at this point. They're sequestered. It ain't going to matter.
BLACKSTONE: Trying to guess this jury, when they went in out to the guilt phase, we were all guessing which way could they go. You can't guess this jury. They've been very stoic, stonefaced often. There have been emotional times in the trial and they have shown their emotions and I would think the emotions they have shown have tended to show sympathy for the Rocha family, for Laci's family. I think it's very difficult to read this jury. The one thing we can say is that they would very much like not to be a hung jury but to come to a verdict to finish this off. They spent so long on it.
KING: Harriet, in your opinion how well did the defense do with their presentation in the sentencing phase?
RYAN: It was difficult act to follow, the prosecutor, Dave Harris gave a virtuoso summation, he had all the points. He had the jury crying and staring at Sharon Rocha, the victim's mother. Very difficult act to follow and I think that Mark Geragos made a couple of points that the jury seemed to take in and one of them was when he said that Scott Peterson will learn that his father is dead in a jail cell, he's going to learn that his mother is dead in a jail cell, he's going to learn that his brother is dead in a jail cell. He's not going to leave that jail cell. At that point, he was knocking on the rail of the jury box to make his point. The jurors were staring at him, I think they were surprised he had gotten that close to him. That was a point that really seemed to hit home with them.
KING: Ted Rowlands, did you read it that way, did the prosecution present a better case in the sentencing end?
ROWLANDS: I'd say that both sides did a fantastic job of presenting their case in the end. I think the prosecution was pretty much as perfect as you could get in terms of hitting everything. They didn't fumble at all during the presentation, had a couple of clips they played, technical problems have been a problem throughout this trial, getting things to play, awkward moments of silence. None of that happened. This was a very clean well delivered presentation by Dave Harris.
I think that Mark Geragos came back just as strong and gave a very passionate heartfelt presentation to this jury, begging them not to take Scott Peterson's life, arguing that killing Scott Peterson would do nothing, saying stop this cycle of death. He said that in his opinion, it would haunt the Rocha family in the end to kill Scott Peterson. He came across maybe different than the jury has seen him throughout the trial. It was really heartfelt and I do think he struck a chord with the jury.
KING: Tai, what was your reading on the judge's handling of this whole matter.
HERNANDEZ: The judge has gotten great reviews throughout the entire process, has great rapport with the jury. He's someone that they look to at all times. He jokes with them, he pokes fun at himself in front of them. I think that's one of the reasons we feel this jury wants to come a unanimous conclusion here, in part, because they don't want to let down the judge in this case.
KING: John, what was Scott's demeanor in this sentencing phase.
BLACKSTONE: He didn't show much emotion at all. Throughout the trial, he's seldom shown much emotion. During the sentencing phase, that was his demeanor. Staring straight ahead, usually at the judge. At one time I saw him looking at the screen, when the photos were up, the sonogram photos of his unborn son and he stared at that and I was thinking what must he be thinking now looking at his child that was never born. A few times he wiped tears. Everybody became rather suspicious as well about his emotions because we saw him lying and turning on and off his emotions in interviews he did during the time Laci was missing. People were suspicious about his emotions.
KING: Richard Cole, you wrote an article about the Roman Catholic influence dominating the trial. Nine of the 12 jurors are Roman Catholic, The judge is Roman Catholic. The prosecutor and defense attorney are both Roman Catholic. Peterson family at least nominally Catholic and members of the Rocha family are Catholic. What is the end result of that?
COLE: This being the United States being Roman Catholic doesn't necessarily mean that you follow all the tenets of the church. A lot of Roman Catholics practice birth control and approve of abortion, that was an issue during the presidential race, when the church has tried to stop Roman Catholic candidates from backing abortion rights. So the first thing is that American Roman Catholics don't feel really bound by the church. But in theory, if you follow the teachings, the most militant Catholic theologians, I talked to people at Notre Dame University in Indiana, Santa Clara University here in California, both Jesuit institutions. They say -- some of them anyway say that a Roman Catholic prosecutor should not be asking for a death penalty and a Roman Catholic judge should not be approving it. These people...
KING: The pope is opposed to all capital punishment.
COLE: The pope's position, as I understand it, is there might be conditions under which capital punishment would be allowable if not having it would lead to total social chaos and destruction and he has said that is not the case anywhere in the world right now. In effect, he has said Roman Catholics should not be participating in the death penalty. This is the United States. Roman Catholics pick and choose which doctrines they like, that the church is teaching. Also, the death penalty doctrine is a relatively new thing Pope John Paul has instituted. This is not something going back hundreds of thousands of years.
KING: We'll take a break. When we come back, we'll include your phone calls for this outstanding panel. Over the weekend, we'll repeat our interview with Sophia Loren tomorrow night and Sunday night, interviews with Jimmy Carter and John Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards and Andy Rooney. We'll be right back.
KING: We're back with our panelists. Let's go to some calls. Ledyard, Connecticut, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Mr. King. How are you?
CALLER: My question is Laci's family, are they going for the death penalty or are they deciding on life?
KING: What did they ask for, Ted?
ROWLANDS: Well, I think it's pretty clear that way back when, when the death penalty was sought by the prosecution, that the family was consulted on it, and they gave the green light. I don't think we'd be in this position had they not said go for the death penalty.
That said, if this jury does come back hung, it's very unclear whether or not this family would even think about asking the prosecution to do it again, given the fact that you would have to go through so much. Jury selection and months of trial, just to get to this point. However, I think it's safe to say the Rochas will be happy, along with everybody on the prosecution side, if this jury comes back with a death verdict.
KING: Beverly Hills, California. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry, good show. KING: Thank you.
CALLER: Question for the panel. What are the chances that Scott would have been arrested and charged if Laci and Connor were never found?
HERNANDEZ: Well, that's a really good question. Certainly the prosecution had waited months before going for his arrest. And this was the strongest evidence we had in this trial, that these bodies washed ashore just two miles from where he said he had been fishing. So it was extremely powerful evidence in the trial. It's unclear whether they could have had such a successful verdict here for the prosecution if they didn't have that evidence. And again, it took months for them to arrest him. They waited until those bodies were found.
KING: Do you agree, John?
BLACKSTONE: Yes, I think it may have been a very difficult case without the bodies. I mean, because we have no -- there was no smoking gun, there was no evidence of any kind. I think it could have been very tough for the prosecution if the bodies hadn't been found.
RYAN: Absolutely. The location of the bodies was the strongest evidence against Scott Peterson. It always has been.
KING: If he didn't do this, Richard, is he the victim of the world's most unusual set of circumstances, of being a kind of cad himself and then having it turn up where it turned up?
COLE: It would certainly have to have either horrifying luck, or have people who decided that maybe they had a body on their hands and by of course, within a couple of days after the Laci's disappearance, everybody knew that Scott Peterson had been to the bay, and maybe they said, whoops, let's get the heat off of us and on to Scott. So it would be, as the prosecution said during the closing, you'd have to believe that somebody framed him, or else it's the most horrifying coincidence possible.
But I mean, I do agree -- we had prosecutors come in from other counties, they would sit in for a few days and watch the trial, and we them say that even with the bodies, they would have had a hard time filing charges in their own county. So I think the bodies were the entire case.
And remember, Scott wasn't arrested. They knew pretty much everything. They had the tapes, they had everything else that we had, they had everything, but they didn't have the bodies. And at that point, Scott was walking around free. So I think it was the bodies. And as I said, it would have to be a horrifying coincidence, or else somebody who decided to get the blame on Scott instead of -- and off themselves for those bodies to have turned up where they did. KING: Edmonds, Washington, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. My question for the panel is I remember hearing something about the Rocha family filing a wrongful death lawsuit against Scott Peterson. And I was wondering what the status of that was, and if Scott Peterson does sell his story, can they receive proceeds from that?
RYAN: The Rocha family has filed the initial paperwork, but everything is on hold until after the verdict in this case, because as we know from O.J. Simpson and other cases like that, it makes it much easier to win a civil case once there's a criminal conviction and it's much more difficult if there is not that criminal conviction.
KING: John, can he write a book?
BLACKSTONE: He can write a book. I think if he does write a book, then certainly the Rocha family would go after all the proceeds. I don't think he'll be the first to write a book from this, though. I think there'll be books out very soon after we get a verdict.
KING: We're going to take a break and when we come back, there'll be more calls and I will also reintroduce the panel.
You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Sophia Loren tomorrow night, and again, Sunday night, former President Jimmy Carter, CBS News "60 Minutes" Andy Rooney and Senator John Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards, in a telling look at Elizabeth Edwards' fight against breast cancer. That's all Sunday night. This is LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be back with more of your calls and I'll reintroduce the panel right after these words. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DELUCCHI: These possible verdicts are set forth in the forms of verdicts which you will receive. Only one of the possible verdicts may be returned by you. If you all have agreed upon one verdict, the corresponding form is the only verdict form to be signed. The other forms are to be left unsigned. The people of the state of California versus Scott Lee Peterson, penalty verdict. We the jury in the above entitled cause fix the penalty at life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, date, signature for the foreperson.
Second form of the verdict says we the jury in the above entitled cause fix the penalty at death. Dated and signed by the foreperson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back. Let's reintroduce the panel, all in Redwood City. Ted Rowlands, CNN correspondent, has been covering the case since the beginning and had one of the few on-camera interviews with Peterson. The prosecution, by the way, played it during the trial. Richard Cole -- he's been covering the Peterson case for the Daily News Group, including "The Redwood City Daily News," veteran crime and trial reporter. Taina Hernandez -- Tai is ABC News correspondent, has reported for "Good Morning America" and "20/20." John Blackstone is the Emmy Award-winning correspondent for CBS News. And Harriet Ryan is Court TV's on-line reporter.
And we go to Port Richey, Florida. Hello.
CALLER: Yes. Hi. Good evening, Larry.
CALLER: I'd like to know from one of the panel, anyone on the panel, was Mike (SIC) Geragos reprimanded in any way for the stunt that he pulled with the boat and the dummy?
KING: Ted? It's Mark Geragos. But Ted?
ROWLANDS: No. Yes. No, not that I've heard. And you know, it was never determined whether Mark Geragos was actually behind it. But a lot of people speculated that that was the case. The short answer to that is no.
KING: Of course, the court had no jurisdiction over that, did they?
ROWLANDS: No. And quite frankly, I'm not sure how -- well, I'm not sure how...
KING: I mean, what would he have been...
ROWLANDS: ... that would have come about...
KING: ... charged with?
ROWLANDS: Yes. Good question. Yes.
COLE: The jury -- the jury was sequestered at that time. So unless the vans with the jurors in them happened to drive right past that boat, they probably never even saw it, and in theory, should not have heard about it.
KING: We go to Belgrade, Serbia. Hello.
CALLER: Good evening, Larry. Good evening, all the panel. Thank you for having me.
CALLER: I would like to know how is it possible that Scott Peterson was convicted on so little physical evidence?
BLACKSTONE: Well, circumstantial evidence, as we heard from lawyers over and over again, that circumstantial evidence is sometimes better than physical evidence, better than witnesses, certainly, at times, because you can have witnesses who have two different stories. Anyone who sat in the courtroom, I think, for month after month and saw this evidence come out would see that this was a very strong circumstantial case, in fact, lots of evidence. You know, it was clearly no fingerprints, no smoking gun. No one saw him do it. But I think anyone who sat in that courtroom for month after month would say, at some point, Ah, there's the thing. No one who didn't murder his wife would have done that. He has to be the killer.
KING: Broken Bow, Oklahoma. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: My question is, if he's given death, will he be kept alone in a cell, or will he be out in the -- with the other people? Because don't you think that somebody inside the prison is going to try to kill him?
KING: And by the way, Ted, they are in a special section, right, called death row? But they -- when was the last capital punishment in California, Ted?
ROWLANDS: Just over a year ago, but there are not -- there are hundreds of people on death row. California executes at the rate of less than one a year. So the average stay on death row, I believe, is up near the 18-year range. The thought that Scott Peterson would be executed in short order, just frankly, is not going to happen in this state.
As to the caller's question, sure, he's going to be a marked man in jail, no matter where he is. If he's in death row, he'll be in a cell by himself. If he is not in death row and he's serving out his time in a maximum-security prison, he will be afforded special treatment, if you will. The down side to special treatment, of course, is that you don't develop relationships. If you're going to spend your whole life in jail and you're constantly being protected and constantly being looked -- or looking over your shoulder, it really is hell on earth. But death row, pretty much the worst place you want to be. You're all by yourself, isolated, waiting for your execution, which most likely won't come for 18 to 20 years.
KING: And you're allowed many appeals.
ROWLANDS: Yes, automatic appeals, if you're on death row. This case will be appealed ad nauseam. You can bank on it. The defense thinks they have clear grounds for appeal on many different angles, especially juror No. 5, after they can interview him, when this is all said and done, depending what happened there when he left the panel because he didn't agree with the way the deliberative process was going, could be something that they focus on. But you can bet this case, no matter what happens here, is going to be appealed.
KING: Cot St. Luc, Montreal. Hello. CALLER: Hi, Larry. My question is the following. What are some of the sticking issues which is preventing the jury from reaching a verdict between the death penalty or life in prison?
KING: Tai, what do you think it is? Put yourself in one of their shoes.
HERNANDEZ: Well, I think they had two very strong arguments to go into the jury room with. And here's something that the defense pointed out. One of these jurors wrote on their jury questionnaire that they think life in prison without the possibility of parole is a worse sentence than death. So there could be someone who's sticking to that sort of reasoning in that jury room, thinking that it's a worst punishment, in fact.
But there are all kinds of factors here. There are all kinds of images they have been sent back there with, the sonogram being the only photo Sharon Rocha will ever have of her grandchild. I mean, these are images that have got to stick with this jury. They have a lot to chew on here.
KING: Are you supposed to, Harriet, not have sympathy for either party?
RYAN: You're allowed to consider the impact that the murders had on the victims' family. So Sharon Rocha's heartbreak is part of the evidence that they can consider in that jury room. And you know, if -- in the courtroom during the summations, the jurors were staring at Sharon Rocha, and she was weeping and she was hunched over on her partner, Ron Grantski's, shoulder. And they were captivated by that. They understand her grief, and I think they really feel for it. And yes, they can consider that.
Now, can they consider the heartbreaking grief of Scott Peterson's family? They're told no, only if it illuminates some kind of good thing about him. If it illuminates a good quality about him, they can consider it. But they can't just say, Oh, I feel bad for his mom, I'm not going to execute him.
KING: John, can you not, as a journalist, try to put yourself in their shoes?
BLACKSTONE: You know, it's very difficult to put yourself in their shoes. I think one of the things -- listening to the arguments and discussing this with other journalists after both these arguments were made, the closing arguments in the penalty phase, I think people's feeling about who made the better argument maybe came down to how they felt about the death penalty. If you personally are opposed to the death penalty, you thought Mark Geragos made a very good argument. If you personally agree with the death penalty, you think that the prosecutor made a very good argument.
And I think then, in the end, it comes down to that jury room. What we have to remember in the jury is that all 12 of those people, to get on this jury, had to support the death penalty. So in a way, they don't reflect the general public. I think they may tend more toward death than life in prison.
KING: Richard Cole, this must be an awful lot of pressure on the legal aspect, as well, the defense attorney fighting to keep someone alive, the prosecutor asking to kill someone. And that's what they're doing, kill this person. That's hard.
COLE: It's very difficult. I -- you could see Pat Harris, the No. 2 lawyer for the defense, choked up when he was giving his very short, calm closing statement in the death penalty. and he really choked up. This was not an act for the jurors.
And Mark Geragos, when he got up, was the humblest Mark Geragos any of us have ever seen. And it seemed sincere. He apologized -- he told the jurors he had never even prepared a death penalty case, he was so certain that they would not convict Scott. And to tell the jurors that I thought was stunning. And you could see it in their faces. I will tell you, the defense attorneys' aspect has changed completely.
On the other hand, Dave Harris, as everyone has said, I thought was just brilliant. He pushed every emotional button that you can possibly imagine in that jury -- the spoiled little rich boy, the guy who laughed at his mother, the guy who lied to the Rochas about their daughter who had disappeared. He pushed all those buttons. He put the pictures up of Laci. He did an astounding job.
And what you see a lot in this case is what the defense has tried to do is appeal to reason, and the prosecution has appealed very openly to emotion. And in a death penalty case, that's, I think, the overriding concern they're trying to convey, is, You hate this guy. He did horrible things. He's a monster, as they called him during the closing. You've got to kill him. And it's very difficult for the defense to come up with an emotion to overcome that.
KING: Miami. Hello.
CALLER: Yes. Good evening, Larry.
CALLER: Good evening. I have a question for all the panel.
CALLER: When Scott was talking to Amber Frey, she asked him if he know who killed Laci. He said, No, I didn't, but I know who did. Why that never came out in the trial?
KING: Well, it came out -- right? It came out in one of the tapes, but he didn't take the stand, right, Ted?
ROWLANDS: No, he didn't take the stand. It actually came out...
KING: So there was no way for him to explain what he meant.
ROWLANDS: Yes. And it came out in the prelim originally. A transcript was part of the evidence in the preliminary hearing, where it was alluded to. But you're right. I mean, there was -- Scott Peterson didn't take the stand at all, and that was one of the things that was most likely contemplated by the defense, and maybe is thought about now by the defense as something that they should have done, in hindsight. But of course, you know, it's easy to armchair quarterback.
And one thing is certain, that Mark Geragos -- he told this jury that he hasn't slept since their verdict, a solid night sleep. He's been going over it in his head. And I think -- as Richard said, I think he honestly did not believe that he was going to lose this case and that Scott Peterson would be facing a possible death sentence.
KING: We'll be back right after these words with more calls. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DELUCCHI: Sympathy for a defendant's family is not a matter that a capital jury can consider in mitigation. However, family members may offer testimony of the impact of an execution on them if, by so doing, they illuminate some positive quality of the defendant's background or character which is offered as a basis for a sentence less than death.
KING: We're back. Orem, Utah. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, neighbor.
CALLER: My question is what are the conditions like right now where he's at in jail right now, compared to what he's going to be like if he gets life or the other -- the death row? Is he, like, alone in the jail cell right now? Does he get to go outside? And my second question was, if they don't reach a verdict and they come back hung and they don't decide to try that part again, does he get just life in prison?
KING: That -- he would get just life, Ted, right, just life, if they don't try him again.
ROWLANDS: Yes, life without the possibility of parole. As to the jail cell that he's in right now, all things considered, it's not bad because he is by himself and he's segregated. He does get an opportunity for R&R on a daily basis. He's also involved in his defense, so he can occupy himself with -- he's been allowed a computer to go over the evidence with it, and he gets frequent visits from his family. Things will change dramatically, no matter what happens here, when he is transferred to a maximum-security prison. He will not get those visits as often, especially if he's on death row, and he will not be afforded the same luxuries, if you will, that he is enjoying, again, if you will, right now.
KING: How many maximum security prisons in California?
ROWLANDS: There's eight level four or five prisons that he could end up in. And it's really unclear which one he would go to. That would be up to the California Department of Corrections. When a spot opens up that is able to accommodate a prisoner like Peterson that does need special treatment, especially during the first few years, then he will be transported to that facility.
KING: Chicago. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. I was just wondering what the panel thought about the way Mark Geragos handled himself throughout this trial, if they think that maybe that might damage his career as an outstanding trial attorney?
HERNANDEZ: Well, certainly, this isn't something you want to have on your record, and this is a very public case for Mark Geragos. I mean, he even said he didn't plan a penalty phase here, he just didn't think it would come to this. But what was interesting was the shift. When he finally addressed the jury this last time, he was very humbled. He apologized to them for not being there when the verdict came in. He begged them. He told them he would get down on his knees, if it would help. This is so different from the ultra- confident attorney we've seen all along here.
KING: What's your assessment, John? What's the career effect?
BLACKSTONE: You know, Mark Geragos -- we have to remember, Mark Geragos was very impressive early on in this trial, and I think he probably gained a lot of points that way. I think the other thing is that maybe he's learned a lot during this trial, what worked, what didn't work, both inside the courtroom and out. So he may be a better attorney coming out of this.
But certainly, it was dramatic shift, when you looked at the closing arguments in this penalty phase, to see the prosecutors really being the smooth -- the prosecution presentation being high-tech and very smooth, and the defense attorneys, who were excellent at the beginning, seeming almost lost.
KING: Harriet, what do you think of Geragos?
RYAN: I am really impressed with a lot of his legal talent. I've rarely seen anyone do a better cross-examination than Mark Geragos. He destroyed a lot of prosecution witnesses. And in June and July -- we have to think back to those months, when every day on shows like this, the prosecutors were being berated for the job that they were doing. And in the end, they pulled it out.
And I think that it would be unfair not to give Mark Geragos credit for the job that he did early on in the case. You know, he was saddled with a client who talked a lot. He talked to Ted and a bunch of other people in interviews that the jury saw, and the jury did not like the Scott Peterson they saw in those interviews.
RYAN: And he talked to Amber Frey, and she recorded it. So the client he had had done too much talking by the time he hired Mark Geragos.
KING: Grafton, North Dakota. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. Thanks for taking my call.
CALLER: I wanted to ask the panelists if they believed that news coverage -- for example, the Court TV programs, in particular -- had any influence on this trial.
COLE: Well, it would be hard to believe that they didn't. In theory, the jurors aren't watching television. Even when they're not sequestered, they're not supposed to watch the shows. I think, considering the blanket coverage that this thing got by Court TV, with wall-to-wall coverage, and this network and other networks, it would have been almost impossible for them not to have been exposed to some of it.
In addition to which, you got to remember their friends, their loved ones are watching these, and some of that has got to filter back to the jury. I think that the emotion that this case has generated cannot help but have somehow made its way into that jury room. I think there's just too much. There's too much anger directed towards Scott Peterson for that not to have penetrated.
Look at the coverage that we have. Look at tent city out here. Look at the wall-to-wall coverage. Some of that has to have gotten through. And certainly, you can bet that Mark Geragos is going to -- that'll be the No. 1 item on his appeal. He's already made that clear.
KING: Take a break, and we'll be back with our remaining moments and more phone calls. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - JANUARY 2003, KTVU)
SCOTT PETERSON, CHARGED WITH DOUBLE MURDER: I had nothing to do with Laci's disappearance. Even if you think I did, think about Laci. And I know that the nation wants to bring her home to our families, OK? So you can think what you want of me, question my moral character, question how I've acted, if it's been smart, if it hasn't been. Obviously, I'm not media savvy, so I've, you know, made some mistakes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Middletown, Connecticut. Hello.
CALLER: Hi. My question is, why does the -- the defense attorneys get on the stand and beg for Scott's life, when he doesn't get up there, plead his innocence and beg for his own life?
KING: He can, can he not, John? He's allowed to make a statement in his own behalf at a sentencing hearing, right?
BLACKSTONE: You know, if he got on the stand, anything he said could be used. There's going to be appeals. There could be another trial. Anything he said could be used. And you know, I think that's a risk that they wouldn't take.
KING: Would he be allowed to make a statement to the jury? That's not allowed, John.
BLACKSTONE: You know, I'm not sure. At this point in the trial, he certainly could have been called as a witness in his own defense, but then he would have been open to a lot of questions from the prosecution.
KING: But it couldn't have been about the case because he's already been convicted. So if he pled for his life, what would the prosecution be asking him about?
COLE: He could be asked about the case because the circumstances of the case are one of the factors that the jury can consider, so that would open it up for the prosecution.
KING: I got you. Meredosia, Illinois. Hello.
CALLER: Yes. Hello. And thank you for taking my call.
CALLER: I was -- my question is regarding a magazine or tabloid linking Scott to other crimes. And I was just wondering if there were any facts about that, and if there is, what they are.
KING: Anybody know anything, or is that just a lot of baloney, Tai?
HERNANDEZ: Well, I mean, there has been speculation, but he's never been charged. He's never been -- obviously, never been charged or convicted of any other crime. Certainly, I'm sure this was very distressing to the defense when it ended up on the front page of a tabloid in a supermarket when this jury was not sequestered. But there's absolutely no evidence of that that was entered into this trial, and there is nothing on his record that suggests any other wrongdoing...
KING: Certainly... HERNANDEZ: ... other than this case.
KING: Certainly, the police would have investigated every facet. Atlanta. Hello.
CALLER: I'd like to know what kind of fee Mark Geragos got, even if you have to speculate. Did he get it up front? And does that include expenses?
KING: His parents -- Scott's parents paid it, right, Ted?
ROWLANDS: Yes. The family...
KING: They told me they paid.
ROWLANDS: ... helped him -- yes, they did. And you know, one of the letters that Scott wrote from jail talked about that, that he had a -- you know, he was hooked up with a lawyer provided by the state, and his parents wanted to pay for his defense. And he in this letter said he wasn't sure if he should do that, to take his parents' money. In the end, they convinced him that it was the right thing to do.
And then this family has been behind him from the beginning...
KING: Oh, yes.
ROWLANDS: ... both financially and emotionally, and they're still right there. And you know, no matter what you think about Scott Peterson, you really do have to look at this family and give them a nod because they have been through it all and they've stuck by this young man through thick and thin.
KING: San Diego. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry?
CALLER: Thank you for taking my call.
CALLER: In view of the fact that the conviction was basically on circumstantial evidence, my question to the entire panel is, How can the judge, as well as the jury, consider the death penalty, in view of the fact that after Scott is dead, if that's decided, if someone comes forth with a deathbed confession or something, obviously, we can't revivify him. He's dead.
KING: Good question. Harriet, we have now over 140 people released from death row in this country since DNA.
RYAN: You're right, and that's one of the arguments...
KING: And there's no...
RYAN: ... against the death penalty.
KING: ... redress of grievance, is there.
RYAN: No, but, you know, let's be realistic. Scott Peterson's not going to be executed a day after sentencing, if he is -- if the jury does recommend death. We're looking at 18 years in prison. We're looking at appeals. We're looking at federal courts in California that are extremely favorable to defendants, if they can put forth evidence. So it's not as if he's taken out in front of the courthouse the day after the sentencing and executed on the spot. If his lawyers down the road can find more evidence, if they can prove his innocence, there are plenty of courts that are willing to hear that.
KING: Ted, will we ever know why this case got to be what it became?
ROWLANDS: You know, that question's come up so many times, and everybody has different answers to it. I mean, the facts of it are, is that the nation was introduced to a missing pregnant woman around the holidays two years ago. And enough people were concerned about her not only in the region to go look for her but around the country to follow her case, that people were hooked, if you will, and they wanted to see what happened. And then Scott emerged as a suspect. Then the girlfriend emerged. And just when it started to die out, something you couldn't believe would pop out, there's been these brown vans, people here and there, so much circumstantial evidence going in all different directions...
ROWLANDS: ... that I think it was just an accumulation of a lot of different things coming together.
KING: We'll see you all next week, maybe. Ted Rowlands, Richard Cole, Tai Hernandez, John Blackstone, Harriet Ryan.
That's tonight's edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll tell you all about the weekend, do all of that right after this. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night, we'll repeat our interview with Sophia Loren. And Sunday night, Senator and Mrs. Edwards, former President Jimmy Carter and Andy Rooney.
Right now, we turn it over, as we approach the weekend, to the heralder of the weekender -- now what that means, what the heralder of the weekend means is that he is our guide into the weekend. It's 10:00 Eastern time, Friday night. We're preparing for the weekend, the end of the week, the fortnight or whatever is over, he guides us. Guide us! Aaron Brown, you're our guide. Guide us. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com