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Analysis of Peterson's Death Sentence

Aired December 13, 2004 - 21:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The people of the state of California vs. Scott Peterson, we the jury in above entitled cause, fix the penalty at death. Dated December 13, 2004.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Scott Peterson's jury recommends the death penalty and his attorney vows to pursue all avenues of appeal. We'll have eyewitness accounts and heated debate with CNN's Ted Rowlands inside the courtroom today for the dramatic announcement of Peterson's sentence.

Court TV's Nancy Grace, the former prosecutor always there.

Michael Cardoza, leading defense attorney in the area, who did a mock cross exam of Scott Peterson for the defense.

Chuck Smith, former prosecutor in the town where the trial was held.

High profile defense attorney Trent Copeland.

Richard Cole, the veteran court reporter for the "Daily News Group," who didn't miss a day of this trial.

They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: All right, Ted Rowlands, set the scene. What happened?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the jury came back with a verdict. There was a two-hour break, and then they filled the courtroom for the reading of this verdict. And when the courtroom was set, there was bailiffs on both sides, there were investigators that had been following this from the very beginning up from Modesto lining one of the walls on the prosecution side.

On the defense side, Scott Peterson's mother, father, and sister- in-law Janie were in the "front row." But that was it. There were a couple of empty rows behind them after that. And then on the Rocha side, Laci Peterson's family and supporters and friends all lined up behind her. I think it's fair to say that the Peterson's were warned that this was most likely going to be the verdict of death. Therefore, they didn't seem to show any emotion on the outside. Scott Peterson showed no emotion on the outside as well. In fact, when he walked in, he had the same sort of swagger and he nodded and smiled at his family when he sat down. The Rocha family too very stoic but afterwards we heard from Ron Gramm very emotional, saying this is a nightmare and it continues to be a nightmare. The most emotion came from jurors, obviously, at the end of this horribly difficult process, to come to this conclusion. They were obviously upset, just emotional about what they were about to do. And then collectively, because so much has gone into this. You could feel the raw emotion in the room even though it really wasn't articulated.

KING: And before we talk to our people of the law, I've got individual questions for them and then we'll get into a round robin discussion.

Richard Cole, as a veteran journalist, anything you'd add to what Ted reported.

RICHARD COLE, "REDWOOD CITY DAILY NEWS": It was interesting. That immediately after the verdict was read, Mark Geragos leaned over and said something to Scott Peterson. Obviously we don't have any idea what it was, and Scott smiled a little ruefully. And that was cited later during the jury news conference by juror 7, who as we all know now, is Ricehelle Nice (ph) of East Palo Alto. And she said that was one of the things that head her to conclude the death penalty was appropriate was the lack of emotion and the way he didn't react the way she felt a man normally should under the circumstances. I thought it was a very illuminating piece in how this jury was thinking and how they perceived Scott.

KING: All right, for each of our legal eagles. We'll start with Nancy Grace.

As a former prosecutor, how many death penalty cases have you tried, and what is that like for the prosecutor?

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Well Larry, every prosecutor that is in a high homicide area ends up at some time or other working on death penalty cases. I worked on several of them during my time in the Atlanta prosecutor's office. Many of them go through -- to fruition, many of them end up pleading out. This one was one that many people thought along the way had a possibility of a plea. As it went further and further, that dimmed.

KING: No, the question was...

GRACE: The reality in the courtroom...

KING: No. No. I'll get back to that. Hold it Nancy. The question was, how many cases...

GRACE: I worked on three.

KING: You were on three?

GRACE: I worked on three?

KING: And were they all convicted?


KING: The question was, what is it like to be the preemptor of sending someone to the death penalty?

GRACE: It's very sobering, Larry. It's very disturbing. In the cases that I worked on, the cases that I did research, the cases that I worked up witnesses with, it's very disturbing the whole way through. Once the elected district attorney announces that he or she is seeking the death penalty it puts the whole case in a different light. Because you realize at the end, when you get a death penalty, that this person could be put to death, it's very, very sobering. And that was portrayed in the courtroom today.

KING: Michael, what is it like to defend?

How many death penalty cases have you defended?

MICHAEL CARDOZA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I've done one, Larry. When I was...


CARDOZA: We won. We got the death dropped before we actually went to verdict. When I was a district attorney, death penalty wasn't involved in the state of California. I tried a lot of murders. I've probably tried well over 15 murders here in the state.

KING: None dealing with death, though.

CARDOZA: I understand. But when death came in, I wouldn't prosecute those. Because I prosecuted so many worse people before death came in that, I really stepped away from the death penalty. So,I never prosecuted any of them. Defended one, we got a not guilty verdict in it. But the death was thrown out before it actually went to verdict.

KING: chuck smith, have you prosecuted death penalty cases?

CHUCK SMITH, FORMER SAN MATEO COUNTY PROSECUTOR: I have. I had two of them when I was in the D.A.'s office. And one of them, the man that we charged, his confession was thrown out and he was acquitted. The jury found he didn't do it. So, I never asked the jury for death. In the other case the individual got the death penalty. It was a rape/murder, awful terrible victim. Just a terrible, terrible case.

KING: What's it like to ask for a death penalty?

SMITH: I worked on the case. My partner, who got appointed judge last week, he ultimately tried the case after I left the office. So I have not asked a jury to send someone to their death.

KING: Trent, have you had to defend a death case?

TRENT COPELAND: Fortunately I have not, Larry. And a lot like Mark Geragos, who I believe this might have been his first death penalty case that went through to it's end, I fortunately have not been in the position of having to defend someone against the penalty, the ultimate penalty of death.

KING: What can you imagine it's like.

COPELAND: I can only imagine that Mark Geragos right now -- and I think my heart goes out to him and his staff who worked diligently. Pat Harris included and all of Mark Geragos' staff. I think you take this to heart. It's not just another day at the office. It's not just another case. It's a case where someone's life is clearly in your hands. I think Mark Geragos takes that very seriously. It clearly showed in his reactions today.

KING: You want to ask something Michael? I was to ask...

CARDOZA: Right, I've talked to Mark and Pat Harris, and both of them to this day believe Scott Peterson didn't commit this murder. So you can imagine how it weighs on them. Now, here they've defended somebody. The jury brings back a guilty verdict. Then they have to go to the death portion, and today they bring back death. It's just unbelievable.

KING: Nancy, the people outside cheered. Is the prosecutor happy tonight?

GRACE: Larry, when I came out of the courthouse today, it was totally silent. I didn't hear anybody cheering. If they did cheer, it was unknown to me. No, from what I understand, everyone left the courtroom with a very, very heavy heart. And I spoke to people that were with Sharon Rocha immediately after this. With Sharon Rocha, Amy, Brent, as well as Ron Grantski, they were not joyful. In fact, they broke down in tears.

Now, to me, that does not mean joy. It's been portrayed so often, this is some blood thirsty bunch of spectators and family members. I haven't seen that. And I was here today, I'm in front of the courthouse right now, didn't see it. In fact, it was very solemn. When these jurors were questioned as to their deliberations, I thought one of them was going to break down in tears today.

KING: There was cheering when it was announced, though, outside, because we had the microphones outside. You were inside. There was cheering outside.

GRACE: I didn't see that. I didn't see that.

KING: But the prosecutor doesn't feel cheerful, right?

GRACE: No. I've spoken to them a couple of times, and they were anything but cheerful. Like most prosecutors that I know that have handled death cases, and that is very, very solemn. Larry, prosecutors have to go to bed at night knowing in their heart they did the right thing by offering this alternative to a jury. This is the law of the land. And you've got to be able to deal with that if you handle this type of case. KING: Now, the judge can change it, right?

CARDOZA: Absolutely. The judge can change it.

KING: He can't make life death, but he can make death life.

CARDOZA: He can. He can do that.

KING: And that can be appeal if he were to change it.

CARDOZA: Absolutely. So, day of sentencing, if Judge Delucchi wants to change from it death to life, he can do that. With Delucchi's background though, some 22, 23 death penalty cases, I don't see that happening.

KING: We'll be back with our panel and include your phone calls. Don't go away.


RON GRANTSKI, LACI PETERSON'S STEPFATHER: Our friends, family, country, searched for Laci, everywhere. There wasn't one place that wasn't searched. They had no -- no reason to doubt that it was Scott who did what he did, and he got what he deserved.




GREGORY BERATLIS, PETERSON JUROR: If those bodies had never been found or had been found in the desert or Yosemite National Park we wouldn't be here. But those bodies were found in the one place he went prior to her being missing by anybody else, or knowing when she was missing. That was the one place. And I played it in my mind over and over. Conspiracy, was somebody trying to set up Scott, was somebody after Laci? It didn't add up for me.


KING: Ted Rowlands, what was your reaction to the juror statements?

ROWLANDS: I think that they were very frank. Obviously they showed a lot of emotion. One of the things they kept saying is that, we're talking to you people really for the first time about talking about this case. It was unrehearsed. It was very enlightening to see where they were coming from. I think they exceeded everybody's expectations as to how seriously they took this. They were very quick to point out that when people were cheering outside the courthouse at the end of the guilt phase, cheering the jury on, the jury themselves were offended by that. And they said, this is no laughing matter. They took it very seriously. They were very emotional during this whole process. And I think that they were a good group of 14 people that came to this conclusion. KING: Richard Cole, how did you regard them?

COLE: Well, I think it was very clear listening to them, they talked -- they didn't talk a lot about the evidence. As a matter of fact, that clip that you just played was one of the few times any evidence of the case came up in an hour, hour-long press conference. What we did hear a lot of was emotion. The anger of the jurors at Scott's demeanor. And the anger of the jurors at the lies that he told to his mistress. The anger of the jurors at his being on the phone with Amber Frey before Laci's memorial ceremony on December 31, 2002. It was palpable. At one point, one of the jurors said, he was Laci's husband. He was Conner's daddy. He should have been protecting them. and that's when you really got the emotion and you really felt what that jury had been through. And they did not like the guy. It was very, very clear.

KING: Nancy, does emotion play a part? Should you judge someone by whether you like him?

GRACE: Absolutely not. I have said from the beginning, this is not a personality contest. Nobody is going home crowned homecoming queen. It's not about that. And the reality is, though, I also heard these jurors stating that they could hardly sleep at night. That this was such a solemn event. Some of them lucky to get three hours of sleep a night. I heard one juror in particular say that it was many, many pieces of evidence, specifically as Richard pointed out night after night, the location of the bodies. And he was right. The location of the bodies seemed to weigh in the jurors' minds. Along with Scott Peterson's demeanor. Not only his demeanor and the location, but his lies. As one of the jurors said, why would you have to lie about being on a particular area of the highway? Why would you lie to your own mom? There was no reason unless there was a cover-up. All these things together, these jurors indicated, three out of 12, was their reason for finding guilt and death.

KING: Michael, is it the case it looks like a duck, it acts like a duck, it walks like a duck, it's a duck?

CARDOZA: Absolutely. Jurors think that way.

KING: What's wrong with that thinking?

CARDOZA: There's nothing wrong with that at times. When Nancy talks about jurors don't decide things on emotion, I've been trying cases 30 years. That's exactly what they do. Should they do it that way? No. Because there's no sympathy, passion, prejudice. But that's what they do. This case was replete with emotion. In fact, at the beginning of the case when those jurors came in, look how hard it was to pick these jurors. Those jurors said, yes, they had a belief that Scott may have done it. Some of them said, I do believe he did it, but I can put that aside. This was really a unique jury. In fact, one that I would think that maybe the burden of proof was changed a little bit where they looked to the defense and said, you prove to us that he's innocent, not to the D.A.

KING: Chuck, do you believe that? SMITH: I think emotion played a huge role in the conviction and an enormous role in the death verdict. That testimony of Sharon Rocha during the penalty phase was so emotional, so gut-wrenching. And all 12 of those people were crying with her. I think they went back there to deliberate this penalty. They said to themselves, we need to take care of Sharon Rocha. We need to give her what she will perceive as justice. And what they perceived she would want is the death penalty. I think emotion explains why they came back with death as opposed to life without parole.

KING: Trent, why was this a death penalty case?

COPELAND: I'm not sure that it should have been. I think emotion, as Chuck has indicated and Michael indicated earlier, are clear reasons why this was a death penalty case. I think emotion, I think media coverage, I think the saturation...

KING: We don't know how she was killed.

COPELAND: The fact of the matter is statistically domestic violence murders, as horrific as they are, when a husband murders his wife, are typically not cases that are filed as death penalty cases. They just aren't. The fact is there has to be something more. There are two other cases in northern California that were also death penalty cases where a husband murdered his wife, but there were extenuating circumstances. The heinousness of the crime. We knew how those women died. One was shot to death, she bled to death, painfully so. One on Halloween night was slashed with a machete by her husband in front of their 4-year-old daughter. Those cases according to the prosecutors and jurors constituted death penalty cases. In a case like this where we don't know the how, when, where, whether Laci Peterson even suffered, aren't normally death penalty cases. It strikes me as odd that this case was filed...

KING: Nancy, would you have filed for death penalty in this?

GRACE: I certainly would. I don't think there's any mystery why this was a death penalty case. More than one person under California law was killed one of those being a tiny, defenseless baby. And if you sit there and can bring yourself to think about it for a minute, instead of arguing back and forth and being clever and making the right objection, if you think about that baby dying in her womb, this close to being born, and the callous way in which her body was thrown into that choppy cold water, then leaving her family to hang for 116 days, begging people to come find her, that's why this case was the death penalty.

COPELAND: Larry, that's precisely why this case should not have been a death penalty case. I mean, it is under the law of California, and Nancy cites the law and correctly so. But every double murder case does not constitute a death penalty case.

GRACE: That's not what I said.

COPELAND: The fact of the matter is...

GRACE: I said that's why this one was a death penalty.

COPELAND: The fact of the matter is, Nancy, that circumstances following the murders, following the murders, are not circumstances under California law that should ever be considered in determining whether or not the case proceeds to death penalty.

KING: You mean how he dumped the body?

COPELAND: How he dumped the body, whether or not this family had 116 agonizing days. Everyone sympathizes with that. How he behaved after the fact with Amber Frey. Although those things are clearly inflammatory, they are not the kinds of things the jury should consider in considering death, and they did, clearly.

CARDOZA: Look what the jurors said after when they were interviewed. They talked about how Peterson acted after, after the homicide. They talked about that. They said they took that into consideration. And even how he acted in the courtroom. And I feel sorry for the defense there, because most defense attorneys tell their client, don't react in the courtroom, keep it on the down low. Because the jurors may misinterpret that. So what does this jury do? They spin it the other way and say, no emotion, therefore he must have done it.

KING: Got to get a break. We'll go to calls at the bottom of the hour on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't to away.


STEVE CARDOSI, JURY FOREMAN: It's hard to narrow it down to one specific issue or topic. There are many. Collaboratively, when you add it all up, it didn't -- there doesn't appear to be any other possibility.




RICHELLE NICE, JUROR: Scott Peterson was Laci's husband, Connor's daddy. Someone should have -- the one person that should have protected them. And for him to have done that. That's it.


KING: Chuck Smith, was this case well defended?

SMITH: You know, Mark Geragos has been getting hit so hard by everyone. You know, in this business, you're either a hero or a bum. And that's the sad part about it. I thought Mark Geragos overall did a fine job. I mean, he was outstanding. I mean, six months ago in the first couple of months of this trial, I mean, everyone was raving about how he was destroying the prosecution case. And that was accurate. I mean, the fact that he lost, it's not his fault. Could he have done some things better? Sure. But you know, hindsight is always 20/20. It's easy to second-guess. I mean, overall, he conducted himself beautifully. He fought hard for his client. I really don't think he deserves the bashing that he is getting.

I tell you, he was a real gentleman in this community. And he made a lot of friends in this community and conducted himself just in really the highest standards of our profession in this community. And I think in the trial.

KING: Nancy, what do you think?

GRACE: Well, I'll be blunt. I think that he did a fine job in the courtroom, but I think he lost basically in opening statement, when he promised to deliver things to a jury he never brought forward. Not only didn't bring forward, but didn't bring a scintilla of evidence to support much of what he said in opening statement. That's a cardinal rule, never promise what you can't deliver.

And I think that is where he lost the case. And as the case progressed and the jury started seeing that, they began to lose confidence in Geragos. You remember how great he was doing on cross- exams at the beginning, Larry, when everyone was attacking the prosecution and saying, oh, they're bumbling around, they're horrible? And Geragos was really zinging in on cross-exams. But then when it got time for him to stand up and put something on, everything went down the crapper. And I think that's where he lost this jury, in opening statement.

KING: One of the jurors was asked about Geragos. Let's see what they said.


GREGORY BERATLIS, JUROR: For me, Mr. G would be a person I would want to represent me in any situation. I thought that he was very thorough. I think that there was no stone unturned that he didn't -- I mean, I think he did a very good job of presenting his side.


KING: Michael Cardoza?

CARDOZA: I think he did a wonderful job. Especially in the prosecution's half of the case. The cross-examinations were brilliant.

KING: What about Nancy's point about promises at the beginning?

CARDOZA: Well, I can't disagree with Nancy there. That's difficult. Because as a defense attorney, you never want to promise jurors anything. You want to attack the prosecution case. You prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. Not my job as a defense attorney.

You know, right at the beginning of this case I think Geragos had an uphill battle. I'm not sure, we can Monday morning quarterback this from now to forever. And it's going to make no difference. I'm not sure if he could have changed anything.

One thing I would say that I was a little disappointed in was the defense half of the case, because it seemed to collapse right in the middle. He started off fairly strongly. The one doctor got on and just blew up in his face. And then from there, it was downhill. That didn't bode well for him.

KING: You agree, Trent?

COPELAND: You know, I do. And I think the doctor that Michael is referring to is Dr. March, and that's the doctor that he said would help establish the gestational age of Connor Peterson. He said that at the beginning of the case, he said it throughout his portion of the case. I think when Dr. March simply could not come through with that, the defense case at that point seemed to collapse. And that really was the turning point. That is, this jury could not rely on the single-most important expert witness for the defense. When they couldn't rely on him, they simply couldn't rely on anything the defense was offering at that point by way of forensic evidence.

COLE: You know, I'd like to very respectfully dissent a little bit here from some of this. You know, we just listened to the jurors for over an hour talk about the case. And they didn't mention any of these things. They talked about the prosecution's key points. Which were, Scott's demeanor, his talking to his mistress, his lies and where the bodies were found. Period. They never said, you know, we thought the defense should have done this, or we had some questions about that, or they overpromised this. They didn't mention any of this stuff that we're hearing now. What they did mention was...

SMITH: You're breaking our heart.

COLE: Well, I'm sorry, Chuck.

SMITH: You're just breaking our heart. It's supposed to be about the lawyers. That's what we do what we do for. You've got to give the lawyers some credit.

COLE: I think they listened -- they listened to the prosecution's case, and they believed it. And that's what it comes down to. And I just don't think that it was anything that Mark Geragos -- well, I won't say that. I don't know if he could have done something differently or not. But from what, the way the jurors talked today, they were convinced by the main points the prosecution made, which was the bodies were found in the bay where he said he was. He had a strange demeanor. He lied a lot. And that was enough.

KING: We'll take a break and come back and go to your phone calls. More comments from our panel. Another show on this tomorrow night, by the way. Don't go away.


MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Obviously, we plan on pursuing every and all appeals, motions for a new trial, and everything else. All I'd ask is that you respect Jackie and Lee and the family's privacy for the next week or so. At some point shortly, they'll make a statement or do a press conference. And at that time, they'll agree to field whatever questions that they will.

In the interim, I hope you can understand that it's a very difficult time. And that's all I've got to say. Thank you very much.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People of the state of California versus Scott Peterson. We the jury in the above entitled cause fix the penalty at death. Dated December 13, 2004, foreperson number 6.


KING: Our panel consists, in Redwood City, Ted Rowlands, CNN correspondent. One of the few on camera interviews with Peterson. The prosecution played it during the trial. Nancy Grace, the Court TV anchor and former prosecutor on the scene right there in Redwood City. Here in Los Angeles, Michael Cardoza, former Alameda County prosecutor. October 18 he publicly announced he had done a Q&A session with Scott Peterson at the defense's request. And he therefore came under a gag order. In Redwood City, Chuck Smith, the former San Mateo prosecutor, six years a homicide prosecutor, now in private practice. In Los Angeles, the noted defense attorney Trent Copeland. And in Redwood City Richard Cole has covered this case for the Daily News Group including the Redwood City Daily News. Veteran crime and trial reporter. Let's go to calls. Anaheim, California.

CALLER: Thank you for taking my call. My question is for Mr. Cardoza. I would like to know why he took the time in speaking with Scott. And did he really think, after all the lies Scott Peterson told he was going to be able to prep him for the jury?

CARDOZA: No, see, that wasn't my job, to prep him for the jury. My job, because I was an ex-prosecutor, was to go in and crossexamine Scott Peterson. It was up to the defense, Geragos and Harris, to prepare him to testify in front of the jury, if that's what they chose to do. So all I did was go back into my old role as a district attorney and I crossexamined Mr. Peterson, left it up to them.

KING: You were strong, aggressive?

CARDOZA: Well, that's my style.

KING: But that's what they wanted you to be.

CARDOZA: That's what they wanted was to go after him. In one of my trials I was so aggressive the guy jumped off the witness stand in front of the jury and chased me. Believe me, I was running scared in that courtroom. It was an interesting two-minute verdict. I was aggressive.

KING: Henderson, Tennessee, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. Thanks for taking my call. My question is for Ted Rowlands. Congratulations, Ted, on being a CNN correspondent. Doing a great job. I want to know, after nearly two years of listening to all of this, talking to court watchers, lawyers, and the media, what is the most compelling evidence that convicted Scott Peterson to you?

ROWLANDS: I think the fact that the bodies were found where he was fishing was the most compelling piece of physical evidence. If you think Scott Peterson did it, his actions after his wife went missing are repulsive. If you don't think he did it, then the actions are just a little strange. But I think that the bodies showing up where he was fishing by far and away the most compelling evidence. It's hard really to get around that. And the Peterson family and the defense believes that whoever did this took the time then to dump Laci and Conner in the bay to frame Scott Peterson because of all of the attention that this case got. And it's a viable explanation for that. But I think in all, the answer to the question is those bodies.

KING: Nancy, if he had acted differently, if there were no lies and stuff, he had shown great concern, but the bodies showed up where they showed up, do you think he'd still have been convicted?

GRACE: Yes, I do. I think he would have been convicted. There may not have been a death penalty response. But I think he would have been convicted. Because there's really no explanation for that. And Larry, in closing arguments, the guilt/innocence phase, the prosecution went through every single day of the "Modesto Bee," of the "Contra Costa Times," (ph) to say it wasn't out where he had been fishing. So how could someone have put the bodies in that location? It was well into January that it was actually released it was at Berkeley Marina, San Francisco Bay. So the ridiculous theory that someone was framing Scott Peterson slowly dawned on this jury. They were all looking around at each other during that argument in closing statement when it really hit them, how crazy of a defense that was.

KING: Before I take the next call, you wanted to say something, Michael?

CARDOZA: With all the emotion that followed this case, I don't agree with Nancy. I think a jury would have a much more difficult time in convicting him. That was the one thing they looked to. 100 miles away was the body, 100 miles away was where Peterson went fishing. They really looked to, how did you act after? Nothing before. How did you act after? That's what walked this guy right into at first.

KING: Chuck, do you agree?

SMITH: I agree with Michael. If on December 25 Scott Peterson had said to Amber Frey, I'm not talking to you anymore, Amber, my wife's missing, I'm desperately searching for her, stopped the relationship, he'd be walking the streets today instead of sitting in the jail beyond my shoulder.

KING: Richard, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) he was convicted on what he -- not that he murdered her but what he did after her murdered her?

COLE: I think there's a great deal of truth to that. I think if you listen to the jurors and you heard what they said, when they got emotional, when they got upset, when they went back to what really convinced them, it was things like that. It was talking to Amber Frey from his wife's memorial service. It was lies that he told. I agree with the contention.

GRACE: You guys don't get it. You don't get it. He was the last one with her. He was the last one to see her. Even by his own statements, he couldn't keep his story straight for one day. He told two people he was golfing. Everybody else he was fishing. He's fishing where the bodies pop up. It is so clear-cut.

SMITH: Without those Amber tapes, Nancy, they would have lost. They would not have won but for the Amber tapes.

KING: Trent, what do you think?

COLE: I think once Amber Frey and those tapes were introduced into this case, everything seemed to change. The jury was able to look at Scott Peterson differently. To hear that Scott Peterson was talking to Amber Frey, his mistress, while at his wife's vigil, whispering sweet nothings to her, talking about travel plans they would make together, changed the complexion of the case, changed how the jury was able to see him. I don't think that this case would have been tried as a first degree death penalty case had it not been for Amber Frey and the existence of those tapes.

KING: But being a cad does count, doesn't it, Michael?

CARDOZA: It does count.

KING: You are what you are.

CARDOZA: It does count. When you look at the evidence after, it's circumstantial evidence. What the jury did was bootstrap backwards and say, look how he acted, he acted guilty. One would make that argument. I really disagree with Nancy. I agree with Chuck, I think he would have walked on this or he would have had a hung jury.

KING: Halifax, Nova Scotia, hello.

CALLER: Is it common for a jury in a high profile case such as this to speak so soon after a sentence is passed down? And how do you think the families reacted to the press conference?

KING: Richard?

COLE: It's very smart of a jury to do this. Because if they don't do this, they're going to be hounded at home. Everybody in the press corps knows who those jurors are, they know where they live, they know their addresses, phone numbers. They'll get hounded anyway. At least a lot of people will accept this press conference and stop pestering them every minute of the day. It's a very good thing that they do it. In something like this, I think the jury felt they had a responsibility. They knew that emotion. They were very upset with the cheering after the guilty verdict. They made that very clear. They thought that they had an obligation to come out here and explain to the people, this is what we did. This is why we did it. We're not gloating. We're not happy about it. But we feel we had a responsibility to do it. And I think they came off very well. And I think that they probably staved off an awful lot of media attention that would have followed them home had they not done that.

KING: How did the families come off, Nancy?

GRACE: I think the families came off as weak and worn out. I noticed Ron Grantski was actually shaking a little bit. And he has been as strong as a bull throughout all of this. I've watched him every single day and spoken to him on occasions. Not about the facts -- but he's been strong throughout. Today, it just seemed as if instead of blood in their veins, they had ice water running through their veins. And I know for a fact that after the death penalty was announced, that the family -- Laci's family anyway -- went into a separate room and they all broke down in tears. No high-fives, no excitement, no jubilation. Just sheer exhaustion.

KING: How about, Ted, the Peterson family? How did they compose themselves?

ROWLANDS: Well, I think that today, they came in expecting this to be the verdict. So they didn't react to it. They were well prepared for this. Mark Geragos talked to them immediately after. And I think that they are holding on to what they believe is the truth. And they are holding on to the idea that Scott is innocent, and over time, they will find what happened. They're using that as a sense -- a source of power. And it is getting them through.

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


CARDOSI: If he was innocent, he -- he lost his wife and his child. And it didn't seem to faze him. And while that was going on, they're looking for his wife and his child, he's romancing a girlfriend. That's -- that doesn't make sense to me.




BERATLIS: I would have liked to have heard something out of his mouth, yes. Anything. A plea for his life, or just his opinion on everything that went on in the last two years. But I never got that. And I couldn't use that for any decision-making. And I realize that. But I would have liked to have heard something out of his voice. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Beaufort, South Carolina, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: Great panel.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: My question is for Nancy Grace. We love you in South Carolina, Nancy. My question is, why do you think this case got so much publicity with all the domestic violence cases in this country today? Why do you think this one got publicity over any I've ever heard of?

GRACE: That's a really good question. I think in the midst of this case, two separate studies came out that the number one cause of death amongst pregnant women is homicide. And when people realized that, this case took on a new significance, as did Laci's death. And not only that, that smile. That smile of Laci Peterson. You can't look at those beautiful brown eyes and that big smile and not remember it.

And the timing. Taken on Christmas Eve? Her body emerges on Easter weekend? I mean, those elements in my mind all played into a fascination. Plus, it was kind of a whodunit.

KING: Also, you think this was an emotional case?

CARDOZA: Oh, no question about it. And why did it take on the national attention? Look at the beautiful smile. I mean, a wonderful human being was lost here. And I guess we could say to the credit of the Rochas and Mr. Grantski, they kept it out there. They kept it in the public. They made people care about it.

KING: Cedar Rapids, Iowa, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Thanks for taking my call. My question is, why do you think that Scott Peterson -- he showed absolutely no emotion. He didn't seem glad, mad, sad, nothing. Did Mark Geragos sit down and talk to him and say, you just have to sit there emotionless?

KING: Well, you know Scott, Michael, what do you make of this?

CARDOZA: Well, I know what defense attorneys do with their clients in courtrooms. They tell them not to have outbursts.

KING: But you had to cross-examine them.

CARDOZA: Well, I understand, but I can't get into how he acted or what he did during that cross-examination. But I can tell you from watching the Peterson family and how they react to things, he's very much in step with the rest of the family. KING: Stoic.

CARDOZA: Very stoic. And that hurt him in this case.

KING: Richard, do you think that played a part, the way he looked?

COLE: Oh, absolutely. It was referred to by one of the jurors during the press conference. She really, really zeroed in on his lack of emotion. Another juror in that same press conference seemed like he kept track of how many times he saw tears in Scott's eyes. He was kind of rattling them off -- when his cousin was on the stand -- but they seemed to be almost mesmerized with his lack of reaction.

And I absolutely agree, that is a family trait. As you got to know the Petersons, you see that that's just the way -- they even talked about it. You know, something goes wrong, you don't complain, you don't cry, you don't whine, you pick yourself up and you try to get it fixed and you go on to the next thing. And that was disastrous for him.

KING: Chuck, should that matter, how he appears in court?

SMITH: It shouldn't matter. But there was something not normal. When he was convicted back on November 12th, here's a guy, he and his lawyers have said, I'm not the guy that did it. You know, instead of turning to his lawyers, throwing up his hands like, how could this happen? What happened? This is wrong. No, an outburst, no. Like an innocent guy would do. You know, he sat there and stared straight ahead, almost like he knew it and expected it. And the juror talked about it today.

Should it matter? No. But in the human drama that a courtroom trial is, it does matter. It obviously mattered for that juror.

KING: Because I would have said to myself, if you accused me of something I didn't do, I'd be yelling every day, I don't care what my lawyer told me. I'd be yelling out in court, "Killer on the loose!"

CARDOZA: No question about it. But it's almost you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't if you're Geragos, because you tell him not to react, and he takes it literally. Do defense attorneys then tell their clients, look, if it comes back guilty and we're about to go to death, react, jump up, look at that jury and scream "Damn, I didn't do it!" And maybe you'll get a better verdict in the death portion of the case.

KING: Sacramento, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Thanks for taking my call.

KING: Hi. Sure.

CALLER: My question is for Nancy. First, thanks for all your passionate reporting. My question is, in the state of California, is Scott Peterson allowed to give any on-camera interviews from death row?

GRACE: Well, here's the reality. The jail house, the prison where he's at, may not allow it. But here's the surprising thing. The Son of Sam protections, which at one time across this country disallowed convicted killers from making money off their crime, has been reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court. They can sell a screenplay, a book, a movie if they want to. So don't be surprised when that happens.

And tonight, we're hearing a lot about how this jury decided on emotion. But I listened to them today. I heard them. They even talked about the fact that there were no ligature marks around baby Connor's neck. They talked about the location. They talked about the various lies. They talked about so much of the evidence. This is not a case grounded in emotion. It just seems to me that a lot of people tonight don't want to believe in the jury verdict.

KING: We'll be right back with our remaining moments after these words.


RON GRANTSKI, LACI PETERSON'S STEPFATHER: We've got a lot of -- a lot of holidays, dates coming up that are going to be very hard on us. As a matter of fact, Wednesday, the 15th, was the last time Sharon and I saw Laci alive. As you know about Christmas, New Year's, birthdays. So I'm hoping you all will just give us some time.




NICE: Little man was the hardest for my. Little man. That's what I call him, Connor. That was the hardest for me. Because as I said, that was his daddy who did that. You know, his daddy should have been the protector of him. And instead, he took his life. So that was hard for me.


KING: San Luis Obispo, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Thanks for taking my call.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: My question is for Michael Cardoza. With no forensic evidence connecting Scott to this crime, and with Scott having no prior criminal record or history, what's the criteria for the judge to consider if he were to overturn this death penalty?

CARDOZA: Well, what the judge...

KING: That would be one of the things, right? He could do it on that?

CARDOZA: Oh, absolutely, he can do it on that. Will he do it? I don't think so in this case at all. He looks at the facts of the case. He really looks to the emotion of the case. Because he can ferret out the emotion from the real facts of the case.

But I got to tell you, in this case, it's not going to happen.

KING: Winter Springs, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. My question is for anyone. Seeing as Scott was never in trouble before with the law, he seems to -- everybody seemed he's a great person, do people think he did plan this? Or do you think this was a snap rage where he may have killed her?

KING: Chuck, what do you think happened?

SMITH: You know, that's one of the big problems with this defense penalty phase evidence. They put on 39 witnesses who really painted the picture of a real decent human being that Scott Peterson was. But they never put on a psychiatrist, a psychologist, anybody to explain why did this happen? You know, when we talked months and months ago, Larry, about, you know, was this a situation where Laci just came at him on Christmas Eve morning about his affairs and his philandering and he just lost it and had an argument and hit her or put his arms around her? You know, I don't know. Those are the great mysteries. But that was the big problem in the defense penalty phase case. Because they put on all kinds of evidence of good deeds, good things that he did. Good, normal kid. But no explanation as to why this could have happened, what snapped.

KING: But they're saying he didn't do it. So how could they put that explanation on, Chuck?

SMITH: See, they could have. And again, this is one of those subtle things I think a penalty -- a death penalty defense attorney has to do. Has to put on some explanation for the jury. I mean, it's a fine line to walk. I don't deny that. But I think a defense attorney has an obligation, even if the position is, my client didn't do it, to put on evidence so that the jury can say, OK, OK, we accept it. We accept that maybe something happens to a man in this situation. You're trying to save your client's life. You have to try.

KING: Trent?

COPELAND: I agree with that. And I think there is some room, and I think it's a small window, but I think in that window, Larry, without conceding guilt, without admitting guilt, I think you've got to demonstrate that there could have been something that went on in Scott Peterson's life that could have affected it. Remember, Jackie Peterson has a very, very difficult past that she clearly and heroically came through. But somehow or another, maybe through her own parenting, maybe that affected Scott Peterson. I don't know. But the fact is clearly there was room for that to have gone in without conceding guilt.

KING: And Ted Rowlands, February 25th is the official sentencing date, right?

ROWLANDS: Right. Whereas you alluded to, Judge Delucchi has the option to change this sentence to life without parole, but as Michael said, the possibilities of that are pretty small, it could seem. We'll find out on February 25th. And before that, Scott Peterson will remain here in Redwood City rather than go back to Modesto. That was decided a while back. After that, assuming that the judge doesn't change the sentence, he'll go off to San Quentin.

KING: Thank you all very much. We'll do much more on this tomorrow night as well. Ted Rowlands in Redwood City. Nancy Grace in Redwood City. Michael Cardoza here in Los Angeles. Chuck Smith in Redwood City. Trent Copeland in Los Angeles. And Richard Cole in Redwood City. An outstanding panel. Turbulent times, tough six months. It may not even be over yet. But the official sentencing is February 25th. And of course, then the appeals process begins.

I'll be back to tell you about tomorrow night right after this.


KING: Tomorrow night, more on the aftermath of the Peterson case. Aaron Brown is on assignment tonight. So, "NEWSNIGHT" will be capably handled by the one and only, Miles O'Brien. Miles is in Atlanta, still desirous of going into space.


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