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A Look Back at the Laci Peterson Murder Investigation
Aired December 29, 2006 - 20:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight, inside the Laci Peterson murder investigation. Christmas Eve, 2003, the 27-year-old mom-to-be vanishes from her Modesto, California, home. The last person to see her alive? Her husband, Scott Peterson. He says he left his 8-month-pregnant wife at home alone for a fishing trip solo. And tonight, an exclusive look inside 523 Covina Avenue. That`s the Modesto home where Scott and Laci Peterson lived before her murder and his murder trial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARON ROCHA, LACI PETERSON`S MOTHER: I love my daughter so much. I miss her every minute of every day. Someone has taken all of this away from me and everyone else who loves her. I miss seeing her. I miss our talks together. I miss listening to the excitement in her voice when she talks to me about her baby. I miss sharing our thoughts and our lives together. I miss her smile and her laughter and her sense of humor. The world`s collapsed around me!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) Give me a minute, and I`m heading out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joseph McDonald (ph) doesn`t know Laci Peterson, but four days after her disappearance, McDonald, a project manager at a windmill farm, felt compelled to start looking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, buddy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So he saddled up his horse, Cody (ph). Searching by horseback is not uncommon here in rural areas of California`s Central Valley. It`s a good way to cover more territory, especially along the creeks and rivers.
(on camera): At this point, how much time have you spent searching?
JOSEPH MCDONALD, VOLUNTEER SEARCHER: You know, I haven`t really kept track of it. I`m just out helping every day I can. If I`m not working, I`m out. On the weekends, I`m out. Even to make phone calls, get people to help volunteer, pass out fliers.
Maybe I can get down and walk through there because that is a lot of stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Today it`s along the Tuolumne River near Modesto.
MCDONALD: Yes, that`s too steep. No access down there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (on camera): How difficult is it to search in an area like this?
MCDONALD: It just takes a lot of time. They want us to be really thorough, and if needed, you know, get off the horse, crawl through bushes. Just go anywhere you can.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): But sometimes there are fences and places where the horses just won`t go.
(on camera): Investigators say they welcome the efforts of volunteers like Joseph and his friends combing these riverbanks, but they say they just don`t want them working around the dogs because it could interfere with their ability to pick up a scent.
(voice-over): There are hundreds of miles of rivers near Modesto, and this search, like so many others, ends in vain.
GRACE: Tonight, Peterson`s sister, Anne Bird, the author of "Blood Brother," is with us to explain why she is sure the jury`s verdict was the truth and what the jury never heard. Anne, I`ve read your book, and the one thing I don`t get is why didn`t you testify?
ANNE BIRD, SCOTT PETERSON`S SISTER: I know.
GRACE: This is an incredible book!
BIRD: Actually, I hate to turn it over to Gloria right away, but she`s...
GRACE: Well, why didn`t (INAUDIBLE)
GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: Well, actually, what she did was she did speak with the prosecutor and with the police after she was sure that she felt that what she observed about Scott Peterson might be of value to the prosecution.
They then listened very carefully. And I think that they were intending to call her as a rebuttal witness...
GRACE: As a rebuttal witness.
ALLRED: ... but eventually they decided that they were not going to call any rebuttal witnesses at all.
GRACE: Any rebuttals, that`s right.
ALLRED: They didn`t tell me why they made that decision. But it appears to me, as a lawyer, that it was a tactical judgment because the defense case was so weak, it was not necessary to rebut anything.
GRACE: Well, I remember going around and around with Gloria outside the courthouse as to whether they would put up a rebuttal case. And I think your calculation is correct.
Let me get right down to the book. It`s called "Blood Brother: 33 Reasons My Brother, Scott Peterson, Is Guilty."
Elizabeth, let`s throw up number one -- `flirting with our baby- sitter, made flirtinis, baby-sitter uncomfortable, and left."
OK, what, A, is a "flirtini"? And number two, was this while Laci was missing?
BIRD: This was while Laci was missing. In fact, just weeks after. And a "flirtini" is a martini, and I guess they made it on "Sex and the City," which he used to watch with Laci.
GRACE: OK, now, what happened with the baby-sitter?
BIRD: The baby-sitter, you know, she had two flirtinis that Scott gave her. And she realized that it was a really uncomfortable situation and left.
GRACE: Was he hitting on her?
BIRD: You know, from all appearances, yes.
GRACE: And my question to you is, this was while Laci was missing?
Number two, Elizabeth. "Jackie and Lee" -- that`s Jackie and Lee Peterson -- "telling me that if I asked about the baby-sitter incident, if I was asked about it, I should deny it or not recall it." Explain.
BIRD: You know, I called and talked to Jackie about the baby-sitter incident. And she said if anyone else were to call about it, just say that I -- just deny it. And then in the background, Lee said, Just say you don`t recall it.
GRACE: Well, it was in "The Enquirer." The whole world knows about it. If you go to the grocery store, you know about it because you have to walk right by headlines screaming about hitting on the baby-sitter.
Now, I understand, Gloria, that that in itself does not prove murder. Of course, it does not. But what does it show?
ALLRED: It shows that he doesn`t appear to be a grieving husband because does a grieving husband, not long after his pregnant wife goes missing, spend his time making flirtinis for a baby-sitter, rather than spending his time out there searching for his missing wife?
GRACE: Anne, what about this number three? Elizabeth? "Appeared uninterested in searching for Laci. I brought up ideas and leads from the news, but he had no interest in them."
BIRD: Right. You know, I kept talking to Scott about, you know, the purple car with the Confederate flags and the, you know, white van. And you know, he just had no interest in the searching.
GRACE: What would he say?
BIRD: He said nothing, you know, just no interest.
GRACE: This is what I don`t get, Anne. While all these volunteers were out with the flyers, walking hand-in-hand through the park, what was he doing?
BIRD: Nothing. I mean, he was, you know, kind of helping me out around the house. I was very curious as to why he wasn`t doing anything, but it was really hard to point a finger because I`m thinking, He`s a grieving person. You know, give him a little bit of space. Maybe this is the way he`s grieving.
GRACE: Well, how much space did he need after a couple of months?
GRACE: OK, Elizabeth, what about this one regarding the dinner table? Now, I think only a woman would have noticed this.
"I saw the table setting from the `People` magazine photo, and it looked like Scott set the table for Christmas Eve."
Now, if Peterson set the table for Christmas Eve, that says to me that he was trying to make it look as if Laci were alive longer, that she set the table. Why did it not fit for you? What was wrong with the table?
BIRD: It`s missing everything. It`s missing the table linens...
GRACE: I noticed the same thing.
BIRD: ... the napkins, the glasses.
GRACE: I noticed the same thing.
BIRD: And I`ve set a table with Laci, you know, and she does everything perfectly. So this was not a Laci table.
GRACE: Wasn`t she into Martha Stewart?
GRACE: And I saw the picture of this table, everybody. And there would be a plate and a fork and then another plate and another fork. I mean, it was not set up for a Christmas Eve dinner.
BIRD: It was, yes, just Christmas crackers all the way around the table. And that is a finishing touch that you put on at the very end.
GRACE: No, that`s so not Laci.
BIRD: So I don`t know whether you put your plate over it. I`m not sure.
GRACE: Hey, Elizabeth, before we go, this is something a lot of people have asked me about. Could you throw this one up, Elizabeth?
"Two of Scott`s cousins said he was investigated in connection with another missing girl, Kristin Smart (ph), the girl from San Luis Obispo missing since 1996."
What can you tell me about that?
BIRD: Right. You know, I guess Scott was living in San Luis Obispo at that time. So he was investigated, according to these two cousins. And I don`t know what that entails. I`m not quite sure, you know, how investigated he was.
GRACE: Wow. Because all along, we were told he had absolutely no connection to do with that girl whatsoever. And this was way back in 1996.
You once supported Scott Peterson 100 percent.
BIRD: I did, initially.
GRACE: Totally believed he was innocent.
BIRD: I did, yes.
GRACE: What pushed you over the edge, Anne?
BIRD: You know, it was when Laci and Conner`s bodies washed up and...
GRACE: Where he had been fishing.
BIRD: Where he had been fishing, which was hard to get around. And also, I was the first person to let him know that they had discovered some bodies.
GRACE: My question is -- you went, actually, to see him behind bars, hoping that he could convince you otherwise.
GRACE: What happened?
BIRD: Well, actually, recently, on January 25, I went to go to the jail and see if there was anything there, among other things. You know, I was already writing the book, and I figured this was one last visit, possibly one last visit.
And you know, he didn`t say anything. He actually referred to Laci and Conner as his family. He said, I lost my family 18 months ago, which was actually when he was arrested, not when they were lost. And he doesn`t even call them by name.
GRACE: What did that mean to you?
BIRD: It was sad.
GRACE: I mean, did he talk about Laci and Conner when you went to see him at all?
BIRD: Not at all. He talked about books in the prison. He talked about handing out meals to other inmates. He talked about San Quentin and how, you know, he probably, you know, wouldn`t be there very long. There was one guy in the jail in Redwood City that I guess used to clean kind of around death row, and he told me a little bit about it. It was so dismal. And it was really difficult.
GRACE: So at no point did he talk about, I can`t believe Laci and Conner are gone, I can`t get over -- nothing?
BIRD: Nothing. It was mostly about himself. And he had a soul patch that he had grown on his chin that he said he looked at in the stainless steel toilet to look at.
GRACE: OK. Question regarding your family. How are they taking this book? I would imagine not very well.
BIRD: My personal family, my adopted family, you know, it`s been hard all the way around, but they`re doing well. My brothers and my sister are fine. The Peterson family isn`t taking the book very well.
GRACE: What happened?
BIRD: They sent an e-mail saying that I was no longer welcome. I actually still haven`t read it. I couldn`t bring myself to read it.
GRACE: You`ve read it, right, Gloria?
ALLRED: Yes. The e-mail, which she believes is from Lee Peterson, was sent to her and indicated to her that she was no longer welcome in their home. And that was really hard. And I imagine that Scott Peterson would still be welcome in their home. He`s a convicted double murderer who`s murdered Jackie`s daughter-in-law and Jackie`s grandson-to-be. But the biological daughter of Jackie, who is out there to tell the truth, as she knows it, apparently, according to the e-mail, she wouldn`t be welcome, if we were to believe Lee, if he sent it.
Now, she has since received a telephone voice-mail from Jackie indicating that Jackie`s aware that Anne has said on the air that she hopes the doors are still open to her relationship and to please call her. So maybe Jackie wants to have a relationship. But if she does, it`s got be based on the truth because Anne will only have a relationship based on truth and she will not have one based on lies.
GRACE: Well, this book is -- I wish you had taken the stand, actually, because this is an incredible book.
Elizabeth, can you put up screen number seven? "Scott claimed he had a delusion of speaking into the mirror and talking to Laci after her disappearance."
What did Laci say to him, Turn yourself in? I mean, what was she supposed to have said to him?
BIRD: Apparently, she asked, you know, how he was doing and stuff. So I`m not quite sure what that meant.
GRACE: And stuff. I think if someone appeared from the dead to me and I had a conversation in the mirror, I would remember what they said.
GRACE: So what was the "stuff" she talked about? He wasn`t clear?
BIRD: I don`t know. I`m not sure. He actually said it after I told him that I saw Sharon Rocha on the news saying that she thought she saw Laci sitting on the couch, and Laci turned to her and smiled and said, "Hi, Mom," which, you know, apparently is brought on by, you know, extreme grief. And that after I finished that sentence, Scott said, "Oh, well, I saw Laci in the mirror."
GRACE: Oh, yes, I saw her, too. I remember now. OK.
Anne, regarding the book, are you glad you wrote it?
BIRD: I really am. I mean, this has been so relieving for me. You know, it`s important.
GRACE: It must have been a lot to carry around because he lived at your place, right?
GRACE: For how long?
BIRD: You know, off and on for two months.
GRACE: Did you ever believe that thing about his hair getting bleached orange from jumping in a pool?
GRACE: OK, just wanted to make sure.
GRACE: Anne Bird is with us tonight. She has written a fantastic book. It`s called "Blood Brother." And it talks about the time Scott Peterson lived there with her awaiting trial, their relationship, and 33 major reasons that she is convinced Peterson is guilty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What a nightmare. It hasn`t changed. It`s still a nightmare. This should never have happened. This hurts too many people for no reason. But justice was served.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: When we come back, the Laci Peterson investigation goes from a missing persons case to possible foul play.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: For over a year now, I`ve heard about 523 Covina. I`ve memorized every line of the police report. I`ve looked at pictures over and over. And here we are at Laci`s home. It`s lovely. The front yard is full of beautiful oak trees, some palm trees. The house is surrounded by shrubs.
When you look at this tree-lined neighborhood, it`s gorgeous. You never get that from the pictures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: The whereabouts of Laci`s husband, Scott Peterson, at the time she goes missing becomes more and more unusual as the days go by, especially when it`s discovered he`s having an affair with a single Fresno mom, Amber Frey, and that he took out a $250,000 life insurance policy on his pregnant wife. Laci Peterson`s family starts to back off supporting their son-in-law, Scott Peterson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: When you look back, you look at the courtship, the whirlwind courtship, the investigation, the realization of who you had been sleeping with, who you have been dating, what is your most vivid memory, your most vivid image of Scott Peterson?
AMBER FREY, SCOTT PETERSON`S FORMER LOVER: Before or after...
GRACE: The whole time. When you think of Scott Peterson tonight, what do you think of?
FREY: You know, I think of somebody that I didn`t really know. I mean, I think of, you know, a wolf in sheep`s clothing is what I think of.
GRACE: Do you remember that first moment you laid eyes on him?
FREY: I do.
GRACE: Tell me.
FREY: I thought he was attractive, good-looking, nice smile, you know, a lot of potential, a lot of possibility, you know, just...
GRACE: When you say potential, what do you mean by that, that he`s good-looking, he`s got an education, he`s got money?
GRACE: Did you -- be honest. Did you think almost at the beginning about a future with him? I mean, isn`t it just natural sometimes?
FREY: Well, from everything I knew, from my good friend, Shawn (ph), and you know, just the history that, you know, we shared together, and then, you know, for the first time, she`s, you know, introducing somebody to me, you know, I had no other thoughts than, you know, he might be the one.
GRACE: Now, OK. Honest answer.
GRACE: How long after you met him -- and you may be like every other girl in America, for all I know. You meet this guy and think, I could see him walking down the aisle. Did you or didn`t you? Did you think that after the first date?
FREY: Well, I thought definitely, you know, he was somebody that I could see. And I wasn`t the only one.
GRACE: Well, OK, is that a yes?
GRACE: OK. I knew it! I knew it because you fell for him like a ton of bricks. I don`t care what Mark Geragos says, he was obsessed with you, all right? I know Geragos played it down during the trial, but you fell for him, he fell for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Next, Laci Peterson`s stunning and sudden disappearance. What led investigators to look at her own husband as a suspect?
GRACE: Eight months pregnant and waiting for the birth of her unborn son, Conner, Laci Peterson gets ready for Christmas. It was all about family. So why would a mom-to-be one month from the birth of her first child voluntarily disappear? Suspicions mount.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Peterson`s own story is that he was out here sometime after lunch. So between lunchtime and 5:00 o`clock, Peterson was doing his fishing.
I am looking over at a boat that`s about 80, 90 feet away from us right now. And we can see that there are people on it. You can`t tell what anyone is doing on their boat at that distance. My point is, whenever Peterson was fishing for or doing on the boat, even if there had been people out in the bay that day, would have gone largely unnoticed.
Well, I want you to take a listen to this. We call it the American in Paris.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SCOTT PETERSON: Amber, are you there?
FREY: I`m here.
FREY: I wish you could hear me.
PETERSON: I`m on the (INAUDIBLE) you`re there. I`m near the Eiffel Tower. The New Year`s celebration is unreal. The crowd is huge.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GRACE: Wish could you hear me? Yes, those international connections, they`re awful. But actually, he was just down the road in Modesto. Now, how could you contain yourself? Because when he was claiming to be in Paris, that`s where he was, ducking the camera. There`s Laci`s family, distraught, devastated. He`s there, ducking the camera. Don`t worry, you`re not going to see a picture of him, Amber. He`s trying to talk to you on the phone in the midst of this. How could you hold it in?
FREY: I had to.
GRACE: How? did you do it? How did you psych yourself into it?
FREY: Because I knew that there was a missing woman, that I had to.
GRACE: Did you ever think he would actually tell you the truth, come clean and tell you everything?
FREY: I honestly didn`t know.
GRACE: Now, I know they kept feeding you questions, but you said they just didn`t feel right. And I agree with you, Amber. I mean, all due respect to the cops, who are probably listening right now, but you can`t be in the middle of him reading a love poem to you and you say, Do you have a gun? I mean, it just...
GRACE: The coaching was not the way to go. You handled it much better.
FREY: Let me say the only time that I had anybody in the same room with me while I -- and feeding me questions, was when I was in Modesto Police Department, when he so-called confessed to me. That block of, like, three days was the only time. Other than that, I didn`t have anybody or any law enforcement feeding me anything. It was just me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Next, inside the home of Scott and Laci Peterson, 523 Covina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: We are about half a block from Laci`s home at 523 Covina.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Now, an exclusive tour inside the home of Scott and Laci Peterson.
GRACE: Let`s go out to the house. Standing by at the house with our producer, Steph, is Gerry Roberts, the current owner of the Peterson house. And he is standing in what was once Scott and Laci`s master bedroom.
Now, Gerry, again, why do you want to sell the house so soon?
ROBERTS: Well, you know, Nancy, I really don`t want to have to sell the home, but unfortunately I`ve ran across some financial burdens since I`ve purchased the home, just a lot of tough times.
GRACE: Well, you told our producer you`ve had nothing but bad luck since you bought the home.
ROBERTS: Well, that`s probably about the best way to express it. You know, there`s been a number of different things that have taken place, and I`ve put a lot of money into the home, and it`s just one of those times I guess in life, Nance, and the only way to deal with it is to start over.
GRACE: Do people still come by to look at the home, rubber-neckers, voyeurs?
ROBERTS: Oh, yes, yes, every day, every day. And I was ready to deal with that, though. But, yes, I have a lot of driver-bys all the time.
GRACE: You know, Gerry, when I was there at Laci`s home, standing in the front yard, the breeze was blowing, and I could hear a wind chime behind that fence right there. And it just seemed so peaceful and lovely. It`s hard to imagine that police believe this was the scene of a murder.
What special precautions, if any, are you taking against voyeurs coming in to look at where many people believe Laci was killed?
ROBERTS: What precautions am I taking against people coming in to want to purchase my home?
ROBERTS: Well, I`ve taken probably about the same precautions that was used before. Number one, I have a screening process that all of the potential buyers have to be pre-approved through a lender. And also, I don`t allow any cell phones or any cameras into the house at any time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) we apologize, Scott.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside the Peterson Modesto home Wednesday, police were called in to keep the peace, after radio deejays began shouting questions at Scott Peterson with a bullhorn. Inside, Peterson, under intense public suspicion, talked to selected local reporters, saying he wanted to turn the focus of the case back to finding his wife Laci.
SCOTT PETERSON, HUSBAND OF MISSING WOMAN: I had nothing to do with Laci`s disappearance. Even if you think I did, think about Laci.
GRACE: Gerry, is it ever hard for you to put your head on the pillow when you know that police suspect Laci was killed in that room by her husband?
ROBERTS: Well, you know, that`s a pretty fair question. It never did -- the house has never bothered me. I have had some -- it`s bothered my dog more than it`s bothered me. For the longest time, my dog wouldn`t even come in my master bedroom here, so I never did quite understand that, you know, but it has never bothered me. I`m not one who`s into stuff like that.
GRACE: Do you ever think about it? I`d have a hard time putting my head on the pillow.
ROBERTS: I guess I`d probably be a liar if I said it never crossed my mind, but I don`t dwell on it or nothing. Like I said, the only person it`s bothered the most has been my dog, so -- and he just doesn`t like coming in here, so...
GRACE: Let`s go out to Anne Bremner, a veteran defense attorney out of the Seattle jurisdiction, high-profile lawyer that covered this case. Anne, what do you think the appeals grounds are going to be?
ANNE BREMNER, TRIAL ATTORNEY: Well, I think -- you know, Nancy, I sat with you, and Michael, and Beth, and Gloria, all shoulder-to-shoulder during this trial, and remember that moment when Geragos got up and said in the penalty phase that he wasn`t prepared.
He didn`t think that his client would be convicted; therefore, he wasn`t preparing a defense in the penalty phase. And I think that, in my mind, is the best ground for appeal.
There`s a saying that in America we`ll try anything once, except for criminals, because we have so many re-trials. That can be a reality in a case like this. And, Nancy, you know, in a death case, all of the I`s have to be dotted and all of the T`s crossed, and so there could very likely be a re-trial in this case.
GRACE: Let`s go out to Steph Watts. Tell us what you`re seeing there in the home. I can tell a lot of work`s been done on it.
STEPH WATTS, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: Yes, they did a great job, Nancy. This house has been a center of a lot of mystery. We`ve all wanted to see what it`s look -- what`s it like inside? This is a first-time exclusive look inside. It`s the only time we`re going to ever cameras in here, because Gerry said, after us, that`s it. No one else is coming in the house to shoot.
He`s done a great job. This is the bedroom where they believe the murder happened, Nancy. They`re not 100 percent sure, but this is where they think it happened. And Gerry said his dog`s scared. His dog won`t come in this bedroom, so we don`t want happened in here, but maybe the dog knows the answer to that.
Behind us is Conner`s room. It`s still painted the same color, the color that Laci and Scott painted it. And Gerry`s left it with the motif of the boats and the seashore, which is what they planned to do for Conner. And it`s kind of -- it`s reminiscent of a young boy`s room, and you can`t help but stand here and think what would have happened in this room.
GRACE: You know what? You know what? Hold on, Steph. I want to go out to Anne Bird, Scott`s half-sister. Reports were that it was not lost on the jury the nautical motif in baby Conner`s room, and then he washed up at San Francisco Bay.
ANNE BIRD, SCOTT PETERSON`S HALF-SISTER: Right, right. I know, it`s horrifying. You know, both Laci and Conner, their bodies washed up within two miles of my home in Berkeley. And it was just a horrific view to have for so long, while all this was going on. And I`m much happier in San Francisco, although now my view is San Quentin.
GRACE: Let`s go back to Steph. Steph, we`re looking now at Conner`s nursery. I remember at the beginning it was still set up with a baby bed. And within just a week or so, it was turned into a storage unit, right?
WATTS: Yes, remember that, Nancy? And you and I were both shocked, because we covered the trial together, how quickly Scott had turned this room from, you know, a baby`s room into a storage room. If you`re waiting for your son to come home, why would you do that? That was something that always struck me always as very, very odd. And I don`t believe the jury ever heard that. I always found that one of the strangest things about this case.
GRACE: Wait a minute. Wait a minute, though. Hold on. Beth is shaking her head, "Yes."
Let`s go out to Michael Cardoza, who actually did some work on the defense of Scott Peterson, a veteran trial in California. You were talking about his demeanor in court. But, Michael, remember the day that those photos came in and the date was at the bottom of the photo, and Conner`s room that Peterson said, "I never can open the door," and then it was a storage room?
MICHAEL CARDOZA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes.
GRACE: That didn`t help.
CARDOZA: Right. You know, that didn`t help. A lot that Scott Peterson did after that certainly didn`t help him. I mean, it may have served the defense well to bring a psychiatrist in to explain his very bizarre behavior after the wife and baby went missing, but nobody did, because, Nancy, a lot of people act differently in very bad situations.
I know he`s convicted; I know he`s on death row; I know a jury said he did it. But notwithstanding that, I mean, look at human beings. Somebody slips and fall, and we laugh if they get hurt. So we as human beings react strangely.
I think they would have been better off, number one, bringing someone in to explain that strange behavior, number two, adjusting his attitude when he walked into that courtroom. And you saw it when you were there, that silly smirk on his face.
And the other thing, quite honesty, that I didn`t like, I don`t think Mark helped himself by sticking that cell phone in his ear and wearing sunglasses when he walked out of the courtroom. Come on. It wasn`t a Hollywood production.
I think they should have gone on the down low, had everybody at least have Scott look a little bit remorseful in front of that jury. I`m telling you, that jury hated Scott Peterson. Remember what Strawberry Shortcake said at the end? I`ll tell you later what she said.
GRACE: We are about half a block from Laci`s home, at 523 Covina, and we`re walking straight toward the park entrance, which seems like a logical entrance if she went to the park. And as you`ll notice, this is one of the areas that are blocked off. There`s really not very much through traffic at all in front of the home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Since the murders of her daughter and unborn grandson, Conner, Laci Peterson`s mom, Sharon Rocha, works tirelessly, pushing for legislation on Capitol Hill called Laci and Conner`s Law. Officially, it makes it a separate crime to kill or harm an unborn child during an attack on the mother.
Sharon Rocha, on her loving daughter and her former son-in-law, Scott Peterson.
GRACE: Here in the studio with me tonight, a special guest, Sharon Rocha. And I can`t tell you how many days, how many nights we sat in that courtroom, separated by several pews, my eyes trained on her, waiting for the outcome of the trial of Scott Peterson. The story started a long time before that trial.
First of all, welcome.
SHARON ROCHA, MOTHER OF LACI PETERSON: Thank you.
GRACE: Friend. One thing I`ve always wanted to know -- and you were under a gag order and we could not speak at the trial -- Sharon, when did it first dawn on you, when did you know in your heart that Scott Peterson murdered Laci?
ROCHA: Well, I think a lot of it was subconsciously in the beginning, you know, this odd behavior, things that he would talk about or things he would say or not say.
But as far as consciously saying it out loud, I remember the first time I -- I should put it this way, first time I remember saying it out loud was on December 30th. I was talking to two friends of mine, Lisa and Patty.
After I told them that I was having these suspicions, I actually felt guilty about it because I was concerned that, what if I`m completely wrong? When Laci comes home, is she going to be upset with me for having these suspicions about her husband?
GRACE: So she would definitely have been upset.
ROCHA: Yes, she would have. It was really a tough position to be in because I loved Scott. And I would always have to -- I kept going back and forth, before December 24th, after December 24th. The person I knew, before December 24th would never have harmed Laci at all. But the person I was looking at after December 24th, I just -- I didn`t know that person.
GRACE: Sharon, when you look back on it, do you think you ever knew him?
ROCHA: When I look back on it, no. I mean, I thought I did. But after listening to so many of his lies during the trial, I was just shocked at what I had learned about him.
GRACE: Do you remember the first night I interviewed you? I was filling in for Larry, "LARRY KING LIVE," and you were there, and Scott Peterson`s family was there, I guess it was Jackie and Lee Peterson. And I asked all of you guys -- because just from my training and the murder cases I have tried, I immediately suspected Scott Peterson, just because he was the last one to see her, he`s the one that reported her missing, and he`s the husband. Do you remember what you said?
ROCHA: No, I don`t.
GRACE: Ron steps in with, "It`s a non-issue. He`s not even a suspect."
Well, this is something I wanted to ask you about. All right, so it`s Christmas Eve. But then, didn`t family and neighbors, his family and neighbors come over for dinner the next night?
GRACE: On Christmas night?
ROCHA: To our house?
GRACE: No, to his -- to Laci`s house, 523 Covina.
ROCHA: I didn`t know about that.
GRACE: ... Scott cooking pasta in the kitchen. And when the neighbor walks in -- and I know this for a fact -- he goes, "White or red?" You`re out pulling your hair out, trying to find your girl, on the phone with police, and he`s, "White or red?"
ROCHA: Actually, they had a sit-down Christmas dinner.
GRACE: That he cooked!
ROCHA: I don`t know who cooked it. I don`t know.
GRACE: It was pasta. It was tortellini.
ROCHA: No. No. He cooked that for the neighbor...
ROCHA: ... but they had their own sit-down dinner because she was asked to join them, and told him that she is not a meat eater, so...
GRACE: He made the pasta.
ROCHA: So she left and went home, and he called her up and said, "I made tortellini. I found tortellini for you, so if you`d like to come back over"...
GRACE: From Christmas Eve to Easter weekend, the whole nation had become transfixed on what had happened to Laci Peterson until this. Roll it, Elizabeth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF ROY WASDEN, MODESTO POLICE DEPARTMENT: The recovery of Laci and Conner is truly -- while it`s a happy to have a conclusion, it`s truly sad to have that conclusion. The information that`s important to get out is that Laci and Conner have been found and identified.
DOUG RIDENOUR, MODESTO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Over the weekend, you know that there was a baby male that was found in the Richmond marina. And then yesterday, a female body was discovered in the East Bay. Until the identities of the bodies have been made and they are connected to the Laci Peterson case, the Bay Area law enforcement agencies will remain the jurisdiction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROCHA: I`ve been asked to write a book...
GRACE: I remember...
ROCHA: ... many, many times, and...
GRACE: Many, many times. I said to you...
ROCHA: And I said, "No, no, no, no," until I did recall the day that I was sitting in the courtroom with Craig Grogan, and I asked -- one of the dog handlers was testifying, and I asked if they were still looking for the rest of Laci. And he said, no, because the police department was out of money to pay them and that they work on donations or out-of-pocket expense.
And as time went on and, like you said, other people were writing books, there was so much misinformation out there -- and when I finally decided to do it, I thought I have a purpose to do it, and that is to start that Laci and Conner Search and Rescue Fund, which is -- the funds will be used -- they will to go to law enforcement and other non-profit search and rescue organizations...
ROCHA: ... to help buy equipment that they might need or dogs, any kind of -- anything that they may need, training, anything that they may need for search and rescue.
GRACE: Speaking of calling off the search, you said, for the rest of Laci -- I will never forget that moment in court when were you on the stand -- I remember I was sitting in the very back of the courtroom and had to put all my books and notebooks and my computer on the back -- on the bottom of the seat so I can sit on top of it, so I could look up and see you, very back by the door. And I heard you, clear as a bell, describe when you realized Laci didn`t have any arms and Laci didn`t have a head.
When you think that part of her is still out in that bay -- do you think about that? Do you let yourself think about that?
ROCHA: I do think about that. Actually, we`ve been invited a couple of different times to go out on a boat, a little day cruiser, in the Bay Area, and I can`t do that.
GRACE: Even in her death, Laci shines like a star, illuminating for so many of us new knowledge about the deaths of pregnant women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: This is where Laci Rocha Peterson went to high school. Here she was, not only a softball player -- we`ve all seen that photograph of her in her softball uniform.
It`s interesting that it`s been asked so many times why people have focused on the Laci Peterson case, and it`s been suggested it`s got so much to do with that big smile and her outgoing personality.
Can`t you just imagine her as a cheerleader, right there in the gymnasium, the home of the Knights, in the Thomas Downey Auditorium? And I was just thinking about this slogan here at the school, "Make a difference to Downey," make a difference, and of course, Laci Peterson in death has made such a difference in the way that we look at the possibility of domestic homicide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Since day one of the investigation, Scott Peterson has become a household name, a sort of celebrity, a so-called star on San Quentin`s death row. Peterson gets tons of letters from women, unbelievably from one of the jurors who sent him to death row, and female suitors wanting marriage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROCHA: I love my daughter so much. I miss her every minute of every day. I miss seeing her; I miss our talks together.
It was really a tough position to be in because I loved Scott. And I would always have to -- I kept going back and forth, before December 24th, after December 24th. And the person I knew before December 24th would never have harmed Laci at all. But the person I was looking at after December 24th, I just -- I didn`t know that person.
Several times I`d wake up during the night or I`ll be driving down the street or just doing anything, and not really thinking about Laci, and then all of a sudden it literally will take my breath away. I had just stepped out onto the porch and I had just locked the door, and I heard the phone ring. And I thought, "Oh, gee, that might be Laci. I haven`t talked to her for a while." Of course, it`s not Laci. I`m never going to be speaking with Laci again on the phone.
On April 13, 2003, Conner`s little body was discovered. On April 14, 2003, the body of his mother, my daughter, Laci, was discovered.
I was testifying in the penalty phase about how Laci`s death has affected me, knowing that he murdered her. And I would look over at him and he was talking and laughing with his attorney, Mark Geragos. And that infuriated me.
And I just stared at Scott, and he would not look at me. And when Dave started questioning me again, I could actually physically feel myself begin to rise out of the chair. I just wanted to lunge over toward Scott. And that`s when I said that divorce is always an option, not murder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Thank you for being with us tonight for this NANCY GRACE special on the Laci Peterson murder case. NANCY GRACE signing off. See you here tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.