Archive for Thursday, August 12, 2004

Tapes play conversations of Peterson, mistress

August 12, 2004

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— Scott Peterson told his mistress days after the disappearance of his wife he is accused of murdering that his favorite movie was a classic 1980 horror film in which a husband unsuccessfully tries to kill his wife.

Peterson made the remarks during a January 2003 phone conversation with Amber Frey, who recorded the call at the request of police and is the prosecution's star witness in Peterson's murder trial.

Prosecutors played about a dozen of the calls Wednesday for jurors, some of whom chuckled after Peterson was heard saying his favorite film was "The Shining": a thriller in which Jack Nicholson goes insane as he attempts to write a book and tries to murder his wife. Prosecutors only played the tapes and didn't describe the movie to the jury.

The audio tapes are an effort by prosecutors to show jurors that Peterson did not care about his wife and had a motive to kill her and their unborn child so he could be with Frey.

Frey testified Tuesday that their relationship had quickly progressed in two weeks from a hotel-room tryst after one blind date to something serious enough for her to trust him alone with her young daughter. Peterson told her he was not married and that he had "lost his wife," Frey said.

Frey's testimony and the tapes could help bolster a prosecution case that has suffered a series of setbacks in recent weeks. But prosecutors are still relying heavily on circumstantial evidence, and defense lawyers say Peterson's decision to cheat on his wife did not make him a murderer.

Some of the calls played Wednesday were made on Dec. 31, the same day Peterson attended a vigil in Modesto for his missing wife. He calls Frey "sweetie," "sweetheart" and utters other sweet nothings during the conversations with Frey, a massage therapist.

"I need a better vocabulary or a book or a thesaurus or something to find the right words to describe you," Peterson said.

Prosecutors are expected to resume their examination of Frey today, when she is expected to detail that Modesto police took her into protective custody Jan. 6, the day authorities prodded her to confront Peterson that she knew about Laci's disappearance.

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