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Archive for Thursday, June 3, 2004

Peterson defense offers alternate theories

June 3, 2004

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— Laci Peterson was kept alive by her real killers for weeks, her baby was born alive and then mother and son were killed and dumped in the San Francisco Bay, Scott Peterson's defense attorney told jurors Wednesday in his opening statement in the double-murder trial.

"Not only is Scott Peterson not guilty," Mark Geragos said, "Scott Peterson is stone cold innocent."

The prosecution theory that Peterson killed his pregnant wife to be with his mistress is ludicrous, Geragos said, because Peterson only had four dates with her by the time Laci disappeared.

"You want to call him a cad or say his behavior is boorish, we're not going to dispute that," Geragos said. "But this is a murder case, and there has to be evidence."

Based on Geragos' two-hour monologue Wednesday, he plans to pick apart the prosecution's case on three fronts: Provide an alternative theory to the murder; undercut the mistress motive; and offer innocent explanations for all the suspicious circumstances Stanislaus County Dist. Atty. Rick Distaso laid out during his opening statement Tuesday.

Geragos need only convince one stalwart juror of reasonable doubt to set free his 31-year-old client, who has been jailed for more than a year and faces the death penalty if convicted.

Armed with two high-tech screens for the jurors and a posterboard on an easel outlining what he considers the chinks in the prosecution's case, Geragos painted a picture of a surly Modesto Police force bent on nailing Peterson from the start. Officers ignored tips pointing away from Peterson, he said, and instead engaged in a campaign of lies and deceptions to turn his family and friends against him in hopes of getting a confession, which never came.

"It's nice to hear some truth," Peterson's mother, Jackie Peterson, said outside the courtroom. "I'm very happy. I'll give him a 10."

Although Geragos didn't detail his version of the murders Wednesday, he has said in the past that he believed Laci's baby was carved out of her womb in a kind of barbaric C-section several weeks after she disappeared and the baby was put in a knotted plastic bag before being thrown in the bay. That would explain why coroners said the baby looked full term, even though Laci's due date was eight weeks away when she disappeared, he said, as well as a knotted piece of plastic that looked like a noose around the baby's neck.

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