Skip to comments.Convicted By Suspicion -- Why Scott Peterson May Be Innocent
Posted on 11/30/2004 10:26:51 AM PST by J. Neil Schulman
CONVICTED BY SUSPICION -- WHY SCOTT PETERSON MAY BE INNOCENTby J. Neil Schulman, guest contributor.
[November 30, 2004]
[HollywoodInvestigator.com] Scott Peterson may or may not have murdered his wife, Laci, and their unborn child. But the Redwood City, California trial that has just convicted Peterson of murdering Laci with premeditation was a kangaroo court in which none of the elements necessary to achieve a murder conviction were offered, much less proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
The first element that needs to be proved in any murder trial is that a murder has occurred. There was never a determination by any California medical examiner that the cause of Laci Petersons death was homicide. No medical examiner was able to determine the cause of Laci Peterson's death, nor even prove to a medical certainty in what week beyond her disappearance on Christmas Eve that she died.
A thorough examination of the residence where Scott and Laci Peterson lived together, by teams of detectives and forensic experts, uncovered no evidence whatsoever that a crime had occurred there.
No crime scene was ever found.
No forensic evidence was found in the Petersons motor vehicles lending any foundation to the suspicion that she had ever been transported in one of them -- alive or dead -- to the place where, months later, her body was found.
No weapon was ever produced with any evidence that it had been used to cause Laci Petersons death.
No witness was produced who had seen or heard Scott Peterson argue with Laci near the time of her disappearance, much less any witness who had seen Scott Peterson fight with his wife or kill her.
The only forensic evidence produced in court that even presumptively linked Scott Peterson with the death of his wife was a strand of hair that DNA analysis showed to be Laci's, in a pliers found in Scott Petersons fishing boat. A police detective interviewed a witness who had seen Laci in the boat warehouse where Scott stored that boat. Even in the absence of this witness statement to a police detective, the rules of forensic transference indicate that transference of trace evidence between a husband and wife who lived together is common, and not indicative of foul play.
No witness ever saw Laci in that fishing boat, nor did any witness ever testify to seeing Scott Peterson bringing a corpse-sized parcel onto his fishing boat. Thus, the fishing boat never should have been allowed into evidence, nor should prosecution speculation into his dumping her body using that boat have been permitted.
Nor was any evidence offered in court showing that Scott Peterson had engaged in any overt activities in planning of a murder. He was not observed buying, or even shopping for, weapons or poison. Police detectives found no records in his computer logs that he was spending time researching methods of murder. No evidence was offered that he ever considered hiring someone to kill her.
No evidence was offered in court indicating that Scott Peterson had any reasonable motive for murdering his wife, such as monetary gain, or to protect great marital assets that hed lose as an adulterer in a divorce in California, a no-fault community-property state, or because Scott had some basis to believe he had been cuckolded.
So in a case without an MEs finding of homicide or a known time of death;
without a single witness to a crime having occurred;
without a crime scene;
without a murder weapon;
without any indisputable forensic evidence linking the defendant husband to his wifes death;
without an obvious motive;
without the prosecution presenting conclusive direct or circumstantial evidence overcoming every single exculpatory scenario by which Laci Peterson might have otherwise come to her death;
in summation, without the prosecution demonstrating that Scott Peterson and only Scott Peterson had the means and opportunity to murder his wife and transport her alive or dead to the San Francisco Bay in which her body was found ... how is it possible that Scott Peterson has just been convicted of a premeditated murder with special circumstances warranting the death penalty?
It comes down to this: Scott Peterson was having an adulterous affair at the time of his wifes disappearance, and Scott Peterson is a cad and a bounder.
Scott Peterson repeatedly lied to everyone around him including his new mistress to further the pursuit of this affair. This pattern of lying was established by audio tapes of his phone conversations with his mistress that were played in court. But these tapes were played before the jury without any foundation for their playing being offered, since their playing spoke to no element required for conviction in the crime with which he was charged. And these tapes -- which were more prejudicial than probitive -- destroyed Scott Peterson's credibility to appear as a potential witness in his own defense. They served only to make the jury hate Scott Peterson.
Scott Peterson found himself at the center of a media circus, and his attempts to change his appearance and escape being followed can equally be interpreted as either avoidance of the media who were stalking him or avoidance of police who were tracking him.
The bodies of Laci Peterson and her unborn child were discovered in close proximity to the location where Scott Peterson said he had been fishing at the time of her disappearance. But those bodies were found after months of all-media publicity in which Petersons alibi was broadcast and published, and if Laci had been murdered by some third party, the murderer would have easily had both means and motive to dump her body at that location to convict Scott and end pursuit of themselves for that murder.
In any case where more than one explanation of a fact can be offered, the judges charge instructs the jury that the explanation suggesting innocence is the one they are legally required to adopt in their deliberations.
Scott Peterson was convicted at trial of murder possibly leading to a death sentence in which the trial judge allowed prosecutors to speculate in front of a jury on how Scott Peterson might have murdered his wife. Anyone whos watched a single episode of Perry Mason or Law & Order knows the judge is charged with forbidding such speculation unless there is a foundation of facts in evidence.
No such foundation was presented indicating a method of murder in the murder trial of Scott Peterson.
In other words, Scott Peterson looked and acted guilty, and in the age of 24-hour -a-day TV news networks that have to fill up those hours with ratings-producing subjects, Scott Petersons trial and conviction was the perfect storm of Guilty by Suspicion.
Scott Peterson may very well have been convicted of a murder that he committed. If so, he was convicted in a case that under our system of justice in which the presumption of innocence may only rightfully be overcome by evidence that is convincing beyond a reasonable doubt never should have been allowed into court, much less handed over to a jury.
The jury that convicted Scott Peterson was a lynch mob inflamed by prejudicial testimony and their conviction of Scott Peterson qualifies as a hate crime. The verdict needs to be overturned on appeal. The judge brought out of retirement to preside over the case needs to be retired again. The prosecution needs to be brought up on civil rights charges to make sure this behavior is punished.
May God have mercy on Scott Petersons soul if he is, in fact, a psychopath who spent Christmas Eve murdering his pregnant wife so he could avoid the inconvenience of a divorce.
And may God have equal mercy on the prosecutors, judge, and jurors who have taken away Scott Petersons life whether through a sentence of life imprisonment or death by lethal injection if they have allowed their disgust for a deeply flawed man to whip them into a passion in which suspicion in the absence of any proof was sufficient to convict him.
Copyright © 2004 by J. Neil Schulman. All rights reserved.
J. Neil Schulman's book, The Frame of the Century?, presents as strong a case for a suspect other than O.J. Simpson in the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson as was presented to convict Scott Peterson in the murder of Laci Peterson. Our sister publication, the Weekly Universe, has previously reported on Schulman's 'Vulcan Mind Meld with God' and his discovery of an eye drop that cures cataracts.
I never used the first person in my statements, so how could I be accusing him of calling me anything? Your perception may be clouded by your support for the author, but it would seem to have very little to do with the substance of my post.
I have some ideas on who actually committed this crime:
CIA guys on the grassy knoll
Devil worshippers in a bar-b-q sauce drenched van
L*wr*nc* O'D*nn*ll (in a rage about SwiftVets)
The person or persons that OJ has been tracking down these many years (has he found them yet?)
3.11 REASONABLE DOUBT
A reasonable doubt is a doubt based upon reason and common sense, and not the mere possibility of innocence. A reasonable doubt is the kind of doubt that would make a reasonable person hesitate to act. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt, therefore, must be proof of such a convincing character that a reasonable person would not hesitate to rely and act upon it. However, proof beyond a reasonable doubt does not mean proof beyond all possible doubt.
REASONABLE DOUBT - The level of certainty a juror must have to find a defendant guilty of a crime. A real doubt, based upon reason and common sense after careful and impartial consideration of all the evidence, or lack of evidence, in a case.
Proof beyond a reasonable doubt, therefore, is proof of such a convincing character that you would be willing to rely and act upon it without hesitation in the most important of your own affairs. However, it does not mean an absolute certainty.
The meaning of reasonable doubt can be arrived at by emphasizing the word reasonable. It is not a surmise, a guess or mere conjecture.1 It is not a doubt suggested by counsel which is not warranted by the evidence.2 It is such a doubt as, in serious affairs that concern you, you would heed; that is, such a doubt as would cause reasonable men and women to hesitate to act upon it in matters of importance.3 It is not hesitation springing from any feelings of pity or sympathy for the accused or any other persons who might be affected by your decision. It is, in other words, a real doubt, an honest doubt, a doubt that has its foundation in the evidence or lack of evidence.4 It is doubt that is honestly entertained and is reasonable in light of the evidence after a fair comparison and careful examination of the entire evidence.
Proof beyond a reasonable doubt does not mean proof beyond all doubt; the law does not require absolute certainty on the part of the jury before it returns a verdict of guilty. The law requires that, after hearing all the evidence, if there is something in the evidence or lack of evidence that leaves in the minds of the jurors, as reasonable men and women, a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused, then the accused must be given the benefit of that doubt and acquitted.5 Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof that precludes every reasonable hypothesis except guilt and is inconsistent with any other rational conclusion.6
Oh, yeah. *Laci* deserved a divorce from this piece of trash.
But it is still wrong to convict anyone of anything on this standard of evidence.
The "overwhelming weight" of circumstantial evidence has been used to wrongly convict innocent men who seem to get out of jail almost every month after serving years and years behind bars. In several recent cases the prosecutors have opposed release of factually innocent men just out of sheer spite.
Not so long ago, Judge Lawrence K. Karlton here in Sacramento threatened contempt of court citations against the State of California for refusing to release an innocent man from Folsom Prison.
See above definitions of reasonable doubt. Don't use this case to fight a different battle.
My point is that innocent men go to jail with alarming regularity due to the prejudices of the media, the police, the public, and the prosecutors.
I think of the poor schmo who was accused of lighting off the bomb at the '96 Olympics and Tom Brokaw and etc. said the guy was clearly guilty of it since he lived with his mom, worked as a security guard, was a failed police dept. applicant, and was white.
The guy was a HERO and if left to the the media, the police, the public, and the prosecutors he'd be in jail now. Fortunately, he had a damn good lawyer who drilled a hole a mile wide in the case against his client and it was only after repeated violations of court orders did the police stop hounding Richard Jewell.
I just do not trust lynch-mob justice and this case reeks of it. I don't care about Laci, the baby, and all the crying women on the street. The fact that this man did not get a fair trial based on solid evidence diminishes MY right and YOUR right to a fair trial based on solid evidence!
This doesn't mean I'm on his "side", I'm just concerned that if he is REALLY guilty then when this mockery gets tossed on appeal he'll NEVER be able to face a court again on these charges.
If it doesn't get tossed on appeal it means that prosecutors can cook up any line of crap as long as it pulls at the heartstrings of emotionally unstable women and they can make a case stick.
I read the transcripts, listened to the tapes and interviews..He's GUILTY
Although it is possible to imagine circimstances in some cases where someone might discover his wife's death and not report it immediately (e.g. if he'd received a phone call from the murderer, etc.) I can't imagine any such scenario which is consistent with what I understand of Scott Peterson's actions.
If you think Scott Peterson is innocent, then I must ask:
I do so because while you do not use the first person, the (perhaps only in my mind) clear implication is, you didn't agree with him, so he called you a Nazi.
Nope, after re-reading it again. That IS what it says. No, wait, you ARE correct. For me to conclude you claimed he called you a Nazi, I have to assume you and he disagree. So, I am forced to conclude from your last, that I was wrong in my assumption, in fact you completely agree with him. /sarcasm - well, not completely
You never used the 'first person?"
I'm sorry, I mistook you for someone capable of holding up your end of a reasonable adult discussion.
I am not saying that Scott didnt kill her. I am saying it wasent proven. His behavior is pretty much hearsay. How do we know how he acted? Was there a camera on him 24/7?
I am a Nazi. There, glad I got that off my chest.
The notion of "reasonable doubt" means that there is no plausible alternative scenario which would explain the facts. For example, suppose that someone were accused of robbing a convenience store and the only reasons the police fingered the suspect are (1) he was found within a few blocks of the store, and (2) he resembled the person on the security video. In such a case, the defendant could suggest to the jury that the store was robbed by someone who looked somewhat like the defendant (but wasn't him), and that the defendant was in the neighborhood for some other reason.
In the Scott Peterson case, there are many aspects of Scott Peterson's behavior for which no plausible explanation comes to mind other than him having either killed his wife or otherwise been involved with her death. Although there might have been some plausible scenarios where Scott Peterson's involvement would not constitute murder, it would have been up to Mr. Peterson and his attorney to suggest one. As far as I know, they have not.
I would add in closing, by the way, that if a person has involvement with another's death that falls short of murder, but works to conceal or destroy evidence showing the specifics of such involvement, it is the fault of that person, rather than the state, if he is convicted of murder.
Careful, you used "Nazi" AND the first person in the same sentence. Somebody's gonna come after you for that.
It is NOT the defendent's responsibility to dream up and supply an alternative. It is the state's responsibility to prove its case.
You seem willing to execute someone for a murder they didn't commit when all they're guilty of is a simple lapse of judgement (and a potentially FAR less serious crime).
There is no confession. He never said he killed his wife to anyone. He is guilty of being a crappy husband and a sad excuse for a man. His conversations with Amber do not, anywhere, prove him guilty of killing his wife.
If so it would've been the 'silver bullet' the prosecution wanted, he'd have plead out in a deal and the trial would never have happened.
On the upside, you can always use your comments here as justification for avoiding jury duty.
Oh, gee... now we need a confession in order to convict..what's next, a video and an eyewitness.?..We are done.
Some aspects of his behavior are hearsay, but others are pretty concrete. Sales of tangible property, answering machine messages, etc.
To find reasonable doubt of Scott Peterson's guilt, it would seem that one must be able to discern a plausible scenario (consistent with evidence including Mr. Peterson's actions) in which one of the following is true:
Reasonable doubt does not require that one show that any particular scenario (in which the defendant is innocent) actually occurred, but it does require that such a scenario exists that is plausible; further, if a scenario might be hard to believe, it is the defense's job to provide evidence to support it, expecially if the scenario is one which--if true--would suggest that the defense would be able to produce such evidence.
I return then to my original question, rephrased: what plausible scenario can you tender, consistent with Mr. Peterson's actions and other evidence, in which he either did not know his wife was dead until her body was found by police, or in which he acquired such knowledge through some means other than killing her?
I should note, btw, that the burden on Mr. Peterson is higher than it would be in many cases because much of the evidence surrounds his own actions. In many cases based upon forensic evidence, an innocent defendant would not be expected to know e.g. how a glass bearing his fingerprints made it to the crime scene; he might be able to tender some hypotheses (e.g. if the glass matched those at a bar the defendant frequents, he might suggest that someone might have stolen it from there). Because the defense would--if innocent--be expected to be guessing at such things, the fact that a particular hypothesis doesn't pan out should not be overly damning.
In Scott Peterson's case, however, things are different. Scott Peterson should know why he did things; he shouldn't have to "guess". If he offers up a hypothesis which is later shown to be false, that suggests that Scott was hoping for an explanation that would stick, rather than offering up the truth.
Guilty knowledge, though it may be considered "circumstantial evidence", often provides stronger proof of guilt than a lot of forensic evidence. It certainly seems applicable here.
The notion of "reasonable doubt" means that there must be some plausible theory, other than the defendant's guilt, which fits the evidence. In some cases, the existence of such theories will be obvious to the jury even without the defense's help. In most cases, though, the defense will help the jury to come up with some.
It should be noted that a key aspect of plausibility has to do with the defense's conduct in a courtroom. Suppose someone was observed committing a crime in front of many eyewitnesses, and was also clearly photographed in the act. If such a person were to hypothesize in court that the actions were in fact performed by his twin brother, but failed to provide any evidence of the existence of such a twin, would you accept such explanation? Suppose instead, however, that the person presented in court birth records that showed that a twin existed, and further subpoenaed and presented in court further evidence showing that the twin existed and very strongly resembled then defendant. What would you think then?
In a case such as that, I would expect a reasonable jury member to suspect that if a person had a twin brother the person would be able to produce evidence to that effect. A failure to introduce any such evidence would suggest that the theory, which might be plausible (given the right evidence), was likely a fantasy.
You seem willing to execute someone for a murder they didn't commit when all they're guilty of is a simple lapse of judgement (and a potentially FAR less serious crime).
To believe that there is any plausible likelihood that Scott Peterson is innocent, you must believe either: