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DNA Dispute In Laci Case
CBS News ^ | Oct 30, 2003

Posted on 11/03/2003 5:43:31 AM PST by runningbear

DNA Dispute In Laci Case

Scott Peterson enters the courtroom in Stanislaus County Superior Court in Modesto, Calif., Friday, Oct. 24, 2003. (Photo: AP)

DNA Dispute In Laci Case

MODESTO, Calif., Oct. 30, 2003

Peterson Hearing Opens

The hair, found in a pair of pliers on the boat Scott Peterson took fishing the day his wife disappeared, matched a genetic sample from Laci Peterson's mother, an FBI expert testified Wednesday, the first day of the preliminary hearing.

(CBS/AP) As Scott Peterson's preliminary hearing resumes in Modesto, California Thursday, disputed DNA evidence will likely be the center of attention.

The hearing will determine whether he must stand trial for the murder of his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson.

On Wednesday, both sides disputed the type of DNA test that prosecutors say proves a hair found in his boat was Laci Peterson's.

The hair, found in a pair of pliers on the boat Scott Peterson took fishing the day his wife disappeared, matched a genetic sample from Laci Peterson's mother, an FBI expert testified Wednesday, the first day of the preliminary hearing.

For much of the day inside a packed courtroom, FBI lab supervisor Constance Fisher testified about the controversial method of DNA analysis she specializes in that can show a genetic match between a mother and child.

She testified that a one-inch strand of hair found on pliers in the boat did not match Scott Peterson, but did match a swab of DNA taken from the mouth of his mother-in-law, Sharon Rocha.

Defense lawyer Mark Geragos is challenging the admissibility of the testimony, saying the analysis was the subject of a "raging debate" in the scientific community and suggesting that the hair sample may have been contaminated or tampered with by law enforcement.

The technique has not been widely accepted in courts, and it was only ruled admissible once in a California state court, in the case of an accused murderer in San Diego.

With the exception of a brief mention of Laci Peterson's family at the start of the hearing, the 27-year-old substitute teacher's name was never uttered again during the daylong hearing in Stanislaus County Superior Court.

The hearing is expected to last into next week, after which Judge Al Girolami will decide if Peterson is tried on two counts of murder that could lead to the death penalty.

While the proceedings are expected to reveal the broadest and most detailed look at the case police built against the 31-year-old former..............


Peterson will put on DNA expert

Posted 11/2/2003 11:11 PM Updated 11/3/2003 7:17 AM

Peterson will put on DNA expert

By John Ritter, USA TODAY

MODESTO, Calif. — Could a single strand of hair be the smoking gun in the Laci Peterson murder case?

Scott Peterson's attorney wants hair evidence kept out of the case. By Al Golub, pool

Seems possible after most of last week's testimony centered on that hair. If it wasn't important, why did Scott Peterson's lawyer, Mark Geragos, spend seven hours grilling an FBI scientist on the nitty-gritty of DNA analysis?

And why, after all that, will he put his own DNA expert on the stand this week to try to persuade Judge Al Girolami to reject the hair as evidence?

Only the defense knows. But legal analysts caution that what seems compelling in this preliminary hearing — an early phase of Scott Peterson's battle to beat a double-murder charge and stay off death row — may not be later.

Geragos may believe the hair is a key to prosecutors' theory that Peterson killed his wife and dumped her body in San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve. Prosecutors will try to prove the hair was Laci Peterson's and ended up in the boat after she was dead. A clash this week may be over whether Laci had ever been on her husband's recently purchased boat. If prosecutors can show she hadn't, the hair might seem even more damaging.

Geragos is fighting aggressively to keep the hair away from a future jury. Failing that, another strategy "may be to make the hair seem like a bigger deal than it is," says Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. "Then if he can knock the hair out, it sounds like he knocked out the case."

But the hair may not be crucial — even to prosecutors. Their goal is to convince the judge to hold Peterson for trial, not to present their whole case. They may save their best evidence, including blood, witness statements or wiretaps.

In the 1995 O.J. Simpson murder case, a knife prominent in the preliminary hearing barely came up at trial. "It was a big red herring," Levenson says. "This hair could end up the big red herring."

Even if prosecutors David Harris and Rick Distaso consider other evidence more critical to a conviction, they may feel pressure to offer hair as scientific evidence.

"If they go to trial in a case of this magnitude without impressive scientific testimony, some jurors may be disappointed," says Ed Imwinkelried, a law professor at the University of California-Davis. Disappointed jurors could spell acquittal, he says.

Even though the DNA analysis at issue is new to most courts, judges almost always have allowed it as evidence in cases where it has been argued, Imwinkelried says.

Knowing that, Geragos may be trying to get the judge to limit how far a prosecution witness can go in attaching importance to the DNA..............


DNA at Center of Laci Peterson Hearings

DNA at Center of Laci Peterson Hearings

Monday November 3, 2003 12:46 PM


Associated Press Writer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Defense attorneys in the Scott Peterson trial have called mitochondrial DNA evidence questionable science, frustrating experts and putting under a microscope what has become a mainstream tool of American justice.

Mitochondrial DNA, the genetic identification method cited last week in Peterson's preliminary hearing, has been used hundreds of times in the nation's courtrooms, helping convict the guilty and free the innocent, experts say.

It first appeared in a sensational 1996 Tennessee murder trial, but it has been used less frequently in California, which has higher barriers for new evidentiary techniques.

Prosecutors in the Peterson case are using mitochondrial DNA to make a case that a human hair found in pliers in Peterson's boat came from his wife, Laci, whom he is accused of killing last year.

The evidence is key to a possible prosecution argument that Peterson used the boat to ferry his pregnant wife's body to a watery grave on the day she disappeared from their Modesto home. Peterson, 31, is now charged with murder in the deaths of his 27-year-old wife and their unborn son.

Mark Geragos, Peterson's attorney, has attacked the mitochondrial DNA evidence, calling it the unreliable subject of ``raging debate'' among scientists.

Not so, said Dr. Terry Melton, chief executive officer of Mitotyping Technologies in State College, Pa., one of a handful of laboratories in the United States that extract cellular blueprints from evidence.

``It's been around for about 20 years,'' Melton said. ``The armed forces used it to ID remains of Vietnam veterans for 10 years. Now it's being introduced quite a bit in court.''

Experts say mitochondrial DNA - a tiny ring-shaped molecule that's much smaller than the more familiar nuclear DNA that reveals genetic makeup - helped identify victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack in New York. It can be extracted from hair and bones when little else remains of a body. The process takes a few days and typically costs about $2,500, Melton said.

Geragos grilled the prosecution's FBI witness about the science's weak points, prompting admissions of computer glitches and breakdowns in lab equipment. He plans to call his own witnesses to discredit forensic........


Prosecutor slowly shows Peterson case

Prosecutor slowly shows Peterson case



Last Updated: November 2, 2003, 12:08:14 PM PST

The mystery surrounding the Peterson case lives on. A court-imposed gag order kept evidence securely under wraps for several months, fueling speculation by TV pundits and coffeehouse gossipers.

Did Scott Peterson kill his pregnant wife, Laci, and dump her body in San Francisco Bay? Did Satanists snatch her for an evil ritual? What about his affair, the brown van and hypnotized witnesses?

The wild guessing only added to the mystique surrounding the double-murder case -- one with a Hollywoodlike story-line that started with a seemingly happy young couple about to become parents, and ended in deception and death.

Wait until the preliminary hearing, various media trumpeted. That's when closely guarded evidence will come out, and all will become clear, they assured.

And it is coming out -- but at a trickle, with a heavy dose of droning about mitochondrial DNA. In fact, the first two days of the much-heralded hearing opened with exhaustive technical detail surrounding a single human hair.

Trials begin with opening statements by attorneys on both sides. They lay out in simple terms what they hope to prove, so jurors know what to look for as the evidence unfolds.

But preliminary hearings are different. In this one, Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Al Girolami -- who has reviewed thousands of pages of documents kept sealed from public view -- needed no introduction.

Consequently, the public is being fed details in bits and pieces, with no real context. And observers continue to rely on incomplete media reports and talking heads whose view of the big picture is, at best, obscured.

"The judge knows where it's going," said legal scholar Michael Vitiello, a criminal law professor with Sacramento's McGeorge School of Law. "He doesn't need the same kind of game plan you would have for a jury."

Pine-Sol, dark warehouse

Among the unlinked pieces of testimony offered Friday:

A house cleaner mopped the kitchen floor with water and "a little bit of Pine-Sol," but used chlorine bleach for bathroom floors.

Laci Peterson and her sister, Amy Rocha ..........

Early questions on Peterson's story

Early questions on Peterson's story



Last Updated: October 31, 2003, 03:33:00 PM PST

3:33 p.m., PST: Scott Peterson showed police a parking receipt from the Berkeley marina on Christmas Eve but didn’t respond when asked what type of fish he went fishing for, an officer testified today.

“He couldn’t say,” Det. Jon Evers said in Stanislaus County Superior Court during Scott Peterson’s preliminary hearing.

The 31-year-old Modesto man is charged with double murder in the deaths of his wife, Laci, and their son. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing in Stanislaus County Superior Court, Judge Al Girolami will determine whether Peterson should be held over for trial.

Evers, who was a patrol officer at the time Laci Peterson disappeared, also testified that Peterson did not respond when his wife’s stepfather, an avid fisherman..........



"Court on Monday & Doc Online

Posted on Friday, October 31 2003 at 3:04 PM PST ----

ATTENTION: Court on Monday, 11/3/03 begins at 9:00 AM. If you have a pass for seating in the courtroom, you MUST BE IN THE COURTROOM and SEATED by 8:45 am (PST).

A new court document is also now available online at Click on "Court Docs" for the following document.

1. Minute Order: Preliminary Hearing 10/31/03 (ie; Third day court provided overview) PDF (30 KB)

IMPORTANT!!! You must be in the courtroom and seated by 8:45 AM on Monday. Court begins at 9:00 am.

Anyone using the audio overflow room must turn their cell phones off - that means COMPLETE OFF - no vibrating/ringing phones permitted. This room is an extension of the courtroom and the sames rules apply.


Superior Court, Stanislaus County October 31, 2003

Minute Order: Preliminary Hearing
(ie; Third day court provided overview

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; US: California
KEYWORDS: avoidingchildsupport; baby; babyunborn; conner; deathpenaltytime; dontubelievemyalibi; getarope; ibefishing; laci; lacipeterson; smallbaby; smallchild; sonkiller; unborn; wifekiller
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a few excerpted stories from today and over the weekend on the Scott Peterson prelim hearings....
1 posted on 11/03/2003 5:43:31 AM PST by runningbear
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To: Rheo; Mystery Y; Searching4Justice; brneyedgirl; Scupoli; sissyjane; TexKat; Lanza; Mrs.Liberty; ...
2 posted on 11/03/2003 5:44:34 AM PST by runningbear (Lurkers beware, Freeping is public opinions based on facts, theories, and news online.......)
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To: RnMomof7; trussell; Hillary's Lovely Legs; RecentConvert; autobuff52; WellsFargo94; gopwhit; jra; ..
3 posted on 11/03/2003 5:44:57 AM PST by runningbear (Lurkers beware, Freeping is public opinions based on facts, theories, and news online.......)
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To: runningbear
Anyone using the audio overflow room must turn their cell phones off - that means COMPLETE OFF - no vibrating/ringing phones permitted.

I was waiting my turn in traffic court once, when the judge began the session by announcing that all cell phones and pagers must be turned *OFF*, and that if one was left on and rang in his courtroom he would hold the responsible person in contempt.

No more than two minutes later, someone's cell phone went off in the middle of the first case, and the judge just ominously glared as the mortified party quickly slunk out of the courtroom in shame and panic.

4 posted on 11/03/2003 5:52:27 AM PST by Ichneumon
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To: runningbear
Nah, Scott really was playing golf that Christmas Eve day.
5 posted on 11/03/2003 6:20:05 AM PST by OldFriend (DEMS INHABIT A PARALLEL UNIVERSE)
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To: runningbear
Morning rb, thanks for the ping..I will be watching and listening today.
6 posted on 11/03/2003 7:04:37 AM PST by Jackie-O
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To: runningbear; All
KTVU - Prosecution may have duct tape from a "missing poster" that has SP's fingerprints matches duct tape found with Laci's body. (No mention of a fingerprint on the tape found with Laci.) Won't come out at prelim but will be held until trial.

Each roll of duct tape has it's own "signature" properties?
7 posted on 11/03/2003 7:10:43 AM PST by RGSpincich
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Comment #8 Removed by Moderator

To: RGSpincich
WOW!!!!! Thanks, RG.

The big yellow missing poster on his front lawn?

That poster always looked to me like he was "Missing the $500,000 reward" and mention of Laci was in much smaller print.
9 posted on 11/03/2003 7:26:29 AM PST by Velveeta
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To: Jackie-O; Devil_Anse; Sandylapper; Canadian Outrage; editer; MaggieMay; drjulie; ...
Pinging to RG's post #7!
10 posted on 11/03/2003 7:29:27 AM PST by Velveeta
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Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

Comment #12 Removed by Moderator

To: RGSpincich
Maybe that's the source of those stories a while back about the fingerprint!

Yeah, I think they can contact the manufacturers of duct tape, and might even be able to show that the two samples of duct tape came from the same lot--or maybe even the same roll!

Great scoop! Hope to hear even more about it!!
13 posted on 11/03/2003 7:36:15 AM PST by Devil_Anse
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To: editer
Which one of us is missing?

Who usually ends up "missing"?

14 posted on 11/03/2003 7:38:54 AM PST by RGSpincich
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To: RGSpincich; All
This may be quite interesting. I'm wondering why they may hold this till trial? Hopefully they will show some more circumstantial stuff this week, since the bar is low to bind over for trial. Save the physical evidence for trial.
And we still have the Cindy Adams tease to ponder...part chemical/part circumstantial...
15 posted on 11/03/2003 7:45:48 AM PST by Jackie-O
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To: RGSpincich
Could Duck Tape Be Smoking Gun?

POSTED: 7:34 AM PST November 3, 2003

MODESTO, Calif. -- Authorities have found similarities between duck tape found with the remains of Laci Peterson and her unborn son and strips used to post a missing person's flyer on pole earlier this year, a source close to the case told KTVU on Monday.

Reporting on Mornings On 2, Ted Rowlands said the source told him Scott Peterson's fingerprints were found on the tape used to anchor the search poster to a pole in Modesto. However, the source did not believe that prosecutors would introduce the evidence during the ongoing preliminary hearing, but would wait until trial.

The source also did not know what effect the months in the waters of the San Francisco Bay would have on the tape and the ability of scientists to determine if the two samples were exact matches.

Meanwhile, Peterson's defense team was expected to call their own DNA expert to the stand on Monday to counter testimony given by an FBI expert last week, At issue is a strain of hair – allegedly that of Laci Peterson's – found in a pair of pliers discovered in Scott Peterson's boat.

The hair is considered important to the case against the Modesto fertilizer salesman because it links Laci Peterson with her husband's boat. At the time of her Christmas Eve disappearance, Scott Peterson claims he was fishing off the Berkeley Marina in San Francisco Bay.

That fishing trip was the focus of testimony on Friday,

Laci Peterson's sister testified on Friday that Scott Peterson said he had golf plans on Christmas Eve, throwing into question his story about going fishing the day his pregnant wife vanished.

Amy Rocha, a hairdresser, said she cut Scott Peterson's hair Dec. 23 and that he had offered to pick up a gift basket for their grandfather near the country club where he was a member.

"He said he was going to be out that way golfing," she testified. "I assumed all day."

Peterson, 31, told police he last saw his wife about 9:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve as he left to go fishing near Berkeley. He told them he returned to Modesto late that afternoon, shortly before family members reported Laci Peterson missing about 6 p.m.

On the third day of a preliminary hearing to determine if Peterson will stand trial for the slaying of his 27-year-old wife and unborn son, prosecutors began laying the foundation for Laci Peterson's disappearance with testimony from the last people to see her alive.

Among them, Laci Peterson's mother, Sharon Rocha, told a jammed courtroom that she thought "the world" of Scott Peterson before last Dec. 24.

She recalled Peterson calling at 5:17 p.m. on Christmas Eve to say her daughter was missing.

"I was getting really scared by then when he said 'missing.' He didn't say she wasn't home or he couldn't find her. He said 'missing."'

She and others described a happy but weary-looking Laci Peterson who was "ecstatic" and looking forward to having her first child.

Housekeeper Margarita Nava said she cleaned the family's modest single-story house the day before the disappearance was reported. Nava said Laci Peterson seemed tired after shopping for groceries, but otherwise appeared much as she had the three previous times she cleaned the house.

"Like all the other days I had gone she was content," Nava said. "She looked happy."

Scott Peterson's father, Lee Peterson, also took the stand, saying, "I proudly say Scott's my son."

Peterson recalled talking with his son between noon and 2 p.m. last Christmas Eve. Asked by prosecutor Rick DiStaso if Scott Peterson said he was going fishing, he said no.

Lee Peterson said he didn't know his son owned a boat, but added it wasn't unusual for Scott Peterson not to tell him about major purchases, including a motorcycle and a pickup truck.

Sharon and Amy Rocha also testified they had never seen Scott Peterson's hair blond like it was he was when arrested last April in San Diego.

Authorities have speculated that Peterson, who had also grown a beard and was carrying $10,000 in cash, planned to flee to Mexico.

The bodies of his wife and unborn son washed ashore in April, about three miles from where Peterson said he was fishing. Prosecutors may argue that Peterson used the boat to throw his pregnant wife's body in San Francisco Bay. '
16 posted on 11/03/2003 7:56:44 AM PST by maggief
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To: maggiefluffs
Ahhh...yess....the sweet smell of a smoking gun. :)
17 posted on 11/03/2003 8:08:16 AM PST by melodie
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To: maggiefluffs
What is duck tape?
18 posted on 11/03/2003 8:18:25 AM PST by FreePaul
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To: maggiefluffs
Thanks maggie!
19 posted on 11/03/2003 8:21:49 AM PST by Jackie-O
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To: FreePaul
They mean duct tape...;o)
20 posted on 11/03/2003 8:23:28 AM PST by Jackie-O
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