Skip to comments.O.J. Forensics Expert Consulted in Peterson Case
Posted on 06/11/2003 5:28:55 AM PDT by runningbear
O.J. Forensics Expert Consulted in Peterson Case
Monday, June 09, 2003
MODESTO, Calif. Yet another high-profile expert has been consulted in the Scott Peterson (search) murder case -- this one the forensic specialist who was involved in the O.J. Simpson trial, Fox News has learned.
Dr. Henry Lee confirmed to Fox News that both the defense and the prosecution in the Peterson case have contacted him, but whether he'll be testifying at the upcoming preliminary hearing -- or at the trial -- isn't known.
If Lee does testify or provide guidance, he told Fox News he'll, "look at the evidence and let the chips fall."
Lee is the second of the O.J. cast of characters to surface in the Peterson case. The other is Gloria Allred (search), who is the attorney for Peterson's extramarital former girlfriend, Amber Frey (search), and has served as counsel for the family of Nicole Brown Simpson in the past.
The two highly publicized murder cases have been compared with some frequency in the media. Both involve California husbands accused of killing their wives, both managed to attract a list of celebrity attorneys and experts and both garnered heavy media attention.
In the Simpson criminal trial, the former pro-football player was found innocent of the murders of his wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ronald Goldman -- but a civil jury found him liable for the killings.
In other Peterson case developments, his distraught former girlfriend met with prosecutors over the weekend about her potential testimony in the preliminary hearing.
A source close to Frey told Fox News that she and Allred met with prosecutors in Modesto, Calif., Saturday to discuss the possibility that Frey would take the stand in the hearing, set for July, to discuss wiretapped conversations she had with Peterson.
The judge in the criminal case has been considering a gag order to prevent more leaks from the defense and prosecution -- and could make his decision as early as Monday.
Allred said a gag would hurt her client and scare others away from coming forward with information.
"A gag order against Ms. Frey would render her helpless in the face of a continued onslaught of rumor and innuendo," Allred said.
Superior Court Judge Al Girolami has thus far declined to issue a gag order on lawyers, but hasn't ruled out the possibility.
The source also said Frey, a 28-year-old single mother and massage therapist, was very upset about the possible upcoming release of nude photographs of her. Hustler publisher Larry Flynt (search) is currently in hot pursuit of nude photos of Frey, which she says are unauthorized for publication.
The source told Fox News that Frey, who has said she didn't know Peterson was married when she dated him, is still feeling overwhelmed by all that's happened.
Meanwhile, Fox News has learned of a leak in the case involving a theory that Peterson might have drugged his wife. Peterson was apparently surfing the Web for the so-called date-rape drug GHB in the weeks before Laci was killed.
Peterson, 30, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder for allegedly killing his wife and their unborn son. Laci, 27, was eight-months pregnant when she disappeared from the couple's Modesto home on Christmas Eve.
Her body and that of the baby washed up in April on the shores of San Francisco Bay, where Peterson said he was fishing the day of her disappearance.
On Friday, in a rare show of emotion, Peterson dabbed his eyes as a judge decided not to release the autopsy reports for Laci and the couple's unborn son, Conner. Peterson has been criticized for his lack of emotion since Laci vanished.
Prosecutors had asked last week that the autopsy results be unsealed after the defense leaked select portions of the document including details about the condition of Conner's body, which was found with a gash in the shoulder and tape around the neck.
Analysts said the autopsy results could be used to bolster a defense argument that Laci was kidnapped by a satanic cult. But some forensic pathologists believe the damage likely occurred naturally, in the four months that the body was underwater.
Earlier Friday, Girolami ruled that wiretaps of Peterson's phone conversations should be released to his lawyers. The prosecution will also receive copies of the tapes, except for accidentally recorded conversations between Peterson and his lawyers.
Girolami set a June 26 date to rule on defense motions regarding the wiretaps.
Peterson's lawyers want the judge to toss out the results of two wiretaps that monitored thousands of his calls after his wife's disappearance.
During the court-approved wiretaps, the first of which began two weeks after Laci vanished, police logged 3,858 phone calls made to Scott, according to court papers.
A judge approved the wiretap of Scott's phone Jan. 10 after prosecutors showed there was probable cause to believe a crime was committed. They discontinued the surveillance Feb. 4 after it no longer produced results.
Experts: No Proof of Satanic Cults
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
By C. Spencer Beggs
The Laci Peterson (search) case has all the makings of a made-for-TV movie: murder, sex, infidelity and most incredibly, an alleged satanic cult.
Scott Peterson's (search) defense attorney, Mark Geragos (search), has suggested that a satanic cult abducted and killed Laci, citing reports of a mysterious brown van seen outside the Petersons' Modesto, Calif., home around the time the 8-months-pregnant woman vanished.
They also say that a noose-like wrapping of tape around her unborn son's neck when it washed ashore may have been the work of such a cult.
But experts on ritual abuse, abduction and satanism say that satanic cult slayings are more myth than murder.
I dont think theres any compelling evidence that satanic cults exist, Bill Ellis, an associate professor of English and American Studies at Penn State University and past president of the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research, told Fox News.
This may come as a surprise to those who have heard about satanic cults from popular books and talk shows. But according to Ellis and other experts, organized satanic killings are nothing more than hysteria that surfaced in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The so-called satanic panic began when mental health professionals started reporting cases of their patients recalling sexual abuse by parents or close family friends. About 17 percent of these patients recalled a ritualized type of abuse in occult settings.
In 1980, a psychological patient, Michelle Smith, and her psychiatrist as well as future husband, Dr. Lawrence Pazder, published a book, Michelle Remembers, purporting to be Smiths account of surviving ritual abuse by satanists as a child. Michelle Remembers and books like it set off a wave of speculation about underground satanic organizations; tabloids, talk shows and respectable news organizations alike followed up on multiplying allegations of satanic cults abducting, abusing and murdering innocent people.
But experts say after all that hype, there was never any credible evidence that satanic cults existed at all.
A 1992 FBI report that investigated over 12,000 allegations of illegal activity by satanic groups in the U.S. concluded that there was no evidence of satanic cults operating in the country. Similar large-scale studies by Great Britain and the Netherlands came to the same conclusion.
Many of the victims of satanic abuse were, in fact, victims of unsafe psychological examination techniques that led to the development of False Memory Syndrome, a psychological disorder where patients develop memories that they believe to be of real events but are actually caused by suggestion from a therapist. Subsequent investigations into the majority of satanic abuse allegations found them to be hoaxes.
Jeffrey Victor, author of Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend and a former professor of sociology at the State University of New York, says that the satanic hysteria was fueled by special interest groups that perpetuated the myth of satanic cults to advance their ideology or make money. These groups included fundamentalist Protestant sects, feminist organizations, seminar presenters for law enforcement, social workers, psychologists, shock journalists and talk shows, Victor says.
There are no satanic cults as organizations, not even as minuscule groups, Victor told Fox News.
Victor pointed out that there have been cases in which individuals have committed crimes and then claimed to be satanists after the fact. Most of these cases, however, involved severely disturbed individuals who knew little or nothing about satanism, he said. Even in cases in which the perpetrators really believed themselves to be satanists, the culprits did not belong to any sort of organization or belief system, and the methods they used to dispose of their victims did not fulfill any type of ritual.
Ellis said that the physical description of the bodies in the leaked parts of the Peterson autopsy dont resemble any descriptions of satanic rituals of which he has ever heard.
I think what the defense is saying is theres some weird details in the autopsy report and there must be some weird circumstances that brought them about. Its a fancy, dramatic way of saying, We dont know whos responsible for this, so well assume the worst.
But if theres no reason to believe in satanic cults, why is the defense pushing the satanic cult theory?
Geragos might be using the satanic cult theory to elicit sympathy for Scott Peterson in the potential jury pool, said Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew P. Napolitano.
His initial goal is to neutralize Scott in the publics mentality, to give the public a reason to pause before judging him innocent or guilty, Napolitano said.
He said this strategy could be beneficial for a defense that needs to undemonize Peterson in the eyes of the public, but he warned that it could backfire if Geragos doesnt substantiate his claims with concrete evidence after the prosecution .................
Peterson lawyers subpoena judge in wiretap dispute
Peterson lawyers subpoena judge in wiretap dispute
Tuesday, June 10, 2003 Posted: 2109 GMT ( 5:09 AM HKT)
MODESTO, California (CNN) -- Lawyers for Scott Peterson have subpoenaed the judge who approved a wiretap on Scott Peterson's telephone, arguing he violated rules governing a capital murder case, court officials said Tuesday.
Judge Wray Ledine allowed police to intercept Peterson's phone calls beginning in January and met with investigators for updates as they built a case. Defense attorney Kirk McAllister said that under California rules governing a death penalty case, Ledine should have had a court reporter present during those meetings, but did not.
Prosecutors argue the proceedings weren't a capital case until April, when the bodies of Peterson's missing wife, Laci, and their unborn son turned up on the shores of San Francisco Bay.
Scott Peterson faces two counts of murder in the deaths of Laci Peterson, 27, and their unborn child. He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder in the case; prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty if he is convicted.
The victims' bodies were found about 80 miles from their home, near the marina where Scott Peterson said he had launched his boat on a fishing trip Christmas Eve, the day his wife disappeared.
Scott Peterson's lead attorney, Mark Geragos, has accused prosecutors of "grave" misconduct over how they handled the wiretaps. Peterson's lawyers said the monitoring of the phone calls violated attorney-client privilege.
Prosecutors said the wiretap intercepted 69 phone calls between Peterson and McAllister. But they said investigators monitored and recorded only short segments of two of the 69 calls, and did not collect information protected by attorney-client privilege.
Somthing of LKL media editorial remarks
Larry King: CNN's dumbest hour
June 11, 2003
BY PHIL ROSENTHAL TELEVISION CRITIC
The mind boggles at what the many hard-working, serious-minded and often modestly compensated broadcast journalists who toil in earnest at CNN must make of the well-heeled, carefully coiffed caricature who prides himself on not being a newsman yet somehow remains the network's most identifiable personality.
They put their lives on the line in hot spots around the world, strive to put complex geopolitical issues into focus and sort out what's important from what is not in an effort to lure back some of the viewers their network's audience, all so at 8 each weeknight (with repeats at 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.) Larry King can singlehandedly sink the CNN claim that it takes real news more seriously than its rivals.
It's been said before. It's worth saying again. Nearly 20 years removed from the glory days of his once-fascinating overnight radio show, this guy does more harm than good to CNN--even as host of its top-rated show.
So at what point does CNN wise up and rein in "Larry King Live" to save itself?
More a courtier than an interviewer even under the best of circumstances, the oft-married King is at present squandering his prime-time hour on CNN by obsessing over a woman. A dead woman. Laci Peterson.
It can be argued that Peterson's disappearance and subsequent murder is noteworthy, but not to the extent "Larry King Live" would make you think it is. Going into his much-publicized chat Tuesday with author/ politician Hillary Clinton, who has nothing to do with Laci, five of King's previous eight shows had dwelled on the Peterson murder case.
Judging from "Larry King Live"--or "Laci Peterson Dead," as it's apt to be called--this is the second biggest story of the year, marginally trailing the war in Iraq. And by year's end, who knows? That little dustup with Saddam may pale by comparison.
Since April 18th, in fact, King has done 38 shows and the Peterson case has been a significant portion of 17 of them, a ridiculous figure that doesn't count the questions he asked guest Diane Sawyer on May 7th about her interview with Scott Peterson, Laci's husband and accused killer.
The Peterson murder was the focus of four King shows in January and six in February before things heated up in Iraq. No less than seven April shows dealt with the Peterson case, six in May and three to date in June.
So often is Peterson a topic that Nancy Grace, a Court TV analyst, is logging almost as much time playing Kukla to King's Fran Allison as she is on her own little-watched cable network. She's been the resident expert on the Peterson case, but she's also been a commentator for other cases as well.
"I'm not saying Martha is innocent," Grace told King last week, advising prosecutors on how to finish convicting Martha Stewart. "I'm saying you better evaluate your case before you go forward. Is anybody dead? No. Anybody dismembered? No. The jury's going to think, 'Why are we here?' "
Sounds like she's reciting a potential rationale for King poring over the remains of Laci and her unborn child each night.
Grace actually fills in for King tonight as guest host. She's scheduled to revisit the 2002 abduction of 7-year-old Danielle van Dam, but don't be surprised if the Peterson case is mentioned a few times. It wouldn't be "Live" if she wasn't.
Now you might want to write off King's bizarre concentration on Peterson as part of some ratings-driven network directive, except that his guests in the past month have included John Eisenhower (son of the former president), Carol Channing and her new husband, Rodney Dangerfield, Lynn Redgrave, Willard Scott, psychic Sylvia Browne, Robert Kennedy Jr., Bob Jones and the cast of "60 Minutes."
No ratings-driven network directive in this day and age of youth-obsessed demographics is going to push anyone to talk to those people. The only recent "Live" guests to qualify as real ratings draws are Dr. Phil McGraw or "American Idol" finalists Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken.
To an outsider, it would make more sense to play off whatever is the big news of the day (the way news programs such as ABC's "Nightline," Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor," MSNBC's "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" and most others do). But this concept has become foreign to King and "Larry King Live."
June 2nd is a perfect example. President Bush had just left the G-8 Economic Summit, where he met with French leader Jacques Chirac for the first time since Chirac voiced opposition to military action in Iraq, and was headed to the Middle East to advance his roadmap for peace.CNN viewers looking to King and his guests to lend some perspective to these major events were in for a real treat.
King was schmoozing Larry Hagman, Bill Daily and Barbara Eden, the cast of the 1965-70 NBC sitcom "I Dream of Jeannie." An "EXCLUSIVE" label dominated a corner of the screen, as if to say "Nyah, nyah, nyah! We got an interview no one else wanted!"
At least it wasn't another hour dedicated to Laci Peterson........
Defense presses judge on wiretaps
Defense presses judge on wiretaps
By JOHN COTÉ
BEE STAFF WRITER
Published: June 10, 2003, 06:32:21 AM PDT
One of Scott Peterson's attorneys said Monday that he has subpoenaed a Superior Court judge to get information about wiretaps used by investigators probing the disappearance of Laci Peterson.
The move comes after it was revealed Friday that no court reporter was present during meetings between Judge Wray Ladine, a prosecutor and an investigator about the wiretaps.
"I don't know how else you get that information other than doing it this way," defense attorney Kirk McAllister said.
District Attorney James Brazelton is seeking the death penalty against Peterson, 30, for allegedly killing his wife and unborn son, Conner.
The absence of a court reporter at the meetings also raises legal questions about the wiretaps, several defense attorneys not affiliated with the case said.
Senior deputy district attorneys Dave Harris and Rick Distaso, who are prosecuting Peterson, were involved in a previous death penalty case where the indictment was thrown out by an appeals court because no court reporter was present during a grand jury hearing.
They say this issue is different.
State law requires a court reporter to be present during all court proceedings in capital cases. Prosecutors contend the law applies only to proceedings that take place after a criminal complaint is filed or a grand jury is convened for an indictment. That hadn't occurred when the wiretap meetings took place.
McAllister said he issued the subpoena Monday and that it likely would be served today.
Defense attorneys also have asked to question Distaso and the lead wiretap investigator, Steve Jacobson.
Ladine, contacted by phone Monday night, said he was unaware of a subpoena and forbidden by judicial rules from commenting.
Peterson was arrested April 18. He has pleaded not guilty, and the defense has vowed to find the "real killers."
Lead defense attorney Mark Geragos is alleging that the Stanislaus County district attorney's office engaged in "grave prosecutorial misconduct" after authorities intercepted 71 calls between Peterson and McAllister or his investigator.
The defense might seek to have the district attorney's office removed from the case over the wiretap issue, according to documents they filed in court.
Prosecutors maintain that investigators listened to less than two minutes of total calls and that the wiretaps were consistent with state and federal law.
The wiretap meetings among the judge, prosecutor and investigator took place every three days during the first wiretap, which ran from Jan. 10 to Feb. 4, according to prosecution documents.
Ladine indicated at a Jan. 17 meeting that some of the techniques used in the wiretaps were "inappropriate" and "could cause problems," according to an affidavit filed by Jacobson.
"Judge Ladine was concerned about the district attorneys' office using a wiretap to obtain statements from a suspect who had counsel and had already expressed to police that he didn't wish to make any statements," Jacobson wrote.
At the meeting, Ladine instructed investigators to halt spot checks of calls between Peterson and his attorney.
State law allows for 30-second spot checks of privileged communications, but defense attorneys maintain that attorney-client calls are "totally privileged under the law."
Several defense attorneys said the absence of a court reporter raises serious legal questions about the wiretaps, while prosecutors maintain there was no impropriety.
California law requires that in any death penalty case "all proceedings conducted in the Superior Court, including all conferences and proceedings, whether in open court, in conference in the courtroom, or in chambers, shall be conducted on the record with a court reporter present."
The reason, according to a July 2002 decision from the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Fresno, is because "the death penalty is qualitatively different, even when compared to a life sentence."
The court threw out the indictment against Terry Dale Dustin of Gustine because Distaso had instructed the court reporter to leave during part of the grand jury proceeding. Distaso and Dave Harris also handled Dustin's grand jury indictment.
Prosecutors had initially sought the death penalty against Dustin for the 1999 stabbing death of Santiago Garcia of Gustine, who was killed in southwestern Stanislaus County. Dustin pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder and first-degree burglary, court records show. He is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.
Martha Carlton, the deputy public defender who represented Dustin, said the appeals court ruling in Dustin applies to the wiretap conferences in the Peterson case.
"Once you do decide you're going to proceed criminally, anything.........
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
Sounds more like the new style in clothes, it's contrived. He's going to do anything to save himself, but surfing for GHB? His lawyers gonna have some 'splaining to do on that one, especially if they find proof he purchased it.
>>>This could of been a "what if" on Laci and Conner if not washed up!>>>
Trial without body a puzzler
El Dorado faces two such murder cases: Jan Scharf and a boy who vanished in '85.
By Niesha Gates -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 a.m. PDT Monday, June 2, 2003
Two different murders.
This is the unusual situation in El Dorado County, where the District Attorney's Office is gearing up for two murder trials, both of which are missing the most tell-tale piece of evidence: a corpse.
Though uncommon, "bodyless murder cases" are increasingly showing up in courts across the state -- primarily due to scientific advances and publicity -- and are posing a variety of challenges for law enforcement and prosecutors.
But experts agree that bringing two bodyless homicides to trial at the same time, not to mention in a rural county, is rare.
"It's unusual to have these cases go to trial because there are a lot of barriers in bringing forward a homicide case, especially when you don't have a body," said Ruth Jones, a criminal law professor at McGeorge School of Law. "The real test is for the prosecution ... and whether the pieces all come together and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim is dead and was killed by the defendant."
The first case is that of Jan Scharf, the 45-year-old UC Davis Medical Center nurse who disappeared May 14, 2002, after returning to her Cameron Park home from a 12-hour shift. Her estranged husband, Glyn Scharf, was arrested on a warrant two days after the first anniversary of Jan Scharf's disappearance last month. He was charged with her murder on May 19 but has not yet entered a plea.
The other case involves the disappearance of a 4-year-old boy, Alexander "Salaam" Olive, who vanished from the South Lake Tahoe area around December 1985. The El Dorado County District Attorney's Office is in the process of extraditing the boy's father, Ulysses H. Roberson, from Walla Walla, Wash., where he is serving a 14-year sentence for rape, said El Dorado County District Attorney Gary Lacy.
Roberson was charged with his son's murder in October 2001. Roberson has not entered a plea, pending extradition, Lacy said Friday.
In both cases, key pieces of circumstantial evidence were needed, a feat law enforcement and prosecutors cite as one of the most challenging, and time-consuming, aspects of bodyless murder cases.
In the Scharf case, one of the pieces of circumstantial evidence is a report Jan Scharf filed just weeks before her disappearance, in which she told El Dorado County sheriff's deputies that she believed her husband was poisoning her, Lacy said.
It took nearly 18 years for charges to be filed in the Roberson case because prosecutors were recently able to find and question key witnesses and to obtain DNA evidence from blood off a blanket allegedly used by Alexander Olive.
"While we don't have a sample of DNA evidence to compare it to, the DNA does indicate that it's from a child of his age," Lacy said.
Scientific advances, including DNA analysis, have greatly aided prosecutors in bringing bodyless homicides to trial, said Thomas Testa, a deputy district attorney for San Joaquin County who has prosecuted two such cases.
"We had one case from the mid-'80s that wasn't solved until DNA testing came into the picture," he said. "Now, all you need is a very little amount of blood -- even just one or two drops -- to get a successful reading. (DNA) is making it more and more likely for these bodyless homicides to reach trial."
The increase in this type of case prompted a seminar on missing-body homicides last month at the California District Attorneys Association's National Homicide Symposium in Costa Mesa.
During the lecture, Debora Lloyd, a senior deputy district attorney for Orange County who prosecuted three bodyless murder cases in five years in the late 1990s, addressed specific challenges unique to bodyless homicides.
A big obstacle is overcoming the inability to question a pathologist and determine a cause of death, she said.
"There are jurors out there who will not sit on a jury without a body," she said in a phone interview from her Santa Ana office last week. "But what they need to realize is that people can easily dispose of bodies."
El Dorado County's landscape includes hiking trials, mine shafts and waterways, making it a veritable homicide dumping ground, said Lt. Kevin House, spokesman for the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office.
"We get a lot of body dumps here because we're remote and there's a wide expanse of land," he said.
Newman resident Vera Alizaga, 41, thinks the tip she provided led Scott Peterson's defense team to examine a van.
ADRIAN MENDOZA/THE BEE
Homer and Helen Maldonado say they saw a van in the Petersons' neighborhood. AL GOLUB/THE BEE
(wonder if homer got his name after the Simpson? Doh!! ))
Vans continue to fuel mysteries
By GARTH STAPLEY
BEE STAFF WRITER
Published: June 11, 2003, 05:34:26 AM PDT
A Newman woman believes her tip about a suspicious van two weeks ago led Scott Peterson's defense attorneys to acquire the vehicle as a possible clue in the Laci Peterson murder case.
The same day police received Vera Alizaga's tip, they examined a van and announced that there was no connection to the double-murder case. They won't say whether her tip led them to the van they towed to a crime lab.
Also, people who spotted a van in the Petersons' neighborhood about the time the pregnant woman disappeared noted that the one they saw bears little resemblance to the one Alizaga described.
And that could mean, the witnesses said, that the van they saw "is still out there."
The search for tan and brown vans might figure into a theory that such a vehicle played a part in the deaths of Laci Peterson and her unborn son, Conner. Her husband has pleaded not guilty to two charges of capital murder.
Soon after the pregnant woman was reported missing in December, Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden said detectives believed a brown van some residents described belonged to a landscaping crew.
Another vehicle seen by witnesses
But witnesses also described another type of vehicle in the area.
Homer and Helen Maldonado described a yellowish-tan van with curtains and a chrome ladder on the back leading to a rooftop rack. They parked next to it briefly at a gas station in the Petersons' neighborhood on Christmas Eve, the day Laci Peterson disappeared.
After driving off, Homer Maldonado said he saw Laci Peterson walking her dog about a half-block away.
Having read in The Bee about a mysterious van reported near the Petersons' home, Alizaga's curiosity was piqued by one she saw May 28 while driving on Interstate 5 south of Crows Landing, she said.
"When you see something that looks so out of place, you go, 'Hmm, that's weird,'" Ali-zaga said.
She said she sped up to the dented, light-brown Chevrolet van until she and her husband, Jack, could see inside. They noted rubbish, including wrappers and used food containers. And they saw two men wearing what appeared to be stained T-shirts.
Maybe, if that's the case you can expect plea bargaining attempts right before the trial. They'll probably play it by ear for now, see what evidence comes out.
But then again, the evidence against OJ was overwhelming, and still they went forward and got him off. I'm just wondering if this celebrity lawyer is crazy enough to make the same attempt?
Subpoena served to Ladine asking details of Peterson wiretaps
By JOHN COTÉ and GARTH STAPLEY
BEE STAFF WRITERS
Published: June 11, 2003, 06:01:50 AM PDT
Scott Peterson's attorneys on Tuesday took the extraordinary step of serving a Stanislaus County Superior Court judge with a subpoena, seeking testimony about wiretaps used in the investigation of Laci Peterson's death. Court Executive Officer Mike Tozzi said he accepted the subpoena on Judge Wray Ladine's behalf, then gave Ladine a copy. The judge likely will rely on legal advice from the state Administrative Office of the Courts, Tozzi said.
With Ladine's approval, authorities secretly intercepted the calls of the slain woman's husband, Scott Peterson, from Jan. 10 to April 18, when he was arrested in the deaths of his wife and unborn son. He faces the death penalty if convicted and has pleaded not guilty.
Peterson's attorneys want Ladine to testify about meetings with a prosecutor and an investigator, co-defense counsel Kirk McAllister said.
The meetings took place every three days as authorities monitored the phone calls, according to prosecution documents.
Defense attorneys were left with little choice but to sub-poena Ladine because a court reporter was not present at the conferences, McAllister said.
State laws require a court reporter to be present during all proceedings in a death penalty case so the record is preserved for appeal.
Prosecutors maintain that a case does not start until a criminal complaint is filed or a grand jury is convened. Neither of those had happened when the wiretap meetings took place.
Defense attorneys contend, though, that a court reporter should have been present during the meetings.
"In the spirit of the law, if not the letter, it seems consistent," McAllister said. "Everybody knew that at the conclusion this was going to be a death penalty investigation."
Ladine indicated at a Jan. 17 meeting that he was not comfortable with investigators spot-checking some calls between Peterson and his attorney, according to an affidavit filed by Steve Jacobson, the investigator who supervised the wiretaps.
Defense attorneys contend that prosecutors acted improp-erly when they monitored a call between Peterson and a private investigator and portions of two conversations between Peterson and McAllister.
Prosecutors said the three calls were recorded inadvert-ently. They maintain that investigators followed state and fed- eral law.
Judge Al Girolami, who is presiding over the criminal case against Peterson, has scheduled a June 26 hearing on the issue.
Lead defense counsel Mark Geragos said he wants to question Jacobson and prosecutor Rick Distaso under oath about the wiretaps.
The subpoena is not a public document until it is introduced into evidence at a future proceeding, Tozzi said.
State office now used
Although the Stanislaus county counsel's office used to represent judges caught up in legal wrangling, local courts about a year ago made a change in favor of using the state Administrative Office of the Courts, County Counsel Mick Krausnick said.
The Administrative Office of the Courts "will work with me providing legal representation to Judge Ladine," Tozzi said.
San Francisco Assistant District Attorney James Hammer, who has experience issuing subpoenas to judges, said the judge hearing the primary case often decides that another judge's testimony is not relevant to the central issue.
Hammer said seeking a wiretap is similar to seeking a search warrant: Investigators submit an affidavit laying out probable cause and then the judge approves it or not.
Now there is some analytical thinking. Can't wait for a witness to get on the stand to testify against SP, "Everybody knows he did it." McAllister would have a fit and have the statement stricken.
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