Skip to comments.Hypnosis testimony use 'a risk'
Posted on 09/10/2003 5:27:47 AM PDT by runningbear
Hypnosis testimony use 'a risk'
Hypnosis testimony use 'a risk'
By JOHN COTÉ
BEE STAFF WRITER
Published: September 10, 2003, 04:50:01 AM PDT
Investigators handling the double-murder case against Scott Peterson used an increasingly rare and legally risky tactic by interviewing a witness using "hypnosis techniques," legal observers said Tuesday.
"They're taking a risk," said Dr. David Spiegel, associate chairman of psychiatry at Stanford University. "There must be some reason why they want to take that risk."
The jeopardy stems from a state law passed in 1984 that severely restricts the use of information from a hypnotized witness at trial -- including limiting the testimony to matters the person recalled before the hypnosis.
The law was in response to a 1982 California Supreme Court ruling saying that "most experts agree that hypnotic evidence is unreliable because a person under hypnosis can manufacture or invent false statements."
Since the 1984 law, hypnotism largely has been shelved in criminal investigations, but it's sometimes used when police run out of leads, observers said.
"If you hit a dead end, you might come up with some facts that would help you," said Roger C. Park, an evidence law specialist at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.
An example would be a kidnap victim who under hypnosis remembers details such as riding in a car driven on a gravel road and then over a bridge, Park said.
"You go there and find some evidence, and then you don't need that testimony," Park said. "That's what you're hoping during the investigation."
But prosecutors handling Peterson's case indicated in court last week that they intend to introduce testimony from a Modesto woman who appears to have been hypnotized.
Kristen Dempewolf, who lives in Peterson's La Loma neighborhood, was questioned in a "cognitive interview where hypnosis techniques were used," according to documents prosecutors filed in Stanislaus County Superior Court.
Dempewolf was questioned as police probed the disappearance and death of Peterson's pregnant wife, Laci.
Dempewolf, 33, owns a dog and was in roughly the same stage of pregnancy as Laci Peterson when Peterson was reported missing Christmas Eve.
Two witnesses have said they saw Laci Peterson walking her dog after 9:30 a.m. Dec. 24 -- the time her husband told police he left for a solo fishing trip.
Scott Peterson told police Laci was preparing to walk the couple's golden retriever, McKenzie, when he left for San Francisco Bay, and he returned from the trip to find his wife missing.
Prosecutors contend that he killed his wife and unborn son, Conner, on Dec. 23 or Dec. 24. Their bodies were found in April along the eastern shore of the bay, within four miles of where Scott Peterson said he launched his boat Christmas Eve. The 30-year-old fertilizer salesman faces the death penalty if convicted of two counts of murder.
Testimony could be key for prosecution
Dempewolf could be key to the prosecutors' case if she offers an alternative explanation for witnesses who say they saw Laci Peterson walking her dog Dec. 24.
But if Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Al Girolami determines that the hypnosis techniques amount to hypnotism, strict conditions will have to be met for her testimony to be admissable in court.
Testimony must be limited to matters the witness recalled and related before the hypnosis, and the substance of the pre-hypnotic memory must be preserved in written, audiotape or videotape form before the hypnosis.
The law also requires that the hypnosis be performed by a licensed professional experienced in hypnosis, such as a medical doctor or psychologist, and not done in the presence of law enforcement, the prosecution or the defense.
Defense attorney Mark Geragos indicated in court that the interview had been videotaped, but it is unclear from prosecution documents who used hypnosis techniques on Dempewolf.
Prosecutors also would have to prove by "clear and convincing evidence" at a hearing that the hypnosis did not make the witness's earlier recollection unreliable or "substantially impair" the ability to cross-examine the witness.
Interviewer may lead subject
Hypnosis subjects are susceptible to suggestions -- even subconscious ones -- by their questioner, said Dr. Emily Keram, a forensic psychiatrist at the University of California at San Francisco.
"It's natural for a person to be helpful, and they're prone to give the wrong answers," Keram said. "There may be a question where the interviewer inadvertently demonstrates their need and leads the subject to report things in an effort to address those cues."
Hypnosis, which induces deep relaxation, is effective in reducing ......
Peterson's ex-girlfriend sticks close to home
Peterson's ex-girlfriend sticks close to home
By JOHN COTÉ
BEE STAFF WRITER
Published: September 6, 2003, 10:02:24 AM PDT
The woman who admitted having an affair with Scott Peterson is being protected by private guards and now lives in a gated community with round-the-clock security, her father said Friday.
"She hardly goes out now," said Amber Frey's father, Ron Frey. "She goes to work. She's got to live, but she mostly stays home."
Amber Frey, now 28, burst into the public spotlight in January when she announced that she had had an affair with Peterson, saying that he had told her that he was not married.
Peterson's 27-year-old pregnant wife, Laci, had been reported missing Christmas Eve in Modesto. Her body and that of the couple's unborn son, Conner, were found in mid-April along the eastern shoreline of San Francisco Bay.
Peterson, 30, was arrested several days later and charged with two counts of murder in the deaths. He could receive the death penalty if convicted.
Ron Frey said he was concerned for his daughter's safety after she became ensnared in a case that plays across tabloid news racks and cable television news shows.
"What good would it do to put her in witness protection? Everybody knows her," Frey said. "Sure there's security. I cannot account for the police, whether they've got people involved or not."
Modesto police said Frey cooperated with their investigation, and court documents show that officers tapping Peterson's phones monitored a call between her and Peterson on the night of Jan. 20, almost a month after Laci Peterson was reported missing.
Prosecutors and Gloria Allred, the attorney representing Frey, have declined to say if the Fresno massage therapist will testify at Peterson's preliminary hearing, now set for Oct. 20.
But Ron Frey said his daughter was dismayed after the hearing was pushed back earlier this week.
"She's anxious for this to be over," he said. "She was very ........
GPS use on Peterson in question
GPS use on Peterson in question
By JOHN COTÉ
BEE STAFF WRITER
Published: September 5, 2003, 05:05:13 AM PDT
The use of electronic devices by investigators to track Scott Peterson's movements was an unorthodox move, observers said Thursday.
Prosecutors intend to introduce evidence from a global positioning system tracking device, Senior Deputy District Attorney Rick Distaso said at a hearing this week.
Defense attorney Mark Geragos countered that he would seek to have the evidence excluded, indicating that there were problems with the GPS equipment.
The issue is likely to be hashed out at an Oct. 20 hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to put Peterson on trial on charges of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci, and the couple's unborn son, Conner.
Authorities used "wiretaps on phones, tracking vehicles, all of the technology available" as they probed Peterson's death, state Attorney General Bill Lockyer said at a news conference April 18 the day that her husband was arrested in La Jolla.
Peterson, 30, could receive the death penalty if convicted of both murder counts.
His wife was almost eight months pregnant when she was reported missing Christmas Eve. Her body and that of her son were found in mid-April along the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, several miles from where her husband said he went fishing Dec. 24.
During a four-month probe, investigators employed a range of tactics, including "hypnosis techniques" on a witness.
Police also attached a tracking device to Peterson's pickup, Lockyer said at the April news conference.
Such tracking equipment usually is employed by state and federal law enforcement in major drug cases, according to experts.
"The fact that they used one in this case shows law enforcement were being very resourceful," said James Hammer, San Francisco assistant district attorney. "They were doing things that are not particularly done in a homicide case."
Most police and sheriff's departments do not have the budgets for tracking equipment, Sacramento County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Sharon Chow said.
"That's out of our league," Chow said. "Tracking devices for vehicles are very expensive."
It is unclear what evidence the tracking devices produced. Authorities and the defense have successfully sealed most documents in the case, and Judge Al Girolami has imposed a gag order preventing the parties from talking about evidence.
Tracking devices could serve the prosecution if they show that Peterson returned to the bay, tie him to a location where physical evidence was found or indicate that he was preparing to flee the country, Hammer said.
"If he's going back to the bay to make sure nothing floated up, that he didn't leave anything behind, that would help a prosecution theory," Hammer said.
But prosecutors will have to demonstrate that the tracking evidence is relevant to the case and that the equipment worked properly, some observers said.
"If he went to Mexico, so what? He came back," veteran ..........
(reposting this article).....
(Excerpt) Read more at modbee.com ...
Prosecutors to use DNA against Peterson in delayed preliminary hearing
Tue Sep 2, 7:31 PM ET Add Crimes and Trials - Court TV to My Yahoo!
By Harriet Ryan, Court TV
MODESTO, Calif. (Court TV) Prosecutors plan to use DNA to link Scott Peterson (news - web sites) to the murder of his wife and unborn son, but they will have to wait seven more weeks to do so.
A judge Tuesday postponed Peterson's scheduled Sept. 9 preliminary hearing a "mini-trial" in which prosecutors lay out a bare bones case until Oct. 20 to allow high-profile defense lawyer Mark Geragos to try two other cases in Los Angeles.
During the 20-minute hearing in Stanislaus County Superior Court, prosecutors, who have been tight-lipped about their case, referred to "mitochondrial DNA" they plan to introduce at the hearing. They did not specify what the genetic material was, but mitochondrial testing, a less exact method than traditional nuclear DNA testing, is often used on old, degraded or extremely small samples of hair, fingernails or bone. It is rarely used for blood evidence.
Laci Peterson disappeared last December about a month and a half before she was to give birth to the couple's first child. Her badly decomposed remains, along with those of the son she planned to name Conner, washed up on the eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay in April. Her 30-year-old husband, who told police he was fishing in the bay when she went missing, was charged with two counts of murder and now faces the death penalty. He denies any involvement, and his defense has suggested a satanic cult may be to blame.
In addition to the DNA, prosecutors Rick Distaso and Dave Harris alluded Tuesday to several other pieces of evidence they plan to introduce at the preliminary hearing. They listed the results of a satellite tracking device as well as testimony from dog handlers who searched for Laci Peterson (news - web sites) and a pregnant woman who was hypnotized as part of the investigation.
Lawyers for Peterson said they will challenge the admissibility of much of the evidence disclosed by prosecutors. Without giving reasons, Mark Geragos said he plans to file paperwork asking the judge to throw out results from the dog searches and from a GPS (Global Positioning System (news - web sites)) tracking device used during the investigation. It was unclear what was tracked.
Peterson's defense also plans to challenge the testimony of Kristen Dempewolf, a neighbor of Peterson who was also pregnant in December. Detectives apparently believed neighbors who say they saw Laci Peterson walking her dog after the time Scott Peterson is alleged to have killed his wife actually saw Dempewolf. Court papers refer to a hypnosis technique used during interviews with Dempewolf.
Geragos did not say on what grounds he would oppose her testimony, but he did say that at least one detective in the case did not realize she was hypnotized until recently. A spokesman for the district attorney's office referred to Dempewolf as a "supposedly hypnotized" witness, but declined to comment further citing a gag order in the case.
The defense also may attack the DNA results. Mitochondrial DNA testing is routinely used in court cases and was used to identify the remains of Sept. 11 victims. According to San Diego prosecutor Woody Clark, who specializes in DNA evidence and worked on the prosecutions of O.J. Simpson and David Westerfield, nuclear testing reveals genetic profiles that occur only one in a "quadrillion" people while mitochondrial results are often described to juries as occurring once or perhaps twice in a scientific data bank of 5,000 people.
Geragos also said Tuesday that the defense only recently learned about 31 pieces of potential evidence recovered near the remains of Laci and Conner Peterson. Geragos did not specify the materials, but said the defense is eager for them to be tested.............
Nancy Grace is filling in for Neal Boortz and she has Ted Rowlands on and they are discussing the Laci Peterson case.
I caught something about the reason Mark Gregaros had the preliminary hearing date changed was because he has another murder case he was starting shortly.
He thought he would be finished in about 4 weeks after it starts. Ted Rowlands said he is pretty sure Gregaro's other murder case will not be finished in four weeks so therefore the Judge will have no choice but to postpone it beyond the Oct. date.
Thanks, Spunky, for the news.
They also talked about I think the Prosecutor had a case starting the week after the Peterson trial is suppose to end. Garagos is about to end the one before Peterson, and if that be the case, and Garagos does not end in say 4 weeks, they can see it extend till JANUARY !!!!
I was going to post that, but it was not set in concrete, because it is only speculation as to how long the trial Garagos is doing, how long it will take.
From watching Garagos take charge over that court room...slick...I can see it extend till Jan. but we will have to wait and see.
I believe Ted Rowlands said it was a murder trial also.
When I tuned in, she was talking to a young reporter. I didn't get her name. I only have little exerpts here, as I was typing as I watched it. It lasted about 10 min. at the top of the hour.
He talks about Amber Frye..not about Laci
The pregnant lady, 8 mo...who had been hypnotised, was interviewed by this reporter. She was the lady walking her dog, AND WATCHED SCOTT LOADING THINGS INTO THE TRUCK. SHE HAD A CONVERSATION WITH HIM..SHE HAD BEEN UNDER HYPNOSIS FOR OVER 3 HOURS..TRYING TO RECALL WHAT HE WAS UNLOADING INTO THE TRUCK.
The focus of the hypnosis was on the conversation with Scott also.
She said..(reporter) she talked to this lady, and she said she saw things and talked to Scott and called the police to tell them after she learned about Laci's disappearence, that she had done this on the day Laci was to have disappeared.
Scott had close to 15,000.00 on him when he was caught near Mexico. he also had camping gear ( he told people he was going to live off the land in Mexico ). He was going to buy a car that day. Why did he have his brother's I.D. ? He wanted to play golf, and it was easier and cheaper to use his brother's membership card.
Then Catherine talked to David Thompson from THE GLOBE. This was about the latest Globe stories about oral sex in jail.
Sorry I didn't get the lady reporter's name or where she works. Basically, we didn't learn much here., other than I hadn't heard that Scott had talked to the pregnant lady. Who's leaking ? Because this lady reporter interviewed that lady who had been walking her dog AFTER she had had hypnosis.