The Murder of Laci Peterson
The Peterson Trial
In his 2004 trial prosecutors accused Scott Peterson of killing his wife and then dumping her body, weighted with homemade concrete anchors, into San Francisco Bay.
Former Alameda County Superior Court Judge Alfred Delucchi presided over the case in San Mateo. He'd already tried 22 capital cases, six of which resulted in death sentences. Most notably, in 2000 he had sentenced carpet cleaner Giles Nadey to death for the assault and rape of a pastor's wife.
Peterson chose Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Mark Geragos as his counsel. The celebrated lawyer has appeared on Larry King Live and defended Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder, Roger Clinton, Nate Dogg, Gary Condit, and Susan McDougal.
Prosecutors didn't have a murder weapon, cause of death, witness, or a definite motive. There was only one piece of DNA evidence: They'd found Laci Peterson's hair in the boat. Distaso said "common sense" made it obvious Scott Peterson was her killer. He had felt trapped by marriage and his impending family, and killed his wife to avoid alimony and child-support.
Geragos also attempted to prove that the baby had been born alive, and that, thus, Peterson wasn't responsible for the child's death. He claimed that doctors said the baby may have been born as much as month and a half after Laci Peterson vanished. His lead expert, however, performed poorly under cross-examination when the prosecution questioned this theory.
Geragos further claimed that Peterson couldn't have safely tipped his pregnant wife and a cement anchor out of the small boat on the rough open waters. He had a replica of the boat near the courthouse, until the court forced him to remove it.
None of these arguments convinced the jury.