The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Over the long break, I had more time to watch true crime documentaries and I reviewed the Laci Peterson case. For those who didn’t know, Laci Peterson was a young woman who was eight months pregnant, married to a man named Scott Peterson in Modesto, California. This case took storm in the US during the early 2000s when Laci had mysteriously disappeared. Not to spoil anything, but unfortunately, Laci ends up dead in the San Francisco Bay and her eight month old was found after that. Scott Peterson did some questionable things, however I think there is some doubt, so I believe he must be retried. Throughout this article, I mean no disrespect to the Rochas or Laci Peterson and remember I am not a professional, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not completely ruling out Scott, I just firmly believe there was a lot of false information and a mistrial. Scott is not completely innocent, as we all learned when his affair with Amber Frey.
Let’s start from the beginning, on Christmas Eve at 5:48 pm the Modesto police got a phone call from Scott Peterson about how he had not seen his pregnant wife since about 9:30 am (MPD Press Release). Before Scott called the police he had come home, noticed that Laci was gone and their dog was in the backyard, leash still on. Scott also noticed that Laci’s car was still in the driveway (Examining Scott Petersons Appeal by Paige Bonavito). Apparently Mr. Peterson assumed that Laci was at her parents house, so he took a shower and ate some pizza. Eventually, Scott called his in-laws and asked if Laci was there. Here’s where there is some conflicting information, the police report claims that Scott called but tons of other sources claimed that Ron Grantski, Laci’s stepfather, called the police to report that Laci is missing.
The time spent in between the morning when Scott last saw Laci and the police report is up in the air. Scott had first wanted to go golfing, but last minute decided he wanted to go fishing in his new boat. Mr. Peterson had to stop at his work office, which was nine minutes away from home, to send a few emails, which is proven to have been sent in between 10:30-10:56 am (scottpetersonappeal.org). Scott had gone fishing at the Berkley Marina, which is about an hour and 36 minutes away from the warehouse. He has a receipt for a boat launch to prove his alibi that he was in fact fishing at 12:54 (scottpetersonappeal.com). Then on his way home, Scott called Laci at 2:15. In between the call and arriving home, Scott claims he stopped at the gas station (no receipt was ever recovered), he also stopped at his warehouse to drop off his boat. Scott arrived home around 4:30-4:45.
Now we are going to comb through the claims of the prosecution and defense and cross examine them all, using facts and evidence. Once again, I am not a professional, however I have researched a lot.
I will be quite frank, this does seem suspicious that he was at the marina close to where her body was found. However, just hang on for one second. The defense had an exact replica of the boat Scott used and had someone test out to see if he could’ve thrown a 153 pound body out of the boat. Even just placing 40 pounds in one place caused the boat to start sinking. Here is a video of the reenactment. So the idea of him having Laci in the boat to dump her in the marina can be ruled out by the repeated test. The test the jurors did was on land, which is not even close to the circumstances Scott would’ve been in. Also, there had been multiple eye witnesses that had seen nothing in Scotts boat according to The Murder of Laci Peterson which is a documentary on Hulu.
Another fact proved through Scotts Appeal Plea was that Scott wouldn’t of been able to fit his truck in his office (which was a warehouse) and shut the door to move Laci’s body from the truck to the boat. Also as stated in the Appeal, Scott was in a part of the marina by a small island called Brooks Island, with a “No Landing” sign on it. This area is extremely shallow and would not be ideal for dumping a body.
To go along with Brooks Island, the prosecution had a “tidal expert” come in and testify. Dr. Ralph Cheng went on the stand to testify that due to tidal patterns it would make sense that if Laci was dumped in Brooks Island that she would end up where she was found. However, Dr. Cheng admits that he did no experiments or studies to see the tidal patterns that has to do with the movement of the water in the area. Therefore, Dr. Cheng has no scientific evidence and can not be fully trusted (Examining Scott Petersons Appeals by Paige Bonavito).
The prosecution claims Scott used homemade concrete anchors to weigh down Laci’s body. The prosecution also claimed that there was no rope or chain attached to the anchor Scott made. This anchor had a rope attached to it, confirmed by Detective Brocchini in court (found in Allen Brochinni’s testimony transcript). There was only one anchor made and apparently it is normal to make a homemade weight as an anchor for a smaller boat.
Also here’s another small fact, the body was found after the police had announced Scotts alibi that he was at the Berkley Marina, so someone could’ve dumped the body after the police came out with this information. And on the 28th of December, police searched the marina for Laci’s body and nothing was found. They continued to comb through the areas in and around the marina until the 3rd of January (Fox News: Timeline:The Laci Peterson Case). Laci’s body washed to shore on April 14th.
Here’s some more things to consider with the boat, Laci’s parents claimed that they had no idea that Scott owned a boat, which is a big deal because his father in law is a self proclaimed avid fisher. Now this statement is a bit more tricky, the police claimed that they were told that Laci did not know about this new boat, however Scott claims otherwise. Apparently two days before Laci went missing, Laci had visited the warehouse which is reportedly after Scott had bought the boat and stored it in there. Laci needed to use the restroom, and this explains why her hair was found in the bathroom. All of this is confirmed by an eye witness who was examined by police. (Majority of my information from this section is from Scott Peterson: An American Murder Mystery documentary on Hulu).
Major Mistake in The Prosecution Opening Statement
This is a minor mistake made by the prosecution, but one that proves that they may not of done enough research. In the opening statement of the prosecution, they claim that in the Martha Stewart episode that Laci and Scott watched on Christmas Eve morning there was no mention of lemon meringue. Let me back up a bit since I did not talk about what Scott told police about that morning, before Laci disappeared.
Scott claims that Laci woke up and felt sick, because she was pregnant. He went on explaining what they ate in the morning and so on. According to Scott, Laci and him were watching a Martha Stewart episode that had mentioned lemon meringue.
When the prosecution mentioned that the episode did not involve lemon meringue, this grilled them in a sense. It took away some of their credibility as they were spreading untrue information. The defense confirmed that the episode that aired that morning when Scott claimed they were watching it and it did indeed include a segment about lemon meringue.
There had been many witnesses that claimed they saw Laci on that morning walking her dog McKenzi. A neighbor named Vivian Mitchell had reportedly seen Laci through her kitchen window at 10:15 am. Homer Maldonado and his wife stopped to get gas from about 9:45-10:00 am and when driving saw a very pregnant lady struggling with a dog. Russel Graybill, the mail man that delivered mail to the Petersons house, was very familiar with McKenzi. He recalled that she was the type of dog to bark constantly, however on December 24th things were different. McKenzi did not bark at the mailman when he delivered the mail between the time of 10:35-10:50 am. Neighbor Karen Servas claims that she found the Petersons dogs at 10:18 am, on December 24th. Karen claims she returned McKenzi to the Peterson home at 10:18 am. There’s also other key witnesses that reported to the police that they saw Laci that morning. The thing that is suspicious is that not every key witnesses timing adds up, especially that of Vivian Mitchell who claims she saw Laci after police decided when her death would’ve occurred. Also, none of these witnesses were contacted again by police or asked to testify at all, which could’ve taken away many opportunities to really figure out what happened to Laci. One eye witness even said that they saw Laci arguing with the burglars on that very day!
The Medina Burglary/Aponte Tip
Although the police claimed this burglary took place on December 26th right across from the Petersons house, many people report that that is simply not true. Media was swarming the Peterson’s house area so any intruder would’ve been seen and also there had been a series of crimes committed on December 24th around the Peterson residence, the same day Laci went missing (Scott Peterson: An American Murder Mystery). Just to be clear, the Medina Burglary did occur, just not on the 26th, instead on the 24th. Steven Wayne Todd and Donald Glenn Pearce were both arrested for the burglary. What is peculiar is that when police came to question them, one of the two said “We have nothing to do with the pregnant lady” (According to The Murder of Laci Peterson and Scott Peterson: An American Murder Mystery). Steven Wayne Todd had threatened Laci, to get her to leave them alone when she came up to confront them, which is discussed during a phone call. Shawn Tenbrink, a patient at the California Rehabilitation Institute, had been discussing the Laci Peterson case. The phone conversation between Shawn and his brother Adam, discussed some details about the burglary after one of them had been told about it by Steven Wayne Todd. This conversation ended up being recorded and got cut off when someone said that their conversation had been recorded. This causes the defense to speculate the innocence of the burglars.
A huge point of evidence used by the prosecution was that cadaver dogs picked up the scent of Laci Peterson at the Berkley Marina. However, cadaver dogs are not a direct science. Scott Petersons scent could’ve been picked up on Laci’s items, the window could’ve trailed off the scents, the dog was not accurate multiple times, and Laci was confirmed to be alive at the warehouse two days before her disappearance. The inconsistencies is what rules out the dogs few finds of Laci’s scent. Here is more information about the cadaver dogs.
To determine the death date of Connor, Laci and Scotts child, the prosecution brought in an “expert” to determine the fetuses time of death to confirm Scotts involvement. It did the opposite though, instead it just brought to light that the official made improper calculations, as two out of the three were wrong. Dr. DeVore, the persecutions expert, determined that the death date would’ve been on the 23rd or 24th. The defense reached out to Dr. Jeanty, the person who created the formula that Dr. DeVore used to determine the baby’s time of death. Dr. Jeanty stated that Dr. DeVore used the formula incorrectly. After that discovery, the defense called in Dr. March. Dr. March concluded that the fetus must’ve died around the 29th, but admitted that it was very difficult to determine the day of death based on age. But then Dr. March made an assumption that Laci called her friend telling her that she was pregnant on the day she took the pregnancy test. This hurt Dr. March’s credibility for his science was based on an assumption. So none of the doctors really were able to prove anything. (Information taken from here and here).
The jury in this case were all exposed to the case because of the extensive media coverage. The media decided that Scott was guilty, so the defense had to find people who were willing to keep an open mind. Along with keeping an open mind, the jurors can not be a victim of a similar crime or talk about the case outside of the courthouse. A few jurors were dismissed based on allegations of discussing the case whether or not they thought Scott Peterson was innocent or not. There was also a woman who was a victim of a similar crime and claims it slipped her mind when being questioned, which would’ve resulted in a mistrial. A foreman had to be dismissed due to his aggressive nature. All in all, the jury had a lot of questionable subjects and people to have seemed to made up their mind before even going into the court room, which is not justice.
Now that we have talked about some inconsistencies within the trial, we must examine Scott himself, his behavior and his secrets.
This is the part everyone has been waiting to read about. Yes, Amber Frey was Scott Petersons mistress. He claimed to Amber that his wife was dead and that he was spending his first holiday alone in Europe when in reality he was in Modesto. Specifically on New Years Eve when Scott called Amber he claimed he was at the Eiffel Tower but in reality he was at Laci’s candle lit vigil. Scott eventually broke down and told Amber everything, however he never admitted or confessed to killing his wife. These things are all questionable yes and should still be considered when proving his innocence or guilt.
Scott Petersons behavior was abnormal for a grieving husband, however we should not all be so quick to judge. You never know how people are going to react until you have been in their shoes. According to Scotts lawyer, he cried at the sight of his unborn baby. Although in court he was cold and stiff and in public he was smiling, as seen in the candle light vigil photos. We must all consider that his behavior was odd, but also know that we can not assume how someone in that position is supposed to act.
All in all, this articles purpose was to review majority of the evidence given in the case as well as a few other things. The point of this article was not supposed to sway you to thinking he was guilty or innocent, but instead to have you reevaluate your opinion. Going into my deep dive, I was head strong convinced that he was guilty, but after researching more, I feel like another trial needs to happen and that I have some doubt of whether or not he committed the murders. The prosecutions repeated lies and basis on emotion is not enough to convict someone of murder. There must be at least some non tangible evidence, something that points at him and says “yeah he killed her.” I hope what you got out of this is that we all are so quick to jump to conclusions, especially when the media is plastering someones face with a huge red title that says “Murderer” on the top of a newspaper. Everything I put in this article is based off of other articles, videos, and documentaries. If there is anything that is untrue, I will be quite disappointed that I had put misinformation out. My heart goes out to Laci’s family, for I know they grieve every day for their baby girl and her son. Hopefully one day there will be complete justice for the family, one where someone is guilty without reasonable doubt.