[Deathpenalty]death penalty news --- CALIF., OKLA.
j_sommer at gmx.net
Sat Jul 17 10:07:07 CDT 2004
death penalty news
July 17, 2004
Defense lawyer Geragos shoot holes in key evidence against Scott Peterson
Scott Peterson's defense dealt blows Thursday to two key pieces of evidence
that support the theory that the fertilizer salesman dumped his wife's body
in San Francisco Bay.
The credibility of the prosecution evidence homemade anchors Peterson
allegedly used to sink the body of his wife, Laci, and a hair from the boat
that is consistent with her DNA was shaken during a painstaking
cross-examination of a police investigator.
Detective Henry "Dodge" Hendee acknowledged to jurors at Peterson's
double-murder trial that he and his Modesto police colleagues operated for
months under the erroneous belief the defendant used a water pitcher to
mold the cement weights.
A concrete expert later hired by prosecutors concluded the pitcher was too
large and differently shaped to yield the anchor.
In a dramatic display in front of the jury box, defense lawyer Mark Geragos
placed the five-pound anchor found in Peterson's aluminum fishing boat in
the clear plastic pitcher, which was recovered from the warehouse where the
boat was stored.
The anchor was only about half the height of the pitcher and appeared to be
several centimeters smaller in diameter, a point Geragos emphasized by
jamming his fingers in the space between the two cylinders.
"It was your understanding it was a perfect fit," the lawyer asked, his
voice tinged with incredulity.
"Mistakenly so," the detective said.
When questioned earlier in the week by a prosecutor, Hendee showed jurors a
photo of the weight being held by a detective in the pitcher. Both the
photo and prosecutors' questions about gray residue in the pitcher seemed
to suggest Peterson has used the pitcher to make anchors.
The detective noted that there were five circular rings in the cement dust
identical to the base of the pitcher, indicating that there were possibly
four missing anchors that could have been used in the disposal of Laci
It was unclear why prosecutor Dave Harris did not mention the findings of
his own cement expert during his questioning of Hendee.
The omission offered Geragos ammunition against the Modesto police
department, which he has repeatedly assailed during the trial as inept.
Hendee acknowledged that when he helped organize 23 searches of the bay
involving four side-scan sonar machines, several local dive teams and FBI
specialists flown in from New York, he was looking for anchors made by the
pitcher as well as body parts.
"And it turns out at the end of the day, the pitcher never made it,"
Hendee nodded his head in agreement.
The extensive underwater searches did not turn up any relevant evidence.
The remains of Laci Peterson and the son she was carrying at the time of
her disappearance washed up on shore four months after Dec. 24, 2002, the
day her husband reported her missing.
Peterson's lawyer also pointed to police bumbling as he questioned Hendee
about the dark 5- to 6-inch hair found on pliers in the base of the boat.
Geragos showed the detective two police photos taken in the warehouse. In
one, a camouflage jacket is seen in a duffle bag. In another, it is resting
inside the boat.
Under careful questioning by the defense lawyer, Hendee said he believed
the hair and pliers were collected as evidence after a crime scene
technician took the second photo. He said he did not know how the jacket
moved from the bag to the boat.
The line of questioning suggested a new defense theory: The hair may have
been transferred from Laci Peterson's head to her husband's coat to pliers
in the boat without the pregnant woman ever setting foot in the vessel.
The hair is one of the prosecution's only pieces of forensic evidence
linking Peterson to the crime.
The 31-year-old defendant watched intently from the defense table as his
lawyer grilled the detective about the lack of other physical evidence.
Hendee admitted that stains in the warehouse he found suspicious tested
negative for blood. He also agreed that police never found any rebar for
making anchors anywhere on Peterson's property.
Geragos showed the detective photos of brickwork in the couple's backyard
and asked if the evidence of concrete in the warehouse might be tied to
work the defendant's home improvement project.
Hendee said he did not know.
Harris and prosecutor Rick Distaso voiced few objections as Geragos pounded
away at the witness. When the prosecutors sat silent as Geragos asked
several sarcastic questions, Judge Alfred Delucchi stepped in and told the
attorney he was being argumentative.
Jurors were dismissed before lunch so that the judge and lawyers could
screen tapes of television interviews Peterson gave before his arrest.
Delucchi must sign off on the prosecution's editing of the interviews
before they are admitted as evidence.
Hendee is set to return to the witness stand Monday morning when testimony
The trial, concluding its seventh week, is expected to last about six
months. Peterson faces the death penalty if convicted.
(source: Court TV)
Jury Recommends Death for Okla. Woman
A jury recommended a death sentence Thursday for a woman who murdered her
husband in what prosecutors said was a plot with her lover to collect an
$800,000 life insurance policy.
Earlier this week the jury found Brenda Andrew guilty of first-degree
murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Prosecutors said she was in the
process of a divorce when she conspired with James Pavatt to kill her husband.
Rob Andrew, an advertising executive, was gunned down in his garage in
2001. Brenda Andrew, who received a superficial wound, told police two
masked men shot them.
Pavatt was convicted in the killing and has been sentenced to death.
"This has been a long fight for justice," prosecutor Gayland Gieger said.
"We set out in this case to prove the killers in this case deserved the
punishment that this jury and Mr. Pavatt's jury imposed upon them."
Prosecutors argued that Brenda Andrew, 40, had little concern for her
husband's death. Jurors heard testimony that Andrew and her children went
to Mexico with Pavatt instead of going to Rob Andrew's funeral. Brenda
Andrew and Pavatt were arrested as they returned to the United States.
Defense attorneys contended that Pavatt carried out the murder on his own
and cited a letter he wrote that exonerated Andrew. Prosecutors alleged
Pavatt lied in the letter, and he refused to testify because his appeal is
"Obviously Ms. Andrew and her family are extremely disappointed with both
verdicts," defense lawyer Greg McCracken said. He said his client will
appeal based on the heavy publicity the case had received in Oklahoma City.
A jury had recommended a 10-year sentence for Brenda Andrew on the
conspiracy charge. Formal sentencing on the murder charge is scheduled
During the sentencing phase of the trial Wednesday, jurors heard 10 hours
of testimony from relatives and friends of Brenda Andrew and family members
of Rob Andrew. Among those who took the stand to plead for Brenda Andrew's
life Wednesday was her 13-year-old daughter, Tricity Andrew, who sobbed
through much of her testimony.
Andrew is the only woman in Oklahoma facing a death sentence, according to
the state Corrections Department. Oklahoma has executed three women, all in
2001. There are currently 87 male inmates on the state's death row.
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