[Deathpenalty]death penalty news---CALIF.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Nov 2 17:05:20 CST 2004
Peterson defense lawyer asks if jurors hate his client
Scott Peterson's defense attorney launched into his closing arguments
Tuesday by asking jurors if they hate his client.
Attorney Mark Geragos greeted jurors, then walked slowly over to Peterson.
"I kind of just want to walk over to my client and just ask you all do you
all hate him?" Geragos said, adding that prosecutors have portrayed him as
a "jerk and a liar" but not a guilty man.
"But if you hate him, then maybe what they're asking you to do is just
convict him. Don't bother with the five months of evidence ... don't
bother with the fact that the evidence shows clearly that he didn't do
this and had absolutely no motive to do this," Geragos told jurors.
Geragos then accused authorities of waffling on their theory of the crime,
first saying Peterson's affair with massage therapist Amber Frey was his
motive for murder, and later pointing to Peterson's desire to be free from
"Clearly Amber was not the motive. Nobody was going to kill Laci Peterson
and her child for Amber Frey," Geragos said.
On Monday, prosecutors made their case for premeditation in their closing,
explaining to jurors that each bit of evidence is like a piece of a puzzle
that when taken together, presents a picture of just 1 thing: The former
fertilizer salesman killed his pregnant wife.
Jurors have two options should they find Peterson culpable - 1st- or
2nd-degree murder. A second-degree murder conviction would mean jurors did
not find enough evidence that Peterson planned the killings in advance. A
1st-degree murder conviction could bring the death penalty.
Though a cause of death is undetermined, prosecutor Rick Distaso
speculated Monday the reason police found no forensic evidence at the
crime scene is because Peterson strangled or smothered Laci Peterson.
Distaso told jurors Peterson didn't kill his wife simply to be with his
lover but to cut the strings that tied him to responsibility with a new
baby on the way.
"He didn't want to be tied to this kid the rest of his life. He didn't
want to be tied to Laci for the rest of his life. So he killed her,"
Peterson is charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of his wife,
Laci, and the fetus she carried. Prosecutors say he killed her on or
around Christmas Eve 2002, then dumped her weighted body into San
Francisco Bay. The remains of Laci Peterson and her fetus were discovered
along a shoreline about 4 months later, a few miles from where Scott
Peterson claims to have gone fishing alone the day his wife vanished.
Defense lawyers say someone else abducted and killed Laci.
Prosecutors said all along that Peterson's main motive for murder was to
be with his lover, Frey. But on Monday, Distaso conceded he didn't think
that was the sole reason.
"Amber Frey represented to him freedom. Freedom is what he wanted,"
Distaso showed jurors an aerial photograph of the San Francisco Bay,
pointing to the rocky beach where the bodies were found, and the area
nearby where Scott Peterson says he was fishing the morning Laci vanished.
"The only person that we know without any doubt that was in the exact
location in the exact spot where Laci and Conner washed ashore ... is
sitting right there ... that alone is proof beyond a reasonable doubt in
this case," Distaso said. "You can take that fact to the bank and you can
convict this man of murder."
Peterson developed a plan to get out of that "dull, boring, married life
with kids," Distaso added, reminding jurors of how Peterson told Frey
weeks before Laci vanished that he had "lost" his wife.
Distaso then attacked Peterson's alibi as a last-minute cover story.
4 days before Laci vanished, Distaso said, Peterson bought his 1st
salt-water fishing pole.
"It's not at all set up for any of the things he was supposedly fishing
for that morning. ... He bought it as prop," Distaso said.
Peterson had said fishing was a last-minute decision, instead of golfing
that morning, but he bought his two-day fishing license days before.
When he got home, Peterson told neighbors he had been golfing. He repeated
the story to one of Laci's relatives before telling police he went
"I don't care how upset you are ... nobody forgets that you just got home
from fishing," Distaso said.
Distaso noted how Peterson told police he left his home that morning about
9:30 a.m., yet cell phone records indicate he made a call from the house
at 10:08 a.m. A neighbor said she found the couple's dog running loose at
10:18 a.m., leaving a 10-minute window for Laci to have been abducted
while she walked the dog as the defense suggests.
Distaso continued to show the two faces of Peterson, the man who told
reporters he couldn't even go into his child's nursery because it was too
painful, and the man who turned the room into a storage area for extra
furniture before the bodies were found.
"The 2 lives are catching up on Scott Peterson," Distaso said, before
hitting key points one by one.
Defense lawyers have suggested Peterson sought to sell his home, fully
furnished, and sold Laci's car because of intense media coverage and death
Distaso called that "ridiculous."
"The reason he's doing all these things is because he knows she's not
coming back," Distaso said.
Distaso then returned to a key fact defense attorneys could never explain
away, where the bodies turned up.
Peterson's lawyers claim he was framed.
"Here's how you know without any doubt that that's not true. What possible
reason would there be to weight down or even hide the bodies ... if you're
going to pin it on somebody?" Distaso said. "That's ridiculous, ludicrous
... It didn't happen.
"The best way to look at (this case) is like a jigsaw puzzle," Distaso
concluded. "Each piece that I've talked to you about today fits only in
one direction and that is that this man is guilty of murder."
(source: Associated Press)
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