[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----CALIFORNIA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Sep 2 12:28:34 CDT 2004
Police: Peterson Repeatedly Visited Bay
Prosecutors say Scott Peterson was so worried his wife's body would
surface in San Francisco Bay that he visited the area several times after
reporting her disappearance. Defense lawyers say he was simply checking on
the search efforts.
Prosecutors called numerous police witnesses Wednesday who tailed Peterson
in the weeks after his pregnant wife Laci was reported missing on Dec. 24,
2002. They described how Peterson visited the Berkley Marina three times
-- on Jan. 5, Jan. 6 and Jan. 9 -- as police scoured the bay for Laci's
On cross-examination of prosecution witness Jeff Mackanin, a state
Department of Justice investigator assigned to follow Peterson at times,
defense lawyer Mark Geragos noted that Peterson also visited a reservoir
miles away from the marina after learning from a newspaper article that
police were considering a search for Laci there.
Mackanin said he had no knowledge of that. Geragos implied Peterson was
simply going everywhere police were searching for his wife's body in hopes
of finding some clues.
Police testified they followed Peterson's movements from Jan. 3-11 in
Alexander Bettis, an undercover officer with the Modesto Police
Department, said that each morning Peterson would go to the volunteer
center set up to help search for Laci and was often seen putting up
missing fliers with her picture.
"I was trying to maintain surveillance. It was kind of a cat-and-mouse
type thing," Bettis said, adding that at one point it appeared that
Peterson knew he was being followed.
On cross-examination, Geragos highlighted the fact that Peterson began
every day at the volunteer center and spent much time putting up fliers in
search of his wife.
Earlier Wednesday, a search dog handler who provided key evidence against
Scott Peterson acknowledged on cross-examination that her canine had
failed a videotaped training exercise.
Eloise Anderson had testified that her dog, a Labrador named Trimble,
picked up Laci's scent on Dec. 28, 2002, at a Berkeley Marina pylon at the
Geragos played for jurors a video of the training exercise that Trimble
He then criticized the search at the marina, noting that Anderson never
performed a "missing member test," in which Scott Peterson would have been
brought to the marina for the dog to smell before searching for Laci's
Such an exercise, Geragos noted, could have helped rule out the
possibility the dog was smelling Scott Peterson and not his wife.
Anderson said a missing member test was not necessary.
Prosecutors allege Peterson killed his wife in their Modesto home on or
around that Christmas Eve, then drove to San Francisco Bay, launched his
boat from the Berkeley Marina and dumped her body.
The remains of Laci and the couple's fetus washed ashore in April 2003,
not far from where Peterson set out for what he claims was a solo fishing
trip the day Laci vanished.
Defense lawyers contend someone else abducted and killed Laci, then framed
their client after learning his widely publicized alibi.
(source: Associated Press)
Peterson defense picks apart dog's search skills
Scott Peterson's defense attorney attacked both the credibility of a dog
handler and the reliability of her search dog in a pointed cross-
examination this morning.
Dog trainer Eloise Anderson testified Tuesday that her highly trained
Labrador retriever had tracked Laci Peterson's scent from a parking lot to
a boat launch at the Berkeley marina 4 days after her husband reported her
missing. Prosecutors believe Peterson towed his wife's body in his fishing
boat to the marina on Dec. 24, 2002, and then dumped it in the bay.
Anderson testified that her dog Trimble, who is a certified search dog,
had been trained to follow the trail of a person, even if it traveled by
vehicle. She produced a list of records, detailing a variety of successful
trailing exercises completed by the dog over a 3-year period.
But in a dramatic confrontation, defense attorney Mark Geragos played a
video of Anderson's dog failing to track a person who had gotten into a
car and driven a short distance away. The video was taken during a seminar
Anderson and Trimble attended just 2 months before the duo was asked to
help in the search for the missing woman.
In the video, Trimble is shown leading Anderson down a sidewalk. The dog
repeatedly sniffs the ground, then looks up confused, wagging her tail,
but appears not to follow any trail in particular. After traveling about a
block, the dog veers off the sidewalk crosses the street then pulls
Anderson back down the street toward a person filming the scene on video.
Trimble then tags the videographer and barks excitedly at Anderson, who
admonishes her dog: "Wrong."
In his cross-examination, Geragos pressed Anderson to admit that the dog
tagged the wrong person.
"She identified the subject as the videographer," Geragos said.
"She was barking in frustration," Anderson said, attempting to dispute
Geragos' assessment. "She was barking at me."
Although Anderson kept meticulous records of Trimble's other training
exercises that weekend, she had written up no record of her dog's failure
to track the vehicle. Geragos suggested her intentions were sinister.
"The reason you didn't (keep a record) ... is because you knew your dog
failed," Geragos pressed.
"Incorrect," said Anderson.
Geragos got Anderson to admit that when she was asked about the seminar
and vehicle-trailing exercise during a pretrial hearing, she couldn't
recall her dog failing the test.
"You seem to have a lot of memory about it now," Geragos said.
Prosecutor David Harris tried to undo some of the damage during redirect.
The video Geragos showed for jurors was cut off before revealing that the
dog continued down the road and successfully located the person she was
supposed to be trailing, Harris said.
Peterson, 31, is on trial in Redwood City, charged with the murders Laci
Peterson and their unborn child. The former Modesto fertilizer salesman
told police he used the Berkeley boat launch when he went fishing on Dec.
When he returned home to Modesto later that day, he said his 8-months-
pregnant wife was gone and nowhere to be found.
But prosecutors maintain Peterson wasn't fishing for sturgeon that day, as
he told police. Instead, they say, he brought his boat to the Berkeley
marina to get rid of his wife's body.
Her body and that of the couple's unborn son washed up on a shoreline 2
miles north of the marina in April, 2003.
Geragos and defense attorney Pat Harris are trying to show that the dog
search was conducted by part-time volunteers, who may not even be able to
read the signals the dogs allegedly give them during searches.
Moreover, they maintain that the dog may have been tracking their client's
scent, not his wife's, at the Berkeley Marina.
(source: San Francisco Chronicle)
More information about the DeathPenalty