Judge Rules to Keep Documents in Peterson Case Sealed

A Modesto, Calif., judge ruled Tuesday that search warrants and other documents related to Scott Peterson's (search) arrest on murder charges remain sealed for now and that tape recordings of 69 Peterson phone calls be turned over to defense attorney Mark Geragos (search).

Geragos said in a brief news conference Tuesday that he hasn't had the chance to review the contents of 69 of Peterson's phone calls that were taped by police.

Authorities recorded calls between Peterson and Modesto attorney Kirk McAllister and between Peterson and a private investigator as part of widespread monitoring that also taped Peterson's calls with reporters.

Geragos said he expected to receive the police tapes Tuesday afternoon.

"Once we see exactly what was taped, we'll file the appropriate motions," the Los Angeles attorney said.

Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Al Girolami also said he would probably keep court documents sought by reporters sealed until a July 16 hearing, when prosecutors will outline their case against the fertilizer salesman accused of killing his 8-months-pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner.

"The judge allowed the investigation to go forward," Geragos said. "He ruled the items will remain under seal."

Sporting yet another new look, a clean-shaven, brown-haired Peterson appeared at Tuesday's pre-trial hearing, which focused on several aspects of the case -- including whether to unseal search warrants related to his arrest, wiretaps on his phone and the autopsy report for Laci.

Police said they inadvertently recorded three calls, two between Peterson and his former lawyer and one between Peterson and a private investigator while tapping two of his telephones.

Defense attorneys said they would have asked for first-degree murder charges against Peterson to be dismissed if the transcripts went to the prosecution.

A group of newspapers asked Girolami to unseal autopsy and coroner's reports for the victims. State law dictates that the documents are public record.

Authorities sealed results of a May 15 autopsy report and several search warrants used to investigate Peterson's vehicles, boat and warehouse. Officers also removed almost 100 pieces of evidence from the Peterson home during a two-day search in February.

Lawyer Charity Kenyon, representing The Modesto Bee and four other California newspapers, argued that keeping the documents sealed runs contrary to most legal procedures.

Kenyon contended the documents should be unsealed unless the court determines that other alternatives to protect Peterson's right to a fair trial are insufficient. Those alternatives include moving the trial to another county or keeping the jury sequestered.

Prosecutors argued against unsealing the documents, saying they need to protect the ongoing investigation. Geragos also wanted the files to remain sealed.

Additionally, Peterson waived his right to a speedy trial during the hearing -- which also touched on a possible change of venue because of the intense publicity surrounding the case. There was no word on whether that would be granted.

Peterson, 30, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Laci and their unborn son.

Laci, 27, disappeared on Christmas Eve. Her body and that of the baby washed up on the shore of San Francisco Bay (search ) last month.

Peterson is charged with two counts of murder and special circumstances that have made his case a death penalty prosecution. Stanislaus County authorities allege that Peterson killed his wife inside their Modesto home on Dec. 23 or 24. An autopsy this month failed to determine the cause of death.

Peterson told police he last saw his wife about 9:30 a.m. Dec. 24 as he was leaving for a fishing trip at the Berkeley Marina.

Modesto detectives arrested Peterson in San Diego on April 18, just days after the bodies of his wife and unborn son washed up in the San Francisco Bay about three miles from where Peterson said he went fishing. He was apprehended before the bodies were positively identified, however, because authorities feared he might flee if they waited.

When he was arrested close to the Mexican border, police said, Peterson was carrying $10,000 and his brother's passport. He had dyed his hair blond and grown a beard.

Since taking Peterson's case May 2, Geragos has suggested that Modesto members of a satanic cult killed Laci. He has also hinted that a female mystery witness could lead authorities to the real killer and free Peterson.

Meanwhile, Fox News gleaned exclusive new information over the weekend about the wiretapped phone conversations Peterson had with girlfriend Amber Frey after the investigation into his wife's disappearance intensified.

A source close to Frey, 28, told Fox News that Peterson sometimes called her five to six times a night after she went public with details of their affair in January. He used at least three different cell phones to contact Frey, according to the source.

Reports also circulated over the weekend that Peterson was having affairs with at least two other women besides Frey. The women could be called as witnesses in the trial.

Fox News' Rita Cosby, Geraldo Rivera, Catherine Donaldson-Evans and The Associated Press, contributed to this report.