Prosecutors in the Scott Peterson murder case have filed a motion to unseal the autopsy reports on Laci Peterson (search) and the couple's unborn child after news leaked that the body of the fetus had a significant cut and plastic tape wrapped around his neck.
A source close to the case who requested anonymity confirmed information in the autopsy (search) report to The Associated Press, but prosecutors responded later in the day by saying it was misleading.
"The information being leaked has clearly been skewed in favor of the defense," wrote Deputy Stanislaus County District Attorney David Harris. "By releasing the autopsy reports the court will allow the media to see what the actual facts are and then accurate information may be reported to mitigate recent adverse publicity."
Through their spokeswoman, Kim Petersen, Laci's family said they learned the autopsy details from television, without warning.
"No family should ever have to learn the autopsy results of somebody they love on national TV, and that's exactly what happened," Petersen said in a televised interview on Friday.
She said Sharon Rocha, Laci's mother, was "devastated."
"She asked me to go out and convey the pain that was inflicted on their family. ... She just implores the media to be sensitive and remember that this isn't a story, this is their life," Petersen said.
Laci Peterson's unborn child was found with one-and-a-half loops of plastic tape wrapped around his neck and a large cut on his body, believed to have come from a knife or some sort of sharp object, an investigation source told Fox News.
The 25-page autopsy report on the fetus, which has been obtained by Fox News, was delivered to prosecutors and defense lawyers for Scott Peterson (search), who is charged with capital murder in the deaths of his 8-months pregnant wife and their unborn son.
Both bodies washed up along the shore of San Francisco Bay (search) in late April.
The DNA results prove conclusively that the child is that of Laci and Scott Peterson.
A source close to the investigation told Fox News that it's possible the baby may have been born before he died.
Previous news reports have said that Laci's womb was intact when her body was found.
But sources say the latest news is subject to debate, since the fetus was in good condition, and his tissue was very soft, indicating that he had been in the water for some time.
The state of the fetus also could indicate that the baby was inside the mother's womb under water and expelled naturally, but now the discovery of the plastic tape around the baby's neck raises questions as to how and why it was there. What was around the unborn child's neck could also be a combination of nylon, twine and plastic, according to the autopsy report.
Sources say it's possible the baby may have been strangled and that it's not likely the tape was placed around the neck after the body was discovered.
They did not rule out that the plastic somehow got wrapped around the baby's neck while he was under water, and that the plastic may have been debris.
The source who found Conner's body told Fox News that the baby appeared to be 33-38 weeks old, pretty close to full term, when he was found.
"The child appeared to be a few days old ... it was entangled in nylon and twine," said the first officer on the scene.
An addendum to the autopsy report says: "One and a half loops of plastic tape are around the neck of the fetus with an extension to a knot near the left shoulder ... an examination of the chest reveals an apparent post-mortem tear exposing the internal surfaces of the right shoulder and the right hemithorax. The wound margins are without evidence of chewing or scalloping."
Chewing or scalloping likely would have been evident if the tear was caused by natural causes.
While looking at a picture of what Conner looked like when found, the source said it appears the child was sliced open and that the wound does not look natural.
Laci's husband, Scott Peterson, has pleaded not guilty in the slayings.
Defense sources have told Fox News they believe a satanic cult (search) may have been involved in Laci's disappearance. A mysterious brown van was seen around the Peterson residence around the time she went missing.
It's thought that the news could be used by Scott Peterson's defense team to bolster its theory that Laci and the fetus were killed in some sort of ritual.
The defense claims that prosecutors don't have any substantial evidence -- such as blood -- to link Peterson to the two deaths.
A prosecution source told Fox News that the autopsy report "has some things that are subject to interpretation, but overall there is nothing in there that triggered us to do another search warrant of Peterson's home, and nothing that shows us that Scott Peterson did not commit this crime."
The source added: "We have not shown our cards yet, there is a lot more evidence than has been reported, with all signs pointing to Scott Peterson."
Sources close to the defense believe the new information will cause the prosecution "grave hesitation" as the case goes forward, maybe even leading to "a dismissal against him."
The exact cause of Laci's and Conner's deaths has been murky thus far.
Bill Ellis, a cult expert from Pennsylvania State University, said the recent developments in the case are completely inconsistent with cult-like behavior.
Cults don't typically target pregnant women, he said, but when they have killed babies, they have never executed them by using a noose or hanging. Historically, babies killed by satanists were cannibalized.
In similar legal cases where the defense team has used a "satanic defense," signs of strangulation or a "noose" have ended up being garbage that caught on the corpse in the water or wherever the body had been left.
Peterson's defense attorney Mark Geragos would not comment on the report. He said Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Al Girolami, during a closed meeting in his chambers Tuesday, "more than telegraphed that he does not want us commenting on the case."
Girolami had said he was considering a gag order in the case to prevent news leaks.
Fox News' Rita Cosby, Geraldo Rivera, Greta Van Susteren and Darren Mackoff and The Associated Press contributed to this report.