MODESTO, Calif. – The Stanislaus County (search) district attorney's office has obtained what it believes is the mysterious van Scott Peterson's defense team said will help prove his innocence.
Investigators with the district attorney's office, which has charged Peterson with the murder of his eight-months pregnant wife Laci, said the van was found Friday. Lawyers for Scott Peterson (search) have hinted that members of a Satanic cult, and a brown van spotted in the couple's neighborhood, were behind the disappearance of the 27-year-old woman.
The van, its contents and the people associated with it were all checked and cleared, and the vehicle was sent to the state crime lab for further testing, the district attorney's office said.
Scott Peterson's defense team was allowed access to the van Tuesday to conduct its own investigation. Prosecutors said so far nothing significant had been found.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers in the Scott Peterson murder case were back in court Tuesday for civil proceedings over whether to release autopsy reports and other documents to the media.
The judge postponed his decision on the matter until Friday.
At issue is whether to unseal autopsy reports for Laci Peterson and her unborn son, Conner, as well as search-warrant papers and other official reports related to the case.
Several press outlets have argued for the release of the documents, which are normally part of the public record.
Both the defense and the prosecution, citing the need for a fair trial, initially wanted the papers to remain sealed. But after members of the defense team leaked portions of the autopsy reports to the media, the prosecution changed course — instead asking that the autopsy documents be made public in their entirety to prevent details from being taken out of context.
"We have a concern about the wrong information getting out from the autopsy report," said Deputy District Attorney John Goold in a brief news conference after Tuesday's proceedings.
The leaked information involved gruesome details, including the claim that the baby was found with a gash in the shoulder and tape around the neck. But some pathologists believe that damage likely occurred naturally, in the four months the body was underwater.
Scott Peterson, 30, is accused of murdering his wife, Laci, who was eight months pregnant with their son. He has pleaded not guilty but remains in jail without bail. The trial could be more than a year away.
Peterson and lead defense attorney Mark Geragos (search) were not in court Tuesday for the civil hearing. But another Peterson attorney, Matt Dalton, made a few cryptic comments as he walked away from the courtroom.
"There are facts here you don't know. They're very serious," he said. "I'm very concerned." The defense also said it was looking for shoes belonging to Laci, but didn't explain their significance.
The defense has publicly alluded to the case it's building, which is based on the theory that Laci was abducted and killed by members of a satanic cult — not by her husband.
The prosecution says that Peterson killed Laci sometime between Dec. 23 and Dec. 24. He reported her missing Dec. 24, saying he'd come back from a fishing trip to find her gone.
Her body and that of the unborn baby washed up on the shores of San Francisco Bay in April. Peterson was charged with killing them just before the bodies were identified as those of the missing woman and baby.
One of the more recent tidbits Peterson's defense team offered was that it was searching for a man named "Donnie," with no known address and a possible tie to illegal drugs, including methamphetamines.
Peterson's attorneys had said they were searching for a brown van reportedly spotted in the area when Laci disappeared on Christmas Eve. They said Donnie and others were linked to the van.
Just after the Donnie theory circulated in the press, another one supporting the prosecution's case cropped up — this one related to Peterson's fishing-trip alibi.
The murder suspect has said he was on a fishing trip on Dec. 24. But Fox News learned that on Dec. 23, the night he and Laci were last spotted together, he told his wife's sister, Amy, that he was going on a golf trip the next day.
Scott and Laci Peterson were last seen together at the Modesto (search) beauty parlor where Amy works. While his pregnant wife sat nearby and his sister-in-law cut his hair, Peterson told Amy that he had a golf tee time the following day, Christmas Eve, and volunteered to run an errand for her on his way home from the game.
He apparently did not mention any plans to go fishing.
Meanwhile, tensions escalated as battles over personal belongings continued last weekend between the Petersons and Laci's family, the Rochas. The latest squabble was apparently over Laci's wedding ring, which Scott Peterson wants back.
Fox News' Catherine Donaldson-Evans, Adam Housley, Dan Springer, Claudia Cowan and the Associated Press contributed to this report.