If you are following the Scott Peterson (search) double murder trial, you have reason to be very disappointed. In the end, we all want — or should want — justice. Justice means the right verdict — "guilty" if proven beyond a reasonable doubt to the 12 jurors or "not guilty" if not proven. We have a right to expect that the police do a good job — and, in most instances, they do. One of the detectives in the Peterson case is falling short of that "good job" to put it gently. And, if I were the assistant DA prosecuting this case right now, I would be furious. Frankly, as good citizens, we should all be furious.
Let me outline 3 instances of police work that must have the DA's office up in arms:
1. Shortly after December 24, the lead detective investigating the disappearance of Laci Peterson went to a judge and swore under oath to certain "facts." Those "facts" were what the judge relied upon in issuing a search warrant and an order to wiretap Peterson's phone. It is demanded that this affidavit be true — not fudged, and no lies — since the issuance of warrants is so important.
One of those "facts" the detective swore to was that Scott had lied to him when he said that on the morning Laci disappeared that he and Laci had been watching Martha Stewart and the topic of the show included a discussion about meringue. The detective claimed — under oath — that this was a lie, that there was no mention of meringue on the Stewart show. This was important. If Scott was lying and acting suspicious (there were also other assertions in the affidavit), then the warrants should issue. On the basis of this "fact," (the lie about the meringue) and other statements by the detective, the judge issued the warrants.
In opening statement before the jury, the prosecutor also re-stated this "fact" about the meringue and Martha Stewart. The prosecutor was using this "fact" to show Scott's suspicious and lying behavior.
The problem? The detective was wrong. It is unclear whether the detective was mistaken and overworked — or whether he did it deliberately to get a warrant against someone he was confident had caused Laci's disappearance.
When Peterson's lawyer got up in his opening statement the following day, he actually PLAYED — on a big screen in the courtroom — the Martha Stewart show from Dec. 24 and indeed there was a discussion about meringue. The prosecutor, for having relied on the "fact" in his opening statement the day before looked, at best, "sloppy." Why didn't the prosecutor check this "fact" himself before he presented it to the jury in his opening? My thought at the time was that in a big case it is easy to overlook some material and make a mistake like this. I felt sorry for the prosecutor ... but read on.
2. As the trial progressed, this detective was called to the witness stand. It was established that the way the detective does his work is to record his daily investigation on an audiotape and then later reduce the audio notes to a written report. That written report is turned over to the defense during "discovery." At one point during the cross examination, Peterson's lawyer put up on the big screen — for the jury and courtroom to see — one of his reports. Then the tape giving rise to that report was played for the jury. Missing from the written report turned over to the defense was one piece of information — that a witness saw Laci Peterson at the warehouse on December 23, 2002, where Scott kept his boat. It was in the tape — but not in the written report. Why didn't the detective include it in the written report?
This piece of information is critical to the prosecution's theory. The prosecution claims Laci knew nothing about the boat and that Scott essentially bought it on the sly to dispose of her body after murdering her. They also rely on a hair found in the boat to bolster their theory. If Laci knew about the boat and had been around the boat, their theory is discredited. This would be very powerful information for the jury.
When the defense attorney showed the jury that this same detective had eliminated this key piece of information from the report turned over to the defense, I am sure the prosecutor went ballistic inside. Courtroom watchers were stunned. Why did the detective eliminate this key piece of evidence from his report?
Yes, the prosecutor should have double checked his detective's work, but why did the detective take this out of the report? Mistake? Deliberate? It is worth noting that he did not take any other "information" out of his written report.
The "omission" looked deliberate to those watching the trial. Of course we don't know what the jury thinks.
3. This week the detective testified — under oath — that someone, claiming to be an old Peterson friend, called the tipline in the days after the bodies were recovered and before information was released about the condition of the bodies. That caller, per the detective's testimony, said that Scott had once told him how to dispose of a body without getting caught. The detective, under oath before the jury, said the person told him that Scott even described using duct tape to accomplish the crime.
The reference to the "duct tape" was key. Why? Because the detective knew that when Laci's body had been recovered days earlier that duct tape had been found wrapped around her body. The reference to the "duct tape" in my mind sealed Scott's fate. It was as thought Scott had earlier provided a blue print for killing a future wife.
But now new information is emerging ... we are hearing, and I emphasize "hearing," that the man the detective interviewed did NOT say "duct tape." Apparently the defense has gone back to the audiotape of that interview between the detective and the friend, and there was NO mention of the duct tape. In other words, the detective "added" it when he got to court.
On Tuesday when the trial resumes, you can expect that this "duct tape" problem will be discussed. This could include a request for a mistrial. The jury might even be played the audiotape of the interview in which there is no mention of the duct tape.
I am sure the prosecutor is going to have a long rotten holiday trying to think how to recover from this detective's blunders — whether accidental or deliberate. I am sure the prosecutor realizes that the jury may be forgiving for one "mistake" but that as they pile up, it begins to look intentional — i.e. that the detective is framing Scott Peterson. I have no idea what the motives of the detective are — I leave that for the jury — but I do know that this is a HUGE HUGE problem for the prosecution. Juries don't like to sentence defendants to death if they think a lead detective is "dirty." Juries want to be sure the process is fair.
Here are some viewer e-mails on this topic (again, randomly selected):
E-mail No. 1
From watching your show and the Peterson trial I never knew that police lied like they are doing in this trial. With this information it will be hard to believe anything a police person says ever again. Keep up the good work.
E-mail No. 2
I may be wrong, but I thought I heard that the "meringue" story mentioned on the 24th that Geragos played in court to contradict the prosecution won't fly. By the time the part about the meringue was played, Peterson would have already have been well on his way to where ever he was going. Check the time. I hope the prosecution does.
Thanks for not devoting the entire time to the Peterson case. I am very interested in Iraq since I have nephews serving there at this time.
Again, you blow me away by showing first hand about the jets you fly in or report on. You go girl.
E-mail No. 3
Hi Greta..... love your show !
I'm shocked and I was wondering ... now that Det. Brocchini has messed up 3 times on the witness stand, in your opinion could this have been Mr. Distaso's way of throwing the trial? I mean, it is difficult to believe that Mr. Distasto prepared so poorly for this trial, and I just don't believe he's that dumb.
Do you think he realized he was in trouble with one of his main witnesses and knowingly used Broccini's testimony against him? Or would he get in trouble for doing that?
Brocchini should be fired !!
E-mail No. 4
I'm sorry but the prosecution still has not presented any relevant facts to the jury. A cheater ain't necessarily a liar, and even though the destruction by any means possible of Scott's character and family man status, does not constitute evidence that he murdered his wife. And definitively Amber was NOT the motive, he just wanted to have a "main" woman on the sly.
I loved your piece on the new Y-22 Fighter and was extremely jealous of you being up in the F-16.
San Antonio, TX
E-mail No. 5
HOW MANY TIMES WILL WE HEAR: SCOTT IS A LIAR, A CHEATER, A TWOTIMING RASCAL, A SELFISH, SELF-ABSORBED GUY, but this doesn't make him a murderer????GIVE ME A BREAK!!! I WANT TO HEAR THE "CORRECT PROFILE" for a murderer? So, NOW, a murderer, is an honest, quiet, unassuming man, faithful to his
wife, hard working, loving to his wife, someone you can FIND ABSOLUTELY NO FAULT WITH, someone who has ABSOLUTELY NO CHARACTER FLAWS???? HAVE you done the stats? The majority of pregnant women are MURDERED BY their husbands, cause they don't want the RESPONSIBILITY, and because they don't want to pay child support for 18 years, because they DON'T WANT THE FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY THAT GOES W/divorce. When I hear the EX-Juror saying he can't believe that Scott Peterson was dumb enough to kill his wife, is he
saying that all the convicted murderers of pregnant wives, were EXTREMELY WELL EDUCATED, EXTREMELY INTELLIGENT GUYS, EXTREMELY CLEVER, SO CLEVER THEY COULDN'T POSSIBLY BE CAUGHT, so, therefore, since Scott appears so stupid, he can't be a murderer????? What kind of logic is that? Why don't you inquire of FBI profilers, or of local law enforcement profilers in several states, just see how BRILLIANT, INTELLIGENT, STRAIGHT THINKING, WONDERFUL HUSBANDS AND FATHERS actually go out and murder their wives? AND I GUESS YOUR MALE PANEL ALSO THINKS O.J. SIMPSON IS ABSOLUTELY AND FOR CERTAIN NOT A MURDERER, TOO!!! I CAN'T believe some of the stupid reasoning I hear, esp. from the male portion (all except Jeffrey Pheiger), he's the only one you ever have on w/any real gumption and sense (and Jeannine Pirro), as well, BUT ALL THOSE OTHER GUYS, HOW CAN THEY FACE THEMSELVES IN THE MIRROR, THE NEXT DAY, FACE THEIR WIVES THE NEXT DAY,,,,,,,,I'll throw up, if I have to listen to this sickening stuff for 6 mos. In fact, I'm turning the TV OFF!
FRAN Church, Conroe, Texas
HOW about checking a few death rows, in all our States?
E-mail No. 6
Distaso should PROSECUTE Brocchini for tampering with evidence, perjury and obstruction of justice, ASAP ! This is NOT Rick Distaso's fault, but Brazelton is just as guilty of this deception as Brocchini. After all, Brazelton announced this was a "slam, dunk case" to the media and the world!
The most outrageous consideration is that THIS IS A CAPITAL CASE !!!!
E-mail No. 7
I am a devoted every night fan. Love your "little plane rides"........Must have missed a show because I haven't a clue about bernie's beard. Perhaps you can reiterate.
I am so disgusted with lawyer Distasio. Can a prosecuter(sic) be replaced during a case? I am also disgusted with the police thus far. Unbelievable incompetence. Only in california do they call that good police work. Last, and most important question. Can the D>A> ask for a mistrial and does double jeopardy apply?
I will watch faithfully next week to hear the answers. thanx for doing a great job.
I have to agree with Jeff Feiger about the quality of this prosecuter(sic) but then there is Janine and she must have been excellent.
As an aside, I pick the e-mails totally randomly. Until the recent e-mails, most e-mails about the case concerned the direct issue of whether Scott Peterson is guilty or not. My unscientific assessment of the e-mails is that overwhelmingly it was said in the e-mails that he is guilty.
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