Published July 12, 2004
Events in the murder case of Laci Peterson:
Dec. 24, 2002: Laci Peterson, 8 months pregnant, is reported missing from her Modesto, Calif. home by husband, Scott Peterson. He says he came home from a fishing trip to Berkeley Marina and his wife was nowhere to be found.
Dec. 28: Authorities search water near Berkeley Marina for first time.
Dec. 31: Modesto police shift their focus in case to foul play. "We have not ruled out other possibilities," homicide detective Jon Buehler says.
Jan. 3, 2003: Modesto police ask public for help verifying whereabouts of Scott Peterson in days before Christmas. In Berkeley, police spend hours combing waters near marina.
Jan. 14: Authorities and friends expand search to Southern California.
Jan. 17: Laci Peterson's family and friends hold news conference to demand Scott Peterson tell authorities everything he knows about the case.
Jan. 18: As suspicion of Scott Peterson grows, authorities investigate his whereabouts in connection with the disappearance of a San Luis Obispo woman in 1996, when Scott and Laci Peterson lived there. Authorities later determine he had nothing to do with the second missing woman.
Jan. 19: Scott Peterson brings search for missing wife to Los Angeles, where he and his family distribute fliers to volunteers at a hotel.
Jan. 23: Laci Peterson's family says Scott Peterson told authorities he had been involved with another woman.
Jan. 24: Amber Frey, a massage therapist from Fresno, comes forward and confirms she had a romantic relationship with Scott Peterson.
Jan. 28: In a televised interview, Scott Peterson admits he had a relationship with Frey and says he told his wife about it. "It wasn't anything that would break us apart," he says.
Feb. 5: Laci Peterson's family steps up their criticism of Scott Peterson, saying he sold his pregnant wife's car and considered selling the couple's house.
Feb. 10: Laci Peterson's expected due date.
Feb. 17: Scott Peterson's mother, Jackie, tells The Associated Press her family believes kidnappers abducted Laci Peterson with intentions of holding her captive until she delivered the baby.
Feb. 18: Authorities issue a search warrant for the Petersons' home in Modesto, where they remove possible evidence and take measurements.
March 6: Modesto police officially declare the case a homicide.
March 12: Authorities search San Francisco Bay again.
April 14: The body of a woman and a male fetus that washed ashore in Richmond, Calif., are found.
April 18: Police in San Diego arrest Scott Peterson, who is found carrying a large amount of cash and his brother's passport. Attorney General Bill Lockyer says bodies found in Richmond are those of Laci Peterson and her unborn son.
April 21: Scott Peterson pleads not guilty to charges of murdering his wife and unborn child. Laci's family holds press conference thanking public for support since their daughter's disappearance.
April 25: Stanislaus County District Attorney James Barzelton announces he will seek the death penalty against Scott Peterson.
April 28: Laci's father, Dennis Rocha, in a televised interview, describes difficulties his family has faced since Laci disappeared. “We'll never be the same without Laci,” said Rocha. “It took a big chunk out of us.”
May 2: Scott Peterson hires high-profile attorney Mark Geragos to take over his case.
May 4: Thousands of people flood Modesto's First Baptist Church for Laci's memorial service.
May 9: Judge Al Girolami seals court papers containing evidence police used to obtain warrant to arrest Scott Peterson and conduct another search of his home. News media learn investigators tapped Scott Peterson's phone, two weeks after Laci's disappearance.
May 15: Laci's autopsy is completed and sealed.
May 16: Peterson's lawyers go public with theory that “Satanic” cult kidnapped and murdered Laci.
May 19: Frey hires hot-shot attorney Gloria Allred.
May 22: Police search San Francisco Bay again. Peterson's lawyers claim to have located “mystery woman” who can prove Scott Peterson's innocence.
May 27: Peterson appears in court with a new haircut. Prosecutors ordered to provide Scott Peterson's attorneys with three recordings of wiretapped phone calls.
May 29: Statement is released indicating Laci's family has hired attorneys to retrieve wedding dress, baby crib and other personal belongings from Peterson's Modesto home.
After reports from Laci and her unborn son's autopsy are leaked to the media, prosecutors reverse their decision and ask for autopsy reports to be made public. Leaked information reveals Laci's fetus was found with plastic tape around neck and major gash on torso.
May 30: Girolami orders autopsy reports to remain sealed on grounds they could hamper investigation. Girolami orders end to autopsy leaks. Laci's friends and family remove personal items from her home against wishes of Peterson family.
June 2: The defense team indicates it is searching for a man named "Donnie" as the possible killer, and says the man may be linked to a mysterious brown van spotted in the area of the Petersons' house on Dec. 24.
June 4: The Stanislaus Co. D.A.'s office says it has found the brown van. Prosecutors examine it and decide is has no connection to the case; the defense team inspects it as well.
June 6: In rare show of emotion, Scott Peterson appears to cry as judge decides to keep autopsy reports of his slain wife sealed. Girolami denies request to issue gag order on lawyers involved in case.
The same day, a celebrity-photograph broker offers nude pictures of Amber Frey to the highest bidder.
June 12: Girolami issues a gag order preventing lawyers, police officers and potential witnesses from discussing the Peterson case in public. The same day, Judge Roger Beauchesne rules that search warrants and police documents related to the case should be made public, but delays their unsealing until July 8 to allow for further appeals.
June 15: A fellow inmate tells The Modesto Bee that Scott Peterson had been receiving fan mail in jail, mostly from women.
June 16: Geragos asks that Girolami's gag order be lifted on the grounds that Frey's attorney, Allred, had already violated the order without penalty.
June 26: Judge Girolami postpones Peterson's preliminary hearing until Sept. 9 after prosecutors say witnesses would not be available for the previously scheduled date of July 16.
July 9: Girolami allows journalists to listen to their own wiretapped interviews with Scott Peterson.
July 24: Girolami allows the defense team to conduct its own examination of the bodies of Laci Peterson and her unborn son.
July 30: A state appeals court rules the Peterson search warrants remain sealed.
Aug. 5: The defense claims Scott Peterson turned down an offer by the Stanislaus Co. D.A. to exchange a promise not to seek the death penalty for a confession.
Aug. 14: Girolami rules that the public and the news media will be allowed to attend the preliminary hearing.
Aug. 18: Girolami rules that news cameras will not be allowed inside the courtroom during the preliminary hearing.
Aug. 22: The Stanislaus Co. coroner announces that the bodies of Laci Peterson and her unborn son have been released, but does not say to whom. Later that day, sources tell Fox News that Scott Peterson had admitted, then denied, involvement in his wife's disappearance in a wiretapped telephone conversation with his then-girlfriend Frey.
Aug. 29: Laci Peterson and her unborn son are buried in a private ceremony.
Sept. 2: Girolami reschedules the preliminary hearing from Sept. 9 to Oct. 20 to allow the defense more time to gather evidence.
Sept. 21: The Fresno Bee reports that a jailed inmate told investigators Scott Peterson had met with him in Fresno in Nov. 2002 to discuss possibly kidnapping his wife Laci. Peterson's family tells Fox News Scott and Laci Peterson were in San Diego at the time.
Oct. 15: Sources tell Fox News that telephone logs show that Scott Peterson called Frey hundreds of times after his wife's disappearance, contradicting his claims that Frey pursued him.
Oct. 17: Girolami reschedules the preliminary hearing from Oct. 20 to Oct. 28 to allow Geragos time to finish an unrelated murder trial in Los Angeles.
Oct. 24: Girolami reschedules the preliminary hearing from Oct. 28 to Oct. 29 to give the defense an additional day to prepare.
Oct. 29: The preliminary hearing is finally held. An FBI expert testifies that mitochondrial DNA tests had loosely linked a strand of hair found embedded in a pair of needle-nosed pliers on Scott Peterson's boat to Laci.
Oct. 31: Laci Peterson's sister testifies that Scott had told her he planned to play golf, not go fishing, on Dec. 24.
Nov. 3: A defense expert testifies that mitochondrial DNA tests — which cannot link evidence to a specific individual — are scientifically flawed.
Nov. 4: The defense suggests police planted evidence in Scott Peterson's home, truck and boat. His friends and relatives tell Fox News he had several affairs, which Laci was aware of. Fox News also learns Peterson's parents have raised $1 million to pay Geragos' legal fees.
Nov. 5: Proceedings are not held because Geragos needs to deal with a deadlocked jury in L.A.
Nov. 6: A police detective drops two bombshells in testimony — that Scott Peterson told Frey he was a recent widower on Dec. 9, 2002, two weeks before his wife disappeared, and that Peterson had a handgun in his truck when police responded to his missing-person report.
Nov. 12: Detective Al Brocchini, in testimony, admits he urged Scott Peterson's friends and neighbors, including Frey, to ask Peterson leading questions in hopes he would implicate himself in Laci's death.
Nov. 13: Detective Philip Owen testifies Laci's body was found in tan pants, as her sister testifies she had been wearing Dec. 23; Scott had said she was wearing black pants the next morning. Detective Brocchini testifies Scott drove to the Berkeley Marina three times in early January and looked out over the water, twice on days police were searching the bay.
Nov. 14: Fox News learns Geragos plans to subpoena Frey, one day after Allred announced the prosecution would not be calling her client as a witness during the preliminary hearing. Detective Owen testifies he ignored a tip that a woman resembling Laci had been seen walking a dog near the Peterson home mid-morning on Dec. 24.
Nov. 17: Prosecution pathologist Dr. Brian Peterson (no relation) testifies he could not determine Laci's cause of death; Judge Girolami rules mitochondrial DNA analysis can be admitted as evidence.
Nov. 18: Girolami rules that Peterson will stand trial on double murder charges. Proceedings are scheduled to begin Jan. 26.
Nov. 26: Fox News learns Frey is pregnant by her boyfriend, a 43-year-old chiropractor.
Dec. 15: Geragos, citing a "lynch mob atmosphere" tainted against his client, files a motion for a change of venue to move the trial out of Stanislaus County.
Dec. 23: Geragos files argument to seek dismissal of both murder charges against Peterson, claiming Modesto police never seriously investigated other suspects or possibilities.
Jan. 8, 2004: Judge Girolami grants Geragos his change of venue, but does not specify where the trial will take place.
Jan. 13: Cal State Stanislaus students tell the Modesto Bee they faked data used in a regional opinion survey that Girolami cited as part of his decision to move the trial.
Jan. 14: A different judge rejects Geragos' motion to dismiss both charges against Peterson.
Jan. 20: Girolami rejects a prosecution request to keep the trial in Modesto County. He rules it will be held in suburban San Mateo County south of San Francisco. The county Hall of Justice in Redwood City is the likely venue.
Jan. 21: Retired Contra Costa County Judge Richard Arnason, famous for having presided over the 1970s trial of militant radical Angela Davis, is selected to preside over the Peterson trial. The prosecution asks for the trial, scheduled to begin Jan. 26, to be postponed for two weeks.
Jan. 22: The prosecution exercises its option to remove Arnason as the trial judge, claiming he would be biased against the state's case. The chief justice of the California Supreme Court is expected to name a new judge within a week.
Jan. 23: Jury selection, the first phase of the actual trial, is postponed by at least a week by Girolami as the state tries to find another judge to preside in Redwood City.
Jan. 27: Alfred A. Delucchi, a retired Alameda County judge, is appointed by the state's chief justice to preside over the Peterson trial.
Jan. 30: San Mateo County announces it will charge media outlets $51,000 each for reserved spots outside the country courthouse.
Feb. 2: Judge Delucchi bans cameras from the Peterson trial courtroom, and delays the trial by a week in response to a defense request citing Geragos' obligations to a murder case in Southern California.
Feb. 4: Vivian Mitchell, one of three people who told police they'd seen Laci Peterson alive in Modesto the morning of Dec. 24, 2002, dies of natural causes.
Feb. 5: The Peterson defense team announces it is ready for trial.
Feb. 9: Judge Delucchi rules witness lists and names of potential jurors in the Peterson case remain sealed.
Feb. 17: Delucchi rules the prosecution can use data collected from GPS trackers secretly placed in Peterson's vehicles.
Feb. 23: Delucchi rules defense will not be allowed to subpoena Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Wray Ladine about Ladine's issuance of a warrant allowing a wiretap of Peterson's phones. Delucchi also schedules jury selection to begin March 1.
Feb. 25: Superior Court Judge Roger Beauchesne rules Scott Peterson can sell his story for book or movie deals; Judge Delucchi rules the trial jury will not be sequestered, and reschedules jury selection for March 4.
March 2: Judge Delucchi rules prosecutors can use evidence from wiretaps on Peterson's phones, and can introduce testimony that dogs tracked Laci Peterson's scent to the Berkeley Marina.
March 4: Prospective jurors begin filling out screening questionnaires.
March 9: Peterson defense says it may consider requesting a second change of venue.
March 22: Judge Delucchi allows Scott's pre-arrest TV interviews to be used as evidence; opening statements in trial set for May 17.
May 27: Twelve jurors are selected for Scott's trial. The six men and six women, who appear to range in age from 20s to 60s, all said they would be willing to sentence Scott to death if he was convicted of killing his wife and unborn son.
Fox News' Paul Wagenseil, C. Spencer Beggs and The Associated Press contributed to this report.