Peterson Defense Mentions Other Leads

Scott Peterson's (search) lawyers persisted Wednesday in trying to show that police narrowly focused on their client while ignoring other possible leads in the murder case.

Defense lawyer Mark Geragos (search) spent his fourth day cross-examining Modesto police Detective Craig Grogan (search) and pointing out how police failed to follow up on a number of reported sightings of Laci Peterson (search) the day she vanished.

Geragos on Tuesday mentioned four calls to the police tip hot line within days of Laci's disappearance -- one from a man who said he saw a woman who looked like Laci "being forced into a van, correct?" Geragos asked the detective.

"Yes," Grogan replied.

Geragos returned to the same line of questioning Wednesday regarding the tipster.

"He commented specifically that there was that look on her face, remember? ... How did he describe her look?" Geragos asked. "A scared look on the face?"

"Yes," Grogan said.

Prosecutors allege Peterson killed Laci in their home on or around Dec. 24, 2002, then dumped her body into San Francisco Bay. Her remains -- and that of her fetus -- washed up in April 2003, not far from where Peterson launched his boat that morning for what he claims was a solo fishing trip.

Defense lawyers maintain someone else abducted and killed Laci Peterson while she walked the couple's dog.

Geragos hit several key points, offering reasonable explanations for some of Peterson's behavior police deemed suspicious and noting an alleged lie in an affidavit for a search warrant.

Grogan acknowledged that Peterson told authorities he was fishing for sturgeon the morning Laci vanished and that he used freshwater gear because he had accidentally left behind his saltwater tackle. Grogan has said the freshwater gear was one of the things that led police to question Peterson's story.

Geragos also said police included in a Jan. 20, 2003, affidavit for a wiretap of Peterson' phones a comment that authorities were preparing to arrest Peterson at the time. Grogan said there were no such plans then.

Geragos also brought up a burglary that occurred across the street from the Petersons' home.

Grogan said a witness told him she saw several men that Christmas Eve morning loading a safe into a van in front of that home. Grogan said police posted a reward for information about the van and the suspects, and later even investigated the possibility that the incident may have been linked to Laci's disappearance.

The woman whose home was robbed testified previously that she and her husband left their home on Dec. 24 around midday. When they returned, their home had been burglarized.

Defense lawyers have hinted the burglars may have been involved in Laci's disappearance, but prosecutors contend that would have been impossible given that the Petersons' dog was found wandering alone in the street before the couple left their home, indicating Laci met her demise before the break-in.

Police also testified previously that they recovered much of the stolen property, arrested two men in the case and ruled out any connection to Laci's disappearance.

Geragos then moved to another point.

Defense lawyers have argued it would have been nearly impossible for Peterson to have dumped his wife's weighted body from his small boat without tipping it.

Grogan acknowledged Wednesday police discussed doing an experiment to see if it would be possible, but later scrapped the idea.

Prosecutors later began their redirect of Grogan, noting Peterson's seeming duplicity that caused police to become suspicious of him.

Prosecutor Birgit Fladager asked Grogan if Peterson ever expressed concern about how the investigation was going. Grogan said Peterson did so only about once a month.

Grogan then recounted a conversation he had with Peterson two days after Laci vanished.

"I asked him if he'd been able to get any sleep since this started, since Laci's disappearance," Grogan said. "He told me he didn't sleep well ... but he at least at home had the comfort of the smell of Laci in their bed."

Fladager followed up quickly: "Were you aware that he was talking to [his mistress] Amber Frey at this time?"

"At that time I was not," Grogan replied.