REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – A day after the lead detective assigned to investigate Laci Peterson's (search) disappearance told jurors Scott Peterson (search) seemed disinterested in the status of the case, defense lawyers challenged the contention, noting Peterson was regularly checking in with police and family.
Modesto police Detective Craig Grogan (search) has been on the witness stand for more than a week. Defense attorneys used him to accuse police of narrowly focusing on their client while ignoring other possible leads.
Prosecutors methodically noted Peterson's apparent duplicity after his wife's disappearance in their questioning of Grogan, and implied, according to Grogan, that Peterson inquired with police only about once a month.
As defense lawyers began their second cross-examination Thursday, Grogan quickly was forced to acknowledge that Peterson inquired about the investigation much more often then he had previously testified.
"In actuality, Scott Peterson was talking to police every single day asking about the investigation," Geragos said.
Geragos then had Grogan acknowledge that he and Peterson spoke at least 11 times during the first 10 days of the case.
The defense lawyer also pointed out that in a telephone call with Laci's brother, Peterson expressed concern that authorities weren't giving him any details.
"Scott is saying they won't tell me a damn thing," Geragos said, apparently quoting from a police report.
Geragos also showed that Grogan flatly accused Peterson of being involved in Laci's disappearance on one wiretapped phone call in January.
"Would you expect at that point that he's going to come to you and ask for status reports?" Geragos asked.
"He may not," Grogan replied.
Geragos' cross-examination was an attempt to counter the prosecution's contention that Peterson's apathy about the investigation and duplicity made him the most likely suspect.
On Wednesday, prosecutor Birgit Fladager had Grogan recount a conversation he had with Peterson.
"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 (search) at this time?" she asked.
"At that time I was not," Grogan said.
Grogan also read an e-mail Peterson sent to Laci's mother soon after his mother-in-law had inquired about retrieving two of Laci's lamps from the Petersons' home.
"She loves her lamps and they should be in our home when they bring her home," Grogan read.
Fladager then quickly noted that Peterson had inquired about selling the couple's home — fully furnished — within a few weeks of his wife's disappearance.
Earlier Wednesday, Geragos pointed out how police failed to follow up on a number of reported sightings of Laci, noting a call from one man who said he saw a woman who looked like Laci "being forced into a van, correct?" Geragos asked the detective.
"Yes," Grogan replied.
"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 Modesto home on or around Dec. 24, 2002, then dumped her body into San Francisco Bay. Her badly decomposed remains — and that of her fetus — washed up in April 2003, not far from where Peterson launched his boat that Christmas Eve morning for what he claims was a solo fishing trip.
Defense lawyers maintain someone else abducted and killed Laci while she walked the couple's dog.
Geragos tried to offer explanations for some of Peterson's behavior police that deemed suspicious and noted 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 was using freshwater gear because he had accidentally left behind his saltwater tackle. Grogan has said that was one of the things that concerned officers about Peterson's story.
Geragos also said police included in a Jan. 20, 2003, affidavit for a wiretap of Peterson's phones a comment that authorities were preparing to arrest Peterson at the time. Grogan said there were no such plans then.
Geragos then moved on 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.
Grogan acknowledged police discussed doing an experiment to see if it would be possible, but later scrapped the idea.