After Hours

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The plan Thursday night is to show you what we did "after hours" last Friday night. Hint: It did not involve alcohol ... and we wore bulletproof vests ... and I conveniently did not tell my husband so that he would not attempt to talk me out of it or give me a hard time for doing something dangerous!

What I love most about this job is that it is never the same. Yes, the hours are long, but we get a ringside seat to many events. We bring along a camera to all these projects so that you, too, can have that ringside seat and still get some sleep! I hope you watch tonight!

Here are some e-mails — not so randomly chosen. I picked some about the Scott Peterson (search) case and the 911 call we played Wednesday night:

E-mail No. 1

Hello Greta,
I love your show. Something I do not understand is why it was bad that Scott Peterson stated his wife was missing so early on. If you see that your pregnant wife was not home and then you see that the dog she walked was there running around with its leash still attached, I think I might have also thought that she was missing or maybe she started given birth or got hurt in the park but still I would think looking at the dog that she was missing.
Thank you — keep up the great work!
Awesome show,
A Fan

ANSWER: You make a good point but, if taken with other circumstantial evidence, it looks very curious to me. He got home at 4:30 p.m. and saw the dog. He did not call at 4:30 p.m., so he could not have been alarmed at 4:30 that she was missing even though he had seen the dog. He went inside, washed his clothes. Again, he was not alarmed she was missing and did not call his mother-in-law, the hospital or the police. He ate pizza and took a shower. At 5:17 p.m. he called Laci's mother. You make a good point — but it still sticks with me that if he had that fear, it would have been when he saw the dog at 4:30 and not later. He would have run down to the park at 4:30 p.m. when he saw the dog and not waited 45 minutes to call his mother-in-law (and not go to the park looking for her.) We are all like jurors — citizens looking at the evidence. Some evidence may be convincing to you, and some to me ... some to both of us. The fact that he put himself where the bodies washed up is also a significant fact with me. If the use of the word "missing" were the only piece of evidence, it would be not be significant to me, either.

E-mail No. 2

I find it unusual that Scott Peterson indicated that Laci had been missing since this morning. Just because the dog was home with a leash on doesn't dictate the time of day Laci "went missing." Perhaps Laci always and only walked the dog in the morning. That doesn't prove she couldn't have varied her routine that one day. I think Scott Peterson inadvertently gave the time of Laci's death (or disposal) by saying "since this morning."
I still think he gave his motive in the audio tapes played in court: "I don't want to have biological children." I think Conner was the primary victim. Divorce wouldn't eliminate "biological children." Only murder would.
Centennial, CO

E-mail No. 3

Well, if one is a very protective husband, father, mother on the other hand 5 minutes "missing" would freak the provider out. Also the dog getting away would have spooked him too.

E-mail No. 4 — e-mail from KFI's Laura Ingle who has been in the courtroom for the Michael Jackson (search) trial. Note that she has two trial e-mails below:

Subject: Laura note

The boy's mother takes the Fifth and takes the stand!

After much "a do" about whether or not the mother of the accuser would take the stand, she has.

There was a good-sized fight between attorneys over the "Fifth" outside the presence of the jurors. The mom is involved in a welfare fraud case, where she was accepting welfare, and food stamps after she received over 100 thousand dollars in a JC Penney lawsuit. Judge decided to reinstruct the jury on how to view her testimony and told them she would be taking the 5th re: fraud and perjury. Sort of stomps her credibility in open court, but none the less, prosecutors called her anyway.

She looks SO different today than in the "rebuttal video" — that's the videotape jurors saw where she goes on and on how wonderful Jackson has been to her family. In the video, she had long kinky hair with lots of gel. She had on a lot of makeup and was very animated. Today, she had on no makeup, shorter hair, and is dressed in a pink suit. When the prosecution asked her to identify M.J., she looked over at him, rolled her eyes and sneered a bit, looking disgusted. She didn't seem very focused when giving her answers, giving long-winded disjointed explanations that had nothing to do with the questions. She seems to be looking at jurors a lot while she speaks, looking it seems to make a connection. Some jurors look interested in what she has to say, others are looking straight ahead.

She got weepy and emotional when talking about her living arrangements during the alleged hostage situation, she says Jackson and his people put her through.

Catherine Jackson — Michael's mother — has been taking notes. I've never seen that before.

E-mail No. 5

Subject: Laura note, take two

The mother of the accuser is growing more and more animated on the stand. She was asked about a plane trip she was on with the king of pop and her children. As she started to tell them of the "head licking" incident we've heard of before, she broke down, turned to the jurors and begged them, "Please don't judge me!" After there was a scolding for her not to do that again, she did it again! Sobbing now, "PLEASE don't judge me!"

Prosecutor Ron Zonen asked her to describe what she saw M.J. do. She says she saw him lick her son's head when he was sleeping. She started patting her chest and rocking back and forth in her chair on the stand. Nearly wailing, she said, "I thought it was me ... I thought I was seeing things." Zonen asked her to describe further what she saw. She held out her arm and made her head move like a cat licking the top of a kitten's head. It was a very strange moment. She said, "I was never going to tell no one," that was until her other son told her he had seen the same thing.

Tom Mesereau, Jackson's attorney, is just sitting back in his chair watching. I can almost feel him waiting to pounce for a cross exam.

E-mail No. 6 — e-mail from Jim Hammer inside the Jackson trial:

Trial Note: April 13, 2005

Today was a real roller coaster ride at the Jackson trial. All reporters were waiting with anticipation for the moment that the boy’s mother would finally take the stand. When she did, the D.A. told the judge she would invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to testify, as many had been predicting. After some argument by the lawyers, the judge decided she could testify and barred defense lawyers from asking her any questions about her alleged welfare fraud from 2001-2003, as well as perjury relating to her applications for that assistance. So the D.A. won the battle but having watched the first hours of her testimony, who will eventually win the war, the trial, is impossible to predict.

In a strange way, what happened today might be the best result for the defense. Before the mother testified, the judge read the jury an instruction, informing them that she refused to answer questions about welfare fraud and perjury. She took the Fifth, the jury was told. In most people’s minds, only guilty people take the Fifth — and although the judge told jurors they could not infer anything from her taking the Fifth, I think it’s impossible to un-ring that bell from the jurors’ minds.

Her performance on the stand so far is in a word: bizarre. She came off as paranoid, overly dramatic, crying one minute then talking to members of the media in the audience the next. Maybe the jury will excuse this, giving weight to her claims that she was battered for years by her ex-husband. And I know form my work as a prosecutor that this can leave long-lasting scars on a victim. But the D.A.'s conspiracy case rests mostly on her shoulders. And if the defense is later able to prove that she committed welfare fraud — that is she lied for money — is it a stretch to argue that she could have gotten her kids to do the same thing here? That’s a big IF. But it’s the heart of the defense. Today the trial got even more interesting.
Jim Hammer
Santa Maria Courthouse

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