A quick e-mail to bring you up to date.
Friday night’s On the Record is out of Washington, DC. After Thursday’s show, we raced two hours from Modesto to Oakland to catch a red eye back to Washington, DC. Needless to say, I did not sleep all night as I flew across country -- I may have dozed a half hour... but sitting up in a chair on a plane just does not do it for me.
I arrived at home about 8 a.m., woke my husband and made the mistake of having a few cups of coffee with him. The last thing I needed was an impediment to sleep so it was pretty stupid to drink coffee. As an aside, I caught our new puppy licking my coffee cup which is when I finally decided I wanted no more coffee.
I finally did get to sleep about 11 a.m., but my sister walked in to my house an hour later yelling for my older dog (she did not know I was home.) Of course she woke me with the calling. She felt terrible about waking me. She is batting 1.000... one week ago when I took the red eye back she called me right after I got to sleep and the phone wakened me. This week I thought I was so smart. I unplugged the phone -- to avoid that very problem -- but she "got me" another way. Next week when I take the red eye I am going to try something novel: I am going to tell my sister the day I am flying home.
I spoke to my senior producer and we decided that since we have gotten our viewers so deep into the Laci Peterson (search) murder case and the preliminary hearing, that I should travel back to Modesto early next week and again sit in the courtroom. It makes for a long day but I figure this preliminary hearing can't last forever (right?). There is also a huge part of me that is fascinated by the case. I spent years trying criminal cases and, while I love covering politics and other current events, there is a piece of me that still loves the courtroom and trial strategy.
Of course the hard part is seeing the families. Trials can get clinical when discussed from afar but I am not "afar." Each day I am just a few feet away from Sharon Rocha (search) (Laci's Mother) and Jackie and Lee Peterson (Scott's parents.) All are heartbroken and all are suffering immensely from this tragedy. I can't say enough about these two families. They ooze decency and of course the parents are the ones hurt, and the ones who did nothing to cause this tragedy.
Each day as the court calls recess, Sharon and her family walk out of the courtroom first escorted by a bailiff. I have the aisle seat behind them and Sharon smiles warmly as she passes me. Likewise, after Laci's family is escorted out of the courtroom, Scott's family walks out and likewise warm smiles. The smiles are meant to be cordial -- they do not suggest, or hint at happiness. In fact when I do have a casual conversation with any of them in the halls, it is very social and on the surface type conversation and I can tell underneath it all are broken hearts. I know that my presence is a reminder of the tragedy and I avoid asking them any questions other than to be polite. There is plenty of evidence in the courtroom for me to report -- I don't need to "trap" them in an unexpected comment that might be "news.”
I may be imagining it, but I did think Sharon looked markedly different when she left the courtroom on Thursday morning after the detective testified about the walk through the Peterson home on December 24th with Scott. The detective talked about what Scott said to him, seeing the gun (which I think is unrelated to this murder), Scott saying he last saw his pregnant wife mopping the floor, the description of the nursery, etc. Sharon did not smile at me as she usually does as she exits -- but looked stoically forward as she left the courtroom. It may be my imagination but I think, based on my quick observation, the testimony of the detective was particularly hard for Sharon.
Watch On the Record with Greta Van Susteren weeknights at 10 p.m. ET