Juror Allowed to Stay on Peterson Trial
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – A juror who appeared to interact briefly with Laci Peterson's (search) brother can stay on the Scott Peterson (search) murder trial, the judge decided Monday.
Two hours after issuing a subpoena for videotaped footage of the encounter, Judge Alfred A. Delucchi (search) announced the juror would not be excused.
Delucchi had indicated he wanted to know more about Juror No. 5's interaction with Brent Rocha as they passed through a courthouse metal detector last week.
Juror No. 5, an airport screener, was taped saying what sounded like "could lose today" to Rocha on Thursday. It was unclear what he meant, or whether Rocha responded.
Testimony was delayed Monday morning as attorneys met with the judge in chambers to question Rocha and the juror.
Delucchi then emerged to announce his conclusion.
"The court is of the opinion that there was no misconduct on the part of Mr. Rocha or on the part of the juror," the judge said.
The judge and defense attorney Mark Geragos (search) also said that, based on their conversation with Rocha and the juror, media descriptions of the interaction were inaccurate.
"Certain people wanted to spin this," Geragos said in open court. "There was never anything said about 'You're going to lose today."'
The judge regularly admonishes jurors not to discuss the case outside the jury room, but doesn't tell jurors never to talk with anybody outside of court.
The subpoenaed tape had not been turned over to the court before Delucchi made his decision.
Peter Shaplen, a pool producer hired by the television networks to supervise the collection of footage in and around the courthouse, said he still planned to turn the tape over. The subpoena gives him until Wednesday to produce it.
After the judge disposed of the juror issue, the trial continued with testimony from Stacey Boyers, Laci Peterson's longtime friend.
Boyers wiped away tears as she described the last time she spoke with Laci and the frantic scene at the Petersons' home on Christmas Eve, 2002 — the day Peterson says his wife disappeared.
"It was crazy. It was chaotic," Boyers said.
She also testified how tired Laci Peterson was because of her pregnancy.
"Every time she would start to do something she would have to stop and rest," Boyers said.
Peterson's defense claims Laci was preparing to walk the couple's dog on the morning Peterson says she vanished while he was out fishing. His defense attorneys charge someone abducted her from a nearby park.
Prosecutors allege Peterson's affair with a massage therapist drove him to murder his wife. They allege that Peterson, 31, then dumped her body into San Francisco Bay.