REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Scott Peterson's lawyer failed to keep jurors from hearing how the former fertilizer salesman added adult programming to his satellite television service shortly after his pregnant wife, Laci, disappeared.
Attorney Mark Geragos (search) asked Judge Alfred A. Delucchi to keep an EchoStar satellite TV service manager off the stand Tuesday, claiming his remarks had no relevance in the murder case except to "assassinate" Peterson's character.
The manager, Donald Toy, however, was allowed to testify about the Peterson account. Laci Peterson (search), he said, ordered the service at the couple's Modesto home on March 13, 2001, without an adult programming option.
Scott Peterson added the Playboy Channel about two weeks after Dec. 24, 2002, the day he reported Laci missing, and changed the service again five days later to include more explicit adult channels, Toy said.
Prosecutor Rick Distaso argued Toy's statement showed Peterson's state of mind while the search for his wife ensued.
Distaso alleges Peterson killed his wife in their home on or around that Christmas Eve, then drove to San Francisco Bay and dumped her weighted body from his small boat. The remains of Laci Peterson and the couple's fetus washed ashore in April 2003, not far from where Peterson said he launched a solo fishing trip the day she vanished.
In cross-examining the EchoStar manager, Geragos pointed out the channels Peterson selected were legal and noted that even the satellite company characterizes the programming as "adult content," not "pornography."
Three witnesses then were called to testify that Peterson seemed emotionless at a Dec. 30, 2002, vigil for Laci.
The defense noted that none of the witnesses watched Peterson during the entire vigil, all were only interviewed by police this year and two were closely connected to his wife's mother by either friends or family members.
Another prosecution witness, Lissa McElroy, testified Peterson seemed "fairly nonchalant" as they looked through photo albums for pictures to help in the search for Laci within days of her disappearance.
McElroy said he appeared to be jokingly pulling out photos of Laci in a bathing suit, another drinking with her friends and yet another of his friends with one person "mooning" the camera.
On cross-examination, however, McElroy admitted she was unable to find any of the pictures Monday night when that prosecutors had her look through the photo album again.
Delucchi ordered jurors from the courtroom while Geragos and Distaso argued about the revelation. Geragos called McElroy's disclosure a "slam dunk ... violation" of trial rules, citing the requirement that Distaso turn over any evidence that might help exonerate Peterson.
After a heated exchange with an angry Delucchi, Distaso said he was sorry: "I apologize to the court profusely," Distaso replied.
The judge struck McElroy's testimony from the record.
Earlier, former Modesto police officer Kirk Stockham testified Peterson had researched water currents in the bay about three weeks before authorities allege he dumped Laci's body into the water.
Stockham said he examined a computer file dated Dec. 8, 2002, that showed bay currents.
The prosecution appeared to try to show Tuesday that Peterson began hatching the murder plot that day. The woman who set Peterson up with his mistress, Amber Frey, testified previously that she confronted him on Dec. 6 after learning he was married.
During his cross-examination of Stockham, Geragos pointed out that police also found out that Peterson had gathered information about fishing. Before his arrest, Peterson told police he was fishing alone on the bay the morning his wife vanished.
Geragos also noted that a printout of the Web site Peterson visited regarding bay currents had different times and dates on it, one showing it was checked by Peterson on Dec. 5, a day before the woman who fixed him up with Frey confronted him.