REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Scott Peterson's (search) defense attorney is preparing to seek a second change of venue for the double-murder trial, claiming its current location is too close to the alleged murder scene and to where the body of Peterson's pregnant wife was found.
Experts say Mark Geragos (search) has a good argument, given that the highly publicized case was moved just 93 miles from Modesto, the alleged crime scene, and remains largely in the same media market. A judge there found an impartial jury could not be seated in the couple's hometown.
Even so, a move is unlikely, said Los Angeles defense attorney Steve Cron.
"I don't think I've ever heard of a trial being moved twice because of pretrial publicity," he said.
The case has received huge publicity in the Bay Area, where the bodies of Laci Peterson (search) and the fetus washed ashore along San Francisco Bay in April 2003. Redwood City, where the case is being heard, is just 40 miles from where the bodies were found.
Geragos wants the case moved to Los Angeles County, where he practices law and where he says media saturation has not been so intense. Geragos will argue his case before Judge Alfred A. Delucchi on May 11, just a week before opening statements are set to begin.
As of Thursday, 50 people had made it into the potential jury pool. Another 166 potential panelists were dismissed for various reasons, including opinions that Peterson is guilty.
Two potentials were dismissed outright after Geragos accused them of being "stealth jurors" who allegedly attempted to deceive the court to get on the jury to convict Peterson. Geragos said there are "numerous others" that he is apparently waiting to expose as jury selection continues.
Geragos would not comment for this story, citing a gag order, but has indicated that Los Angeles County, the state's most populous, would be an ideal location with a more diverse jury pool not as emotionally involved as those in Northern California.
"I think he has one of the stronger arguments that I've seen in such cases, and the numbers keep getting stronger for him," Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson said.
The problem, Levenson said, is the trial "wasn't moved far enough to deal with the underlying problem of media saturation."
However, leaving the case where it is sets up an ideal situation for a defense appeal should Peterson be convicted, said Richard Gabriel, an L.A. jury consultant with Decision Analysis, who worked with prosecutors in the Whitewater case against former President Clinton and his wife.
As for potential jurors in Los Angeles County, "you might be able to find a fair jury, but it's going to be pretty hard to find an impartial jury," Gabriel said.