This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," May 26, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: The Scott Peterson double murder trial made headlines across the country and around the world. One hundred eighty-four witnesses testified over a period of 23 weeks. And, tonight Scott Peterson is on death row for the murders of his wife and unborn son.
Joining us live in Washington in an "On the Record" exclusive is Stanislaus County District Attorney Jim Brazelton, the prosecutor whose team won that conviction, nice to see you Jim.
JIM BRAZELTON, STANISLAUS COUNTY DIST ATTY: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome east. But I understand that your whole team has been east recently receiving a national district attorney's award.
BRAZELTON: Yes. Last month, the end of last month we were honored by being given one of the highest awards that the National District Attorneys Association has. It's the Homerun Hitters Award and we were given that at the board meeting of the NDAA at Asheville, North Carolina.
VAN SUSTEREN: Right. When I saw the picture of the award I saw the lawyers that I saw prosecute the case but there's a lot more behind the scenes in any case. Can you give me some idea how many prosecutors you think worked on this case?
BRAZELTON: Well, prosecutors, of course, we had the three that you saw all the time in Redwood City and there were some in our office in Modesto that were picking up pieces here and there and helping out with motions and that type thing.
We had many investigators that you probably aren't even aware of that were working on the case, a lot of staff people that had a part in transporting witnesses, for example, to and from the courthouse and taking care of the items that we have to do that, you know, you don't hear about or you don't see going on. So, we had a number of people on the staff.
VAN SUSTEREN: I take it it's not a 9-5 job to try a case like this.
BRAZELTON: It's not, especially when you're out of your hometown and you're trying it on a change of venue.
VAN SUSTEREN: So, these prosecutors they couldn't go home at night. They stayed at a hotel and the defense attorneys stayed in hotels as well. But I mean nobody had sort of the pleasure of going home.
BRAZELTON: No. We're about, well without traffic an hour and a half from the courthouse and with traffic anywhere from two and a half to three hours, so it's really not possible to go home after court and come back in the morning.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don't think people really realize the hardship of having to try a case away for both sides but it is enormous. How important was this case to your office?
BRAZELTON: Well, it was a very important case of course in that it attracted more media attention than any case we probably ever had and I can't really give you the answers why it did. But in any event, it was an important case certainly but not just our office.
I think it was important to the criminal justice system as a whole. We'd seen some high profile cases go down the drink, so to speak in California in years past and this one was one that I think prosecutors across the country were watching closely.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think the media was hard on the team, fair to the team? I mean I know that no one wants to be criticized. I know there's no such thing as a perfect trial but unfair?
BRAZELTON: I would say that there were a few shows that were not real fair to us at first.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I know you didn't like ours at first.
BRAZELTON: Yours included.
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, I know. I know.
BRAZELTON: And I know that, you know, the media has their things that they have to do and we, of course, had to focus on trying the case.
VAN SUSTEREN: Could you ignore us?
BRAZELTON: It was hard at first but eventually, yes. We knew where we were going all along. The media didn't. They were speculating and guessing on a lot of things and they were wrong most of the time.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did you worry that the jury paid attention or would, you know, sort of get weak and look at the news because that's always a big, I mean what we say doesn't really matter unless a jury hears it.
BRAZELTON: It was a concern of mine. I don't think that the actual trial team had that much of a concern but I certainly did. I felt that, you know, if they were going home at night and listening to their husband or wife or whatever it may be or the neighbors that were watching the shows and, let's face it, some people were watching every show they could take in that had anything to do with this case and I was concerned that the jury might be affected by that. As it turned out, I think that my fears were not justified.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think the jury paid attention to the judge, at least as far as we know the jury paid attention to the judge's admonition not to watch anything. Anyway, Jim, stand by. We've got much more in a moment.
VAN SUSTEREN: We're back with more of our exclusive interview with Jim Brazelton, the head prosecutor in the Scott Peterson double murder trial. Jim, what were the hurdles in prosecuting this case because you didn't have a murder scene, never really had a cause of death? I mean was this case hard to try?
BRAZELTON: Well it's a circumstantial case which in a sense makes it tougher because I think a lot of jurors want to have that smoking gun. They want to have a witness come in and say "I saw him or her do this and do that."
In that sense, it might be a little tougher but I think actually it makes it a little easier in the long run because you're relying on actual evidence you can lay on the table put together like a jigsaw puzzle and show the jury that this overall picture is what they're looking at, what they're seeing. It's not a witness that's coming in that can be mistaken, that can lie if they're so inclined. It's facts that don't lie and they're not mistaken.
VAN SUSTEREN: If the two bodies hadn't washed up on the shore and there are some cases, murder cases tried without bodies, do you think that this case, would you have elected to go forward? I mean was that crucial to have the bodies?
BRAZELTON: You know, I can't really say if we would have or wouldn't have. We would have had to take a long look at the evidence that we did have and where we felt that it would go. It could certainly have been tried without the bodies but I think in this particular case it was crucial where they were found.
VAN SUSTEREN: I always wonder for a prosecutor, I mean you're walking in the courtroom and every day Scott Peterson's parents are there. They didn't commit a crime and they're not accused of a crime, the parents. Is it hard for you to, I mean is there some sort of relationship or do you talk to people and the parents? I mean how do you deal with the parents of the defendant?
BRAZELTON: You know I have a great deal of sympathy for parents of the accused in certain cases. It's certainly hard on them. I know that if my son, any one of them were accused of some terrible crime like that, I'd be in their corner backing them 100 percent, much like the Peterson family was.
But I think that I would at some point probably realize that maybe there's more to it than what we're looking at. But I certainly don't condemn a parent ever for backing their son or backing their daughter, whatever the case may be. I feel a great deal of sympathy for them, as I do for the parents of the victim.
VAN SUSTEREN: Which is where I was going to go next. Sharon Rocha showed unbelievable dignity in that courtroom sitting day in and day out listening to that testimony, I mean the most unthinkable things that she heard, photographs, things like that. How do you deal with the parent in that sense, the parent of the decedent, the wife who's been killed in this instance?
BRAZELTON: Well, you try to comfort them. You try to help them through their grief if you can and try to make them understand what the process is, what the criminal justice system is all about, how it works, what to expect and it kind of tears your heart out sometimes because they are grieving so deeply.
VAN SUSTEREN: But don't they sometimes and I don't mean Sharon Rocha but I mean you're so busy, you're working around the clock to prepare a case and try it. You try it in court all day and you're working until three o'clock in the morning and the parent wants to call up and talk and you want to, you know, work on the trial.
BRAZELTON: I think it's important to talk to that parent if they want to talk to you at three o'clock in the morning. After all, it's their blood and kin that were killed maliciously, terribly in a lot of cases and they feel the need to talk about it and talk to you about it or they wouldn't be calling you. And I think it's very important that you take the time to do that.
VAN SUSTEREN: When the verdict came down and everybody was in the courtroom, the courtroom was packed, were you nervous?
BRAZELTON: Not really nervous. I felt strongly that the jury would do the right thing, whatever that might be in their minds. It looked to me like a very conscientious jury, intelligent jury and I hoped that they would do what they ended up doing.
There was, of course, always a possibility that it would be a hung jury or maybe even an acquittal. I didn't feel that they would acquit him. I felt like we might have to try it all over again because all it takes is one that says "I can't decide."
VAN SUSTEREN: One to hang it. All right, Jim, thank you very much. I appreciate you joining us this evening.
BRAZELTON: Thank you.
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