Published January 25, 2017
This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, June 14, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST:
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight: Prosecutors at the Scott Peterson trial drop a bomb on the defense. Fox's Claudia Cowan's in Redwood City with the details -- Claudia.
CLAUDIA COWAN, FOX CORRESPONDENT: Well, Greta, courtroom drama here today, as Scott's lawyer, Mark Geragos, threw a fit and asked the judge for a mistrial. The judge said no, but clearly ,tensions here are on the rise. This development happened while Geragos was questioning Matthew Spurlock (ph), a Modesto patrol officer who responded to the Peterson's home the night Laci was reported missing by her husband and alleged killer. Spurlock said while he followed Scott around his home, he overheard him mutter the "F" word and throw down a flashlight he'd been using to search for his wife.
Scott's outburst was not in the police report, and the jury was quickly excused before Geragos erupted. Calling it a cheap shot, he accused prosecutor Rick Distaso of violating discovery laws. Distasos responded that Scott's expletive wasn't a statement, but just a word.
Outside court, Jackie Peterson defended her son's language.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKIE PETERSON, SCOTT PETERSON'S MOTHER: For him to be asked, it's silly -- what I would consider, when you want to be looking for your wife, silly questions and being frustrated that you can't go look for your wife -- I'm surprised he could speak at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COWAN: Earlier today, Modesto police officer Derek Lessinger (ph) testified that when he responded to the Petersons' home, it was tidy, though a few things caught his eye -- a crumpled-up rug, a mop and bucket and some dirty wet rags on the washing machine. A housekeeper cleaned that house the day before, and prosecutors have suggested Scott was trying to cover up the murder of his pregnant wife. The defense is expected to argue the Petersons cleaned their home often because they had a dog.
Right away, police say they were suspicious of Scott's "gone fishing" alibi. Lessinger said when another officer asked him what he was allegedly fishing for that day, Scott replied he didn't know.
And making a rare visit to the courthouse, Stanislaus County DA Jim Brazleton. He wouldn't tell reporters why he made the two-hour drive from Modesto, citing the judge's sweeping gag order, but his presence follows a number of media reports criticizing the prosecution's performance in the early days ofthis high-profile murder trial.
One of the lead detectives, John Bueller (ph), is expected to testify here tomorrow. As the liaison between police and Scott's girlfriend, Amber Frey, Detective Bueller could shed some light on Amber's role in the investigation, as the prosecutors continue with this phase of police testimony -- Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Claudia, thank you. Let's bring in former San Francisco assistant DA Jim Hammer and KFI radio's Laura Ingle. Both were inside court today.
Jim, give me a little -- first I want to know about this -- the discovery law in California. The "F"words -- should the DA, assistant DA, have notified Mark Geragos in advance of trial that that was something his client supposedly said to the police officer that night?
JIM HAMMER, FORMER ASST. SAN FRANCISCO DA: Absolutely. There's a whole list in California, as there are in most states, of the kind of things that prosecutors have to turn over to the defense-- police reports, the names and addresses of witnesses. And at the top of that list, Greta, is any statement whatsoever made by a defendant in a case. This statement apparently came out while the DA was interviewing the witness before he took the witness stand. At first, Rick Distaso said it came out just before he hit the stand, but when the officer was asked about it by Geragos, it came out that it came out a few daysago, when he came into town to prepare to testify. So he absolutely should have turned it over to the defense, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Laura, how mad was Mark Geragos? We've heard different reportsthat he was extremely upset.
LAURA INGLE, KFI RADIO: I would say this was a full-blown, off-the-scale, just about as mad as I've ever seen Mark Geragos in court. You would, I'm sure, hear from him that he was arguing passionately, as he likes to say when he does get a little feisty in the courtroom, but I would say this was a full-scale eruption. You know, he definitely was building. He was definitely yelling. He was pointing at Rick Distaso several times. There was one point when he asked for the mistrial that the audience even snickered a little bit, and he turned around, and it was almost like feeling like you were in the classroom and hearing a teacher get mad at you because he turned around at us and said, "And I don't need laughter fromyou guys in the peanut gallery back there on this issue." So he was very angry and definitely making his point in a very loud tone today.
VAN SUSTEREN: Was it done, Laura, in front of the jury, this anger that Mark had?
INGLE: No. No. I mean, he was questioning the officer who told -- this is the second officer whotalked about the "F" word and the throwing down of the flashlight. Mark said, you know, I let it go once, but I'm going to call you guys on this because I didn't know about this. And that is when the jury was excused, and then that is when he went into his full-tilt mode of yelling at the prosecutor and demanding that things are changed around, this doesn't happen again, and then asking for the mistrial.
VAN SUSTEREN: Jim, we're going to talk later, when we bring the rest of the panel in, about theimpact of it, but as a practical matter -- I mean, I suppose as an assistant DA, you get the police coming in and...
VAN SUSTEREN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- they don't put everything in it. You learn it in the middle of the trial.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's not the DA, but it's the police officer.
HAMMER: It is, but it's the DA's obligation to turn it over to the defense. And again, It could have been an innocent mistake, but you know, if it weren't a powerful piece of evidence, I don't think Geragos would have reacted so badly. Remember, what the prosecution's arguing is after he gives this fishy fishing story, he can't remember what he's fishing for and comes up with this lure that's a seven-inch silve rlure. Right after that, the prosecution says, he walks out, swears, throws down the flashlight, as though he's saying, Damn, my alibi's falling apart. Of course, Geragos will spin it otherwise. But it was a pretty powerful piece of evidence, at least the way the prosecution presented it, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: You think so? I mean, you really think that's -- I mean, frankly, I mean...
HAMMER: Well, listen, none of these things are going to convict Scott Peterson. I should say that. It was dramatic, though, in the way the prosecution was trying to spin it. I agree, none of these things alone are going to go very far to convict him, especially without a bloody crime scene. That's what reallycame out today, that all the stuff that was collected, Mark Geragos made a quip, after the cop said, Well, it looked suspicious, he said, Well, it turned out there wasn't anything in it at all, was there? And the cops says, "Well, I don't know that. " And Mark says, "Well, I do," and the jury broke out in laughter at that point.
VAN SUSTEREN: Laura, the judge's reaction to this upset by Mark Geragos is what?
INGLE: You know, I think he handled it very well. He had a very even hand throughout the entire experience there in the courtroom. And Rick Distaso -- he threw in his jabs, too. He was telling the judge he thought what Mark was saying was absolutely ridiculous. And after listening to both sides, the judge, you could really see his penalty come through when he was talking to both these attorneys. He goes, "All right, everybody, before anybody blows a gasket, I'm going to go ahead and make a ruling right now." And so you could kind of feel the way he was handling it. And Mark Geragos at one point, actually, when the "peanut gallery" or the audience snickered a little bit, he said, And if they're going to start laughing, I want you to clear the courtroom. You know, everybody out. And the judge said, "Look, that happens in themovies, that doesn't happen. It's not going to happen here in this courtroom."
VAN SUSTEREN: All right...
HAMMER: And Mark's two sons were in court today, Greta, so I don't think he wanted to kick them out of the courtroom.
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