The Scott Peterson Case

This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, February 17, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: The trial has technically begun in the Scott Peterson murder case. And standing by in Redwood City, California, where the trial is being held is Stan Goldman and Laura Ingle of KFI Radio.

Stan, significant rulings today. Take us through what happened today in court.

STAN GOLDMAN, FOX LEGAL EDITOR: Well, yes. Two major rulings.

First that the GPS evidence will, in fact, be admissible, and that is evidence of a GPS tracking device that the police attached to various automobiles that Scott Peterson was driving so they could follow his whereabouts.

The prosecution hasn't let anybody know exactly why they want to get this evidence in, but everybody is speculating that perhaps it is because it would show that Scott Peterson perhaps went to the San Francisco Bay at a time before his wife and unborn child -- before their bodies washed up on that shore, perhaps laying some suspicion at his doorstep as to why he was returning to that particular spot.

The prosecution, by the way, did lose one. They wanted to keep from the defense the fact that -- where they put -- where they put the GPS device, the tracking device, on his car. The judge ordered them to tell the defense where it was because it might assist the defense in challenging the reliability of that evidence once they get to trial.

The other important ruling...

VAN SUSTEREN: Wait. Wait a second, Stan. Wait.

GOLDMAN: ... was the fact that a...

VAN SUSTEREN: Where did they put it? Wait. Stan?


VAN SUSTEREN: Stan, why don't you tell us where they put it?

GOLDMAN: Well, we don't -- I'd love to tell you. They put it right - - no, they didn't tell us. The judge ordered it to be done for the time in confidence, not in open court. The judge will make a determination later, probably sometime during the trial, whether to let that fact be brought out before a jury.

At the moment, the prosecution has exercised -- or attempted to exercise in California what we call a governmental privilege, saying that the revealing of where they placed it in this car to the public might very well endanger the placement of it in other vehicles.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Laura, what's the other ruling...

GOLDMAN: The other...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... on the hypnotized...

Let me get to Laura on this. Laura, the hypnotized witness. Who is that, and why did the prosecutors want her, and will she testify?

LAURA INGLE, KFI RADIO REPORTER: It was a prosecution witness, somebody that lived in Scott and Laci Peterson's Modesto neighborhood who said that she thought she saw Laci Peterson walking her dog on Christmas Eve, the day that she vanished, and what police did was they hypnotized this witness to try and enhance her memory.

But, today, the judge really didn't spend a lot of time in court on that, basically said the guy that hypnotized this witness didn't have the right background to do such, and he's just not going to allow this witness to testify or the person who did the hypnotizing either. So I don't think we're going to see that witness come to trial.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Laura, be my eyes in the courtroom. How did Scott look today? Who was there?

INGLE: Scott Peterson looked a tad better, I would say. I don't know if he has got a more tailored suit or maybe a smaller suit jacket, but a lot of people thought his suit wasn't hanging on him quite the way it was last week.

Scott Peterson's father, as you heard in the sound bite -- he was here. Jackie Peterson not here. Over on the other side of the courtroom, we had Laci Peterson's mother, and her stepfather came out for the lunch break. Brent Rocha was there.

And I would say both families are really holding up just amazing during these proceedings.

GOLDMAN: Scott Peterson's family told me that they thought Scott preferred the food in San Mateo to the food in Modesto and was eating much better in the jails and, therefore, was putting on a little of the weight that he'd lost in the last few weeks in Modesto.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Stan. Since the D.A. in San Francisco...

GOLDMAN: Now that could account for why he looked better.

VAN SUSTEREN: Since the D.A. in Stanislaus County and the D.A. in San Francisco have pulled the plug on Jim Hammer, and I can't answer these prosecution questions for him because Jim's not here -- having said that, when is this case really going to sort of get to trial in earnest? When will a jury likely be empanelled and evidence presented to a jury?

GOLDMAN: Well, my guess is still the same one I've had for the last six or seven weeks. I think about April 6, which is a -- should be a Monday, if my calculations are correct. I think we're probably going to go through much of March, if not all of March, with just jury selection in this case.

And remember we still have a couple of issues that the court heard discussion on, argument on on today, sequestration of the jury, and will the court allow two juries, one jury for the guilt phase in which we decide whether Scott Peterson is guilty or not, and, if he's found guilty, the defense wants a completely different jury for the penalty phase to decide whether he lives or dies.

And, of course, the reason for that is, under California law, you can death qualify a jury that's going to decide punishment but not a jury that's just going to decide guilt, and death-qualifying a jury means everybody who doesn't like the death penalty, off that jury, and, in an area like San Francisco, you could be talking about throwing perhaps a third -- the third most liberal part of the jurors off of this case before you get started.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. One quick last question, Laura. The community -- is the community happy to have the media present there in this trial suddenly descending upon them?

INGLE: Well, I'm sure there are areas that are not, but my experience being around the courthouse even today, going to the Starbucks and going to a local beauty supply store, getting some things, everybody was very happy, handing out business cards. A lot of the businesses around the courthouse are handing out their business cards and specials and are very excited that this much media is here.

So I'd say the general population around the courthouse is happy for the business, but, as far as the residential community, I think some people are a little put off by it.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Stan, Laura, thank you both very much.

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