updated 11/1/2003 5:03:26 AM ET 2003-11-01T10:03:26

Laci Peterson’s sister testified Friday that Scott Peterson said he had golf plans on Christmas Eve, throwing into question his story about going fishing the day his pregnant wife vanished.

AMY ROCHA, a hairdresser, said she cut Peterson’s hair Dec. 23 and that he had offered to pick up a gift basket for their grandfather near the country club where he was a member.

“He said he was going to be out that way golfing,” she testified. “I assumed all day.”

Peterson, 31, told police he last saw his wife about 9:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve as he left to go fishing near Berkeley. He told them he returned to Modesto late that afternoon, shortly before family members reported Laci Peterson missing about 6 p.m.

On the third day of a preliminary hearing to determine if Scott Peterson will stand trial for the slaying of his 27-year-old wife and unborn son, prosecutors began laying the foundation for Laci Peterson’s disappearance with testimony from the last people to see her alive.

Among them, Laci Peterson’s mother, Sharon Rocha, told a jammed courtroom that she thought “the world” of Scott Peterson before last Dec. 24.

She recalled Peterson calling at 5:17 p.m. on Christmas Eve to say her daughter was missing.

“I was getting really scared by then when he said ‘missing.’ He didn’t say she wasn’t home or he couldn’t find her. He said ‘missing.’”

She and others described a happy but weary-looking Laci Peterson who was “ecstatic” and looking forward to having her first child.

HOUSEKEEPER: LACI ‘LOOKED HAPPY’

Housekeeper Margarita Nava said she cleaned the family’s modest single-story house the day before the disappearance was reported. Nava said Laci Peterson seemed tired after shopping for groceries, but otherwise appeared much as she had the three previous times she cleaned the house.

“Like all the other days I had gone she was content,” Nava said. “She looked happy.”

Scott Peterson’s father, Lee Peterson, also took the stand, saying, “I proudly say Scott’s my son.”

Peterson recalled talking with his son between noon and 2 p.m. last Christmas Eve. Asked by prosecutor Rick DiStaso if Scott Peterson said he was going fishing, he said no.

Lee Peterson said he didn’t know his son owned a boat, but added it wasn’t unusual for Scott Peterson not to tell him about major purchases, including a motorcycle and a pickup truck.

Sharon and Amy Rocha also testified they had never seen Scott Peterson’s hair blond like it was when he was arrested in April in San Diego.

Authorities have speculated that Peterson, who had also grown a beard and was carrying $10,000 in cash, planned to flee to Mexico.

The bodies of his wife and unborn son washed ashore in April, about three miles from where Peterson said he was fishing. Prosecutors may argue that Peterson used the boat to throw his pregnant wife’s body in San Francisco Bay.

© 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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