Image: Peterson Case Defense Attorney Mcallister And Defendant Confer In Court
Scott Peterson confers with one of his attorneys, Kirk McAllister, in court in Modesto, Calif., on Oct. 24.
The Associated Press
updated 11/6/2003 10:43:11 AM ET 2003-11-06T15:43:11

Two weeks before his wife was murdered, Scott Peterson told his mistress that his wife was already dead and that he was about to spend his first Christmas without her, the lead detective in the case testified Thursday.

PETERSON TOLD the woman, Amber Frey, that “he had lost his wife and this would be his first holiday without his wife,” Modesto police Detective Al Brocchini said during the seventh day of a preliminary hearing on charges that Peterson murdered his pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son.

The detective said he later learned that Scott Peterson called Frey daily starting Christmas Day, the day after Laci Peterson disappeared.

Frey “heard from him on the 25th, the 26th, the 27th and the 28th, and he said he was out of the country and would be able to be with her more around January 25,” Brocchini said.

Frey, who is expected to testify next week, taped many of the conversations, Brocchini said.

It was a day of revealing testimony in a hearing dragged out by delays and painstakingly detailed DNA testimony. Brocchini also testified that when he searched Peterson’s pickup truck for clues late Christmas Eve, he founded a loaded gun in the glove compartment.

The detective offered no suggestion that the gun, a Llama .22 caliber semiautomatic handgun with no round in the chamber and a magazine loaded with live ammunition, had recently been used.

But Brocchini said Peterson called him on his cell phone at 2 a.m. Christmas Day wanting the gun back.

“He said he wished I’d told him I kept the gun for evidence,” Brocchini said. “I responded it was illegal to have a loaded gun in his glove box and I was going to put it into evidence.”

Scott Peterson, 31, then asked Brocchini “if they had used cadaver dogs to search for Laci,” Brocchini added. “I said, ‘No, I hadn’t considered her dead yet.’ I was kind of surprised he asked that.”

SPENDING SPREE

On Dec. 9, Peterson paid $1,400 cash for a fishing boat, one of several suspicious big-ticket purchases, Brocchini said. A couple of months later, Brocchini said, Peterson paid $3,600 cash for a maroon 1984 Mercedes-Benz.

When the car’s owner asked for Peterson’s name, he provided his mother’s name, Jacqueline Peterson, Brocchini testified.

“He said that was the name his parents gave him — it was kind of a ‘Boy Named Sue’ kind of thing,” Brocchini said.

At the start of Thursday’s hearing, lead defense attorney Mark Geragos suggested that he might seek to have the case thrown out because the prosecution failed to turn over videotapes of FBI surveillance on Peterson’s house in Modesto, as well as transcripts from a federal grand jury hearing that defense attorneys believed had occurred in Fresno.

Prosecutors said that they had turned over everything they had from the FBI and that there was no indication that there might be key evidence in the surveillance videotapes.

Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Al Girolami said that if the FBI rejected the defense’s requests for reports on the surveillance of Peterson’s house, the defense might then have a legitimate reason to seek dismissal.

Prosecutors maintain that Peterson murdered his wife on Dec. 23 or 24, when she was nearly eight months pregnant, and then pretended that she was missing while a massive search ensued.

The bodies of Laci Peterson and her unborn son, Conner, washed out of San Francisco Bay in April, within four miles of the spot where Peterson told police he launched his boat for a solo fishing trip on Christmas Eve.

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