updated 10/12/2004 4:42:46 PM ET 2004-10-12T20:42:46

The judge in the Scott Peterson murder trial delayed the start of the defense case Tuesday for a week.

Judge Alfred A. Delucchi said the delay was the result of “legal issues.” A source familiar with the case told The Associated Press that the delay came after defense lawyers provided prosecutors with an updated list of witnesses and prosecutors asked for time to prepare.

“I hate to tell you this, ... but we’ve got some problems that have arisen here. Some legal issues have come up,” Delucchi told jurors after a half-hour closed-door meeting with attorneys. “I know your time is important. This case is important, too.”

It was unclear who the new witnesses were. The list is sealed, and attorneys are bound by a gag order.

Delucchi estimates that closing arguments will begin the first week of November.

Prosecutors rested their case Oct. 5 after presenting 174 witnesses over 19 weeks. The defense was to have begun its case Tuesday.

Prosecutors allege that Peterson killed his pregnant wife on or around Dec. 24, 2002, and dumped her body into San Francisco Bay. The bodies of Laci Peterson and the fetus she carried washed up about four months later, a few miles from where Scott Peterson claims to have been fishing alone the day his wife vanished.

Defense lawyers claim someone else abducted Laci Peterson and possibly held her captive while police focused on Scott Peterson, then crudely cut the fetus from her body before framing her husband after learning of his widely publicized alibi.

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