updated 11/15/2004 10:38:52 AM ET 2004-11-15T15:38:52

Guest: Mickey Sherman, Gloria Allred, Daniel Horowitz, Dean Johnson, Mercedes Colwin

ANNOUNCER:  This is a special edition of THE ABRAMS REPORT, “The Peterson Verdict.”


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We the jury in the above entitled cause find the defendant, Scott Lee Peterson, guilty of...


ANNOUNCER:  Courtroom stunner.  Scott Peterson found guilty as hundreds of onlookers react outside of the courtroom.  After five months of testimony and nearly 200 witnesses, jurors hand down Scott Peterson‘s fate.


GLORIA ALLRED, AMBER FREY‘S ATTORNEY:   You don‘t have to be a lawyer to figure out what happened.  All you have to do is use your common sense.


ANNOUNCER:  Now Scott Peterson faces a possible death sentence for killing his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner.  Tonight one of the nation‘s most sensational criminal trials concludes.  What happens next?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It‘s over with.  Thank God it‘s over with!


ANNOUNCER:  Now, live from Redwood City, California, Dan Abrams.

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Hi, everyone.  Guilty.  He was fighting for his freedom, now Scott Peterson is fighting for his life.  Welcome to the Redwood City courthouse, where about five hours ago, a jury did what many thought they could not, reach a unanimous verdict, and that verdict not a compromise, as many expected.  It was a complete victory for prosecutors, Peterson found guilty of premeditated first degree murder for the killing of Laci, second degree murder for the killing of their unborn son.

According to the official court record, jurors deliberated for a total of 30 hours.  Remember, two jurors were kicked off the jury earlier this week, with the new jury that was told to start from scratch after the dismissals, they spent only 7 hours and 14 minutes deliberating.


Lisa, there is a verdict in the Scott Peterson trial, and it will be announced at 1:00 PM Pacific time.  That means all 12 of these jurors have unanimously agreed on a guilty or not guilty verdict.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We are waiting any minute to hear the verdict in Scott Peterson‘s trial.  We‘re going to live to the courthouse for the live audio feed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We the jury in the above entitled cause find the defendant, Scott Lee Peterson, guilty of the crime of murder of Laci Denise Peterson.

ALLRED:  Millions of people have been praying for justice.  I think this is justice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I really feel terrible!


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes, it‘s over with.  Thank God it‘s over with!



ABRAMS:  So cheers outside of the courtroom.  NBC‘s Michael Okwu was inside the courtroom, right behind the Peterson family, when the verdict was read.  Michael, set the scene for us inside.

MICHAEL OKWU, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Dan, I can tell you, it was an extraordinary setting inside that courthouse.  You could certainly hear a pin drop right before the jury walked into the courtroom.  You could see Scott Peterson emerging inside the room, wearing a bluish-gray suit, wearing that stoic look that he‘s been wearing now for the better part of five months or so.

But once they all took their seats, I noticed that one of the jurors, juror No. 11, glanced over at what appeared to be a glance over at Laci Peterson‘s family and gave an affirming nod, almost as if to say, We‘ve got your back on this one.  And sure enough, this jury did have her back.  They found Scott Peterson guilty, and every single time a verdict was read, you could hear a yelp, a cry of relief, collective relief on the part of Laci Peterson‘s family.

As far as Scott Peterson himself, he stood there in his chair—I should say he sat there in his chair, straight, upright, looking at the jury without a trace of an emotion in his face, that same stoic look that we‘ve been seeing for about five months.  Now, his mother, Jackie, sitting, of course, behind him, wearing that apparatus that helps her breathe, simply bowed her head.  No sign, as far as I could tell, of Scott Peterson‘s father, but the rest of the family bowing their heads, clearly now having to contemplate what Scott Peterson‘s fate will be.

ABRAMS:  Michael Okwu, thanks very much.  We‘ll check in with you later in the next hour.

Joining me now in Redwood City, California, Redwood City criminal defense attorney Daniel Horowitz has followed this case from the beginning, Gloria Allred, who is Amber Frey‘s attorney.  She was inside the courtroom when the verdict was red.  Also with me tonight, former New York state judge, NBC News legal analyst, the great Leslie Crocker Snyder, criminal defense attorney and NBC News legal analyst Roy Black and criminal defense attorney Mickey Sherman.

All right, Gloria Allred, first let me just start with you.  Amber

Frey, your client, crucial part of this case, crucial prosecution witness -have you gotten a chance to speak to her to get her reaction to the verdict?

GLORIA ALLRED, AMBER FREY‘S ATTORNEY:   Yes, I have, Dan.  It‘s been a very emotional time for Amber, and her feelings toward Scott Peterson are very complicated.  So I‘m going to let her just sort it out for herself and wish her continued courage, as she has displayed throughout this case.

ABRAMS:  Was she sad about the verdict?  I mean, it makes it sound like you think she had mixed emotions about this.  I think we‘ve always had the sense that Amber has believed that Scott Peterson is guilty.

ALLRED:  Well, Dan, she‘s always said that it‘s for the jury to decide, that she trusts the judgment of the jury and that God would be the ultimate judge.  And that has been and continues to be Amber‘s position.

I think she‘s been very important in the case.  The fact that she assisted law enforcement by taping those phone calls between Scott and herself after Laci disappeared, I think, showed to the jury what a liar Scott Peterson is and was.  And it showed also, of course, that he acknowledged that he said he lost his wife and these would be the first holidays without her before Laci ever went missing.  So I think what she did and how she conducted herself with dignity and preserved the integrity of her testimony was very important.

ABRAMS:  You know, Roy Black, when people say, Why—why did the jury reach this verdict, I think there is a single piece of evidence you can point to, and that is the fact that this defense team never offered any explanation for why those bodies were found in the exact same position Scott Peterson said he was fishing, an almost two-hour drive from their home in Modesto.

ROY BLACK, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY, NBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Well, Dan, I think you‘re right about that.  They had come up with an explanation of why he was present at the same place the bodies were found.  But also—and I have to give Gloria some credit for what she says.  I think the tapes that Amber collected were certainly highly damaging to him, and certainly better evidence against‘ him in the tapes than the police gathered.

ABRAMS:  Mickey Sherman, throughout this case, you have said that those tapes, you know, just show that he was a cad, he was having an affair.  Do you think, in the end, the jurors saw it differently, or do you think it was another piece of evidence that swayed them?

MICKEY SHERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  It was a part of the puzzle.  But I still refuse to believe that it was a big part of the puzzle.  Of course, we‘ll know in about two weeks, when all the jurors start making the rounds of the early morning talk shows.  And I really don‘t think—I think, you know, they‘re going to certainly hold it against his character, but as far as, was it a key piece of the puzzle that made him guilty, I don‘t see it.  I never saw it.  Don‘t see it now.

ABRAMS:  And Judge Snyder...


ABRAMS:  ... you, on the other hand, have been one who has long said that you think the evidence here was pretty overwhelming.  What was the most important piece here?  What—if you were able to sit with a juror, what do you think that juror would say to you when you said, What was it that really convinced you?

SNYDER:  Well, first of all, in any circumstantial case, I have to say that it‘s the cumulative effect of all the evidence.  It‘s not really one piece.  If I had to point to one piece, it‘s what we‘ve discussed often on your show, and that is where the bodies were found.  But I honestly believe that when you build a circumstantial case, it can be more powerful than a direct case, but it‘s every little piece in that chain of evidence.  And I felt the only reasonable verdict was the one that the jury reached, but I wasn‘t convinced that they would necessarily reach it.

ABRAMS:  No, I wasn‘t either, Daniel Horowitz.  And so why was it, do you think—you‘ve been here almost every day.  You know the judge.  You know this courthouse.  You know the people here in San Mateo.  Why was it that so many of us on the outside were convinced that it would be a hung jury, and yet in the inside, it seemed that once they sort of, quote, “cleaned up” their jury, they were able to reach a pretty quick verdict?

DANIEL HOROWITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, Dan, I think there are two reasons for this.  One goes to a little bit about what Mickey was saying, the tapes, the emotion, the—Scott lying.  I think, Mickey, that it really had a big effect on the jury.  We heard about juror No. 11 looking at the Rocha family when the verdict came in and nodding, basically, I got your back.  Well, that same juror, when the Amber tapes were being played, that‘s when I think she turned and became a total prosecution juror.

It concerns me a little bit because I don‘t see the direct connection between guilt in killing his wife and being a total liar, which apparently, his is the world‘s biggest liar, at least a pathological liar.  So that concerns me a whole lot.

ALLRED:  Well, Dan...

HOROWITZ:  Also, Dan—one more thing, Gloria.  The length of this trial allowed the jury to do their own sleuthing.  I think they put together their own facts.  Every fact in the world was in front of them, and they put it all together.

ALLRED:  Dan...

ABRAMS:  Yes, but Daniel, isn‘t what they did—Gloria, I‘ll let you answer this one.  Let me say, Gloria, isn‘t what they did, though, just use their common sense?  And they said, Based on the evidence that we have, here‘s how it likely happened.  And even if it didn‘t happen exactly this way, one thing we know for certain is that he did it and that he planned it.

ALLRED:  Yes.  It was a common-sense case.  That‘s what the prosecution argued, and that‘s, in fact, what it was.  I think Rick Distaso, the prosecutor, did a great job in his final argument, summing up and putting all the pieces in the puzzle together and explaining why the prosecution believed that Scott Peterson was guilty of double murder.

I think, also, that when Birgit Fladager, the supervising deputy district attorney, examined Detective Grogan and Detective Grogan gave 41 reasons why they decided to search in the bay and all of those reasons pointed to Scott Peterson, that also was at a turning point.  And of course, when Dave Harris gave his great cross-examination of the defense expert witness and totally, you know, caused him to implode on the stand.  All of that put together I think was important.  And the timeframe, which you, Dan, pointed out many times on your show, was important.


ABRAMS:  Hang on a sec.  Judge Snyder, this was not a victory because the prosecutors tried the case so well, as Gloria is trying to lay it out.  They did some things pretty well.  They did some things fine.  They did other things poorly.  But we can‘t sit here and say the reason that there was a conviction here was because the prosecutor here took a fairly weak case and turned it into legal glory.

SNYDER:  No.  The last third of the case, they really came into their own, after flunking Prosecution 101.  And you know, I‘m not usually that critical of them, but they did a pathetic job for the first half or two thirds of the trial.  And then they came back brilliantly with their closing argument.  But I feel that although there were issues in the case, that if you look at all of the evidence, it was not that weak a case.

ABRAMS:  It was the evidence in this case, ladies and gentlemen, it was not the lawyering, although we‘ll talk about whether this was a winnable case later in the program for the defense, as to whether, you know, they could have actually won this if they had done some thing differently.  My legal team‘s going to stick around.  We have got a Q (ph) hour special report coming up.

Scott Peterson will be back in court in a week from—on a week from Monday, fighting for his life, the state trying to show why he should be put to death.  We‘re going to tell you exactly what they‘ll be considering.  And after a week of seeming chaos in the jury room, the question: Will his lawyers be able to win him a new trial?  Are there any issues on appeal that could land us back here again?  Special report, guilty verdict in the Peterson case, coming up.



SHARON ROCHA, LACI PETERSON‘S MOTHER:  Soon after Laci went missing, I made a promise to her that if she has been harmed, we will seek justice for her and Conner and make sure that that person responsible for their deaths will be punished.  I can only hope that the sound of Laci‘s voice begging for her life and begging for the life of her unborn child is heard over and over and over again in the mind of that person every day for the rest of his life!  The person responsible should be held accountable and punished for the tragedy and devastation forced upon so many of us.


ABRAMS:  Make no mistake about it, when Sharon Rocha made that statement, she was talking about Scott Peterson.  At that point, the family had already determined that it was Scott Peterson who was responsible for Laci‘s death.  You heard her there referring to “he.”  It was Scott Peterson, no question, that she was talking about.

And justice today has been served.  There it is.  The jury finding and she was referring to him.  No question.  Justice today has been served, there it is, the jury finding Scott Peterson guilty.  All the papers, the local papers, all have their special out today, with Scott Peterson being found guilty.

The question now is, will he get the death penalty?  And it is almost stunning to be asking that question because days ago, we were talking about a jury in chaos, with concerns that they would never reach a verdict.

Before I go to my panel, let me lay out for you the California law when it comes to the death penalty, some of the factors that they can consider, some of the quote, “aggravating” factors, some of the reasons that they would be inclined to vote for death:  Nature and circumstances of the offense, any prior felony conviction—he doesn‘t have any—presence or absence of other criminal activity that involved the use or attempted use of force or violence—doesn‘t have any—defendant‘s character, background, history, physical condition and mental condition.

And then the mitigating factors: circumstances of the crime—those could be used against him—presence or absence of criminal activity, again presence or absence of any prior felony conviction, whether or not the offense was committed when the defendant was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance—I think we may hear about that one—whether the offense was committed under circumstances the defendant reasonably believed to be moral justification—I can‘t imagine how he‘s going to get that—whether or not the defendant acted under extreme duress or substantial domination of another—not here—whether or not at the time of the offense, the defendant was impaired—don‘t know—age of the defendant—can‘t help him—any other circumstances which extenuate the gravity of the crime, even though it is not a legal excuse for the crime.

Daniel Horowitz knows a lot about California law, and he has been following this case closely.  All right, Daniel, so is it possible we‘re going to hear from Scott Peterson‘s team that he was somehow under extreme mental or emotional disturbance?  Is it possible they‘ll say he wasn‘t ready to have this child, and in essence, he just lost it?

HOROWITZ:  No, Dan.  You know why?  The last factor that you read is the catch-all.  What that really says is anything that you can possibly come up with that is mitigating, the defense can present to the jury.  So rather than go through that checklist, which is just advisory in mitigation, I think the defense will probably just try to finally, once and for all, create a human being in the place of this monster which is Scott Peterson.

And Dan, I never thought that death was on the table.  I‘ve always said they‘ll never kill him.  But when I saw the reaction today on the streets of this courthouse, I realized that for some reason, this crime has touched the hearts of the average person and that death is on the table.  They‘d better make Scott Peterson sympathetic somehow, or they‘ll be in for the shock of their lives.

ABRAMS:  Mickey Sherman, what does he got to do here?  What does Mark Geragos have to do here to save Scott Peterson‘s life?  What‘s the key?

SHERMAN:  Well, I‘ll tell you, he already had the shock of his life today when that verdict came out.  But you know, the problem of some of the mitigating circumstances is they all require some type of mea culpa, which we know is, I did it, I‘m sorry, I‘m remorseful, I‘m contrite.  And he can‘t do that.  He can‘t say, Well, before I said I didn‘t do it, but now that you said I did it, the reason I did it is because I was under a lot of stress, and blah, blah, blah.  Ain‘t going to happen.  He‘s still saying and still going to profess his innocence.

So all he‘s got to—all he has to do here, all he can do, is concentrate on the worth, as a human being, of Scott Peterson.  So you take away the Amber Frey.  You take away this particular incident.  What else bad has he done in his life?

Another, I think, factor, which I got to believe weighs heavily in the state of California, is money, Dan.  And I know that sounds silly, but we saw it with the Green River killer up in the northwest.  I think the citizens of that state, as most states, are very aware that it costs a ton of money to try and execute somebody.  If I‘m not mistaken, the wait time on death row in California is from 20 to 22 years, and the millions of dollars...

BLACK:  But Mickey...

SHERMAN:  ... it takes to litigate that might come into play.

ABRAMS:  Come on.  Wait a sec.  Roy Black, you‘re not actually...


ABRAMS:  Hang on.  Yes.  And Roy, even if he would, the defense is not going to say it would cost too much to house him on death row, and therefore, don‘t kill him.

BLACK:  No, no.  I don‘t believe that for a minute.  I think the real job that the defense has to do is finally humanize Scott Peterson.  They have to line up—I don‘t care if it takes 50 people or 100 people, from family members to friends to co-workers, employers, school teachers, anybody who has ever touched him in his life that has something favorable to say to him and can humanize him with this jury...

ABRAMS:  You know...

BLACK:  ... because the jury has to feel it‘s a real human being they‘re thinking about.

ABRAMS:  But the problem, Judge Snyder, is that he‘s a despicable guy.  No matter—even—even his own attorney characterized him as a bad person.  This is a despicable person.  And as a result, when it comes to sort of judging is he a good person or not, Scott Peterson is going to have a lot of trouble.

SNYDER:  Well, he‘s certainly going to have a lot of trouble.  The main thing he has going for him is that he had never been in trouble prior to this and he doesn‘t have any criminal record.  But that‘s so much offset by the horrible nature of this crime.  What I think is going to weigh in his favor is that the concept of imposing the death penalty is such an overwhelming and awesome responsibility for any human being that I think that is ultimately what is the most mitigating factor, in a sense.  However, who knows?

ABRAMS:  We are going to take a quick break here.  When we come back, we‘re going to talk about whether Scott Peterson might have any hope of another trial.  A lot of people saying that there were some errors possibly made in this case.  But come on!  Are his chances really any good, or is this it?  And we are going to go through step by step, the prosecutors timeline of events that they say led to Laci‘s murder.

As we go to break here, we want to play again the verdict, came out today, Scott Peterson guilty.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We the jury in the above entitled cause find the defendant, Scott Lee Peterson, guilty of the crime of murder of Laci Denise Peterson in violation of penal code section 187A, as alleged in count one of the information filed herein.  Dated November 12, year 2004, foreperson, No. 6.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) foreperson (UNINTELLIGIBLE) unanimous verdict of the jury with respect to count one?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It is, Your Honor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Read the degree.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We the jury further find the degree of the murder to be that of the first degree.




MARK GERAGOS, SCOTT PETERSON‘S ATTORNEY:  We‘ve set the bar extremely high, and that‘s the proof that Scott is not only factually innocent, but to figure out exactly who it is did this horrible thing to Scott‘s wife and to Scott‘s son and to their grandson.


ABRAMS:  Well, they may have set the bar pretty high, but the jury, applying a much lower standard, still found that Scott Peterson was guilty today, and really something of a stunning verdict, first degree murder, Scott Peterson now facing the possibility of the death penalty.  And so the question now, does Mark Geragos‘ team have any hope of getting Scott Peterson a new trial?  Mickey Sherman, any hope?

SHERMAN:  It‘s going to be tough.  I know one of the problems is we don‘t know a lot about this because we didn‘t see it.  That‘s the problem I have with the non-televising of jury trials, whether it‘s high-profile or low-profile.  And so much of it went on behind closed doors, all these machinations with the jurors and the two jurors who were discharged.  Obviously, there were things that were put on the record which may very well be amplified for appeal.  Problem is, will it be a successful appeal?  Probably not.  I don‘t know enough about it...

ABRAMS:  Gloria Allred...

SHERMAN:  ... but I got to tell you, it‘s an uphill road.


ABRAMS:  Gloria Allred?

ALLRED:  Yes, I can hear you.

ABRAMS:  What do you think?  I mean, on the issue of appeal.

ALLRED:  Oh.  Oh, I‘m sorry.

ABRAMS:  Do you think that this has been a clean case?

ALLRED:  You know, I don‘t see what their grounds for appeal are going to be, such that a conviction would be reversed.  Obviously, they can always make arguments, Dan.  But the question is whether they‘re going to be sufficient for a reversal of such a conviction.  And I don‘t see that there are any such egregious errors that would justify a reversal.

ABRAMS:  And Judge Snyder, I‘d assume...

ALLRED:  I think any errors be harmless error.

ABRAMS:  I‘d assume, Judge Snyder, as a judge in a case like this, this judge, knowing that everything is being scrutinized and double-checked, et cetera, you‘d think that he would have dotted the I‘s and crossed the T‘s.

SNYDER:  Well, you do the best you can as a judge, but you‘re human, and you do make mistakes.  All of us do.  I think the real issue for appeal here is what we don‘t know, as Mickey said.  How good was the judge‘s record and his reasons as set forth in that record for substituting those jurors and excusing those jurors?  That is going to be, from what I know, one of the major points of appeal.  He‘s an experienced judge.  He appears to be an able judge.  So hopefully, he made that record really tight because one of the things you learn as a judge, when you don‘t want to get reversed, is that record is critical.

ABRAMS:  And Roy, as you‘ve said many times before, experienced judges still make mistakes.

BLACK:  Well, Dan, we‘ve been debating this since 4:00 o‘clock Eastern time, since the time of the verdict.  I still think that excusing juror No.  5, who was the foreman of the jury, after six days of deliberations, the man who kept 19 notebooks, who was slowing down the process, and the judge, who didn‘t, I don‘t think, really like that impediment very much, replacing that juror, I think, is a real critical issue.  Now, we don‘t know the reasons why, but all I can tell you is that after six days of deliberations to knock the foreman off of that jury, there better be a pretty strong reason for it.

ABRAMS:  All right, we‘re going to take a quick break here.  When we come back, we‘ll go back, take a look at the beginning of the case, how prosecutors got the jurors to buy their theory of the events that led to the murder.  And a lot of people now asking, Did the defense make mistakes such that—to change the outcome?  Remember with the prosecution, everyone was saying, Oh, they‘re messing up, they‘re messing up?  The question now, Did the defense?  We‘ll be back.  Special report, Scott Peterson guilty, coming back.



GERAGOS:  We‘ve set the bar extremely high, and that‘s the proof that Scott is not only factually innocent, but to figure out exactly who it is that did this horrible thing to Scott‘s wife and to Scott‘s son, and to their grandson.


ABRAMS:  Well, they may have set the bar pretty high, but the jury, applying a much lower standard, still found that Scott Peterson was guilty today, in really something of a stunning verdict.  First-degree murder, Scott Peterson now facing the possibility of the death penalty.  And so the question now, does Mark Geragos‘ team have any hope of getting Scott Peterson a new trial?

Mickey Sherman, any hope?

SHERMAN:  No, it‘s going to be tough.  You know, one of the problems is, we don‘t know a lot about this, because we didn‘t see it.  That‘s the problem I have with the non-televising of jury trials, whether it‘s high profile or low profile.  And so much of it went on behind closed doors.  All these machinations with the jurors and the two jurors who were discharged—obviously, there were things that were put on the record which may very well be ample fodder for an appeal.  Problem is, will it be a successful appeal?  Probably not.  I don‘t know enough about it...

ABRAMS:  Gloria Allred?

SHERMAN:  ... but I can tell you it‘s an uphill road.


ABRAMS:  Gloria Allred.

ALLRED:  Yes, I can hear you.

ABRAMS:  What do you think?  I mean, on the issue of appeal...

ALLRED:  Oh, I‘m sorry.

ABRAMS:  Do you think that this has been a clean case?

ALLRED:  You know, I don‘t see what their grounds for appeal are going to be such that a conviction would be reversed.  Obviously, they can always make arguments, Dan, but the question is whether they are going to be sufficient for a reversal of such a conviction, and I don‘t see that there are any such egregious errors that would justify a reversal.  I think on the other hand...


ABRAMS:  I‘d assume, Judge Snyder, as a judge in a case like this, this judge, knowing that everything is being scrutinized and double-checked et cetera, you‘d think that he would have dotted the i‘s and crossed the t‘s.

SNYDER:  Well, you do the best you can as a judge, but you‘re human and you do make mistakes.  All of us do.  I think the real issue for appeal here is what we don‘t know, as Mickey said.  How good was the judge‘s record and his reasons as set forth in that record for substituting those jurors and excusing those jurors?  That‘s going to be, from what I know, one of the major points of appeal.  He‘s an experienced judge.  He appears to be an able judge.  So, hopefully, he made the record really tight, because one of the things you learn as a judge when you don‘t want to get reversed is, that record is critical. 

ABRAMS:  And, Roy, as you have said many times before, experienced judges still make mistakes. 

BLACK:  Well, Dan, we‘ve been debating this since 4:00 Eastern time, since the time of the verdict.

I still think that excusing juror No. 5, who was the foreman of the jury, after six days of deliberations, the man who kept 19 notebooks, who was slowing down the process and the judge who didn‘t, I don‘t think, really like that impediment very much, replacing that juror, I think, is a real critical issue. 

Now, we don‘t know the reasons why.  But all I can tell you is that, after six days of deliberation, to knock the foreman off of that jury, there better be a pretty strong reason for it. 

ABRAMS:  All right, we‘re going to take a quick break here.

When we come back, we‘ll go back, take a look at the beginning of the case, how prosecutors got the jurors to buy their theory of the events that led to the murder. 

And a lot of people now asking, did the defense make mistakes such that it changed the outcome?  Remember, with the prosecution, everyone was saying, oh, they are messing up.  They are messing up.  The question now, did the defense? 

We‘ll be back.  Special report, Scott Peterson, guilty, coming back. 


ABRAMS:  The jury convicts Scott Peterson of murder.  Now he‘s facing the possibility of the death penalty.  We‘re going to take a look back in this special two-hour special at whether the defense made some big mistakes here. 

First, the headlines. 


ABRAMS:  That was the courthouse a few hours ago, people cheering as Scott Peterson was found guilty of first degree murder, now facing the possibility of a death sentence.  The death penalty phase in this case expected to begin on November the 22nd.  That will go for a day. 

And then the jurors will be able to go home for Thanksgiving.  They then come back and continue on the 29th, as the death penalty phase continues. 

Before we keep talking about that, take a quick look back.  “Dateline NBC”‘s Chris Hansen with a look at the timeline of the Scott Peterson case. 


CHRIS HANSEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  The first suggestion that anything might possibly be wrong came a little after 10:00 a.m. on December 24, 2002. 

A neighbor of Scott and Laci Peterson‘s in Modesto, California, noticed the couple‘s golden retriever, Mackenzie, was off his leash and running free.  She thought little of it and put the dog in the Peterson‘s gated yard.  Late that afternoon, Sharon Rocha, Laci Peterson‘s mother, was preparing a special Christmas Eve dinner for her family when the phone rang.  It was her son-in-law, Laci‘s husband, Scott. 

SHARON ROCHA, MOTHER OF LACI S. PETERSON:  And he said, hi, Mom.  He said, is Laci over there?  And I said, no.  And he said, well, Laci is missing.  And I thought that it was odd that he said Laci is missing.  Any other time, you would have heard, I don‘t know where she is or I can‘t find her or something to that effect.  I said, Laci is missing?  I knew immediately by hearing the word missing that something terrible had happened. 

HANSEN:  Laci‘s mother frantically gathered her family and her daughter‘s friends to search the park where Scott Peterson said he thought Laci had gone to walk the dog. 

By 5:48 p.m., a missing persons report on the 27-year-old substitute teacher was filed with the Modesto Police Department.  Soon, hundreds of volunteers were looking for Laci.  The police searched local ponds and streams, combed the region.  But the young woman, who was pregnant, due to deliver in a little more than six weeks, had disappeared without a trace. 

DOUG RIDENOUR, MODESTO POLICE DEPARTMENT:  It‘s been a very puzzling case for us. 

HANSEN:  A police tracker dog picked up her scent at the house headed toward to the park and then quickly veered down a side street in a different direction. 

RON CLOWARD, MODESTO POLICE DEPARTMENT:  That was an indication That when Laci last left the house that she left in a vehicle. 

HANSEN:  A vehicle, not Laci‘s.  Hers was in the driveway and her purse was in the house.  Where could she be? 

By Christmas morning, volunteers were looking everywhere.  Posters began appearing all over Modesto.  And in the weeks that followed, the search would soon extend across the entire region as far away as San Francisco Bay.  Scott Peterson left a handwritten note thanking all the community volunteers looking for his wife. 

Both his family and Scott and Laci‘s friends talked about what a perfect couple they made. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They are just...



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They adore each other. 

HANSEN:  But the husband is always a person of interest when a wife goes missing.  And Modesto detectives had some questions for the 31-year-old fertilizer salesman. 

Scott‘s story was that he had left about 9:30 that Christmas Eve morning to do some sturgeon fishing in the San Francisco Bay, putting a small boat in at a marina about 90 miles north of his house.  He told the police that when he said goodbye to his wife, she told him she was going to take the dog for a walk.  He says that was the last time he saw her. 

Some investigators were suspicious of Scott from the start, but Laci‘s family stood behind him.  This interview with Laci‘s mother aired on “Dateline” three weeks after Laci disappeared.   

S. ROCHA:  The people who know Scott and Laci have no doubt whatsoever that he has nothing to do with her disappearance. 

HANSEN:  Family and friends posted a reward for information about Laci, to no avail. 

RON GRANTSKI, STEPFATHER OF LACI S. PETERSON:  When you put out a reward, a half a million dollars, and you don‘t get a call or nothing, it kind of dampens your hope. 

HANSEN:  And then a revelation that would change the investigation.  On January 24, a massage therapist named Amber Frey publicly announced she had been having an affair with Scott Peterson. 

AMBER FREY, FORMER MISTRESS OF SCOTT S. PETERSON:  We did have a romantic relationship. 

HANSEN:  A relationship she said that continued even after Laci disappeared. 

FREY:  Scott told me he was not married. 

HANSEN:  After Amber Frey‘s public statement, Scott Peterson said Laci knew all about the relationship. 

SCOTT PETERSON, CONVICTED OF MURDER:  I did inform Laci about it.  I informed Amber about it after Laci‘s disappearance, because she did not know that I was married. 

HANSEN:  But what Scott Peterson didn‘t know was that Amber Frey had gone to the police and told them about the affair weeks earlier.  Since then, she had been taping her telephone conversations with Scott. 

S. PETERSON:  If you think I had something to do with her disappearance, that‘s so wrong.

FREY:  Really?

S. PETERSON:  I said that I lost my wife.

FREY:  Yes, you did.

S. PETERSON:  I did and yes.

FREY:  How did you lose her then before she was lost?  Explain that.

S. PETERSON:  There are different kinds of loss, Amber.

FREY:  Then explain your loss.

S. PETERSON:  I can‘t to you now.

HANSEN:  There were other doubts about Scott‘s story.  Right after Laci vanished, he told some people he had been playing golf and then told others he had been fishing off the Berkeley Marina. 

And people were surprised to hear that less than a month after Laci disappeared, Scott traded in Laci‘s car at this Modesto dealership.  The salesman said it made him uncomfortable.  The dealer turned the car over to Laci‘s father.  Also around the same time, Scott approached one of the key volunteer organizers, Terri Western, who is also a real estate agent. 

TERRI WESTERN, REAL ESTATE AGENT:  I said, how are you doing this morning?  And he goes, I have had a tough time.  And I said, I‘m sorry, Scott.  And he said, I need to talk to you about selling the home.  And I said, this is not the time nor place, Scott.  You know, we can talk about that later. 

“Dateline”‘s Keith Morrison talked to investigators in early January about their interest in Peterson. 

KEITH MORRISON, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Do you consider him a suspect?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We would love to eliminate Scott from this investigation.  And we haven‘t been able to do that. 

HANSEN:  After Amber Frey came forward, all those volunteers looking for Laci quietly departed.  Media coverage intensified. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How come nobody saw you at the Berkeley Marina and nobody saw Laci walking the dog, huh?

HANSEN:  It was not long before a Los Angeles-area radio station was outside Peterson‘s house harassing him. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why don‘t you tell the truth? 

HANSEN:  A little more than a month after Laci‘s disappearance, Peterson, who had not been charged with any crime, started giving interviews denying any knowledge of her fate. 

S. PETERSON:  I had nothing to do with Laci‘s disappearance.  Yes, I had a romantic relationship that was inappropriate and unfair to a lot of people.  And I apologize to everybody involved in that. 

HANSEN:  The police investigation plodded on.  And the date Laci was due to have delivered her baby, February 10, 2003, came and went without any word.  On March 5, the missing person case was reclassified as a homicide investigation by the Modesto Police Department. 

On April 13, four months after the search for Laci began, the worst possible news.  The body of Laci‘s unborn baby, who they had planned to call Conner, had washed up on a beach along San Francisco Bay.  Two days later, Laci‘s body was discovered by a dog walker on the shore of a nearby park. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The scientific evidence concludes that this was Laci and the fetus. 

HANSEN:  The two bodies were recovered three to four miles north of the Berkeley Marina, where Scott Peterson said he put his boat in for that Christmas Eve sturgeon fishing trip.  The place where the bodies were found is about 90 miles from the Peterson‘s home in Modesto. 

On April 18, Good Friday, Scott Peterson was arrested.  At the time of his arrest, he was just 30 miles from the Mexican border, near his parents‘ home in the San Diego area.  He had changed his appearance.  He had dyed his hair and grown a goatee.  He was carrying his brother‘s driver‘s license and nearly $15,000 in cash. 

The commotion surrounding Scott Peterson‘s return to Modesto caught the Modesto Police Department off guard. 

KELLY HUSTON, SPOKESMAN, MODESTO POLICE DEPARTMENT:  I have not seen the amount of public emotion.  Just before Scott arrived, there was 300 citizens out there.  They were shouting.  They were holding signs, “Murderer.”  It was a mob scene.  We were holding people back to be able to drive down into our pit and booking area and get him in there as quick as we could .

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... the People vs. Scott Lee Peterson.

HANSEN:  Three days after his arrest, Scott Peterson entered a plea of not guilty to two charges of murder.  After his arraignment, Scott Peterson‘s family defended their son, accusing law enforcement of perpetrating an injustice. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A lot of people are not fooled by what went on here.  This is just a travesty. 

HANSEN:  And that same afternoon, Laci‘s mother spoke to reporters. 

S. ROCHA:  Soon after Laci went missing, I made a promise to her that if she‘s been harmed, we‘ll seek justice for her and Conner and make sure that that person responsible for their deaths will be punished. 

HANSEN:  It would be more than a year before Scott Peterson‘s case came to trial. 


ABRAMS:  Now Scott Peterson guilty, fighting for his life.  The jury, again, will be back on November 22 to continue the death penalty phase of this case. 

We‘ve got an A-list legal team with us.  When we come back, where did Scott Peterson‘s defense team go wrong?  So many said this was a winnable case, there was reasonable doubt as to certain issues in this case.  Could they have, should they have done things differently?  We break it down.  Stay with us. 

But, first, when we go to break, another of Scott‘s lies that may have done him in with the jury. 


DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS:  Had you told anyone?  Did you tell police?

S. PETERSON:  I told the police immediately. 

SAWYER:  When? 

S. PETERSON:  That was the first night we were together with the police, I spent with the police. 

SAWYER:  You told them about her? 

S. PETERSON:  Yes, on December 24.




LEE PETERSON, FATHER OF SCOTT S. PETERSON:  We think our attorneys are doing a wonderful job.  We have a great team.  Our son, of course, is innocent, so, it makes his job easy. 


ABRAMS:  Not so according to the jury that reached a guilty verdict a few hours ago, Scott Peterson guilty of first degree murder in the premeditated killing of his wife, Laci, guilty of second degree murder for the killing of his unborn son, child, now facing the possibility of the death penalty. 

Question, was this a winnable case?  Did the defense make mistakes that they shouldn‘t have made?  Here‘s a list of some of the mistakes the defense made in s case, too many promises in the opening statements.  They said that they were going to be able to, in essence, show why Scott Peterson could not have done it.  They had an expert on the baby‘s age.  Remember, if they can show that baby was older than 33 weeks, Scott Peterson, they say, couldn‘t have done it because he was being monitored after November 24. 

No explanation of why the bodies were found right where he said that he went fishing, 90 miles away from their home.  And some are saying that putting the Peterson on the stand may have backfired on the defense team. 

All right, so, here is Mark Geragos talking about this case when he took the case on last year. 


MARK GERAGOS, ATTORNEY FOR SCOTT S. PETERSON:  We set the bar extremely high.  And that‘s the proof that Scott is not only factually innocent, but to figure out who it is did this horrible thing to Scott‘s wife and to Scott‘s son and to their grandson. 


ABRAMS:  And that‘s sort of what they said in the opening statement as well.  They did not do that. 

And what about this issue about the baby?  Here‘s what Mark Geragos said in a pretrial hearing. 


GERAGOS:  The fact of the matter is, is that if he had been the one who dumped Laci into the bay on December 24 in the morning hours, that baby could not have grown another three to seven weeks.  They just can‘t deal with that.  They won‘t deal with that. 


ABRAMS:  Gloria Allred, look, you and Mark Geragos have had at each other‘s throats since the beginning of this case. 

Do you think it‘s fair to ask whether Mark Geragos could have tried a better case here?  Or is it simply that he was just stuck with a tough set of facts? 

ALLRED:  Well, yes, a lot of people have suggested that there should be a new show, “Celebrity Death Match” between Mark Geragos and myself. 

But having said that, look, I think he did a good job of cross-examining the prosecution‘s witnesses.  But I think that his case fell apart when his defense expert was cross-examined and really just imploded on the stand.  And then, in addition, I think that his closing argument lacked spirit and lacked any enthusiasm and, frankly, lacked evidence, because the remainder of the defense witnesses—and he only put 14 on in total—really didn‘t contribute anything to his theory.

I think he overpromised and he underdelivered.  That‘s always a problem.  And I think that contributed to the conviction. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Gloria Allred, I know you have to run.  Thank you so much for coming back on the program. 


ALLRED:  Thank you, Dan, for your excellent coverage of this case. 

Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Thank you. 


ABRAMS:  Daniel Horowitz, you were inside the courtroom for a lot of this.  You saw the opening statements.  You saw the case progress.  Is it fair to ask the question, could the defense have done things differently?  Or, as is the case a lot of times with defense attorneys, they are strapped with tough cases and the facts often work against them?

HOROWITZ:  Well, Dan, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. 

Geragos is a wonderful cross-examiner.  And he was good in closing.  I thought it was an excellent closing.  His weakness, scientific evidence.  The prosecution baby age expert, Dr. DeVore, used essentially junk science.  I read the studies that he relied upon.  He could not have put the age of Conner within that tight three-day window that he testified about in court. 

At best, it was a 10-day window, which would have been good for the defense.  But Mark Geragos hadn‘t read the studies and he did not cross-examine effectively.  The next part is the Peterson parents.  I had suggested—and I still think I am right on this—that the Peterson parents helped Scott to escape or plan to escape to Mexico. 

I thought that was so obvious, cash, the dyed hair, the survival gear.  How could you take—he had their credit cards.  And they never reported them stolen.  Why not just admit that that‘s what you were doing, but then give an honest explanation?  We thought our son was innocent.  We thought that the police were focusing in on him unfairly.  Be honest with the jury.  Take some chances. 

Geragos didn‘t do that.  Would it have changed the result?  Probably not. 

ABRAMS:  All right. 

Roy Black.

BLACK:  Well, Dan, the one thing that really sticks out to me—and I say, look, there‘s a lot of cases, just because you lose the case doesn‘t mean you made a mistake. 

But, in this case, I think that Mark Geragos promised too much in his opening statement and then, when the defense case came around, did not substantiate any of that.  He said that he would prove that he was stone-cold innocent, they had eyewitnesses who saw Laci alive after Scott left for the marina, there were homeless people stuffing her in a van, all these kinds of statements like that. 

If you are going to tell the jury that you can provide proof like that, then you really have to do it.  You just can‘t stop at the end of the case and say, you know, well, maybe I decided not to do it. 

ABRAMS:  I got to get Mickey in here real quick, because he‘s got to run. 

Mickey, final 10 seconds. 

SHERMAN:  The bottom line is, we always judge how great a lawyer is not by what he did during the case, but by whether 12 people think that he won or lost. 

And you said it earlier in this program, Dan.  This is not a lawyering case.  These people—both sides were stuck or blessed with the facts that were presented.  And there was no amount of arguing or artistic talent that can take those bodies out of the places that, unfortunately, Scott Peterson had said he was. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Yes. 

I just think that they should have spent more time at least recognizing and admitting that that was tough to explain.  They didn‘t deal with it.

Mickey Sherman, thank you for joining us. 

The rest of the panel is going to stick around. 

Again, this is a two-hour special on a guilty verdict in the Scott Peterson case. 

Stay with us.


ANNOUNCER:  This is a special edition of THE ABRAMS REPORT: “The Peterson Verdict.”


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We the jury in the above entitled cause find the defendant, Scott Lee Peterson, guilty. 


ANNOUNCER:  Courtroom stunner, Scott Peterson found guilty, as hundreds of onlookers react outside the courtroom.  After five months of testimony and nearly 200 witnesses, jurors hand down Scott Peterson‘s fate. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes, it‘s over with.  Thank God it is over with. 


ANNOUNCER:  Here again is Dan Abrams.

ABRAMS:  Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Redwood City Courthouse where Scott Peterson has been found guilty of first degree murder for the premeditated killing of his wife, Laci, guilty of second degree murder for the killing of his unborn son, Conner, this after a week of courtroom turmoil that saw two jurors replaced by alternates during the deliberation process and that helped convince many observers, myself included, that this case was headed for a hung jury.  I, we, were wrong. 

Once those jurors were replaced, it took just seven hours and 14 minutes, according to the court, for the final panel to move from being told to start deliberations again until a guilty verdict. 

Now we are waiting for the sentencing phase of the trial to begin.  That could put him on California‘s death row.  That phase of the case begins on November the 22nd.  We are going to talk all about the issues involved in this case, about how they can and try to keep Scott Peterson off of death row.  We are going to go through exactly what the prosecution‘s theory of the case was and try and figure out how this verdict was ultimately reached. 

NBC‘s Hoda Kotb, though, first takes us through the twists and turns of the five-month trial. 


HODA KOTB, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It was a trial that had dragged on more than five months, but late today it ended suddenly, in fact, with stunning speed.  There were no cameras allowed into this Redwood City courthouse where Scott Peterson sat awaiting his fate.  But millions listened as the verdict was read in open court. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  State of California vs. Scott Peterson.  We the jury in the above entitled cause find the defendant, Scott Lee Peterson, guilty.

KOTB:  Scott Peterson, the 32-year-old fertilizer salesman, convicted of first degree murder in the slaying his pregnant wife, Laci, and second degree murder for the killing of their unborn son, Conner. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Thank God it is over with. 

(on camera):  So what are you going to do now? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m going to celebrate with my family. 

KOTB:  Scott Peterson‘s mother hurried from the courthouse silently after the verdict was read.  The local district attorney thanked the prosecutors who successfully convicted Scott Peterson in a case with almost no physical evidence. 

JAMES BRAZELTON, STANISLAUS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  I‘m very proud of them.  They put a lot of time and a lot of hard work into it. 

KOTB:  But he was careful to withhold further comment until the jury decides 10 days from now whether Peterson should live or die. 

BRAZELTON:  We will see wait and see happens with the penalty phase. 

KOTB:  The end of the trial was so sudden that defense attorney Mark Geragos wasn‘t even in the court to hear it.  He was in Los Angeles, some 400 miles away.  It has been a long and sometimes strange case and even stranger deliberation. 

At the beginning of the week, it looked like the jury was deadlocked. 

On Tuesday, the judge dismissed jury No. 7.  No official reason was given.  Speculation here is that she was conducting her own research.  Then the next day the judge removed another juror, the panel‘s foreman.  Reasons for his dismissal sealed. 

All this unexpected news and rumors of feuding jury members led to rampant speculation that there would never be a verdict. 

BETH KARAS, REPORTER:  Many people predicted this would be a hung jury, myself included, because people seemed so divided, because it‘s a circumstantial case, because they couldn‘t determine a cause of death, the exact time of death, exactly how it occurred. 

KOTB:  The jury, now with two fresh alternates and a new foreman, was told by the judge on Wednesday to start deliberating anew.  When they resumed deliberating this morning, after a day off for Veterans Day, most people were convinced the verdict was nowhere in sight. 

Laci‘s parents and Scott‘s relatives, two warring camps, once a family, were gearing up for a quiet, tense weekend.  But then, unexpectedly, the court announced late this morning local time that the jury had reached a verdict.  Late today, still another juror who was dismissed much earlier shared his view of the case. 

JUSTIN FALCONER, FORMER PETERSON JUROR:  I‘m not surprised, really.  I‘m a little bit surprised at the verdict.  I‘m glad they were able to come to one. 

KOTB:  And less than two hours later, Scott Peterson learned that he might be spending years behind bars, if he gets to live at all. 


ABRAMS:  NBC‘s Michael Okwu has been in court all week as we‘ve been waiting for this verdict.  And he was back in the courtroom when the verdict was read.

Michael, if you could start by setting the scene for us before the verdict was read and then give us a sense of the reaction from the two families. 

OKWU:  Absolutely.  Dan. 

It is impossible to overstate just how remarkable the fact that there was a verdict was for those people who had been watching this for the better part of five months.  Nobody believed that a verdict was imminent, certainly not after hearing the fact that the court was going to wrap up early day because a juror had a familial obligation to take care of later on this afternoon, certainly not after hearing that Mark Geragos, the lead defense attorney in this case, was not even in town, and certainly not after knowing that, during the course of 24 hours, not one but two jurors had been replaced, including the foreman. 

It certainly looked like a jury that had been deadlocked for the better part of a week or so.  So it was stunning when Judge Delucchi said the in fact the jury had a verdict.  When they finally walked into that packed courtroom, which was lined along the perimeter by at least a dozen armed deputy sheriffs, you could hear a pin drop.  When the jury finally walked in, reporters, including myself, all trying to read the jury‘s eyes to get a sense of where they were leaning. 

In fact, I saw juror No. 11 take a look, a glance, over at Laci Peterson‘s family, giving what looked like a firm nod, as if to say, we‘ve got your back.  And, in fact, that was the case, finding Scott Peterson guilty.  Scott Peterson himself sitting in the courtroom ramrod straight right at the jury, absolutely expressionless. 

His mother, who of course has been wearing an apparatus to help her breathe, simply bowed her head, as did most the other members of his family.  On the other side of the courtroom, not exchanging any glances with the Petersons at all, were of course Laci Peterson‘s family.  You could hear a collective cry of relief from all of them when the verdict was read.

And, of course, the verdict was read for each of the counts.  And every time a verdict was read, you heard another cry of relief.  It was really a stunning, remarkable day inside that courtroom. 

ABRAMS:  Michael Okwu, who has been working late, early, all the time, great job in there.  Thanks a lot for coming back on the program. 

All right, What about that?  What about the fact that Mark Geragos was not in court?  Lee Peterson, the father of Scott Peterson, who has been here all the time, not in court.  Does this mean the defense team had a pretty good sense this was coming? 

My panel, former San Mateo County prosecutor Dean Johnson, criminal defense attorney Daniel Horowitz, criminal defense attorney Mercedes Colwin, retired New York State Supreme Court Justice Leslie Crocker Snyder, and criminal defense attorney Roy Black.

All right, Mercedes, do you get the sense that this defense team was thinking bad news? 

MERCEDES COLWIN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  No, I think what they thought, that the verdict wouldn‘t come in today.  That is why Geragos, although he had a court conference, he could certainly have sent someone else in his office.

He probably thought, there is no way.  They just replaced this other juror.  They are starting to deliberate anew.  It is not going to take seven hours and 14 minutes, as you started the program saying that.  I am going to go back to take care of this conference and not going to come back until early next week. 

So, honestly, it was a shocker to all of us.  I was in court all day in Albany and I heard about it.  So, I think it is a shocker for all of us that it just took seven hours to get do this point. 

ABRAMS:  Roy Black, what do you—you are an attorney.  Like, you‘re someone who works a number of cases at once.  You do a number of high-profile cases at once many times. 

If you were involved in a case like this and it was Friday, and you had been waiting for a week for the jury verdict to come back, acceptable to say, look, I will let my co-counsel take the verdict, or do you come back to comfort the family, et cetera, make sure that, no matter what, you are there? 

BLACK:  Well, Dan, in a perfect world, it would be the only case you have to handle and you wouldn‘t have this kind of conflict. 

But lawyers are not like that.  You have a number of cases at the same time and you will have obligations, and you just can‘t tell another judge, well, I want to be there in the courtroom while the jury is deliberating.  Sometimes, you have to make other appearances.  So I‘m sure that Mark Geragos would have liked to have been there.  But let‘s face it.

The exigencies of the criminal practice, sometimes you have to be somewhere else.  So I wouldn‘t be that critical of him for not being there. 

ABRAMS:  Judge Snyder.

SNYDER:  Well, I don‘t know of too many judges who wouldn‘t have released Mark Geragos to go take the verdict in this case.  And Judge Delucchi did delay the verdict for several hours.

I think, as judges, we‘re pretty considerate of major trials, not of minor commitments.  But this was really such a national case, I‘m surprised that Geragos didn‘t hop a private plane and get there.  I‘m not being critical.  I‘m just—I‘m surprised. 

ABRAMS:  Dean Johnson, you have been here every day.  A little odd, isn‘t it?  It just—it‘s a little hard for those of us who have watched a lot of this, seen Geragos here all the time, to sort of swallow the fact that he just was not even there when the verdict was read. 

DEAN JOHNSON, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  Oh, absolutely.  Judge Snyder is correct. 

There are very few judges who wouldn‘t have released Mark Geragos.  And Mark Geragos knew that this preliminary hearing was scheduled.  My thought, when you are defending somebody who is on trial for his life, you are here to hold his hand when the verdict comes in.  You are here to talk to the family and tell them it‘s not the end of the world.  And this has been an ongoing problem with Mark Geragos. 

Remember, at the beginning of this trial, Mark Geragos was handling this case and the Michael Jackson case at the same time.  And the fact that he was hamstrung between those two cases consistently showed in his performance in this case.  It was only after he was taken off the Jackson case that he actually started devoting his full attention to Scott Peterson. 

ABRAMS:  And now there are questions about whether Mark Geragos will even do the death penalty phase of this case.  And I don‘t mean from a busy perspective, but from a strategic perspective. 

He has been the one vouching for Scott Peterson in front of this jury.  Maybe they will decide to have co-counsel Pat Harris do the death penalty phase.  We will talk about that in a minute with my legal team when we come back on this special edition of the program.

The many lies of Scott Peterson, did they finally do him in?  And what about those wiretap calls with girlfriend Amber Frey?  How important were they to the guilty verdict? 

Our special coverage of the guilty verdict in the Scott Peterson trial continues in a moment. 


FREY:   How was your New Years?

S. PETERSON:  It‘s good.  I‘m just—everyone in the bar now so I came out.  I‘m in the alley.  A quiet alley.  Isn‘t that nice?

FREY:  Yes it is.   Very good.

S. PETERSON:  It‘s pretty awesome, fireworks there at the Eiffel Tower, a mass of people all playing American pop songs.  



ABRAMS:  Our special coverage of the guilty verdict in the Scott Peterson continues.  The next phase, whether Scott Peterson will live or die.  We will talk about how each side will have to move forward now coming up. 



SAWYER:  And the last time you saw her was?

S. PETERSON:  I believe it was about 9:30 that morning, the reason being we started to watch “Martha Stewart Living” while Laci was working in the kitchen.  And I left sometime during that.


ABRAMS:  One of the things that got Scott Peterson in trouble, what he said in interviews with the media, there saying, we were watching Martha Stewart.  Remember, in the testimony, we heard that Martha Stewart came up talking about meringue, which is what he said he remembers her talking about, at 9:48 a.m.  That would mean Scott Peterson was still home at that time. 

Remember, the dog, their dog, found on its leash at 10:18.  Scott Peterson‘s cell records indicated 10:08.  The time gets closer and closer.  And, remember, he said Laci was mopping.  Well, to believe the defense, you would have had to believe that Scott—that Laci Peterson went, dropped her mop, changed her clothes, put on her shoes, went out to walk the dog and got abducted in about 10 minutes, one of the problems that the defense team had in the context of this case. 

But now the question is not guilt or innocence.  It is, will Scott Peterson‘s life be spared.  And so the strategy is going to shift significantly as they move into the penalty phase of this case.  And one of the things the defense team is going to do is call family members to, in essence, plead for Scott Peterson‘s life. 

And, in that contest, we want to ask, did it hurt that they called Scott Peterson‘s parents in the guilt phase of this case?  We can put up the testimony of the parents in this case, because, remember, both Lee and Jackie Peterson—Jackie Peterson testified that the reason Scott had almost $15,000 with him was because she had paid him back $10,000 she had accidentally withdrawn from his bank account.

Now, Daniel—and Lee Peterson said he had his brother‘s I.D. on him so he could save money on greens fees.

Daniel Horowitz, is it going to be a problem now to have Jackie and Lee Peterson get up there and say, believe us, believe us; Scott is not the person who you think it is; please spare his life?

HOROWITZ:  Dan, I think it is a problem. 

Now, I have done eight penalty phase trials.  I have never gotten death.  And I can tell you, there is no playbook.  It is all by gut instinct.  You are totally in the control of these 12 jurors.  You almost have to open your heart to them. 

Now, how do you open your heart to them as an attorney or as a parent on the witness stand if they believe you have lied to them?  So, it has created a big gap between the jurors and the parents emotionally. 

ABRAMS:  And, Judge Snyder, here is something that didn‘t come into evidence in the case.  This is something that we obtained, a report of Detective Steven Jacobson from a wiretap call January 17, 2003, where the following is said: “Scott receives a voice mail from his mother.  She mother tells him he should deny, deny, deny.  His mother says he must deny anything.”

Does that now come in if she takes the stand and says, Scott is a great guy; Scott is believable, et cetera?  Does that come into evidence in the penalty phase? 

SNYDER:  I think it probably could in terms of, there might have to be a in limine application prior to trial about it—prior to the phase—the penalty phase.  But I think it might very well. 

But I just want to say, in contrast to what Daniel said, even though it is risky, how can you not put the defendant‘s parents on?  They are going to talk about his childhood, that he never did anything criminal, supposedly.  I think it is a sympathy factor.  Even though they‘re not totally credible, it is pretty hard to think of not calling the parents in the mitigation phase. 


ABRAMS:  I agree. 


HOROWITZ:  I agree.  You do call them, but it is still a problem.  I didn‘t say don‘t call them.  I just said, it‘s a big problem.  You have to deal with it when you do call them. 


SNYDER:  OK.  Dan, the mitigating...

ABRAMS:  Let me just get...

SNYDER:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  Let me get Dean for a second. 

Dean, the deny, deny, deny didn‘t come in, in this case.  Are they effectively going to—the prosecutors, going to go after the parents a little bit, in essence saying with a wink and a nod, these jurors didn‘t believe them the first time; why believe should they believe them now? 

JOHNSON:  No, I don‘t think they are going to go after the parents, but they don‘t have to go after the parents.

They are fairly sympathetic, obviously, because their son is on trial.  They want to save their son.  But their credibility is shot.  And the theme for this death penalty is that the entire defense is caught between a rock and a hard place.  As pointed out, you have to put the parents on.  You maybe have to put other family members on.  But there is this nasty innuendo that the whole family was potentially involved in Scott Peterson‘s flight. 

So you put them on, their credibility is questioned.  You remind the jury of all of those nasty things. 

ABRAMS:  And I have to tell you, though, they will come across as sympathetic people.  Lee and Jackie Peterson, whatever you think about what they did in this case, come across as very sweet, well-meaning people who want to defend their son, regardless of what you think about this case.  That could be an interesting part of this. 

We are going to take a break. 

When we come back, we are also going to tell you what one of the dismissed jurors is now saying about this case. 

And the road for Scott Peterson to a possible death chamber could be from San Quentin. 

And we are going to talk about the lies that he apparently couldn‘t get away with. 

More as we continue our special coverage live from in front of the courthouse, where hours ago Scott Peterson found guilty of first degree murder. 



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We the jury in the above entitled cause find the defendant Scott Lee Peterson guilty of the crime of murder of baby Conner Peterson in violation of Penal Code Section 187A as alleged in count two of the information filed herein dated November 12, 2004, foreperson number 6. 

JUDGE ALFRED DELUCCHI:  Is that the unanimous verdict of the jury with respect to count two of the information?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It is, your Honor. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Read the degree, please. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We the jury further find the degree of murder to be that of the second degree.


ABRAMS:  Second degree murder in the killing of the baby, the unborn child, Conner, and yet first degree and facing death for the premeditated killing of Laci Peterson. 

Roy Black, how do you figure that these jurors come to that conclusion? 

BLACK:  Dan, I have been trying to figure that out for the last 6 ½ hours. 

I don‘t see how you could see it is first degree for Laci and second degree for Conner.  It really doesn‘t make a lot of logical sense, because, obviously, if you premeditatedly kill a mother who is eight months pregnant, knowing the child is going to die at the same time, you are equally guilty in the same degree of the death of the child.  So it is either a compromise or it‘s a signal by the jury that they don‘t want to sentence him to death.  It‘s one of those two.

ABRAMS:  Judge Snyder, it says to me that they basically thought that Scott wanted to kill Laci, that he premeditated, how am I going to go about killing Laci.  And yet they didn‘t have evidence about how he premeditated the killing of Conner.  And if they are two separate charges, considered two separate individuals, this jury could rationally say, we only saw evidence of premeditation with regard to Laci and not Conner. 

SNYDER:  Well, I think that is exactly what must have happened. 

I think Roy‘s point is also well taken that, at first blush, rationally, you would think, well, if it is first for one, it is first for the other.  But I think they really felt that a lay sense of premeditation, that he really actively planned and from his lost wife, et cetera, to kill here and that the baby killing was because she was carrying the baby, and not in the lay premeditated sense.  So it is not that irrational. 

COLWIN:  But, Dan...

ABRAMS:  Mercedes. 

COLWIN:  The other thing to think about, too, is, this may be a signal politically.  There are only 15 states that have this fetus law.  And, obviously, the Laci and Conner law came into effect, too.  But only 15 states have adopted it.

So it might be a political undercurrent as well that they are uncomfortable.  This baby has not been born alive.  There‘s been no evidence that the baby was born alive.  So they might be uncomfortable with that. 

But here is my reaction to that verdict.  How is it that you could come to the conclusion, when this baby was already named, the nursery was done—certainly, both Laci and Scott were behaving as if this child were going to be born the following day or whatever it was.  There was definitely an acknowledgment that this child was going to be part of their family.  So, I think that it might have been this whole discomfort that this jury felt and it might be a signal to us that he won‘t get the death penalty, ultimately, as Roy Black had said.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  I think it is a signal.

I would be stunned—and, again, look, I‘m just stunned that they came up with a verdict at all.  I‘m not going to revise history and I‘m not going to let any of my guests revise history on this one either, but I think that it would really be stunning if Scott Peterson gets a death sentence.  They need a unanimous jury of 12 people to come back and all recommend death.  I think that is a long shot in this case, but, again, who knows. 

Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, thank you very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

SNYDER:  You‘re welcome. 

ABRAMS:  The rest of the panel sticks around. 

Turmoil in the jury box, three jurors dismissed, two during deliberations, including the jury foreman.  It did not lead to a mistrial.  Question:  Will it supply sufficient grounds for a new trial? 


ABRAMS:  Scott Peterson guilty of first degree murder, now facing the death penalty or at least the possibility of it. 

Our two-hour special continues, but, first, other news. 



FREY:  You have to meet someone right now?

S. PETERSON:  No, get a plane.  I got to get packed, going to Madrid.

FREY:  Really?

S. PETERSON:  Uh-huh.

FREY:  You didn‘t—you didn‘t say you were leaving.  What‘s in Madrid?

S. PETERSON:  That‘s where the production office is.


ABRAMS:  Yes, right, a lie, lie, lie. 

Scott Peterson lied to Amber Frey about where he was.  The first time, he was in the Eiffel Tower.  Then he went to Madrid.  The question, on the eve of this guilty verdict for Scott Peterson, how much did his lies really impact the jury? 

I want to go through some of the important lies that he told.  When he was interviewed by Diane Sawyer, he lied about when he first told the police about his affair with Amber Frey. 


DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS:  Had you told anyone?  Did you tell police?

S. PETERSON:  I told the police immediately. 

SAWYER:  When? 

S. PETERSON:  That was the first night we were together with the police, I spent with the police. 

SAWYER:  You told them about her? 

S. PETERSON:  Yes, on December 24.


ABRAMS:  No, not true. 

He lied to his brother-in-law, Brent Rocha, about whether he had any other affairs. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She claims that...


ABRAMS:  OK, that wasn‘t the right tape.  Do we have the Brent Rocha? 

All right—in the meantime—let me get that queued up. 

Dean Johnson, lies, how much do they matter? 

JOHNSON:  Well, I don‘t think any particular lie really mattered that much.  What really mattered was the lies and the context in which they were seen. 

You have this man who is telling everybody in the national press that the most important thing in the world to him is to get Laci back alive.  And this juror now knows that that was all a lie because we know the kind of life that he was leading in reality when the cameras were not turned on.  It is that lie.  It‘s the living a lie, the double life, that really provided the motive in this case and helped convict Scott Peterson. 

ABRAMS:  Roy, what do you make of the lies?  The lies certainly made them dislike Scott Peterson. 

BLACK:  Well, Dan, the way I look at it is, let‘s face it.  The evidence was pretty slim in this case.  So the lies must have had a big emotional impact for the jury to find him guilty of first degree murder. 

I mean, let‘s face it.  They don‘t have a murder weapon.  They don‘t have any eyewitnesses.  They don‘t have any blood evidence.  The prosecution‘s summation was their theory about what happened.  It wasn‘t based on evidence.  So I think the emotional impact of all these lies that are so obvious must have really carried the day with that jury. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, I don‘t know. 


COLWIN:  I‘m not entirely convinced of that, Dan.


ABRAMS:  Yes, I‘m not...


ABRAMS:  Hang on.  Let me let Dean—Dean, bottom line, look, that is sort of a nice defense spin to put on this, I think.  But the bottom line is that there was a lot of evidence in this case. 



I find it funny that Roy is sitting here saying that this jury, which now has found Scott Peterson guilty beyond reasonable doubt, faced a thin case.  I would point—and it is all based on lies.  I would point out that this jury looked at over 100 pieces of evidence.  Only once, just before juror No. 5 was excused, did they even ask to see any tapes.  It was all the physical evidence that they were looking at.

We are now hearing even from one of the excused jurors, Frances Gorman, that this jury was ready to convict even very early on and that probably juror No. 5 was the roadblock.  And I think that is consistent with...


HOROWITZ:  In fairness to Roy Black, it is true that the jurors changed their attitude after those tapes were played. 

ABRAMS:  Let me go through some more of the tapes, all right?  We‘ve got them queued up.

Lie to Laci‘s brother about the fact that he had other affairs. 


BRENT ROCHA, BROTHER OF LACI S. PETERSON:  Is there anything else, like this person, woman?  Is there anything else out there that might throw us off, catch us off guard?

S. PETERSON:  You know, this brings up—I‘m just trying—no.  I mean...

B. ROCHA:  Because if I‘m going to go out there and talk...

S. PETERSON:  No, I‘m thinking about—just, I‘m thinking about other relationships, but those were before we were married. 


S. PETERSON:  You know, this was the only thing like that. 


ABRAMS:  Not true.  Even the defense conceded that he had other affairs. 

Lie as to the nursery.  Remember, Scott Peterson telling both Diane Sawyer and in this local interview saying that he never went into the nursery that he was preparing for their baby? 


S. PETERSON:  The nursery is ready for him.  That door is closed.  I can‘t look, you know, in the door?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You worked on it?  What sort of preparation did do you? 

S. PETERSON:  Yes, it is completely outfitted.  The furniture is there.  It‘s painted.  It‘s ready, all the little itty-bitty clothes and all those wonderful things that we have for him.  It is ready for him. 


ABRAMS:  Actually being used as a storage unit by Scott Peterson. 

And he even lied to his own mother when he went back to the Berkeley Marina to—who knows what to do, maybe to mourn, to look, to see what they were doing as the search was going on.  Who knows exactly what he was doing there, didn‘t tell his mother the truth about where he was. 


S. PETERSON:  Hey, mom.



J. PETERSON:  Where are you?

S. PETERSON:  What‘s that?

J. PETERSON:  Where are you?

S. PETERSON:  West Fresno.


ABRAMS:  All right, so there‘s just a sampling of the various lies that Scott Peterson told. 

Daniel Horowitz, you wanted to get in about the significance of these lies. 

HOROWITZ:  Right. 

Dan, you know, these lies, some of them are just lies.  Some do let you peer into the mind perhaps of a criminal and get his motivation.  But when I watched that jury listening to the Amber tapes, Dan, they shifted from seeming neutral or fair-minded to glaring at Scott.  So I think the point that Roy was making is that, to a large extent, Scott was convicted because he is a bad person.

And I don‘t think the jury separated those tapes that showed you that he was a scheming person planning Laci‘s death and lying about it and just a scheming person per se. 

Dean Johnson, a good person like you is entitled to a trial, but so is a rat like Scott Peterson. 


JOHNSON:  You know what?  You‘re absolutely right.


ABRAMS:  Daniel, are you now suggesting—hang on.

Daniel, you are not suggesting now that Scott Peterson didn‘t get a fair trial because he dug his own grave?  I don‘t mean that literally, but just that he got himself into trouble by what he said and so therefore he didn‘t get a fair trial, the fact that he told Amber Frey two weeks before Laci goes missing that his wife was lost, et cetera?  It wasn‘t just—he wasn‘t a victim of circumstance. 

HOROWITZ:  Well, I will concede that that fact, the one you just stated, is one that should have come in.  It goes to his state of mind. 

But so many of the lies to Amber that came in just show that he is a cheating, lying, scheming man.  And since both came in, I think you ended up having a revulsion towards Scott that went far beyond the fact that he might have killed his wife and child and that he was...


ABRAMS:  Maybe so. 


ABRAMS:  Hang on a sec.  Hang on.

COLWIN:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  Maybe so, Mercedes, but the bottom line is that this evidence was not just about Scott Peterson being a bad guy.  The lies weren‘t to show that he was a liar.  It was to show consciousness of guilt.  It was also to show how this guy, who claimed that he was mourning his wife‘s disappearance, was actually talking to Amber Frey about being in Madrid.  He was lying to everyone. 

And when you are lying to everyone and you are claiming to be a mourning husband, that is evidence against you. 

HOROWITZ:  I agree with that, Dan.  They just went too far.

COLWIN:  You know what, Dan?  I agree.  But let me just say this.

ABRAMS:  Mercedes.  Mercedes.  Mercedes. 

COLWIN:  I honestly do not think that the tapes really had much of a difference in this case. 

What really buried Scott in this case was the fact that the bodies showed up where he was fishing.  End of story.  We can throw in everything else, the 230 hours of tapes that they had.  But, honestly, it really didn‘t have the impact.  I think that the defense pretty much took the wind out of its sails by saying, hey, he is a cad, he is a jerk, but he is not a killer. 

That was pretty much it.  And, plus, they surfaced those two other mistresses.  What really did him in was the fact that those bodies were right at the area that he was fishing.  And that is really about it.  And the fact that Geragos could not really do anything to contradict it through his own expert testimony, that is what was problematic. 


ABRAMS:  Yes, but, see, I think he should have in his closing argument

·         in his closing argument—and I did that in this that mock closing I did.

I think what he should have said about that is, look, someone, either Scott Peterson did or someone framed Scott Peterson.  There‘s no question about that.  I can‘t tell you who did it.  I can‘t tell you why they did it.  But I can tell you, it wasn‘t my guy. 

And I don‘t think we heard enough about that.  And I think he just sort of left out there too much, the whole idea of where those bodies were found. 

Anyway, we‘re going to continue this discussion in a moment.  Everyone is going to stick around. 

It was start and stop, Peterson jury.  They lost two members, including the foreman.  We now are hearing from one of those dismissed jurors.  We will tell you what she said.  And this verdict leading many to return to what appears to be both the scene of the crime and the scene of Laci‘s final moments, balloons, flowers, other mementos at Scott and Laci Peterson‘s home tonight in Modesto. 

Our special coverage of the guilty verdict in the Scott Peterson trial continues in a moment.   



FALCONER:  He is an innocent man until proven otherwise.  And that was never my—from day one, when they told us—they gave us the instruction, it was our understanding that he is innocent until, you know, Distaso proves him wrong—proves him guilty.  And he hasn‘t done that. 


ABRAMS:  Even the ultimate pro-defense juror, Justin Falconer, who was on the program earlier tonight, saying, in essence, that he respects the jury‘s verdict, and maybe there was a lot of testimony that he didn‘t hear. 

For weeks, he had been defending the defense, suggesting 20 minutes before the verdict came down with me that he would have hung this jury.  He was stunned when the jury came back unanimously for a conviction on first degree murder and now appears to be changing his tune a bit. 

A quick review as to what happened with this jury, lots of activity, with the jury deliberating this week.

Monday, the jury views Peterson‘s boat at the courthouse.  A couple of them apparently rock it.  They are reinstructed on the attitude and conduct of jurors.  Tuesday, juror No. 7 replaced by alternate two, the jury instructed to start deliberations over.  Wednesday, juror 5, the foreman, replaced by an alternate, the jury reinstructed to begin deliberations over, to rely only on the evidence presented at trial.  A mysterious boat appeared outside of Mark Geragos‘ office that quickly turned into a shrine for Laci and Conner.  Thursday was a juror holiday. 

And it seemed like only minutes.  It was a couple of hours into the deliberation process we were told that they heard a verdict.  This new jury deliberated about seven hours as a jury.

Now, one of those dismissed jurors, the first one who was dismissed this week, Frances Gorman, has spoken out today.  And here is a quote of what she said: “While I can understand why I was.  I did, did check something that I had a knee-jerk reaction about and it confirmed my thinking, you know, my thinking about whether something that I heard was correct or not, but it really didn‘t affect the outcome,” in essence, conceding that she had done some outside research about the case and saying she shouldn‘t have done it.  She says it didn‘t affect the outcome. 

Roy Black, how big an issue are these juror issues going to be when this defense team appeals? 

BLACK:  Well, Dan, I think they are pretty important. 

First of all, after a jury is sworn, it‘s a big deal to excuse a juror.  It is an even bigger deal to excuse a juror during deliberations, let alone excusing the foreman after six days of deliberation.  And, as I said all along here—we talked about this a number of times today, Dan—that I think that excusing juror No. 5 is a very important issue in the case.

And I would expect that the judge would have to have an awful good reason to do that or this case could well be reversed on appeal. 

ABRAMS:  Mercedes, I have heard from most everyone on this.  I haven‘t heard your thoughts on this. 

COLWIN:  No, I do.  I think there are a couple of things that they are going to appeal on. 

Certainly, this juror No. 5 was extremely important.  Juror No. 7, that was the woman that you just profiled.  That is really a nonissue.  She did something that she was instructed not to do.  There was jury misconduct.  She should have been replaced and that‘s fine.

But juror No. 5, we never really got a straight answer as to what happened with him.  What I had heard is that he was intensely disliked by the other jurors, that they despised the way he was trying to lead them down this path of deliberation.  They didn‘t get along with him.  He was not deliberating effectively during the process.

So—and, at some point, it seems like he had asked to be excused, that he was not comfortable being the foreperson.  And, now, the last I had heard is that juror No. 5, when she discovered this outside research that she had done, approached him with it and may have effectively tainted him as well. 

ABRAMS:  Yes. 

COLWIN:  But, lo and behold, we need to find out and concentrate on juror No. 5.  But there are other appealable issues.  One is to allow the jurors to have been bouncing up and down on that boat.  That is really serious. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  But the bottom line is, there are always lots of appealable issues, but the chances of them winning on appeal, I think, are very slim here.  I‘m going to take a quick break here.

COLWIN:  It is a 5 percent chance, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Five percent? 

COLWIN:  Five percent.

ABRAMS:  That, I would agree with, I would agree with.  I think it‘s -

·         I would say slightly less, but somewhere in the 2 to 4 range. 

But, anyway, coming up, final thoughts from my legal team about the penalty phase in this case, with Scott Peterson facing the possibility of death. 

First, as we go to break, remember this, one of Laci Peterson‘s family members describing Scott Peterson‘s thoughts about Laci‘s disappearance.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It is true.  The man was more upset about his burnt chicken than even thinking about finding his wife. 



ABRAMS:  That was Laci Peterson, one of the final shots of Laci alive, shown to the jury in this case before they convicted Scott Peterson of first degree murder. 

We are back with our special coverage of the verdict in the Scott Peterson case.  Peterson now facing the possibility of death. 

I want to go through with my panelists and get some final thoughts on what we can expect now in this penalty phase. 

The great Roy Black, what do you make of it?  What are we going to see in the penalty phase? 

BLACK:  Well, I think we are going to see a lot of family members testifying.  I think the prosecution is going to call the Rocha family.  Sharon Rocha gave a very emotional press conference, which you‘ve played numerous times.  She will be a great witness for them.

The Petersons will put on everybody they can possibly think of.  I believe the end result is going to be life imprisonment because the jurors simply are not either afraid of Scott Peterson or they don‘t have a sense of rage about him. 

ABRAMS:  Dean Johnson, what are we going to see in the penalty phase? 

JOHNSON:  Well, Roy is right about the evidence. 

It‘s going to be essentially the families.  But Scott Peterson will never face the death penalty.  San Mateo County juries have not imposed the death penalty in five years.  If they find anything redeeming in Scott Peterson‘s character, which they can, they will give him life without possibility of parole. 

ABRAMS:  And, Daniel, do you agree with that?  And do you also agree with the fact that Scott Peterson really can‘t testify in this penalty phase, because he would really hurt his appeal? 

HOROWITZ:  Yes.  He can‘t testify because he cannot come clean.  He cannot be honest enough to testify. 

Dan, this is the most somber task a lawyer can ever undertake.  I can‘t talk about what the evidence is.  I can just think—and I would like to talk to Mark Geragos, because he watches your show.  He has commented on what I say on your show. 

Mark, you have to open your heart to this jury.  You care about your client.  You know that there‘s good in him.  You have to find what it is that makes you care most about Scott Peterson and communicate it to those jurors in an honest, brutally honest way.  And then you just have to hope. 

ABRAMS:  Mercedes.

COLWIN:  Dan, I want to go out on a limb for a moment.

I don‘t think Sharon Rocha is actually going to ask the jury to impose the death penalty.  I think she is going to say, give him life in prison.  And this is why.  She says, I want him to be reminded single every day about Laci and Conner and what he took from us. 

I‘m not sure she is going to look at that jury and say, I want you to impose it.  I don‘t.  And I think that, in the final analysis, frankly, he is going to have life in prison, which, in effect, is a death penalty.  He is going to have 23 hours lockdown, one hour of free time outside of that cell.  That to me is not living. 

ABRAMS:  I want to thank my panelists. 

And let me go beyond just thanking them, as I ordinarily do, because I think Dean, Daniel and Mercedes have become new panelists in the context of this trial.  And I want to thank all of you for all the time you have spent with us providing us with expertise and analysis.  And we welcome you to THE ABRAMS REPORT family. 

Roy Black is sort of like the old uncle you have had for years. 


BLACK:  Thanks, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Roy has been—yes.


ABRAMS:  Roy has been with the program.  Roy and I have been working together for years on these various trials.  And he is always one of the finest both lawyers and commentators around. 

Thank you to all of you for all of the time you have spent providing your expertise to this program. 

COLWIN:  Thank you, Dan.


BLACK:  Well, not just that, Dan.  We need to thank you for putting on the best legal show and the best analysis of this case of anybody on television. 

JOHNSON:  Hear, Hear.

COLWIN:  Yes, hear, hear for that. 


ABRAMS:  I appreciate that. 

And let just me make, offer a final thought here.  Again, I said this earlier.  I think that the family of Laci Peterson deserves a lot of credit here, not just for surviving through this, as do many families.  But the way that they have handled themselves, with such grace, I think deserves a special moment of recognition as to what has been such a difficult time for them.  And yet they have managed to emerge from this still with their integrity intact. 

I‘m out of time.  Thanks a lot.  Thanks for watching.  The penalty phase, we‘ll be covering it.



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