Guests: Lora Owens, Matt Dalton, Steve Cardosi, Edie Lambert, Mickey Sherman, Vernell Crittendon
DAN ABRAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Coming up, an explosive new book on the Scott Peterson case from a trial insider, argues Scott Peterson is actually innocent. Another ABRAMS REPORT exclusive.
A former member of Peterson‘s defense team going public in a new book, criticizing prosecutors, police and even the defense team. Matt Dalton is sighting evidence he says should have been presented to the jury, evidence he says would have saved Scott Peterson from death row. I‘ll have the tough questions in this exclusive interview and a response from the foreman of the jury. Would any of it have changed his mind? The program about justice starts now.
Before we get to my exclusive interview, first up on the docket, time ran out, convicted murderer Stanley “Tookie” Williams executed in California this morning. After every last minute appeal in court, and even to California Governor Schwarzenegger, was turned down. Apparently it was not an easy execution. Thousands of Williams supporters swarmed around San Quentin Prison in protest. And some witnesses say the executioners fumbled for 12 minutes before injecting Williams with a deadly mix of drugs. At one point, Williams reportedly even asked them whether they needed help finding a vein.
Lora Owens was there to witnessed the execution last night. Her stepson, Albert, was killed by Stanley “Tookie” Williams in a convenience store robbery almost 27 years ago. She joins us now.
Thanks very much for taking the time to come on the program.
Appreciate it. Tell me why you wanted to be there and witness it?
LORA OWENS, STEPSON KILLED BY STANLEY “TOOKIE” WILLIAMS: I didn‘t want to be there, Dan. I thought I had to be because that‘s why Albert and my husband would have expected of me. That‘s why I was there.
ABRAMS: Was it difficult for you to watch?
OWENS: Yes. It was a difficult thing. You don‘t take human life easily like that. But I had to do what was required of me. So I did it.
ABRAMS: Does it—and I hate to use this word in this context, and I‘m sure you get asked it all the time, that closure word. Because I‘m sure that the loss is never really closed. But does it provide something for you knowing that it‘s over?
OWENS: You know, it does provide what you do refer to as closure. It‘s a process. But what I‘m taking solace in is the fact that the law was carried out. You know, the courts had sentenced him so many years ago and the sentence was finally carried out. I take solace in the fact that our legal system worked so well.
ABRAMS: Did he say—did he look at you at all? Did he say anything to you or look at the crowd? Anything like that?
OWENS: He didn‘t look at me. If he looked at anyone else, I don‘t know. I would be guessing if I said that. He did not look at me.
ABRAMS: And did you see this sort of fumbling that people have described?
OWENS: No, sir, I did not. It was a dignified death for him. I did not see any of the fumbling that they‘re talking about. I did not see any of the belligerence that they talked about. That is not my perception of what we saw.
ABRAMS: Tell me your perception.
OWENS: Like I said, it was a dignified way that they did the execution. Everyone that was there did not take that lightly. They were doing the job that they were required to do. And they did it, I thought, quite well, considering what they were doing.
ABRAMS: Lora Owens, thanks very much for coming on the program. We appreciate it. I wanted to make sure we brought this story back to your stepson.
OWENS: Thank you.
ABRAMS: And I appreciate you taking the time.
Now to an ABRAMS REPORT exclusive. It‘s been a year to the day since the jury recommended death for Scott Peterson. But since then you haven‘t heard a lot of people out there defending Peterson, saying he shouldn‘t be on death row. But a new book written by one of Peterson‘s former attorneys does just that and more. Matt Dalton was a prosecutor for 13 years before becoming a defense attorney. He spent about six months in Modesto investigating the Peterson case, interviewing witnesses, and regularly meeting with Peterson in jail. Dalton thinks the jury didn‘t hear enough of the evidence that he uncovered. And that if they had, he thinks they would have likely reached another verdict.
MATT DALTON, AUTHOR, “PRESUMED GUILTY”: I read everything that the police have related to the disappearance of Laci Peterson. I read it word for word, line by line. And I‘m telling you, Dan, critical information was not presented to the jury.
ABRAMS: Does that mean Scott Peterson is innocent?
DALTON: Dan, six witnesses in Scott and Laci‘s neighborhood saw Laci walking her dog around the block the day after she was supposedly killed. The police theorize that Scott killed his wife the night of December 23. Then why do all of these witnesses in the neighborhood see her walking her dog the next day?
ABRAMS: The reason that those witnesses weren‘t presented is, first of all, because the police witnesses talked about the fact that there were these supposed Laci sightings. And the reason they didn‘t want to present these witnesses is because their stories didn‘t make sense in the sense that they weren‘t consistent with one another and they simply weren‘t credible.
DALTON: I personally interviewed each of the witnesses. They were all credible. Each of them independently and separately reported this to the police. They didn‘t know about the other reports.
ABRAMS: Except some of them say that they see her or someone they think may have been Laci. Some of them actually said that they didn‘t think it was Laci later on. But the ones who did think it was Laci, sometimes say that they saw her after the dog was found walking around the neighborhood by itself.
DALTON: When they sighted Laci, it wasn‘t important at the time. No body‘s looking at their watch to see what time they saw her. I spoke to each of them. The time estimates are in the correct time frame from 10:00 to 10:30. And they are positive of what they saw. And that‘s what‘s important.
ABRAMS: Isn‘t it possible that after you stopped working on the case, that people continued to investigate, they continued to ask questions and that the answers just weren‘t the ones that Scott Peterson‘s team would necessarily want to hear. And as a result, they said, maybe we shouldn‘t call these people because it‘s not going to help our case.
DALTON: These people were all interviewed right after the disappearance. All of them came forward with the information they had.
ABRAMS: And the fact that these witnesses accounts were brought in through the police, not enough?
DALTON: Look, it was a mistake not to put those witnesses on the witness stand. That‘s my opinion.
ABRAMS: What do you think really happened to Laci Peterson?
DALTON: When I talk to witnesses and I read reports from witnesses and seems to indicate that Laci was being followed by two men cussing at her. A woman eight months pregnant is being followed by two men cussing at her. The witness described it and it stood out in her mind because it was so outrageous what she was seeing. At the same location, screaming is heard. At the same location, a suspicious van speeds off. And it‘s the same van sitting in front of her house 45 minutes before. That‘s what I think happened to Laci Peterson.
ABRAMS: You think she was abducted?
DALTON: I think that van had something to do with the disappearance of Laci Peterson. And this is based upon what the witnesses said, Dan. This is what the police report said.
ABRAMS: The police would say we did follow up on them and, you know what, none of these reports were credible.
DALTON: Dan, what do you mean reports are not credible?
ABRAMS: They would have to have really been try to get Scott Peterson convicted to not present this evidence if it‘s as strong as you say.
DALTON: Again, Dan, Geragos‘ competency is going to get reviewed on appeal.
ABRAMS: Competency is one thing. When they have all this evidence and they don‘t present it, there‘s got to be a reason they didn‘t present it. Maybe it just wasn‘t credible.
DALTON: Dan, these statements are documented in reports that were taken soon . . .
ABRAMS: That doesn‘t mean that they‘re accurate.
DALTON: But they‘re an issue.
ABRAMS: You have an whole chapter about satanic activity and the neighborhood. You quote from satanic manual, et cetera. You investigated and spent a lot of time working the whole satanic angle.
DALTON: I know from my investigation that several of these satanic cults were found in the Berkeley area. I know from my investigation that seven pregnant women have suddenly disappear in that area. That‘s an incredible number of people, of pregnant women, to disappear over a three-year period in that general area. That‘s incredible.
The other thing that I thought was incredible is that Evelyn Hernandez (ph), eight months pregnant, disappears from that area on May 1st, according to the satanic calendar and the Satanists that‘s called the grand climax, a day of sacrifice. December 24 of the same year, Laci Peterson apparently abducted. Personal property found in the street. Laci Peterson is found in the same San Francisco Bay that Evelyn Hernandez is found in. Laci Peterson has no hands, no feet. Her head is missing. The baby appears to have be removed and handled by somebody, in my opinion. I think that‘s incredible that two of the seven women that had disappeared, disappeared on satanic days.
ABRAMS: What do you say to those who would say, by talking about the satanic cults and Satanism and the satanic calendar that you‘re going to undermine your credibility in this theory. That people are just going to ignore it and say Dalton‘s gone off of the deep end?
DALTON: Well, I want to tell them that the Modesto Police Department initiated an investigation into a satanic group. It‘s documented in a police report. That‘s where I started. That‘s why I started the investigation on the Satanists. I started with that group. But it is a reality in that area. No question in my mind.
ABRAMS: I don‘t know about that. But I can also tell you that the Evelyn Hernandez case he‘s talking about has been investigated thoroughly and there are no Satanists who are considered possible suspects.
All right, what about all of the incriminating evidence against Scott Peterson? The fact that Laci‘s body washed ashore at the same place where Scott said he went fishing 90 miles from their home. It sure seems Dalton ignores that. I‘ll ask him about it.
And what about Peterson‘s girlfriend, Amber Frey. Dalton says there‘s no way Scott would leave Laci for Amber. She had her own child. And get this, one of the reasons he gives, he said that Laci was prettier than Amber.
Plus, why did Mark Geragos try to block the publication of this book? More of my exclusive interview with Matt Dalton. And we‘ll get reaction from the jury foreperson who decided Peterson‘s fail.
Your e-mails, firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, where you‘re writing from. I‘ll respond at the end of the show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT PETERSON, SENTENCED TO DEATH: Walking the dog through there like she would do. I was worried (INAUDIBLE) like way too experience her right now for me. A lot of times I—I can‘t make it very far. I get—part of the way. I certainly can‘t make it to the part of the park where currently there‘s a big poster of her up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: When the jury weighed the evidence in the Scott Peterson case, they found enough to convict him for murdering his wife, Laci, and their unborn child, but not enough to convince Matt Dalton, a member of Peterson‘s defense team for six months before the trail started. He has a new book out that says Peterson shouldn‘t be on death row and that evidence he uncovered should have been presented to the jury. In more of my exclusive interview with Dalton, I confronted him with the evidence against Peterson that I think he ignored.
ABRAMS: What troubled me about the book is you didn‘t address any of the most incriminating evidence against Scott Peterson.
DALTON: Well, let‘s get into each of them, Dan. I mean a lot of these issue that the prosecution presented, I don‘t think—I didn‘t take them seriously.
ABRAMS: Is there any dispute that Scott Peterson says he was fishing 90 miles away from his home exactly where the bodies were found.
DALTON: That‘s not exactly where the bodies were found. He was in Berkeley fishing. And I understand the bodies were found a few miles away from where he was fishing.
ABRAMS: So you think it‘s possible that it‘s coincidence? That he happened to be fishing in this area very far away from his home and that the bodies happened to have been found very, very close by, 90 miles from his home?
DALTON: What I‘m saying, Dan, is that, I don‘t think the investigation‘s over. I think that there are facts out there that we should still look at. This was publicized very early on that Scott was fishing in that area. So there is a possibility the bodies could have been planted there.
ABRAMS: The other thing you don‘t address in this book are Scott‘s own words. You don‘t address fact that Scott Peterson, when he came back, told some people he went golfing. He told other people that he went fishing. He didn‘t seem to know exactly what kind of lures he used.
DALTON: Take each of these things individually. His wife disappears. And their story is, he didn‘t know what bait he was using. This is the day that he came home. He didn‘t just—does that . . .
ABRAMS: He didn‘t know if he was golfing or fishing?
DALTON: That‘s not true. He never said that.
ABRAMS: He told some neighbors he was golfing.
DALTON: That‘s not true.
ABRAMS: He had inconsistent stories about what he was doing, about how he was fishing or whether he was fishing. He has inconsistent stories even publicly, in interview, about when he tells the authorities about an affair, et cetera. You don‘t deal with any of those in the book.
DALTON: If you want to get into, you know, fighting over these small issues about, you know, the police say Scott didn‘t know what he was fishing for. The police say he didn‘t know what hooks to use. The police say that he didn‘t know if he was golfing. I mean, you know, come on, you could go on and on.
ABRAMS: So where the bodies were found in conjunction with all of Scott Peterson‘s statements you think is just irrelevant?
DALTON: I‘m not ignoring the prosecution case. My sole purpose here is to get the new information out there. Information that could have helped Scott Peterson.
ABRAMS: You would concede that there is evidence that sure makes it look like Scott Peterson is guilty?
DALTON: I would say that there are suspicious facts. And I say that in the book. But I do believe that they are explainable.
ABRAMS: Yes. Well, bottom line is that there were witnesses who testified that Scott Peterson said he was golfing and not fishing.
Joining me now, Edie Lambert is an anchor with our Sacramento affiliate, KCRA. She covered the Peterson trial each and every day. Mickey Sherman is a criminal defense attorney who covered this trial. And Steve Cardosi was the foreman of that jury that convicted Scott Peterson.
All right. Thanks to all of you for coming on the program.
All right, Steve, let me start with you. Anything you‘re hearing from Matt Dalton change your mind?
STEVE CARDOSI, PETERSON JURY FOREMAN: No, not really. It seems he‘s focusing in on a lot of things that weren‘t—or deemed were inadmissible or were chosen by Scott Peterson‘s own defense team not to be brought forward in the case. And I would like to put a little bit of faith in the justice system and his attorneys that if there was something that was so concrete that it would have gotten him off, they would have definitely brought it forth.
ABRAMS: Edie, look, let‘s go through some of this stuff. He‘s talking about the van, this mystery van that was found and these witnesses. Let‘s start with the van. The issue with the van, the prosecutors would say they found that van. They would say they tested that van and it has no connection to the case and they interviewed all the mystery Satanist that he‘s talking about, right?
EDIE LAMBERT, KCRA ANCHOR: Right. And remember, Dan, that the van itself can cut both ways. And one reason that the defense may not have focused on that during the trial is that there was also a theory that Peterson met up with two guys, neo-Nazi types, in Fresno and allegedly had offered them money to kidnap Laci Peterson. Dirty (ph) and Skeeter (ph) were their improbable names in this case. And, in fact, they drove a brown van, a tan van. So that particular evidence could cut both ways and there may have been a very strategic reason that Geragos didn‘t bring that up in trial.
ABRAMS: And it‘s a—there was a strategic reason to not call the supposed Laci sighting witnesses either. And correct me if I‘m wrong, I mean this was a while ago, but my recollection was that they offer differing times. Some of their timelines didn‘t work. Some of them—some of them said it wasn‘t Laci who they saw. And the bottom line is that it seems to me that the prosecutors—the defense thought it was more credible to just get it out through the police to say, ooh there were these Laci sightings they didn‘t do anything about.
LAMBERT: Well, and if you remember, it seemed like the prosecutors expected that the defense might put some of this up during their case. And the prosecutors, obviously, went first. They presented their case first in this trial. And they made an attempt to neutralize that kind of testimony. They had woman after woman after woman after woman take the stand who looked something like Laci. In some cases they were pregnant. In some cases they had a dog that looked like Laci‘s dog. These were all women who went walking through the neighborhood. The point, of course, that these alleged witnesses could have seen one of these other women and mistaken those people for Laci.
ABRAMS: All right. Mickey, let‘s take the other side of this. Look, Matt Dalton would say, I talked to these people. He would say, I‘m the one who interviewed these people. I‘m the one who wrote reports for the defense. And, yet, none of it was used.
MICKEY SHERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It‘s hard to buy. It‘s just very hard to buy. Let me tell you, having been in that chair that Mark Geragos was in, you want to win that case more than you want to draw your next breath. Believe me, you want an . . .
ABRAMS: You can make mistakes, right?
SHERMAN: (INAUDIBLE) want to win it for him.
ABRAMS: You can make mistakes, though, right?
SHERMAN: You can make mistakes, but you‘re not going to overlook important witnesses. You‘re going to throw everything out there that‘s credible and relevant. And the witnesses that you don‘t put on, there‘s a reason you don‘t do it. I mean, there are lawyers out there who make mistakes. And that‘s why we have appellate courts. But I have to believe that Mark Geragos carefully considered—and, don‘t forget, he‘s not working alone. He‘s got a team there. There‘s other people who have voices. He‘s not going to disregard a decent witness who‘s going to add some credibility to his defense. I think he picked and chose where he wanted to go and which kind of defenses he wanted to use. And that if he felt these people weren‘t credible and were just going to leave a bad taste in the jury‘s mouth, he didn‘t go with it. And I think, Steve, the jury foreperson who is on this show, agrees with that as well.
ABRAMS: Well, Steve, let me ask you. Amongst the issues that you‘ve heard Matt Dalton talk about so far, and we‘re going to hear him talking about some more issues in a moment, did any of these come up in the jury deliberation process? I mean this was not a speedy deliberation.
CARDOSI: Some of them did, but very . . .
ABRAMS: Like what?
CARDOSI: Obviously it‘s been quite a while. So it‘s hard for me to remember everything that came up. But I would like to basically say that if Geragos put on more witnesses that came across inconsistent, that would be one of the last things that his client would have needed. Because one of the things . . .
ABRAMS: What if there had been one credible witness—what if there had been a witness who you thought seemed pretty credible who said that in the time frame that the defense is talking about—you know, we‘re talking about the period right before the dog is seen walking around the neighborhood alone—that they say, I saw someone who I was convinced was Laci Peterson. Would that have been a big deal to you?
CARDOSI: It‘s hard to say in hindsight whether that would have been a big deal or not. But there—it was basically the prosecution‘s case far outweighed what the defense‘s case was as it was presented. If it was presented differently, I mean, who would know. I mean, that‘s speculation on my part to say that, oh, we would have gone this way or we would have gone that way. But I highly doubt it would have gone any other direction because I don‘t believe there‘s anything out there that‘s credible enough to make it go any other direction.
ABRAMS: You know, Matt Dalton talks a lot about, in his book, about an elderly couple—one of them has died since then—who he says really could have been the key. That they‘re convinced that they saw Laci. The woman, in particular, is convinced that she saw Laci that morning. The way that they know that is based on the fact that the husband says he was watching a football game on TV that morning. We interviewed them on this program. We then went and checked. It was Christmas Eve, there were no football games like to ones he was talking about, so he simply must have had the date wrong.
But that‘s the sort of problems that they had with these witnesses. They just—they either had their timing wrong or they simply weren‘t convinced it was Laci Peterson. But, look, that‘s Matt Dalton‘s opinion and he spoke to these people. We‘re going to have more of my interview with Matt Dalton. Edie, Mickey and Steve are going to stick around.
Coming up, she was considered one of the crucial witnesses for the prosecution, Scott Peterson‘s ex-girlfriend, Amber Frey. Dalton, in his new book, says there was no way she was a motive for murder. In fact, Dalton says Peterson‘s affair with Amber had no impact on his marriage to Laci.
And later, life on death row. How does Peterson pass the time? We‘ve got a rep from San Quentin with us to tell us how Peterson is faring.
ABRAMS: A new book on the Peterson trial argues that Scott Peterson shouldn‘t be on death row. More of my exclusive interview with the author.
First, the headlines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMBER FREY, EX-GIRLFRIEND: How was your New Year‘s Eve?
SCOTT PETERSON: It‘s good. I‘m just—everyone‘s in the bar now so I came out in an alley, a quiet alley. Isn‘t that nice?
FREY: Yes, it is. I can hear you. Very good.
PETERSON: It‘s pretty awesome. Fireworks there at the Eiffel Tower.
A mass of people playing American pop songs.
(END AUDIO FEED)
ABRAMS: Of course, now we know that to be a lie. Scott Peterson was nowhere near the Eiffel Tower on New Year‘s Eve in 2002. And it wasn‘t the only lie he told his girlfriend, Amber Frey, about a month after Laci Peterson went missing.
Frey faced the world and told us that she knew Scott Peterson, she knew him to be her boyfriend. She recorded her phone conversations with him for the police. He talked about how he wanted to spend his life with her.
But in his new book, former defense team member, Matt Dalton, doesn‘t seem to think that was a big deal. Hear more of my exclusive interview.
ABRAMS: You suggest in your book that there‘s no way that Amber Frey would be the motive for Murder here. And, yet, the prosecutors never argued that Amber Frey was the Motive. They said that Amber Frey was a symbol of what Scott Peterson wanted. He wanted his freedom. And that she was just one of the reasons that he wanted to be free.
DALTON: I‘ll just say it very simply. It doesn‘t—it didn‘t make any sense to me, OK? You know, this, of course is something that...
ABRAMS: But they never argued it. That was my point. My point is, the prosecutors never argued that Amber Frey was the motive. In the closing arguments, in fact, that said she wasn‘t.
DALTON: Well, well they sure—they sure started the case off with the idea of her being a motive in this. Now, all I want to say to you though, Dan, is that it never made any sense to me that Scott Peterson would kill his wife and child to take the role of being a father to someone else‘s child. It didn‘t make any sense to me. That theory didn‘t make sense to me.
ABRAMS: In the various taped recorded conversations between Scott Peterson and Amber Frey, Scott Peterson said the following, “In my mind, we could be wonderful together. For the rest of our lives, I think we can care for each other,” and her daughter. “I worry about you. I desire to make you happy. I just need to tell you how much I care about you.”
Again and again and again, Scott Peterson is telling Amber Frey on tape how much he cares about her. And your position is, she was nothing.
DALTON: Let‘s—let‘s—you want to talk about the other relationships that he had? There were several relationships. But now, we think that Amber is the reason for this? I mean, I—you know, Dan, I wasn‘t convinced it was a motive. I wasn‘t convinced it was a motive. I don‘t think that—I think that Amber Frey, I think she played a big role in the case because of the lying that took place. But I don‘t think that that in any way, and this is my experience as a prosecutor, in no way does that support an inference of murder. And that‘s the—that‘s a huge leap that they made and I disagree with it.
ABRAMS: You say, “There is nothing that I saw, however, that indicates that Scott‘s extramarital affairs impacted upon his relationship with his wife.”
Some people are going read that and they‘re going say his extramarital affairs, multiple affairs, didn‘t impact on his relationship with his wife? And people have seen that picture of Laci, for example, sitting alone at a Christmas party while Scott Peterson‘s partying it up with Amber Frey. And you‘re saying, in this book, that you didn‘t see anything that indicated that Scott‘s affairs affected his relationship with his wife?
DALTON: Look, the police did a thorough investigation into Scott‘s background. They found other—other women, other affairs that he had. One report indicates that Laci found out about one of the affairs. Indicates that they—there was no change in the marriage. They continued to stay married after that. There were several affairs that were mentioned and talked about besides Amber Frey.
ABRAMS: So it didn‘t matter? Just, Scott was out fooling around with whoever, and it didn‘t matter. It didn‘t have any impact on his relationship?
DALTON: Well, well look, you know—look—look, look, look. No, I‘m saying it was personal between Laci and Scott. You know, I‘m just telling you the facts. I‘m telling you that there is a police report that indicates that Laci caught Scott having an affair early in their marriage. It‘s in a police report. They continued to stay married. Scott always went on record saying that this was between him and his wife.
ABRAMS: But he also lied about whether he told her about it.
DALTON: Does that support an inference of guilt? Or does that mean he‘s trying to hide the affair with Amber Frey?
But as a 13-year prosecutor, Dan, that piece of evidence does not support an inference of murder.
And, you know, you could look at that in a vacuum, you know, ignore everything that I have told you today, ignore all these witnesses that I talked to and pulled out of the Modesto police reports. Ignore it all and just continue to focus on Amber and what he said to Amber and -- It‘s ridiculous. Come on.
ABRAMS: Earlier in the interview, I talked to him about that comment that Amber says Scott Peterson made before Laci disappeared that he‘d lost his wife before she, in fact, disappeared.
Back with me is our legal team. Steve Cardosi, how important was Amber Frey in the deliberation process?
CARDOSI: She was pretty important in terms of—she brought forward things. She allowed us to actually hear things that we wouldn‘t have been able to hear without her. But the one thing he‘s talking about, if you live in a vacuum or you look at everything in a vacuum, it appears to me that he‘s looking at everything in a vacuum.
It wasn‘t one critical piece of evidence that made this case for the jury. It was everything collectively together; looking at it all, analyzing it all, that kind of brought us to the decision we came to.
ABRAMS: Let me ask you, Steve, he says in his book at one point that why would Scott Peterson kill his wife and their child to effectively trade her for Amber Frey, who he describes as less attractive than Laci, and to take on her own child—to take on her child. Did that ever come up in the deliberation process?
CARDOSI: Not—no, not really at all. It—I don‘t believe anybody even tried to pitch that. The defense tried to pitch it for a moment. But that was it. Geragos said, right from the beginning, my client is a cad, but he‘s not a murderer. So, I mean, it doesn‘t seem like he was trying to use that as his defense for the prosecution saying, oh, yes, why would he do this? It never came across that way, to me, anyway.
ABRAMS: Edie, how important do you think the comments that is Scott Peterson made to Amber were—let‘s talk about the comments that he made before Laci went missing, which Dalton, in my interview, kept saying, “Well, it‘s not on tape, it‘s not on tape.” effectively saying that he didn‘t believe Amber.
LAMBERT: I‘m sorry, I missed the question.
ABRAMS: The question is how important do you think the comments that is Scott made to Amber were—before Laci goes missing—how important do you think those, do you think, in the context of the case?
LAMBERT: It‘s incredibly important that he would tell somebody, “I lost my wife,” before his wife even goes missing. And I also think—you hit it right on the head. Prosecutors never said this was a choice between Amber Frey and Laci Peterson. This was a choice for Scott. Did he want to be married, and did he want to become a father or not? That‘s how they pitched it, as a sort of a battle for his own freedom.
I think it‘s important to remember here that, in this particular case, this is really insight into the mind of someone who can lie so convincingly and so easily.
Members of the jury may have asked, you know, how could he kill his pregnant wife? What kind of person would do that? When you hear the lies repeatedly on tape, you start to understand what kind of person this is.
ABRAMS: You know, Mickey, in the context of the book, he also talks about these other pregnant women who went missing in this general area. And he talks about this 80-mile radius and picks a certain time frame and says, you know, “These different pregnant women went missing in that area.”
Now, for a lot of these cases, they‘ve either have strong suspects or they feel the case has been solved and there are no sort of Satanist suspects out there. But do you think that they should have presented more evidence about these other missing, quote, unquote, “pregnant women?”
SHERMAN: Not unless there‘s something, something tangible to connect them to this type of investigation. And they actually put that into evidence and the state‘s attorney debunked it. It just—it just shows what a sham that the defense is trying to put on.
And I‘ve got to tell you, Dan, if I can just back up on the Amber Frey thing.
SHERMAN: I was a prosecutor for four years. But I don‘t have to be a prosecutor to figure out why a guy would tell Amber Frey these things. It‘s as simple as he just wanted to get into her pants. And there‘s no other reason for that. The guy will say anything. I‘m not talking about me or you, Dan. I‘m just talking about men in general when they are trying to hit on a woman, they‘re not there to win the Nobel Prize. They‘d be absolutely...
ABRAMS: So afterward when he‘s talking about -- so afterwards, after she‘s missing, right?
ABRAMS: After she—right—so Laci, at this point, is now, quote, “Missing,” and Scott Peterson is talking about how he wants to spend her life with her, et cetera.
ABRAMS: This is all an effort to get into the pants of the woman whose pants he‘s already gotten into?
SHERMAN: He‘s not a nice guy as Geragos points out. He‘s a cad.
ABRAMS: But it‘s to get into the pants of the woman whose pants he‘s already been into the first night.
SHERMAN: I believe so. But, yes, I‘ll tell you, don‘t ask me. Ask Steve. Did they consider Amber Frey as a great—as a great motive here?
ABRAMS: All right. Steve, very quickly. Steve, go ahead.
CARDOSI: I believe—you know, I believe Scott would do anything, like you said, to basically seduce Amber or whatever. But let‘s keep in mind too, right after his wife went missing, he also ordered all of the pornographic channels on his TV and all these other things. If he didn‘t do it or have something to do with that, even if he and Laci were on the fritz, I really don‘t think he would have done that.
ABRAMS: Yes, all right. I remember the defense said, oh, you know, who knows who ordered it, et cetera.
Any way, Edie Lambert, Mickey Sherman, and Steve Cardosi, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
Coming up, does Matt Dalton think Peterson‘s lead attorney, Mark Geragos blew this case? I ask him that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK GERAGOS, ATTORNEY: We put the bar extremely high and that‘s to prove 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Well, apparently the bar was set a little too high a year ago. Today, the jury recommended death for Scott Peterson.
Matt Dalton was on the defense team for six months before the trial started. Now, in a new book, he says, if he had been the attorney at trial, he would have provided more answers and more witnesses to try to show that Peterson could not have killed Laci, and that someone else did.
ABRAMS: You say, “In my opinion, if the jury had heard all of the relevant information related to this case, Scott Peterson would not be on death row today.”
Sounds like you‘re basically saying the defense team blew it.
DALTON: If that information had been presented to the jury, I do not think Scott Peterson would be on death row today. That‘s my...
ABRAMS: A different defense team with a different tactic, with a different strategy...
DALTON: If that evidence...
ABRAMS: ... would have led to a not guilty verdict?
DALTON: If these facts and these witnesses, real fact, real witnesses, reports generated by the Modesto Police Department, if these things had been presented to the jury, it‘s my opinion it would have made a difference.
ABRAMS: And that Scott Peterson would not has been convict?
DALTON: I totally believe that.
ABRAMS: You write in the book that the lead attorney, Mark Geragos, was really almost fired, taken off the case. What happened?
DALTON: Scott Peterson felt that this thing had been solved. Scott Peterson wanted out of custody. Scott Peterson was the one who wanted to talk to different lawyers.
ABRAMS: Scott Peterson wanted to fire Mark Geragos?
DALTON: Petersons‘ wanted to talk to different lawyers. And they talked to different lawyers.
ABRAMS: And it sounds, from your book. like it was this close to Mark Geragos getting kicked off the case?
DALTON: Well, he—Scott Peterson had signed a new retainer agreement with a firm. He had signed a...
ABRAMS: He got a different lawyer?
DALTON: ... substitution of attorney papers for a different lawyer. Geragos was notified of the Petersons‘ going the new law firm. Geragos apparently flew up to Modesto to meet with Scott Peterson. And met with him for quite a while. And Peterson decided to stick with Geragos.
ABRAMS: Do you think that was a mistake?
DALTON: You know, I—I don‘t know. I can‘t tell you?
ABRAMS: Mark Geragos has sued to stop this book from being published. He‘s made comments about you personally, and said that you really never should have written this book. What‘s your response?
DALTON: Well, the Peterson family has been behind my efforts. Scott Peterson has been behind my efforts. He sent me a letter two days before Geragos filed this Lawsuit, expressing his gratitude, never once objecting to any of this. In fact, it was just the opposite. So I don‘t know. I can understand why Geragos wouldn‘t want the public to hear all of this. But Scott Peterson is on death row.
ABRAMS: We‘ve called Mark Geragos several times, asking for a response to the book. He has not returned our calls.
Coming up, more of my exclusive interview with Matt Dalton. He says finding the real killers of Laci and Connor is what drives him. He‘s doing this for Laci?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARON ROCHA: I can only hope that the sound of Laci‘s voice, begging for her life and begging for the live 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Laci‘s mom, Sharon Rocha, Vowing to bring the killer to justice in a new book, one of Peterson‘s former attorneys, details why he thinks Peterson is likely innocent. In my exclusive interview, I asked him a lot of tough questions about that, and then asked about how Laci‘s family will react to some of what he writes in the book.
ABRAMS: You say in the book, “I wasn‘t just working as a defense attorney. I was working for Laci to find out who did this to her and bring the murderer to justice.”
Aren‘t you concerned that the family of Laci Peterson is going to read that and they‘ll say, “The nerve. The nerve of Matt Dalton to claim he was working for Laci.”?
DALTON: I have a lot of facts that they don‘t know about. And you know, I saw the body, Dan. And it had a have effect on me. And I saw how her legs were duct taped. And I saw the condition of her body.
And, you know with everything else I‘ve described, these witnesses saying, and her legs being duct taped, classic abduction tool, I‘m convinced it was somebody else. And looking at her body, just really, really motivated me to try to find monsters or monster out there who was responsible for that.
ABRAMS: But you can see why the family would say, “Matt Dalton has no right to claim that he was working for Laci.”
DALTON: Well, I sure—I sure feel that I have pulled out evidence, facts that supported my theory as to what happened. And I think that it is important that we find the real killer in the case.
ABRAMS: All right. Well, that‘s it for now. But, coming up, what‘s life like for Scott Peterson on death row? Does he still have pictures of Laci hanging up in the cell? We‘ll speak to an official from San Quentin up next.
ABRAMS: We have been talking about a new book in the Scott Peterson case. One of his former lawyers saying that he didn‘t get a fair trial.
But now, the question is what‘s going on with Scott Peterson on death row. Joining me now, on the phone, Vernell Crittendon, who‘s spokesman for San Quentin.
Vernell, thanks for coming back on the program. How is Scott Peterson holding up on death row?
VERNELL CRITTENDON, PIO, SAN QUENTIN PRISON: Well, it‘s nice to be talking with you, Dan.
And, you know, we‘ve been covering Scott Peterson now, you and I, for the year he‘s been here. And he‘s doing really well. He‘s actually went and requested to be on a exercise yard group, so we‘ve moved him with a group of men now. Actually, one of them, Clarence Ray Allen, who will be coming up for execution January 17, he is one of the men that, now, he goes out and exercises with in a small group of death row inmates.
ABRAMS: How do you choose which other inmates he exercises with?
CRITTENDON: There‘s a classification review process that the inmates go through. He requested to go back to committee. He, Scott Peterson. And requested to go to this particular yard group, so he‘s now been assigned to that yard group. And he goes out with those men and exercises and socializes every day.
ABRAMS: Do you know—were you able to find out, was he the one—
Mark Geragos filed a lawsuit on behalf of Peterson, trying to stop this book. Do you know if Scott Peterson had supported that lawsuit?
CRITTENDON: You know, I am aware of that, but no, I do not have information directly on Scott‘s position.
ABRAMS: Does he still have pictures of Laci up in his cell?
CRITTENDON: I haven‘t went up there, but I did talk with the staff today in preparation for this call, and I was told, yes, that he does have a photo of Laci on his back wall in his cell.
ABRAMS: Anything else you can tell us about the cell?
CRITTENDON: He‘s very neat and orderly so he keeps his cell very neat. He‘s lost little bit of weight but he still looks physically fit. So Scott seems to be doing real well.
ABRAMS: Some of the tabloids were suggesting he‘s sort of flirting with the female guards. Is that true?
CRITTENDON: He does have that flirtatious way with females. But we have no concerns at this time about Scott doing any dating.
ABRAMS: Yes. And is he still getting an enormous amount of letters every day?
CRITTENDON: You know, that‘s the one thing that has tapered off. You know, for quite a while there, he was getting in the area of 70 to 80 letters a day. And now that has tapered off significantly. But he does still have pretty consistent mail that‘s coming in.
ABRAMS: Give us a, say—do you have any sense of how many letters?
CRITTENDON: Oh, we‘re talking somewhere, between 10 to 15 letters a day.
ABRAMS: Wow. And very quickly, any visitors?
CRITTENDON: Yes, he has been visiting. He‘s still has many of those people that have been supporting him through court process still come up. And of course, he has family that is still very much supportive of him. And he hasn‘t really added any new visitors, people that he hasn‘t know for a while.
ABRAMS: All right. Vernell Crittendon, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
CRITTENDON: Dan, it was nice talking with you.
ABRAMS: That does it for us tonight. Coming up next, “Hardball with Chris Matthews.” I will see you tomorrow.
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