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Author claims Peterson may be innocent

Attorney Dalton  says convicted killer shouldn't be on death row

On Tuesday, it was a year to the day since the jury recommended death for Scott Peterson.  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. 

He recently sat down with MSNBC's Dan Abrams to discuss his theory.

To read an excerpt from the interview, continue to the text below. To watch the interview, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

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. 

DAN 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, 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:  ... 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. 

Watch the 'Abrams Report' for more analysis and interviews on the top legal stories each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV.