Police determined that Scott Peterson’s home was suspicious within hours of responding to his report that his pregnant wife, Laci, was missing, an officer testified Thursday.
Police Sgt. Byron Duerfeldt testified during Peterson’s murder trial that he was briefed by officers who had been inside the Peterson house on Christmas Eve 2002.
“Based on what they told me, I felt it was necessary to have a detective respond,” Duerfeldt said.
Duerfeldt was stopped from explaining what the officers told him they saw in the home because he was not allowed to testify about what others said.
Prosecutors allege that Peterson killed his wife in their home in Modesto, then dumped her body from his small boat on San Francisco Bay. His attorneys have speculated that someone else abducted her while she walked the dog and have accused authorities of focusing too quickly on Peterson while ignoring other leads.
The remains of Laci Peterson and her fetus washed ashore nearly four months later, just two miles from where Scott Peterson claimed to have been fishing.
Duerfeldt was the first law enforcement officer to testify in the trial, which concluded its second week of testimony Thursday. If convicted, Peterson could face the death penalty or life in prison.
Earlier, Susan Medina, a neighbor of the Petersons, testified about a burglary at her home after she and her husband left on Dec. 24 to visit family and returned on Dec. 26.
Defense lawyers have hinted that the burglars may have been involved in Laci Peterson’s disappearance. But prosecutors said the Petersons’ dog was found wandering alone in the street before the Medinas left their home at midday — indicating that Laci Peterson disappeared before the break-in.
Police recovered much of the stolen property and arrested two men in the case, ruling out any connection to Laci Peterson’s disappearance.
Medina later testified that she saw nothing unusual in the neighborhood that morning.
“You didn’t see anybody drag anything out of the house? You didn’t see anybody load anything into a truck?” defense lawyer Pat Harris asked.
“No,” Medina replied.
“You could see directly what’s going on at the Petersons’ house in the driveway?” Harris asked.
“Correct,” she replied.