Guests: Stephen Cardosi, Mickey Sherman, Daniel Horowitz, Geoffrey Fieger, Heather Richardson, Mike Richardson, Vernell Crittendon
ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of THE ABRAMS REPORT, “The Scott Peterson Sentencing.”
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury in the above-entitled cause, fix the penalty at death.
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ANNOUNCER: After three days of deliberations, jurors recommend Scott Peterson should be put to death for murdering his wife, Laci and his unborn son, Conner.
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RON GRANTSKI, LACI‘S STEPFATHER: What a nightmare. It hasn‘t changed. It‘s still a nightmare.
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ANNOUNCER: Tonight we‘ll hear how jurors reached their unanimous verdict.
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RICHELLE NICE, PETERSON JUROR: Scott Peterson was the one person that should have protected them.
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ANNOUNCER: And we‘ll hear exclusively from two of Laci and Scott Peterson‘s closest friends.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just deeply saddened to know that two people that I loved and cared about so much are essentially gone.
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ANNOUNCER: And a look inside Scott Peterson‘s next home, San Quentin‘s death row. The program about justice starts right now.
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Hi, everyone. Live in Redwood City, California, where just a few hours ago in the courthouse behind me, after 11 hours of deliberation, the jury reached a verdict in the penalty phase of Scott Peterson‘s trial.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People of state of California v Scott Peterson. We, the jury in the above-entitled cause, fix the penalty at death. Dated December 13, 2004.
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ABRAMS: Laci‘s mother, Sharon Rocha, wiped away tears as the death sentence was read. The official sentencing will be on February 25. Judge Alfred Delucchi could reject the jury recommendation and send Peterson to prison for life with no chance of parole instead. But most believe, including me, that that will not happen.
Now, the likelihood of the judge stepping in was probably decreased after hearing these thoughtful, moving comments from three Peterson jurors as to why they chose death.
In a moment, we will talk live with the jury foreman in the first live interview with a juror since the verdict. But first, here‘s what he and two of the other jurors had to say just after the verdict was read.
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RICHELLE NICE, PETERSON JUROR: It was a tough decision, very tough. The first part, you thought it might be a little easier going in the second time, but—it was everything. I mean, I just—I can‘t pinpoint one thing. I just—and obviously, this is right after, and it‘s very hard. There were so many things, so many things, and one being that Scott Peterson was Laci‘s husband, Conner‘s daddy, someone should have—the one person that should have protected them. And for him to have done that—that‘s it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) same question.
STEPHEN CARDOSI, PETERSON JURY FOREMAN: As Greg already stated, I went into this with a pretty open mind, and I really didn‘t know very much about this. I had heard about it from you all, and—but that was only kind of in the onset, and then I didn‘t really pay attention at all. Once the process in court started and everything else, through listening to testimony, the evidence, everything in court, as well as listening to the fellow jurors while deliberating, it just seemed to me the appropriate justice for the crime, given the nature and how personal it really was, against his wife and his child.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Greg?
GREGORY BERATLIS, PETERSON JUROR: Wow. I went back and forth on this the whole time. This wasn‘t a decision that when I walked out of there that day, that I had—this was going to be—I think the fact of the—the mistrust, the fact that this person, as they stated, was Laci‘s husband, the person that, you know, married her, until death do her part, do we part. And the fact is that there was just—there was a lot of trust issues in this, and the fact that for her to be where she was found and to go through with what seemed to be, in the end to me, a charade, it just wasn‘t—it wasn‘t fair.
It was not—this wasn‘t a—you know, this wasn‘t an act of he flipped out and went and did something. You know, I can understand that and I could—you know, but this was planned. And that‘s what really is part of this—the trust.
NICE: It was a difficult decision. And we took our time. And all of us—I‘m going to be OK with it because it‘s a difficult decision, but I know I made the right decision, and I don‘t second guess myself at all. So that makes it a little easier.
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ABRAMS: Juror Stephen Cardosi, the jury foreman—you heard some of what he had to say at that news conference—he joins us now exclusively, by phone, in the first live interview any Peterson juror has given.
Steve, thanks a lot for taking the time to come on the program.
CARDOSI: No problem.
ABRAMS: All right. So while you guys were back there, a lot of us here on the outside thought that there might be a couple of jurors in the guilt phase of this case who would refuse to convict, a lot of people predicting there would be a hung jury. Was there any point where you thought that when it came to Scott Peterson‘s guilt or innocence, that this jury might be hung?
CARDOSI: Are you talking about prior to deliberations or during deliberations?
ABRAMS: No. No, during deliberations. During the deliberation process, was there any concern that you wouldn‘t be able to reach a unanimous verdict as to Scott Peterson‘s guilt?
CARDOSI: Maybe a little. It‘s—that‘s why it‘s called deliberating, and you know, you‘re discussing amongst yourselves and you‘re bringing up points that, you know, you can‘t—you can‘t see and hear everything that‘s presented and remember it.
CARDOSI: So a lot of times, one of the other jurors will bring something up to your attention that you may have even had in your notes, but you don‘t—you didn‘t recall while deliberating. They bring it up, and you know, people kind of go back and forth. It‘s really hard to say whether—whether—I wouldn‘t say concrete that there was any time in there that I didn‘t—or I thought it was going to go one way or another until the very end, when it, of course, convicted him.
ABRAMS: So there were no jurors in there who were sort of fighting tooth and nail for Scott Peterson‘s innocence until the end, when the rest of the jurors convinced them?
CARDOSI: There were a lot of jurors—all of us, actually, were really keeping each other to the process, being sticklers for the jury instructions as set forth to us and being sticklers to the process. And if somebody brought up something that may—you know, may not be something we‘re supposed to be considering, or a lot of the stuff was stricken, we, you know, held each other to that. And hey, that was stricken and done, done with it, no more. So...
ABRAMS: So there was no real—it sounds like there was no real dissension in the guilt phase of this case, when the final jury, meaning the jury that ultimately convicted, was brought together. Sounds like there was no real dissension amongst those jurors.
CARDOSI: No, not at all. At that point, on the jury that actually convicted Scott Peterson, there was no dissension at all.
ABRAMS: All right. So let‘s talk about why this former—the foreperson, this doctor-lawyer who was dismissed from the case, was dismissed. And I know you don‘t know exactly what happened with him and the judge, but was this guy just sort of refusing to deliberate? I mean, what we heard was that he had all these books and books and books, and he just wanted to sort of read through all of them and wouldn‘t deliberate. Is that what happened?
CARDOSI: No, not—not specifically. And a lot of that, you know, is—he‘s got—he‘s got his viewpoint on it, as well. So you know, I want to be fair to everybody involved. And he asked us to respect his privacy, and I really want to try and do that. He did have a lot of books. And you know, he took very copious—a very large amount of notes, copious amount of notes. And in doing so, I think, you know, a lot of times you write a lot and you don‘t hear—quite hear as much as you actually wrote. And I think that may have been the case.
CARDOSI: But I don‘t want to speak for him.
ABRAMS: All right. But did—let me just ask you one thing about him. Did he—was he pushing for a not guilty verdict, and as a result, that caused problems in the jury room?
CARDOSI: No. He was like the rest of us and pushing for...
CARDOSI: ... the process, and to make sure we were sticklers to the process.
ABRAMS: OK, because that‘s important because if he was dismissed as a holdout, that would be a big deal. You‘re telling me that‘s not the case.
CARDOSI: No. He was a stickler for the process, as were we all. And I think with him being dismissed as the foreman, we‘re just—you know, he needed to concentrate a little more on his books, and it‘s hard when—you know, the foreperson is basically a facilitator. And it‘s hard when, you know, you need to be reading all of your notes, especially as many volumes of notes as he had, to be standing up, and you know, calling—basically, making sure everybody gets their turn to speak and all that stuff is very difficult to do when you have that many volumes you need to go through.
ABRAMS: Let me ask you, this argument that the defense made that, effectively, he was a cad and he was a jerk but he wasn‘t a killer, and the defense seemed to be concerned that the jurors were going to convict Scott Peterson because they didn‘t like him, because he was a cheater and an adulterer. Did that come into play?
CARDOSI: Once again, I don‘t want to speak for anybody else, but I‘m pretty sure that we used the evidence that was presented and only that. And we didn‘t use hard feelings, or you know, any assimilation that he may have looked like somebody else or—there was nothing external that came into play, as far as I‘m aware of. And we used the evidence. We discussed the evidence, and that‘s what led us to convict him.
ABRAMS: Well, when you heard the Amber Frey tapes and there were all of those tapes—I mean, I remember listening to those and rolling my eyes as I looked at Scott Peterson, thinking, you know, You got to be kidding me, some of the stuff that he was saying on those tapes with Amber Frey. What was your reaction?
CARDOSI: It sounds pretty similar to yours, actually.
CARDOSI: I found it very hard to believe that here‘s a man who just, you know, lost his wife by some other means other than himself and could carry on a conversation with his girlfriend or mistress, or whatever you want to call her, the relationship. I found that very, very hard to believe, that he was able to do that, I mean, turn on the emotions, turn them off, everything.
And one thing I would like to say for Amber Frey‘s sake is, you know, I really, truly believe that she didn‘t have any idea what was going on and she was a victim in this. So he victimized her, as well.
ABRAMS: I agree with you completely. I agree with you completely about Amber Frey, and I‘ve said that many times. Finally, let me ask you this. Premeditation—you found him guilty of first degree murder. Do you believe that he bought the boat with the intention of killing Laci Peterson, putting her on that boat and dumping her body in the bay?
CARDOSI: That‘s what I believe, yes. I‘m not sure if I would say that the intention was to dump her in the bay, per se. But yes, the boat was definitely to get rid of the body. And that‘s what I believe. And then you go back and you look at the research he did on the Internet on the bay and the currents, as well as everywhere else he did research on...
CARDOSI: ... on currents and tidal flow and everything else, that—yes, I‘d say that would be accurate.
ABRAMS: Finally, Scott‘s mother, Jackie, made an impassioned plea as part of the penalty phase, in essence, pleading with jurors not to kill her son. How much of an impact did she have?
CARDOSI: Well, you know, a personal impact. I mean, this is something outside of the trial. It‘s very hard. It‘s hard to think about that. It‘s hard, you know, to relate that over to perhaps my mother doing that. And you know, that‘s very hard, but we were instructed that we were not to consider sympathy for the defendant‘s family. And with that said, the only sympathy we could consider was for the defendant himself, and not for his family.
ABRAMS: And apparently, you know, there wasn‘t a whole lot of that?
ABRAMS: Stephen Cardosi, thank you very much for taking the time to come on the program. I appreciate it. You deserve a lot of praise for what you and your fellow jurors have been through. And I have to say, as I said on the air before, I was truly impressed by the press conference that you all held and how thoughtful it appears you all were about every aspect of this case. Thanks very much.
CARDOSI: Well, thank you very much.
ABRAMS: Coming up: Laci Peterson‘s family reacts to the jury‘s recommendation to sentence Peterson to death. Plus, we have another exclusive. We talk with the two people who knew Scott and Laci as well as any friends, the best man and maid of honor at their wedding. How do they feel about the verdict? And more insight from the jury.
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NICE: Scott‘s inconsistent statements and those puzzle pieces that were thrown out, we put back into the puzzle. And it spoke for itself.
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ABRAMS: Peterson trial juror Richelle Nice provides some insight into one of the elements in this trial that we‘ve been puzzling over for months. And did Peterson do himself any favors by letting others speak for him, never moving from behind the defense table?
Now to my legal team, who‘ve been listening to all of these juror comments, who‘ve just listened to my exclusive interview with one of the jurors, Geoffrey Fieger joins us again and criminal defense attorneys Daniel Horowitz and Mickey Sherman.
Geoffrey, it seems to me that the bottom line is that these jurors got it. They just understood the case, and they just got it.
GEOFFREY FIEGER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you and I have been talking about this case for well over a year, Danny, and it really is a lot of common sense. Jurors don‘t think like lawyers, they think like regular people and they use common sense. So when the lawyers are debating about all these esoteric things, the jurors are saying, Where was he when his wife‘s body washed ashore? And where was he when he was—when she was identified? And what was he doing talking on the cell phone to Amber Frey when they‘re having a vigil? They think like ordinary people. How come he‘s out in the bay, the same place his wife‘s body washed up?
Now, that‘s the type thing that I gleaned from that jury, and that‘s the way they operated. I‘m not sure, though. There‘s one thing I need to point out to you. It‘s a mistake to speak to any individual juror and believe that‘s exactly the dynamic that occurred in that jury. I‘m sure they‘re giving us their perspective...
ABRAMS: Oh, of course.
FIEGER: ... but the jury dynamic is totally different. And what you hear later, unfortunately—and they‘re not trying to be prevaricating—is different than what really happened in the jury room.
ABRAMS: Yes. No. There‘s no question that it gets sanitized after the fact.
ABRAMS: But Mickey Sherman, you heard Richelle Nice just talk about inconsistent statements that bothered her. The bottom line is that Scott Peterson was lying while everybody else was searching for Laci. That was a very relevant point in this case.
MICKEY SHERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: A hundred percent, Dan. And I have nothing but praise for them in the way they analyzed it. I think they went about it the right way. And they‘re absolutely entitled to the opinions they drew.
The only problem I have with them is using so much of that evidence in the guilt—in the penalty phase of this case. It just seems as though they absolutely hit it on the nose by piecing together all the problems that we know were with the defendant‘s case in the guilt phase is fine. But to then use all the bad character evidence against him in the penalty phase—there‘s something that just doesn‘t ring true to me on that.
FIEGER: No, the judge allows them to do that. The instructions allow it.
ABRAMS: Yes, and it is the facts and circumstances of the crime. Let me play another piece of sound from one of the jurors. And I want to ask Daniel Horowitz about it.
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NICE: A big part of it was at the end, the verdict, no emotion, no anything. That spoke a thousand words. That was loud and clear. Today, the giggles at the table—loud and clear.
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ABRAMS: Daniel Horowitz, it sounds like if Scott Peterson had behaved more like an innocent man, even after the verdict—I‘m not saying that these jurors would have changed their minds, but it still might have helped him.
DANIEL HOROWITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Dan, I think it might have saved his life. Now, it bothers me—first of all, I respect these jurors. They sound really like wonderful people. But Mickey is right and you‘re right, in the sense that it was an attitude test that he failed, to some degree. And California death penalty law does not inject an attitude test into the life-or-death decision. The circumstances of the crime are the only aggravating factor they could consider. And it seems like they looked at it a little bit more. It troubles me for that reason.
FIEGER: He could have saved...
ABRAMS: But the bottom line...
FIEGER: ... his life if he took the stand, by the way.
ABRAMS: But can‘t they evaluate his character? I mean, all we heard is 39 witnesses for the defense...
HOROWITZ: No, his character‘s...
ABRAMS: ... talking about what a great...
HOROWITZ: His character‘s not on trial. His actions are on trial.
ABRAMS: Wait, wait, wait, wait! Wait, wait. So then explain to me...
ABRAMS: ... explain to me—yes. Go ahead, Daniel.
HOROWITZ: It—the law is that the aggravating circumstances applicable to this case are only the circumstances of the crime—how he killed them, the 116-day wait, letting Sharon Rocha suffer. Then there‘s mitigation, which the jury can accept or reject. Maybe the jury is saying, We don‘t accept his remorse...
HOROWITZ: ... we don‘t accept his family, but they can‘t use it against him. They just don‘t credit it...
ABRAMS: No, but...
HOROWITZ: ... you know, for him.
ABRAMS: ... they can reject it.
HOROWITZ: They can reject it and...
ABRAMS: They can say that his claims of mitigation as to what a great guy he is is nonsense because of...
ABRAMS: ... the other things that we saw in this case. All right.
Legal team‘s going to stick around...
HOROWITZ: Yes. And I‘m afraid they went one step further.
ABRAMS: I don‘t know about that. I—you know, I haven‘t heard that from these jurors.
FIEGER: Bottom line...
ABRAMS: And all the defense attorneys...
FIEGER: Bottom line...
ABRAMS: All the defense attorneys are going to try and find something wrong with the jurors, something wrong that they said.
FIEGER: Bottom line, if your wife disappears, you better be out of your mind. You can‘t act like this guy acted.
ABRAMS: All right. Still ahead, an exclusive interview with the best man and maid of honor from Laci and Scott Peterson‘s wedding. For the first time, their reaction to the verdict and the death penalty. We‘ll be right back.
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MARK GERAGOS, SCOTT PETERSON‘S ATTORNEY: Obviously, we‘re very disappointed. Obviously, we plan on pursuing every and all appeals, motions for a new trial and everything else. All I‘d ask is that you respect Jackie and Lee‘s and the family‘s privacy for the next week or so. At some point shortly, they‘ll make a statement or do a press conference, and at that time, they‘ll agree to field whatever questions that they will. In the interim, I hope you can understand that it‘s a very difficult time.
And that‘s all I‘ve got to say. Thank you very much.
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ABRAMS: Scott Peterson‘s lead attorney, Mark Geragos, uncharacteristically short in his words, his first opportunity to speak out since this verdict came out. And again, there was a gag order in place, so this was his first opportunity to speak about anything related to this case in many, many months.
Daniel Horowitz, he talks about appeals. He talks about all avenues. Bottom line is, all the appeals are a long-shot for the defense here, right?
HOROWITZ: Dan, this is one of the cleanest convictions I‘ve ever seen, particularly penalty phase, where most of the reversals can take place.
This judge let the defense put on anything they wanted. One witness, Susan Medina, talked about the effect of an execution on her father. That never should have come in. I don‘t see any grounds that will reverse this case. I think we‘ll see an execution.
ABRAMS: Ron, the stepfather of Laci Peterson, spoke out as well today, his—also his first opportunity to speak now that the gag order has been lifted and the death penalty has been imposed.
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RON GRANTSKI, STEPFATHER OF LACI PETERSON: Sharon and I drove up here today from Modesto.
We got to the house that we‘ve been staying at with some great people who have helped us out. And I hear a helicopter flying overhead. I instantly thought of December 24, that night in the park when the helicopter was flying over looking for Laci. What a nightmare.
It hasn‘t changed. It‘s still a nightmare. It should never have happened. It‘s hurt too many people for no reason. But justice was served. Our police department did their job. Our friends, family, country searched for Laci everywhere. There wasn‘t one place that wasn‘t searched. They had no—no reason to doubt that it was Scott who did what he did and he got what he deserved.
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ABRAMS: Geoffrey Fieger, it must have been so difficult for Ron Grantski to keep all of that in all of this time. He hasn‘t been able to say a word. The defense has tried to use him, Ron Grantski‘s own fishing habits, against the prosecution in this case, to say, oh, well, look, he, too, went fishing on the morning of Christmas Eve. Boy, that‘s got to be tough for him.
FIEGER: Yes, it‘s real tough.
He‘s the type of guy, at least from what I can view, that he‘d take the law into his own hands if he thought that would, you know, do some justice. And it‘s all he could do to restrain himself. But, you see, Geragos took so many bad moves. And using that, as well as other imputations, if you will, and suggestions, are ludicrous. You hear it from the jury now.
It was just ludicrous. They never even considered these type of things. And that‘s where I never understood what Geragos is doing, how he thinks he could get away with it, whether he thought he was dealing with people who would suspend disbelief. I never understood that.
ABRAMS: Mickey, does Mark Geragos deserve some of the blame here?
SHERMAN: No, I don‘t think so.
He was given the cards that he was dealt. And I don‘t think we heard from the jury that they found him guilty because they didn‘t like Geragos‘ tactics, his personality or any of his theories. They found him guilty because the evidence was there to their satisfaction. And that‘s the way it should be.
And one of things that Ron Grantski reminds us of and what you really should not discount is the fact that the jury and the world basically logically sees that Scott Peterson just didn‘t victimize the Rocha family, but he victimized the entire community. He had everyone in that town going arm in arm looking for Laci. Remember the time when he was returned to the police station. It was not a lynch mob, but there was a lot of angry people in that community. And that ticked off a lot of folks.
And I think this kind of bled on to...
FIEGER: I tell you why, Mickey, you‘re wrong.
ABRAMS: Quickly, Geoffrey, yes.
FIEGER: Because Geragos had a responsibility, because he had to understand the other side, that there might be a conviction, to not make Scott Peterson despicable.
And the way he conducted that defense was, if they didn‘t buy whatever he was saying, they were really going to get Scott Peterson, because he made them—he didn‘t give them any alternative.
SHERMAN: How was he going to make him not despicable? The guy is leading everybody on. He‘s got the girlfriend.
FIEGER: By Geragos. If Scott Peterson isn‘t going to take the stand, Geragos has got to be likable. He can‘t throw out ridiculous theories. He can‘t do it.
ABRAMS: We have got to wrap. I have got to move on here, because, coming up, our exclusive interview with two of Scott and Laci Peterson‘s closest friends. The best man and maid of honor at their wedding respond to today‘s death penalty verdict.
And Scott‘s next home, death row at San Quentin. We talked with someone who has worked there for more than three decades.
ABRAMS: The jury decides death for Scott Peterson. Up next, another ABRAMS REPORT exclusive, this time with Scott and Laci‘s best man and maid of honor. How do they feel about Scott Peterson getting the death penalty?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG BERATLIS, PETERSON JUROR: There‘s no winner in this. The Petersons, they lose a son. The Rochas, they‘ve lost their daughter and their future grandson. There was no winner. They both—everybody lost in this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: We‘re back in Redwood City in front of the courthouse where the jurors have voted unanimously that Scott Peterson should get the death penalty.
The people you‘re about to hear from may have mixed feelings about the jury‘s decision. Heather and Mike Richardson were close friends of the Scott and Laci Peterson, to say the least. In fact, Mike was Scott‘s best man at his wedding, Heather, Laci‘s maid of honor.
In another ABRAMS REPORT exclusive, I spoke with them just a short time ago. Heather responded to the jury‘s decision.
ABRAMS: Heather, what was your reaction to the verdict? Scott and Laci were both very good friends of yours. Were you angry, disappointed, pleased?
HEATHER RICHARDSON, LACI PETERSON‘S MAID OF HONOR: I don‘t think either—any of those.
It‘s just—I was just saddened, just deeply saddened to know that two people that I loved and cared about so much are essentially gone. Laci for sure is gone and now Scott is basically gone to me. So I guess just deeply, deeply saddened to know that that‘s the outcome. Granted, I think I think it was the right choice and the right decision.
ABRAMS: Mike, you were Scott‘s best man in his wedding. It has got to be a surreal experience to watch his murder trial and then the penalty phase of his case, where jurors are deciding whether he‘s going to live or die.
MIKE RICHARDSON, SCOTT PETERSON‘S BEST MAN: Yes, it was. You know, words can‘t describe how we felt throughout the whole ordeal, and just a little confused and betrayed and just an all-around difficult situation.
ABRAMS: Do you feel like you didn‘t even know him?
M. RICHARDSON: Well, on one hand, yes. I mean, I knew him. I knew him well. There‘s the Scott that I knew, I knew well. Obviously now, you know, knowing what we know, I didn‘t know him. So, to answer your question, yes, I guess I do feel like I didn‘t know him.
ABRAMS: And Heather, you both are convinced, are you not, that Scott was guilty, right?
H. RICHARDSON: As hard as it is to say and now that we actually have the ability to say, I do. I think he‘s guilty.
ABRAMS: And, Mike, you agree, right?
M. RICHARDSON: I do. I do. I‘ve had a little bit harder time with it than Heather, just since he was my buddy. We, you know, hunted and fished and went on vacation together. But I think through, you know, having all the evidence—and we didn‘t get to go in the courtroom and get all the evidence, like the jury did. So all we know is what we‘ve heard through the media. But, nonetheless, I still feel that it was a just verdict.
ABRAMS: Mike, I assume he never mentioned Amber Frey to you, right? There was never a time where you guys had a private moment and he said, hey, Mike, listen, I have got to make a confession here; I‘ve been having an affair with Amber Frey, or anybody else, for that matter?
M. RICHARDSON: No, not at all, no, the opposite. He would just—he couldn‘t talk enough positive about Laci.
And so, there‘s never one ounce of strain or anything in any conversation we ever had.
ABRAMS: Heather, did Laci talk to you a lot about having Conner and her relationship with Scott?
H. RICHARDSON: She did. She was extremely excited about it. And, you know, having—we have two children, and they‘re that much older than Conner would have been. So she would call and ask questions and ask advice. And she was very, very much into it. And she—you know, it was hard, because we didn‘t live close enough to see each other on a regular basis, so I hadn‘t actually seen Laci since August, so I never actually got to see her in person fully, beautifully pregnant.
So, you know, there was that distance there. So it was a little bit difficult to be right in the middle of her pregnancy and her joy. But, you know, we talked a lot about it.
ABRAMS: Mike, you must feel very deceived by Scott Peterson. I want to play a tape of a wiretapped phone call that was taken January 11, 2003, between you and Scott Peterson, where he sort of is leading you into answers. Let me play this. Then I want to ask you about it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
H. RICHARDSON: Where are you?
SCOTT PETERSON, DEFENDANT: I‘m in Buttonwillow.
H. RICHARDSON: Yes?
PETERSON: Did you hear on the news?
H. RICHARDSON: No. What‘s that?
PETERSON: The object that they‘ve been searching for in all this stuff that they have 88 people in the water for?
H. RICHARDSON: Yes.
PETERSON: Big old boat anchor.
H. RICHARDSON: Oh, shut up.
H. RICHARDSON: Are you serious?
PETERSON: Yes. It was a little point of humor. That was it.
H. RICHARDSON: What‘s that?
PETERSON: Pretty funny. A little point of humor.
H. RICHARDSON: Yes, very—actually very funny.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Heather, that‘s obviously you on the tape and not Mike.
When you were talking to Scott at that time, I assume at that point you were convinced that he had nothing to do with this.
H. RICHARDSON: Well, sure. You‘ve played this on your program before. And I have to chastise you for condemning me earlier.
But you said it yourself. It‘s January 11, only weeks into her—the search for her. And we were on our way home from Modesto, having spent a night with Scott. And there‘s no way that you believe that your closest friend in the world is responsible for the disappearance of his wife. And the last thing that you want to hear is that they had actually found her body in the bay. So, when the news come back that it‘s a boat anchor, you can‘t help but have that nervous laugh, and there‘s no other response to that. You just—you don‘t really know how to respond to the idea that he may have been responsible.
ABRAMS: Mike, any reservations about the fact that Scott Peterson may get the death penalty, will likely get the death penalty?
M. RICHARDSON: I don‘t know. I honestly don‘t feel that there‘s much difference between either the death penalty or life in prison. You know, I I‘ve thought numerous times that if I knew I was going to be in prison for the rest of my life, maybe I‘d prefer to have the death penalty. That may sound horrible, but they‘re both horrible. That‘s really all there is to say about it.
ABRAMS: Finally, Heather, this all—this whole ordeal just must have been really hard for you and Mike to deal with, being, again, so close to them, at a point where, you know, you‘re best man and maid of honor in their wedding.
H. RICHARDSON: Right.
I think part of the hardest part is, is that we were so close to them, yet we‘re not their family. So, we‘re so close to both of them. So you can‘t really pick sides to it. And it was almost like we were dealing with it all on our own, because, you know, it was just we were so removed from it. We don‘t live where they live and we just—it wasn‘t—we weren‘t able to travel all the time to actually go to the trial.
And so it was kind of a an individual hurt that we just dealt with on our own.
M. RICHARDSON: yes.
ABRAMS: Well, this is—you know, I can‘t even imagine. And I appreciate you guys coming on the program. I‘ve always enjoyed talking to you in the occasions before the trial started. You guys didn‘t deserve to be dragged into the middle of this. And I just wish you both the best of luck in your lives and whatever you pursue. And thanks a lot for taking the time.
H. RICHARDSON: Thank you. Thanks for having us.
M. RICHARDSON: Thank you.
ABRAMS: More of our special coverage of the jury‘s decision to sentence Scott Peterson to death when we come back.
Plus, a look inside his next home, San Quentin‘s death row. What will life be like for Peterson?
We‘ll be right back.
ABRAMS: Tonight, Scott Peterson is going back to the San Mateo County jail. But if the jury sentence stands as expected, his next stop will be one of California‘s toughest prisons, San Quentin.
And barring a successful appeal, San Quentin will likely be Peterson‘s final stop. What will it be like for him there on death row?
Vernell Crittendon is San Quentin‘s public information officer. And he joins us once again.
Mr. Crittendon, thanks again for coming back on the program.
VERNELL CRITTENDON, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER SAN QUENTIN: Good evening, Dan.
ABRAMS: All right, so, give us a sense of what happens when he arrives at San Quentin.
CRITTENDON: What we are looking at when Scott arrives, what we‘ll be doing is first placing him over in our adjustment center. That‘s where we place all newly arrived death row inmates.
Once there, as we had discussed, he will be in a cell by himself. He will eat his meals by himself. He will be also allowed exercise three days out of the week and he will be exercising in a small enclosure by himself. That process may go on for at least 10 days, but may go as many as 30 days, 60 days, before we were able to identify a compatible group of death row inmates that we‘ll be able to allow him to begin his life with on death row.
ABRAMS: When you say compatible, you do mean people who aren‘t going to hurt him?
CRITTENDON: That‘s what we‘ll be looking at.
With these high-notoriety cases, it‘s been our experience that we have to have an additional layer of review which goes on through our classification process to ensure their safety. Often, individuals committing these types of acts may come under some threat by other inmates.
ABRAMS: And once you do find these other compatible inmates, as you put it, then what happens? Then what is his life like?
CRITTENDON: Then he will be assigned a 41-square-foot cell and that will begin his life. He will be allowed seven days out of the week for about five hours a day to leave that cell and to go out into an exercise yard area with that compatible group. He may also opt not to go to exercise and rather go to religious services, which he could do once a week.
If he does have an ongoing appeal, we will make our legal law library available to him, and he may be escorted down to the legal law library. But whenever when is outside of his cell, he will be in some form of restraint, handcuffs or waist chains. That is a chain that goes around an individual‘s waist and has handcuffs attached to it. He‘ll be under direct and constant supervision with a correctional staff member with their hands on him when he is outside of the cell.
ABRAMS: Very quickly, how often he would get to have visitors?
CRITTENDON: He can have visits. Initially, it will be legal visits.
He can visit Monday through Friday with legal visits, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with family and loved ones that have been approved.
ABRAMS: Vernell Crittendon, public information officer at San Quentin, thanks for coming back on the program. Appreciate it.
CRITTENDON: I appreciate it.
ABRAMS: When we come back, we remember what this case is really about.
ABRAMS: If you missed any of what the jurors had to say after they reached their verdict in the Peterson case, a death verdict, you can watch most of their press conference tonight at 2:00 a.m. Eastern, 11:00 p.m. Pacific.
But, before we go, tonight‘s show has been focused on the jurors, on Scott Peterson, on the lawyers. But I wanted to make sure we don‘t forget what this case was really about. It‘s about a beautiful, loving, vibrant woman who didn‘t deserve to die.
We remember Laci Peterson in a video created by her friends and family for her vigil.
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