PETERSON TRIAL Husband courted mistress during search for wife
Peterson read poetry to his girlfriend and talked repeatedly of his love for her.
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- While hundreds of Modesto, Calif., police officers and volunteers searched for Laci Peterson in the two weeks after she disappeared, her husband spent hours on the phone with his secret girlfriend, telling her he was kissing her picture, lusting over her skin-tight leopard print pants ("Oooh!") and promising "we could fulfill each other, you know, forever."
Scott Peterson even told Amber Frey his favorite movie, according to a taped phone call played for jurors Wednesday in Peterson's double murder trial: "The Shining," a horror movie about a deranged man attempting to kill his wife and son.
In protective custody
Two days after that call, Amber Frey may have had reason to fear Scott Peterson. On Jan. 6, 2002, she was placed in protective custody, prosecutor Dave Harris said in court Wednesday.
That was the day Frey -- who had been recording calls for police for a week -- confronted Peterson, saying in a phone call that she had found out he was married to the missing pregnant Modesto woman.
Court resumes today, where the Jan. 6 call will be played and the specific reasons for Frey's protective custody could be explained. Frey's lawyer, Gloria Allred, would only say that "Scott made a certain suggestion" that apparently either concerned Frey or police.
Wednesday marked the second day Frey took the witness stand as the prosecution's star witness. But she said little. Instead, prosecutors played hours of phone calls Frey had taped for police leading up to Jan. 6.
All the while, Peterson told Frey he was in Paris and Brussels ("tripping on cobblestones,") and on the way to Madrid ("I'll be saying 'hola' a lot more instead of 'bonjour.'")
Was in Modesto
In fact, he was in Modesto, where frantic searches for his wife were under way across the Central Valley and into the San Francisco Bay.
That's where Peterson had told police he was fishing the day his wife disappeared on Christmas Eve, and where the bodies of Laci Peterson and her unborn son would wash up more than four months later.
He and Frey talked about love at first sight and the meaning of agape, "meaning a deeper love, OK?" Peterson said. He asked her to rent the movie "Love Affair," because it was so romantic, and "my hero," Warren Beatty, starred in it.
The playful tone of the conversations struck many who have been following the case.
"Are these the actions of a guy that is distraught, upset and desperately seeking his pregnant wife?" Jim Hammer, a former San Francisco prosecutor who is following the case asked. "To my ear, he sounds like the happiest man on earth."
Peterson apparently had time to read poetry and told Frey on Jan. 4 that he had read a poem that day -- a Boris Pasternak poem -- and it reminded him of his relationship with Frey.
It went something like this, he said: "We huddle under a large tree round with ivy with the storm raging around us. The only thing keeping me grounded are my hands on your waist."
"So you've been thinking a lot about me?" Frey asked him.
"Yeah, that's all I did today," he said. "And I'm sorry, I, I just, I just started rambling and there's a tear in my eye and it's trickling."
He talked about reading a book by Jack Kerouac -- a name Frey heard as "Jack Cadillac." Peterson forgot the name of Kerouac's "On the Road," but he found it interesting because "I never had a prolonged period of freedom like that from responsibility."
They talked about Frey's singing karaoke at a party -- she sang a bar from Julio Iglesias' "You could take my breath away."
Said what she was wearing
She told him she was wearing black "leopardy" pants and red boots.
"So the pants aren't skin tight?" he asked.
"Yes they are," she said.
He told her he struggled with finding the right words to describe Frey, because "special" wasn't enough.
"Can I tell you how wonderful you are?" he asked Frey in a Jan. 4 call. "I need a better vocabulary or a book or a thesaurus or something to find the right words to describe you."