PETERSON TRIAL Ex-mistress: Defendant never confessed killing



A lawyer continued to try to downplay Peterson's feelings for the woman.
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The two-day cross-examination of Scott Peterson's former mistress ended Tuesday with Amber Frey conceding that in all the phone calls she secretly recorded for police, Peterson never confessed killing his pregnant wife nor did he discourage her from going to police.
Peterson's lawyer, Mark Geragos, also tried for the second day to make light of Peterson's feelings for Frey to undermine her as a motive for murder.
"He never told you he loved you, right?" Geragos asked.
"Not in those words," Frey responded.
Few surprises
The trial's most anticipated witness spent parts of seven days on the stand, but there were few surprises about her testimony. The roughly three dozen phone calls she taped for police showed that Peterson was a liar and callous about his wife's disappearance, but they never implicated Peterson in her disappearance. The cross-examination stressed that point but also lacked any bombshell revelation about Frey that would seriously undermine her testimony.
On Tuesday, it was Geragos' turn to use her taped conversations. He played clips of eight calls with Frey during which he stressed that Peterson maintained his innocence every time Frey confronted him, even when she was fed questions by police.
Geragos also explained to jurors why Peterson seemed evasive and wouldn't explain to Frey details about his wife's disappearance or his relationship with his wife: He was following the orders of his then-lawyer, Kirk McAllister.
And, Geragos pointed out, Peterson told Frey it was her choice whether to go to police.
"If that's what you have to do, I'm not going to ask you to stop," Peterson told her in a Jan. 8, 2003, call. "I have nothing to hide."
But, later, when prosecutor Dave Harris had another chance to question Frey, he asked her whether Peterson had hid their relationship from Modesto police.
"Yes," she said.
Mixed reactions
Reaction to the two-day cross-examination was mixed.
Outside the courtroom, Frey's lawyer, Gloria Allred, held a plastic trash bag in front of reporters to try to show that Geragos' arguments were "total garbage."
Despite the lawyer excuse, Allred said, Peterson still never explained to Frey why he told her he had "lost" his wife weeks before she actually disappeared, nor his story that he wanted no biological children of his own, but would be happy to raise Frey's toddler daughter.
"If he had innocent explanations, why wouldn't his attorney want it stated?" Allred asked.
But Chuck Smith, a former San Mateo County prosecutor, said the defense was effective in pointing out things that made Peterson look innocent.
"If all these things have two interpretations, one of which points to innocence, one to guilt, the jury has to go to innocence," as long as the innocent interpretation is reasonable, Smith said.
Peterson, a 31-year-old fertilizer salesman, was arrested in April 2003 the week the bodies of his wife and unborn son washed up separately along the edge of San Francisco Bay. Peterson had told police he had been fishing there the day his wife disappeared. Geragos contends Peterson was framed -- that the bodies were thrown into the bay by people who had heard Peterson's alibi on the news.
Cell-phone records
Along with Peterson's relationship with Frey serving as a motive, prosecutors have claimed cell-phone records also implicate Peterson in his wife's disappearance. But on Monday and again Tuesday, the prosecution's critical timeline of Peterson's movements the day his wife was reported missing was called into question.
Daniel White from AT & amp;T Wireless testified Tuesday that cell-phone records and the corresponding cell towers that connect the calls are not perfect judges of a user's location.
Peterson told police he left his home at 9:30 a.m., but prosecutors have used a cell-phone record from 10:08 a.m. the day before Christmas to show that Peterson was just then leaving his house and heading toward his warehouse.
If Peterson didn't leave until 10:08, that would leave Laci Peterson only 10 minutes to change her clothes, go for a walk, get abducted, and still leave time for her dog to get back to the front of the house by 10:18 a.m., when a neighbor put the leashed dog in the back yard.

Subscribe Today

Sign up for our email newsletter to receive daily news.

Want more? Click here to subscribe to either the Print or Digital Editions.

AP News