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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Defense Says Evidence Tained by Laci's Mom

Aired May 30, 2003 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, ANCHOR: First we get into the top story and that is could evidence in the Laci Peterson case now be tainted?
Scott Peterson's legal team is raising that possibility after a visit to Peterson's Modesto, California, home by his late wife's friends.

Elaine Quijano joins us now. She is live in Modesto with the latest. Elaine, hello.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Daryn.

First of all, a number of thing to pass along to you. We were expecting all week a motion from the judge or a ruling, rather, from the judge on a motion to keep certain documents sealed in this case. Specifically, we're talking about these search warrants and the autopsy results on Laci Peterson and her unborn son, Connor.

Now this ruling that we received a short time ago, saying essentially the judge wants to keep those documents sealed. In this ruling, the judge talks about not only the fact that pretrial publicity might have an adverse effect, also drawing attention to the possibility that the contents of that pretrial publicity could have an adverse effect on any potential jurors out there, as far as tainting the potential jurors.

Also, the court says that they believe since the investigation is continuing, that it is very important to keep some of those documents, to keep those documents under wraps. As you know, there have been a number of leaks, most notably yesterday, excerpts of the autopsy report on baby Connor Peterson had been leaked.

Now another development to tell you about. This one an unexpected development. Earlier today out at the home that Laci and Scott Peterson shared in Modesto. Attorneys for Sharon Rocha, Laci Peterson's mother, confirmed that she entered the house and she retrieved some items belonging to Laci. She did this along with a couple of other people.

Now the defense is very angry about this. They say that she did not have permission to be there. The Rocha family attorneys, however, say that she did get permission from the district attorney's office and this information coming in to us just in the last few minutes now. We understand that the district attorney's office is now saying that no, that no permission had been granted for Sharon Rocha to enter that home. In any case, the Rocha family attorney had put out a letter yesterday, or earlier this week, listing the items that they wanted to retrieve from the home. Apparently, what they say is some of the language in that letter angered Mark Geragos, the lead attorney for Scott Peterson, and that he made the comment that, quote, "If they want war, they get war."

When Sharon Rocha heard about that, her attorney says that she chose to take action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALBERT CLARK, LAWYER FOR LACI PETERSON'S FAMILY: We thought everything was going along great and then at about 1:15, Mr. Geragos called and was not in a very good mood and I think he used the word -- I've never talked to him -- but he used the word, "Adam, you want a war, you've got a war," which really upset me, as you well remember, and so I told Sharon that. And she -- that was the day the autopsy reports came out, yesterday.

QUIJANO: Yes.

CLARK: And obviously, she was very emotionally distraught and said I've got to do something to that effect. And so she acted from the heart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: Now I talked to a defense attorney who was also there at the home. Here is what he had to say regarding the incident earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT DALTON, DEFENSE TEAM INVESTIGATOR: And the prosecution that we would come here on June 3 and be allowed to film the house...

QUIJANO: But there was never anything...

DALTON: ... and now according to their lawyer, the D.A. as given them permission to break into the house.

QUIJANO: OK.

DALTON: It's ridiculous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: Now, all of this happening. At the same time a Modesto police officers visiting the home of Sharon Rocha. We understand that according to Modesto Police, they are treating this as a civil matter. They are cataloging the property in question, but right now we have no word that any kind of police report has been filed.

There are a number of strange developments in this case today -- Dary. KAGAN: Emotions certainly running high in Modesto. Elaine, thank you so much for that.

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