Attorney: Peterson trial still fair with open hearing

August 23, 2003 

Scott Peterson can get a fair trial on double murder charges without closing his preliminary hearing to the public, an attorney for the press argued in documents sent Friday to a state appellate court.

Peterson's attorneys are asking the 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno to overrule a Stanislaus County Superior Court judge who last week denied a defense request to close the hearing.

Prosecutors are expected to reveal at least some of their closely guarded evidence against the 30-year-old fertilizer salesman from Modesto at the Sept. 9 hearing.

At its close, Judge Al Girolami is expected to decide whether there is sufficient reason to hold a trial.

Peterson is charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of his wife, Laci, 27, and the couple's unborn son, Conner.

In earlier rulings, the appellate court clearly anticipated Peterson's preliminary hearing would be open, wrote Charity Kenyon, who represents The Bee and a group of other newspapers.

"(The defense) implies that this court has already determined as a matter of fact that Scott Peterson can not get a fair trial anywhere in this state," Kenyon wrote. "No such finding has been made."

She also noted that Girolami recognized that he could close select portions of the hearing if necessary.

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