Site of Peterson trial to be decided today

January 20, 2004 

Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Al Girolami today is scheduled to determine where Scott Peterson will be tried on double-murder charges.

A hearing is scheduled at 9 a.m. at the courthouse in downtown Modesto.

Girolami already has ruled that massive publicity precluded Peterson from getting a fair trial in Stanislaus County. Last week, the state Administrative Office of the Courts designated Santa Clara, Alameda, San Mateo and Orange counties as possible sites for the trial. Of those, prosecutors Friday said they preferred Santa Clara.

Peterson, 31, is accused of murder in the deaths of his pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son.

Peterson reported his wife missing Christmas Eve 2002. Police arrested him in April, a few days after the bodies of mother and son washed ashore along San Francisco Bay, near the site where he told investigators he went fishing Dec. 24.

California State University, Stanislaus, Professor Stephen Schoenthaler has been ordered to appear at today's hearing. Schoenthaler was subpoenaed by prosecutors after nine of his criminal justice students said they fabricated results while conducting a survey to determine potential jurors' bias.

Defense attorneys cited the survey in their motion to have the venue changed. Girolami also cited it, though he said media attention was the biggest factor in his decision to move the trial.

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