1:58 p.m.: REDWOOD CITY - Scott Peterson apparently sanitized his and his then-missing wife’s house before police served search warrants, but he may not have had time to clear evidence from his warehouse, the lead detective in the case suggested in testimony this morning.
Also, Peterson’s initial theory on why eight-months-pregnant Laci Peterson vanished Dec. 24, 2002, was that a transient in East La Loma Park must have spotted her wearing recently inherited jewelry and robbed her, Modesto police Detective Craig Grogan testified Peterson told him.
Grogan posted another detective at Peterson’s warehouse just in case anyone tried to enter while Grogan was at the courthouse processing a search warrant request, he said. Peterson showed up and was turned away, Grogan testified in response to questions by Chief Deputy District Attorney Birgit Fladager.
In contrast to Peterson’s “neat, clean, organized” home, his warehouse was “a mess,” Grogan said.
The detective described a scene familiar to jurors - a fine layer of cement powder on Peterson’s flatbed trailer, with about five “voided, circular” patches. Police believe the areas indicate Peterson made several concrete anchors with a round mold and used all but one to sink Laci Peterson’s body to the floor of San Francisco Bay.
“It seemed like a tremendous mess for making one 8-pound anchor,” Grogan said.
Former prosecutor Dean Johnson, who is observing the trial, said: “I think that’s one of those phrases that rings in jurors’ ears.” Police found only one homemade concrete anchor in Peterson’s fishing boat, which he had purchased Dec. 9 . He told police he used a 90-pound bag of cement and could not account for the rest, prosecutors have tried to show.
The 31-year-old Modesto man could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering his wife and their unborn son, Conner. Their bodies washed ashore less than two miles from where Peterson said he fished alone on Christmas Eve 2002.
His attorneys say someone else snatched his wife as she walked their dog in a park near their home. They previously hinted at a robbery motive, and also have said someone held Laci Peterson until she was full term.
Though Grogan used a sentry to “freeze” Peterson’s warehouse, he didn’t do the same with his home. Plenty of the Petersons’ friends and family members and officers already had tramped through, perhaps destroying any evidence, Grogan said.
Witnesses have testified that they found no trace of a crime or Laci Peterson’s tissues or bodily fluids in the La Loma neighborhood home.
“The house was nicely furnished, neat, clean, organized,” the detective said. As for the warehouse and its small office, Grogan said, “It was very disorganized.” Also, Peterson had told police that his wife was mopping the floor when he left on his fishing trip, and that he washed his clothes upon returning, Grogan said. Additionally, a witness said Peterson vacuumed his carpet near the washing machine on Christmas.
Other things combined to make it logical for Scott Peterson to immediately come under suspicion, Grogan testified.
Police could not eliminate Peterson as a suspect, Grogan said, “ b ased on the fact that he is close to the victim, the fact he was the last person to see her, the fact that he discovered her missing, the fact that she disappeared when he was by himself on what appeared to be an unusual trip for him, not part of his normal behavior.”
John son said prosecutors are using Grogan to produce a “mini closing argument,” noting that Peterson didn’t immediately call police when he returned from a seemingly out-of-character fishing trip.
“That is the danger that you get into when you open a rush - to - judgment defense,” Johnson said. “Everything points to Scott Peterson, not away from Scott Peterson.” Grogan is set to continue testifying this afternoon.