Peterson videotaped for lawsuit

Rocha attorney deposes convicted murderer for $25M wrongful death case

07/22/2006 8:55 AM

11/20/2007 7:50 AM

Legal observers assumed that Scott Peterson would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refuse to answer questions during a deposition taken on California's death row last week.

But comments from an attorney who met with Peterson at San Quentin State Prison on July 12 suggest that the infamous inmate had a lot to say.

Attorney Adam Stewart, who filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Laci Peterson's mother, offered one tidbit, then clammed up.

"It took place," he said. "It was videotaped. It lasted a few hours."

Peterson was convicted in November 2004 of murdering his wife and unborn son, then dumping her body in the San Francisco Bay during a Christmas Eve 2002 fishing trip. He has been on death row since March 2005.

Exactly what Peterson said about his wife's death remains a mystery, and the videotaped deposition likely will remain under lock and key until the wrongful death trial gets under way in Modesto in late January.

Laci Peterson's parents, Sharon Rocha and her ex-husband, Dennis Rocha, are seeking $25 million. Attorney Gary Davis, who represents Dennis Rocha, could not be reached for comment.

Peterson, a former fertilizer salesman, doesn't have deep pockets, but his former in-laws want to keep him from selling his story.

The high-profile case has fueled nine books, two made-for-TV movies and thousands of news reports.

A Stanislaus County Superior Court judge ordered the videotaping over the objections of Peterson's defense attorneys, who said it could jeopardize their client's appeals.

Defense attorney Nareg Gourjian of Los Angeles, who attended the deposition, could not be reached for comment.

The videotape takes the place of live testimony from Peterson, who would not be transported to Modesto for trial.

Bee staff writer Susan Herendeen can be reached at 578-2338 or sherendeen@modbee.com.

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