Probe of Peterson house continues for second day

02/20/2003 8:00 AM

11/20/2007 5:59 AM

Detectives did more than search Scott and Laci Peterson's house for a second day Wednesday. They also measured it.

Investigators with the Modesto Police Department and the Stanislaus County district attorney's office spent about seven hours measuring the outside of the Peterson home, the driveway and other areas of the Covena Avenue property.

"Part of the search warrant requires you to take measurements so you can fig- ure out where you got items from," said Detective Doug Ridenour, police spokesman. "That's so you can put items back where they came from during a court trial or any other situations that may arise."

Family members reported Laci Peterson, 27, missing on Christmas Eve. She was eight months pregnant at the time.

Wednesday, investigators continued removing bags of possible evidence from the home, bringing the total of items taken to "94 or 95," Ridenour said.

He said Modesto detectives, members of the Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force and detectives from the state Department of Justice participated in the search. A police technician identified one of the men taking mea- surements as an investigator with the district attorney's office.

Police officers arrived at the home about 9:30 a.m. and quickly cordoned off the yard and part of the street with yellow police tape.

Ridenour said the tape was to keep some distance between officers going through the house and the dozens of reporters outside.

About 2 p.m., detectives carried out a dozen brown paper bags marked as evidence.

"Anything found here could be associated with a crime later on," Ridenour said.

Truck taken to Scott Peterson

Early in the afternoon, a police officer drove away in Scott Peterson's white Dodge pickup. Investigators had seized and searched the truck on Tuesday. Ridenour said the officer was taking the truck somewhere so Peterson could pick it up.

The Police Department's evidence truck drove away from the house about 3:30 p.m. About 90 minutes later, Ridenour announced that the search had been completed and the house would be returned to Peterson.

Detectives served the search warrant on Tuesday morning and spent 10 hours examining the house and taking out items before sealing it for the night.

Ridenour later said the search was needed because of "discoveries" made during the investigation.

Ridenour repeated Wednesday that Peterson is not a suspect in his wife's disappearance. "We would like to eliminate Scott from the investigation," Ridenour said.

Mark Geragos, a Los Angeles defense attorney who has represented former Ceres Rep. Gary Condit and actress Winona Ryder, said it is clear from detectives' actions that they are taking a hard look at Peterson.

By taking measurements of the house, investigators are preparing for a criminal trial, Geragos said. "That to me is a telltale sign they think this is a crime scene, and they are mapping it out.

"Clearly, there's some kind of focus on (Scott Peterson)," said Geragos, a frequent commentator on the Peterson case on cable television news shows. "I can't think of a better time to have a lawyer."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bee staff writer Patrick Giblin can be reached at 578-2347 or pgiblin@modbee.com.

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