Funeral upsets Petersons; Rochas ask to be left alone

09/03/2003 9:40 AM

11/19/2007 1:42 PM

Tension between the Rocha and Peterson families flared Tuesday over last week's funeral for Laci Peterson and her unborn son.

After a hearing in Scott Peterson's double-murder case, his parents said they were devastated that they were not told in advance about the funeral for their daughter-in-law and their grandson, Conner.

Laci Peterson's family invited more than 200 family members and friends. Lee and Jackie Peterson were not among them.

"If 250 people can attend, surely there's room for the grandparents of the baby," Lee Peterson said outside Stanislaus County Superior Court. "I would just have wished to have been there and had a chance to see them find their rest together and bring some finality to it."

Jackie Peterson called the situation hurtful. "My thoughts were that Laci would have been so upset about it (ignoring Scott's family)."

Adam Stewart, an attorney representing the Rocha family, said they did not want the Petersons at the funeral.

"There is no etiquette for the circumstances we're confronted with here. We don't feel it was appropriate for them to be invited or present (at the funeral)."

Earlier last week, Jackie Peterson sent an e-mail to Laci's mother, Sharon Rocha, urging her to delay any services.

"We are writing with an appeal to your heart," Peterson wrote in the e-mail, a copy of which The Bee obtained.

"Though by law, you are granted the decision on how to handle the remains of all our loved ones, we ask you to postpone the service until such time as Scott is exonerated and we all join together as a family to mourn your daughter, Scott's wife, our and your grandson, and Scott's son who has been taken from all of us so cruelly."

In a response, Stewart asked the Petersons to stop attempting to contact the Rochas. "The family wishes to be left alone during this difficult time," he wrote.

Tuesday, Stewart described the relationship between the families as "very raw."

"Sharon is very distraught and upset," he said.

He suggested that the Petersons could have attended the public memorial service May 4, on what would have been Laci Peterson's 28th birthday.

Stewart also noted that Jackie Peterson's e-mail to Sharon Rocha and his response were provided to a television station before Tuesday's hearing.

"(Sharon Rocha) is very upset that two days after the funeral that she would release these e-mails to the news media," Stewart said. "Was she really concerned about being there? Was she more concerned about eliciting sympathy for her son?"

The rift between the families last surfaced in May when Laci Peterson's family sought access to her and Scott's Covena Avenue home, and eventually entered without permission from Scott Peterson's parents.

Rocha family members and friends loaded up trucks with belongings and furniture, such as a rocking chair, while media and police looked on.

Bee staff writer John Coté can be reached at 578-2394 or jcote@modbee.com.

Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at 578-2390 or gstapley@modbee.com.

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