A hearing is scheduled Friday on a change of defense attorneys for Scott Peterson, who is charged with murdering his wife and unborn son, according to a judge's order filed Wednesday.
Los Angeles defense attorney Mark Geragos is poised to take over the case.
"I would definitely say I'm leaning toward helping him," Geragos said Wednesday on CNN's "Larry King Live" program. "I'm going to sleep on it tonight and I'll make the decision (today)."
Peterson, who faces the death penalty in the Modesto murder case, is now being represented by the Stanislaus County public defender's office.
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Geragos confirmed on the CNN program that he met with Peterson and representatives of the public defender's office Tuesday in Modesto.
"I was tremendously impressed by Scott," Geragos said. "I don't think there's any doubt that I believe in him."
Jackie Peterson, Scott Peterson's mother, said late Wednesday that the family was waiting to hear if Geragos would take the case. "I'm hopeful," she said. "I would be thrilled."
It remained unclear who would pay for Geragos' bill, or if he would take the case for free. Jackie Peterson said the financial arrangement is part of what is being worked out.
Peterson has pleaded not guilty in the killings of his wife, Laci, and their son, Conner. Laci Peterson was 27 and eight months pregnant when she disappeared from their home around Christmas Eve.
People walking along the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay came across the bodies April 13 and 14. The remains were found several miles from where Peterson, 30, said he went fishing on Dec. 24.
Peterson's first attorney, Kirk McAllister of Modesto, appearing on NBC Television's "Dateline" Wednesday night, continued to defend his former client. McAllister said he conducted his own investigation for more than three months and developed evidence to support Peterson.
"It is hard, it is solid, and it shows Scott didn't do it," McAllister said.
Peterson has been held without bail in county jail since his arrest April 18.
He has asked for information about applying for a pass to attend a funeral or memorial service, but had not requested such a pass as of Wednesday, Assistant Sheriff Myron Larson said.
Officials with the Sheriff's Department said requests to attend funerals and memorial services are considered on a case-by-case basis.
Sheriff Les Weidman said he would not approve a request by Peterson to attend a Sunday memorial service planned by Laci Peterson's family. The service is open to the public.
"Scott is not a member of the public," the sheriff said. "He is an inmate in the county jail, charged with capital murder, and he is going to stay put."
Jackie Peterson, speaking from her San Diego County home, said no one from her family would be attending, and that she had informed Laci Peterson's mother, Sharon Rocha.
"We are not attending because we want her to have a peaceful, dignified memorial and not a circus," said Jackie Peterson, referring to the added media commotion that would result if Scott's side of the family decided to attend.
"We will grieve in our own private way with Scott," she said. "Because we all loved Laci." She said the Peterson side of the family would participate in a private service at a later date.
Weidman said he might consider letting Peterson out of jail to attend a funeral. "We'll have to evaluate that when a formal date and a formal request is made," the sheriff said. "Until I get that, there's no way I'm going to make that decision."
The Contra Costa County coroner's office had not yet released the bodies, and a spokeswoman for Laci Peterson's family said no funeral plans had been made as of Wednesday.
If Peterson received a pass to attend a funeral, he would be required to pay for security costs, officials said. It typically costs $400 to $500 to have deputies escort prisoners to funerals, Larson said.
But the massive media coverage and public interest in the case would require additional security, officials said. Weidman would not speculate on how high those costs could run.
A bail review hearing for Peterson had been scheduled for Tuesday, but the defense asked for a postponement, according to an order issued Wednesday by Superior Court Judge Al Girolami. The same order put the change of attorney hearing on the judge's Friday morning calendar.
Bee staff writer Patrick Giblin contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer John Coté can be reached at 578-2394 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
* THE PETERSON FILE
MEMORIAL DETAILS -- Laci Peterson's relatives announced that family members and friends will be among the speakers at a public memorial service set for Sunday. The program will include a video montage and some of Laci's favorite songs. The service is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 12th and M streets, Modesto.
MEMORIAL FUND -- The family also announced the establishment of a memorial fund. Contributions may be directed to the Laci Peterson Fund, A.G. Edwards & Sons, 1549 McHenry Ave., Modesto 95350.
FRIDAY -- Scott Peterson is being represented by the public defender's office, but a judge is scheduled to consider a change. A hearing on the matter is set for 8:30 a.m. in Stanislaus County Superior Court.