Los Angeles attorney Mark Geragos took over Scott Peterson's defense case this morning.
Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Al Girolami agreed Geragos could substitute for the public defender's office, which had represented Peterson, 30. He is charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner.
Before agreeing to the substitution, however, Girolami asked who was paying Geragos.
"It was obvious your client didn't have enough money to hire a lawyer," Girolami told Public Defender Tim Bazar. At his arraignment, Peterson said he could not afford a lawyer and the public defender's office was appointed to represent him.
"I was retained by Mr. Peterson's family," Geragos said. Peterson spoke only once during the 20-minute hearing, answering, "Yes, your honor," when Girolami asked him if he agreed to have Geragos represent him.
Geragos has had a number of high-profile clients, including actress Winona Ryder and then-Rep. Gary Condit.
With Geragos taking the case, the county will save the substantial costs involved in mounting a capital murder defense.
Those costs would be at least “six figures” and could top $1 million, said Jim Larsen, assistant public defender for San Joaquin County.
Stanislaus County still will pay for Peterson’s prosecution, although state Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Salinas, introduced legislation under which the state could pay for all the county and city of Modesto costs in connection with the prosecution.
For the full story, see tomorrow's Bee or modbee.com.