Scott Peterson talked with his girlfriend four weeks after his pregnant wife was reported missing, according to court documents filed late Friday.
The wiretap documents reveal that he called Amber Frey and discussed his hiring of a private investigator. The call came late at night on Jan. 20, almost a month after Frey had gone to police to tell them about her affair with Peterson, and four days before she went public.
The documents from prosecutors also reveal that authorities intercepted 69 calls between Peterson and his Modesto attorney, and two calls between Peterson and his private investigator. The prosecutors said they inadvertently monitored some of those conversations.
Because monitoring attorney-client and investigator-client discussions is illegal, prosecutors wrote that they immediately stopped listening in most cases and did not learn anything "substantive."
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The attorney, Kirk McAllister, called the eavesdropping "worse than underhanded" and vowed to "pursue this fully and vigorously." He said Peterson's defense team will review the documents this weekend and consider asking the Superior Court to throw out double-murder charges against Peterson.
The 30-year-old is charged with murder in the deaths of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner. She was eight months pregnant when family members reported her missing from her Modesto home Christmas Eve.
The wiretap documents state that a judge referred to Peterson as a suspect, though police insisted that he was not a suspect -- nor had he been ruled out -- before his arrest April 18.
Stanislaus County Superior Court has sealed the original wiretap recordings, and a district attorney's investigator has copies.
But prosecutors in District Attorney James Brazelton's office say they have not listened to them, preferring to have the court sanction their release to the prosecution and defense. Otherwise, the recordings should be kept secret, prosecutors argue.
Judge Al Girolami is scheduled to take up the matter Tuesday morning.
On Jan. 20, while tapping Peterson's cell phone, investigators heard him tell Frey about his private investigator, and say that a tabloid newspaper also had tried to hire the investigator, according to the documents.
Authorities apparently disclosed the conversation to explain why they erroneously intercepted Peterson's discussions with the private investigator. They simply had not known before that he was working for Peterson's defense team, investigators wrote.
They also wrote that Peterson's mother, Jackie Peterson, offered to pay the private investigator and her son accepted. Authorities listened to that conversation as well.
Wiretapping laws allow investigators to briefly spot-check conversations between clients and their lawyers from time to time. But Superior Court Judge Wray Ladine "was not comfortable with the idea of any spot checks," federal task force agent Steven P. Jacobson wrote in an affidavit filed Friday.
"Judge Ladine said he felt monitoring or spot-checking any conversations between Scott Peterson and Kirk McAllister would be inappropriate and could cause problems," Jacobson wrote.
The newly filed documents state that investigators intercepted calls between Peterson and McAllister from Jan. 10 until Peterson's arrest, and monitored segments of only two of the 69 intercepted calls.
Agent Steve Hoek of the Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency once listened for 41 seconds before recognizing McAllister's voice, according to the documents.
Said McAllister: "I've worked for two years with that cop in the drug unit. I've known him for 20 years and he didn't recognize my voice?
"I know it's not a mistake. It would be a mistake if it was a cop who didn't know my voice."
Earlier, McAllister said police employed "underhanded" tactics by wiretapping Peterson while refusing to name him a suspect. He said the revelations Friday went beyond his original assessment.
"It's worse than underhanded," he said. "I gave them too much credit when I stopped at underhanded."
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at 578-2390 or email@example.com.
Bee staff writer John Coté can be reached at 578-2394 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
* THE PETERSON FILE
SEARCH -- Divers stopped searching San Francisco Bay for evidence. They will not search over the Memorial Day weekend, and authorities did not say if or when divers again would enter the water off Richmond.
INVESTIGATION -- Wiretaps reveal Scott Peterson continued to speak with Amber Frey four weeks after Laci Peterson was reported missing.
TUESDAY -- Hearing before Superior Court Judge Al Girolami to consider evidence, including whether search warrants should remain sealed. Wiretaps conducted by police also are expected to be discussed.