Eighty-seven people tried their luck at Friday's 8 a.m. lottery for public seats in the courtroom. The daily drawing produced 27 winners who would witness a moment in legal history a little more than five hours later.
After Thursday's day off for Veterans Day, jurors showed up Friday morning looking refreshed. First off the shuttle bus from their hotel was a smiling Juror No. 5, who was placed on the jury Wednesday when the panel's first foreman was dismissed. Last off the bus was the jury's new foreman, Juror No. 6, wearing jeans and his usual dark sunglasses and carrying a green apple. Perhaps the most colorful juror, who moved from being an alternate to regular juror Tuesday when another panelist was removed, wore bright red shoes -- matching her shirt and the top half of her long, dyed hair.
It's in the eyes
One hour before the verdict was read, prosecutor Birgit Fladager's eyes seemed to be red as she waited in a corridor near the courthouse's basement cafe. Also appearing a bit emotional, just after the verdict was announced, was Modesto police Detective Craig Grogan -- whose testimony when questioned by Fladager marked a turning point in the trial, some analysts said.
Modesto police Detective Al Brocchini, who was pilloried by defense attorney Mark Geragos for several missteps in the investigation, entered the courtroom 21 minutes before the verdict was read. But he and another detective left a minute after.
Judge in hall
Twelve minutes before the verdict, Judge Alfred Delucchi stood in a private hallway between the courtroom and his judge's chamber, wearing a dark blue sweater vest and tie. He was clad in a judge's robe when he emerged.
Scott Peterson, wearing a navy-blue suit, swaggered slightly and smiled broadly when he entered the courtroom moments before the six-woman, six-man jury and three alternates filed in. Peterson mouthed a greeting to his brother, seated in the front row of the audience.
A rundown of people spotted in the courtroom when the decision was announced:
Scott Peterson's supporters: mother, Jackie; brother Joe and sister-in- law Janey; several friends; co-defense counsel Pat Harris. The defendant's father, Lee Peterson, who attended nearly every day of the trial, was not present. Neither was lead defense attorney Mark Geragos.
Laci Peterson's supporters: father, Dennis Rocha; mother and her longtime companion, Sharon Rocha and Ron Grantski; brother, Brent Rocha and his wife, Rose; sister, Amy Rocha; several relatives; close friends Rene Tomlinson, Stacey Boyers, Renee Garza and Lori Ellsworth; prosecutors Rick Distaso, Dave Harris and Birgit Fladager; Stanislaus County District Attorney James Brazelton; Distaso's wife, Megan; and Sharon Rocha's civil attorney, Adam Stewart.
Nearly 20 uniformed bailiffs and plain-clothes law enforcement officers stood throughout the crowded room.
Frey not there
Amber Frey, the former lover of Scott Peterson who testified in his murder trial, will keep quiet in the wake of his conviction but is certain to be emotionally unsettled, her father said Friday. Ron Frey said he was sure Amber Frey was in Fresno on Friday, but he had not spoken to her about the verdict. "She will be upset. Everybody close to the case is upset," said Ron Frey, a Fresno general contractor. "You know the man is guilty, but it's a pretty emotional thing after two years of being on edge and not knowing what's going to happen." Amber Frey, 29, testified as a prosecution witness in Peterson's trial this summer, and the jury heard tapes of his phone conversations with her. As for the jury's verdict, Ron Frey said, "Oh, it's the only way the evidence pointed to. They did right."
There was standing room only in tension-filled Courtroom 2M just before the verdict was read. Among several people finding themselves without seats were a People magazine reporter, a numerology disciple who has attended most days of the trial as a member of the public, and Kim Petersen of the Sund-Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation.
Stanislaus County District Attorney James Brazelton and attorney Gloria Allred clasped hands for several moments in a courtroom aisle just after bailiffs escorted Peterson away.
A crowd of about 140 reporters and onlookers lined the courthouse hallway, waiting for family members to emerge from the courtroom.
A smattering of applause broke out in the hallway when Gwen Kemple, a cousin of Laci Peterson's mother, hugged another extended family member. Blocked by two sheriff's deputies, the crowd waved and shouted "Sharon! Sharon!" as Laci Peterson's mother, Sharon Rocha, was led down a side hallway to a stairwell.
Call to Frey
Upon emerging from the courtroom, Allred -- who represents Peterson's former lover, Amber Frey -- waded through a crowd of onlookers and found a more-or-less quiet spot on the second floor of the courtroom. She dialed a number on her cell phone but hung up without speaking. She then told The Bee she had hoped to be the first to reach Frey with news of the verdict. "I just tried, but the call failed," Allred said.
To tell the tooth
Judge Alfred Delucchi appeared in good spirits as he left the courthouse through an underground walkway, escorted by two bailiffs. "Here's a scoop," he told a reporter. "I broke my tooth eating an apple." The judge then displayed a cracked front tooth he said he suffered during the lunch break before the verdict was announced.
Outside the courthouse, Aphrodite Jones, a true-crime writer working on a book about the trial, beamed as she held up an "extra" edition of the Redwood City Daily News headlined "GUILTY," mugging for cameras and onlookers.