Craig Peyer will continue working for an Escondido electrical contractor despite telephone threats made to the owners of the business, Peyer's attorney said Thursday.
Peyer, a former California Highway Patrol officer, is charged with killing San Diego State University student Cara Knott, 20, on Dec. 27. He was fired from his $3,025-a-month job last week and is now earning "one-third of what he made at the CHP," said defense attorney Diane Campbell.
The threats against Bruce and Cecilia Johnson, owners of BLT Electric, began after a San Diego newspaper reported Wednesday that Peyer, 37, was working for the couple as an apprentice electrician. Peyer began his new job Monday, and the Johnsons, who have known Peyer for 15 years, are determined to keep him as an employee, Campbell said.
"Craig is still working. He's been sort of hanging around with Mr. Johnson to see what the job is all about," Campbell said. "He's sort of an apprentice. The Johnsons have been getting hostile calls from the public, and they feel that this type of attitude is very mean-spirited and un-American. It is Mr. Johnson's view that a person is innocent until proven guilty."
Peyer's duties at the new job include installing electrical equipment for backyard swimming pools.
Questions News Value
An angry Campbell criticized the press for "making a big deal" of Peyer's job.
"What is the news value in this story?" she asked. "What did you expect Craig to do after he was fired? Wouldn't you expect him to try to get a job so he can feed his family and make his house payment? The man's been trying to keep a low profile but it's difficult under the circumstances."
The Johnsons were not available for comment, but Campbell said Peyer is not sent to a job unless the customer agrees.
"I understand that Mr. Johnson is screening the jobs by calling each customer and telling him that Craig is an employee. If the customer objects to having Craig sent to the job, then Mr. Johnson sends someone else," said Campbell.
Peyer appealed his dismissal from the CHP with the state Personnel Board. The appeal, which was filed last Friday by San Mateo attorney Richard Romanski, may not be heard before Peyer's trial begins in September.
Romanski, who is the chief counsel for the California Assn. of Highway Patrolmen, called the appeal "a standard procedure." The association represents most active CHP officers.
Peyer was fired after a CHP internal investigation concluded that Peyer murdered Knott. A nine-page report filed with the State Personnel Board said that Peyer killed Knott "without justification."