After four days of tough questions by Scott Peterson’s defense lawyer, who methodically picked apart the police investigation into the disappearance of Peterson’s pregnant wife, the prosecution got a boost Tuesday with testimony that appeared to backfire on Mark Geragos.
Geragos, who contends police rushed to arrest his client and ignored other leads in the slaying of Laci Peterson, had exposed apparently sloppy police work by Det. Allen Brocchini, including the omission of a key witness statement that might have helped clear Scott Peterson.
But with thousands of tips pouring in about the woman’s Christmas Eve disappearance, police didn’t just accept any information that pointed to Peterson as the killer, the prosecution noted Tuesday after Geragos finished his cross-examination.
Prosecutor Rick Distaso asked Brocchini about one such tip -- that Peterson once talked about how he would dispose of a body if he killed someone.
Brocchini acknowledged that the day after Peterson was arrested, a man called him claiming he was a friend of Peterson and told of a conversation in 1995 in which Peterson “told him how he would get rid of a body.”
“He said he would tie a bag around the neck with duct tape,” weigh the body down and dump it into the ocean and “fish activity would eat away the neck and hands and the body would float up, no fingers, no teeth,” making it impossible to identify, Brocchini said.
Distaso then left it to Geragos to ask what the detective did with such a hot tip.
“I just didn’t put a lot of stock in it,” Brocchini testified. The man’s account wasn’t credible, his timing was suspicious and his story couldn’t be confirmed by anyone else, the detective testified, so he never followed up or bothered to meet the man in person.
The exchange may have provided the prosecution with its biggest boost yet, some legal observers said.
“If they wanted to frame Scott Peterson, this guy would have been the prosecution’s star witness,” said Dean Johnson, a former San Mateo County prosecutor.
“It’s the best day the prosecution has had. It restored credibility to Brocchini.”
Prosecutors allege that Peterson, 31, killed his pregnant wife on or about Dec. 24, 2002, and dumped her body in San Francisco Bay.