We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Check Writers' Offers

What's Your Topic?

Hire a Professional Writer Now

The input space is limited by 250 symbols

What's Your Deadline?

Choose 3 Hours or More.
Back
2/4 steps

How Many Pages?

Back
3/4 steps

Sign Up and Get Writers' Offers

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Back
Get Offer

Laci Peterson: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 14 (3295 words)
Categories: Pet
Downloads: 6
Views: 391

Did Scott Petersen really murder his wife and unborn son or was this a mass delusion bestowed on an unsuspecting public by an overly opinionated press?

According to Peterson, his wife, Laci, went out to walk the dog on December 24, 2002, and never returned. His story was verified by a neighbor, Vivian Mitchell, who stated that she saw Laci walking the dog shortly after 10 a.m. on the day she disappeared. (KTVU 2002). When Peterson arrived home after his fishing expedition, he found the dog in the backyard with the leash still connected to his collar.

An extensive search was conducted with no success. (KTVU2002).

Enter Amber Frye, the young mother and career masseuse who saw Scott on television and immediately recognized her lover of recent vintage. Scott had assured her that he was unmarried (CNN2001). Later, Amber Frye and her famous attorney were to play a well-lauded, but totally irrelevant role in the murder trial of Scott Peterson, as millions of people listened avidly to the transcripts of private phone calls between Amber Frye and the defendant.

Shortly thereafter, police obtained a warrant and arrested Scott Peterson. Months later, the bodies of Laci and her baby emerged from the water near the place where Peterson said he had been fishing. (CNN2001).

            During the course of the trial, much faulty evidence was leaked to the press, and relayed to the public. Although the bogus leads were quickly discredited, the damage was done. In spite of a dismal dearth of direct evidence, Scott Peterson was convicted of murdering his wife and unborn son. (CNN2004). As the case heads for appeal, it’s time to re-examine the arguments for, and against Scott Peterson’s guilt.

The Defense’s Argument

Motive

The prosecution never did prove a viable motive. There were vague suggestions that Scott Peterson was enamored with Amber Frye, and wanted out of his family responsibilities, so he could be with her, but this idea is lacking of even the most basic logic. Scott certainly would not be “freeing” himself by forming a serious alliance with Amber Frye, who already had one child and was pregnant with another. In all likelihood, Amber Frye was just a temporary diversion.

Another equally  vague theory was posited that Scott Peterson was not ready to become a father; that he felt buckled by the weight of responsibility that was about to settle on him, and simply did away with the whole problem. This too, is absurd. Many first-time fathers are nervous and uncertain, but the trepidation flees as soon as they hold their child in their arms, and this would have been the outcome for Scott Peterson too, if events had been allowed to continue to their fruition.

The Investigation

It is incumbent upon police detectives to develop a plan of investigation. “The plan should provide an outline of the general direction the case is taking, the kinds of investigative methods to be used, and list of the resources needed to carry out and complete the investigation” (Class Notes).

The investigation into the disappearance and murder of Laci Peterson was biased, slipshod and disorganized. For example, the rumor mill had it that a pregnant woman was being held hostage in a house on the edge of the town proper.  Supposedly, the police investigated and determined that the story was unfounded. How complete was that investigation? Given the fact that police officials were already eying Scott Peterson as their primary subject, they may not have felt the necessity of conducting a thorough search of the area. Are there any notes to document their activity? What witnesses were interviewed? Were any homes actually searched? Where are the notes in regard to this lead?

In another incident, Laci was allegedly seen by a clerk in a convenience store in Longview Washington. According to the witness, the woman was pregnant, claimed to have been kidnapped, and asked for help. This report too, was pronounced bogus, but once again, questions loom: Who was this woman?  Who was this woman? Was she given help? Is there any documentation of an investigation into this incident?

There had also been several recent robberies reported in the neighborhood, and several residents reported seeing a suspicion brown van. (CNN2001). Did the authorities look into these events, make note and conduct thorough interviews of witnesses? If so, where are the notes and records of interviews?

Scott   Peterson’s version of the sequence of events was derided loudly by the police, and strangely enough, even by the media. How did the media know? Were they there? There was a witness who corroborated Scott Peterson’s account of the events leading up to his wife’s disappearance, but Vivian Mitchell’s  eye-witness testimony was peremptorily discounted; the police claimed it was “another pregnant woman” that passed by Vivian Mitchell’s  window that morning. If so, who was it? Where is this pregnant phantom dog-walker? What is her name and why was she not called to testify at Scott Peterson’s trial? If Laci Petersen did not go out walking her dog that morning, why did McKenzie return without her?

Why was the media allowed to get so involved? The task of the media is to report the news, not to become part of it and certainly not to influence it. Also, who were all those people cheering outside of the courtroom when Petersen was convicted? Didn’t they have jobs to go to? Were they hired yeomen for the media?

“An investigator can try to prove the case or he can try to uncover the truth, but there is a difference between these two perspectives.” (Class Notes).

The investigators in this case were clearly biased. This is shown from the way the authorities zeroed in on Scott Peterson as their primary suspect from almost the very beginning. The facts were shaped to fit that conclusion, almost like a square wooden peg might be pared to fit into a round hole. Tunnel vision may have caused the police to miss important evidence, and may have even cost Laci Peterson her life. In addition, two of the investigators had admittedly been offered a movie deal. How would the outcome of the case affect this lucrative opportunity? Were the stakes so high that these detectives were willing to configure circumstantial evidence to fit Scott Peterson?

The Crime Scene

“Accurate documentation of the crime scene is essential. Processing a crime scene systematically includes confirming the boundaries, securing the area; making sketches, making observations, and taking notes and photographs to make a record of the scene, searching the boundaries of the area for evidence, collecting, processing and preserving evidence, and obtaining statements from witnesses, if any.”(Class Notes).

  • Careful notes should be taken. The notes should be numbered, and should include the date, agency, case number, name of investigator, and the initials of the investigator to clearly show who wrote the notes and to which case they belong.
  • Perspective is very important when taking photographs. Perspective is the ability of the investigator to reproduce the scene as it would appear to someone standing in the photographer’s shoes. It is usually a good idea to include a ruler or other standard item such as a coin to provide scale.
  • Sketches are useful to acquaint the court with crime scenes. Measurements should be uniformly made and recorded using the same scale (inches, feet and inches, centimeters, feet and centimeters).
  • Observations of objects, places, and events are very helpful because who or what was seen can later be identified and described. Begin with general features and move to specific features, objects, and actions involved, as well as the immediate results of the event.  (Class Notes).

It is difficult to process a crime scene systematically and efficiently when you don’t know where it is!  In the Scott Peterson case, several locations, such as the home, warehouse, and boat were discussed as possible crime scenes. Whereas in some cases there can be two or even three locations, there is always a primary crime scene. In this particular case, the investigators seemed to have grave difficulty in identifying a specific place where the crime may have been committed. They finally settled on the Peterson’s home, but the exact location within the home remains an ambiguous and murky mystery. (NBC2004).

Physical Evidence

“Physical evidence is important because, unlike testimonial evidence, it can stand alone to establish the guilt of a person in a court of law. For example, a defendant cannot usually be convicted on the basis of an uncorroborated confession, as there must be either direct or circumstantial evidence that raises an inference of the truth of the essential facts of the confession.”(Class Notes).

There was no direct physical evidence. No blood evidence was found at any of the three locations. (CNN2004). There were no eyewitnesses, no murder weapon, and no forensic evidence, presented at trial to link Peterson to this crime. (CNN2004).

Documentary Evidence

“Investigators often have to consult many different sources to gather documentary evidence on a case. Documentary sources of information can include any sort of paper or electronic sources, such as criminal and DMV histories, financial documents, old case files, court files, court testimony, transcripts, mail covers, trash pulls, medical or psychological records, licenses, corporate indices, telephone or utility records, information about the crime scene, interviews with victims, witnesses, complainants, suspects, the crime scene, and document archives. The internet and internet-based archival services offer investigators a huge array of archival sources of information.” (Class Notes).

  • Testimony from the medical examiner reveals that no time of death and no cause of death can be determined for either victim. (CNN2001).
  • Documents and testimony from the medical examiner also show no evidence of any weapon or weapons used to kill the victims. (CNN2001).
  • The detective’s testimony indicated that when Scott Peterson was arrested, his brother John’s driver’s license, some extra clothing, a camp stove, and other gear were found in his truck. Scott Peterson went on frequent hunting and fishing with family members and friends. (CNN2001). Why wouldn’t he have these items in his vehicle? As for his brother’s driver’s license. John Peterson had left some items in Scott’s car after their last camping excursion, and had been searching for his driver’s license ever since. It wasn’t until after Scott’s arrest and the subsequent search by police, that he realized it had inadvertently been left in the pocket of his hunting jacket.
  • Scott Peterson was not trying to change his appearance to evade police; he was merely trying to disguise himself from members of the media who had been hounding him. He was already suffering because of his wife’s death and the press was making his life even more miserable.
  • The cement residue allegedly found in Scott’s warehouse did not match the samples of cement taken from his house. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, cement is made up of ground limestone, mixed with sand, or clay. (AHD2000). What the prosecution is saying is that bits of dirt were found in Scott Peterson’s warehouse that did not match the bits of dirt found at his home! The truth is that “cement residue” is simply a red herring and has no bearing on this case at all.

Prosecutors maintain that a single hair found in the teeth of a pair of pliers in Peterson’s boat is not his and could be his wife’s. (CNN2001).  The hair obviously could have belonged to anyone.

Conclusion

 “After months of trial in the Scott Peterson case, the prosecution has shown no motive, no eyewitnesses, no murder weapon, no blood, no reliable cause of death and no solid forensic evidence linking Peterson to the murders of his wife and child. Nevertheless, Scott Peterson was convicted and sentenced to death” (CNN2004).

Scott Peterson his case because a team of carefully selected “personalities,” obsessed by the case and riding high on their ratings, they kept up a barrage of criticisms, innuendos, and thinly veiled accusations against Scott during the trial and shouted down anyone who disagreed. The media flexed its muscles in a show its power, whipped the public into a frenzy, and convicted an innocent man

.

Prosecutor’s Argument:

Scott Peterson killed his wife in their home by either strangling or suffocating her. The next morning, he transported Laci’s body in his truck, first to a warehouse, then to his fishing boat. He put his wife’s body in the boat and traveled to the San Francisco Bay where he threw her remains into the water. It was an act of God, a feat of divine retribution when the bodies of Laci and Connor emerged at almost the exact spot where Scott Peterson claimed to have been fishing the day his wife disappeared. Scott Peterson is guilty.

The Motive

Peterson was in love with Amber Frye, and wanted out of his family responsibilities, so he could be with her. To some, this may seem to be a trivial motive for homicide, but a look at history reveals that people sometimes take very drastic steps in the name of love. The reasons for murder are never logical, and the state does not have to prove the logic behind motive, just the motive itself.

The Investigation

“It is incumbent upon police detectives to develop a plan of investigation. The plan should provide an outline of the general direction the case is taking, the kinds of investigative methods to be used, and list of the resources needed to carry out and complete the investigation.” (Class Notes).

Allegations that the investigation was “biased, slipshod and disorganized.” are simply the result of rhetorical posturing by the defense.  The investigation into the disappearance and murder of Laci Peterson was as well planned as possible under the circumstances, and it was certainly not skewed or biased in any way. To refute the defense’s arguments:

  •  There was a report that a pregnant woman was being held at a location just outside of the town limits. A thorough search was conducted of that specific area, and the surrounding location, and the rumor was determined to be unfounded.
  • Laci was allegedly seen by a clerk in a convenience store in Longview Washington. Once again, the police department gets many bogus leads and only keeps a record of those that are pertinent. This report was shown to be without merit.
  • There had also been several recent robberies reported in the neighborhood, and several residents reported seeing a suspicion brown van. Documentation of these two, possibly inter-related reports was duly recorded, but there appears to be no connection between these incidents and the homicide.
  • The witness, who corroborated Scott Peterson’s account of the events leading up to his wife’s disappearance, was found to be unreliable. “The most important consideration with regards to human sources is reliability.  If a source cannot be proved reliable, then everything he or she says or does becomes questionable and suspect, especially in court. The accuracy of the information and the background of the witnesses must be checked. Another important factor in determining witness reliability is motive.  People provide information for a number of reasons.” (Class Notes).
  • As for the allegation that the police were biased and “eyed Scott Peterson” from almost the beginning of the investigation” this is simply not true. We were looking at a number of possible suspects at the beginning of this investigation; but we did not have a primary suspect.

The Crime Scene

“Processing a crime scene systematically includes confirming the boundaries, securing the area; making sketches, making observations, and taking notes and photographs to make a record of the scene, searching the boundaries of the area for evidence, collecting, processing and preserving evidence, and obtaining statements from witnesses, if any.”(Class Notes).

The Evidence

“Investigators have to go to many sources to collect as many of the pieces as possible in order to put them together to form the finished “picture” of the crime, such as victims, witnesses, complainants, suspects, the crime scene, and document archives.” (Class Notes).

Physical Evidence

“Physical evidence is important because, unlike testimonial evidence, it can stand alone to establish the guilt of a person in a court of law. For example, a defendant cannot usually be convicted on the basis of an uncorroborated confession, as there must be either direct or circumstantial evidence that raises an inference of the truth of the essential facts of the confession.”(Class Notes).

In regard to the Peterson case, we were unable to find direct evidence. Peterson cleaned up the crime scene (s), and there was no blood evidence found at the Peterson home, in the warehouse, or in Scott’s boat (NBC2004). However, we were able to gather much documentary and human evidence.

Documentary Evidence

“Documentary sources of information include “any sort of paper or electronic sources, such as criminal and DMV histories, financial documents, old case files, court files, court testimony, transcripts, mail covers, trash pulls, medical or psychological records, licenses, corporate indices, telephone or utility records, or other archival information.  The internet and internet-based archival services afford investigators with a wide array of archival sources of information.” (Class Notes).

The following is a brief overview of the salient evidence presented in court:

  • Documents and testimony from the medical examiner indicating that the crime took place between Dec. 23 and Dec. 24, 2002.
  • The exact cause of Laci Peterson’s death has not been established, but it is surmised from the autopsy results that she died from either strangling or suffocation. Documents and testimony from the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy. The x-rays indicated no evidence of bullets in the victim’s body; there were no signs of blades, tool marks or chewing at the joints. Two left ribs were broken and one on the right had abrasions, but due to the severe decomposition of the victim’s dismembered body, it could not be determined the damage came before or after death.
  • Medical records of the deceased, showing that the fetus she carried was approximately 32 weeks old, based on a sonogram taken on Sept. 24, 2002. (Both sets of remains were found separately along San Francisco Bay’s eastern shoreline in substantially different states of decomposition.)
  • Peterson’s statement that he had tried to call his wife after returning home from his fishing trip, but was unable to reach her. He reported her missing shortly before 6 p.m., on December 24, 2002.
  • Records of two of Peterson’s cell phone conversations between himself and family members.
  • Records of Peterson’s cell phone conversations between himself and Amber Frye.
  • Testimony from a police detective indicating that when Scott Peterson was arrested, he had blond hair and goatee. Four cell phones, an array of clothing, nearly $15,000 cash, his brother John’s driver’s license, a water purifier, camp stove, hammock and other camping gear were discovered in his vehicle.
  • Also presented were many pages of phone records, satellite tracking data, evidence photos, four televised interviews in which they contend Peterson repeatedly lied, and testimony from Amber Frye, and family members, and neighbors.
  • Cement residue found in his warehouse, which they contend doesn’t match cement samples taken from his house. Prosecutors maintain that DNA tests show that a single hair found in the teeth of a pair of needle-nose pliers in Peterson’s boat is not his and could be his wife’s.

Conclusion

         Scott Peterson has been convicted of killing his wife and his unborn child. The evidence supports that outcome, and the conviction must stand.

Bibliography

Works Cited:

American Heritage Dictionary (2000). [On line]. Accessed

            December 10, 2005 from: http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/

‘Peterson Search goes High-Tech” (2002). KTVU.COM  [On line]. Accessed

            December 10, 2005 from http://www.ktvu.com/news/1928425/detail.html

“No Blood Evidence in Peterson House” (2004). NBC 4 TV News [On line]. Accessed

December 8, 2005 from http://www.nbc4.tv/news/2274121/detail.html.

“Scott Peterson Guilty of Murder” (2004).CNN.COM [On line]. Accessed December 8,

2005 from http:// www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/11/12/peterson.verdict.

 “Transcripts” (2001).CNN.COM [On line]. Accessed December 10, 2005 from

http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0411/12/acd.01.html.

Cite this essay

Laci Peterson: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. (2017, Apr 04). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/laci-peterson-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-essay

How to Avoid Plagiarism
  • Use multiple resourses when assembling your essay
  • Use Plagiarism Checker to double check your essay
  • Get help from professional writers when not sure you can do it yourself
  • Do not copy and paste free to download essays
Get plagiarism free essay

Not Finding What You Need?

Search for essay samples now

image

Your Answer is very helpful for Us
Thank you a lot!