A Fair Laci Trial In Home County?

Scott Peterson and the scales of justice over a faded photo of Laci Peterson AP / CBS

The judge in the Laci Peterson murder case will hear arguments Thursday on the defense request to move Scott Peterson's trial out of Modesto, California.

Laci Peterson's husband is charged with murdering her and their unborn son just over a year ago.

Attorneys for Scott Peterson say there is no way their client can get a fair trial in Stanislaus County and they want the case to be moved, preferably to Los Angeles, reports CBS News Correspondent Steve Futterman. His lawyers claim that nearly 60 percent of the potential jurors in the Modesto area believe Peterson is either guilty or probably guilty.

However, Gloria Gomez of CBS affiliate KOVR reports a prosecution poll indicates that 80 percent of county residents say they would keep an open mind.

It was the people of the Modesto area who searched day after day for Laci Peterson, who held candles of hope and shed tear of despair when her body was found, reports Gomez.

Criminal defense attorney John Schick, however, agrees with Peterson's attorneys that there is little chance for a fair trial at the "epicenter of information.

"Just as the magnitude of an earthquake is greatest at the epicenter, the magnitude of information available to people in Stanislaus County far exceeds what it is for any other county," he said.

Peterson's chief attorney Mark Geragos puts much of the blame on the news media. In court papers, Geragos has referred to Laci Peterson as a "posthumous celebrity" and says the media has demonized his client.

"One reason Scott looks like a demon is what he did himself after the disappearance of his wife, his own statements and interviews he gave and the revelation he had the affair with Amber Frey during the time Laci Peterson was married to him," Jim Hammer, a prosecutor in nearby San Francisco who has been following the case, told CBS News Early Show co-anchor René Syler.

Prosecutors oppose any move. They say there is nowhere in the state where the case has not received massive publicity, and blame Geragos himself for much of the publicity.

The judge could announce today whether the trial will be moved and, if so, where, said Hammer.
  • Lloyd Vries

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