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Bits And Pieces At The Laci Trial

Prosecutors in Scott Peterson's murder trial are focusing on evidence collected from his wife's remains and from the couple's home and his warehouse where he stored the boat they allege he used to dispose of the body.

Duct tape, four hairs, a wad of plastic, small pieces of rusty metal, a pea-sized chunk of cement and a speck of grass were introduced as evidence last week.

Jurors were set to return Monday for a short week. Court won't be in session Wednesday while defense lawyer Mark Geragos attends a hearing in another case.

Jurors also won't be present Thursday when Geragos argues for a dismissal of charges or a mistrial based on allegations that a detective lied on the witness stand.

It's unclear who will testify this week, as the witness list is sealed and lawyers are barred from talking about the case.

Testimony last week came from a DNA expert who identified the bodies of Laci Peterson and the couple's fetus. Jurors also heard testimony from prosecution witness Rodney Oswalt, a criminalist with the California Department of Justice, about a hair found in a pair of pliers on Peterson's boat.

Detectives have testified they found a single strand of hair on the boat, but when they opened the evidence envelope several months later, two hairs were present.

Prosecutors contend the hair simply split in two, but Oswalt said it clearly was two separate hairs. Geragos suggested police botched the collection process, possibly even contaminating the evidence, and pointed out that the prosecution's own witness didn't support their theory.

Still, Oswalt said the two hairs "could have" come from Laci Peterson.

It will be up to the prosecution to make something of the various pieces of evidence it has introduced, University of San Francisco law professor Robert Talbot told the Modesto Bee.

Introducing the evidence piecemeal "creates a certain amount of suspense. If ultimately you have something to tie it to, it's effective."

But it will require a strong closing argument from prosecutors to weave it all together, he added.

Prosecutors claim Laci never knew about the boat her husband purchased weeks before she vanished so he could use it to dispose of her body. They say Peterson killed his pregnant wife in their Modesto home on or around Dec. 24, 2002, then drove her body to San Francisco Bay and dumped her overboard from his small boat.

The remains of Laci Peterson and the couple's fetus washed ashore just two miles from where Peterson claims he was fishing alone that Christmas Eve, only to return to an empty home.

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