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DA: Peterson Wanted His Freedom

With just a day to summarize their case against Scott Peterson, prosecutors painted a picture of a man so desperate for freedom from domestic drudgery that he turned to murder as his only way out.

"He wants to live the rich, successful, freewheeling bachelor life. He can't do that when he's paying child support, alimony and everything else," prosecutor Rick Distaso told jurors Monday in closing arguments.

The defense was to begin its closing arguments Tuesday, with jurors expected to begin deliberations as early as Wednesday. The trial is in its 23rd week after testimony from 184 witnesses.

For the start of closing arguments Monday, more than 100 people lined up at dawn for the 27 public courtroom seats, reports CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone. The prosecution began with home video of Laci Peterson, happy and very much alive. Then District Attorney Rick Distaso showed a picture of Laci pregnant and smiling alongside a photo of her decomposing remains.

"He raised tears in the eyes of that jury and he impressed them with the fact this murder case this is about the death of a real vivid, vivacious human being," said legal analyst Dean Johnson.

Peterson is charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of his wife, Laci, and the fetus she carried. Prosecutors claim he killed her on or around Christmas Eve 2002, then dumped her weighted body into San Francisco Bay. Defense lawyers claim someone else abducted and killed Laci.

The remains of Laci Peterson and her fetus were discovered along a shoreline about four months later, a few miles from where Scott Peterson claims to have gone fishing alone the day his wife vanished.

Scott Peterson killed Laci, Distaso said, to live a freewheeling bachelor life, without being tied to a wife and child. Even Amber Frey, the other woman, was not the motive for murder, Distaso said.

"I think that one of the most powerful, powerful statements the D.A. made today: 'Did he love Amber Frey? No. Did he love Laci Peterson? No. Scott Peterson loved no one but himself,'" said former prosecutor Jim Hammer.

Peterson developed a plan to get out of that "dull, boring, married life with kids," Distaso added, reminding jurors of how Peterson told Frey weeks before Laci vanished that he had "lost" his wife.

"He didn't want to be tied to this kid the rest of his life. He didn't want to be tied to Laci for the rest of his life. So he killed her," Distaso told jurors.

Distaso then attacked Peterson's alibi as a last-minute cover story. Four days before Laci vanished, Distaso said, Peterson bought his first salt-water fishing pole. "He bought it as prop," the prosecutor said.

Peterson had said fishing was a last-minute decision, instead of golfing, yet be bought his two-day fishing license days before. When he got home, Peterson told neighbors he had been golfing. He repeated the story to one of Laci's relatives before telling police he went fishing.

"I don't care how upset you are," Distaso said, "nobody forgets that you just got home from fishing."

Distaso continued to show what he said were the two faces of Peterson — a man who told reporters he couldn't even go into his child's nursery because it was too painful, and the same man who turned the room into a storage area for extra furniture before the bodies were found.

"The two lives are catching up on Scott Peterson," Distaso said.

Defense lawyers have suggested Peterson sought to sell his home, fully furnished, and sold Laci's car because of intense media coverage and death threats. Distaso called that "ridiculous."

"The reason he's doing all these things is because he knows she's not coming back," Distaso said.

Distaso, attacking the defense's contention that Peterson was framed, also returned to the state of the bodies, which prosecutors said had been weighted down with homemade cement anchors.

"What possible reason would there be to weight down or even hide the bodies ... if you're going to pin it on somebody?" Distaso said. "That's ridiculous, ludicrous ... It didn't happen.

"The best way to look at (this case) is like a jigsaw puzzle," Distaso concluded. "Each piece that I've talked to you about today fits only in one direction and that is that this man is guilty of murder."