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Defense Seeks 2nd Laci Trial Move

After a quick look at some of the 600 juror questionnaires, Scott Peterson's attorneys say it might be time to change the venue for their client's double-murder trial a second time.

Attorney Mark Geragos said initial reviews of the 23-page questionnaire that potential panelists have been filling out since jury selection began last week show too many prospective jurors already have concluded his client is guilty.

"The prejudgment rate ... is at a level where the court needs to take some action," Geragos told the judge Tuesday.

"I probably made perhaps some decisions in my own mind as far as Scott Peterson not behaving as one might would if their wife was missing," excused juror Roger Wong told Gloria Gomez of CBS affiliate KOVR.

"His alibi was just nonsense," added another excused juror, Andrew Aherne. "It made no sense to anyone. And he just didn't seem to care or know what he was doing."

A Stanislaus County judge already moved the case from Modesto to Redwood City after finding that a fair jury could not be seated in the couple's hometown.

Packing up and moving won't help the defense, said San Mateo County defense attorney Dean Johnson, an observer.

"Look, once publicity has saturated the state of California, there's simply no reason to move from one county to another," he told Gomez.

"Peterson is entitled to a fair trial, not a perfect one, and like it or not he has to contend with the fact that a lot of people have heard about the case and his alleged role in his wife's death," says Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen.

"It's possible but highly unlikely that there will be another venue change for this case," Cohen says. "One move is rare enough, two is virtually unheard of."

"I think Peterson's attorney is making the venue argument again to ensure a little more control over the jury selection process, which he may or may not get, depending upon what the judge wants to do," he added.

Along with a change of venue, Geragos said he also might ask the judge reconsider an earlier decision not to select two juries, one for the guilt-or-innocence phase, one for the penalty phase. He may also ask for the defense to be given an additional number of challenges to dismiss unwanted potential jurors.

The defense and prosecution each has 20 chances to dismiss potential jurors before a panel of 12 and six alternates is seated.

Peterson, 31, could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole if he's convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and their unborn son. Authorities allege he killed Laci Peterson on Dec. 24, 2002, because he was having an affair with a massage therapist.

Judge Alfred A. Delucchi still must decide whether to allow into evidence television interviews that Scott Peterson did in the weeks after his wife's disappearance. Prosecutors allege Peterson lied several times during the interviews, including about his relationship with massage therapist Amber Frey.

Geragos has argued the interviews have no relevance in this case because Peterson's comments are about "the continuing search for Laci ... and Mr. Peterson's admission of an adulterous relationship."

Delucchi said court would not be in session next week to give attorneys time to review the questionnaires and prepare motions. He said he would hear arguments March 22 on the media interviews and the possible motion for a change of venue.

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