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Defense Team Examines Laci's Body

Scott Peterson and Laci Peterson
AP / CBS
Scott Peterson's defense team has taken tissue samples from the bodies of Laci Peterson and her unborn son, officials said.

A team of experts led by forensic scientist Henry Lee spent Monday morning examining the remains. Lee, a former chief of the Connecticut Forensic Science Lab, is known for his roles on the O.J. Simpson and William Kennedy Smith defense teams.

The bodies, which washed up in April in the San Francisco Bay, have already been examined by the Contra Costa County coroner.

Also participating in Monday's exam was Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, who has consulted on high-profile cases ranging from the Kennedy assassinations to the death of Elvis Presley. Both Lee and Wecht recently investigated the death of federal intern Chandra Levy.

Lead defense attorney Mark Geragos accompanied the team. Despite a judge's gag order, he emerged to tell reporters that the work was "performed as well as could be under the circumstances."

Along with the tissue specimens, the defense team took video and still photographs of the remains, said Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jimmy Lee.

Scott Peterson, 30, has been held without bail since his arrest in April. He was arrested after the remains of Laci Peterson and their unborn son washed ashore in San Francisco Bay, near where Scott Peterson said he was fishing when his pregnant wife disappeared from their home on Christmas Eve.

Scott Peterson could face the death penalty if convicted. He has pleaded innocent to two counts of murder.

Court TV's Catherine Crier told CBS News Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith that the defense team is looking for any evidence "that she was a victim of a satanic cult, whether it was markings or cuttings or something to the structure they can measure, and secondly, if they could demonstrate that the baby had aged beyond the time period that he should have been on Christmas Eve."

If the fetus had aged, it would bolster the theory that Laci Peterson did not die the day Scott Peterson is accused of killing her.

The judge in the case is due to rule Thursday on whether cameras will be allowed in the courtroom.

A state appeals court ruled last month that search warrants and other documents from the case must remain sealed to ensure Scott Peterson gets a fair trial.

The 5th District Court of Appeal said the release of the documents would be followed by massive media coverage, including commentary on television predicting strategies and outcomes. The documents are usually made public 10 days after a police search.

A coalition of media organizations that requested the release of the documents could appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court, but no decision has been made, said Charity Kenyon, a lawyer representing newspapers in the case.

A judge ruled June 12 that unsealing the papers would not harm Scott Peterson's right to a fair trial. Geragos took the ruling to the appellate court in Fresno.