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Peterson Cop To Be Grilled

A Modesto police detective who has spent a week recounting why authorities maintain Scott Peterson is the only person who could have killed his pregnant wife returns to the witness stand Monday to be questioned by a defense set on showing that police honed in on Peterson too hastily.

At the onset of his cross-examination Thursday, defense lawyer Mark Geragos quickly got Detective Craig Grogan to acknowledge that Peterson had no prior criminal history and had never laid a hand on his wife, Laci, before she was reported missing on Dec. 24, 2002.

The detective also agreed that as the investigation unfolded, the Petersons' friends were all very supportive of the 31-year-old former fertilizer salesman.

As the cross-examination of Grogan goes into its second day, Geragos is likely to point out for jurors all the evidence police couldn't find that would implicate Peterson in the killings - no murder weapon, no crime scene, no cause of death and no direct witnesses.

Prosecutors allege Peterson killed the eight-months pregnant schoolteacher on or around Dec. 24, 2002, in their Modesto home, then dumped her weighted body into San Francisco Bay. Her remains - and that of her fetus - washed up in April 2003, not far from where Peterson launched his boat that Christmas Eve morning for what he claims was a solo fishing trip.

Defense lawyers maintain someone else abducted and killed Laci, and that Modesto police ignored other leads in their eagerness to arrest their client. Last week, Geragos noted while questioning Grogan that one officer told a witness on the first night of the investigation that he "already knew what happened."

Judge Alfred A. Delucchi told jurors last week prosecutors intended to wrap up their case by this Thursday - after 18 weeks of trial and more than 160 witnesses.

Peterson faces the death penalty or life without parole if convicted.

By Brian Skoloff

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