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Peterson Pleads Not Guilty

Scott Peterson pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of murdering his wife and unborn son, and a judge scheduled his trial to begin Jan. 26.

It was the second time that Peterson, 31, had answered the charges that could send him to death row. He first denied the accusations after his arrest in April. A judge decided last month there was enough evidence for prosecutors to take the case to trial, so Peterson was arraigned again.

CBS News Correspondent Manuel Gallegus reports Peterson appeared thinner and had a more casual hair style when he arrived in court to enter his plea.

"That's correct, your honor, I'm innocent," Peterson told Judge Al Girolami Wednesday, after he waived the reading of the indictment.

Judge Girolami set the Jan. 26 trial date and scheduled a hearing for Jan. 6 so the defense can request that the trial be moved from Stanislaus County.

There's a sense that Peterson will be unable to get a fair trial anywhere near Modesto, and lawyers are planning a questionnaire and phone surveys to gauge opinion in the community, reports Gallegus.

Girolami also planned to set hearings for the defense to challenge wiretaps, the use of devices that tracked Peterson and cadaver-sniffing dogs used to search for Laci Peterson's scent in the boat her husband said he took fishing the day she vanished.

Defense lawyer Mark Geragos, who is simultaneously representing Michael Jackson, also persuaded the judge on Wednesday to order prosecutors to return Scott Peterson's pickup truck to his family.

In court papers, prosecutors said they don't want to return the 2002 Ford pickup because they believe it was used in the murder of Peterson's pregnant wife. They said they believe Scott Peterson bled inside the truck's cab while using the vehicle to haul his wife's body to his fertilizer warehouse and then to San Francisco Bay.

It was the first time prosecutors had hinted at parts of their theory behind the slaying and the first mention that Peterson was injured.

The defense wanted the truck returned to Peterson's family because he faces mounting legal bills and continues to pay $643 in monthly auto payments.

Laci Peterson, 27, a substitute teacher who was eight months pregnant with the couple's first child, was reported missing Christmas Eve when her husband returned from a purported fishing trip at the Berkeley Marina. Her remains and her fetus washed ashore a few miles from the marina in April.

The allegation that her body was taken to Peterson's warehouse indicates she was probably killed at the couple's home, explaining why lawyers grappled at the preliminary hearing over a mop and bucket used to clean up the kitchen area in the couple's house.

The charges Scott Peterson faces say his wife was killed on Dec. 23 or Dec. 24. Authorities believe her body was weighted down and tossed into in the bay.

Stanislaus County District Attorney James Brazelton said in the court papers that cement-like material was found in the bed of the pickup truck. A detective at the preliminary hearing said there was evidence Peterson fashioned several concrete anchors using a bucket in his warehouse, but only one of those anchors was found in his boat.

Gallegus reports the defense also argued to lift the gag order in this case, saying they needed to respond to the misinformation spread by the media against their client. The judge disagreed.

An attorney for the media also argued to make transcripts and evidence from the case accessible to the public, which would include grim autopsy photos.

"This is sick. Anyone who would want to see these photos should go to a psychotherapist first," said defense attorney Garagos.

The judge agreed to keep all the evidence sealed, except what comes out in court. Scott Peterson now goes back to solitary confinement until the next hearing.

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