Scott Peterson's choice of gear to go fishing for sturgeon in San Francisco Bay didn't suggest he wanted to catch anything, a prosecution expert testified Monday.
Commercial fisherman and author Angelo Cuanang said he wouldn't fish for sturgeon near the Berkeley Marina, where Peterson launched what he claimed was a solo trip the morning his wife vanished — Dec. 24, 2002. A knowledgeable fisherman would use bait to catch sturgeon, Cuanang said, but according to prosecutors Peterson brought only artificial lures.
Peterson told police he had been angling for sturgeon and striped bass in San Francisco Bay. Cuanang testified that Peterson's techniques also wouldn't have caught any striped bass, but later conceded it wasn't unusual that an amateur angler such as Peterson might make a trip without preparing like a professional.
Prosecutors maintain that they've caught Peterson in a lie — that his fishing gear wasn't suitable and that his homemade cement anchor wouldn't have held his boat in place against the bay's currents.
"Would you say this rod is rigged up for sturgeon fishing?" prosecutor Rick Distaso asked, holding up Peterson's rod.
"No," Cuanang replied, adding that both the rod and tackle box were outfitted for fresh water fishing.
Peterson told police that fishing was secondary to testing his recently purchased boat on open water.
Cuanang later testified the type of anchor Peterson said he brought — a small 5-10 pound concrete weight shaped like a bucket — wouldn't work at that time of year, when currents require a claw type anchor to keep from drifting.
Prosecutors allege Peterson crafted five homemade cement anchors to weight his wife's body in the bay after killing her in their Modesto home. The remains of Laci Peterson and the couple's fetus washed ashore in April 2003 about two miles from the marina.
On cross-examination, defense lawyer Pat Harris suggested that Cuanang's recommendations were simply the ideal way, not the only way, to catch sturgeon.
"People have been catching sturgeon in numerous ways for many, many years?" Harris prodded.
"Yes," said Cuanang.
Prosecutors also called Brian Ullrich, whose wife was a close friend of Laci's and who sold the Petersons $250,000 life insurance policies in 2001. Ullrich said the Petersons' policies were made out to each other.
He acknowledged that it was he — not Scott Peterson — who suggested the couple get the policies and that Laci pushed for the larger sum of $250,000 each. He said Peterson never called him about the benefits after his wife vanished.
The court session Monday lasted only a half-day and kicked off what was to be a short week for jurors.
Court won't be in session Wednesday while defense lawyer Mark Geragos attends a hearing in another case. Jurors also won't be present Thursday when Geragos argues for a dismissal of charges or a mistrial based on allegations that a detective lied on the stand.