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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

DA James Brazelton Holds News Conference

Aired April 21, 2003 - 19:19   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to quickly go back to Modesto. Let's hear from one of the law enforcement experts now.
JAMES BRAZELTON, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: ...but I did want to take a moment to speak with all of you, since you've all been calling the office and requesting interviews. Obviously, I can't possibly return all of the call and grant all of the interviews being requested. So I thought would I take this opportunity to give you a brief picture of what has happened and will happen as far as our office goes.

The California rules of professional conduct, and the American Bar Association model code of professional responsibility prevent me or my office from discussing certain information during the pendency of a criminal matter.

In other words, I can't discuss the details of the alleged crimes with you; nor can I discuss any of the evidence or things of that nature. Those are all things that will come out during the course of the court proceedings.

The rules were formulated to give the defendant and the people of this community a chance for a fair trial. And if I were to comment on what the evidence is at this point, it would no doubt get distorted in some means, in the press or on TV or whatever, through no fault of your own, but that just happens. So to prevent that from happening, and to see to it that Mr. Peterson and the people of this community receive a fair trial, we do not comment on the evidence itself.

In this particular case, I can tell you that Scott Peterson has been charged with the murders of Laci Peterson and Connor Peterson. He's been charged with two counts of murder. He's entered pleas of not guilty. And a pretrial hearing has been scheduled for May 19 in the Stanislaus County Superior Court.

The complaint that's been filed against Mr. Peterson alleges a special circumstance of his committing more than one murder. Special circumstance is a provision in the California penal code which makes a murder case eligible for consideration for the death penalty.

There are a great many factors which go into making that decision as to whether or not the death penalty will be sought. In our office, as in most prosecutors' offices in the state of California, at least, we have a committee comprised of experienced and competent trial attorneys that review all of the evidence, debate the facts amongst themselves and arrive at a conclusion with regard to whether or not it's a case that is deserving of death penalty treatment. That obviously takes some time.

I anticipate that the evidence in this case, since it is quite voluminous, the police reports and everything else, the lab reports and so forth, some of which we still have not received, will take some time to go through. We expect that we will be able to make that decision prior to the May 19 pretrial conference.

As previously stated, the state and federal regulations and rules of professional conduct prevent me from further commenting on the case at this time. I will do my utmost to ensure that both Scott Peterson and the citizens of this community receive a fair trial and the justice is done.

And I'd like to thank all of you for your courtesy and cooperation in this very trying ordeal. Thank you.

QUESTION: Sir, is your department ready to go to trial?

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