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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Harvey Levin

Aired May 23, 2003 - 20:35   ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We get back to the Laci Peterson case now.
And as Mike Brooks just told us, attorneys defending Scott Peterson have interviewed one of the couple's neighbors. That man says he overheard a suspicious conversation involving the driver of a tan van at a gas station the day Laci disappeared. The source tells CNN that Peterson's attorneys want to find the driver of that van.

We're going to discuss the lead attorney, Mark Geragos', strategy with Harvey Levin. Harvey is an attorney and the executive producer of "Celebrity Justice."

Harvey, good to see you evening.

HARVEY LEVIN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "CELEBRITY JUSTICE": Good to see you, Daryn.

KAGAN: Let's talk about this tan van. Where does this theory come from?

LEVIN: Well, it comes from a witness, and, you know, what it reminds me of a bit -- do you remember during the O.J. Simpson case, when you had a lot of people who said, Yes, I heard the wailing of Kato the dog and the times were all over the boards. This is one of I'm guessing -- this will not be the only witness who says that he had some Laci Peterson sighting. And the issue is he the real deal or not? And that's some thing that the police apparently have made a determination -- whether the defense has other evidence, we'll see.

KAGAN: Well, meanwhile, the defense seems to be floating other theories out there, any thing that can make people think about other possibilities besides Scott Peterson being the person who took the life of Laci Peterson and her unborn son.

LEVIN: What I'm hearing is that this is connected, that one of the things that I'm hearing, that the defense is doing, is that they're floating the notion that this van might be connected to some thing involving a Satanic cult.

Now, there have been news reports suggesting that maybe the people in the van had 666 on their shirts, and there were several people -- and the autopsy reportedly now shows Laci Peterson had certain organs removed and the suggestion is maybe this was the work of a Satanic cult. I'm being told that the defense is more cautious than these reports would suggest because if something like this is not true, it could backfire and it could just simply make the defense look wacky.

KAGAN: Meanwhile, maybe a safer tack, the Peterson family is insisting that Scott Peterson is not a monster. If you look at the cover of "People" magazine -- it'll be going on stands I think today -- talking about going inside their marriage and portraying Scott Peterson as a man who loved his wife -- so what about the affair? -- but basically that this was a happy couple that was looking forward to having a baby together.

LEVIN: Yes, you know, Daryn, I lost the audio, but I think I got the gist.

I think that is the strongest thing that the defense has going for it. Basically, you have a man who lived a life in terms of perception that was ideal. And here you have the prosecution suggesting that this is just another person. A monster, indeed, who would not only kill his wife but his own baby. And I think that one of the things the defense is going to really make hay of is the fact that how do you reconcile the two? How do you show some body who everybody liked, including Laci Peterson's family, on the other side some body who is monstrous beyond imagination?

KAGAN: Can you hear us now, Harvey?

LEVIN: I can.

KAGAN: You still can.

Right now, at this point, what would you say is the biggest challenge for the prosecution? This is not a slam dunk?

LEVIN: No, I mean, I don't think anything is a slam dunk, especially in California -- and with the way jury trials go. I mean, I think that's going to be a big deal for the prosecution to reconcile, that the jury is going to have to be comfortable, if the prosecution to prevail, that these two people can be the same, Jekyll and Hyde, if you will.

But also remember, there are no eyewitnesses to this. It seems to be a circumstantial case. Cases have been won on circumstantial evidence. I think that personally -- I think one of the telltale things is going to be, what exactly was found inside the Peterson household? Was there incriminating evidence? Was there blood evidence? Is it enough for the jury to say this is where Laci Peterson met her fate?

KAGAN: Well, and if they had every thing they needed, they wouldn't spend day and day after right now searching the San Francisco Bay, as we've seen.

LEVIN: You know what? I'm not sure I agree with that.

KAGAN: Really? LEVIN: They may have a really strong case based on what they have inside the house. But I've never seen a prosecution rest on its laurels on something this high profile. I think they're going to want to pursue every lead, and especially against some body as formidable as Mark Geragos.

If they can find an anchor that somehow is tied to Scott Peterson, that could be incredible evidence for them.

KAGAN: We will have to wait and see if they have it.

Harvey Levin from "Celebrity Justice." Harvey, thank you. Good to have you with us.

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