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Observes Note Tension Between Scott Peterson Defense, D.A.s

Aired August 20, 2003 - 19:51   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it is not surprising to hear that there are tensions between prosecutors and defense in the Scott Peterson trial. It is an adversarial system and it's a high pressure case. But the escalating degree of tension is just one of the surprises emerging from this trial.
KFBK Radio reporter Chris Filippi has some of the -- some them unfold firsthand in the courtroom and he is here to tell us a little bit more about that from Sacramento.

Chris, hello. What's going on in the courtroom?

CHRIS FILIPPI, KFBK RADIO REPORTER: Well, good evening, Daryn.

And there really are some growing tensions in this case between prosecutors and the defense. It's been going on for a few weeks now bubbling over at the last pretrial hearing last week where there was really a big debate over discovery at the end of the hearing. The defense has been very frustrated saying that prosecutors had been slow getting all the information to them.

It culminated Wednesday when the defense team went to the state crime lab near Modesto to review some of the evidence in the case. When they showed up, they thought they had an agreement to go into the crime lab. As it turns out they were turned away and they were not happy about that at all.

It came Thursday -- now the next day -- when they were in court where one of the defense lawyers actually called one of the prosecutor a liar. So it's just been getting worse and worse.

KAGAN: Then also there's this -- the idea of using a hypnotist on one of the witnesses. Whose idea is this?

FILIPPI: Well, this is the idea of the prosecution. It's a key point in this case because the defense is going say, when they present their defense of Scott Peterson, that there are neighbors who live close to Laci and Scott Peterson who saw Laci walking her dog the day she disappeared. Now the prosecution wants to shoot a hole in that. They're going to say, No, Laci was take by Scott via car to the San Francisco Bay.

So what they've done is they've contacted a witness, who they say --- a pregnant woman -- who they say was walking her dog the same day the neighbors say they that's thought they saw Laci. So they used hypnotism, basically, to get to her to try to jar her memory so she can remember precisely where she was the day that Laci disappeared.

KAGAN: Absolutely fascinating. Thank you so much for those developments.

Well, how are those developments going to play out in the trial itself? Can't be sure, but Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom is an assistant D.A. in San Francisco. We have her tonight for some more insights.

Now we're talking about California, our home state. So we're a little defensive here. But a hypnotist? That's sounding just a little bit flaky, isn't it?

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE NEWSOM, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SAN FRANCISCO: It's a little disturbing, because what we've seen in this case are trends that are disturbing in general. A hypnotist -- also in the discovery reports that perhaps psychics have been used, and then the excessive wire taps. It seems as if prosecutors are stretching for evidence and doing things that really aren't going to show well in front of a jury. The defense is going to have a day heyday because the idea is going to be that this is suggestible. What this did this hypnotist, this therapist talk to this woman about and what was her memory prior to? It's something that I think that Mark Geragos will love to have in court.

KAGAN: You can't bring a lie detector test into court, but can you bring a hypnotist and that kind of evidence?

NEWSOM: Right. Well, basically they will have to do what we call an inlimine (ph) motion, go before the court prior to the trial proceedings, and argue that this is credible evidence. And, of course, the defense may argue against it.

But, again, I think it's going to help the defense in this case. If this woman can't remember it on her own independent recollection, how is it going to be more reliable in front of a jury that she's been hypnotized?

KAGAN: And just to suspend disbelief on this whole hypnotism thing for a second, why does the prosecution -- what benefit would it have in terms of placing where Laci was at a certain point in time?

NEWSOM: Right. This is a woman who was walking her dog and she is similar to Laci Peterson in appearance and they say that this woman was walking her dog. Therefore, it wasn't Laci. They need to nail down the timeframe to debunk the defense's theory. Because this witness is very pivotal. It's basically the defense's argument -- strongest argument, I think -- for reasonable doubt in terms of the time frame and this would help clear Scott Peterson.

KAGAN: But it sounds to you, if the prosecution is going down this pat, perhaps they are reaching and a little desperate at this point?

NEWSOM: Exactly. KAGAN: Kimberly, thank you so much.

NEWSOM: Thank you.

KAGAN: Appreciate that.



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