Monday, April 27, 2009

Scott Peterson Appeal & Civil Trial

From emails I receive, it is painfully obvious that many people are ignorant of how long an appeal takes, especially one involving capital murder. I often receive comments like, "Well, if they had new evidence, he'd be out by now." Well, folks, Scott hasn't even been appointed his appellate attorney to handle the appeal before the CA Supreme Court. That appeal doesn't have to be heard first, but it makes sense to have it that way. It's the appeal that will determine if there were serious enough problems with the way the trial proceeded -- including inefficiency of counsel -- to warrant a new trial. Then, if there has been new evidence discovered since the first trial, it can be presented at the second trial. I have a very difficult time understanding why that is so hard for people to grasp.

Appeals take time. Rushing to get an appeal heard is often counter-productive -- patience in taking time to develop a solid appeal means more time in prison in the short-term, but less time in the long-run.

Contrary to public opinion, it is not easy to win an appeal. Subscribe to some of the appellate newsletters and you will quickly learn that most appeals won are about the sentencing -- the Judge didn't properly follow the sentencing guidelines. Very few appeals, percentage wise, result in new trials.

Of course, if the appeal before the CA Supreme Court fails, then a habeas appeal is the next step, and that requires the discovery of new evidence which, in the appellate court's opinion, would have been sufficient to possibly change the verdict if it had been presented at the first trial.

Which brings me to the subject of the Civil Trial, which, according to the latest from the ModBee, is scheduled to start May 27 and last about 5 weeks. What happens at the Civil Trial will have absolutely no bearing on the appellate process. If Scott is exonerated by the civil jury, he will still remain on death row, until he is granted a new trial by an appellate court. The only positive to come out of the Civil Trial for Scott is perhaps to change public opinion so that a 2nd trial is more apt to be fair and just.

In my opinion, the Civil Trial is an immoral waste of judicial time. What can the Rochas possibly gain from it? He's already convicted, sitting on death row. What if he were to write a book, do you really think enough people would buy it to make him any money? And he wouldn't have anything to spend the money on anyway. Get real, people, he's on death row. Not a lot of need for money on death row.

I understand why some families file wrongful death suits when the person they believe is guilty is exonerated -- it's their last hope for any sense of justice. And I know that these suits have deadlines for filing, so I don't fault the Rochas for getting the process started. But once convicted, what good is it going to serve to continue with it. They'll never see one penny of any judgment they get, and why put themselves through the torture of hearing that evidence all over again?

More importantly, why take the risk of the Geragos law firm doing a much better job of using the State's evidence to prove Scott's innocence, and thus turning around public opinion?

Aha, you ask "What State's evidence proves Scott's innocence?" Well, let me briefly review two of the main ones. You can go to to get full details.

1. Conner's Age

Dr. Yip and Dr. Galloway prove Conner lived beyond December 24. Yip's evaluation of Conner's 2nd sonogram proves that on December 23 either: 1) Conner was younger than previously thought - at 32 weeks gestation rather than 33 weeks; or 2) Conner was a smaller than average 33-week baby. Galloway's evaluation dated Conner as 35-36 weeks if he was an average baby, or 37-38 weeks if he was smaller than average.

Even if you blindly insist that Conner was a 33-week average baby on December 23, you have to accept Galloway's 35-36 week for average babies as his age when he died. There's no getting around it. That means Conner lived 2-3 weeks beyond December 24, and so did Laci.

This proves that Scott Peterson did not put a pregnant Laci in the Bay on December 24, 2002. Nor is it likely that he put a pregnant Laci in the Bay 2-3 weeks later, knowing they were searching the Bay looking for Laci.

2. The Debris Line

So well caught in the State's pictures of this particular scene is the very telling fact that baby Doe (Conner) was behind the debris line. Simply put, the debris line is the limit of the wave action of that high tide. For Conner to have washed ashore in the high tide on the morning of April 13, 2003, he would have to be part of the debris line or in front of the debris line (that is, between the debris line and the rocks which he had to navigate through). A debris line is not deposited as the water recedes, as Distaso so ignorantly claimed, and the jury just as ignorantly swallowed. The debris line is formed by the wave action, as the waves push the debris forward.

The State's pictures prove there was no break in the debris line, so Conner wasn't pushed past the debris by wind, or dragged over by an animal. And of course, the autopsy showed not a single mark on Conner's little body that could have come from being handled by an animal or bird.

Conner did not wash ashore; he was put there by human hands, pure and simple.

This means that NO ONE put pregnant Laci in the Bay at any time.

Well, then, who murdered Laci and Conner? I have no idea, and it's pretty ridiculous for anyone to expect me to know. I don't have investigative powers. I don't have access to all the tips and clues that the MPD refused to investigate. I don't have power to subpoena documents or interrogate witnesses. All I can do is examine the evidence the State makes public, and raise questions about tips and clues made public that the MPD didn't investigate.

And it's ridiculous to expect a defendant to be able to produce the guilty party. Defense attorneys are just about as limited in their powers as I am - well, they can do a little more, but they don't have the powers the State has. That's just the way it is. Defense attorneys do a terrible injustice to their clients when they promise the public they will prove who the guilty party is.


Lon Winters said...

These people probably get their legal expertise from TV crime and law dramas. In reality, there have been cases where the wrongfully convicted have been factually exonerated via DNA and confessions, and it's still and lengthy process after that before they're freed.

I think the basis of this civil trial is unconstitutional. Rocha plainly stated that the motive was to prevent Scott for profiting in any way - and that is in contradiction with the overturned "Son of Sam" law. Civil trials are supposed to be about damages and restitution - not punishment. But more and more they are being used just to pile on.

De Wichman Small said...

Mrs. Newell,

I cannot believe the ignorance that many people have shown. It is disgusting!!

Thank you again for all of your hard work. You are doing an amazing job and being a wonderful voice in the effort to show the many many many reasons why Scott is innocent.

I very much enjoy reading yor blogs and have done so over and over again. Thank you!!!!!


robinpoore said...

I watched this case evolve into a media frenzy. The media vilified this ma and his family, without any direct evidence to back up their claims. I strongly support Scott's innocence and your arguments just added more fuel to my cause. With your appeal questions that you raise, hopefully, more people will see the farce that was the Scott Peterson trial. Maybe with the appeals process, we can start looking for the real killers of Laci and Connor.

Anonymous said...

I think you all should watch the trial again and reread the transcripts, and when you do watch you will see what a real psycho killer looks like!!!! The evidence-and esp. the manner of Scott before and during the trial is undeniable. If you are so sure he is innocent, I dare you to look at only the evidence that says he is guilty and see what you think then.

Marlene Newell said...

Anonymous, how presumptious and arrogant to assume that I and others have not thoroughly studied and analyzed the evidence presented by the State.

You obviously have not read SII.

Anonymous said...

I read the entire transcripts also and the prosecution never proved their case.

I admire those of you who are striving to reverse this conviction. Were it not for people like you Marty Tankeloff in NYS would still be sitting in prison.

mooch said...

I have to say right now that I think based on circumstantial evidence that Scott is guilty. I didn't see any evidence proving his innocence.

Start with him telling Amber Frey that he lost his wife before he lost his wife.

I've read the transcripts of court, and while I would have, if on the jury, voted guilty based on circumstantial evidence, however, I would not have recommended the death penalty.

Scott's behavior was enough to convict him on circumstantial evidence. And for those that think he's innocent need give more solid proof in the claim he's innocent.

Yes I think the media sent this case into a frenzy, however, Scott fueled this with his attitude.

What I want to know is why didn't the police department further investigate the secret room at one house he stayed at and why he borrowed a shovel and never returned it.

Further more, I really think someone would ahve a hard time dumping a body into a bay when there was so much scrutiny around the bay.

Show me solid evidence of his innocence and I'll be the first to admit I'm wrong, but the defense team didn't do a good job of proving his innocence.

Anonymous said...

Although it is unfortunate, I do not believe that anyone would have motive to kill a pregnant women just because. I feel justice has been made. His life for Two. Sounds fair. Evidence is one thing but when he himself implements himself in the tragedy then he needs to take it like a man and own up to his crime. One family has lost a daughter and a grandchild and even score is due.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but you'll never convince me that Scott is innocent..He fits the profile of a "Wife Killer" impeccably...Narcissistic, dual life, arrogant and cocky...His disposition reeks of guilt, and that alone speaks volumes...
But, as with O.J. Simpson, I'm sure Scott would spend the rest of his days hunting down the "real" killer...NOT!!!

Lowflyin' Lolana said...

I recently bought "Blood Brother: 33 reasons my brother Scott Peterson is Guilty" because I am fascinated with crimes in which things are not as they appear to be. Anne Rule's many books show that killers walk among us, and we are surprised at our lack of perception when they are found to have murdered someone; the murderer seems so "nice" and "normal." It's my firm belief that the omnipresence of television has jammed our radar when it comes to our awareness of others' character.

My first thought on finishing the book (in one setting) was, "Oh my God, maybe he didn't do it." I have now ordered several other books from Amazon, because I am now very curious. Bird's book, while I'm glad she wrote it (because each and every honestly presented perspective should lead to more understanding of the facts, not less) I found it to be pretty idiotic.

I am also halfway through the book the jury wrote, and my impression has not changed. I am in no way convinced this man killed his wife---in fact, my doubts are growing every time I read more about this case.

I haven't looked at the transcripts, I have much more to learn about this--but so far there's no other way to put it: I'm shocked at what appears to be a grave miscarriage of justice.

Everyone thinks he did it. People raise an eyebrow when I mention my thoughts about this. Everyone thought Gary Condit did it, too.

And there are numerous convicts who have been released after exculpatory DNA evidence was found. In some cases these men had spent decades behind bars.

Anyway, I have posted a brief reading from the book here at this link; it's windows media and should be listenable on most computers with recent windows media software.

Be warned, I'm not gentle on Ms. Bird. Her book horrified me. During numerous conversations described in the book, she deflects attempts at sincere personal conversation. I got the feeling that as long as the topic wasn't something Happy and Sunny and Normal and easily drawn in primary colors, that she simply could not see it.

Also, why write the book? He had been convicted and was behind bars by the time of its publishing. The author contacted both prosecution and defense in an attempt to "contribute" something to the trial; but both sides determined there was nothing.

Or maybe it was the fact that the author and her husband "Love" Disneyland to the point where they would want to spend not one but two days there, in that paved-over world of make-believe. Spending four point five hours in the author's nuance-less world (from 12:30 to 5am) was a trip in and of itself, and I would highly recommend this book. It is excellent, but not for the reasons the author intends. Buy it anyway.
Here's the link to my reading and her comments. PS no affilation at all here with any of the involved parties.

Justyce said...

Good thing that appeals take a long time. Scott will be dead before he ever gets out.


You are as ignorant as they come.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, it appears to me that the Modesto police department has had ample time to destroy any and all evidence exhonerating Scott Peterson.

Marlene Newell had a handle on all the leads that the Modesto police dropped - especially the robbery suspects from across the street from the Petersons and the suspects relationships with the Modesto police. Clearly the police bungling in this case reads like a badly written dective novel where the writer just isn't bright enough to come up with anything creative. I'm curious whether Marlene or anyone else was able to get any further with those leads.

I hope one day Scott Peterson walks out of SQ a free man.

Anonymous said...

"I don't have investigative powers." Well, isn't that an understatement.

I am a firm believer in having your own opinion in any matter but I am also a believer of having a just cause and having at least ONE circumstantial reason to back up your believes. ESPECCIALLY, when arguing that a man such as Scott Peterson is innocent. I pray for you as a person and hope that you do not let such arrogance that you displayed in your writing effect you in your every day life.

Marlene Newell said...

But I do have the power to consult NOAA's tidal charts to determine the verified water levels for the Conner Recovery Site on April 13, 2004, and I do have the power to consult the NOAA's meteorological data for April 13, 2004, and also the data from the BAAQMD station just north of the CRS. And I do have the power to take digital photos and digital movies of the south breakwater at the CRS, to show its massive site. And I do have the power to observe the CRS under various tidal conditions, including a storm every bit as strong as occurred on April 12, 2003. And I have the power to observe that this baby did not wash ashore. And I have the power to publish my observations online for others to see.

I also have the power to observe that a 32 cm baby crown-rump-length (that's measuring the baby from the top of the head to the butt, it's shortest distance)cannot come out of a 23 cm top-to-bottom uterus that's been dead for 3.5 months.

I also have the power to observe that all of the people that saw baby Conner at the site described him as full-term, 9-months. And that Galloway's measurements confirm that age.

I also have the power to observe that Scott's fishing trip route and the massive search efforts along that fishing trip route were well publicized very early, with plenty of time

But, alas, I do not have the power to make others see the truth.

As for my arrogance, I think it pales in comparison to someone like you who is satisfied to convict someone WITHOUT evidence. Other, than, of course that he had an affair, that he lied to Amber, that he didn't act like someone who was worried about his missing wife (talk about arrogance, to set yourself up as the JUDGE of how someone is supposed to act).

Instead of praying for me (I don't mind, really, I can always use more prayers in my behalf) you should be praying that someone who knows the truth will finally come forward with it -- if not for the sake of what's right, for the sake of the reward.

Ghostie said...

Dear Marlene Newell,

I would first like to point out that I appreciate your work on this particular case. All a long I have consistently felt a lot of things stunk about the case. You're work in this case has further convinced and confirmed that for me.

I do, however, have a question that you may be able to help me with regarding the bodies. It was claimed (at least in the media and court TV) that the bodies contained barnacles on them. This would suggest the bodies were in salt, or brackish water for a period of time for these barnacles to form. One of the things you point out, and eloquently explain is how Conner's body was outside of the describe line and that this would show that the body was placed there, rather than washed up. This made me feel that some one did put the bodies in the bay. I never bought the idea that Scot put them in the bay as I have a hard time swallowing the idea that a killer would place bodies in the precise location that he intends to establish his paper trail alibi, plus passing up all those bodies of water as good secluded opportunities to put them instead. Never less I felt since the bay seemed like a dumping ground for bodies some one put them there. But you suggest otherwise, and that they were place there. So I am wondering how would you reconcile this with the barnacles found on the bodies? I thank you in advance for your response.

Marlene Newell said...

Ghostie, sorry for not having seen your comment earlier. I only saw it today because I was reviewing the most-viewed articles for an index I'm preparing.

As for the barnacles, they were only found on Laci's body, and yes, they do prove that she was in the Bay. For how long, we don't know because the barnacles were not measured, or at least their measurements were never reported. They were of varying sizes per the descriptions given by Kyo. It does take a couple weeks for barnacles to reach the size visible to the naked eye. However, that does not in itself prove she "washed ashore" to where she was found. She may have, or she may have been removed from somewhere else and put where she was found. I'm not certain the water levels were sufficient on that morning, with no wind, to lift that body onto the back of that rock. But I'm not certain it wasn't, either. I am certain the baby didn't wash ashore.