Vickie Bane and Stephen M. Silverman
July 28, 2004 09:00 AM

The jury in the Scott Peterson double-murder trial took a brief field trip Tuesday while hearing expert testimony from a boat manufacturer.

Jurors spent 45 minutes inside the courthouse garage in order to view the 14-foot Gamefisher boat that the prosecution contends Scott used to dump his pregnant wife Laci Peterson’s murdered body into the San Francisco Bay on Dec. 24, 2002. Peterson, 31, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

“We are going to give you a jury view of the boat,” Judge Alfred Delucchi said upon the jury’s arrival for the morning session. “This should take no more than half-an-hour … so don’t pack a lunch.”

When the jury returned, they heard from Tuesday’s lone witness and the last witness for the remainder of the week, David Weber, vice president and engineer from Lowe Boats – who was there to testify about the stability of Peterson’s Gamefisher.

Questioning Weber about the stability of the boat – which has a maximum capacity of four persons or 500 lbs. – Assistant Stanislaus County District Attorney David Harris was told, as was the jury, that “it passed test standards from the Coast Guard.” (The suggestion was that the boat would not capsize should a body be thrown from it.)

But, under cross-examination by Peterson’s attorney, Mark Geragos, Weber admitted that the test is a “standard” for all boats used in either freshwater or saltwater, that they cannot account for “variables,” and that they do not test for side-stability using weights of more than 142.5 pounds spread evenly across the boat.

Harris then asked, on re-direct, if the boat was easy to capsize. “That’s not been my experience,” answered Weber.

Following Weber’s testimony, jurors were excused until Aug. 2. On the court will hear arguments on a motion made by the defense to dismiss the charges against Peterson due to misconduct by the police and prosecution.

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