December 12, 2005 12:00 PM

Another Book? Objection!

Books about Scott Peterson don’t stay in stores for long (four bestsellers this year), but there’s one his lawyer is suing to keep off shelves altogether. Matt Dalton, briefly a member of Peterson’s defense team in preparation for his 2004 trial, has written Presumed Guilty: What the Jury Never Knew About Laci Peterson’s Murder and Why Scott Peterson Should Not Be on Death Row, scheduled to come out Dec. 13. Last month Peterson’s primary lawyer, Mark Geragos, filed a lawsuit to block publication on the grounds that Dalton’s book could violate attorney-client privilege. “I’ve known [Dalton] since he was in high school, and that’s why this is particularly hurtful,” says Geragos, who asked for and was denied an early look at the book and who fears it could interfere with his appeal of Peterson’s conviction. Neither Dalton—known for such grandstanding moves as telling the press Laci was kidnapped by a Satanic cult—nor publisher Atria Books would comment on the suit. Says Geragos of his former colleague: “If he’d sign a declaration that there’s no attorney-client-privileged information, then he can write what he wants.”

Set Free—and Charged with Murder

Until recently Steven Avery was a famously innocent man. In September 2003 he was freed from prison when DNA evidence showed someone else committed the 1985 sexual assault for which he spent 18 years behind bars. Earlier this year Avery, 43, appeared with Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle to champion passage of the Avery Bill, designed to prevent other innocent people from being unjustly jailed.

But now Avery’s DNA could send him back to prison—for the rest of his life. On Oct. 31 photographer Teresa Halbach, 25, vanished after taking pictures of a car in a Mishicot, Wis., auto-salvage yard run by Avery’s family. Days later searchers discovered human teeth and bones in a charred pit near Avery’s trailer. DNA evidence taken from blood in Halbach’s car and Avery’s bedroom led police to arrest him for killing, burning and mutilating Halbach. His family believes Avery, who claims he is innocent, is being framed to derail his wrongful-imprisonment suit against the county. “He had $36 million coming,” says his brother Chuck. “Why would he do something like this?”

The arrest prompted a few angry e-mails to the Wisconsin Innocence Project, which helped free Avery, but, say officials, far more letters of support. For Halbach’s family, “anger is a part of it, but mostly it’s sadness,” says her brother Mike, 23. “We’re focusing on what a great person she was, and not on her last few hours.”

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