Fireworks explode in the courtroom as Mark Geragos erupts over "concealed" evidence

By Ron Arias and Vickie Bane
Updated June 15, 2004 08:00 AM
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Credit: POOL-Bart Ah You/ZUMA

There were fireworks Monday in the double-murder trial of Scott Peterson, as the judge refused to declare a mistrial after a lawyer for the former fertilizer salesman complained that prosecutors concealed vital information.

Deputy District Attorney Rick Distaso admitted in the Redwood City, Calif., courtroom that he failed to give defense attorney Mark Geragos discovery evidence concerning Peterson’s actions after the initial search of his home on Dec. 24, once his pregnant wife Laci was reported missing.

Modesto Police Officer Matt Sperlock testified that Peterson said “f–-” and threw the flashlight he was carrying after he left the house following the search. Geragos then asked the jurors to leave the courtroom, a request the judge allowed.

Once the jury was gone, Geragos jumped to his feet and said this was a discovery violation because the defense had no knowledge of any expletives or actions by Scott that police had gathered prior to Monday.

After Judge Alfred Delucchi asked the prosecutor about the incident, Geragos erupted, yelling: “It’s not in the report. It’s nothing but a cheap shot in a never ending list of cheap shots.”

Distaso then backtracked and said he had indeed spoken to the officer that morning and they had talked about Scott’s use of the utterance. He also questioned whether the expletive even qualified as a statement.

“It’s just one word,” Distaso said.

At that point, Geragos jumped to his feet, arguing that anything Peterson said is considered a statement – and he moved for a mistrial.

Behind him, spectators in the packed courtroom snickered, prompting Geragos to declare, “No comments from the peanut gallery.”

Delucchi made his ruling from the bench, denying the mistrial request. “The defense can demonstrate this cuts both ways for (Scott), so I don’t think it’s a big deal,” he explained.

Peterson, 31, is accused of killing his wife and their unborn son Conner and dumping her body into San Francisco Bay. He has pleaded not guilty.