Lawyers on both sides make final attempts to sway the jurors before the case is deliberated

By Vickie Bane
Updated November 03, 2004 04:00 PM

Scott Peterson’s fate is now in a jury’s hands.

Defense attorney Mark Geragos wrapped up his closing statements Wednesday in the double-murder trial and Stanislaus County Deputy District Attorney Rick Distaso gave his rebuttal before the jury was sent off to decide whether Peterson is guilty of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci, on Dec. 24, 2002. He has pleaded not guilty.

The panel of six men and six women will be sequestered in a local hotel until it reaches a verdict. Should the jury convict Peterson, they will have two choices before them: first- or second-degree murder. The latter would spare him the death penalty.

In his wrap-up appearance in court, Geragos stressed that if there are two reasonable explanations for what happened to Laci, the jury is required to select the explanation that favors the defendant.

“This case comes down to evidence versus emotion,” a soft-spoken Geragos said. “The evidence shows that Scott Peterson had nothing to do with this.”

The attorney further requested that the jury “not … decide this case on what’s said on cable TV,” he said. “Decide the case on the evidence that is here.”

Stanislaus County Deputy District Attorney Rick Distaso came on strong in his rebuttal, saying the defense’s theory that someone else killed Laci and her unborn son, Conner, “is not reasonable.”

“We have two first-degree murders here, which no one is disputing – except who did it. That’s all we have to decide here,” Distaso told jurors. “The entire defense case was based on hearsay, which you can’t consider. For them to say they presented the truth to you … is not an accurate picture of what occurred.”

Distaso also pointed out that Geragos didn’t address how Laci and Conner’s bodies washed ashore near the Berkeley, Calif., marina where Scott said he was fishing that day.

“They didn’t touch it because they can’t,” Distaso said. “Either he killed them or someone framed him. … No homeless person or burglar drives all the way to San Francisco from Modesto unless they did it to frame him.”