Family members say Laci was too fatigued to be out walking, as the defense suggests

By Ron Arias and Frank Swertlow
Updated June 07, 2004 05:00 PM

Testimony resumed Monday in the Scott Peterson double-murder trial, as the mother and sister of slain wife Laci Peterson cast doubts on the defense theory that the pregnant Laci was out walking her dog when she disappeared.

Laci’s mom, Sharon Rocha, choked up as she delivered an emotional account of Dec. 24, 2002, when Scott called to tell her that Laci, 27, was “missing,” PEOPLE reports from the Redwood City, Calif., courtroom. She then spoke about her close relationship with her daughter and the extent of Laci’s fatigue during the late stages of her pregnancy.

Prosecutors allege Peterson, 31 – who was having an affair with Amber Frey – killed his eight-months-pregnant wife in their Modesto home, then drove Laci’s body nearly 100 miles to San Francisco Bay and dumped it from his small boat. He has pleaded not guilty.

Laci’s health was a major issue in Monday’s testimony, because Peterson told police that his wife was preparing to walk their dog before he left for a fishing trip on the day she went missing.

Scott’s lawyers suggest she may have been abducted during the walk, but prosecutors say Laci had stopped walking weeks earlier under doctor’s orders. Sharon Rocha told the court that her daughter had become nauseated and dizzy while walking on two occasions.

Scott’s attorney Mark Geragos, however, tried to paint Laci as a relatively healthy expectant mother. During his cross-examination of sister Amy Rocha, the younger sibling acknowledged that Laci walked regularly and had attended yoga classes.

At one point, Geragos showed her a photo of Laci and Scott on a beach in Carmel, about six weeks before she vanished. Geragos said the spot was nearly a mile away from their hotel, and that the couple had walked there, up a steep slope.

In other Peterson news Monday, Ron Frey, the father of Amber Frey, told reporters outside court that he was concerned about how Geragos will treat his daughter on the stand, if and when she is called to testify.

Frey himself has hired a lawyer, Barry Rekoon, to advise him on the case.