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Conversations a month after Laci's disappearance show Scott disinterested in news about her

By Vicki Sheff-Cahan and Stephen M. Silverman
Updated August 25, 2004 03:00 PM
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Now that Scott Peterson’s former mistress, Amber Frey, has concluded her testimony, the double-murder trial continued on Wednesday with wire-tap information from detective Steven Jacobson – as transcripts showed Peterson lying several times and sounding disinterested in reports about his missing wife, Laci.

The prosecution passed out transcripts of two separate phone conversations between Scott Peterson and various people throughout the month of January 2003, following the Christmas Eve disappearance of his pregnant wife.

The phone calls, played in the courtroom, show that Peterson lied several times about his location during phone calls to Frey, his family and friends, and he sounds disinterested during reports from friends on Jan. 30 of reputed Laci sightings. Peterson told one pal that he’d gotten the same information – that Laci was seen in Long View, Wash. – from the Associated Press, which was apparently not true.

When another friend called the same evening, Peterson responded by saying that he’d talked to the Long View police and that there was nothing new, but the wiretap service showed that he made no such calls that day.

But during cross-examination, Geragos got Jacobson to admit that when a call was received by Peterson’s cell phone, it could have been interrupted by an incoming call. In particular, Geragos focused on a call placed to the Long View police, indicating that Peterson knew the name of the officer to ask for and to get his direct line.

Geragos was trying to suggest that the transcripts of the phone calls are not iron-clad evidence of Peterson s calling history.

Peterson, 31, is charged with murdering his pregnant wife and dumping her body into San Francisco Bay. He has pleaded innocent.

Some of the phone conversations tracked by authorities contain Peterson’s laughter, which prompted his attorney, Mark Geragos, to interject: “This is outrageous I really have to object to playing all the ‘ha-ha-ha’s’.” Judge Alfred Delucchi cautioned the jury to disregard the laughter on the tapes.

In the courtroom, Peterson himself chuckled a few times while listening to the tapes – once, when Rita Cosby of FOX News left a message, requesting to talk to him about Laci possibly being in Washington. He deleted her message in mid-conversation, saying, “F— you, Rita.” He also erased a message from Larry King.

Except for the time those in the courtroom winced at one of the deleted voice messages – left by Peterson’s mother, telling her son there was to be candlelight vigil for Laci – jurors generally remained expressionless during the playing of the conversation.

Scott Peterson looked pale and tight-lipped as he listened.