The families of Scott Peterson and Laci Peterson are separated in the courtroom

By Frank Swertlow
Updated September 14, 2004 10:00 AM

In an effort to keep the peace between the feuding families at the double-murder trial of Scott Peterson, court officials on Monday moved the defendant’s parents, briefly confining them to the back of the courtroom.

“We were told to sit in the back,” said Scott’s mother, Jackie Peterson.

The seating change came after a series of tense incidents between the two families. Last week, Brent Rocha, Laci’s brother, had an angry confrontation with Lee Peterson outside the courtroom, and Sharon Rocha could be heard making remarks during Lee’s testimony about her former son-in-law, which could have been overheard by the jury. Rocha was also seen making faces at Peterson’s remarks.

“I have an idea what happened,” Jackie Peterson said, “but I am not allowed to talk about it.”

During Monday’s game of musical chairs, Judge Alfred Delucchi huddled with lawyers, and Peterson’s parents were then allowed to return to seats in the front row.

Both families normally sit in the front, across the aisle from each other. But Laci’s parents were expected to skip this week’s sessions because of graphic photos that are due to be shown, Court TV reports.

The 31-year-old Peterson is accused of murdering his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner, on Christmas Eve 2002. He has pleaded not guilty.

Meanwhile, Monday’s testimony centered on GPS tracking devices that Modesto police placed on Peterson’s vehicles after Laci disappeared. Prosecution witnesses admitted that the satellite navigation devices sometimes developed glitches (Peterson’s car was once logged as traveling 30,000 mph), but called the information recorded by authorities “very good data.”

Prosecutors allege Peterson acted like a guilty man and lied to friends and relatives about his whereabouts during the search for his wife. The defense maintains he was merely trying to avoid media attention, and argue that the use of the tracking devices show that police rushed to judgment about Peterson’s guilt.