September 10, 2004 08:00 AM

On the 52nd day of the trial in Redwood City, Calif., Lee Peterson, father of double-murder suspect Scott Peterson, took the stand and painted a sympathetic portrait of a hardworking, devoted child.

“I’m proud to say Scott’s my son,” Lee said Thursday when asked to confirm his relationship to the accused.

District attorney Rick Distaso attempted to suggest that Scott Peterson hid the purchase of his new fishing boat in addition to his trip to the marina on the morning of Dec. 24, 2002, the day that prosecutors contend Scott murdered his pregnant wife Laci in the couple’s Modesto home before dumping her remains into San Francisco Bay. Scott, 31, has pleaded not guilty.

Lee Peterson had told investigators that he spoke to his son “nearly every day” in the months leading up to Laci’s disappearance, but testified that Scott never mentioned his trip or the boat. Phone records indicate the two spoke twice around noon that morning.

However, under cross-examination by defense attorney Pat Harris, Lee indicated that Scott rarely – if ever – mentioned his large purchases, including a new truck which, with Laci, he drove to the Peterson family home in San Diego for Thanksgiving 2002. Lee added that when Scott was in college, the student had bought a boat in addition to “several motorcycles” with his own money and never once mentioned it.

Lee also said that Scott never bothered talking about fishing because the son knew his father was an avid golfer – not interested in baits and lures.

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