August 12, 2004 08:10 AM

Amber Frey wrapped up her second day of testimony on Wednesday like the rest of those in the courtroom – listening to herself and her former lover, accused killer Scott Peterson, in four hours of phone conversations taped by police in January 2003.

The talks between the two – which alternate between affectionate and downright silly – reveal Peterson to be a consummate liar.

The former fertilizer salesman, for example, pretended to be in Paris and Brussels and admitted that his favorite movie was The Shining, in which Jack Nicholson played a deranged husband intent on killing his wife – a “bombshell” revelation that led Frey’s attorney, Gloria Allred, to comment: “Is that a weird coincidence, or can we draw other conclusions from that?”

In response to Allred’s inference that Scott’s film tastes and Laci’s disappearance are somehow linked, former San Francisco-area prosecutor Michael Cardoza says, “If you believe that, then go lock up every fan of The Shining. I know a lot of decent people who would also say that was their favorite movie. … But to say that liking it reflects on Scott and his wife’s murder is too much of a stretch.”

Peterson is accused of murdering his wife Laci around Christmas Eve 2002 and then dumping her body into San Francisco Bay. He has pleaded not guilty.

Repeating the look and demeanor of her first day on the stand, Frey, 29, wore a demure, black suit and white camisole. She averted her eyes so as not to look at Peterson while listening to the scratchy recordings of their phone calls.

Occasionally, during the conversations, Frey sounded as if she were trying to coax personal, possibly incriminating information out of Peterson. (Frey had alerted authorities of her suspicions about Peterson’s involvement in his wife’s disappearance, and was aware police were tapping her line.)

Most legal pundits observing the trial found the taped conversations to be inconclusive beyond showing that Peterson was a philandering liar and continued to seek phone contact with Frey while his wife was still missing.

“There’s still no smoking gun in these conversations,” says TV commentator Greta Van Susteren. “That’s what the prosecution needs. Everything we’ve heard so far doesn’t really tell us anything important that we didn’t know before.”

The defense’s cross-examination of Frey is expected to begin Monday.

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