August 19, 2004 08:00 AM

In a sudden development in the Scott Peterson double-murder trial, Judge Alfred A. Delucchi on Wednesday postponed the cross-examination of Amber Frey and sent the jury home until Monday, saying: “There’s been a potential development in the case that has to be checked out before we can go any further.”

The apologetic jurist offered no clue as to what that development might be, and Frey’s attorney, Gloria Allred, appeared as surprised as the jurors when the announcement was made after lawyers went behind closed doors in Delucchi’s chambers for a 45-minute discussion. Because of a gag order in the case, none of the principals are allowed to explain what happened.

Defense attorneys for Peterson, who is charged with the December 2002 murder of his pregnant wife Laci (he has pleaded not guilty), had been preparing to cross-examine Frey, who is Peterson’s former mistress and the prosecution’s star witness.

Former prosecutor Michael Cardoza speculated that this new development might influence how the defense questions Frey. “It has to be some new information that might allow a different subject for cross-examination,” he tells the Associated Press. “It’s important to Amber’s testimony.”

Meanwhile, Sharon Rocha, the mother of the murdered Laci Peterson, called her son-in-law a “f—ing liar” and begged him to tell her where he put the body, according to the transcript of a January 2003 phone conversation as posted on Court TV’s Web site.

“You killed my daughter, didn’t you?” said Rocha in the transcript.

“No, I didn’t, Mom,” Peterson replied.

“Yes you did, Scott,” Rocha said. “I want you to tell me where my daughter is – I want to be able to bury my daughter.”

Saying he didn’t know where Laci was, Peterson was cut short by Rocha, who told him: “I’m tired of your lies. You have looked me in the eye for weeks and been lying to me. You have looked me in the eye for years and been lying to me and to Laci. Now where is she?”

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