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The two-hour ABC special on the 2002 disappearance and killing of Laci Peterson airs Sept. 14

By Jeff Truesdell
September 05, 2017 10:12 AM
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In a new ABC documentary about her pregnant daughter’s 2002 murder, Laci Peterson’s mother recalls her own mental anguish over the realization that Laci’s husband, Scott Peterson, might have been involved in her disappearance.

“It was very, very hard to even begin to suspect him, because in the back of my mind I kept thinking, what if he didn’t have anything to do with it?,” says Sharon Rocha in Truth and Lies: The Murder of Laci Peterson, which airs Thursday, September 14 (9 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET) on ABC. (An exclusive clip of the trailer is posted above.)

“I mean, it’s not like this is a total stranger that you might be suspecting,” she says. “This is somebody that’s been a member of your family for several years now, and it’s really, you know, the back and forth and the guilt about feeling this way, and how it may have an effect on the relationship with my daughter if I’m wrong.”

“That’s the last person you want to think had anything to do with the disappearance of your daughter — her husband,” says Rocha. “The person that was a member of your family, somebody that you loved and cared about, and thought he felt the same way about your daughter. And knowing how she felt about him.”

The eight-months pregnant Laci, 27, vanished from the couple’s Modesto, California, home on the morning of December 24, 2002. Her body and the fetus of the unborn son they had named Conner washed ashore in San Francisco Bay four months later.

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The mystery and Scott’s headline-grabbing 2004 trial eventually exposed him as a killer with a mistress, Amber Frey. Frey’s emergence punctured Scott’s claim that his wife must have been taken and killed as she walked their dog while he was out that day on a solo fishing trip in the Bay.

PETERSON ROCHA
Credit: Family photo via The Modesto Bee/AP
SCOTT PETERSON
Scott Peterson
| Credit: Justin Sullivan/AP

Scott Seeking Retrial

The two-hour ABC special — which also includes new interviews with investigators and those who covered the case — arrives as Scott Peterson continues to appeal the guilty verdict and death sentence he received 12 years ago. He currently is serving his time at San Quentin prison.

In his latest request for a new trial, Scott’s current lawyers raise doubts about the defense mounted by his then-attorney, Mark Geragos, and allege that a juror who voted to convict him lied in order to be picked for the panel, reports The Modesto Bee.

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In its 150-page response filed in court last month, according to the Bee, the California Attorney General’s Office counters that Peterson’s conviction resulted from “overwhelming evidence,” including:

“[H]is expressed wanderlust and desire to to be responsibility-free, which he conveyed to his mistress as the birth of his son neared; buying a boat mere weeks before Laci’s appearance; ‘fishing’ with the wrong gear on Christmas Eve morning in inclement weather; surreptitious trips to the marina in various rented vehicles after Laci’s disappearance; lies to friends and family concerning his whereabouts; the sale of Laci’s car and inquiry into selling their home, including furnishings; subscribing to pornography channels while the search was ongoing; Laci’s and Conner’s bodies washing ashore not far from Peterson’s location on the bay; condition of the bodies correlat(ing) with the timing of Laci’s disappearance; and (Scott) Peterson’s disguised appearance and possession of survival gear and copious amounts of cash at the time of his arrest.”

Mom Recounts Last Memory of Laci

In the ABC documentary, Laci’s mother describes the last time she saw her.

“She I and I were sitting side-by-side and Scott was sitting on the floor, and we were watching TV and she said the baby was kicking, so I put my hand on her stomach, because I’d never felt him kick,” says Rocha.

“I still didn’t feel him kick even when she said that,” she says. “But she leaned over to me and she said, ‘Mom,’ she said ‘Scott doesn’t like to do this.’ She said, ‘I’ve asked him about, you know, feel my stomach when the baby kicks, and he never wants to touch my stomach.’”

“That really, really bothered me,” she says, “and that was the last time I saw her.”

The special also promises never-before-seen home video of Laci, excerpts from Scott’s pre-arrest interview with Diane Sawyer, and anchor Barbara Walters’ pre-conviction interview with Scott’s parents.

Truth and Lies: The Murder of Laci Peterson airs Thursday, September 14 (9 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET) on ABC.