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Peyer Trial Jurors Ask to See List of Evidence

February 18, 1988|H.G. REZA | Times Staff Writer

Jurors in the murder trial of former California Highway Patrol Officer Craig Peyer asked to see an evidence list and later ended their first day of deliberations Wednesday without reaching a verdict.

Superior Court Judge Richard D. Huffman received a message from the jury, signed by forewoman Walnetta A. Lenhardt asking about seeing a "log" of the evidence.

"We would like a log of the people's (prosecution) and defense exhibits," the brief note said.

Huffman called attorneys for both sides and Peyer to the courtroom and told them about the jury's request. Defense attorney Robert Grimes said that the jury had been given all of the exhibits received into evidence but said that they probably wanted "to make sure they have everything."

Received All Exhibits

The jury had received all of the evidence exhibits, except Peyer's pistol, Huffman said. However, the judge offered to give the jury a copy of the courtroom clerk's exhibit list, which included items that were deleted because they were not introduced as evidence. The jurors would be advised that the list is not evidence, Huffman added.

"I do not object to the court sending the list to the jury room," Grimes said. "As to the pistol . . . I think it's important that if we don't send the pistol to the jury room, it should be available to them if they want to examine it . . . The pistol is evidence they might be interested in."

Fiber experts for the prosecution testified during the trial that they recovered two microscopic purple fibers from Peyer's service revolver. The fibers recovered from the pistol matched fibers taken from the purple sweat pants that Cara Knott, 20, was wearing on the night she was killed.

Peyer, a 13-year CHP veteran, is charged with strangling Knott on Dec. 27, 1986. Police said she was killed after a struggle on the Old U.S. 395 bridge near Interstate 15 and the Mercy Road off-ramp. Her body was dropped 65 feet into a dry creek bed.

Judge Explained Rulings

Huffman agreed to make the pistol available to the jurors but ruled that they could only examine it in the courtroom in closed proceedings. About 3:15 p.m., the jury was brought in and Huffman explained his rulings to them.

"There were so many pieces of paper and evidence floating around," Lenhardt said. "We weren't sure what we had there."

The nine-man, three-woman jury will continue its deliberations today.

On Tuesday, Huffman instructed jurors that they can only convict Peyer of first- or second-degree murder, or find him not guilty. If convicted of first-degree murder, Peyer would be sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison because there are no special enhancements that accompany the conviction. He would also have to serve 17 years of the sentence before he would be eligible for parole.

If convicted of second-degree murder, Peyer would be sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison and would not be eligible for parole until he had served 10 years behind bars.

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