MODESTO — A judge denied a request Thursday that the public be excluded from a preliminary hearing in the trial of Scott Peterson, the Modesto fertilizer salesman accused of murdering his wife and son.
Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Al Girolami ruled that the Sept. 9 hearing should remain open, rejecting arguments from defense lawyers that public access would only perpetuate speculation in the intensely covered case.
Peterson, 30, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder. Prosecutors allege that he killed his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, and their son on Christmas Eve. Their remains washed up on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay in April.
Scott Peterson's defense attorney, Mark Geragos, requested the closure, contending that a discussion of the evidence for public consumption would "poison" the jury pool. He added that some of the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing may be excluded from trial and that the media could prematurely learn the identities of some witnesses.