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Laci Peterson's Autopsy to Stay Sealed

June 08, 2003|From Associated Press

MODESTO — A judge ruled Friday that autopsy results for Laci Peterson and her unborn son would remain sealed. He declined to issue a gag order on the lawyers involved.

After extensive news leaks of the autopsy results, prosecutors had asked that they be unsealed. Among the details reported were that loops of plastic were found around the fetus' neck.

Analysts said the autopsy results could be used to bolster a defense argument that Peterson was kidnapped by a satanic cult.

Peterson's husband, Scott Peterson, 30, has pleaded innocent to two counts of murder for allegedly killing his pregnant wife and their unborn child.

Laci Peterson, 27, disappeared just before Christmas. Her body and that of her son were found in mid-April along San Francisco Bay. Authorities Friday issued a death certificate listing her death as a homicide but its cause as undetermined.

Superior Court Judge Al Girolami has ordered that the leaks stop. He said releasing the autopsy reports could hamper the investigation and prejudice public opinion before Scott Peterson's trial.

The details -- confirmed by an Associated Press source close to the case on condition of anonymity -- included that 1 1/2 loops of plastic were around the fetus' neck and that there was a significant cut was on the fetus' body.

Prosecutors have said they would support a gag order, while defense attorney Mark Geragos has opposed any effort to curtail discussions about the case.

Girolami on Friday also set a June 26 date to rule on defense motions regarding wiretaps of Scott Peterson's phone calls.

Scott Peterson's lawyers want the judge to toss out the results of two court-approved wiretaps that monitored thousands of his calls after his wife's disappearance. During the wiretaps, the first of which began two weeks after Laci Peterson vanished, police logged 3,858 phone calls made to Scott Peterson, according to court papers.

Defense lawyers claim that police eavesdropped on protected conversations between Scott Peterson and his attorney.

A judge approved the wiretap of Peterson's phone Jan. 10. The surveillance was discontinued Feb. 4 after it no longer produced results. A second wiretap was started April 15 after the remains washed ashore.

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