In a new habeas corpus brief released this week in connection with Scott Peterson’s 2004 murder conviction, attorney Mark Geragos is accused of botching the trial, which ultimately led to infamous killer’s death sentence in connection with his deceased wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son, Conner.
According to court documents obtained by the Modesto Bee, defense lawyer Mark Geragos is accused of a “deficient performance,” detailed in several of the points raised in the brief. The alleged bungled defense job, according to the outlet, could be the only way Peterson, who’s currently behind bars at California’s San Quentin prison, would have a chance at getting off of death row.
Geragos represented Peterson during the trial for the 2002 murders of Laci and Conner. Geragos ultimately lost the case and Peterson was sentenced to death. Geragos himself admitted that he could have done a better job a representing Peterson, who the attorney still feels is innocent.
Failure to Allow Fetal Growth Expert to Testify
One of the claims the brief pointed out is that Geragos, who obtained Dr. Charles March to testify on the growth of unborn infant, Conner Peterson, failed to find a credible fetal growth expert. Dr. March, according to the brief, is a fertility expert and was not suitable to be an expert on fetal development. The end result was a “train wreck for the defense,” according to the outlet.
“Counsel has concluded he had no tactical reason for failing to call someone who actually was familiar with Dr. Jeanty’s formula and who could have explained that Dr. Devore used the wrong formula and applied it to an insufficient number of bones. (Id. at pp. 20-21.) Counsel admits he knew Dr. March was not really the best expert to call,” the brief read.
Failure to Call Body in Water Expert
Geragos is also accused of failing to find an expert to explain how Laci’s body could have been dumped at different points of entry in the water, given where and Conner were ultimately found.
Peterson’s post-trial appellate team hired an expert who claimed the victims could have been placed in at least three different spots, as opposed to only one specific location.
“Mr. Peterson retained Dr. Rusty Feagin, an expert with extensive expertise with the movement of bodies in water. (Petition Exhibit 9 at pp. 282-286.) Dr. Feagin reviewed the relevant materials from this case and concluded there were three equally possible places Conner could have been placed in the water. (Id. at pp. 285-295.)”
Dog Scent-Expert Was Not Put on Stand
According to the brief, Geragos should have called in a dog scent expert to trial, to help explain that the scent dog used to track Laci’s scent could have instead tracked Scott’s scent to the Berkeley Marina. Scott launched his boat at the Berkeley Marina on the morning Laci disappeared and during the trial, prosecutors said he disposed of her remains the same day while fishing.
The brief claimed that the handler who showed the dog Laci’s slippers failed to change gloves after he picked up Scott’s sunglasses, meaning the dog could have picked up scent on the sunglasses and subsequently followed Scott’s scent. Earlier reports indicated the dog followed “Laci’s scent” to the marina.
“All reasonable experts would agree that any alert by (the dog) was meaningless. And part of Geragos’ reasoning was based on his misunderstanding of applicable law.”
Scott Peterson Reply Habeas… by on Scribd
Two men reportedly admitted to authorities that they burglarized the home directly across from Peterson’s Modesto home on December 26, two days after Laci disappeared. The men said they had nothing to do with her disappearance. Yet, the brief claimed that while monitoring phone calls, a prison guard overheard one of the men say hat Laci witnessed the break-in.
According to the brief, Geragos failed to interview the prison guard and the burglary suspects prior to Peterson’s trial. The recorded conversation of the inmate claiming Laci witnessed the burglary no longer exists.
“If Laci did see (them) break into the house, they had every reason in the world to lie to police and say they were nowhere near the home on Dec. 24,” the brief read.
Further, another witness said the saw evidence of a burglary December 24, per the brief.
The brief alleged that Geragos made empty promises of calling witnesses to the stand who told police they saw Laci walking her dog on December 24, after Scott left for the marina. Geragos also reportedly promised to call witnesses in who allegedly claimed they saw Scott at the marina “without a body.”
“Defense counsel ‘promised the jury he would present eyewitnesses who would say they saw Laci alive on the day she was supposed to have been murdered.’”
The defense lawyer is also accused of failing to interview the postal worker who reportedly told police he delivered mailed between “10:15 to 10:50 a.m.,” to the Peterson’s home, after a neighbor said he found the Peterson’s dog running loose and placed the dog back inside the fence at the couple’s Modesto home.
Mailman Russell Graybill told authorities that when he delivered mail, the gate was open and the dog was not barking, meaning the dog disappeared after the neighbor placed her back inside the fence.
“If Laci is alive and walking McKenzi after Scott leaves, he is innocent,” the habeas read.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Peterson is currently on death row at San Quentin State Prison in Marin County, California, for the 2002 murder of his wife and unborn son. He appealed the conviction, and according to court documents, the appeal is still pending.
Although the case rested largely on circumstantial evidence, there was enough presented during trial to convince a jury that Peterson murdered Laci and dumped her pregnant body into the San Francisco Bay.