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DA wants autopsy results made public

Fetus had tape around neck

Laci Peterson

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MODESTO, California (CNN) -- On the heels of gruesome information leaked from the autopsy report on Laci Peterson's unborn child, the prosecutor in the case filed a motion Thursday seeking to unseal the reports on both the mother and child so that the media can report "accurate information."

Stanislaus County District Attorney James Brazelton said the people of California have the right to correct inaccurate information, suggesting the media reports on the autopsy are not.

"By releasing the autopsy reports, the court will allow the media to see what the actual facts are and then accurate information may be reported to mitigate recent adverse publicity," his motion read.

Brazelton earlier Thursday released a statement, saying he "cannot verify the accuracy of any media statements concerning the contents of the autopsy reports without violating the court's order."

He later decided to file the motion.

"It continues to be the view of the district attorney that the evidence in this case should be presented in court through testimony of witnesses and not selectively leaked to the news media by unknown persons whom the press will not identify," he said.

His motion will be heard June 6 in Superior Court in Modesto.

Scott Peterson, 30, is awaiting trial on two counts of murder for the deaths of his wife Laci, 27, and their unborn son, who was to be named Connor. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty if he is convicted. Peterson insists he is innocent.

Just two days ago, Superior Court Judge Al Girolami heard arguments on whether to keep the autopsy results sealed, with prosecutors and the defense arguing that unsealing them could jeopardize Peterson's chance for a fair trial. News organizations countered by saying the results are a matter of public record and should be released. Girolami did not rule on the matter at that time.

Remains of fetus show postmortem tear

A source familiar with the investigation told CNN the autopsy report on the Peterson fetus reveals the unborn boy had plastic tape around his neck and suffered a tear across his chest after death, a source familiar with the investigation told CNN Thursday.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, recounted a portion of the autopsy report to CNN, which was not allowed to review the report.

"One-and-a-half loops of plastic tape are around the neck of the fetus with an extension to a knot near the left shoulder," the report said, according to the source.

"An examination of the chest reveals an apparent postmortem tear exposing the internal surfaces of the right shoulder and the right hemithorax. The wound margins are without evidence of chewing or scalloping," the source recounted.

This source said the autopsy report lists the fetus as having an "estimated gestational age nine months, 33-38 weeks, based on anthropological measurements."

Laci was in her 33rd week of pregnancy when she disappeared December 24.

Kim Petersen, a spokeswoman for Laci's family, said Thursday was "a devastating day for them."

"It's been unbelievable to them that somebody would leak this information to the media when the judge asked that those autopsy results be sealed," Petersen said on CNN's "Larry King Live."

"You never want to hear these details released in front of the nation about someone you love and care about. And it has been very painful, very difficult."

Laci Peterson's body and that of her unborn son were discovered in early April near the Berkeley Marina, where Scott Peterson said he had launched his boat on a fishing trip Christmas Eve.

Peterson said that he last saw his wife at 9:30 a.m. December 24 before he left for the fishing trip and that she had told him she intended to walk the couple's dog. A neighbor later found the dog roaming the neighborhood, leash still affixed to its collar, and returned it to the Petersons' home.

Scott Peterson's attorneys have been looking for other witnesses and suspects.

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