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Peterson judge considers defense request for access to unsolved death

Scott Peterson
Scott Peterson

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• Criminal complaint: People v. Scott Peterson  (FindLaw, PDF)external link
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(CNN) -- A California judge Wednesday is expected to hear arguments about turning over a San Francisco police file of an unsolved death of a pregnant woman to the attorneys of a man accused of killing his wife and their unborn child.

Additionally, Judge Al Girolami is expected to consider the fate of wiretap recordings local authorities made of intercepted phone calls during the investigation of Scott Peterson.

Girolami also will consider a motion by the media to have access to wiretap recordings of media calls to Scott Peterson at Wednesday's hearing at the Stanislaus County Courthouse in Modesto, California.

Scott Peterson, 30, has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the death of his wife Laci and the couple's unborn son. Prosecutors have said they would seek the death penalty if he is convicted.

The victims' bodies were found in April on the shores of San Francisco Bay near the marina where Peterson said he had launched his boat on a fishing trip Christmas Eve. The area is about 80 miles from the Peterson home in Modesto.

Lawyers for Scott Peterson have urged Girolami to order police in San Francisco to provide them with information about the death of Evelyn Hernandez, whose body was found last year.

Peterson's lawyers say the unsolved killing of Hernandez could contain clues to the identity of the "actual perpetrators" of the slaying of Laci Peterson and the Peterson's unborn son.

Laci Peterson's body was found in April on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, across from San Francisco.

San Francisco authorities have asked Girolami to quash a May 29 subpoena to turn over all investigative records in the Hernandez case. In court papers, City Attorney Dennis Herrera said the case is still "open and active" and the release of any information in the file might "result in the perpetrator of the crime avoiding detection."

But Peterson's lawyers say San Francisco police contacted Modesto authorities in early January, two weeks after Laci Peterson disappeared, and provided information about the Hernandez case. Because of that, Peterson lawyer Mark Geragos argued in court papers, investigators should provide information on the Hernandez case to the defense.

Hernandez, 24, was found dead July 24, 2002, in the water near the Bay Bridge off downtown San Francisco, according to court documents. Her 5-year-old son disappeared at the same time and has never been found, the documents said.

She had been missing for three months and was eight months pregnant when she disappeared. Police questioned her boyfriend, but he was never officially labeled as a suspect.

Meanwhile, citing court documents, the Modesto Bee newspaper reported the phone recordings before Girolami at Wednesday's hearing were discovered in mid-June by a technical expert who was examining the computerized system used during two wiretaps on Scott Peterson's phone during the police investigation.

The calls might contain pertinent, nonpertinent and privileged information about the Peterson case, the paper reported.


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