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Prosecutors ask to buy Peterson's truck

Prosecutors have offered to buy Scott Peterson's truck to use in his murder trial.

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CNN's Kimberly Osias reports on the date set in the Scott Peterson murder trial.
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Scott Peterson
Crime, Law and Justice

MODESTO, California (CNN) -- Prosecutors in the murder case against Scott Peterson said Friday they want to buy his truck, which they contend he used to ferry the bodies of his wife and unborn son to San Francisco Bay, where they washed ashore in April.

Over objections from prosecutors, Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Al Girolami has ordered that Peterson's truck, which police seized 11 months ago, be returned to him.

At at hearing Friday, Peterson -- who has been making $600 monthly payments on the Ford F-150 pickup -- smiled broadly but said nothing during the discussion over the prosecution's request to buy his truck at fair market value.

But his attorney, Mark Geragos, said, "So now the prosecution is in the used-car business."

The judge said he did not want to get involved, leaving it to defense attorneys and prosecutors to decide whether the truck will be sold. Geragos said the defense is willing to entertain an offer to buy the truck.

Girolami earlier agreed with the defense that the prosecution had had sufficient time to examine the truck and said prosecutors could use an identical truck for any demonstration to jurors.

In last week's court filing opposing the motion by Geragos to return the truck, prosecutors disclosed that they believe it was used to transport Laci Peterson's body to a warehouse rented by Scott Peterson and then on to San Francisco Bay. His blood was found in the cab, which investigators believe could have been the result of a struggle.

Deputy District Attorney Rick Distaso said he needed to keep the truck to show jurors how he believes it was used to transport Laci Peterson's body. He argued that photographs would not suffice.

Last week, Geragos said that if the prosecution believed it needed to keep the truck as evidence, "I'm perfectly willing to sell them the truck."

A "cementlike" material found in the truck bed has been sent to the Justice Department for testing, and Distaso said prosecutors needed to retain the truck in case additional samples were needed.

Geragos also said he would file his request seeking a change of venue on Monday, rather than Friday, as had been expected. He has argued that massive publicity in Stanislaus County has precluded the possibility that his client can get a fair trial in Modesto.

Also Friday, Girolami gave his consent to a telephone survey of people who have already served on a jury in the county this year and who would be ineligible to be on one in the Peterson case.

The prosecution wants to survey people in Sacramento and Los Angeles counties, too, and compare the results with those from Stanislaus County.

Peterson's trial is set to begin January 26. However, hearings in early January on the change of venue motions and motions to dismiss the charges could alter the timetable.

Peterson, 31, is charged with murder in the deaths of his wife and their unborn son. Laci Peterson, 27, who was eight months' pregnant, disappeared from Modesto last Christmas Eve.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

With the first anniversary of their deaths approaching, Dr. Benjamin Spindler, medical director of the Delta Blood Bank, said his group had been contacted by a friend of Laci Peterson's family to hold a memorial blood drive from December 21 until December 24.

CNN Correspondent Rusty Dornin and Producer Chuck Afflerbach contributed to this report.

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