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Jeffrey Toobin: Peterson prosecution begins unconventionally

Jeffrey Toobin
Audio Slide Show: The path to the Peterson trial

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Crime, Law and Justice

(CNN) -- On Tuesday, jurors heard Laci Peterson's stepfather-in-law tell how the family's suspicions about Scott Peterson grew after Laci vanished. CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien spoke with CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin Wednesday on that testimony and the direction of the trial so far.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: What do you think was the most interesting thing from the stepfather's testimony yesterday? (More on testimony)

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Well, it's really no one smoking gun piece of evidence in this case. It's an accumulation of suspicious facts about his behavior.

You know, he says he was a fisherman, but Scott bought a fishing boat and never told him (stepfather-in-law Ron Grantski) about it. This fishing boat, according to the prosecution, is the instrument of murder. It is -- it was purchased by Scott Peterson, says the prosecution, in order to use it to kill his wife.

He didn't tell his stepfather -- stepfather-in-law -- that he bought this boat. You would have thought a fellow fisherman, he would have thought the same thing.

O'BRIEN: For all the ado about who goes fishing Christmas Eve, actually the stepfather-in-law said in cross-examination he went fishing on Christmas Eve.

TOOBIN: Quite a surprise in the courtroom yesterday. This is one of the arguments that's been made. Not so much by the prosecutors, but sort of in the public. It's like, come on, what kind of ridiculous story is it that you go fishing on a cold Christmas Eve morning? In fact, the stepfather went fishing. Although, as he pointed out, he went to a nearby fishing place. Not ... 50 miles away in the Berkeley Marina.

O'BRIEN: All of this various family testimony, it's been fairly emotional about Scott and his behavior, who they describe as distant and unemotional and disinterested when they were all searching frantically for Laci. What kind of impact does that really have on the case?

TOOBIN: It's hard to say. You know, this -- the prosecutors did no begin this in a conventional way for a murder case. In a murder case, usually the prosecutors begin with, here's the victim, here is the body, and this is how he or she was found. Look at the terrible wounds, look at what happened here.

Instead, the prosecutors are sort of going in chronological order. She was missing, this is how Scott behaved.

You know, it's not as compelling, frankly. It's not as dramatic. And the evidence, you know, is susceptible to both incriminating and not incriminating interpretations.

O'BRIEN: It sounds like you're saying you don't love what the prosecution is doing so far. You're not impressed by their take on this?

TOOBIN: There's a long way to go in this case. They have the opportunity to put in a lot more evidence. But, no, I'm not terribly impressed so far.

O'BRIEN: Well, as you say, a long way to go.

TOOBIN: Yes, months.

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