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Peterson's dad: 'Proud to say Scott is my son'

Jackie and Lee Peterson, parents of Scott Peterson, arrive at the courthouse Thursday.
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Testimony refutes accounts Laci was seen day she went missing.
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Crime, Law and Justice

REDWOOD CITY, California (CNN) -- Scott Peterson's father told jurors in his son's double-murder trial Thursday that he was "proud to say Scott is my son."

Those were the first words uttered to the court by Lee Peterson, who was called to the stand by the prosecution.

Prosecutors say Scott Peterson, 31, killed his 27-year-old pregnant wife, Laci, in their Modesto home on or around December 24, 2002, then drove to San Francisco Bay and dumped her body.

Scott Peterson says he went on a fishing trip that day and returned home to discover that his wife was missing.

The bodies of Laci Peterson and the couple's unborn son washed up on the shore of San Francisco Bay in April 2003, nearly four months after she was reported missing.

Scott Peterson is charged with murder in their deaths and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Lee Peterson told the court he talked to his son the afternoon Laci was reported missing, but his son never told him he went fishing that day.

In the brief telephone call, he said his son told him that he and Laci were planning to eat Christmas Eve dinner at his in-laws.

Peterson's father told the court his son never told him about purchasing a boat, which prosecutors say Scott Peterson used to dump his wife's body into the San Francisco Bay.

Under cross-examination, the father said it "wouldn't be unusual" that Scott didn't tell him about the boat because he had a history of buying cars, boats and motorcycles without telling his family.

He testified his son preferred fishing in salt water, which could explain why he drove 90 miles to go fishing that day.

He also recalled that when his son was younger, he would drag the boy with him to the golf course -- outings that often wound up with his son fishing in ponds rather than hitting balls on the links.

"He seemed to enjoy it," Lee Peterson said. "Scott's the fisherman, I'm the golfer."

Observers said the testimony might have hurt the prosecution.

"He became a real person for this jury, and if you humanize the father, it becomes much more difficult to convict the son," said legal adviser Dean Johnson.

Outside the court, Lee Peterson and Laci Peterson's brother, Brent Rocha, exchanged heated words at the metal detector on the way into the courthouse.

There were no public comments about the incident, but a source close to the Rochas told CNN it's "getting ugly."

CNN's Ted Rowlands contributed to this report.

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