Family feud at Peterson trial
Judge gets frustrated with parents
By Harriet Ryan
REDWOOD CITY, California (Court TV) -- Laci Peterson's parents are "taking a break from the case" after run-ins with their former son-in-law's parents and a local police officer, a source close to the family said Monday.
Sharon Rocha and Ron Grantski were not present for testimony in Scott Peterson's capital murder trial Monday and the source said they will not attend the proceeding at all this week.
The couple, who have rarely missed a minute of testimony during the first three months of the trial, planned to sit outside the courtroom when some graphic autopsy photos were shown to jurors this week, but Rocha and Grantski decided not to come to the courthouse at all after a series of incidents last week, the source said.
On Tuesday, Grantski, the victim's stepfather, and Peterson's father, Lee, exchanged angry words near a courthouse escalator.
The following day, Grantski was taken aback when a Redwood City police officer ticketed him for not wearing a seat belt during a lunch-hour trip to a bank, the source said.
Grantski stopped the officer for directions after turning into the wrong driveway. The source said the officer recognized Grantski and expressed sympathy for the loss of his stepdaughter.
After a brief conversation about the case, the officer noted that Grantski was not wearing his seatbelt and handed him a ticket for $89, the source said.
The Redwood City Police Department did not return calls seeking comment about incident.
Parents banished to the back
Tensions between the relatives of the victim and defendant have simmered throughout the trial.
Although they sit just across the aisle from each other in the front row of the courtroom, they normally do not speak or make eye contact.
Both sides have reportedly complained to Judge Alfred Delucchi, accusing each other of inappropriate behavior.
At the close of testimony last week, a frustrated Delucchi informed lawyers he planned to banish the relatives to seats near the back of the courtroom. On Monday morning, bailiffs had designated for the families two rows of seats formerly reserved for the press.
When Lee and Jackie Peterson arrived at the courtroom, they were directed to those seats. A moment later, however, lawyers emerged from a closed-door hearing with Delucchi and the couple was informed they could move back to their front-row seats.
The court also assigned more security to the Petersons Monday morning.
Three sheriff's deputies escorted them from their vehicle past news cameras to the courthouse. The judge has warned both sides not to talk to the camera crews that follow them each morning and evening.
At the lunch break, after it was clear that Laci Peterson's relatives would not attend court, the Petersons walked to their vehicle without the deputies.