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Laci Peterson case: Key players in the trial

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Editor's Note: As part of CNN.com's new Crime section, we are archiving some of the most interesting content from CourtTVNews.com. This story was first published in 2004.

(Court TV) -- Here is some background information on some of the key players in the Laci Peterson case and trial:

Laci Peterson
Born May 4, 1975, Laci Denise Rocha grew up on her family's dairy farm in Escalon, Calif. When her parents, Dennis and Sharon, divorced when she was a child, Laci moved with her mother and older brother, Brent, to Modesto. After the former cheerleader graduated Downey High School in 1993, Laci left for California Polytechnic State University and moved to Morro Bay.

She met Scott Peterson in 1995 in a cafe near her home, where Scott worked as a waiter. After a two-year courtship, the couple married in 1997 and moved back to Modesto, where Laci worked as a substitute teacher. The petite brunette with dimples was said to be thrilled to be expecting her first child.

Connor Peterson
At the time of Laci's Dec. 24, 2002, disappearance, she was more than eight months pregnant with a baby boy and had already picked out his name  Connor. His due date was Feb. 10, 2003. The fact that prosecutors have charged Scott Peterson with double murder, making the once-expectant father eligible for the death penalty, has raised much debate over California's fetal homicide law.

Scott Peterson
Born in San Diego in 1972, Scott was the youngest of Jacqueline and Lee Peterson's five sons. As a young boy, he enjoyed hunting, fishing and golf. After his 1990 graduation from the University of San Diego High School, where he was a member of the golf team, he went to Arizona State University on a partial golf scholarship.

But before finishing his studies there, he decided to move to his parents' new home in Morro Bay. He moved out six months later and worked several jobs  including as a waiter at the Pacific Café, where he met his future wife  to work his way through California Polytechnic State University.

After marrying Laci Rocha, Peterson and his new bride opened a restaurant. Though it was successful, the couple sold it to move to Modesto and start a family. He took a job as a fertilizer salesman. Before his arrest, Peterson admitted to having an extramarital affair but denied any involvement in his wife's disappearance. At the time of his arrest, Peterson's naturally dark brown hair was blond, and he was carrying $10,000 in cash and his brother's identification.

Judge Alfred Delucchi
Retired judge Alfred Delucchi is the third judge to preside over the Peterson proceedings. He replaced retired judge Richard Arnason after he was disqualified from the case at the request of prosecutors, who said Arnason was biased against them.

Delucchi was assigned to the high-profile proceeding January 2004, soon after the trial changed venue from Stanislaus County to San Mateo because of intense local media scrutiny. A veteran judge with vast experience in death penalty cases, Delucchi has presided over 22 capital trials, of which juries returned six death penalty verdicts.

Delucchi retired as an Alameda County Superior Court judge in 1998, but has been active as an appointed judge, handling some of Oakland's most brutal felony cases. In 2000, he sentenced carpet cleaner Giles Nadey to death for the sexual assault and rape of a pastor's wife in a rectory.

The prosecutor in that case, Alameda County Assistant District Attorney James Anderson, said Delucchi is "one of the fairest-minded judges we have."

Dave Harris
Senior Deputy District Attorney Dave Harris came to Stanislaus County in 1991 after working as a prosecutor for four years in San Diego and Kings County. He graduated from California Western School of Law.

In Modesto, he has tried a variety of cases, including animal cruelty, white collar crime and murder. Prior to the Peterson case, he prosecuted one capital murder defendant, a landlord who torched a rental unit for insurance money, killing a tenant he was evicting and her two young children. A jury in 2000 convicted George Souliotes, but gave him life in prison without the possibility of parole instead of death.

Rick Distaso
Senior Deputy District Attorney Rick Distaso joined the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office in 1996 after three years in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps. In JAG, which he joined after graduating from Loyola Marymount Law School, Distaso worked as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney.

In Modesto, he has prosecuted several murder cases and is currently assigned to two capital prosecutions in addition to Scott Peterson's case. One of those cases is strikingly similar to the Peterson case. In it, a man named Gilbert Cano faces two murder counts for allegedly stabbing to death his girlfriend, who was six months pregnant with their child.

Mark Geragos
When he's not representing one of his own high-profile clients, Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Mark Geragos can often be found on the cable television talk circuit commenting on someone else's big-name client. In his 20 years in practice, Geragos has made a name for himself defending celebrities in trouble and offering pithy legal analyses of the case of the moment on shows like "Larry King Live." In fact, Geragos was a fixture on King's nightly roundtable on the Peterson case when he took Peterson's case.

His big-name clients include Winona Ryder, Bill Clinton's half-brother Roger, rapper Nate Dogg, and former Congressman Gary Condit, who he represented during the Chandra Levy disappearance. He won acquittals for Whitewater figure Susan McDougal on embezzlement and obstruction of justice charges and lobbied for the presidential pardon she received in 2001.

The Peterson case is not Geragos' first murder defense. In 1983, he helped represent an Armenian man accused of gunning down a Turkish diplomat on a Los Angeles street. A jury convicted the man, but recommended a life sentence rather than the death penalty. He is also scheduled to defend an Armenian gang member this fall accused in the killing of a Mexican youth outside a high school.

Geragos, 45, graduated from Haverford College and Loyola Law School. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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