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Scott Peterson Charged With Murder

Aired April 21, 2003 - 16:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala; on the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.
In the CROSSFIRE: Scott Peterson goes to court, charged with killing his pregnant wife.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a real tragic event for both families.


ANNOUNCER: Can he get a fair trial? And has he already been convicted by the media?

He got Baghdad. Can he get another tax cut?

Plus: Forget "Hail to the Chief." We'll tell you why a former president is under fire -- today, on CROSSFIRE.

Live from the George Washington University: James Carville and Tucker Carlson.

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. That's right. We're back. And wouldn't you know it? On our very first new show, there's breaking news.

And since the news always comes first at CNN, we're going to get the very latest on the Laci Peterson case. Her husband, Scott, is being arraigned on murder charges right now.

Our Mike Brooks is live at the Modesto courthouse.


At this moment, Scott Peterson is being arraigned on two counts of murder for allegedly murdering his wife, Laci Peterson, and their baby, their baby, Connor. Now, the two counts that are going to be read to him in just moments. The first one is, on or about between December 23, 2002, and December 24, 2002, the defendant did commit a felony, murder, in violation of Section 187 of the California Penal Code. In that, the defendant did willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with malice aforethought, murder Laci Denise Peterson, a human being. Then it goes on to talk in count two, with basically the same language, but with malice aforethought, murder baby Connor Peterson, a fetus. Now, there's a special enhancement that deals specifically with the termination of pregnancy that says that he did inflict injury on Laci Peterson, resulting in the termination of her pregnancy, which is also a violation of California Penal Code.

Now, the thing that we found out today was, on the Modesto Police Department prebooking and probable cause declaration report, that the location of offense, the offense of murder, happened at 523 Covena Avenue in Modesto. Now, we hadn't heard the location of where the murder tack place. But in a police report, it said it took place at their house at 523 Covena Avenue -- Tucker.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Mike brooks, thank you.

In politics, it customary to assume that your opponent is guilty until proven innocent. That's not, however, the way things are supposed to work in the U.S. legal system.

Was Scott Peterson convicted by the press before he ever set foot in a courtroom? That's our debate tonight.

In the CROSSFIRE, Douglas Gansler. He's a state's attorney for Montgomery County Maryland. And in Miami is attorney Jayne Weintraub, who specializes in criminal defense.

Jayne, in addition to all the suspicious circumstances, the fact the bodies were found near where Scott Peterson was fishing, the suggestion that he was about to flee with $10,000 in his pocket, now we're hearing that the police are saying the murder took place in the house. Doesn't that suggest they have more evidence, forensic evidence, blood stains, for instance, tying him to the crime?

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, it doesn't. I think it's what the police want you to think, Tucker. I think that, as everything else that I've witnessed for the past three days, I've realized the Modesto police should be indicted, not just Scott Peterson.

I think there's absolutely no evidence that we've seen, heard about or can judge Scott Peterson on. And yet the man is already tried, convicted and executed in California and everywhere else in this country. That's what I really think.

CARVILLE: Who knows. I don't know if this guy is guilty or not. I assume the jury will find that. You've to admit, it don't look real good for him right now. But it didn't look reel good for Richard Jewell. It didn't look real good. It didn't look real good for the Ramseys. It didn't look real good for Gary Condit. It didn't look real good for Steve Hatfill.

Doesn't the media rush to convict people sometimes way before they should do it? And doesn't she have a very legitimate point here?

DOUGLAS GANSLER, MARYLAND STATE'S ATTORNEY: Well, actually, the media didn't rush to convict him. He did. What happened here was, we have both motive an opportunity.

That is, he confesses to a motive, that is, having an extramarital affair, with an eight-month pregnant wife. And then he puts himself at the scene of the crime, which is the most damning evidence, 90 miles away. He says, "I was there," obviously hopeful that the bodies wouldn't wash up. And then, for the next three and a half months, there's a bevy of consciousness of guilt evidence that the jury will hear about.

CARLSON: Well, now, Jayne, you've said that he's been convicted and, as you've put it, executed in the press, suggesting he can't get a fair trial. But O.J. Simpson, for instance, very clear he killed two people. Everyone thought that, everyone in the press, most people in the public, and yet a jury acquitted. So that is a bit of an overstatement, isn't it?


WEINTRAUB: Tucker, do you think he got a fair trial?

CARLSON: Do I think O.J. got a fair trial? I think the verdict was wrong. But the point is, everyone thought he was guilty and he still got out of. Why couldn't that happen here?

WEINTRAUB: That doesn't mean that he got a fair trial.

The state is entitled to a fair trial, as well as the defense. Both parties are. And what's important here is that both parties, the state and the defense, have the opportunity to review and examine the evidence. And that's not happening here. How could you possibly think that he can get a fair trial in Modesto, California?

There are people that are waiting for him after midnight, strangers, hundreds of men yelling "baby killer" as the guy is brought into the jail. Come on, Tucker. He can't get a fair trial there. Look at the man's lawn. Sunday, there were thousands of flowers and toys brought there. You're already calling this unborn baby Connor. The baby wasn't born. It's a fetus.

CARVILLE: Let me see if he could get a fair trial right here. How many people in this audience think that this guy is guilty as sin?


WEINTRAUB: And what evidence is that based on, James?

CARVILLE: OK. I mean, but the point is, isn't he already -- isn't he convicted in the public's mind?

GANSLER: In most of the public's mind. But you have to remember, first of all, they can change a venue. The defense has that right, to move it out of Modesto.

CARVILLE: Well, they could move to George Washington. It wouldn't be too good for him either. GANSLER: Well, but by the time it got to George Washington or wherever, it would be about a year down the road, a year and a half down the road. The details would be lost. People remember that this woman and her baby were lost and that the husband was accused. They won't remember the details. He'll get a fair trial.


CARLSON: That is our "2:00 minute" drill. We're going to ask you questions so quickly, you don't have time to spin.

Jayne, you said -- a second ago, you described the child as a fetus. Does that mean you don't think murder charges should be brought because of his death?

WEINTRAUB: No, I do think that they should brought. But I think that it's being played as more sympathetic because they're naming the child already. And, Tucker, as a mom, believe me, I think that the baby, at 8 months, is a viable fetus and is a human being. But California and Florida, by the way, are two of 20 some-odd states that agree with that law. I happen, personally, to agree with it.

CARVILLE: Do you know of any physical evidence that they have against this fellow right now?

GANSLER: Not yet. They have taken his car and they've submitted evidence to a lab. So there's probably going to be some sort of blood evidence. There's also -- they just found the body. The medical examiner will come in with a cause and a manner of death down the road.

WEINTRAUB: I doubt it.

GANSLER: These are evidence that will come through. They also took his computer and may have some evidence as to premeditation, which is the most difficult burden that the government is going have here.

CARLSON: Jayne, give us a scenario for why Scott Peterson might have dyed his hair, grown a goatee, and been carrying $10,000 near the Mexican border if he wasn't trying to flee.

WEINTRAUB: Tucker, first of all, he was in his hometown. It wasn't like it was a strange place near the border, No. 1.

No. 2, did he change his appearance? He has police officers who have put his face on the TV every night for six months. Maybe he doesn't want to be seen and recognized by every human being and scrutinized by every human being. He was being tracked an surveilled, and he knew it. One of the things that the attorney general said that I found so offensive was, he was being a smart aleck because he waved to the cops.

They're in his face every single day. Maybe he was going to run out of fear of the Modesto police and not out of guilt. Maybe. And the police have not confirmed whether or not he (CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: We're going to have to convict you of speaking when we're trying to go in this rapid round here.

Let me give you the last chance. Will there be cameras in this courtroom and will we be allowed to make up our minds ourselves?

WEINTRAUB: There should be cameras in the courtroom. It's a small courtroom. The public has a right to see the trial. This is America. Hopefully, they'll have that right.

CARLSON: Jayne, we're almost out of time. Quickly, the California A.G. says it's a slam dunk. Why would they say that if it wasn't?

WEINTRAUB: Political potato.


CARLSON: OK, well, you summed it up well. Thank you very much, Jayne.

Doug Gansler, thank you very much.

GANSLER: Thank you.

CARLSON: A quick program note: At 7:00 p.m. Eastern, Laci Peterson's family, the Rocha family, is going to make a statement. CNN will, of course, provide live coverage of that.

Still to come on CROSSFIRE: a new daily segment. We pick the most disturbing, vile, and, yes, outrageous thing a public figure has done and put them under fire. Stay tuned to find out who it is today.

But next: Has the U.S. finally located the smoking gun in its search for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction? That's part of the CROSSFIRE "Political Alert." Of course you won't want to miss it.

We'll be right back.


CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Let's get back to politics. The war is winding down. The president's tax cut is in trouble. And presidential candidates have come out of their holes. And that means it's time for our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

CARLSON: In this morning's "New York Times," a captured Iraqi scientists confirms that everything the Democratic Party told you about Saddam Hussein is completely wrong. Saddam did, indeed, have chemical and biological weapons. He did, in fact, move some of them to Syria. And, most significant of all, Saddam was in league with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network after all, just as the Bush administration said from day one.

And isn't it time to apologize now that the facts are proving the administration right?

CARVILLE: This guy...


CARVILLE: First of all, I have always said that we have to have time to find these weapons. I hardly think that some scientists -- God knows how many millions of dollars we paid him -- said this. And if it's confirmed, it's confirmed, fine.

But this hardly constitutes a prima facie case because some guy comes out...

CARLSON: It's a conspiracy.

CARVILLE: How would a scientist know what the contact with al Qaeda? He may be right. He may be wrong. Why don't we just wait for the evidence? Have you ever thought of that? Have you ever thought of that? Let's just wait for the evidence?


CARLSON: And here's a scientist who was part of the effort to train al Qaeda.

CARVILLE: How much do you think he's paid? The Republican chairman of the...

CARLSON: It's a conspiracy.

CARVILLE: It's a conspiracy. OK.

Here we go. You say you're going to wait for evidence. I say, wait for evidence. I say, don't criticize for this. And the next thing you know, some guy says something.

Here we go. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar, says the Bush administration was -- quote -- "ill-prepared" for reconstruction in post-war Iraq. Wow, what a revelation. Lugar also complained that we have no clear idea how much reconstruction will cost -- I do -- a lot -- or how long it will take before we see a truly democratic Iraq. I do. Never. He's guessing five years.

Remember when candidate George Bush promised a clear exit strategy before ever getting into a conflict. All right, the strategy in Iraq is about as clear as Iraq in the middle of a sandstorm.

CARLSON: Well, look, James, it could take five years. I don't think it will. There's an argument going on right now in the administration for how long to keep American troops. But keep in mind that American troops occupied Japan for seven years. And they're still in Germany. They're still in South Korea. The country was a mess for 25 years. It takes a while.

CARVILLE: If you think Iraq is Japan and Germany, man, I don't know how to open your eyes. There's no sense in us talking if you're comparing being in Iraq like being in Japan. They're very different countries.


CARLSON: I'm very completely of that. And there's much to rebuild. And it takes a while.

CARVILLE: They're very different infrastructures, educational levels.


CARVILLE: Can I give you history about that, huh, about Japan and Germany and Korea?

CARLSON: History from James Carville. I'll pay very close attention. I know you're good at it.


CARVILLE: Let me tell you, this thing is going to cost us gazillions of dollars. And when we see a democracy in Iraq and some fundamentalist party, we're going to say, just like we said now, well, we don't want that result.

CARLSON: But you know what? We have defeated its totalitarian regime that was a threat to the United States.

CARVILLE: We have, yes.

CARLSON: You'd think you'd take some pleasure in that.

CARVILLE: I did take pleasure in that.


CARLSON: John Kerry cares about education and health care. That's what the Massachusetts senator tells audiences as he travels around the country running for president. Indeed, Kerry has been talking about the issues so much, he's neglected to influence them by voting.

Twice this year, Kerry has missed crucial votes on Medicare and school funding. Overall, John Kerry has missed nearly 40 percent of all votes, the highest and most embarrassing rate in the entire United States Senate. But keep in mind, John Kerry cares, just not enough to vote.


CARVILLE: Now, let me ask you something, Tucker. You were a big John McCain man in 2000. Would you care to venture what John McCain's attendance record was when he was running for president?

CARLSON: Probably terrible. I would imagine it was terrible.

CARVILLE: Cheap shot, because everybody who runs for president, you know they're going to be out there running for president.

CARLSON: There are other people running for president.

CARVILLE: Wait. Did you criticize John McCain's -- did you criticize his attendance record?

CARLSON: I had no idea what it was.

CARVILLE: Well, why didn't you look? Because you got one standard, one standard for Democrats and one standard for Republicans.

CARLSON: That's not true.

CARVILLE: And that is not right. You're scared that John Kerry is going to come in there and beat the tar out of Bush next November.

CARLSON: Joe Lieberman has missed only 20 percent of the votes. You can run for president and make it to your job in the U.S. Senate. That's the point.

CARVILLE: I'm going to find out what other presidential candidates have -- you have a standard, a Republican standard, a Democratic standard. Hypocrite.

CARLSON: I congratulate Joe Lieberman for making it to his day job as much as he has.




The White House is signaling Congress it's willing to compromise on a new tax cut. The president wanted $726 billion. The Senate went for $350 billion. Now Mr. Bush is settling -- or Mr. Bush's treasury secretary is saying he'll settle for $550 billion.

I got a counteroffer. How about the one Michael Corleone gave Senator Geary?. Nothing. You got that? Zero, no tax cut for the rich, period. Why do we need a tax cut for the middle of a war? The real traitors are those who want to jack up the deficit for future generations. Give them nothing. Give them nothing.

CARLSON: I sat on this show all throughout the war and listened to you whine and moan and cry like a little girl because you said: Oh, they're calling us unpatriotic, un-American traitors.

And here you disagree with someone on tax policy and you're referring to them as a traitor? It's disgusting.

CARVILLE: Oh, come on. You ever heard of poetic license?

CARLSON: That's exactly the kind of rhetoric you denounced, you whined about for a full year.


CARVILLE: It's too stupid for words. You don't know what poetic license is? You don't know the difference between Germany and Iraq. You don't know the difference between Japan and Iraq. You don't know what poetic license is. You're so desperate and so hard up for arguments...

CARLSON: You couldn't find Germany on a map, James. Come on.

CARVILLE: You're so desperate and so hard up for arguments, you're trying to act like you're some right-wing talk radio show host, suppressing free speech.


CARLSON: Suppressing free -- so, an argument you can't rebut, you say it's suppressing free speech?

CARVILLE: I can rebut the argument that Iraq is Germany.

CARLSON: And the moron caucus wins another round.

Coming up: a new CROSSFIRE segment and the perfect reward for political foolishness and boorish behavior. See if you can guess which former occupant of the White House we are putting under fire. The answer when we return, though I bet you've guessed.

We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

He is, thankfully, no longer commander in chief, which leaves Bill Clinton free to inaugurate a new CROSSFIRE segment, a segment reserved to any public figure whose comments are so outrageous, malicious or informed, or maybe just plain stupid, that they deserve to be under fire.

At a foreign policy forum last week, Bill Clinton declared -- quote -- "Our paradigm now seems to be, something terrible happened to us on September 11. And that gives us the right to interpret all future events in a way that everyone else in the world must agree with us. And if they don't, they can go straight to hell."

Now, this is a guy who, as president, literally lost the nuclear codes, demonstrating that, again, he has no understanding of the ramifications of September 11, which puts us in a war that puts America itself at risk. And he still doesn't take it seriously.

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, Mr. President, they didn't know it was a corporate governance event that you were at, but that doesn't matter to these people, because -- and my criticism is this. I think you've been much, much too kind to this administration. You went there and you said, you don't think you can even criticize President Bush for failure to find any chemical or biological weapons. You said you approved of the way that they did the war.

What I want to say is, why don't you offer some ideas to these clowns about what they can do to get this economy back moving? Why don't you offer some ideas to these clowns about how they can get along with other countries in the world? Mr. President, why don't you offer some ideas to these clowns about what they can do about the deficit that they're running the country in?


CARVILLE: I think you've been far too generous in your praise of this administration, Mr. President.

CARLSON: I want you to read one of former President Bill Clinton's quotes, maybe the dumbest thing uttered this year -- quote -- "I think if we'd given the U.N. a little more time, there is a chance that Saddam Hussein would have disarmed."

Now, no serious person thinks that, James. Now, if there's one lesson of this war, it's that Saddam Hussein would not have disarmed without force.


CARVILLE: Well, you know what? Before the war started -- your scientist is saying, before the war started, he was destroying the weapons. Well, you can't have it both ways, Tucker. You have one way and then, 10 minutes, you've got another way.

CARLSON: I still don't understand the point.

Coming up: The natives are restless. In a moment, our viewers fire back about CROSSFIRE's new time slot.

We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

It's time for "Fireback." We're in a completely new time slot. That has not deterred our viewers from writing in, however.

First up is Bill Lynch from Paoli, Pennsylvania. He writes: "I've watched your program for about 16 years. As a hard-working stiff, I cannot watch the program at the new time. How about changing back?"

Well, how about getting a new job, Bill,?

(LAUGHTER) CARVILLE: Hey, don't take the Paoli local. Take the express train. And you might get home in time on the main line there, Bill.

CARLSON: That's exactly right.

And I think, if Bill really cared about our show, James, he'd get a new job that either started sooner or ended later.

CARVILLE: I think Bill's a pretty good guy.

CARLSON: I'm kind of pro-Bill too.

CARVILLE: I like Bill.

"While 30 minutes seems hardly long enough to get our CROSSFIRE fix, surely the quick wit, sharp analysis, and charming personalities of the best hosts in the business will succeed in any time slot. It's great to have you back. Now get to it. We'll be watching" -- Annette Sorenson, Savannah, Georgia.

Well, Annette, with as we say here, we'll be spending more time with our families. And little kids at the dinner table will have dad there to discuss with them tomorrow's homework and give them life lessons.

CARLSON: And berating them about the prescription drug plan and things like that.

CARVILLE: I'll be asking my daughter, can she name the countries in Africa?

CARLSON: Yes, NATO expansion.

CARVILLE: She says: Dad, this is what you're doing. This is what I want you to do.


CARLSON: Mitchell Heeler of St. Louis writes: "I hope Bush's tax cut is as 'unsuccessful' as Democrats complained the war effort would be."

That's very tricky. That's the "Don't throw me in the briar patch" tactic. And they may be right.

CARVILLE: Who knows. It's already been successful in driving the deficit up to about $500 billion.

CARLSON: Well, actually, there was a war.

CARVILLE: "What does it take to get a little domestic attention in this administration? Does New Jersey have to develop a WMD program?" -- Brian Rodgers (ph), Lindenwold, New Jersey.

CARLSON: Well, Brian -- I must say, James, if you've been to the northern reaches of the New Jersey Turnpike lately, you may have noticed that New Jersey has already started a WMD program. That's what it smells like.


CARVILLE: ... the New Jersey Turnpike, or, actually, the exit right there as you go across the G.W. Bridge.


CARVILLE: Well, what's wrong with...

CARLSON: Well, it smells like someone is making anthrax in the area.

CARVILLE: Oh, does it? All right.

CARLSON: Yes, it does.

CARVILLE: Now it's Canada, France and now New Jersey.

CARLSON: I like New Jersey, but I don't know.

CARVILLE: He's an equal-opportunity hater.

CARLSON: It's not hate. I just we'd be better occupying New Jersey.

CARVILLE: I don't think you are. I will defend you on that. You're not a hater. You just dislike a lot of things and people.

CARLSON: Exactly.

Yes, a question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Allison McCarthy (ph) from Des Moines, Iowa. If the Bush administration and the United States doesn't find a smoking gun in Iraq, how will this change the tone of the election in 2004?

CARLSON: Well, I think it's very likely that weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq. But I don't think there's any spinning it. It's important. The war was partly at least predicated on the idea Saddam had these weapons. And I think it would be really useful for everyone if either the weapons were found or the means to make them were found. I think it would be.

CARVILLE: I think they'll find some kind of chemical weapons in there. I doubt very much if they'll find nuclear weapons.

From the left, I'm James Carville.

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson.

Joins us again tomorrow at 4:30 Eastern in the afternoon for another edition of CROSSFIRE.


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