Prosecutorial Misconduct

According to the examples of misconduct from the Center for Public Integrity and the Current Rules for Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California, Distaso did a number of things which should cause the conviction of Scott Peterson to be overturned.


An article by Neil Gordon on the Center for Public Integrity site states the following:

Unlike any private attorney, the local prosecutor—be he district attorney, county attorney, or criminal district attorney—is an elected official whose office is constitutionally mandated and protected. Prosecutors are still subject to the Rules of Professional Responsibility, but they must police themselves at the trial court level because of their status as independent members of the judicial branch of government…Perhaps even more importantly, as mentioned above, his violation of the rules will subject his cases to reversal on appeal when his unprofessional conduct results in a denial of due process to a defendant . . .

Examples of such misconduct include:
discovery violations;
improper contact with witnesses, defendants, judges or jurors;
improper behavior during hearings or trials;
prosecuting cases not supported by probable cause;
harassing or threatening defendants, defendants' lawyers or witnesses;
using improper, false or misleading evidence;
displaying a lack of diligence or thoroughness in prosecution; and
making improper public statements about a pending criminal matter.

And from the current Rules for Professional Conduct, State Bar of California:

Rule 5-200. Trial Conduct
In presenting a matter to a tribunal, a member:
(A) Shall employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to the member such means only as are consistent with truth;
(B) Shall not seek to mislead the judge, judicial officer, or jury by an artifice or false statement of fact or law;
(C) Shall not intentionally misquote to a tribunal the language of a book, statute, or decision;
(D) Shall not, knowing its invalidity, cite as authority a decision that has been overruled or a statute that has been repealed or declared unconstitutional; and
(E) Shall not assert personal knowledge of the facts at issue, except when testifying as a witness.

Instances of Prosecutorial misconduct in this case include, but are not limited to:

False Statements by DDA Rick Distaso

Misconduct by Detective Brocchini

Leaking 40,000+ pages of sealed discovery to Court TV host Catherine Crier

People's 100 is False Evidence, The Richmond Jetty does not fill with water at every high tide

False Statements by DDA Rick Distaso


Rick Distaso, the Stanislaus County prosecutor responsible for the wrongful conviction of Scott Peterson, committed certain acts of prosecutorial misconduct which should be addressed.  In this discussion, we will focus on two of his obvious errors:

1. Using improper, false or misleading evidence
2. Misleading the judge, judicial officer, or jury by an artifice or false statement of fact or law


Misstatements of Fact in Distaso's Opening Statement


I.  Distaso’s false statement supported the misconception that Scott was the aggressor in the relationship with Amber Frey:


“Scott’s calls are always going to be in red. Amber Frey's, who initiated the call will be in blue. In this particular case you can see Scott, or the defendant called Amber Frey three times on the 19th to set up their date. They had a date, their date first started on the 20th. They spent the night together, and he went home on the 21st.”



According to Jacobson’s chart for November 19, 2002 (People’s Exhibit 207F-1), and Amber’s cell phone records (Defendant’s Exhibit 5O), she is the one who called Scott three times on that day to arrange the meeting date for the next day.

4:24 p.m. Amber called Scott Bus <1m>
4:27 p.m. Amber called Scott Cell 1 <4m>
10:00 p.m. Amber called Scott Cell 1 <2m>

Jacobson, in his testimony, confirms that no other calls between Scott and Amber were identified for the 19th, or any day prior to the 19th.  If there was any evidence that such calls occurred, Jacobson would have found it.

Mark Geragos: Would you pull those out for November. These three calls on the 19th, do you have those?
Steven Jacobson: Yes, sir, I do.
Mark Geragos: Okay. What are the duration of those three calls?
Steven Jacobson: The first one indicated there at
4:24 p.m. to the business.
Mark Geragos: Right.
Steven Jacobson: Shows one minute.
Mark Geragos: Okay. So we're assuming that's a, leaving a voice mail?
Steven Jacobson: It's certainly, it all depends whether he had an answering machine there at the business or not, but it is a short duration call, so that could be a correct assumption.
Mark Geragos:
Steven Jacobson:
4:27 p.m. shows a four minute duration.
Mark Geragos: Okay. So more likely to be either a long message or a conversation?
Rick Distaso: Objection. Calls for speculation.
Judge Delucchi: Overruled.
Steven Jacobson: It could either be a long voice mail message or a short conversation, you're correct.
Mark Geragos:
10:00 p.m.
Steven Jacobson:
10:00 p.m. indicates two minutes.
Mark Geragos: Okay. Now, go to the, and those are the only three that you were able to find, right?
Steven Jacobson: Those are the only three on the records, yes, sir.

So, we have the State's own expert witness stating that Amber is the one who called Scott to arrange for the first date -- and she placed 3 calls on the 19th, one to his office number and two to his cell phone number.

II. Distaso misrepresented Dr. Cheng’s testimony.

Doctor Cheng is going to tell you the way things wash up with the tide, as the tide's receding heavy items are deposited first. They come over with the waves. As the tides recede, the heavy items settle first, and then the lighter items settle last. As the tide recedes, you can see that's what happened. Here's Conner's body. Obviously heavier than these areas of sea grass, and what not, debris, trash. And he's right ahead of it.

There is nothing in Dr. Cheng’s testimony about the way things wash ashore.

Misstatements of Fact in Distaso's Closing Argument

I.  A van was seen by Diane Jackson at 11:40 a.m. on December 24, 2002, in front of the Medina house almost directly across the street from the Peterson house.  The Medina house was burglarized sometime during the time the Medina’s left home on December 24 at 10:32 a.m. and the time they returned on the afternoon of December 26.  Ms. Jackson also reported seeing 3 dark skinned men and a safe in Medina’s front yard.  Prosecutor Distaso misrepresents this information and implies that the van seen by Diane Jackson belonged to Scott’s neighbor Amie Krigbaum.  Obviously, this is not true.


You heard some testimony about Diane Jackson. Remember that? And seeing a van….Remember what Amy Krigbaum said. She said that she had that white Siemens van at the time. I had her write on this picture. Remember, this is looking at the Peterson house. Remember, this is from her house looking there….Remember what she said? She said, yeah, it was parked right in front of my house. He even had it right where it was, a vanYou heard Diane Jackson saw a van. I think the testimony was 11:40. You heard that through the officer. There is a van. Of course, she saw a van. Van is right there on the street.”



GERAGOS: The, if I remember correctly, that Sieman's van is, at the time was a brand new van?

KRIGBAUM: Brand new van.

GERAGOS: And it's one of those, the Astro van, which is not the big one, it's the down-sized or mid-sized, I guess is what they call it?

KRIGBAUM: Correct.

GERAGOS: And it's got Sieman's written in pretty big letters on the side?

KRIGBAUM: It's all the way around.


KRIGBAUM: Front, sides and back.  

GERAGOS: Yeah.  

KRIGBAUM: Neon green.

GERAGOS: Exactly.  It's very difficult to miss that van if that's the van you're seeing, isn't it?

KRIGBAUM: Exactly.

GERAGOS: Okay. And then he said that, what was on the call sheet was that she witnessed a burglary on Covena, correct? 459 is a Penal Code Section for burglary?


GERAGOS: On 12:24 at 11:40 a.m.?

GROGAN: That's what it says.

GERAGOS: Okay. And she said she saw the van and the safe being removed from the house, correct?

GROGAN: That's what it says.

GERAGOS: And that when she first saw the van, when she first stated that she had seen it, she first told the officers she believed the van was white, but, upon thinking about it, she thought it was darker than that, correct?

GROGAN: Correct.

GERAGOS: And then I guess at that point she said she thought it was darker, either a tan or a brown color, and stated it was an older van, it had a door, or both doors would open at the rear she didn't really remember, correct?

GROGAN: Correct.

GERAGOS: Okay. Now, the, specifically the reward poster was previously marked as Defendant's double N, and I think I've got all this up here. This, for the most part, for the most part the information on double N was taken from Diane Jackson's, or at least, I should say, the information that is, the information that's up here, 500 block of Covena, three dark-skinned males, not African American, short in stature, older model, full sized van, tan or light brown in color, one or two possibly two doors that open at the rear; all of that came from Diane Jackson, correct?


II.  A gold Croton watch, identical to the one that Laci was wearing on the day she disappeared, was pawned by Deanna Renfro on December 31, 2002, one week after Laci went missing.  Prosecutor Distaso tries to minimize the importance of this watch and says a number of things that are not true.


Let's look at the Croton watch. That was an interesting one. They brought in this pawn slip from Deanna Renfro, where supposedly she, does say brand Croton? I'm looking for a second. Wait a minute. It's not even a Croton watch. The branch name is, Croton on this pawn slip.
And she pawned it for twenty bucks. Well, you know, why didn't we hear from Deanna Renfro if they thought this was at all related to the case? Why didn't we hear from her? I mean when you pawn something, you have to give your thumbprint. You have to give your ID.
It's not like we can't find her. Anyone could find her. We didn't put her on because it doesn't have anything to do with the case. If they thought it did, why didn't they?
GERAGOS: There is a objection. That's a misstatement of the law. The defense has no burden under 471.
JUDGE: But he can comment. Overruled. Go ahead.

DISTASO: And the other thing about this, which is even more kind of amazing, I guess, is the people who testified about this pawn slip were the pawn shop people that came in. And, on the other stuff, this isn't even their pawn slip. They show her these in order to go, I can't remember the lady's name. But she goes, well, yeah it's a pawn ticket, but it's not from my shop, and I didn't have anything to do with it.
Well, why didn't we even hear from the people who actually pawned the item? It was pawned for twenty bucks. And, see, the argument is that because, you remember he was wearing that diamond watch when they went walking out. That Croton watch, that is they are trying to show that he is trying to sell it on Ebay.
We know from other things that he sells stuff not on Ebay, because here is his e-mail on that Ping golf bag. It's just with some guy. So I mean where do you think that Croton watch went? I'm sure they sold it. But here he is trying to sell this on Ebay. The reserve is 750 bucks. Look at it.
It's a nice gold diamond watch.
Now, I know you don't get a lot of money when you pawn things, but you get better than twenty bucks on 750. So to make the leap that this Croton watch, Croton is like Timex, or Swatch, I guess. I don't know. Whatever.
So someone pawns a cheap twenty dollar 14 karat yellow gold quartz watch with scratches for twenty bucks, and somehow that's supposed to raise reasonable doubt in your mind?
Now, here is, let's talk about the watch. You know. This was the watch that Laci had repaired. This is the one she was wearing. It's also recovered in the search warrant. It's on her dresser here. And here are, here is a picture of her late in her pregnancy on the couch. She is wearing the same watch on Christmas, I mean the Christmas party she's got the same watch on. So this is the watch she was wearing late in her pregnancy like that.


Distaso suggests that this is not a Croton watch when he knows that the pawn slip (Defense Exhibit N) describes the watch as a gold Croton watch “with G” (with gems.)

The prosecution did not put Deanna Renfro on as a witness because MPD ignored her connection to Laci’s disappearance. If they had investigated her thoroughly, they would have found a link between her family and that of Steven Todd, the Medina burglar.  Deanna Renfro was not investigated because Scott was the one and only  focus of this investigation within 24 hours of Laci’s disappearance. MPD knew this watch was missing early in the investigation because Scott gave this information to Chris Boyer during the search warrant December 26-27; and Craig Grogan definitely learned about it on December 30, 2002, during his taped phone conversation with Scott.  However, the only information about this very significant piece of evidence that was given to the defense in discovery was the pawn slip—no reports, no follow-up information.

Distaso makes it appear that the pawn shop people who testified were the ones involved in the transaction with Deanna Renfro and the Croton watch. They were not.  They were involved in a totally separate transaction with Laci and Scott involving other jewelry that Laci had inherited from her grandmother.

Scott and Laci tried to sell the Croton watch on e-bay, but they were not successful.  Distaso suggests that he’s sure they sold the watch when there is no evidence to support such a claim.

Laci inherited 2 gold watches from her grandmother.  The one that she had repaired and wore to the Christmas party was recovered at the Peterson house during the search of December 26-27.  Laci was not wearing that watch on the day she disappeared.  She was wearing the Croton watch which was never recovered.

III.  Distaso misstates the evidence.  The city inspector left Medina’s home around 9:30.


Remember, Susan Medina, the neighbors across the street. They were out on Covena a couple of times. They had a city inspector come at some time in the morning. Bob Nickerson. He was, he was there between 10:20 and 10:30. He didn't see anything. Remember what she said? They left their home between 10:30 and 10:33 on the 24th. And the way they know that is because Susan Medina has her cell phone records.



Susan Medina testifies that Mr. Nickerson left around the time that her husband made a telephone call at 9:32.  After Mr. Nickerson left, they took showers, and loaded the car with groceries, vacuum cleaners, etc.  Then they checked the house and got ready to leave.  Susan Medina made a phone call just after they left the house and were still in the neighborhood.  That call was made at 10:32 a.m.   Mr. Distaso was aware of these times, and yet he misstated the time the inspector left. 

Pat Harris: And it was your recollection that the building inspector actually left sometime around 9:30? If you need to refer to your notes, please.
Susan Medina: Yes. There was a telephone call that was made on
9:32 a.m.
Pat Harris: Hm-hmm.
Susan Medina: And that was made by my husband to the guy who was wanting to, for him to play golf that day. So I gave him the phone in the patio and Mr. Nickerson was still there and I said please call your son. He called earlier inviting you to play golf and tell him no.
Pat Harris: And do you know approximately what time it was?
Susan Medina: When he made that call?
Pat Harris: Yes.
Susan Medina: It's 9:32 am

Q. And did you close up the house and -- and leave

22 for LA at that point in time?

23 A. Not yet. We still continued to -- we took a

24 shower, and he loaded the car with the groceries and meat

25 and things we were bringing for the kids. And, you know,

26 the vacuum cleaners and all that kind of things.


1 And then went inside one more in the house, my

2 husband, you know, just make sure that -- that our -- that

3 we have brought what we need to bring, and then left.


Prosecutor Distaso may have been trying to relate this to the time Karen Servas said she found Peterson’s dog, Mckenzie, in the street in front of Medina’s house, 10:18 a.m. on December 24th.  However, Karen Servas’ timeline is based on an unverified time source, and it is quite apparent that she did not find McKenzie at 10:18 a.m.   The commotion in the street would surely have been noticed by the Medinas and by the inspector if he was still there.

It is much more likely that Karen Servas found McKenzie sometime after Medinas left their house at 10:32 a.m.  It is very reasonable to believe that the burglary at the Medina’s house began shortly after they left home, and that Laci’s disappearance is directly related to the burglary at Medina’s.

IV. The prosecution’s only piece of physical evidence is a single hair which somehow became two hairs when Detective Brocchini and Detective Hendee opened the evidence envelope in February 2003. The chain of custody of this hair is very suspicious as is the mitochondrial DNA testing of the hair sample. It is also suspicious that Detective Brocchini kept Laci’s blue-black hairbrush in his desk drawer for some time after it was collected during the search warrant of December 26-27.

Distaso falsely states that the hair was wrapped around the pliers even though Detective Hendee who collected the hair says definitely that the hair did not wrap around the pliers.

He puts her, she's in the boat. He attaches the weights to her. He gets, in the process he gets some of her hair caught in these pliers. And let's talk about that. I'm going to talk about it a little more later, but just right out of the gate: Your hair does not fall into and wrap around the teeth of pliers. That doesn't happen. How many of you sitting on this jury operate pliers on a regular basis, probably most people. Everybody uses needle-nose pliers for something. How many times does your hair fall into the pliers and wrap around through the jaws? That doesn't happen.

HENDEE: No, it didn't wrap around the pliers, didn't wrap around the needle nose. It just went through. It looked like at one location it just went through the pliers.

Additionally, Distaso gave other false information about the hair in the pliers. In his Closing Argument, Distaso asserted outright that "these pliers were used in this crime." However, he did not mention that Sarah Yoshida testified that the pliers were not used to cut the chicken wire, nor did the State produce evidence of any other wire used in the commission of the crime, which the pliers would have cut.

Distaso also misstated the facts about the hair in his motion on the chain of custody. In the Preliminary Hearing testimony of Rodney Oswalt (DOJ), Oswalt did not come to the conclusion that the damaged ends of the hair fragments matched each other.

Q. Well, let me just give you a quote from the District Attorney's motion, okay, on the chain of custody. And I'm pointing to page 15 on the motion to exclude of their motion, line 15. It says, "The damaged ends appeared," quote, "mashed, splayed and frayed and appeared to match each other, meaning that the hair broke apart in the package." Did you ever come to that conclusion?

A. That's not something that I wrote in my report. And I don't have that in my notes either.

V. Distaso’s most outrageously misleading statement of all is the following:

The only man, or only person that we know without any doubt that was in the exact location where Laci and Conner's bodies washed ashore, at the exact time that they went missing, is sitting right there. Not another soul do we, have you heard any evidence fits that description. That alone is proof beyond a reasonable doubt in this case.

You can take that fact to the bank and you can convict this man of murder.

From Judge Delucchi’s Instructions to the Jury:

However, a finding of guilt as to any crime may not be based on circumstantial evidence unless the proved circumstances are not only, one, consistent with the theory that the defendant is guilty of the crime, but, two, cannot be reconciled with any other rational conclusion. Further, each fact which is essential to complete a set of circumstances necessary to establish the defendant's guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, before an inference essential to establish guilt may be found to have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, each fact or circumstance on which the inference necessarily rests must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Also, if the circumstantial evidence as to any particular count permits two reasonable interpretations, one of which points to the defendant's guilt and the other to his innocence, you must adopt that interpretation that points to the defendant's innocence and reject that interpretation that points to his guilt.

Prosecutor Distaso tells the jury that they have the right to convict Scott Peterson of murder because he went fishing in the area where the bodies turned up. The prosecutor seriously misstates the requirements for a guilty verdict in this case. Instructions given to the jury demand that each fact or circumstance on which an inference rests must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor should not say that because Scott was fishing in the area where Laci and Conner’s bodies were found that he was the one who killed them and put them there. He should not have gone from point A to point Z without proving each fact within those points beyond a reasonable doubt. And Rick Distaso did not do that.

Did Prosecutor Distaso prove that Scott Peterson caused the deaths of Laci and Conner Peterson? No, he did not. There was no evidence found in the house at 523 Covena, no evidence found in Scott’s Ford pickup truck, no evidence found in Scott’s warehouse, and no evidence found in Scott’s Gamefisher boat to tie him to the deaths of Laci and Conner. None of the inferences made by the prosecutor were proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Scott Peterson was guilty of this crime. It is not ethical to stack one unproved inference on top of another and say that is proof of guilt as Distaso did in this case.

Did Prosecutor Distaso prove that Scott Peterson was the person responsible for putting the bodies of Laci and Conner Peterson in the bay? No, he did not.  Extensive searches of the bay for months by experienced divers and high tech equipment turned up no evidence that the bodies or any part of the bodies were ever there. The bodies turned up on the shore, but there is no proof that they washed ashore. There is certainly no proof that Scott Peterson is the one who put them in the bay or on the shore where they were found.


When law enforcement presumed that Scott Peterson was guilty and did not thoroughly investigate evidence that would point to other individuals, a wrongful conviction was probable. This became a certainty because of a biased media and a prosecutor bent on a conviction no matter what dishonest tactics he had to use. Rick Distaso made false, misleading and improper statements in the trial of Scott Lee Peterson. We are waiting patiently for an unbiased Appeals Court to see the truth and to overturn this conviction.



Misconduct by Detective Brocchini

by Pamela Boras


In the investigation of the truth in any matter, a preconceived theory must be modified to fit the discovered facts.  In the case of the disappearance of Laci Denise Peterson, Detective Allen Brocchini of the Modesto Police Department failed to do this.  He arrived at her home, formed his theory within minutes, and never pursued any facts that pointed away from his nearly instant conclusion that Scott Peterson had murdered his wife and disposed of her body in the San Francisco Bay.  In contradiction to his testimony that his job was to "clear Scott Peterson," his actions in this investigation tell an opposite story.  Here, we examine a few of the methods he used in the first days of Laci's disappearance.


523 Covena, Christmas Eve


Upon his arrival at the Peterson home, Detective Brocchini met with Jon Evers and Byron Duerfeldt, first responding Officers to the missing persons call.  Officer Spurlock was also there, and may have been the source of Brocchini's initial suspicion of Scott.  As the officer in charge, Evers had just learned that, when questioned by Spurlock on what he'd been fishing for in the Bay, Scott couldn't say what he had been fishing for.  This statement, repeated in whispers to Brocchini even before he'd met Scott, was the start of the spin and twist of Scott's words and actions to fit Brocchini's coming theory that Peterson was guilty of murder.  Scott's qualifying statement that his real intention was 'just to get the boat in the water' was given no credence, although it made sense.

What were the other things found that night that pointed to guilt in Brocchini's mind?  The list isn't long and can be shown to prove that Scott told the truth that first night.

  1. He didn't know what he was fishing for or what kind of bait he was using. 

  2. He said he went fishing instead of golfing because it was too cold to golf.

  3. There were two mops in a bucket on the porch.

  4. Laci's purse was in the closet of the couple's bedroom. 

  5. Two duffel bags were disturbed in the spare bedroom.

  6. Dirty cleaning rags were piled on top of the washer.

  7. A disarrayed throw rug lay against the door.

This is what they found the first night, and from these observations, a case for first degree murder was instigated.

From Brocchini's Preliminary Hearing Testimony:

MCALLISTER:     ....I meant, your suspicions about Scott Peterson had already
                          started forming when you saw the mop bucket as you walked
                          up to the front door, right?
BROCCHINI:        A lot more than just the mop bucket....

He hadn't entered the residence yet, but his theory or 'gut feeling' had formed.

Crimes Against Persons:  Brocchini's Assignment

Though, in his own words, he was there "to eliminate him as a suspect,"  Brocchini wasn't interested in pursuing the evidence that pointed away from Scott Peterson.  Laci was sighted by several people in her neighborhood that morning with her dog, McKenzie.  All of these witnesses were deemed not credible, despite the fact that these sightings occurred at approximately the same locations along one of Laci's known walking routes and within 1 1/2 hours of one another.  Some of these witnesses were interviewed over the telephone with no follow-up to confirm or eliminate the possibility that they had seen Laci Peterson.  Some reports were never investigated at all.

Some background on Allen Brocchini, one of two lead detectives assigned to investigate the Laci Peterson disappearance, gives an insight into the questionable tactics this officer is willing to use to pursue his goal.  He came to Modesto in 1993 after eight years with the Alameda County Sheriff's Department. In November of 2000, he was assigned to the Crimes Against Persons Unit.  He was with the Unit when he received the call to return to Modesto on Christmas Eve, 2002, to investigate the apparent disappearance of 7 1/2 months pregnant Laci Peterson.  His resume would include the following cases where it appears he could be called the 'bad' cop in a good cop-bad cop partnership.

1.  In the case of Somnguen Amphavannasouk, a confession was obtained when
     Brocchini lied to Mr. Amphavannasouk and told him he would go back to
     school if he confessed to the burglary and assault they were charging him

2.  Veronica Alvarez, innocent of any crime, was threatened by Brocchini with
     the confiscation of her Green Card and deportation back to Mexico.  Her son
     had been acquitted in a case where Brocchini had testified for the

3.  Michelle Owens was pushed, threatened and pursued into the hallway of a
     courthouse by Brocchini, after the judge in the case had ordered him to stay
     away from her.  Michelle was a witness in the case.

4.  Wendell Johnson was released, over the objections of a federal prosecutor,
     when Brocchini made a deal with him to produce a video tape needed
     in another investigation.  Johnson was released and promptly disappeared,
     along with the tape.

5.  And in the case of Darnell Green, Detective Brocchini's testimony resulted in
     a mistrial when the judge in the case ruled that the Detective had made
     comments on the witness stand that might have prejudiced the jury.  The
     defense in the Darnell Green case claimed that Brocchini made the
     comments blatantly and deliberately because he felt that the prosecution
     was losing. 

Later, we will see how his tactics at the Peterson trial showed actual manipulation of the facts and deliberate excising of possible exonerating evidence.

Missing Person or Homicide?  Brocchini isn't looking for Laci

On December 26, 2002, Cindee Valentin, volunteer lieutenant with the Contra
Costa County Sheriff's Department was called in with her trailing dog, Merlin.  In her testimony, trainer Valentin told of her work with this purebred bloodhound who had demonstrated the ability to run trails up to 14 days old.  This skill certified the dog with the California Rescue Dog Association.

Valentin was the first to scent a trailing dog in the Laci Peterson disappearance.  She used Laci's sunglasses which she had collected and placed in an evidence bag.  Merlin took the scent directly from the sunglasses, and per Valentin's testimony, followed the freshest scent.  Rather than heading into the park or northwest towards Scott's warehouse, Merlin consistently exhibited the desire to trail south and west.  Even when Brocchini had the dog brought to the warehouse, he headed out of the lot, south, and west.  On January 4, Detective Brocchini would stop the trailing team on the ramp from Maze Boulevard to US 580, disregarding the fact that Merlin was insistent and pulling hard on the leash.  In her testimony, Cindee Valentin revealed that she knew on December 26 the Detective was focusing on Scott.

From Valentin's Pre-Trial Hearing Testimony:

PAT HARRIS:  Did they ever ask you to search the park?
HARRIS:  Instead, Detective Brocchini asked you to go to see if you could find Scott Peterson's warehouse, didn't he?
HARRIS:  In fact, Detective Brocchini, at that point told you that Scott Peterson was the person they suspected of...
VALENTIN:  He didn't...
HARRIS:  ...taking Laci Peterson, didn't he?
VALENTIN:  He didn't say that in so many words, but I figured that out.
HARRIS: He made it very evident, didn't he?
VALENTIN: I would say that just the discussion in the room among the people that were in the room made it evident to me.
HARRIS: What discussion?
VALENTIN: I don't know that that was, you know, Brocchini.
HARRIS: What discussion?
VALENTIN: Just the general talking about wanting to take me out to the warehouse and, and all that.
HARRIS:  Okay.
VALENTIN:  It was at that point I realized that, that, you know...They were investigating things much more than, than I was...was out there to do.
HARRIS: It was at that point that what you realized was that they were looking at Scott Peterson and not to find Laci Peterson, correct?

DAVE HARRIS: Objection.  Relevance.
DELUCCHI:  Overruled.  Is that the impression you got?  You can answer the question.  Is that the impression you got?
VALENTIN:  Yes.  That was the impression.

Trial Tactics - Manipulation of Facts:  Brocchini remains consistent

In the case of the State of California vs Scott Lee Peterson, Allen Brocchini's testimony at trial revealed that he would take measures to assure a conviction. Two incidents in his official reports of the investigation were brought to light in Mark Geragos' questioning of Brocchini. During cross-examination, Brocchini revealed that he had excised information that placed Laci at Scott's warehouse in the few days before her disappearance. On December 30, 2002, Peggy O'Donnell made a statement to the Modesto Police Department that Laci Peterson had been at the business at least one time between December 20 and 23. She had requested to use the restroom of another tenant in the complex because she could not get to the one in Scott's warehouse. Laci's presence would indicate that she knew about the 'secret' boat. This possibly exonerating information was deleted from Brocchini's final report. Why would he do such a thing? There is no reasonable explanation, but that the information didn't fit his theory, so he made it disappear.

In another instance, Brocchini added to a witness's statement because, in doing so, his theory played out better. Miguel Espedia attended school with Scott, and in 1995, the two classmates had a frivolous conversation about 'disposing of a body.' Detective Brocchini's report on Miguel's statement included the use of duct tape in the plan. Espedia would later state that duct tape had never been mentioned during the conversation. Why would Brocchini do this? Because there was duct tape found adhering to Laci's waistband and thigh, so he added it to Miguel's statement. It fit his theory. And, it wasn't true.

Responsibility for Job Performance

Detective Brocchini's testimony in the Preliminary Hearing and the Trial was intended to help the prosecution present to the jury the logic and reason behind the State's indictment for two counts of premeditated murder.  What the jury really heard, but failed to discern, was the manipulation and spin of facts that were buried in a mix of unfollowed leads, misspelled names, wrong dates and times, and hours of valueless audio tape that revealed nothing.  As one of two, this lead Detective was in control of many of these covert deceptions.

Before a gag order limited their comments, Lee and Jackie Peterson accused the police of rushing to judgment and ignoring evidence that did not point toward their son.  Modesto Police Detective Allen Brocchini brushed off Jackie Peterson's rage.  "I'm used to it.  I get it all the time."  Perhaps that is because he deserves it.

As a leader in the investigation of the disappearance of Laci Peterson, Allen Brocchini bears the responsibility for all of his actions.  He will retire with his pension and the Scott Peterson conviction as a prize on his mantle.  Much of the responsibility for the injustice done in this case also sits there.  How will he answer for it when the time comes?

If you wish to review the performance of Detective Brocchini in the matter of the State of California vs Scott Peterson, please review his Prelim Testimony and Trial Testimony.

Presumption of Innocence - Reason v. Gut Feelings


Upon arrival, it didn't take Detective Brocchini much time to form a gut feeling that Scott Peterson had murdered his wife.  Another look at the 'evidence' that led to this feeling and some insight into the real person he was investigating show other reasonable conclusions.


Brocchini's "Gut" Feeling A "Reasonable" Interpretation
Brocchini found it suspicious that Scott couldn't say what he was fishing for or the bait he was using.  Scott said he went fishing instead of golfing because it was too cold to golf.  Brocchini
concluded that Scott wasn't fishing at all, but dumping a body in the San Francisco Bay
Scott didn't plan to fish at all that morning.  He had a tee-off time at his club.  He simply changed his mind.  "It was a morning decision," Scott said.  He and Laci had a Christmas Eve get-together with Laci's family that night, and Scott may have wanted to announce the new boat to Ron Grantski, her stepfather.  Scott wanted the two couples to get closer to each other, for the baby's sake, and now Scott and Ron could fish together in Scott's new boat.  Ron could even borrow it, if he'd like.

Perhaps Scott wanted to get the 'feel' of the boat before that evening.  Driving to the Bay with the boat on the trailer would be good experience, and he could tell Ron how it went.  His intention that morning was "just to get the boat in the water."

There were two mops in a bucket on the porch.

McAllister: ......your suspicions about Scott Peterson had already started forming when you saw the mop bucket as you walked up to the front door, right?
Brocchini: .......a lot more than just the mop bucket....

When Scott returned that evening, the bucket was in the same place he had put it for Laci that morning.  The pets ran into the house in
front of Scott and began sniffing around the bucket.  He dumped it and placed it on the porch, along with the mops.  Thorough forensic testing of these items showed that there was no evidence of a crime scene cleanup.  None whatever.
Laci's purse was in the closet of the couple's bedroom. This fact, alone, should have raised a different kind of red flag for Brocchini.  If Scott had something to do with Laci's disappearance, why would he not dispose of her personal things?  More importantly, if she went for a walk with the dog, she probably would not have taken these things with her.
Two duffel bags were disturbed in the spare bedroom. There is nothing, overtly or otherwise, suspicious about this fact.  Scott said he had grabbed a pair of his shoes out of one of these bags and told Brocchini, "I'm a slob," thus the disarray.  The shoes were found on the wet bar, just where Scott said he'd placed them.  However, Laci's white tennis shoes, her 'dog walking' shoes, were never found.
Dirty cleaning rags were piled on top of the washer. Like the purse, these rags should have told Brocchini that suspicion lay elsewhere.  What killer leaves the mess Scott supposedly did and then calls for help before the crime scene is made pristine?  Something else had occured that morning, but Brocchini's mind was on the Bay.
A disarrayed throw rug lay against the unlocked back door. This is probably the most ridiculous piece of "evidence" found that night.  On the FOURTH walk-through, this rug was observed to be askew.  How many feet had shuffled over that rug since Scott's return home that night?  And how could it become "scrunched" in the act of body-dragging, against a door that opened to the outside without being dragged right out?