Scott Peterson – State Response January 2015

In the Supreme Court of the State of California

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF
CALIFORNIA,

Respondent,

v.

SCOTT LEE PETERSON,

Appellant.

CAPITAL CASE

Case No. S132449

San Mateo County Superior Court Case No. SC55500

On Change of Venue From

Stanislaus County Superior Court Case No. 1056770

Honorable Alfred A. Delucchi, Judge

RESPONDENT’S BRIEF

KAMALA D. HARRIS

Attorney General of California

GERALD A. ENGLER

Chief Assistant Attorney General

RONALD S. MATTHIAS

Senior Assistant Attorney General

GLENN R. PRUDEN

Supervising Deputy Attorney General

DONNA M. PROVENZANO

Deputy Attorney General

State Bar No. 215302

455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 11000

San Francisco, CA 94102-7004

Telephone: (415) 703-1303

Fax: (415) 703-1234

Email: Donna.Provenzano@doj.ca.gov

Attorneys for Respondent
Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………….. 1

Statement of the Case ……………………………………………………………………….. 2

Statement of Facts ……………………………………………………………………………. 6

I. Guilt phase …………………………………………………………………… 6

A. Prosecution case …………………………………………………. 6

1. Background: Laci and Appellant ……………….. 6

2. November and December 2002:
Appellant’s affair with Amber Frey
begins ……………………………………………………… 8

a. Appellant meets Frey’s friend
Shawn Sibley and tells Sibley of
his interest in meeting single
women …………………………………………… 8

b. Appellant leads Frey to believe
that he is single and childless, and
assures her that there would be
many more corks to come ………………. 10

c. December 6: Sibley learns
appellant is married, but appellant
tells her that he “‘lost’” his wife ……… 12

d. December 9: Appellant tells Frey
that he “‘lost’” his wife ………………….. 13

e. December 11: Appellant escorts
Frey and her daughter to a
birthday party ……………………………….. 14

f. December 14: Appellant
accompanies Frey to a holiday
party while Laci goes to a holiday
party alone ……………………………………. 14

g. December 19-24: Phone contact
between appellant and Frey ……………. 16

3. Other circumstances leading up to Laci’s
disappearance …………………………………………. 17
a. The Peterson’s home laptop is
used to research bay tides and
currents ………………………………………… 17

b. Appellant buys a boat, but no one
knows ………………………………………….. 18

c. Appellant’s angst ………………………….. 20

d. Appellant’s financial situation ………… 20

e. Laci’s inheritance ………………………….. 22

(1) Jewelry, a pawn shop, and
eBay ………………………………….. 22

(2) Future proceeds from the
sale of real estate …………………. 23

4. December 23, 2002: Laci’s and
appellant’s activities ………………………………… 24

5. Christmas Eve 2002: Laci is missing ………… 25

6. Christmas Eve: Modesto Police
Department response and appellant’s
unusual behavior …………………………………….. 28

a. Appellant gets angry after police
ask him about his fishing trip ………….. 28

b. Appellant avoids Laci’s family ……….. 35

c. Appellant’s taped police interview ….. 37

7. Christmas Day ………………………………………… 40

a. Friends and family continue
searching ……………………………………… 40

b. Appellant’s second interview: He
assures investigators that he is a
faithful husband and suggests
transients were responsible for
Laci’s disappearance ……………………… 40

c. Appellant asks about using
cadaver dogs within 24 hours of
Laci’s disappearance ……………………… 42

8. The search intensifies ………………………………. 42
9. Appellant’s reluctance to have his image
or name associated with Laci ……………………. 44

10. Appellant’s concern about the dining
room table ……………………………………………… 44

11. Search warrants ………………………………………. 46

a. December 26 and 27, 2002:
Residence …………………………………….. 46

b. December 27, 2002: Warehouse …….. 47

(1) Pliers with hair ……………………. 47

(2) Concrete anchor and
cement residue ……………………. 50

(3) Paperwork ………………………….. 52

12. December 30: Amber Frey finds out
about Laci and calls the police tip line ……….. 52

13. Cuts on appellant’s hands ………………………… 54

14. The vigil for Laci and Conner and
appellant’s phone conversations with
Amber Frey purportedly made from
Paris and other European cities …………………. 55

a. The vigil on New Year’s Eve …………. 55

b. Early January 2003: Appellant’s
yearning for “a prolonged period
of freedom,” his death wish for a
barking dog, and his curious
explanation for an incriminating
photo …………………………………………… 56

15. Surveillance and tracking of appellant’s
comings and goings reveals he made five
separate trips to the Berkeley Marina in
five different vehicles………………………………. 59

a. Appellant rents numerous
vehicles ……………………………………….. 59

b. Surveillance uncovers appellant’s
trips to the Marina …………………………. 60
c. First wiretap confirms appellant is
visiting the Berkeley Marina and
lying about his whereabouts to
family and friends …………………………. 63

16. Searches on the Bay and in neighboring
counties …………………………………………………. 64

a. Bay search with dive teams and
helicopter ……………………………………… 64

b. Shoreline search with K-9 teams
discovers Laci’s scent at the
Marina …………………………………………. 66

c. Search of the Modesto foothills
and Tracy area ………………………………. 67

17. February 18, 2003 search warrant ……………… 67

18. Appellant’s actions following Laci’s
disappearance draw increasing attention
from authorities ………………………………………. 68

a. Appellant’s subscription to
pornography channels ……………………. 68

b. Appellant closes down his
warehouse ……………………………………. 69

c. Appellant’s inquiry into selling
the couple’s home furnished …………… 69

d. Appellant sells Laci’s Land Rover …… 70

e. Appellant stops mail delivery to
the Covena residence …………………….. 70

f. Appellant’s use of the nursery for
storage …………………………………………. 70

g. Appellant’s seeming disinterest in
a possible sighting of Laci in
Longview, Washington ………………….. 71

19. Appellant’s affair is revealed ……………………. 74
a. Early January 2003: Frey
confronts appellant about being
married, but appellant tells Frey
that Laci is “fine” with the affair …….. 74

b. Police confront appellant about
the affair that has become public …….. 76

c. Appellant lies repeatedly to Diane
Sawyer during a nationally
televised interview and maintains
that Laci knew about his affair ……….. 76

d. Appellant continues his
relationship with Frey until
authorities instruct her to
discontinue contact ………………………… 79

20. Appellant’s Christmas Eve trip to the
Bay ……………………………………………………….. 79

a. A slow day at the Marina with
few boaters …………………………………… 79

b. Appellant’s fishing gear
contradicted his claim that he
went fishing ………………………………….. 80

c. Appellant never mentions that he
went fishing ………………………………….. 82

d. Appellant had other more
convenient options for fishing ………… 82

21. A-boy-called-Sue sort of thing ………………….. 83

22. Laci’s and Conner’s bodies wash ashore ……. 84

a. April 13, 2003: Conner …………………. 84

b. April 14, 2003: Laci ……………………… 85

c. Appellant never returns Sharon
Rocha’s call about discovery of
the bodies or calls Detective
Grogan to ask about the
developments ……………………………….. 87

23. Condition of Laci’s and Conner’s bodies …… 87
24. Autopsy results ……………………………………….. 89

a. Dr. Peterson’s conclusion that
Laci died while still pregnant ………….. 90

b. Dr. Peterson’s conclusion that
Conner could have lived had he
been permitted the chance ………………. 93

c. Comparison of the bodies and Dr.
Peterson’s conclusion that Laci’s
death caused Conner’s death …………… 95

d. The condition of Laci’s body
precluded identifying the cause of
her death ………………………………………. 96

25. Examination of the bodies by a forensic
anthropologist confirms that Laci was in
the water for a minimum of three months …… 98

26. Conner’s age, viability, and estimated
date of death …………………………………………… 98

27. Movement of bodies in the Bay ………………. 102

28. Appellant changes his appearance,
huddles with his family in Southern
California, and plays cat-and-mouse with
law enforcement ……………………………………. 103

29. April 18, 2003: Appellant is arrested
with $15,000 in cash, outdoor
equipment, and foreign currency …………….. 107

30. Further searches in the Bay for remains
and other evidence ………………………………… 108

31. The prosecution’s evidence refuted
appellant’s suggestion that Laci was
kidnapped while walking in the park, as
well as the defense theory that authorities
rushed to judgment ………………………………… 109

a. The investigation initially focused
on those closest to Laci, including
appellant …………………………………….. 110
b. Laci’s compromised physical
condition in the latter stages of
her pregnancy ……………………………… 112

c. Purported sightings of Laci across
the United States and overseas ………. 114

d. The burglary at the Medina’s
residence ……………………………………. 116

e. Homeless or transients in the area …. 116

f. A van in the neighborhood on
December 24 ………………………………. 117

g. Burglary of the Peterson’s home
on January 19, 2003 …………………….. 118

B. Defense case …………………………………………………… 118

1. The Medina residence burglary ………………. 118

2. Appellant’s use of concrete …………………….. 119

3. Appellant’s motivation for getting a post
office box …………………………………………….. 121

4. Appellant’s financial position …………………. 121

5. Laci’s physical condition during
pregnancy and her walking habits ……………. 123

6. The smell of the Target bag ……………………. 125

7. Scent trailing at the Marina …………………….. 126

8. A stranger in the neighborhood on
December 23 and unclaimed shoes ………….. 128

9. Conner’s gestational age ………………………… 130

10. The circumstances around the time of
appellant’s arrest …………………………………… 133

a. Buying the Mercedes in his
mother’s name …………………………….. 133

b. Golf plans for April 18—the day
of appellant’s arrest ……………………… 133
c. Phone call between appellant and
his brother Joe on the morning of
April 18 ……………………………………… 134

d. The large amount of cash ……………… 135

e. The Mexican exhibit at the art
museum ……………………………………… 136

f. Appellant’s goatee ………………………. 136

11. Other evidence ……………………………………… 137

a. Statements made to Investigator
Bertalotto ……………………………………. 137

b. Statements made to Detective
Grogan ……………………………………….. 139

c. Statements made to Detective
Buehler ………………………………………. 140

d. Austin’s no-sale receipt………………… 141

e. Yahoo search ………………………………. 141

f. Email regarding TradeCorp ………….. 141

II. Penalty phase ……………………………………………………………. 141

A. Prosecution case ……………………………………………… 141

1. Laci was the lively one with a kind heart …. 142

2. Laci was excited to be a mom …………………. 143

3. The nightmare that began on Christmas
Eve 2002 ……………………………………………… 144

4. The void left behind ………………………………. 146

B. Defense case …………………………………………………… 148

1. Family background ……………………………….. 148

2. Lee and Jackie marry and appellant is
born …………………………………………………….. 149

3. Appellant was loved and well-cared for …… 151

4. The formative years: Appellant was
caring, responsible, polite, and a model
student …………………………………………………. 151
5. Appellant Leaves ASU and returns to
San Diego …………………………………………….. 154

6. Appellant leaves San Diego and attends
community college in Morro Bay ……………. 154

7. Appellant leaves community college in
Morro Bay and enrolls at Cal Poly in San
Luis Obispo where he meets Laci ……………. 154

8. Appellant and Laci marry and move to
Modesto ……………………………………………….. 157

9. Appellant’s and Laci’s evolving thinking
on having children …………………………………. 159

10. Appellant’s charitable works in high
school ………………………………………………….. 160

11. Appellant’s caring attitude toward his
family ………………………………………………….. 160

12. Appellant’s passion for golf ……………………. 160

13. The Peterson family culture and
dynamics ……………………………………………… 163

14. Present circumstances ……………………………. 164

15. Documentary evidence …………………………… 166

Argument …………………………………………………………………………………….. 166

I. The trial court properly excused the identified thirteen
prospective jurors for cause because their
questionnaires demonstrated that each was
“substantially impaired” within the meaning of
Wainright v. Witt ………………………………………………………. 166

A. The jury selection process ………………………………… 167

B. Legal principles ………………………………………………. 174

C. The trial court’s excusal of each of the thirteen
identified jurors is supported by substantial
evidence …………………………………………………………. 176

1. Prospective Juror Number 6963 ………………. 179

2. Prospective Juror Number 6284 ………………. 182
3. Prospective Juror Number 27605 …………….. 184

4. Prospective Juror Number 4841 ………………. 185

5. Prospective Juror Number 29280 …………….. 186

6. Prospective Juror Number 6960 ………………. 187

7. Prospective Juror Number 7056 ………………. 188

8. Prospective Juror Number 16727 …………….. 189

9. Prospective Juror Number 8340 ………………. 190

10. Prospective Juror Number 23873 …………….. 191

11. Prospective Juror Number 593 ………………… 192

12. Prospective Juror Number 23916 …………….. 193

13. Prospective Juror Number 5909 ………………. 194

D. Any error was harmless ……………………………………. 194

II. The guilt-phase verdicts and special circumstance
finding are constitutionally sound because death
qualification of a jury comports with constitutional
mandates, including those under the Eighth
Amendment ……………………………………………………………… 197

A. Established precedent provides that even if any
one of the identified prospective jurors was
erroneously excluded, reversal of the guilt-
phase judgment is unwarranted …………………………. 198

B. This court has considered the erroneous excusal
of jurors in the context of the Eighth
Amendment and rejected similar claims …………….. 199

C. Voir dire in this case undermines the social
science studies upon which appellant relies ………… 201

III. The identified seventeen prospective jurors were
properly excused for cause as the questionnaire
adequately discerned a prospective juror’s ability to
impose either penalty under Witherspoon-Witt ……………… 202

A. Appellant has waived his claim insofar as it is
predicated on the adequacy of the questionnaire …. 203
B. The questionnaire, taken as a whole, was
sufficiently clear on the Witherspoon-Witt
standard as aided by the trial court’s
explanation regarding penalty considerations ……… 203

C. The trial court’s exclusion of the seventeen
identified prospective jurors is supported by
substantial evidence ………………………………………… 207

1. Prospective Juror Number 651 ………………… 208

2. Prospective Juror Number 4931 ……………… 209

3. Prospective Juror Number 912 ………………… 210

4. Prospective Juror Number 6263 ………………. 210

5. Prospective Juror Number 6399 ………………. 211

6. Prospective Juror Number 6162 ………………. 213

7. Prospective Juror Number 7152 ………………. 213

8. Prospective Juror Number 10012 …………….. 215

9. Prospective Juror Number 29331 …………….. 216

10. Prospective Juror Number 29631 …………….. 216

11. Prospective Juror Number 8607 ………………. 217

12. Prospective Juror Number 9503 ………………. 218

13. Prospective Juror Number 9736 ………………. 219

14. Prospective Juror Number 24073 …………….. 220

15. Prospective Juror Number 455 ………………… 221

16. Prospective Juror Number 6712 ………………. 222

17. Prospective Juror Number 7236 ………………. 223

D. Any error was harmless ……………………………………. 223

IV. Substantial evidence supports the trial court’s excusal
of the five identified purportedly equivocal prospective
jurors as each was substantially impaired in the ability
to impose the death penalty ………………………………………… 224
A. This court’s decisions on the standard of review
governing a trial court’s determination of a
prospective juror’s actual state of mind are in
accord with United States Supreme Court
precedent ……………………………………………………….. 225

B. The trial court properly excluded the five
identified prospective jurors for cause ……………….. 227

1. Prospective Juror Number 21369 …………….. 227

2. Prospective Juror Number 4486 ………………. 230

3. Prospective Juror Number 4475 ………………. 231

4. Prospective Juror Number 4823 ………………. 233

5. Prospective Juror Number 17976 …………….. 235

C. Any error was harmless ……………………………………. 237

V. An impartial jury was impaneled to try appellant in
San Mateo County …………………………………………………….. 238

A. Second venue change motion: Southern
California may have been better suited to the
specific needs of the defense, but San Mateo
county was the best venue for the trial ……………….. 239

B. Legal principles: appellant must show error and
actual prejudice ………………………………………………. 242

C. Appellant has not established that the trial court
erred when it determined there was no
reasonable likelihood that appellant could not
receive a fair trial in San Mateo County …………….. 246

1. Size of community ………………………………… 246

2. Gravity of crime ……………………………………. 247

3. Status of appellant and his victims …………… 248

4. Extent and nature of news coverage ………… 249

a. Extent of coverage ………………………. 250

b. Nature of coverage ………………………. 252
D. Appellant has not established a reasonable
likelihood that he did not receive a fair trial in
San Mateo County …………………………………………… 255

1. Voir dire in San Mateo County ……………….. 255

a. Juror Number 1 (11175)……………….. 256

b. Juror Number 2 (8510)…………………. 256

c. Juror Number 3 (23874)……………….. 258

d. Juror Number 4 (4741)…………………. 259

e. Juror Number 5 (9997)…………………. 260

f. Juror Number 6 (17903)……………….. 261

g. Juror Number 7 (6756)…………………. 262

h. Juror Number 8 (18106)……………….. 263

i. Juror Number 9 (8659)…………………. 264

j. Juror Number 10 (9533)……………….. 265

k. Juror Number 11 (24023)……………… 267

l. Juror Number 12 (17901)……………… 268

2. Appellant’s demonstrated satisfaction
with the jury as selected …………………………. 270

VI. The trial court properly admitted the Marina dog
trailing evidence ……………………………………………………….. 271

A. Pretrial hearings and rulings …………………………….. 272

1. Testimony …………………………………………….. 273

a. Dog handler Eloise Anderson ……….. 273

b. Captain Christopher Boyer …………… 282

2. Appellant’s objection and the trial
court’s ruling ………………………………………… 287

B. Applicable legal principles: this case did not
involve teaching an old dog new tricks ………………. 289

C. Appellant fails to show the trial court’s
admission of Trimble’s detection of Laci’s scent
at the Marina constituted an abuse of discretion ….. 295
1. The Malgren factors ………………………………. 296

2. Scent theory and the non-contact trail ……… 302

D. Any alleged error in admission of the dog
trailing evidence was harmless …………………………. 304

E. Appellant’s Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment
claims are forfeited and meritless ……………………… 314

VII. Any inference permitted by the dog trailing instruction
did not impermissibly shift the burden of proof…………….. 316

A. Procedural background…………………………………….. 316

B. Appellant has forfeited the claim ………………………. 319

C. General legal principles……………………………………. 319

D. CALJIC No. 2.16 was properly given because it
ensured the dog trailing evidence could only be
considered if reliability and corroboration
prerequisites were met……………………………………… 320

E. CALJIC No. 2.16 contained a permissive
inference that comported with due process …………. 324

F. If error, it was harmless ……………………………………. 328

VIII. Tthe dog trailing instruction, as given, was not a
pinpoint instruction that benefitted the prosecution ……….. 330

A. Appellant has forfeited the claim ………………………. 331

B. CALJIC No. 2.16 did not instruct the jury that
exculpatory evidence had to be proved beyond a
reasonable doubt ……………………………………………… 332

C. If error, it was harmless under any standard ……….. 334

IX. The trial court properly admitted expert testimony
concerning the wind, tides, and currents associated
with San Francisco Bay ……………………………………………… 337

A. Appellant has waived the claim ………………………… 337

B. Evidence Code section 402 hearing …………………… 339

C. Summary of Dr. Cheng’s trial testimony ……………. 339

1. Voir dire ………………………………………………. 339

2. Expert testimony …………………………………… 340
D. A Kelly hearing was unnecessary because there
was nothing new or novel about Dr. Cheng’s
application of fluid dynamics in a hydrological
context …………………………………………………………… 345

E. There was a proper foundation for admission of
Dr. Cheng’s testimony under Kelly ……………………. 349

F. Any error was harmless ……………………………………. 354

X. The trial court’s rulings on issues pertaining to the
stability of appellant’s boat were proper ………………………. 358

A. The videotaped boat experiment was properly
excluded ………………………………………………………… 359

1. Procedural background ………………………….. 359

2. The videotaped experiment was not
substantially similar to what was known
about appellant’s boat trip on the Bay ……… 365

B. That portion of the trial court’s ruling
permitting the prosecution to observe a new
defense experiment was a reasonable order
designed to protect the interests of both parties
while advancing the search for the truth …………….. 373

1. Procedural problems: a justiciable claim
is lacking but otherwise the claim was
waived …………………………………………………. 373

2. The Court’s ruling did not violate
appellant’s Sixth Amendment right to the
effective assistance of counsel or his
right to due process under the Fifth and
Fourteenth Amendments ………………………… 375

3. Appellant has not demonstrated
prejudice under Watson, Strickland, or
Chapman ……………………………………………… 381

C. The trial court’s ruling denying the defense
motion for a mistrial based on the jurors’
examination of evidence was a proper exercise
of discretion ……………………………………………………. 383

1. Procedural background ………………………….. 384
2. Applicable legal principles …………………….. 386

XI. The prosecutor’s remarks during closing argument
concerning the stability of appellant’s boat were proper … 393

A. Factual background …………………………………………. 393

1. Defense cross-examination …………………….. 393

2. Prosecutor’s closing remarks ………………….. 394

3. Defense counsel’s closing remarks ………….. 396

B. The claim is forfeited ………………………………………. 398

C. The prosecutor did not err ………………………………… 399

D. If error, it was harmless ……………………………………. 402

XII. The trial court’s removal of Juror No. 5 was a proper
and necessary exercise of its discretion because the
juror’s pattern of misconduct rendered him incapable
of performing his duties …………………………………………….. 403

A. Procedural background…………………………………….. 404

1. The trial court’s inquiry into Juror No.
5’s interaction with Brent Rocha reveals
the juror’s preoccupation with the
attention he received from the media ……….. 404

2. The court investigates a report from
jurors that Juror No. 5 is discussing the
case ……………………………………………………… 406

a. Juror No. 5 …………………………………. 407

b. Juror No. 1 …………………………………. 409

c. Juror No. 2 …………………………………. 410

d. Juror No. 3 …………………………………. 411

e. Juror No. 4 …………………………………. 411

f. Juror No. 6 …………………………………. 412

g. Juror No. 7 …………………………………. 413

h. Juror No. 8 …………………………………. 413

i. Juror No. 9 …………………………………. 416

j. Juror No. 10 ……………………………….. 417
k. Juror No. 11 ……………………………….. 417

l. Juror No. 12 ……………………………….. 417

m. Alternate Juror No. 1……………………. 418

n. Alternate Juror No. 2……………………. 418

o. Alternate Juror No. 3……………………. 419

p. Alternate Juror No. 4……………………. 419

q. Alternate Juror No. 5……………………. 419

r. Alternate Juror No. 6……………………. 420

3. Argument and ruling ……………………………… 421

B. General legal principles……………………………………. 423

C. Substantial evidence supports the trial court’s
decision to remove Juror No. 5 owing to the
juror’s serious and willful misconduct that
proved to a demonstrable reality the juror’s
inability to perform his duties …………………………… 424

1. Juror No. 5 disregarded the court’s
instructions when he discussed matters
connected to the case with his girlfriend
and family members ………………………………. 424

2. Juror No. 5 disregarded the court’s
instructions when he discussed the case
with other jurors ……………………………………. 425

a. Court TV and being “a loose
cannon” ……………………………………… 426

b. Anchor in appellant’s boat ……………. 427

c. Detective Brocchini’s testimony ……. 429

d. Expressing negative views of the
prosecutors and the prosecution’s
case to other jurors ………………………. 429

e. Police report inconsistencies …………. 429

f. Laci’s pregnancy weight ………………. 430

3. Other jurors admonished Juror No. 5 ……….. 431
4. Juror No. 5’s behavior impacted other
jurors …………………………………………………… 431

D. The trial court’s implicit refusal to discharge
Jurors Nos. 4 and 6 and alternate Jurors Nos. 2
and 6 is supported by substantial evidence …………. 432

E. Reversal is unwarranted under state or federal
law ………………………………………………………………… 434

XIII. The trial court’s inquiry into the hearsay allegations of
prejudicial juror misconduct was adequately tailored to
the circumstances ……………………………………………………… 436

A. Procedural background…………………………………….. 437

1. Questioning of Ms. Canny ……………………… 438

2. Gino Gonzales ………………………………………. 441

3. Questioning of the jurors and alternates …… 443

4. Argument and ruling ……………………………… 444

B. Appellant has forfeited the claim ………………………. 445

C. Applicable legal principles ……………………………….. 446

D. The trial court conducted an adequate inquiry
into the hearsay allegations of juror misconduct …. 447

XIV. The trial court properly refused to dismiss the penalty
phase of the trial or, in the alternative, to seat a new
penalty jury ………………………………………………………………. 451

A. Procedural background…………………………………….. 451

B. Applicable legal principles ……………………………….. 454

C. Appellant has failed to show to a demonstrable
reality that the jury could not perform its
function to fairly decide the issue of penalty ………. 455

D. Impaneling a unitary jury for the guilt and
penalty phases did not violate appellant’s
federal constitutional rights to due process, a
fair trial, or a reliable penalty determination……….. 459

XV. The trial court properly excluded information about
other capital murders because it was not relevant as
mitigation evidence …………………………………………………… 460
A. Procedural background…………………………………….. 460

B. Applicable legal principles ……………………………….. 461

C. The trial court properly excluded the other-
crimes information because it was not relevant …… 463

D. Any error was harmless beyond a reasonable
doubt ……………………………………………………………… 466

XVI. California’s death penalty law, as interpreted by this
Court and as applied at appellant’s trial, comports with
the United States Constitution and international law ……… 469

A. Age as a sentencing factor………………………………… 470

B. Narrowing function …………………………………………. 470

C. “Circumstances of the crime” as a sentencing
factor …………………………………………………………….. 471

D. Burden of proof and the weighing process …………. 471

E. CALJIC No. 8.85 ……………………………………………. 472

1. Deleting inapplicable factors ………………….. 472

2. Differentiating between aggravating and
mitigating factors ………………………………….. 473

3. Defining sentencing factors ……………………. 473

4. Use of qualifying adjectives for certain
sentencing factors ………………………………….. 473

5. Burden of proof …………………………………….. 474

6. International law …………………………………… 474

Conclusion …………………………………………………………………………………… 475
CASES

Adams v. Texas
(1980) 448 U.S. 38 ………………………………………………………………. 225, 226

Ake v. Oklahoma
(1985) 470 U.S. 68 ………………………………………………………………. 379, 380

Bell v. Cone
(2002) 535 U.S. 685 …………………………………………………………………….. 382

Boyde v. California
(1990) 494 U.S. 370 ……………………………………………………………………. 401

Chambers v. Mississippi
(1973) 410 U.S. 284 ……………………………………………………………………. 365

Chapman v. California
(1967) 386 U.S. 18 …………………………………………………………………. passim

Coleman v. McCormick
(9th Cir. 1989) 874 F.2d 1280 …………………………………………………….. 467

Cool v. United States
(1972) 409 U.S. 100 ……………………………………………………… 332, 333, 334

County Court of Ulster County v. Allen
(1979) 442 U.S. 140 ……………………………………………………………………. 324

Crampton v. Ohio
(1972) 408 U.S. 941 ……………………………………………………………………. 375

CSX Transp., Inc. v. Hensley
(2009) 556 U.S. 838 ……………………………………………………………………. 460

Darden v. Wainwright
(1968) 477 U.S. 168 ……………………………………………………………………. 205

Eddings v. Oklahoma
(1982) 455 U.S. 104 ……………………………………………………………………. 462

Estelle v. McGuire
(1991) 502 U.S. 62 ………………………………………………………………. 320, 322
Estes v. Texas
(1965) 381 U.S. 532 ……………………………………………………………………. 243

Fain v. Superior Court
(1970) 2 Cal.3d 46 ………………………………………………………………………… 247

Francis v. Franklin
(1985) 471 U.S. 307 ……………………………………………………… 324, 325, 326

Frazier v. Superior Court
(1971) 5 Cal.3d 287 ………………………………………………………………………. 247

Frye v. United States
(D.C.Cir. 1923) 293 F. 1013 ……………………………………………………. 288, 350

Fuller v. Roe
(9th Cir. 1999) 182 F.3d 699 ……………………………………………………….. 474

Gentry v. Sinclair
(9th Cir. 2013) 705 F.3d 884 ……………………………………………………….. 226

Gray v. Mississippi
(1987) 481 U.S. 648 ……………………………………………………………….. passim

Henderson v. Lane
(7th Cir. 1980) 613 F.2d 175 ………………………………………………………….. 436

Henry v. Ryan
(9th Cir. 2013) 720 F.3d 1073 ……………………………………………… 391, 392

Herring v. New York
(1975) 422 U.S. 853 ……………………………………………………………………. 382

Higgins v. L.A. Gas & Electric Co.
(1911) 159 Cal. 651 …………………………………………………………………….. 387

Hitchcock v. Dugger
(1987) 481 U.S. 393 …………………………………………………………….. 462, 466

Hovey v. Superior Court
(1980) 28 Cal.3d 1 ………………………………………………………………………… 168

Hunt v. Superior Court
(1999) 21 Cal.4th 984 …………………………………………………………………. 374
In re Hamilton
(1999) 20 Cal.4th 273 …………………………………………………… 423, 424, 435

In re Hitchings
(1993) 6 Cal.4th 97 ……………………………………………………………………… 425

In re Seaton
(2004) 34 Cal.4th 193 …………………………………………………………………. 445

In re Winship
(1970) 397 U.S. 358 …………………………………………………………….. 324, 332

Irvin v. Dowd
(1961) 366 U.S. 717 ……………………………………………………… 245, 253, 423

Izazaga v. Superior Court
(1991) 54 Cal.3d 356 …………………………………………………………………….. 378

Jackson v. Superior Court
(1937) 10 Cal.2d 350 ………………………………………………………………….. 338

Kimbrough v. United States
(2007) 552 U.S. 85 ……………………………………………………………………… 465

Lagunitas Water Co. v. Marin Water Co.
(1912) 163 Cal. 332 …………………………………………………………………….. 351

Lissak v. Crocker Estate Co.
(1897) 119 Cal. 442 …………………………………………………………………….. 338

Lockett v. Ohio
(1978) 438 U.S. 586 ……………………………………………………………………. 462

Lockhart v. McCree
(1986) 476 U.S. 162 ……………………………………………………………….. passim

Maine v. Superior Court
(1968) 68 Cal.2d 375 …………………………………………………………………….. 247

Martinez v. Superior Court
(1981) 29 Cal.3d 574 ………………………………………………………………….. 247

McGautha v. California
(1971) 402 U.S. 183 ………………………………………………………………………. 375
McGown v. Superior Court
(1977) 75 Cal.App.3d 648 ……………………………………………………….. 3, 240

Miller v. Stagner
(9th Cir. 1985) 757 F.2d 988 ………………………………………………………….. 436

Mills v. Maryland
(1988) 486 U.S. 367 ……………………………………………………………………. 462

Moose Lodge No. 107 v. Irvis
(1973) 407 U.S. 163 ………………………………………………………………………. 380

Morgan v. Illinois
(1992) 504 U.S. 719 ……………………………………………………………………. 177

Mu’Min v. Virginia
(1991) 500 U.S. 415 ……………………………………………………………………. 254

Murphy v. Florida
(1975) 421 U.S. 794 ……………………………………………………………………. 459

Oakland v. Williams
(1940) 15 Cal.2d 542 …………………………………………………………………… 352

Ortiz-Sandoval v. Gomez
(9th Cir. 1996) 81 F.3d 891 …………………………………………………………. 401

Paxton v. Ward
(10th Cir. 1999) 199 F.3d 1197 …………………………………………………… 401

Penry v. Lynaugh
(1989) 492 U.S. 302 …………………………………………………………….. 461, 467

People v. Abilez
(2007) 41 Cal.4th 472 …………………………………………………………………. 180

People v. Arias
(1996) 13 Cal.4th 92 …………………………………………………………………… 471

People v. Ashmus
(1991) 54 Cal.3d 932 …………………………………………………………… 199, 270

People v. Avila
(2006) 38 Cal.4th 491 …………………………………………………………….. passim
People v. Barnett
(1998) 17 Cal.4th 1044 ……………………………………………………………….. 471

People v. Beeler
(1995) 9 Cal.4th 953 …………………………………………………………………… 295

People v. Bemore
(2000) 22 Cal.4th 809 …………………………………………………………………. 472

People v. Black
(2014) 58 Cal.4th 912 …………………………………………………………………. 242

People v. Blacksher
(2011) 52 Cal.4th 769 ………………………………………………………….. 365, 399

People v. Bogle
(1995) 41 Cal.App.4th 770 ……………………………………………. 389, 390, 391

People v. Bolden
(2002) 29 Cal.4th 515 ………………………………………………………….. 376, 471

People v. Bolin
(1998) 18 Cal.4th 297 …………………………………………………………………. 319

People v. Bonin
(1988) 46 Cal.3d 659 …………………………………………………………………….. 248

People v. Boyette
(2002) 29 Cal.4th 381 …………………………………………………………….. 305, 371

People v. Bramit
(2009) 46 Cal.4th 1221 ……………………………………………………………….. 472

People v. Brown
(1988) 46 Cal.3d 432 ………………………………………………………………….. 232

People v. Brown
(2014) 59 Cal.4th 86 …………………………………………………………………… 302

People v. Bryant, Smith and Wheeler
(2014) 60 Cal.4th 335 …………………………………………………… 225, 463, 464

People v. Burney
(2009) 47 Cal.4th 203 …………………………………………………………………. 473
People v. Cain
(1995) 10 Cal.4th 1 ……………………………………………………………………… 320

People v. Carasi
(2008) 44 Cal.4th 1263 ……………………………………………………………….. 462

People v. Carpenter
(1997) 15 Cal.4th 312 ………………………………………………………….. 180, 313

People v. Carrera
(1989) 49 Cal.3d 291 ………………………………………………………………….. 198

People v. Carrington
(2009) 47 Cal.4th 145 …………………………………………………………………. 470

People v. Castaneda
(2011) 51 Cal.4th 1292 ……………………………………………………………….. 470

People v. Castillo
(1997) 16 Cal.4th 1009 ……………………………………………………………….. 333

People v. Castro
(1986) 184 Cal.App.3d 849 …………………………………………………………. 390

People v. Catlin
(2001) 26 Cal.4th 81 …………………………………………………………………… 314

People v. Chism
(2014) 58 Cal.4th 1266 ……………………………………………………………….. 471

People v. Clark
(1993) 5 Cal.4th 950 ……………………………………………………………………… 346

People v. Clark
(2011) 52 Cal.4th 856 …………………………………………………………….. passim

People v. Coffman and Marlow
(2004) 34 Cal.4th 1 ………………………………………………………………. 254, 270

People v. Coleman
(1989) 48 Cal.3d 112 …………………………………………………………………….. 247

People v. Collins
(2010) 49 Cal.4th 175 …………………………………………………………….. passim
People v. Conkling
(1896) 111 Cal. 616 …………………………………………………………………….. 390

People v. Cooper
(1979) 95 Cal.App.3d 844 …………………………………………………………… 389

People v. Cooper
(1991) 53 Cal.3d 771 ……………………………………………………………… passim

People v. Cox
(2003) 30 Cal.4th 916 …………………………………………………………………….. 351

People v. Craig
(1978) 86 Cal.App.3d 905 ………………………………………………………. passim

People v. Crew
(1991) 1 Cal.App.4th 1591 ………………………………………………………….. 463

People v. Crittenden
(1994) 9 Cal.4th 83 ……………………………………………………………………… 471

People v. Curl
(2009) 46 Cal.4th 339 …………………………………………………………………. 295

People v. Daggett
(1990) 225 Cal.App.3d 751 …………………………………………………………. 401

People v. Daniels
(1991) 52 Cal.3d 815 …………………………………………………………… 426, 428

People v. Davis
(2009) 46 Cal.4th 539 ………………………………………………. 242, 252, 271, 459

People v. Dellinger
(1984) 163 Cal.App.3d 284 ………………………………………………….. 357, 358

People v. Dennis
(1998) 17 Cal.4th 468 …………………………………………………… 248, 249, 270

People v. DePriest
(2007) 42 Cal.4th 1 ……………………………………………………………………… 346

People v. Doolin
(2009) 45 Cal.4th 390 …………………………………………………………….. passim
People v. Duenas
(2012) 55 Cal.4th 1 ……………………………………………………………………… 225

People v. Duff
(2014) 58 Cal.4th 527 ………………………………………………………….. 175, 424

People v. Dyer
(1988) 45 Cal.3d 26 …………………………………………………………………….. 462

People v. Dykes
(2009) 46 Cal.4th 731 ………………………………………………………….. 446, 447

People v. Edwards
(2013) 57 Cal.4th 658 …………………………………………………………………. 473

People v. Eubanks
(2011) 53 Cal.4th 110 …………………………………………………………….. passim

People v. Famalaro
(2011) 52 Cal.4th 1 ……………………………………………………….. 248, 249, 250

People v. Farley
(2009) 46 Cal.4th 1053 ……………………………………………………………….. 245

People v. Farmer
(1989) 47 Cal.3d 888 ……………………………………………………………………… 350

People v. Fauber
(1992) 2 Cal.4th 792 ……………………………………………………………. 270, 454

People v. Foster
(2010) 50 Cal.4th 1301 ……………………………………………………………….. 432

People v. Friend
(2009) 47 Cal.4th 1 ……………………………………………………………………… 398

People v. Frye
(1998) 18 Cal.4th 894 ……………………………………………………………………. 320

People v. Fudge
(1994) 7 Cal.4th 1075 …………………………………………………………….. 305, 467

People v. Fuiava
(2012) 53 Cal.4th 622 ……………………………………………. 319, 398, 447, 450
People v. Fulcher
(2006) 136 Cal.App.4th 41 …………………………………………………………….. 279

People v. Ghent
(1987) 43 Cal.3d 739 ……………………………………………………………… passim

People v. Gonzales
(1990) 218 Cal.App.3d 403 ……………………………………………………….. passim

People v. Gonzales
(2011) 51 Cal.4th 894 …………………………………………………………………. 320

People v. Gonzales
(2013) 54 Cal.4th 1234 ………………………………………………………… 464, 465

People v. Gonzalez
(2006) 38 Cal.4th 932 ………………………………………………………….. 320, 370

People v. Green
(1980) 27 Cal.3d 1 ………………………………………………………………………. 315

People v. Gurule
(2002) 28 Cal.4th 557 …………………………………………………………………. 198

People v. Guzman
(1988) 45 Cal.3d 915 ………………………………………………………………….. 229

People v. Hajek and Vo
(2014) 58 Cal.4th 1144 ……………………………………………………………….. 320

People v. Hamilton
(1989) 48 Cal.3d 1142 ………………………………………………………………… 462

People v. Hart
(1999) 20 Cal.4th 546 …………………………………………………………………. 254

People v. Hawthorne
(1992) 4 Cal.4th 43 ……………………………………………………………………… 472

People v. Hawthorne
(2009) 46 Cal.4th 67 ……………………………………………………………. 222, 223

People v. Hayes
(1990) 52 Cal.3d 577 ………………………………………………………………….. 472
People v. Hayes
(1999) 21 Cal.4th 1211 …………………………………………………………… 247, 255

People v. Heard
(2003) 31 Cal.4th 946 …………………………………………………………………. 199

People v. Hernandez
(2012) 53 Cal.4th 1095………………………………………………………………. 382

People v. Hill
(1998) 17 Cal.4th 800 …………………………………………………… 248, 254, 399

People v. Holt
(1997) 15 Cal.4th 619 …………………………………………………… 195, 224, 237

People v. Homick
(2012) 55 Cal.4th 816 …………………………………………………………………. 474

People v. Hovarter
(2008) 44 Cal.4th 983 ………………………………………………………….. 295, 302

People v. Humphrey
(1996) 13 Cal.4th 1073 ……………………………………………………………….. 334

People v. Hunter
(1989) 49 Cal.3d 957 ………………………………………………………………….. 462

People v. Jackson
(1996) 13 Cal.4th 1164 ……………………………………………………………….. 201

People v. Jackson
(2014) 58 Cal.4th 724 ………………………………………………………….. 176, 225

People v. Jenkins
(2000) 22 Cal.4th 900 ………………………………………………………….. 254, 425

People v. Johnson
(1992) 3 Cal.4th 1183 …………………………………………………………………. 200

People v. Jones
(1991) 53 Cal.3d 1115 ………………………………………………………………… 289

People v. Jones
(1998) 17 Cal.4th 279 ………………………………………………………….. 295, 302
People v. Jones
(2011) 51 Cal.4th 346 ………………………………………………………….. 366, 370

People v. Jones
(2012) 54 Cal.4th 1 ……………………………………………………………………… 180

People v. Jones
(2013) 57 Cal.4th 899 …………………………………………………… 175, 179, 474

People v. Kelly
(1976) 17 Cal.3d 24 ………………………………………………………………….. passim

People v. Kirkpatrick
(1994) 7 Cal.4th 988 ………………………………………………… 185, 187, 188, 194

People v. Lang
(1989) 49 Cal.3d 991 ………………………………………………………………….. 331

People v. Lawley
(2002) 27 Cal.4th 102 …………………………………………………… 333, 400, 401

People v. Leahy
(1994) 8 Cal.4th 587 ……………………………………………………………. 292, 346

People v. Lenart
(2004) 32 Cal.4th 1107 ……………………………………………………………….. 201

People v. Leonard
(2007) 40 Cal.4th 1370 …………………………………………………. 252, 269, 432

People v. Lewis
(2008) 43 Cal.4th 415 ……………………………………………………… 242, 251, 255

People v. Lewis
(2009) 46 Cal.4th 1255 ……………………………………………………………….. 425

People v. Linton
(2013) 56 Cal.4th 1146 ……………………………………………………………….. 424

People v. Lomax
(2010) 49 Cal.4th 530 …………………………………………………… 189, 214, 234

People v. Lucero
(1988) 44 Cal.3d 1006 …………………………………………………………. 457, 458
People v. Mai
(2013) 57 Cal.4th 986 …………………………………………………………………. 474

People v. Malgren
(1983) 139 Cal.App.3d 234 …………………………………………………….. passim

People v. Manson
(1976) 61 Cal.App.3d 102 …………………………………………………………… 252

People v. McDonald
(1984) 37 Cal.3d 351 …………………………………………………………………….. 346

People v. McKinnon
(2011) 52 Cal.4th 610 …………………………………………………………….. passim

People v. McKinzie
(2012) 54 Cal.4th 1302 ……………………………………………………………….. 176

People v. McWhorter
(2009) 47 Cal.4th 318 ………………………………………………………….. 175, 295

People v. Medina
(1995) 11 Cal.4th 694 …………………………………………………………………. 338

People v. Mendibles
(1988) 199 Cal.App.3d 1277 ………………………………………………………….. 349

People v. Mendoza
(2000) 23 Cal.4th 896 …………………………………………………………………. 346

People v. Mendoza
(2000) 24 Cal.4th 130 …………………………………………………………….. passim

People v. Meredith
(1981) 29 Cal.3d 682 ………………………………………………………………….. 376

People v. Mickey
(1991) 54 Cal.3d 612 ………………………………………………………………….. 462

People v. Mitchell
(2003) 110 Cal.App.4th 772 ………………………………………………………. passim

People v. Montes
(2014) 58 Cal.4th 809 …………………………………………………………….. passim
People v. Moon
(2005) 37 Cal.4th 1 ……………………………………………………………………… 473

People v. Moore
(2011) 51 Cal.4th 1104 …………………………………………………. 328, 329, 462

People v. Myers
(1999) 69 Cal.App.4th 305 …………………………………………………… 295, 302

People v. Najeera
(2008) 43 Cal.4th 1132 ……………………………………………………………….. 321

People v. Nestler
(1997) 16 Cal.4th 561 ………………………………………………………….. 425, 435

People v. Newlun
(1991) 227 Cal.App.3d 1590 ……………………………………………………….. 374

People v. Nicolaus
(1991) 54 Cal.3d 551 …………………………………………………………… 455, 456

People v. Panah
(2005) 35 Cal.4th 395 …………………………………………………………………. 270

People v. Parson
(2008) 44 Cal.4th 332 …………………………………………………………………. 328

People v. Partida
(2005) 37 Cal.4th 428 …………………………………………………………………. 315

People v. Perry
(2006) 38 Cal.4th 302 ………………………………………………………….. 472, 473

People v. Pierce
(1979) 24 Cal.3d 199 ………………………………………………………………….. 392

People v. Price
(1991) 1 Cal.4th 324 …………………………………………………………………… 271

People v. Pride
(1992) 3 Cal.4th 195 …………………………………………………………………… 248

People v. Prieto
(2003) 30 Cal.4th 226 ………………………………………………………….. 319, 331
People v. Prince
(2007) 40 Cal.4th 1179 …………………………………………………………… passim

People v. Ramirez
(2006) 39 Cal.4th 398 …………………………………………………… 248, 249, 252

People v. Ramos
(1997) 15 Cal.4th 1133 ……………………………………………………………….. 315

People v. Ray
(1996) 13 Cal.4th 313 …………………………………………………………………. 470

People v. Riccardi
(2012) 54 Cal.4th 758 …………………………………………………………….. passim

People v. Riggs
(2008) 44 Cal.4th 248 ………………………………………………………….. 315, 446

People v. Robinson
(2005) 37 Cal.4th 592 …………………………………………………… 203, 315, 347

People v. Rodriguez
(1999) 20 Cal.4th 1 ………………………………………………………………. 295, 302

People v. Roehler
(1985) 167 Cal.App.3d 353 …………………………………………………….. passim

People v. Rogers
(2006) 39 Cal.4th 826 …………………………………………………………………. 335

People v. Rogers
(2009) 46 Cal.4th 1136 ……………………………………………………………….. 203

People v. Rogers
(2013) 57 Cal.4th 296 ……………………………………………………… 326, 329, 474

People v. Rountree
(2013) 56 Cal.4th 823 …………………………………………………………….. passim

People v. Rowland
(1992) 4 Cal.4th 238 …………………………………………………………………… 346

People v. Roybal
(1998) 19 Cal.4th 481 …………………………………………………………….. 288, 292
People v. San Nicolas
(2004) 34 Cal.4th 614 ………………………………………………………….. 325, 327

People v. Sanders
(1995) 11 Cal.4th 475 …………………………………………………………………. 470

People v. Sapp
(2003) 31 Cal.4th 240 …………………………………………………………………. 472

People v. Sattiewhite
(2014) 59 Cal.4th 446 ………………………………………………………….. 423, 474

People v. Schmeck
(2005) 37 Cal.4th 240 …………………………………………………………….. passim

People v. Seijas
(2005) 36 Cal.4th 291 …………………………………………………………………. 315

People v. Soto
(1999) 21 Cal.4th 512 ………………………………………………………………….. 351

People v. Soto
(2011) 51 Cal.4th 229 …………………………………………………………………. 349

People v. Souza
(2012) 54 Cal.4th 90 …………………………………………………………………… 474

People v. Stanley
(1995) 10 Cal.4th 764 …………………………………………………………………. 471

People v. Stewart
(2007) 33 Cal.4th 425 …………………………………………………………….. 177, 199

People v. Stoll
(1989) 49 Cal.3d 1136 …………………………………………………………. 345, 346

People v. Sully
(1991) 53 Cal.3d 1195 …………………………………………………………. 247, 331

People v. Tate
(2010) 49 Cal.4th 635 …………………………………………………………….. passim

People v. Taylor
(2010) 48 Cal.4th 574 …………………………………………………… 198, 200, 201
People v. Thomas
(2011) 51 Cal.4th 449 …………………………………………………………………. 471

People v. Thomas
(2011) 52 Cal.4th 336 …………………………………………………………………. 174

People v. Thomas
(2012) 53 Cal.4th 771 …………………………………………………………………. 225

People v. Thompson
(2010) 49 Cal.4th 79 ………………………………………………………………. passim

People v. Thornton
(2007) 41 Cal.4th 391 ………………………………………………………….. 213, 462

People v. Tidwell
(1970) 3 Cal.3d 62 ………………………………………………………………………… 247

People v. Tully
(2012) 54 Cal.4th 952 …………………………………………………………………. 180

People v. Turner
(1971) 22 Cal.App.3d 174 …………………………………………………………… 389

People v. Turner
(1994) 8 Cal.4th 137 ……………………………………………………………. 366, 391

People v. Valencia
(2008) 43 Cal.4th 268 …………………………………………………………………. 471

People v. Varghese
(2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 1084 ……………………………………………………… 377

People v. Varona
(1983) 143 Cal.App.3d 566 …………………………………………………………. 401

People v. Velasquez
(1980) 26 Cal.3d 425 …………………………………………………………………….. 179

People v. Velez
(1983) 144 Cal.App.3d 558 …………………………………………………………. 374

People v. Venegas
(1998) 18 Cal.4th 47 …………………………………………………….. 293, 345, 350
People v. Vieira
(2005) 35 Cal.4th 264 ………………………………………………………….. 242, 247

People v. Vines
(2011) 51 Cal.4th 830 …………………………………………………………………. 180

People v. Wader
(1993) 5 Cal.4th 610 …………………………………………………………………… 471

People v. Waidla
(2000) 22 Cal.4th 690 ………………………………………………………………….. 350

People v. Watson
(1956) 46 Cal.2d 818 ……………………………………………………………… passim

People v. Watson
(2008) 43 Cal.4th 652 …………………………………………………………………. 472

People v. Weatherton
(2014) 59 Cal.4th 589 …………………………………………………………………. 428

People v. Weaver
(2001) 26 Cal.4th 876 ………………………………………………………….. 254, 474

People v. Webb
(1993) 6 Cal.4th 494 …………………………………………………………………… 346

People v. Welch
(1999) 20 Cal.4th 701 ………………………………………………………….. 248, 269

People v. Whalen
(2013) 56 Cal.4th 1 ………………………………………………………………. 176, 227

People v. Williams
(1988) 44 Cal.3d 883 ………………………………………………………………….. 315

People v. Williams
(1989) 48 Cal.3d 1112 ………………………………………………………………… 242

People v. Williams
(1997) 16 Cal.4th 153 …………………………………………………………………. 473

People v. Williams
(1997) 16 Cal.4th 635 …………………………………………………………………. 248
People v. Williams
(2013) 56 Cal.4th 165 ………………………………………………………….. 473, 474

People v. Williams
(2013) 58 Cal.4th 197 ………………………………………………………….. 188, 225

People v. Willis
(2004) 115 Cal.App.4th 379……………………………………………………. passim

People v. Wilson
(2008) 43 Cal.4th 1 ……………………………………………………………………… 426

People v. Wilson
(2008) 44 Cal.4th 758 ……………………………………………. 204, 205, 225, 426

People v. Zamudio
(2008) 43 Cal.4th 327 …………………………………………………………………. 472

Perry v. Rushen
(9th Cir. 1983) 713 F.2d 1447 …………………………………………………….. 365

Price v. Superior Court
(2001) 25 Cal.4th 1046 ……………………………………………………………….. 229

Prince v. Superior Court
(1992) 8 Cal.App.4th 1176 ………………………………………………………….. 376

Public Utilities Comm’n v. Pollak
(1952) 343 U.S. 451 ………………………………………………………………………. 379

Pulley v. Harris
(1984) 465 U.S. 37 ……………………………………………………………………… 465

Red Dog v. State
(1992) 616 A.2d 298 ……………………………………………………………………… 466

Reynolds v. United States
(1879) 98 U.S. 145 ……………………………………………………………………… 245

Rideau v. Louisiana
(1963) 373 U.S. 723 …………………………………………………………….. 243, 459

Ross v. Oklahoma
(1988) 487 U.S. 81 ……………………………………………………………………… 196
Sandstrom v. Montana
(1979) 442 U.S. 510 ……………………………………………………………………. 324

Schwendeman v. Wallenstein
(9th Cir. 1992) 971 F.2d 313 …………………………………………. 327, 328, 330

Sheppard v. Maxwell
(1966) 384 U.S. 333 …………………………………………………………….. 243, 254

Skilling v. United States
(2010) 561 U.S. 358 ………………………………………………. 243, 244, 245, 255

Skipper v. South Carolina
(1986) 476 U.S. 1 ………………………………………………………………… 462, 466

Smith v. Phillips
(1982) 455 U.S. 209 ……………………………………………………………………. 423

Smith v. Texas
(2004) 543 U.S. 37 …………………………………………………………………. 463, 464

State v. Gales
(2003) 658 N.W.2d 604 …………………………………………………………………. 466

State v. Mingo
(1978) 392 A.2d 590 ……………………………………………………………………… 379

State v. Wakefield
(2007) 921 A.2d 954 …………………………………………………………………… 466

Strickland v. Washington
(1984) 466 U.S. 668 ……………………………………………………… 381, 382, 383

Tennard v. Dretke
(2004) 542 U.S. 274 …………………………………………………………….. 463, 464

Travelers Ins. Co. v. Ind. Acc. Com.
(1949) 33 Cal.2d 685 ………………………………………………………………….. 349

Tuilaepa v. California
(1994) 512 U.S. 967 …………………………………………………………….. 470, 471

Turner v. Louisiana
(1965) 379 U.S. 466 ……………………………………………………………………. 391
United States v. Anderson
(9th Cir. 1981) 642 F.2d 281 ……………………………………………………….. 333

United States v. Brown
(11th Cir. 2006) 441 F.3d 1330 …………………………………………………… 200

United States v. Garcia-Guizar
(9th Cir. 1998) 160 F.3d 511 ……………………………………………………….. 400

United States v. Hasting
(1988) 461 U.S. 499 ……………………………………………………………………. 402

United States v. Hubenka
(10th Cir. 2006) 438 F.3d 1026 ……………………………………………………. 351

United States v. Lopez-Alveraz
(9th Cir. 1992) 970 F.2d 583 ……………………………………………………….. 400

United States v. McVeigh
(10th Cir. 1998) 153 F.3d 1166 …………………………………………………… 247

United States v. Necoechea
(9th Cir. 1993) 986 F.2d 1273 …………………………………………………….. 399

United States v. Nobles
(1975) 422 U.S. 225 ……………………………………………………………………. 375

United States v. Rahman
(2d Cir. 1999) 189 F.3d 88 ………………………………………………………….. 170

United States v. Robinson
(1988) 485 U.S. 25 ……………………………………………………………………… 400

Uttecht v. Brown
(2007) 551 U.S. 1 ………………………………………………………………… 175, 226

Varghese v. Uribe
(2013) 736 F.3d 817 …………………………………………………………….. 377, 378

Wainwright v. Witt
(1985) 469 U.S. 412 ………………………………………………………………….. passim

Washington v. Texas
(1967) 388 U.S. 14 ……………………………………………………………………… 332
Weck v. Los Angeles County Flood Control Dist.
(1947) 80 Cal.App.2d 182 ……………………………………………………………. 351

Williams v. Florida
(1970) 399 U.S. 78 ……………………………………………………………………… 436

Williams v. Superior Court
(1983) 34 Cal.3d 584 …………………………………………………………………….. 247

Witherspoon v. Illinois
(1968) 391 U.S. 510 ………………………………………………………… 169, 176, 197

Woodson v. North Carolina
(1976) 428 U.S. 280 ……………………………………………………………………. 315

STATUTES

Code of Civil Procedure
§ 2018………………………………………………………………………………………….. 378
§ 203…………………………………………………………………………………….. 214, 234

Evidence Code
§ 210……………………………………………………………………………………………. 371
§ 352…………………………………………………………………………………….. 288, 295
§ 353……………………………………………………………………………………………. 314
§ 402………………………………………………………………………. 272, 296, 337, 339
§ 720……………………………………………………………………………………………. 303

Nebraska Revised Statutes § 29-2522……………………………………………….. 466

Penal Code
§ 187………………………………………………………………………………………………….
§ 190.2…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 3
§ 190.3……………………………………………………………………. 470, 471, 472, 473
§ 190.4…………………………………………………………………………………………. 454
§ 987.9…………………………………………………………………………………………. 240
§ 995……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 3
§ 1033………………………………………………………………………………………….. 242
§ 1054………………………………………………………………………………………….. 378
§ 1089……………………………………………………………………………. 423, 426, 436
§ 1118.1…………………………………………………………………………………………… 4
§ 1181……………………………………………………………………………………………… 5
§ 1259………………………………………………………………………………………….. 331
CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS

California Constitution
Article I, § 16 ……………………………………………………………………………… 174

United States Constitution
Fifth Amendment ………………………………………………………….. 379, 380, 441
Sixth Amendment …………………………………………………………………… passim
Eighth Amendment ………………………………………………………………… passim
Fourteenth Amendment ………………………………………………………….. passim
OTHER AUTHORITIES

CALJIC
No. 1.01 ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 318
No. 2.00 ………………………………………………………………………………… 189, 192
No. 2.15 ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 326
No. 2.16 …………………………………………………………………………………… passim
No. 2.51 ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 334
No. 2.52 ………………………………………………………………………………… 325, 326
Nos. 2.61, 2.90 ……………………………………………………………………………… 333
No. 3.31 ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 322
No. 8.10 ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 318
No. 8.11 ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 318
No. 8.20 ………………………………………………………………………………… 318, 323
No. 8.30 ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 323
No. 8.31 ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 318
No. 8.70 ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 318
No. 8.71 ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 318
No. 8.85 ………………………………………………………………….. 470, 472, 473, 474
No. 17.31 ……………………………………………………………………………………… 322
Conner W., The Wall Street Journal, The Zidane of Fluid Dynamics Tries
to Explain Why a Ball Curves,
<<http://blogs.wsj.com/dailyfix/2014/07/03/the-zidane-of-fluid-
dynamics-tries-to-explain-why-a-ball-curves>> [as of August 29,
2014] …………………………………………………………………………………………… 344

Johnson C., EE Times, Fluid Mechanics used to improve U.S. Olympic
swimmers<<http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=116910&gt;
>[as of August 29, 2014] ……………………………………………………………….. 345

6 Witkin & Epstein, Cal. Criminal Law (2d ed. 1989) Reversible
Error, § 3289 ………………………………………………………………………………. 374
INTRODUCTION

“I never had a prolonged period of freedom like that from
responsibility and, you know, and interesting to me and something you
could incorporate into life.” Scott Peterson said this to his mistress during
the ongoing search for Laci Peterson, his wife who was eight months
pregnant at the time and who went missing just days before, on Christmas
Eve 2002.

Scott Peterson was raised by a loving family and enjoyed a life of
privilege. Given the fortuitous timing of the success of the family’s
business, Peterson lived in nicer, bigger houses than his older siblings and
went on more vacations. His parents provided him with access to a first-
rate education. They also bought him a country club membership and gave
him money for a down payment on the couple’s first house. When Peterson
became restless at a particular school or job and wanted to make a change,
his parents were there to help him move on to something new.

Yet, despite all that his parents did for him, they could not give their
son the one thing he secretly wanted most: to be free from his marriage to
Laci and from having to raise Conner, their soon-to-be-born son. In other
words, freedom from responsibility. So, fueled by the trifecta of selfishness,
arrogance, and wanderlust, Scott Peterson decided to take matters into his
own hands by planning and carrying out the murders of his wife and unborn
child and then dumping their lifeless bodies into San Francisco Bay.
Thankfully, the forces of nature did not oblige Peterson in his attempt to
hide the evidence of his crimes. Although he was successful in ridding
himself of those perceived irksome responsibilities, all the while portraying
himself as the consummate husband and family man, ironically, Peterson
forfeited his freedom in the end.

This appeal is about the process by which an experienced and
respected jurist ensured that Scott Peterson received the fair trial that was
due him, beginning with the selection of a fair and impartial jury—a jury
which Peterson, through his attorney, approved. As the Attorney General
demonstrates in the pages that follow, throughout the course of the
proceedings, the trial court shielded the legal process from the searing gaze
of the public and the media. The trial court’s unrelenting dedication to the
fairness of the proceedings also enabled the parties’ attorneys to perform
their respective functions in an effective manner geared toward divining the
truth and helping the jurors to reach just verdicts.

The sole question the jury needed to answer during the guilt phase of
the trial was the who question: Who killed Laci and Conner Peterson? The
prosecution presented an abundance of evidence that pointed the finger of
guilt squarely at Scott Peterson. To be sure, if that were not the case,
Peterson, appellant here, would have advanced a claim on appeal that the
evidence at trial was insufficient to support the jury’s verdicts. Appellant
makes no such legal contention. Therefore, any intimation by him to the
contrary is “shoveling smoke,” to borrow a turn of phrase from Justice
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Based on the compelling evidence adduced at trial, the jury fairly
concluded that appellant, in an unmitigated act of selfishness and arrogance
extinguished two beautiful lives—one of which appellant made certain
would never see the light of day. The jurors duly considered whether there
was anything about appellant’s character, background, or actions that
merited leniency. Having properly evaluated the penalty phase evidence,
the jury determined appellant deserved the penalty of death. Thus, the
criminal justice system did not fail Scott Peterson. On the contrary, the
process was fair and the verdicts just.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

By information filed on December 3, 2003, in the Stanislaus County
Superior Court, the District Attorney charged appellant with the December
2002 premeditated murders of his wife Laci Denise Peterson and their
unborn son Conner. (Pen. Code, § 187, subd. (a).) (9 CT 3284; Supp. CT
4-5.)1 The information further alleged a multiple-murder special
circumstance. (Pen. Code, 190.2, subd. (a)(3).) (9 CT 3284; Supp. CT 4-5.)
Appellant pleaded not guilty and denied the special circumstance allegation.
(9 CT 3284; 12/3/03 Stanislaus RT 3.)

1 References to “CT” refer to the 21-volume 6,488-page Clerk’s
Transcript. “Supp. CT” refers to the one-volume 18-page Supplemental
Clerk’s Transcript. “Stanislaus RT,” with corresponding dates, refers to the
Reporter’s Transcript covering proceedings in Stanislaus County before
venue was changed to San Mateo County. Citations to “RT” refer to the
122-volume 21,882-page Reporter’s Transcript covering the San Mateo
County trial proceedings.

On December 15, 2003, appellant moved for a change of venue from
Stanislaus County. (9 CT 3324-3391.) The People opposed the motion.
(10 CT 3408-3427.) Appellant filed a reply. (10 CT 3614-3636.) The
People filed a rebuttal. (10 CT 3661-3665.)

On December 22, 2003, appellant filed a motion to set aside the
information (Pen. Code, § 995). (9 CT 3394-3407.) The People opposed
the motion. (10 CT 3670-3685.)

On January 8, 2004, after an extensive hearing, the trial court granted
appellant’s motion to change venue. (10 CT 3688; 1/8/04 Stanislaus RT
202.)

On January 14, 2004, the trial court denied appellant’s motion to set
aside the information. (10 CT 3698; 1/14/04 Stanislaus RT 231-232.)

On January 20, 2004, the court denied the People’s motion for
reconsideration of the court’s ruling on the motion to change venue. (11
CT 3776; 1/20/04 Stanislaus RT 251.) A hearing then commenced
pursuant to McGown v. Superior Court (1977) 75 Cal.App.3d 648,
permitting the parties to address issues concerning the transfer. Of the four
counties identified by the Administrative Office of the Courts (12 CT 4058-
4059), appellant preferred the case be transferred to Orange County (11 CT
3777-3778), nearer to his parents’ residence and defense counsel’s office
(1/20/04 Stanislaus RT 258). The prosecution preferred Santa Clara
County. (1/20/04 Stanislaus RT 259.) At the conclusion of the hearing, the
trial court ordered the case transferred to San Mateo County. (11 CT 3776;
1/20/04 Stanislaus RT 264-265.)

Jury selection began in San Mateo County on March 4, 2004. (17 CT
5497.)

On May 3, appellant brought a second change of venue motion. (14
CT 4487-4507.) The People opposed the motion. (15 CT 4717-4783.)
Appellant tendered a reply. (15 CT 4786-4829.)

On May 11, 2004, at the conclusion of a hearing on the matter, the
trial court denied the motion. (17 CT 5598; 36 RT 7095-7099.)

Over a three-month period, the court and parties vetted approximately
1,250 prospective jurors. (36 RT 7096.) Jury selection was completed on
May 27, 2004. (18 CT 5621.) Appellant expressed his satisfaction with the
jurors and alternate jurors, as selected. (42 RT 8345, 8362.)

The presentation of guilt phase evidence commenced on June 2, 2004.
(18 CT 5629; 44 RT 8659.) After the presentation of approximately 174
witnesses, the People rested their case four months later on October 5, 2004.
(19 CT 5934; 102 RT 19153.)

On October 18, 2004, appellant moved for a judgment of acquittal.
(Pen. Code, § 1118.1.) The trial court denied the motion. (19 CT 5938;
103 RT 19177.) Appellant began his presentation of guilt phase evidence
that day (19 CT 5939; 103 RT 19186), and concluded it on October 26,
2004 (19 CT 5960; 108 RT 20061-20062).

With the jurors sequestered, guilt-phase deliberations began on
November 3, 2004 (19 CT 5976; 111 RT 20574) and ended on November
12, 2004 (20 CT 6133; 112 RT 20821). During the course of deliberations,
two jurors were discharged and replaced. (19 CT 5990-5991; 112 RT
20775-20776, 20805-20806.) The jury found appellant guilty of the first
degree murder of Laci Peterson and the second degree murder of Conner
Peterson. (20 CT 6133; 112 RT 20822-20824.) The jury also found the
multiple-murder special circumstance allegation to be true. (20 CT 6133;
112 RT 20824.)

The presentation of penalty phase evidence began on November 30,
2004 (20 CT 6139; 113 RT 20977), and ended on December 9, 2004 (20
CT 6170; 120 RT 21612). The defense presented 39 witnesses. (120 RT
21619.)

Penalty phase deliberations began on December 9, 2004, with the jury
again sequestered. (20 CT 6172; 120 RT 21700.)

On December 13, 2004, the jury fixed the appropriate penalty at death.
(20 CT 6233; 120 RT 21758).

On February 25, 2005, appellant filed a motion for a new trial (Pen.
Code, § 1181) based on various grounds, some of which have been
resurrected in the present appeal. (20 CT 6241-6376.) The prosecution
filed an opposition. (20 CT 6379-6440.)

On March 16, 2005, at the conclusion of a hearing on the matter, the
trial court denied appellant’s motion for a new trial, as well as the
automatic motion for modification of the verdict. (21 CT 6462; 121 RT
21793, 21800.) The court then entered judgment and imposed a sentence of
death based on the murder convictions, special circumstance finding, and
other relevant sentencing considerations. (21 CT 6467-6468; 121 RT
21822-21827.)

STATEMENT OF FACTS

I. GUILT PHASE

A. Prosecution Case

1. Background: Laci and Appellant

Laci Denise Peterson was born on May 4, 1975. (46 RT 8966.) She
grew up in Modesto. (46 RT 8964-8965.) Beginning in 1993, Laci2
attended college at the California Polytechnic State University, less
formally known as “Cal Poly,” in San Luis Obispo. (45 RT 8819; 46 RT
8966.)

2 Respondent refers to family members’ first names when they share
the same surname to avoid confusion. Respondent intends no disrespect.

3 Sharon was married to Dennis Rocha, Laci’s father. They divorced
in 1976 when Laci was one year old. (46 RT 8964.) Subsequently, Sharon

Shortly after Laci started attending classes at Cal Poly, she met
appellant, who lived in San Luis Obispo at the time and worked at a local
restaurant. (45 RT 8819; 46 RT 8967.) Their relationship progressed and
they married at Avila Beach, near San Luis Obispo, in August 1997. (46
RT 8968.)

For a short while after they were married, Laci and appellant lived
apart. Laci was working in Prunedale, while appellant finished college at
Cal Poly. (46 RT 8969.) Once appellant graduated, Laci moved back to
San Luis Obispo where the couple opened their own restaurant called “The
Shack,” with proceeds from the sale of appellant’s family’s business. (46
RT 8969-8970; 47 RT 9165.) They operated the restaurant for about a year
and a half. (46 RT 8970.)

In June 2000, Laci and appellant moved to Modesto. (45 RT 8820-
8821; 46 RT 8970.) They lived with Laci’s mother Sharon Rocha3 for a
and Ron Grantski started dating, when Laci was two years old, and had
been together ever since. (46 RT 8964.)

4 TradeCorp was formed in October 2000. (73 RT 14078.) The
parent company was based in Spain and called TradeCorp Espana. (73 RT
13987, 14114.) TradeCorp International owned TradeCorp Espana. (73
RT 14114.) A large multi-national conglomerate—SAPEC—owned
TradeCorp International. (73 RT 14091, 14115.)

5 Laci and Brent were full siblings; Sharon and Dennis were their
parents. (47 RT 9160.)

short while. In October 2000, the couple bought their own home at 523
Covena Avenue in the La Loma neighborhood of Modesto. (46 RT 8971-
8972; 47 RT 9168-9169; 86 RT 16414.) Appellant’s parents gave appellant
the $30,000 down payment for the house. (86 RT 16425.) At the time,
Laci was working as a substitute teacher. (46 RT 8972-8973.) Appellant
liked to golf and talked about it frequently. (46 RT 8946, 8978.) His
parents bought him a membership at the Del Rio Country Club in Modesto.
(61 RT 11827.) The couple enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle. (47 RT 9177-
9178.)

Appellant managed a newly incorporated domestic sales venture
named TradeCorp U.S.A., which was a fertilizer products company.4 (59
RT 11627; 73 RT 13987, 14114.) Appellant operated the business out of a
leased warehouse in Modesto. (59 RT 11627-11628.)

In mid-2002, about five years after they were married, Laci became
pregnant. (45 RT 8830.) She was very happy about being pregnant and
becoming a mother. (45 RT 8830; 47 RT 9285.) Her due date was
February 10, 2003. (51 RT 10105-10106.) According to Brent Rocha,
Laci’s brother,5 appellant appeared excited about having a child (47 RT
9229), and went to most of Laci’s prenatal appointments (46 RT 8932-
8933). However, in Brent’s view, Laci was the one that wanted a family;
appellant merely acquiesced to Laci’s wishes. (47 RT 9269.)
Brent’s wife Rose recalled one conversation with appellant when she
asked him if he was ready to have a child. Appellant remarked, “‘I was
kind of hoping for infertility.’” (47 RT 9285.) Rose was unsure if
appellant was joking; he was not laughing or smiling when he made the
comment. (47 RT 9295.)

No one was aware of any problems in Laci and appellant’s marriage,
including Laci’s mother Sharon and her sister Amy Rocha. (46 RT 8912,
8979.) Brent believed that his sister and appellant had a very positive
relationship. (47 RT 9229-9230.) Ron Grantski never heard the couple
fight or argue. (47 RT 9134.) In fact, appellant remained calm with Laci
even when she may have given him reason to be upset. (47 RT 9131.)
Laci’s friends observed that appellant did many nice things for her and
helped with chores around the house. (54 RT 10562-10563.) Laci did not
articulate any complaints about their marriage. (46 RT 8912; 54 RT 10523.)
Ron Grantski observed that Laci and appellant spent the majority of their
time together. (47 RT 9131-9132.)

Yet, despite what appeared to be a loving and well-functioning
marriage to Laci’s family and friends, unbeknownst to them was the fact
that appellant had already cheated on Laci when the couple was living in
San Luis Obispo. (46 RT 9065; 47 RT 9122; 54 RT 10522-10523; 99 RT
18661.)

2. November and December 2002: Appellant’s affair
with Amber Frey begins

a. Appellant meets Frey’s friend Shawn Sibley
and tells Sibley of his interest in meeting
single women

In October 2002, appellant and his sales associate Eric Olsen attended
a pest control trade show and conference in Anaheim. (59 RT 11624,
11631.) While there, appellant and Olsen went out to dinner with David
Fernandez, who Olsen worked with previously, and Shawn Sibley, a female
associate of Fernandez’s. (59 RT 11632-11633.) Appellant and Sibley had
just met each other that evening. (59 RT 11634.) On their way to the
restaurant, appellant asked Sibley what he should write on his name tag that
would attract women to him that night. (60 RT 11708.)

According to Fernandez, during dinner, appellant moved the
discussion away from business to pursue a very personal line of questioning
of Sibley about her relationship with her fiancé. (59 RT 11672-11673.)
Olsen said that he became very uncomfortable at one point during the
dinner when appellant and Sibley started discussing sexual positions. (59
RT 11634.) By Sibley’s account, it was appellant that led the discussion in
a sexual direction. (60 RT 11710.) Olsen thought the discussion especially
inappropriate since appellant was married with a child on the way and
Sibley was engaged to be married. (59 RT 11633-11634.) As soon as
Olsen finished his dinner, he excused himself and left. (59 RT 11634.)
Fernandez did the same. (59 RT 11673.)

After the others departed, appellant and Sibley continued their
personal conversation. Sibley confided that her fiancé was her soul mate.
(60 RT 11711.) Appellant told Sibley that he once found a woman who he
believed to be his soul mate, but he “‘lost her.’” (60 RT 11711.) Appellant
expressed concern about spending the rest of his life alone. (60 RT 11711.)
He told Sibley he was tired of having one-night-stands with “‘bimbos with
no brains’” and asked Sibley if she had any single friends. (60 RT 11712.)

As the night went on and Sibley and appellant relocated to a bar,
Sibley got the impression that appellant was serious about finding a long-
term relationship. (60 RT 11713-11714.) So, Sibley told appellant she had
a friend who was single. However, because Sibley’s friend—Amber Frey
(60 RT 11714)—had several bad dating experiences in the past, Sibley
wanted to be sure that appellant was serious about a relationship. (60 RT
11713.) After Sibley shared more information about Frey, appellant told
Sibley he was interested in meeting Frey. (60 RT 11715.) Appellant and
Sibley talked until 3:30 a.m. (60 RT 11735.)

After that evening, Sibley and appellant communicated again. In one
e-mail exchange, appellant made a remark about going skiing and meeting
some snow bunnies. In response, Sibley said she hoped that he would meet
some to ease his frustrations. (60 RT 11717-11718.) Sibley and appellant
jokingly referred to appellant by the initials “‘H.B.,’” which stood for
“‘horny bastard.’” (60 RT 11718.) Appellant told Sibley that he was
thinking of putting the moniker on his business cards. (60 RT 11718.)

During one of their contacts, Sibley explained to appellant that Frey
was looking for someone with whom she could spend the rest of her life.
Appellant said that was what he was looking for, as well. (60 RT 11728.)

b. Appellant leads Frey to believe that he is
single and childless, and assures her that there
would be many more corks to come

In November 2002, appellant telephoned Frey and said he wanted to
meet her. (76 RT 14556.) Frey, believing that appellant was single, agreed
to a date. (76 RT 14557.)

On November 20, appellant and Frey met at a bar in Fresno. (76 RT
14559.) Before going to dinner, they went to appellant’s hotel room and
had champagne and strawberries, which appellant had brought with him.
(76 RT 14563-14565.) Appellant had also reserved a private room in the
restaurant. (76 RT 14566.)

During dinner, appellant told Frey that he operated a business in
Modesto, resided in Sacramento, and maintained a condominium in San
Diego. (76 RT 14569.) Explaining his schedule over the next couple of
months, appellant told Frey that he was going fishing in Alaska for
Thanksgiving and to Kennebunkport, Maine, with his parents, for
Christmas. (76 RT 14571.) He was also scheduled to be in Paris over New
Year’s Eve and traveling in Europe on business for most of January. (76
RT 14638.)

After dinner, appellant and Frey went to a karaoke bar and eventually
ended up back at appellant’s hotel room where they had sex. (76 RT
14579.) Frey was somewhat self-conscious about sleeping with appellant
so soon, but he reassured her that having sex with him was not
inappropriate. (76 RT 14580.) Frey spent the night with appellant while
Shawn Sibley babysat Frey’s daughter, “A.,” who was 21 months old at the
time.6 (60 RT 11720; 76 RT 14577, 14579.)

6 Since Amber Frey’s daughter is a minor, we refer to her by the first
initial of her first name to protect her privacy.

On Monday, December 2, appellant visited Frey and her daughter at
their home near Fresno. Appellant previously told Frey that he wanted to
meet A. (76 RT 14588.) He brought groceries to make dinner (76 RT
14589-14590) and brought a gift for A. (76 RT 14599). When Frey
mentioned that she intended to keep the cork from a bottle of wine she and
appellant shared that evening as a memento, appellant told her there would
be many more corks to come. (76 RT 14598.) Later, appellant and Frey
had sex. He spent the night at Frey’s home. (76 RT 14600.)

Appellant told Frey that he had business in the area the following day,
December 3, but could visit her in the evening. (76 RT 14601.) Agreeable,
Frey asked appellant if he could pick up A. from school. Appellant did so
and when Frey arrived home from work, appellant was making them dinner.
(76 RT 14603-14604.) Afterward, the three went and picked out a
Christmas tree together and brought it back to Frey’s home. (76 RT 14607,
14609-14610.) While they were decorating the tree, Frey asked appellant if
he had ever been married or had ever been close to being married.
Appellant said no. (76 RT 14611.) Frey also asked appellant if he had
children or had ever been close to having children. Again, appellant said
no. (76 RT 14611.) They slept together that night and, while in bed, had a
conversation about the importance of trust in a relationship. (76 RT 14612.)
Frey told appellant she preferred to deal with the truth and its ramifications
rather than be lied to. Appellant agreed. (76 RT 14612.)

The next day, Wednesday, December 4, appellant told Frey that he
had plans to go boating on the Delta for the upcoming weekend. (76 RT
14613.) They continued to communicate by phone. (76 RT 14614.)

c. December 6: Sibley learns appellant is
married, but appellant tells her that he “‘lost’”
his wife

On December 6, Shawn Sibley received a call from another friend,
Mike Almsari, who said he knew someone by the name of Scott Peterson
and, assuming it was the same man, Peterson was married. (60 RT 11721,
11723.) Extremely upset, Sibley called appellant and confronted him. (60
RT 11721.) Appellant repeatedly denied being married. (60 RT 11721.)

At that point, Sibley began having her suspicions about appellant. (60
RT 11728.) She contacted Eric Olsen, appellant’s sales associate, but
Olsen would not provide any information about appellant, who was Olsen’s
boss. (60 RT 11722.) So, Sibley conducted research online to determine if
there were any marriage certificates in the public record that contained
appellant’s name. (60 RT 11742.)

Appellant phoned Sibley about an hour after their conversation.
Appellant was “sobbing” when he left a message on Sibley’s voicemail:
“‘I’m sorry I lied to you earlier. I had been married. It’s just too painful
for me to talk about. Call me back.’” (60 RT 11723.) They eventually
spoke later that day. Appellant was “sobbing hysterically.” (60 RT 11724.)
He explained to Sibley:
“I’m so sorry I lied to you earlier. I had been married. I lost my
wife. It’s too painful for me to talk about. Please just give me
the opportunity to tell Amber in person. I’m going to be in town
on Monday. Please don’t tell her. This wasn’t — just please let
me have the chance to tell her myself.”

(60 RT 11724.)

Sibley told appellant that she did not care if he was widowed or
divorced. All she cared about was whether he was currently married. (60
RT 11724.) Appellant answered, “‘No, absolutely not.’” (60 RT 11724.)
Sibley warned appellant that if he did not tell Frey by that coming Monday,
December 9, Sibley was going to tell her. (60 RT 11724.)

d. December 9: Appellant tells Frey that he
“‘lost’” his wife

On Monday, December 9, appellant phoned Frey, said he was in the
area, and asked if he could visit her. Frey agreed. (76 RT 14614-14615.)

When appellant arrived, Frey noted that his demeanor seemed
different. (76 RT 14616.) Cryptically, appellant said he was concerned
about having done something terrible to a potentially beautiful relationship.
(76 RT 14616.) They sat down at Frey’s kitchen table. (76 RT 14617.)
Appellant told Frey he had lied to her and that things would be easier if she
never wanted to see him again. (76 RT 14618.) Crying, appellant said he
lied about being married and that it was less painful for him to let people
think that he was never married rather than to tell them the truth: that he
had “‘lost’” his wife. (76 RT 14619-14620.) Appellant explained that the
upcoming holidays would be the first without his wife. (76 RT 14621.)
Frey thanked appellant for sharing the information with her since it was
clearly so difficult for him to talk about. (76 RT 14622.) Appellant told
Frey that she was “‘amazing.’” (76 RT 14622.) Given his emotional state,
Frey asked appellant if he was sure he was ready for a relationship with her.
Appellant said, “‘[A]bsolutely.’” (76 RT 14623.) They made plans to see
each other two days later. (76 RT 14626.) Appellant gave Frey a different
cell phone number to reach him. (76 RT 14708-14709; 77 RT 14755.)

Later, appellant phoned Sibley and told her that he spoke to Frey and
that Frey “knew everything.” (60 RT 11725.) However, appellant asked
Sibley not to tell Frey that Sibley had found out first. (60 RT 11725.)
Sibley responded that since Frey was her best friend and if she asked,
Sibley would not lie to her. (60 RT 11725.)

e. December 11: Appellant escorts Frey and her
daughter to a birthday party

On December 11, appellant accompanied Frey and her daughter to a
birthday party. (76 RT 14628; People’s Exh. No. 95.) Appellant was very
personable in his interactions with Frey’s friends. (76 RT 14629.) Frey
explained that the positive manner in which appellant interacted with her
daughter her friends fostered Frey’s trust in her relationship with appellant.
(76 RT 14631.)

They made plans to attend a formal holiday party hosted by a few
days later. (76 RT 14632.) Frey accompanied appellant to be fitted for a
tuxedo for the party. (76 RT 14632-14633.)

f. December 14: Appellant accompanies Frey to
a holiday party while Laci goes to a holiday
party alone

On December 14, appellant arrived at Frey’s home and greeted her
with a dozen red roses. (76 RT 14639.) He said that he hoped she had
more vases and then he pulled out two dozen pink roses. (76 RT 14639.)
He kept one rose and asked Frey if she had a candle and some scissors.
Appellant cut the stem off the rose and with the candle lit and the lights
dimmed, appellant rubbed the rose on Frey’s face and kissed her. (76 RT
14641.)
After the romantic interlude, Frey and appellant dressed for the party.
While they were getting dressed, Frey brought up the fact that appellant
shared the information about the wife he had “‘lost’” before sharing that
information with Frey.7 (76 RT 14635.) Appellant told Frey that he had
planned to tell Frey when he returned from his January business trip to
Europe. However, he realized he was wrong for not telling Frey sooner.
(76 RT 14636.) Frey asked appellant if she could trust him with her heart.
He responded that she already had the answer to the question. (76 RT
14677.) Frey asked the question again. Appellant’s response was the same:
Frey knew the answer already. (76 RT 14677.)
After they were dressed, Frey and appellant had a brief discussion
about how to introduce appellant and their relationship to Frey’s friends.
(76 RT 14668.) Appellant suggested the term, “‘lover.’” (76 RT 14668.)
However, Frey thought it sounded inappropriate. (76 RT 14668.)
Appellant’s response prompted Frey to ask him if he was seeing anyone
else. Appellant said no and assured her that he was monogamous. (76 RT
14668-14669.)
Appellant and Frey left to pick up a female friend of Frey’s and then
went to the party. (76 RT 14644-14645.) At the party, appellant was very
affectionate toward Frey and referred to her as his girlfriend. (76 RT
14669-14670, 14672; People’s Exhs. Nos. 191A-G; 192A-C; 193A-K)
After dropping off Frey’s friend, they returned to Frey’s home and had
unprotected sex. (76 RT 14672-14673.)
Appellant apologized to Frey for not taking precautions during sex. A
discussion ensued about birth control and children. (76 RT 14673.) Frey
7 Frey had a conversation with Sibley sometime between December
11 and December 14, during which Sibley recounted her discussion with
appellant about him losing his wife. (76 RT 14634-14635.)
15

told appellant that she wanted to have more children. (76 RT 14674.)
Appellant said that he did not need to have a biological child; Frey’s
daughter was enough for him. He said he would help to raise A. as his own
child. (76 RT 14674.) Appellant mentioned that he was considering
getting a vasectomy. (76 RT 14674.) Frey thought that too permanent a
birth control method given appellant’s relatively young age. (76 RT 14674-
14675.) Appellant made no mention of being an expectant father. (76 RT
14675.)

Back in Modesto, Laci also went to a holiday party that day, but she
went alone. (54 RT 10510; People’s Exh. No. 14.) Appellant told her that
his boss called at the last minute and that he had to go to San Francisco for
a meeting and could not accompany her. (46 RT 9025; 86 RT 16422.)

The next morning, December 15, appellant told Frey that he had some
business to take care of before he headed off on his extended trip to Europe.
(76 RT 14675.) He said he would be back at the end of January and in the
interim they would stay in contact by phone. (76 RT 14676.)

g. December 19-24: Phone contact between
appellant and Frey

On December 19, appellant spoke to Frey on the phone. She was
under the impression that he was in New Mexico or Arizona at the time.
(76 RT 14686-14687.)

On December 22, appellant told Frey that he was at his home in
Sacramento and preparing to depart for Maine to meet his parents for the
holidays. (76 RT 14687-14688.) He said he would be in Maine until
December 28 and then heading to Paris. (76 RT 14688.)

On December 23, appellant told Frey he was on a guided duck hunt
with his father. (76 RT 14689.) Frey asked appellant where she should
send things for him while he was away. (76 RT 14690-14691; 80 RT
15258.) He told Frey that he would get back to her. (80 RT 15258.)
Eventually, appellant gave her a post office box address in Modesto. (76
RT 14690-14691.)

During the conversation, appellant and Frey discussed birth control
again. (76 RT 14693.) Appellant reiterated his intention to have a
vasectomy and suggested they go together to meet with a doctor. (76 RT
14693.) The conversation upset Frey because she wanted more children.
(76 RT 14693.)

On December 24, Frey did not hear from appellant. (76 RT 14694.)

3. Other circumstances leading up to Laci’s
disappearance

a. The Peterson’s home laptop is used to
research bay tides and currents

On December 7, 2002—one day after Shawn Sibley confronted
appellant about whether he was married (60 RT 11721)—the Peterson’s
home laptop was used to search classified advertisements for boats.8 (75
RT 14356-14357.)

8 Authorities seized five computers during execution of search
warrants at appellant’s home and business in late December 2002 and
February 2003. (73 RT 14146.) The searches were located during the
forensic examination of the home and work computers. From the Covena
residence, police took one Compaq laptop computer, one Dell laptop, and
one Sotec notebook computer. (73 RT 14121, 14144, 14155.) An I.B.M.
laptop computer and a Dell desktop computer were seized from the
warehouse. (73 RT 14144-14145.) Former Modesto Police Department
computer forensics technician Kirk Stockham examined the hard drives of
the various computers. (74 RT 14166.) Detective Lydell Wall of the
Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office testified as an expert in computer
forensics. (74 RT 14327.) Wall examined the computers’ hard drives with
respect to internet usage. (74 RT 14328-14329.) Email exchanges between
appellant and Sibley from November and December 2002 were located on
the couple’s home laptop and appellant’s work desktop computer that had
been deleted, but which still resided on the hard drive. (75 RT 14381-
14385.) There was also an email sent to “slpete1@msn.com” confirming
delivery of a package to Amber Frey. The email had been deleted, but was
still otherwise accessible on the hard drive. (75 RT 14451-14452.)

9 Mr. Peterson was not related to appellant. (62 RT 12167.)

The following morning, on December 8, an internet search was made
on the home laptop with the terms “boat + ramp + pacific” (75 RT 14364),
“boat + ramps + Watsonville + Pacific” (75 RT 14367), and “San Francisco
Bay + boat + ramp” (75 RT 14371). Web sites were accessed relating to
the Berkeley Marina, Central San Francisco Bay, and Suisun Bay and
related nautical charts. (75 RT 14371-14375.)

On the night of December 8, someone used the home laptop to access
web sites for the San Francisco Port, the United States Geological Survey’s
velocity maps for currents in Central San Francisco Bay, and other sites
with navigation and nautical charts. (75 RT 14397, 14400-14401, 14405-
14407; People’s Exh. No. 183B [U.S.G.S. site showing “Near Real Time
Current Velocity Maps”].) A couple of image files were also viewed,
which were linked to web pages on Bay currents. The image files showed
an enhanced map view of the tip of Brooks Island and surrounding area.
(75 RT 14454-14456; People’s Exhs. Nos. 189A-B.) The nautical charts
pertained to California and Mexico waterways. (75 RT 14401-14402.)
There were also numerous visits to fishing-related web sites and the use of
fishing-related search terms, some of which related to striped bass and
sturgeon fishing. (75 RT 14399-14400, 14402-14404.)

b. Appellant buys a boat, but no one knows

On December 7, the same day as the home laptop was used to search
the classifieds for boats, appellant called Bruce Peterson,9 who had placed
an ad in the Modesto Bee regarding a 14-foot aluminum boat he had for
sale. (62 RT 12146-12147.)
Appellant looked at the boat the next day and bought it for $1,400 on
December 9—the day on which appellant told Amber Frey he had “‘lost his
wife.’” (62 RT 12148, 12156; 76 RT 14619-14620.) Bruce Peterson sold
the boat to appellant without the two mushroom anchors that came with the
boat.10 (62 RT 12155.)
Numerous witnesses testified that they knew nothing about
appellant’s new boat. Laci usually told her mother Sharon about major
purchases the couple made, such as when they put in a pool at their home,
installed an air conditioning system, and when appellant joined the Del Rio
Country Club. However, Laci made no mention of appellant acquiring a
new boat. (46 RT 8976-8977, 8979-8980, 8990-8991.) Ron Grantski, who
was an avid fisherman, did not know about appellant’s new boat. (47 RT
9097-9098.) Laci’s siblings did not know about appellant’s boat. (45 RT
8889-8890; 47 RT 9273.) In fact, appellant and Laci had dinner at Sharon
and Ron’s on December 15, 2002, and neither appellant nor Laci mentioned
anything about appellant having just purchased a boat a few days before.
(46 RT 8991-8993.) Appellant’s father, who spoke to appellant on a
regular basis, did not know about the boat purchase. (88 RT 16862, 16865-
16866.) Laci’s close friend Stacey Boyers did not know about the boat.
(54 RT 10521-10522.) Appellant’s good friend Gregory Reed, who
routinely discussed hunting and fishing with appellant, did not know about
the boat. (75 RT 14425-14426.)
10 Mr. Peterson explained that the mushroom anchors he used with
the boat each had a center stem with an I-bolt on top for attaching the rope.
When the anchors were lowered, they would “mushroom out” and sit on the
bottom of the lake. (62 RT 12155.) One anchor weighed 10 pounds and
the other 15 pounds. (62 RT 12161.) He never used a cement anchor with
the boat. (62 RT 12155-12156.)
19

c. Appellant’s angst

Laci’s brother Brent recalled an occasion when he and appellant were
in the pool at Laci and appellant’s house and were talking about life. (47
RT 9175-9176.) Appellant, who seemed “down” and “kind of quiet” at the
time, confided in Brent that his job was not going well. (47 RT 9176.)
Appellant explained that he was interviewing new sales associates for his
business and was hoping he would find someone who had better sales skills
than he did. (47 RT 9176.)

In that same conversation, appellant mentioned impending fatherhood
and that he was on the verge of turning 30 years old.11 (47 RT 9175-9176.)
Brent sensed that appellant “had a lot going on.” (47 RT 9176.)

11 Given that appellant was born on October 24, 1972 (102 RT
19081; People’s Exh. No. 149), this discussion presumably took place
sometime around October 24, 2002.

d. Appellant’s financial situation

Gary Nienhuis, the internal auditor for the city of Modesto, testified to
appellant’s personal and business finances during this time period. (73 RT
13960, 13963.)

First, with respect to appellant’s personal finances, Nienhuis stated
that expenses were high in relation to appellant’s cash flow. (73 RT 13974.)
In 2002, Nienhuis estimated that nearly 70 percent of appellant’s take-home
pay was consumed by fixed expenses and credit card debts. (73 RT 13974.)
In 2001, the percentage was 58.7. (73 RT 13978.) Although the Peterson’s
mortgage debt was being paid down (73 RT 14067-10468), there were
medical bills that were past due, including for health insurance (73 RT
13981). Nienhaus’s analysis did not take into account any potential
secondary sources of income, such as Laci’s future inheritance or pawning
of her personal items (73 RT 14014-14017), discussed below.
As for TradeCorp, since it’s incorporation in 2000, the company had
not realized a profit. (73 RT 13960.) In fact, the company had a net
operating loss of $136,000. (73 RT 13986.) During its first year of
incorporation, the company posted a loss of $40,000. The loss increased to
$200,000 in the second year. (73 RT 14089.) TradeCorp was not meeting
sales goals set by the parent organization and owed its parent company
$190,000. (73 RT 13994, 14053.)

With respect to the company’s credit card accounts, appellant made
minimum payments and carried balances forward. (73 RT 13990-13991.)
Nienhuis reviewed two credit card applications completed on behalf of
TradeCorp. One application was completed by appellant and the other by
Eric Olsen, his employee, but both were signed by appellant since he was
responsible for the company’s finances. (73 RT 13992, 14079.) In the
application that appellant completed, he stated that TradeCorp had a net
profit of $150,000, contrary to the company’s financial records. (73 RT
13993.) The other application, which appellant signed, stated the business
had $500,000 in revenue, also contrary to the company’s financial
documents. (73 RT 13993.) Also, Nienhuis’s review of the financial
documents revealed that appellant received a speeding ticket, the fines for
which TradeCorp paid. (73 RT 14049.)

Jeffrey Coleman was the Certified Public Accountant hired to handle
TradeCorp’s incorporation and other financial dealings. (73 RT 14078-
14079.) In October 2002, Coleman helped TradeCorp prepare payroll tax
returns for the first three quarters of the year because the company received
a notice from the Internal Revenue Service that the tax returns were
overdue. (73 RT 14082-14083.) Coleman later learned that TradeCorp’s
fourth quarter payroll taxes were also not paid. (73 RT 14085.) Nor did
TradeCorp pay mill taxes owed to the city of Modesto. (73 RT 14113-
14114.)
When Coleman reviewed the company’s financial documents
sometime after appellant’s arrest, he determined that TradeCorp had never
turned a profit. (73 RT 14090.)

e. Laci’s inheritance

(1) Jewelry, a pawn shop, and eBay

Laci and Amy inherited jewelry from their grandmother in October or
November 2002.12 (45 RT 8869; 47 RT 9180-9182.) They went through
the jewelry and kept what they wanted and returned the rest to Brent. (47
RT 9181-9182.) Laci kept a gold and diamond watch, a pendant, diamond
screw-back earrings, and a couple of rings—one diamond and one sapphire.
(53 RT 10408-10409, 10423-10424.) Laci liked to wear some of the
jewelry, including the watch and diamond pendant. (46 RT 8920; 53 RT
10408, 10416; 54 RT 10527-10528.)

12 Laci and Amy’s father was Dennis Rocha. (45 RT 8817.) The
jewelry was passed down from Dennis’s mother. (45 RT 8869.)

On November 30, 2002, Laci visited Edwards Jewelers in Modesto to
have certain items of jewelry appraised. (53 RT 10399-10400, 10419-
10420.) She told one of the store employees that it was appellant that was
interested in knowing the value of the items. (53 RT 10420.) When Laci
learned that the inherited jewelry was worth in excess of $100,000, she
said that appellant would be pleased. (53 RT 10420.)

On December 10, 2002, Laci brought some gold chains to a Modesto
pawn shop, which she sold for $140. (53 RT 10455, 10459.) She returned
four days later, on December 14, with appellant, and sold some rings,
chains, and a charm for $110. (53 RT 10458-10459.) Laci explained that
she was cleaning out her jewelry box and that some of the items came from
her grandmother. (53 RT 10465.) Tory Brooks, who owned the store with
her husband, sensed there was a problem between appellant and Laci. (53
RT 10471.) Laci seemed agitated and hesitant when appellant was rubbing
her stomach in the store. (53 RT 10471.) She pushed his hand away. (53
RT 10471-10472.)

The later forensic examination of the Peterson’s computers revealed
numerous email exchanges involving the email account “slpete1@msn.com”
and the sale of jewelry in December 2002 on eBay.13 (75 RT 14449-14450.)
According to eBay records for appellant’s account, there was a listing for
an “‘Amazing Diamond Bezel Ladies Watch, Croton.’” The watch was
listed beginning December 1, 2002 until December 15, 2002. The records
did not indicate if the item was sold. (87 RT 16637-16639.) The payment
was to be sent to Scott Peterson at the Covena address. (75 RT 14394.)

13 The forensic computer search also revealed an email exchange
involving the private sale of a high-capacity Glock pistol magazine
appellant tried to sell on eBay, but which was not permitted. (People’s
Exh. No. 187A.)

(2) Future proceeds from the sale of real
estate

Laci, who was 27 years old at the time, was set to inherit a portion of
the proceeds of the sale of her grandfather’s house, when she turned 30
years old in 2005. (46 RT 8937-8938, 8966; 47 RT 9220; 73 RT 10461.)
The house was held in a separate trust and sold for $485,000 with the
proceeds to be split among the grandchildren—Laci, Brent, and Amy. (47
RT 9182.)

Although there was a restriction on the trust, which delayed
disbursement of the proceeds to Laci for three more years, Brent, who was
the co-trustee of their grandparents’ estate (47 RT 9179), never had a
conversation with appellant about the restriction (47 RT 9183, 9275). Also,
while appellant had no survivorship interest in Laci’s portion of the trust
(47 RT 9216, 9218-9219), no evidence was adduced as to whether
appellant knew he had no stake in the proceeds.

4. December 23, 2002: Laci’s and appellant’s
activities

The Peterson’s housekeeper, Margarita Nava, arrived about 8:30 a.m.
on December 23. (44 RT 8662.) She left at 2:30 p.m. (44 RT 8666.) Laci
was home when Nava arrived (44 RT 8666), but left around 11:00 a.m. and
returned with groceries from Trader Joe’s. (44 RT 8667, 8687). Nava
helped Laci bring the bags into the house. (44 RT 8670.) Appellant came
into the house around 10:00 a.m., picked up a package, and left after a few
minutes. (44 RT 8667, 8672.)

Sometime that day, appellant rented a private mailbox from a
Mailboxes Etc. store in Modesto in the name of TradeCorp for a term of six
months.14 (68 RT 13337-13339; 101 RT 18954-18955; People’s Exhs. Nos.
149, 285A.)

14 On January 9, 2003, police recovered correspondence Amber Frey
sent to appellant’s private mailbox. (68 RT 13340-13341; People’s Exh.
No. 149.) Defense questioning suggested that appellant rented the private
mailbox due to a theft of Laci and appellant’s checks from the North
Emerald warehouse location. (69 RT 13398-13399.) However, the checks
in question were mailed to appellant’s warehouse mailbox on January 22,
2003 (69 RT 13401), nearly a month after appellant rented the private
mailbox.

In the early afternoon, Laci went to the Sweet Serenity spa in Modesto
where she was a regular customer. (45 RT 8692-8693.) Spa employee
Tina Reiswig observed that Laci was not herself that day. (45 RT 8695.)
Laci, who was about eight months pregnant at the time, also had a prenatal
check-up that day. (53 RT 10393-10394; 91 RT 17728, 17234.)
Late in the afternoon, around 5:45, Laci and appellant went to Salon
Salon where Laci’s sister Amy was a hair stylist. Amy cut appellant’s hair
that evening. (45 RT 8777, 8828-8829.) Amy mentioned to appellant and
Laci that she ordered a gift basket from Vella Farms for a family member,
which needed to be picked up the following day—Christmas Eve—between
noon and 3:00 p.m. (45 RT 8858-8859.) Appellant offered to pick up the
gift basket because he said he was going golfing the next day in the same
part of Modesto where Vella Farms was located. (45 RT 8859.) Amy
made clear to appellant that the basket needed to be picked up before the
store closed at 3:00 p.m. (45 RT 8861.)

Appellant invited Amy over to the Covena residence for pizza that
evening, but Amy declined because she had plans. (46 RT 8917-8918,
8921, 8960.) The three parted company around 7:00 p.m. (45 RT 8838.)
Amy gave Laci a hug good-bye. (45 RT 8852.)

Sharon spoke to Laci on the phone around 8:30 that night. (46 RT
8996.) Laci confirmed that she and appellant would be going to Sharon and
Ron’s for Christmas Eve dinner the next evening. Laci also updated
Sharon on her prenatal check-up and that the doctor advised that the
pregnancy was progressing normally. (46 RT 8997.) That was the last
time Sharon spoke to her daughter. (46 RT 8997.)

5. Christmas Eve 2002: Laci is missing

Karen Servas lived next door to the Petersons on Covena. On the
morning of December 24, around 10:18,15 Servas was backing out of her

15 Servas initially told police she left her home around 10:30 a.m.,
but after checking her store receipts and cell phone records from December
24, she was able to more accurately pinpoint the timeframe. (48 RT 9434-
9438; 102 RT 19051, 19121-19122; People’s Exh. No. 28.) When she
realized that she provided inaccurate information, Servas sent a detailed
letter to Detective Jon Buehler explaining her revised timeline. (48 RT
9477-9478; 102 RT 19144.)

driveway when she noticed the Peterson’s dog McKenzie standing in the
street with his leash on. (48 RT 9412-9423.) This seemed unusual to
Servas who, as a next-door neighbor, was very familiar with McKenzie.
(48 RT 9428-9429, 9481.) Servas got out of her car and tried the
Peterson’s front gate, but it was locked. (48 RT 9424.) Laci’s car was in
the driveway. Appellant’s truck was not there. (48 RT 9424-9425.) There
was no activity at the house. (48 RT 9428.) Servas found the side gate to
the residence open, so she put McKenzie in the backyard and closed the
gate. (48 RT 9424, 9428, 9457.)

Neighbors Amie Krigbaum and Terra Venable, who lived across the
street from the Peterson’s, awoke to the sound of dogs barking. (48 RT
9518-9519, 9528.) Krigbaum recalled that it was 10:38 a.m. (48 RT 9517.)
Venable noticed that Laci’s car was in the driveway, but not appellant’s.
(48 RT 9531-9532.) The Peterson’s home looked unoccupied and the
window blinds were closed. (48 RT 9532-9533.)

Russell Graybill, the Peterson’s mail carrier, delivered mail on their
street between 10:35 a.m. and 10:50 a.m. that day. (49 RT 9564.) There
was nothing out of the ordinary that he noticed. (49 RT 9564.)

Around 3:45 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Amy received a call from Vella
Farms advising that no one had come to pick up the gift basket. (45 RT
8874.) Surprised by this, Amy called appellant’s cell phone and the
couple’s home phone, but could not reach appellant. (45 RT 8874-8875.)

When Karen Servas left her home again around 4:05 p.m., she noticed
a package in the Peterson’s mailbox, which she first noticed at 11:45 that
morning.16 (48 RT 9469-9470.) Appellant’s truck was still not there. (48
RT 9481.) Terra Venable saw the Peterson’s Christmas lights come on
around 4:30 p.m., but appellant’s truck was not there at that time. (48 RT
9534, 9538-9539.) Venable noticed appellant’s truck parked in the
driveway around 5:30 p.m. It had been backed into the driveway. (48 RT
9539.)
Sharon and Ron were expecting Laci and appellant around 6:00 p.m.
that evening for dinner. (46 RT 8998.) Sharon forgot to pick up an item
from the grocery store that she needed, so she had Ron call Laci that
afternoon to see if Laci could stop at the store on the way over. (47 RT
9111.) Ron was unable to reach Laci. (46 RT 8998.)
Around 5:15 p.m., appellant called Sharon at home and asked her if
Laci was there. He explained that Laci’s car was in the driveway and the
dog was in the backyard with its leash on, but Laci was “‘missing.’” (46
RT 8999.) 17 Sharon told appellant to call Laci’s friends to see if she was
with one of them. (46 RT 8999.) After she got off the phone with
appellant, Sharon ran down the hallway to tell Ron. (46 RT 8999.)
Appellant eventually called Sharon back to report that none of Laci’s
friends had seen her. (46 RT 8999.) Sharon suggested that appellant check
16 Servas’s testimony on this point was a clarification of a time
estimate she initially provided at the preliminary hearing. (48 RT 9463-
9464.) Mail carrier Graybill could not recall whether he delivered a
package to the Peterson’s that day, but since it was Christmas Eve, Graybill
stated that he tried to deliver as many packages as he could. (49 RT 9574,
9578.)
17 The defense intimated that Sharon erroneously attributed the use
of the word “missing” to appellant at that early juncture. (107 RT 19922-
19925.) However, appellant used the term “missing” with others early on.
(48 RT 9451 [neighbor Karen Servas]; 54 RT 10555 [Laci’s friend Lori
Ellsworth].) Additionally, during Ron Grantski’s 911 call on December 24,
he said, “‘we’ve been told that Laci’s missing, our daughter’s missing.’”
(107 RT 19934.)
27

with neighbors. (46 RT 8999-9000.) Appellant called Sharon a short while
later and said the neighbors had not seen Laci. (46 RT 9000.)

Sensing something was wrong, Sharon told Ron to call the police and
local hospitals. (46 RT 9000; 47 RT 9112-9113.) The police advised Ron
to have someone remain at his house. (47 RT 9114.) Sharon called her
friend Sandy Rickard to come and get her so Sharon could start looking for
her daughter, while Ron remained at the house. (46 RT 9001; 47 RT 9300.)

Sharon was hysterical when she called Rickard. (47 RT 9300.) When
Rickard arrived at Sharon and Ron’s house, Sharon—still highly agitated—
told Rickard that Laci was missing. (47 RT 9301.) Once in the car, Sharon
called appellant and, given what he had told her about McKenzie having his
leash on, told appellant to meet her at the local park near the Covena
residence in case Laci may have taken McKenzie for a walk there. (46 RT
9000-9001.)

6. Christmas Eve: Modesto Police Department
response and appellant’s unusual behavior

a. Appellant gets angry after police ask him
about his fishing trip

On the report of Laci missing, Modesto Police Department personnel
first responded to East La Loma Park18 around 6:00 p.m., where Sharon,
appellant, and the others were located. (49 RT 9651-9652; 50 RT 9834.)

18 The park was also referred to as the Dry Creek Park area. (49 RT
9652.) The area is divided into different parks which includes, La Loma,
Kewin, Thousand Oaks, and Moose parks. (49 RT 9740-9742, 9749.)

Shortly after arriving at the park, Officers Letsinger, Evers, and
Spurlock were assigned to respond to the Peterson’s residence on Covena.
(49 RT 9653; 50 RT 9786-9787.) They arrived around 6:30 p.m. (50 RT
9833.) The officers first did a protective sweep through the house to secure
the scene. (50 RT 9836-9837.) No other officers or civilians were
permitted inside. (50 RT 9906.) They found no signs of forced entry or
any other indication that a burglary had occurred. (50 RT 9792-9793.)
However, the officers noticed a bucket with two mops sitting outside one of
the exterior doors with some water near it on the ground.19 (50 RT 9787.)
A rug was bunched up against the door in the living room and some wet
rags containing sand and dirt were on top of the washing machine. (50 RT
9788-9789, 9860.) The closet in the spare bedroom was open and duffle
bags appeared to have been pulled off the shelf. One was lying upside
down on the floor. (50 RT 9790-9791.) In the kitchen, the officers
observed an open phone book, a pizza box with several slices missing, and
an open bottle of Ranch dressing. (50 RT 9860.) Other than that,
everything appeared exceptionally neat. (50 RT 9789.)
Next, the officers checked around the exterior perimeter of the house,
including the backyard area, pool, spa, and crawl space under the house.
(50 RT 9861-9862, 9905.)
Afterward, the officers did a second walk-through, with appellant this
time, to determine if anything was missing. Nothing seemed out of the
ordinary in the home. (50 RT 9793.) Laci’s purse was inside the master
bedroom closet on a hook, which was where it was sometimes kept. (50
RT 9795.) Her wallet, keys, and identification were inside. (50 RT 9865-
9866; 51 RT 10011-10012.)
While in the house with appellant, Officer Evers asked him about the
events of that day. Appellant said that he and Laci watched Martha Stewart
on television in the morning. (51 RT 10004.) Laci planned to walk the dog
down in the park and then go grocery shopping because they had a family
19 A criminalist later examined the mops and bucket. They smelled
of a cleaning agent, but there was no blood on the mops or bucket. (89 RT
17009-17015.)
29

dinner planned for that evening. (51 RT 10004.) Appellant decided to go
fishing at the Berkeley Marina. He left the house around 9:30 a.m. and
drove to his shop where his boat was located. (51 RT 10004-10005.) He
arrived at the marina around noon and fished, by himself (51 RT 10006),
for about two hours and then quit because it was rainy and cold (51 RT
10005). On his way back to Modesto, he tried calling Laci twice on her
cell phone and on the home phone, but was unable to reach her. (51 RT
10006.) Appellant dropped off the boat at his shop and arrived home
around 4:30 p.m. (51 RT 10007.) Laci was not home and appellant
assumed she was out doing errands. He changed clothes and washed the
clothes he had been wearing that day on the Bay. (51 RT 10007.)
Appellant noticed McKenzie was in the back yard with his leash on. The
French doors leading to the patio were unlocked. (51 RT 10007.) After
showering, appellant ate a couple slices of pizza, drank some milk, and
called Sharon. (51 RT 10007.)

Officer Spurlock asked appellant what time he went fishing, but
appellant seemed reticent to provide an answer. (50 RT 9796, 9867.)
Spurlock next asked appellant what kind of fish he had been fishing for.
(50 RT 9796-9797, 9868.) The officer explained appellant’s response:

And at that point there was a pause. He hesitated in answering
me. He—he had this blank look on his face for a second or so,
his eyes shifted a little bit and he kind of mumbled some stuff,
but again blew off my question, didn’t really give me an answer.

(50 RT 9868.)

Spurlock then asked appellant what type of bait or lure he used. As
the officer recounted:

I got the same [] type of response. Kind of the blank stare,
shifting of the eye kind of thing. [¶] He just really couldn’t give
me an answer, again. And then something clicked, and he—he
said I was using a silver lure, and he gave me a hand gesture of
about seven to eight inches in length.
(50 RT 9868-9869.) Compared to appellant’s calm demeanor earlier (50
RT 9946), Spurlock described appellant’s demeanor during this line of
questioning as “nervous,” “a little fidgety,” and “more standoffish” (50 RT
9947).

Noticing that appellant was wearing lightweight clothing, Spurlock
asked him if he had changed clothes and, if so, whether the clothes he wore
earlier that day were in the hamper. (50 RT 9869.) Appellant said no
because he had already washed the clothes he wore fishing. (50 RT 9869.)

As the officers walked appellant back to the front door of the house,
Spurlock was behind appellant as appellant walked out the front door. (50
RT 9869.) Spurlock heard appellant say “Fuck” and saw appellant throw
the flashlight he was holding down onto the ground. (50 RT 9871, 9882.)
Officer Letsinger also heard appellant mumble a curse word under his
breath and observed appellant throw the flashlight down. (50 RT 9797-
9798.) Appellant immediately retrieved it and kept moving. (50 RT 9882.)

Officers contacted the owner of the vacant house next door to the
Peterson’s residence on the north side and gained access, but nothing was
found. (49 RT 9658; 50 RT 9799, 9882-9883.)

Afterward, Letsinger, Spurlock, and Evers conferred with Patrol
Sergeant Duerfeldt. Duerfeldt decided to call in a detective. (49 RT 9656.)
Detective Allen Brocchini arrived at 523 Covena around 9:30 p.m. (51 RT
10018; 55 RT 10713.) Initially, his role in the investigation was to
determine whether appellant could be eliminated as a suspect. (55 RT
10781.) Among other information conveyed to Brocchini upon his arrival,
was Officer Spurlock’s conversation with appellant about fishing. (51 RT
10013; 55 RT 10713.) Officer Evers did a walk-through with Brocchini
pointing out various things, including the duffle bags in the closet in the
spare bedroom. (51 RT 10020.) One duffle bag was open on the floor and
the other had fallen off the shelf and was sitting on the hangers in the closet.
(55 RT 10735.) Evers also showed Brocchini the wet towels on top of the
washer. (51 RT 10020.)

Brocchini introduced himself to appellant and they did a walk-through
together, along with Evers. (51 RT 10021; 55 RT 10715, 10729-10731.)
Brocchini asked appellant about the duffle bags that were in a state of
disarray. Appellant explained that he was a “‘slob’” and that was why the
duffle bags were displaced. (51 RT 10023.) Yet, when Brocchini inquired
about the wet towels on top of the washer, appellant said he took the towels
out of the washer so that he could promptly wash the clothes that he had
just worn fishing. (51 RT 10024.) Inside the washer were a pair of blue
jeans, a blue t-shirt, and green jacket that appellant wore on the Bay. (55
RT 10737-10738.)

Brocchini asked appellant if he could look at appellant’s cell and
record the phone numbers and times of incoming and outgoing calls.
Appellant agreed to the request. (55 RT 10733.)

After taking down the cell phone information, Brocchini asked
appellant if he could take a look at Laci’s and appellant’s vehicles. (51 RT
10026; 55 RT 10738.) Appellant’s pick-up truck was backed into the
driveway. Laci’s green Land Rover was parked facing into the driveway.
(51 RT 10026-10027.) In the bed of appellant’s truck, Brocchini observed
umbrellas wrapped in a blue tarp and another tarp shoved up against a
toolbox. (55 RT 10740.)

When the detective opened the passenger door of the truck to look
inside, the truck’s door bumped up against the side of the Land Rover. (55
RT 10746.) Seeing this, appellant suggested that Brocchini use a leather
glove appellant had in his hand to keep the truck door from hitting the
Land Rover.20 Appellant offered to move his truck. Brocchini apologized
and said he would be more careful. (55 RT 10746.)
Inside appellant’s truck, Brocchini found a bag from a sporting goods
store. Two unused fishing lures—still in the package—were inside the bag.
(55 RT 10746.) The receipt was dated December 20, 2002. (55 RT 10746;
62 RT 12176.) Brocchini also located a two-day fishing license and a
fishing pole that were purchased from the store at the same time. (55 RT
10746; 62 RT 12176.)
The heavy jacket that appellant said he wore fishing was on the back
seat. (55 RT 10747.) Although appellant reported that it was raining on the
Bay that day (55 RT 10747), and although he said he had to wash the
clothes he wore fishing because they were wet (51 RT 10024; 55 RT
10747), the jacket he wore on the Bay that day was dry (55 RT 10747).21
Brocchini discovered a loaded .22-caliber pistol in the glove
compartment of appellant’s truck. (55 RT 10748, 10770-10771.) Having
previously received appellant’s permission to look in the house and in
appellant’s truck for items of evidence, the detective took the gun without
telling appellant. (55 RT 10748-10749.) Brocchini also did not want to
belie any suspicion on the part of police. (59 RT 11519.)
Appellant retrieved a parking receipt for the Berkeley Marina and
gave it to Brocchini. The receipt showed parking was purchased at 12:54
p.m. on December 24 and was valid until 11:59 that night. (51 RT 10029.)
20 Appellant sold the Land Rover several weeks later. (86 RT
16429.)
21 During his interview with Detective Brocchini later that night,
appellant told the detective that he was wearing the jacket when it started
raining while he was in the boat. (Volume 2, Supplemental Clerk’s
Exhibits Transcript, page 299.)
33

After examining the vehicles, Brocchini and Officer Evers
accompanied appellant to appellant’s warehouse at 1027 North Emerald
Avenue in Modesto, where his 14-foot aluminum fishing boat was stored.
(51 RT 10036, 10044; 55 RT 10750.) They arrived shortly after 11:00 p.m.
(51 RT 10037; 55 RT 10751.) There was no power to the warehouse, so
the officers used flashlights and the headlights of Brocchini’s vehicle to
illuminate the interior. (51 RT 10042-10043; 55 RT 10753.) Brocchini
asked appellant a few questions and took photos of the boat and the trailer it
was sitting on. (51 RT 10044-10045; 55 RT 10754.) Appellant asked
Brocchini not to show appellant’s boss any photos of the boat in the
warehouse. (55 RT 10768.)

Among other items in the boat, there were a couple of fishing poles, a
homemade anchor, a small red rope, a spare tire, a pair of needle-nose
pliers, a life-preserver, and a tackle box. (55 RT 10755, 10767.) The
anchor was made of rebar-reinforced cement. (55 RT 10768.) There was
no long rope in the boat. (55 RT 10768.)

As for computer activity on Christmas Eve, the home laptop was used
between 8:40 and 8:45 a.m.22 (75 RT 14419.) At 8:42, a weather search
was conducted for San Jose, as well as a shopping search for a GAP brand
fleece scarf and an umbrella stand. (83 RT 15757-15758.) At 8:45, an
email document was created bearing appellant’s name23 regarding an eBay
transaction involving a golf bag. (75 RT 14420-14421; 83 RT 15758.)

22 The computer clock correlated with real time. (83 RT 15776.)

23 The email address was “slpete1@msn.com.” (People’s Exh. No.
186.) Emails from Shawn Sibley and appellant’s employee Eric Olsen
were received at the same email address. (75 RT 14408.) Laci had a
separate email account. (75 RT 14408-14409.) Investigators found no
evidence to suggest that Laci accessed or otherwise used appellant’s email
account in December 2002 and not on December 24, in particular. (83 RT
15814.)
There was no further activity on the home laptop computer that day. (75
RT 14421.) However, the work desktop computer was used between 10:30
a.m. until 10:56 a.m. that morning (75 RT 14421), including a search for
instructions on assembling a mortiser (83 RT 15761).
b. Appellant avoids Laci’s family

That evening, around 70 to 80 people—including family, friends, and
neighbors— joined police in looking for Laci in and around the park and
neighborhood. (46 RT 9009.) Searchers went door to door with photos of
Laci. (46 RT 9010; 54 RT 10515, 10555.)

The police department deployed various resources to search the Dry
Creek Park area, which included K-9 officers and a police helicopter search
crew. (49 RT 9660-9661, 9706.) The helicopter made repeated passes
over the Dry Creek Park area at low altitude utilizing a hand-held infrared
device, which could detect heat sources. (49 RT 9660, 9699.) The device
did not pick up any readings. (49 RT 9707.) Police searched three
homeless encampments along the riverbank of the park area. There were
about seven to eight people living there. (49 RT 9733-9734.) The local fire
department dispatched a water team that searched the deeper areas of the
creek adjacent to the park. (49 RT 9753-9754, 9769.)

As for appellant’s demeanor at the time, when Sharon and Sandy
Rickard saw appellant at the park, Rickard observed that appellant seemed
calm. (47 RT 9302-9303.) Sharon recalled asking appellant where he
thought Laci might be, but appellant offered no response. (46 RT 9010.)
Other people who saw appellant that evening said that he seemed upset and
emotional. (48 RT 9510, 9523; 50 RT 9907; 51 RT 10076; 54 RT 10529.)
Yet, when Sharon approached appellant to give him a hug and comfort him,
appellant maneuvered away from her. It seemed to Sharon that he was also
avoiding eye contact with her. (46 RT 9011.) Likewise, Brent noticed
that appellant was off by himself and was reluctant to make eye contact. In
fact, appellant and Brent never spoke that night, even though they had a
“great” relationship. (47 RT 9186-9187.) Sharon’s cousin Gwendolyn
Kemple also took note that appellant would not look at her, despite the fact
that they had seen each other numerous times at family functions. (47 RT
9333.)

Ron Grantski asked appellant if he had gone golfing that day as
appellant had planned. (50 RT 9846, 9887; 51 RT 10016.) Appellant
paused and then replied that he decided to go fishing instead. (47 RT 9117;
50 RT 9888; 51 RT 10016.) After appellant told Grantski what time he left
to go fishing, Grantski asked appellant what he would be fishing for at that
time of day. (50 RT 9846, 9888.) Appellant walked away without
responding. (50 RT 9888; 51 RT 10017.)

Although appellant told Grantski and the police that he went fishing,
appellant told Sharon’s cousin Harvey Kemple that he went golfing that
day. (48 RT 9362.) Appellant also told neighbors Amie Krigbaum and
Terra Venable that he was golfing all day. (48 RT 9510, 9534.)

Sandy Rickard was standing outside the Covena residence when
appellant approached her. He put up his hands and volunteered, “‘I
wouldn’t be surprised if they find blood on my truck because I cut my
hands all the time.’” (47 RT 9305-9306.) He explained that it was because
he was an outdoorsman, or something to that effect, as Rickard recalled.
(47 RT 9305.) Rickard found the interaction perplexing. (47 RT 9306.)

Around 11:00 p.m. that night, police told everyone to go home. (46
RT 9013.) Sharon asked detectives to ride appellant over to her house
because she did not want him to be alone. Appellant chose not to spend the
night with Sharon and Ron. (46 RT 9013.) Appellant also declined Brent’s
offer for company. (47 RT 9188.)
c. Appellant’s taped police interview

Appellant agreed to Detective Brocchini’s request for a videotaped
interview. (55 RT 10715.) The interview took place at the police station
around midnight on December 24. (55 RT 10715-10716.) Brocchini
described appellant’s demeanor during the interview as “[c]alm, cool,
relaxed.” (55 RT 10716.) The video was played for the jury. (55 RT
10721; People’s Exh. Nos. 68 (DVD) & 68A (transcript).)

In the interview, appellant said that he decided to go fishing that
morning. (2 Supp. CT Exhs.24 289; People’s Exh. No. 68A.) When he left
at 9:30,25 Laci was wearing black pants and a white long-sleeve top. (2
Supp. CT Exhs. 290-291.) Appellant said Laci “was gonna finish cleanin
up, like I said she was moppin’ the kitchen floor . . . .” (2 Supp. CT Exhs.
289.)26 After leaving the house, he went to his warehouse, assembled a
mortiser,27 took care of some emails, hooked up the boat and trailer to his
truck, and headed out. (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 291.)

24 “Supp. CT Exhs.” refers to the 15-volume 3,862-page
Supplemental Clerk’s Exhibits Transcript, which contains the majority of
the trial exhibits.

25 Cell phone records revealed that appellant made a call to his
voicemail at 10:08 a.m. on December 24. (79 RT 14992; 81 RT 15383.)
This was determined based on data from two cell tower sites in Modesto.
(79 RT 14995-14996; 80 RT 15298.) The call originated from the cell site
that primarily serves the Covena residence location. (80 RT 15298; 81 RT
15383.) Appellant said that Laci was watching Martha Stewart who was
talking about meringue. (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 288.) The show aired at 9:00
a.m. in the Modesto area. The meringue segment occurred about 48
minutes into the show, around 9:48 a.m. (55 RT 10809-10810.) Appellant
told Ron Grantski that he left the house around 10 or 10:30 on the morning
of December 24. (50 RT 9846.)

26 Their housekeeper Margarita Nava testified that she was at the
house the day before and mopped all of the floors. (44 RT 8664.)

27 A mortiser is a woodworking tool. (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 291.)
Appellant arrived at the Berkeley Marina around 1:00 p.m. and stayed
on the water for about 90 minutes. (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 294.) He went north
a couple of miles from the marina to a little island—later identified as
Brooks Island—where there was some shallow water. (2 Supp. CT Exhs.
294.) When the detective asked appellant if he trolled for fish, appellant
said he did, but the main reason he went “was just to get that boat in the
water to see, you know.” (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 295.)
Appellant said he called Laci at home as he was leaving the marina
and left a message. (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 297.) He said he also called her cell
phone twice and left messages on her phone.28 (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 299.)
However, Detective Brocchini pointed out that there was only one message
from appellant on Laci’s cell phone. (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 299.)

28 Appellant had Laci’s cell phone during the interview, including
her access code. (People’s Exh. Nos. 68; 2 Supp. CT 297.) Laci told her
prenatal yoga instructor that she never went anywhere without her cell
phone. (54 RT 10628.)

When asked about the umbrellas in the back of the pick-up, appellant
said he put them in the bed of the truck that morning with the intention of
storing them at the warehouse, but he forgot to unload them. (2 Supp. CT
Exhs. 300.) The umbrellas were in the bed of his truck while appellant was
at the marina. (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 300.)

Although appellant stopped for gas on the way home (2 Supp. CT
Exhs. 298), he did not stop for lunch on the drive up or back from the
marina (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 294). Nor did he take a lunch with him. (2 Supp.
CT Exhs. 294.)

When he arrived back in Modesto, appellant drove to his shop and
dropped off the boat. Then, he went home. (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 298.)
Appellant said that when he got home and realized Laci was not there, he
assumed she was at Sharon and Ron’s house.29 (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 302.)
He found McKenzie in the backyard with his leash on and the French doors
in the back were unlocked. (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 300-301.)
With respect to the pistol found in the glove compartment of his truck,
appellant said it had been in there for a month. (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 307.)
He took it to Lone Mountain on a trip with his father to shoot pheasants, but
it did not fire.30 (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 307-308.) When the detective noted
that it was not the type of gun that was used for pheasant hunting, appellant
agreed, “No, no.”31 (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 307.)
When asked by Brocchini, appellant agreed to submit to a gunshot
residue test, but then appellant asked if exhaust from an outboard motor
might show up as gunshot residue. (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 313.) The detective
pointed out that since appellant had already showered, it would not. (2
Supp. CT Exhs. 313.)
On the subject of his marriage, appellant assured Detective Brocchini
that there were no problems and that everything was good. (2 Supp. CT
Exhs. 308.)
29 Appellant said he arrived home around 4:30 p.m. (51 RT 10007.)
He and Laci were not due at Sharon and Ron’s until 6:00 that evening for
dinner. (46 RT 8998; 2 Supp. CT Exhs. 303.)
30 California Department of Justice criminalist Ronald Welsh later
test-fired the weapon five times with ammunition similar to that found in
the gun. The weapon functioned normally. (59 RT 11597-11599.) Then,
Welsh fired the weapon four more times using the ammunition found in the
gun. Again, it fired normally. (59 RT 11599-11600.) Welsh also
determined that the gun had not been fired recently. (59 RT 11603.)
31 Appellant’s father, Lee Peterson, testified that, although he and
appellant would sometimes target shoot with handguns after hunting, he did
not see appellant with a handgun when they went pheasant hunting in
October or November 2002; they used 20-gauge shotguns. (88 RT 16871-
16873.)
39

The interview ended around 1:30 a.m. (55 RT 10782.) About 45
minutes later, appellant called Brocchini and asked him if he took his gun.
(55 RT 10749.) After Brocchini replied affirmatively, appellant said that
he wished Brocchini had mentioned to him that he was taking the gun. (55
RT 10749.)

7. Christmas Day

a. Friends and family continue searching

As Christmas Day dawned, Laci’s family and friends, along with
police, continued looking for her in the park and along the river that ran by
the park. (46 RT 9014-9015.) Searchers put up posters in the area. (54 RT
10516-10517.) About 10 to 15 police officers canvassed the Covena
neighborhood, including searching yards and alleyways. (49 RT 9758-
9760.) A K-9 team searched the footpath leading into La Loma park and
the surrounding brush. (49 RT 9762-9764.)

Laci’s friend Stacey Boyers returned to the Covena residence around
8:00 a.m. (54 RT 10531-10532.) Boyers noticed that appellant was
vacuuming one particular spot in front of the washer and dryer. (54 RT
10517-10518.) When Boyers asked appellant what he was doing, he said
he just could not keep the house clean enough. (54 RT 10518.)

b. Appellant’s second interview: He assures
investigators that he is a faithful husband and
suggests transients were responsible for Laci’s
disappearance

Around 1:30 p.m. on Christmas day, appellant agreed to go to the
police station and meet with Detective Craig Grogan, who had taken over
as lead investigator in the case. (61 RT 11818, 11829-11830.) Doug
Mansfield, an investigator with the California Department of Justice, was
also present. (61 RT 11818-11819.) Authorities interviewed appellant first
because, as Laci’s husband, he was the person closest to her, he was the one
who discovered her missing, and he was the last person to see Laci alive.
(93 RT 17647.)

Investigators had several goals for the interview: obtain information
about the days leading up to Laci’s disappearance, along with background
on Laci’s family (93 RT 17646); find out if anything occurred shortly
before Christmas Eve that would have caused Laci to voluntarily leave on
her own (93 RT 17646); and, secure any information that would serve to
eliminate appellant as a suspect (93 RT 17647). Grogan was aware of the
fact that appellant said he went fishing on Christmas Eve and did not have
anyone who could confirm his alibi. (93 RT 17648.)

In discussing his activities on Christmas Eve, appellant said he had no
prior experience fishing on San Francisco Bay. (61 RT 11820.) He
researched the internet and decided on the Berkeley area. (61 RT 11824.)
Appellant said it was too cold to golf. So, he opted to drive about 180
miles round-trip to fish on the Bay, although he was only on the water for
an hour. (99 RT 18629-18630.) Appellant said wanted to get the boat in
the water to see if it worked. (61 RT 11845, 11865; 99 RT 18629.) He
went trolling for fish as he made his way to Brooks Island and back. (93
RT 17656.)

As for Laci’s activities, appellant told Grogan and Mansfield that she
walked almost every day. He detailed the path she usually took from
Covena down into East La Loma Park. (93 RT 17651.) Appellant said that
Laci had been wearing some of the jewelry she inherited when he last saw
her on Christmas Eve morning. He thought it possible that she wore it
when she went walking in the park and a transient robbed her of the jewelry
and kidnapped her. (93 RT 17652.)

Mansfield specifically asked appellant if there were any problems in
his marriage or if there were any third parties involved. Appellant said that
neither he nor Laci were involved with anyone else outside the marriage.
(61 RT 11825; 93 RT 17653.)

c. Appellant asks about using cadaver dogs
within 24 hours of Laci’s disappearance

Later that evening, appellant called Detective Brocchini to check on
the investigation. (55 RT 10784.) Brocchini detailed the resources the
police department had deployed to assist in the search. (55 RT 10784.)
Appellant asked if they were using cadaver dogs. The detective told
appellant that since they did not consider Laci dead yet, they had not
resorted to the use of cadaver dogs. (55 RT 10785.)

Neighbor Karen Servas went over to the Peterson’s later on Christmas
Day and had dinner with appellant and his parents, who had arrived at the
house. (48 RT 9439-9441.) At dinner, appellant expressed his displeasure
with the police because they took his gun and some rags from the washing
machine without his knowledge. (48 RT 9443.)

Appellant talked to Amber Frey around 6:00 that evening after Shawn
Sibley’s uncle called appellant and left a voicemail message chastising
appellant for not returning Frey’s call from that morning. (76 RT 14694-
14695.) Frey believed that appellant was calling her from Maine. (76 RT
14695.) Appellant said he and his family were getting ready to go to bed.
(76 RT 14695.)

8. The search intensifies

In the days immediately following Laci and Conner’s disappearance,
police focused their search on the Modesto area. (52 RT 10270.) A police
command center was set up in East La Loma Park. (47 RT 9206; 52 RT
10146.)

Searchers continued to scour neighborhoods and parks. (52 RT 10154,
10159.) They checked rivers, canals, and other waterways (52 RT 10153-
10154, 10158-10159, ), inspected local vineyards (52 RT 10161), went
through bushes and piles of leaves (52 RT 10149), and examined vacant
houses (52 RT 10166).

Police made contact with homeless individuals, sex offender
registrants, and parolees in the area (52 RT 10147, 10156-10157, 10169; 63
RT 12341), but nothing was generated in the way of tips related to Laci’s
disappearance (52 RT 10313-10314).

A phone bank was set up at the Modesto Police Department. (52 RT
10155.) Viable tips were redirected to the search command center. (52 RT
10155.) Police followed up on reported sightings of Laci. (52 RT 10314.)
In all, authorities received over 10,000 tips. There were purported sightings
of Laci all over the world. (59 RT 11474.) There were also numerous
reported sightings of appellant and his boat. (59 RT 11474.) Police
investigated an errant pair of men’s socks found in the park (52 RT 10157),
suspicious vehicles (52 RT 10164), unidentified organs that turned out to be
animal remains (52 RT 10324-10325, 10328), and a rubber glove (52 RT
10327).

The police department alerted the press. (52 RT 10160.) Media
interest increased and a reward for information leading to Laci and
Conner’s return grew to $500,000.32 (47 RT 9205; 52 RT 10160-10161.)

32 As Detective Grogan explained, it became clear to authorities that
since no one had come forward with information, given the sizeable reward,
it was less likely authorities were dealing with multiple people involved in
Laci’s disappearance. (94 RT 17814.) If someone had limited involvement
in her abduction, the high dollar amount was a strong incentive to come
forward. (94 RT 17814.) In early March 2003, an additional reward of
$50,000 was offered for information leading to the recovery of Laci’s body.
(95 RT 18027.) Otherwise, there would be no incentive for someone who
knew Laci was dead or who knew the location of Laci’s body to provide
that information. (94 RT 17813-17814.) No one ever came forward to
provide information and claim either reward. (94 RT 17815.)
A volunteer center was established at the Red Lion Inn in Modesto
because the number of volunteers was getting too large for the Covena
residence to accommodate. (47 RT 9206; 54 RT 10519.) Telephone lines
were set up at the center so that the public could call in tips. (46 RT 9018.)
9. Appellant’s reluctance to have his image or name
associated with Laci

During this time, appellant avoided interacting with the media. He
told people that he wanted the focus to be on Laci. (47 RT 9251.)
Appellant took down any picture posted in the volunteer center in which he
was depicted. (54 RT 10520.) He did not want any wedding photos
showing he and Laci together to be posted at the center. (54 RT 10558.)
Appellant left a thank-you note for volunteers on the door of the center,
which he did not sign with his name:

VOLUNTEERS

AS I SEE EVERY PERSON COME THROUGH THIS DOOR,
OR OUT SEARCHING, I TELL LACI ABOUT THEM,
LOOKING FOR HER.

EARLY THIS MORNING I FELT SHE COULD HEAR ME.
SHE THANKS YOU.

LACI’S HUSBAND

(86 RT 16420-16421; People’s Exh. No. 212.)

10. Appellant’s concern about the dining room table

On December 26, Captain Christopher Boyer, who was in charge of
Contra Costa County’s Search and Rescue team, was called in by the
Modesto Police Department to assist in the search. (83 RT 15890; 84 RT
15918.) One of the resources utilized by Boyer and his team were K-9
search teams. (83 RT 15890.) At the Covena residence, Boyer and two of
the dog handlers collected some of Laci’s personal belongings to use as
scent articles for the trailing dogs: a hairbrush from the bathroom, a pink
slipper from the bedroom, and a sunglasses case containing Laci’s
sunglasses which was found in her purse. (84 RT 15920, 15986-15987,
15990.) Boyer explained that the sunglasses, which he collected
personally, were an exceptionally good scent article because they were
encased and were double-bagged when they were collected. (84 RT 15934,
15990.) Appellant’s brown slipper was also taken as a scent article. (84
RT 15991.) After Boyer collected the items, appellant asked Boyer for a
receipt for the items. Boyer found this unusual and explained that this was
the first time someone had asked for such a receipt. (84 RT 15930-15931.)

Boyer also conducted a brief missing persons interview with appellant
intended to assist the K-9 trailing team. (84 RT 15921-15922.) As Boyer
and appellant were seated at the dining room table, Boyer put his note pad
on the table so that he could take down appellant’s answers. However,
appellant asked Boyer not to write on the dining room table because
appellant did not want it to be damaged.33 (84 RT 15923-15924.)

33 A few weeks later, appellant talked to realtors about selling the
couple’s Covena home, including the possibility of selling it furnished. (86
RT 16418-16419; People’s Exh. No. 207C; 9 Supp. CT Exhs. 1999-2000,
2004-2005.)

Eloise Anderson, a certified dog handler, responded to Covena as part
of Captain Boyer’s search and rescue team. (84 RT 16072-16073.) Her
trailing dog was a Labrador retriever named “Trimble.” (84 RT 16029,
16050, 16072.) During her testimony, Anderson provided details of
Trimble’s training and certification. (84 RT 16050-16069.)

That same day, Amber Frey tried repeatedly to reach appellant to
thank him for a gift that he sent her for Christmas. (76 RT 14695; 79 RT
15109.) The billing address was appellant’s warehouse. (76 RT 14695.)
11. Search warrants

Based on the results of the investigation at that point, Detective
Grogan decided that search warrants were necessary. (93 RT 17657.)

a. December 26 and 27, 2002: Residence

On the morning of December 26, the Modesto Police Department
executed a search warrant for the Peterson’s residence. (55 RT 10791; 63
RT 12280.) Before police started searching inside the house, they checked
again for signs of forced entry, but found none. (63 RT 12279.) They also
checked outside the house for footprints in the soil or broken tree limbs—
things that might indicate an intruder. (63 RT 12280-12281.)

The primary purpose of the search on December 26 was to look for
forensic evidence, including blood and hair fibers. (63 RT 12326, 12376.)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) personnel assisted in the forensic
search. (63 RT 12383-12384.) Police found two very small spots on the
comforter on the bed in the master bedroom that were later confirmed to be
appellant’s blood. (63 RT 12338; 89 RT 17033; 90 RT 17196.)

Searchers collected two hairbrushes from a drawer of the vanity in the
bathroom of the master bedroom. (63 RT 12370-12371.)

A boat cover was located in a shed in the backyard. There was a leaf
blower sitting on top of it. (63 RT 12287, 12290.) The boat cover emitted
a very strong smell of gasoline. (63 RT 12289-12290.) A criminalist who
later examined the cover noted it contained what appeared to be chunks of
concrete. (89 RT 17019.) Police also found a blue tarp in a another shed
near the grill. (63 RT 12339.)

Police did a cursory search of appellant’s truck and Laci’s Land Rover.
The vehicles were impounded and towed to a secure location for further
processing. (63 RT 12318; 64 RT 12490-12492; 68 RT 13315, 13318-
13319.) Four areas of suspected blood were found in appellant’s truck. (64
RT 12492; 67 RT 12954-12956.) Appellant told Detective Grogan that he
cut his hand on the door. (67 RT 12990.) Later analysis confirmed that
three of the four stains were, in fact, appellant’s blood. (89 RT 17039-
17040; 90 RT 17197.) Small chunks of cement were found in the bed of
the truck, along with a claw hammer on which there appeared to be cement
powder or residue. (64 RT 12504, 12601.) There was also a large storage
container in the bed of the truck. (64 RT 12499-12500; People’s Exh. No.
116C.)

On December 27, the police continued their search of the residence.
This time, they searched for specific items. (63 RT 12376.) In particular,
police were looking to see if jewelry that appellant said Laci was wearing
on Christmas Eve morning was missing from the home. (93 RT 17676-
17677.) The jewelry was there, with the exception of a pair of diamond
earrings. (93 RT 17677, 17680.)

That day, police also collected hair samples from appellant. (63 RT
12377.)

b. December 27, 2002: Warehouse

On the afternoon of December 27, after searching the residence,
officers executed a search warrant at appellant’s warehouse. (64 RT 12523,
12526.) Appellant’s 14-foot aluminum Game Fisher boat was inside, along
with the boat trailer. (64 RT 12537, 12539.) Police searched Department
of Motor Vehicle records relating to the boat and discovered there was no
registration paperwork for the boat. (93 RT 17683.)

(1) Pliers with hair

A pair of needle-nose pliers was located in the boat under the middle
seat. (55 RT 10837-10838; 64 RT 12544.) Detective Grogan later viewed
the photographs taken during execution of the search warrant and saw what
appeared to be hair in the pliers. (94 RT 17837.) Grogan talked to fellow
detective Dodge Hendee and asked Hendee to retrieve the pliers from the
police department’s evidence room and determine if there was hair attached
and, if so, determine if it was suitable for DNA testing. (94 RT 17837-
17838.)

Detective Hendee retrieved the pliers and noticed what he thought
was a single hair, about five to six inches in length, looped around the pliers
and fixed in the clamped portion. (64 RT 12554, 12556-12557; 67 RT
13031.) There was some sort of vegetation stuck to the hair.34 (64 RT
12556; 67 RT 13034; People’s Exhs. Nos. 159A, B.) Hendee inserted the
pliers into an evidence envelope, pulled the handles apart, removed the
pliers from the envelope, and looked inside the envelope to ensure the hair
was inside. (64 RT 12558; 67 RT 12974.) It appeared to be a single hair
that was deposited in the envelope.35 (64 RT 12558.)

34 A prosecution expert later identified the material as being
consistent with an annual bluegrass found in the Central Valley, which
grows during November through April. (69 RT 13482-13483, 13489.)

35 When Detectives Hendee and Brocchini retrieved the evidence
envelope on February 12, 2003, for the purpose of determining whether the
hair had a root, they inspected the contents of the envelope and found there
were two hairs inside. (64 RT 12563, 12566.) Hendee confirmed that the
evidence envelope was sealed and was not tampered with. (64 RT 12566-
12567.) He explained that what he initially perceived to be one hair in the
pliers may have actually been two that were held together in the clamped
portion of the pliers. Alternatively, if it had been a single hair, Hendee
suggested the hair may have somehow broken inside the envelope. (64 RT
12567.) In looking at a close-up photo of the hair when it was in the pliers,
Hendee pointed out that the entire hair was not visible. (64 RT 12591-
12592.) He took extra precautions in repackaging the hairs. (64 RT 12567.)

Rod Oswalt, the prosecution’s forensic criminalist who specialized in
hair evidence, later determined the evidence to be two separate hair
fragments.36 (70 RT 13617.) Microscopically comparing the hair
fragments to samples of Laci’s hair taken from her hairbrushes, Oswalt
concluded the hair fragments were microscopically consistent with the
samples of Laci’s hair. (70 RT 13612-13617, 13644, 13658; 87 RT 16599,
16603; People’s Exh No. 164B.) Microscopic analysis also revealed that
the fragments were not consistent with samples of appellant’s hair. (87 RT
16596.) Oswalt noted there was splaying or flattening out of the hair
fragments that could have been caused by pliers. (70 RT 13656.) The
fragments could have initially been stuck together due to the clamping
action of the pliers, or as a result of hair spray or hair oils. (70 RT 13657.)
The fragments were sent to the FBI’s lab for mitochondrial DNA testing.
(70 RT 13660-13662.)
Noted FBI biologist forensic examiner Doctor Constance Fisher
conducted mitochondrial DNA (“mtDNA”) testing37 on a two centimeter
segment of one hair fragment. (87 RT 16655.) Dr. Fisher determined that
the mtDNA sequence in the fragment from the pliers was the same as the
reference sample received from Sharon Rocha. (87 RT 16676-16677.)
36 Oswalt explained that if a root was present, it was referred to as a
hair. If there was no root present, it was considered a hair fragment. (70
RT 13617-13618.)
37 Dr. Fisher explained the two types of DNA: nuclear and
mitochondrial. Nuclear was inherited from a person’s mother and father,
while mitochondrial was only inherited from the mother. Nuclear DNA
was unique to an individual (except for identical twins) and could,
therefore, be used as a tool of inclusion. On the other hand, mitochondrial
DNA could not be used to make an individual identification. However, it
was a very reliable tool of exclusion for those instances, for example, where
there was a hair fragment but no root for nuclear DNA testing. (87 RT
16618-16622.) In mtDNA testing, if there was no access to the subject
individual, then an examiner could use a reference sample from the
subject’s maternal relative to make a comparison to the evidence. (87 RT
16622-16623.)
49

While mtDNA analysis did not permit the conclusion that the hair fragment
was Laci’s (87 RT 16696), the mtDNA in the hair fragment was of the
same sequence as that found in Sharon’s mtDNA (87 RT 16676-16678). In
other words, the fragment and reference sample shared the same maternal
linkage. (87 RT 16701.) Fisher’s further analysis found that the sequence
was relatively rare. (87 RT 16701.) Fisher also compared the hair
fragment to a sample of appellant’s hair, but the sequences did not match.
(87 RT 16675-16676.)

As for the pliers, Sarah Yoshida, the state lab’s senior criminalist who
examined the tool, explained that they were extremely rusted and hard to
open. (86 RT 16441, 16471-16474.) She opined that saltwater could
increase the corrosiveness of the pliers over time, including during the
intervening time since she first examined them in February 2003. (86 RT
16442-16443.) Yoshida concluded that the pliers had not been used
recently, meaning since the rust formed. (86 RT 16470, 16477.) She did
not observe blood or tissue on the tool. (86 RT 16477.)

Fishing lures were located in a vinyl bag in the front portion of the
boat and two fishing poles were found in the rear of the boat. (64 RT
12573-12574.)

(2) Concrete anchor and cement residue

A homemade, 8.6-pound, concrete anchor was discovered inside the
boat.38 (64 RT 12545; 91 RT 17292.) It was circular in shape and

38 Laci’s brother Brent asked appellant about a news article which
mentioned that only one homemade anchor was found. Appellant told
Brent that he made a boat anchor with cement and then put some in his
driveway. (47 RT 9210; People’s Exh. No. 207B-2.) However, appellant
told Detective Grogan that after making the anchor, he threw away the rest
of the cement. (93 RT 17725; 11 Supp. CT Exhs. 2649; People’s Exh. No.
266.)
reinforced at the top with a piece of rebar. (64 RT 12545; 91 RT 17311-
17312.) Although the object was generally referred to throughout the trial
as an anchor, there was no rope attached. (93 RT 17673-17674.)

In the middle of the boat trailer, was a dust pan and a gallon-sized
Rubbermaid pitcher. (64 RT 12539.) The pitcher was about one-third full
of a grayish-colored water and cement residue. (64 RT 12590.) There was
also what appeared to be spilled powder on the trailer. (64 RT 12540.)
Detective Hendee described the rings of powder: “Appeared it was void of
powder. There was powder around it creating a circular sort of appearance.”
(64 RT 12591; 67 RT 13061-13062; People’s Exhs. Nos. 122A-D.)
Hendee pointed out the rings to Detective Grogan. (93 RT 17669.) Grogan
observed: “Well, it seemed like a tremendous mess for making one eight-
pound anchor.” (93 RT 17670.)

There were also two large buckets in the warehouse each of which
appeared to contain cement residue. (64 RT 12598, 12606.) A bag of
cement and a receipt from Home Depot for cement were collected. (63 RT
12422; 64 RT 12504.)

Appellant’s boat was seized and placed in a secure storage facility
next to the Modesto Police Department. (64 RT 12445.) There, the boat
was vacuumed and debris from the boat was collected. (63 RT 12375.)

Robert O’Neill, a prosecution expert on construction materials and
their compositions (referred to as a petrographer), examined 14 different
cement or concrete materials recovered from various places during the
searches. 39 (91 RT 17275-17280, 17288.)

39 O’Neill explained that concrete was typically made by combining
Portland cement in powder form with rock and sand (“aggregate”), and
water; cement was, therefore, an ingredient and concrete was the end result.
(91 RT 17269.)
Given the variation in color and texture of the rebar-reinforced anchor
found in the boat, O’Neill concluded that the concrete ingredients were
mixed in a container or a mold, but not thoroughly mixed. (91 RT 17295-
17296, 17311-17312.) The anchor fit perfectly into a painter’s bucket that
Detective Grogan had obtained from Home Depot, which matched one
appellant had previously purchased. (91 RT 17314-17315; 17335-17337.)
O’Neill opined the concrete ingredients were mixed in some sort of a
container. (91 RT 17295-17296.) O’Neill also observed that there was
quite a bit of debris inside a plastic pitcher, which was found in the
warehouse. The debris was similar to that vacuumed from appellant’s boat.
(91 RT 17318.)

O’Neill determined that the concrete debris collected from the
warehouse floor, boat trailer, truck bed, boat cover, and dining room floor
were consistent in their composition: Portland cement, fly ash, and
aggregate. (91 RT 17318-17328.)

(3) Paperwork

Numerous papers were taken from the office area of the warehouse,
including a computer printout from a sport fishing web site. (67 RT 13024-
13025; People’s Exh. No. 179Q.)

12. December 30: Amber Frey finds out about Laci and
calls the police tip line

On December 27, Amber Frey called appellant on his cell phone and
was surprised to reach him. She thought he would be on a plane en route to
Paris. (76 RT 14704.) Appellant told Frey that he was in New York and
that his departure had been delayed. (76 RT 14704.) Appellant said the
airline gave him $100 and he was going to get a meal and a massage and
then he would phone her back. (76 RT 14706.) He did so two hours later
and said he was getting ready to board his flight. (76 RT 14708.)
Given appellant’s use of a post office box and the dubious nature of
his travel and whereabouts, Frey had become suspicious of appellant. (76
RT 14707.) During the phone call on December 27, Frey acknowledged
she was having trust issues and apologized to appellant for her feelings.
(76 RT 14707.) Appellant reassured her that he just needed to be more
sensitive to her needs. (76 RT 14707.)

Yet, Frey was nagged by doubts about appellant. (76 RT 14709.) She
contacted a friend in law enforcement and discussed her suspicions. (79
RT 15095.) Over the next couple of days, Frey started sharing her concerns
with more friends. (76 RT 14709-14710.)

In the early morning hours of December 30, Frey was at a birthday
party and received information from her police-officer friend that appellant
was connected to the missing woman from Modesto. He advised her to
contact the Modesto Police Department tip line. (60 RT 11729; 76 RT
14711; 79 RT 15122.) Frey called the Modesto Police Department and
spoke to a female dispatcher. After confirming that appellant was indeed
the husband of the missing pregnant woman, Frey explained her connection
to appellant. (76 RT 14711-14713.)

Frey called the police department a second time later that morning
because she had not yet received a return call. (76 RT 14714.) Detective
Brocchini was at the police department monitoring incoming tips. (55 RT
10796.) He watched as the clerk on duty typed up a tip from a woman
claiming to be appellant’s girlfriend. Brocchini took the phone and spoke
to Frey. (55 RT 10796.)

Afterward, Brocchini briefed the other detectives on the case and then
Brocchini and Detective Buehler drove to Frey’s home in Madera, which
was about 100 miles from Modesto, to meet with her. (55 RT 10797-10798;
102 RT 19060.) Investigators also met with Shawn Sibley who had
introduced Frey to appellant. (55 RT 10797-10798.) Frey explained her
relationship with appellant and showed the detectives photos of she and
appellant together. (76 RT 14715-14716.)

Frey agreed to help investigators. (80 RT 15190, 15268.) She turned
over the photos and personal items that concerned her relationship with
appellant. (102 RT 19062, 19064, 19072.) The police provided Frey with
a recording device for her cell phone so that she could tape her
conversations with appellant. (55 RT 10798-10799; 76 RT 14717-14718.)
The detectives instructed Frey to play along with appellant’s ruse that he
was in Europe. (77 RT 14756.) She recorded as many calls as was feasible,
taking the recorder with her wherever she went.40 (76 RT 14719.)

40 The transcripts of the calls are contained in Volumes 7, 8, and 9 of
the Supplemental Clerk’s Exhibits Transcript as People’s Exhibits Numbers
195A-U. The corresponding recordings of the calls are People’s Exhibits
Numbers 196A-U.

During this time, the search for Laci expanded into San Joaquin and
Alameda counties. (52 RT 10271.) Searchers on horseback and quad
runners searched the area around the Mapes Ranch 10 miles west of
Modesto, including a wildlife reserve. (52 RT 10163.) Divers probed local
bodies of water in those areas (52 RT 10168), as well as waterways
between Berkeley and Modesto (93 RT 17686).

13. Cuts on appellant’s hands

Detective Grogan spoke to appellant several times on December 30.
(93 RT 17686-17687.) During one of those conversations, appellant again
mentioned that there might be blood in his truck because he cut his hands
“every day.” (11 Supp. CT Exhs. 2632; People’s Exh. No. 264C.)
Appellant then revised his statement to say that he cut his hand “that day,”
referring to Christmas Eve. (11 Supp. CT Exhs. 2632.) He said that it
happened when he reached inside the side pocket of the door. (11 Supp.
CT Exhs. 2632.) Referring to another officer, appellant said: “I mean I
know Allen looked at my hands and I know he noticed cuts on my hands—
so he knows.” (11 Supp. CT Exhs. 2632.) Appellant elaborated: “I don’t
know what it was probably just ah door or the pocket or somethin’—
knuckle. Still my hand I—you know—I keep cuttin’ it handin’ out flyers
so—that’s the reason I—keep rememberin’ it. (11 Supp. CT Exhs. 2632.)

14. The vigil for Laci and Conner and appellant’s
phone conversations with Amber Frey purportedly
made from Paris and other European cities

a. The vigil on New Year’s Eve

On December 31, a vigil was held for Laci beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Approximately 1,200 to 1,300 people attended. (46 RT 9019-9020.)
Members of the media were also present. (74 RT 14259.) A platform was
set up for the Rocha and Peterson families. (46 RT 9020.) Some family
members made remarks. (46 RT 9020.) Appellant chose not to sit on the
stage with his parents or Laci’s family. (46 RT 9020; 47 RT 9200.) He
stood in the crowd, near the back. (74 RT 14262.)

Several friends of the Rocha family, who also knew appellant, noticed
his demeanor that evening. Seeing appellant in the crowd, one person
suggested to him that he go on stage with his family, but appellant said
something to the effect of, “‘I’d rather be here, be happier here.’” (74 RT
14299.) Another individual observed that appellant showed no emotion at
the vigil. (74 RT 14262, 14280.) Still, another said appellant seemed “very
relaxed,” was “in a very good mood,” and was “somewhat jovial.” (74 RT
14288.)

A few minutes before the start of the vigil, appellant called Amber
Frey and told her that he was calling from Paris. (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1449-
1452; People’s Exhs. Nos. 195E-F, 196E-F.) Appellant described the
Parisian atmosphere: “It’s pretty awesome. Fireworks there at the Eiffel
Tower. A mass of people all playing American pop songs.” (7 Supp. CT
Exhs. 1450; People’s Exhs. No. 195E, 196E.)

b. Early January 2003: Appellant’s yearning for
“a prolonged period of freedom,” his death
wish for a barking dog, and his curious
explanation for an incriminating photo

As New Year’s Eve gave way to New Year’s day, appellant and Frey
had a long phone conversation. (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1453-1495; People’s
Exhs. No. 195G, 196G.) During the conversation, appellant told Frey that
he was trying to reschedule his return from Europe for the end of January,
but that he needed to travel to Guadalajara, Mexico for a few days at the
end of January and beginning of February. (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1470.)

A little later into the discussion, appellant told Frey about a book he
was reading. (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1480.) Appellant described the book:
“[I]t was [] letters he had written [] while hitchhiking across the country.
He’s the author of [] what’s that book? And, I think it was during the late
60’s he hitchhiked from New York to San Francisco he wrote that book, it’s
a famous literature piece.” (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1480.)41 In explaining his
affinity for the book, appellant said:

41 Although the transcription of the call refers to the author in
question as “Jack Cadillac,” based on the recording as well as appellant’s
description of the author and his works, appellant was most likely referring
to the author Jack Kerouac and his book, “On the Road.”

Yeah, it was interesting because it’s at least a . . . he was not
geographically, but mentally interesting to me simply because I
never had a prolonged period of freedom like that from
responsibility and, you know, and interesting to me and
something that you could incorporate into life.

(7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1480.)

Later that night on January 1, 2003, appellant and Frey spoke again.
(7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1495-1509; People’s Exhs. No. 195H, 196H.) During
the course of the conversation, appellant told Frey about the French food he
had sampled. (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1499.) Then, appellant complained that
there was “a fucking dog” next to his hotel that “just keeps barking.” (7
Supp. CT Exhs. 1499.) Appellant continued: “I just want to kill it.” (7
Supp. CT Exhs. 1499.) 42 Frey testified to hearing the barking dog on
appellant’s end of the phone during this call and the previous call. (77 RT
14761-14762.)
When appellant talked to Frey the following night, on January 2, he
complained again about the barking dog. He asked Frey, “Can you hear
that damn dog?” (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1513; People’s Exhs. No. 195I, 196I.)
Appellant went on to mention that his right hip was “very, very dark blue”
from falling onto the cobblestones while jogging in Brussels. (7 Supp. CT
Exhs. 1517.)
Earlier in the day, when appellant spoke to Detective Grogan,
appellant brought up the idea that—as an alternative to his earlier theory
about Laci being robbed and kidnapped by transients for her jewelry—
perhaps she was kidnapped for the baby.43 (93 RT 17703.) Appellant
asked Grogan: “Do you think when she has the baby I’ll get half my family
back?” (93 RT 17703.) Tearfully, appellant asked Grogan if he thought
Laci was dead. (93 RT 17704.)
On January 3, Grogan met with appellant. During the meeting,
Grogan pulled out a faxed photo of appellant with Amber Frey and asked
42 Given that appellant was not in a hotel in Paris, the prosecution
presumed the dog in question to be the family dog McKenzie and played
that portion of the phone call for the jury. (109 RT 20316.) However, the
identity of the barking dog was not confirmed.
43 Authorities sent information to hospitals nationwide about Laci
and Conner in the event there were any suspicious circumstances involving
newborns brought in by someone other than the birth mother. (94 RT
17826.)
57

appellant to explain. (93 RT 17708.) Appellant looked at it for a few
seconds and then asked, “‘Is that supposed to be me?’” (93 RT 17708.) He
went on to say that the female in the photo looked like a girl he went to
college with, but he did not think it was her. (93 RT 17710.) Grogan told
appellant that if he was having an affair, he should come clean about it
because having an affair did not necessarily mean that he had harmed Laci.
(93 RT 17713-17714.) Appellant assured the detective that the last time he
dated anyone other than Laci was before they were married. (93 RT 17714.)

On the subject of the patio umbrellas that had been in the bed of
appellant’s pick-up truck on Christmas Eve, he explained that he intended
to drop them off at the warehouse on Christmas Eve morning, but forgot to
do so. (93 RT 17714.) Instead, appellant ended up taking them to the
marina where they remained in the bed of the truck while appellant was out
on the Bay. He also forgot to drop them off at the warehouse on his way
home.44 (93 RT 17714.)

44 It was the prosecution’s theory that appellant used the umbrellas to
conceal Laci’s tarp-covered body. (109 RT 20201, 20218.)

That evening, appellant had dinner with Sharon, Brent, Amy, and a
few other family friends. (46 RT 9021.) Appellant mentioned that he had
just come from the police station. (46 RT 9021.) He recounted that while
he was at the police station, investigators showed him photos of him with
another woman. (46 RT 9021.) Appellant remarked that “they’d done a
really good job because the guy really did look a lot like him.” (46 RT
9021-9022.)

On January 4, during another phone call with Frey, appellant mused,
“Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to stay in that mindset of just constant
discovery?” (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1556; People’s Exhs. No. 195N, 196N.)
On the subject of love and commitment, appellant said, “[L]ove doesn’t
mean that people can be together forever . . . .” (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1559.)
Appellant also mentioned his bruised hip again. (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1574.)
He told Frey that he was packing up because he was heading to Madrid,
Spain. (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1575.)

15. Surveillance and tracking of appellant’s comings
and goings reveals he made five separate trips to the
Berkeley Marina in five different vehicles

a. Appellant rents numerous vehicles

During the months of January and February 2003, appellant rented
numerous vehicles in Modesto. (83 RT 15824.) He rented a Dodge Neon
on January 2 and returned it one day later. (83 RT 15824.) On January 6,
appellant rented a Honda Civic and returned it the same day. (83 RT
15824.) On January 8, appellant rented a Chevy S-10 Sonoma pick-up
truck. (83 RT 15825.) He returned it on January 10 and exchanged it for a
Saturn. (83 RT 15825.) On January 16, appellant returned the Saturn and
rented a Lincoln Town Car. (83 RT 15825-15826.) He returned the Town
Car on January 23. (83 RT 15826.) Appellant rented a Dodge Dakota
pick-up truck on January 27, which he returned two days later. (83 RT
15826.) On February 18, appellant rented a Chevy Tahoe and returned it
the next day. (83 RT 15826.)

Detective Grogan asked the California Department of Justice for a
surveillance team. (93 RT 17704.) After securing a warrant, authorities
also installed Global Positioning System (“GPS”) devices on several of the
vehicles appellant drove. (83 RT 15835, 16275-16277.) As detailed below,
appellant traveled to the Berkeley Marina on five days in January 2003. He
drove a different vehicle each time.
b. Surveillance uncovers appellant’s trips to the
Marina

Beginning on January 3, 2003, authorities set up a hidden camera
(referred to as a “pole camera”) outside the Covena residence to monitor
appellant’s comings and goings so they could then follow him. Police
resorted to this measure because staking out the Covena residence in
unmarked cars had proven difficult. (85 RT 16151.)

On the morning of January 5, appellant, joined by a male friend, left
in the Land Rover, went to the Volunteer Center at the Red Lion, and then
traveled to various churches to put up flyers. (85 RT 16158-16159, 16189-
16192.) Appellant returned home by himself later that morning in the Land
Rover. About two hours later, he left the house in different clothes and
drove off in a silver Subaru, which had been parked at the house. (85 RT
16157, 16160-16161.) Appellant drove to the Berkeley Marina arriving
around 2:00 p.m. Once there, he drove to the boat launch area, and then
traveled along the seawall on both sides of the marina. (85 RT 16163-
16164.) Appellant left the marina after five minutes and headed home. The
officers surveilling appellant did not see him stop or talk to anyone during
that time. (85 RT 16164-16165, 16265.) About an hour after appellant
arrived home at 3:35 p.m., he left in a blue Ford Explorer sport utility
vehicle, which had also been parked at the house, and went to the Del Rio
Country Club. (85 RT 16157, 16167-16169.)

The next day, January 6, appellant first drove in the Land Rover to his
attorney’s office and then to the warehouse on North Emerald. (85 RT
16267.) Afterward, appellant went to Enterprise Rent-A-Car and left in a
rented red Honda. Appellant drove to the Berkeley Marina where he
arrived around noon. (85 RT 16169-16172, 16268.) Officers observed
appellant drive in and out of various parking lots. (85 RT 16172, 16268.)
Appellant left and parked in a different part of the marina for about another
minute or two. (85 RT 16174.) He was at the marina for 5 to 10 minutes
before leaving the area. (85 RT 16175.) Like the preceding day, appellant
did not stop to talk to anyone.45 (85 RT 16177.) Appellant returned the
Honda to the rental car location around 5:00 p.m. and left in the Land
Rover. (85 RT 16177.)
On January 8, officers observed appellant drive the Land Rover to the
Modesto Police Department. He made a complete circle of the various
police buildings and then left without getting out of the car.46 (85 RT
16273-16274.) Appellant went to Enterprise, left the Land Rover, and
drove away in his white pick-up truck. (85 RT 16274-16275.) An
unidentified female who had been with appellant, drove Laci’s Land Rover
back to Covena. (85 RT 16232.)
On January 9, appellant left home just after 7:00 a.m. in the white
pick-up truck. (85 RT 16280.) He stopped at the warehouse for five
minutes and then headed back to the Berkeley Marina where he arrived
around 10:40 a.m. (85 RT 16280-16281.) At the marina, appellant
proceeded along Spinnaker Way around the traffic circle. He drove around
both sides of the marina, including the boat launch parking area, before
leaving. (85 RT 16281-16282, 16284, 16286.) As with his other trips to
the marina, appellant did not stop to talk to anyone. (85 RT 16282.) On his
way home, appellant drove to the Medeiros reservoir area, which was one
of the other areas being searched. (85 RT 16286-16287; 86 RT 16329-
16330.)
45 Insofar as defense questioning of Detective Grogan suggested that
appellant may have gone to the marina to look for witnesses, Detective
Grogan found it curious that, if that were the case, appellant never got out
of the car and attempted to speak to anyone, including the Harbor Master,
during any of appellant’s trips to the marina. (96 RT 18127.)
46 The previous day Amber Frey told appellant she was considering
going to the police. (93 RT 17722-17723.)
61

That same day, officers who were surveilling appellant noticed that he
was driving in an unusual pattern. (86 RT 16323.) Over a two-hour period,
appellant would exit the freeway, drive down a street, make a U-turn, pull
into a parking lot, get back on the freeway, exit the freeway again, and
proceed into a parking lot. This driving pattern occurred repeatedly on
multiple freeways. (86 RT 16323.)

On the morning of January 11, officers who were monitoring the pole
camera observed appellant leave the house, walk to the Land Rover in the
driveway, crouch down, and inspect different areas of the undercarriage of
the vehicle. (86 RT 16352.) Appellant went back into the house, came out
a short while later, got into a silver Saturn parked at the house, and left. (86
RT 16352.)

Later that day, authorities followed appellant as he was driving in the
Saturn southbound on State Route 99. At one point, appellant pulled to the
shoulder of the freeway. (86 RT 16342, 16357.) A female agent, Tera
Farris, started to pull in behind appellant, but she was called off so that she
would not expose the surveillance. (86 RT 16345, 16356.) Faris drove past
appellant on the shoulder and took the first exit off the freeway. (86 RT
16356.) She pulled in behind a business just off the freeway. Faris heard
on the radio that appellant had also taken the same exit. (86 RT 16356.) At
that point, Faris saw that appellant had pulled in alongside her. (86 RT
16357.) He made eye contact with her and showed her a piece of note
paper he was holding. (86 RT 16357.) Faris drove off. Appellant followed
her for one or two blocks before leaving her alone. (86 RT 16357.) Based
on the events of that day, authorities concluded appellant was aware that he
was being surveilled. Authorities shut down the camera surveillance. (86
RT 16324.)

Tracking data supplied by manufacturers of the GPS systems also
disclosed that hat appellant also drove to the marina on January 26 and 27.
(89 RT 16906-16907, 16913-16915, 16956, 16959). On January 26, he
took the Land Rover, while on January 27, he drove in the Dodge Dakota
he rented that day. (89 RT 16970-16971.)

c. First wiretap confirms appellant is visiting the
Berkeley Marina and lying about his
whereabouts to family and friends

Investigator Steve Jacobson of the Stanislaus County District
Attorney’s Office was the supervisor for the court-authorized wiretaps of
appellant’s cell phones. (80 RT 15365, 15368; 81 RT 15372.) The first
wiretap took place beginning January 10, 2003 until February 4, 2003. (80
RT 15367.)

On the morning of January 11, searchers on San Francisco Bay were
trying to determine if a recent sonar hit was a body. (81 RT 15395.) This
search activity was reported by the media. (81 RT 15395.) Appellant’s cell
phone activity revealed that he was in the area of the Berkeley Marina that
morning. (81 RT 15396-15397.) At 10:48 a.m., appellant received an
incoming call from his mother while he was in the area of the marina. (81
RT 15397.) Yet, appellant told his mother he was in west Fresno. (81 RT
15397-15398; People’s Exhs. Nos. 207A (compact disc recording),47
207A2 (transcript), 207A3 (visual depiction of call area); 9 Supp. CT Exhs.
1965-1967.)

47 There are eight audio tracks on the disc admitted as People’s
Exhibit number 207A. Appellant’s conversation with Jackie Peterson is
contained on the first track.

That afternoon, appellant received a voicemail message from Sharon
Rocha in which she, with obvious relief, told appellant that the sonar hit
turned out to be an anchor and not Laci. (52 RT 10212-10213; People’s
Exhs. Nos. 207A, 207A5; 9 Supp. CT Exhs. 1969.) The wiretap recorded
appellant listening to the voicemail message. Immediately after Sharon
said that it was not Laci and that she just wanted appellant to know,
appellant could be heard to let out a sound, which could reasonably have
been characterized as a whistle. (People’s Exh. No. 207A (second audio
track).)

Also that afternoon, appellant had numerous phone conversations
during which he said he was in one place, but he was actually in another:
appellant told several people, including Sharon and his father, that he was
in Bakersfield, but he was actually in Gilroy (People’s Exhs. Nos. 207A7-
11; 9 Supp. CT Exhs. 1970, 1975, 1979); appellant told his friends Mike
and Heather Richardson that he was in Button Willow, while he was calling
from Hollister (People’s Exhs. Nos. 207A13-14; 9 Supp. CT Exhs. 1985-
1988); and, appellant told another friend that he was in Button Willow
when he was actually in San Jose (People’s Exh. No. 207A15; 9 Supp. CT
Exhs. 1989-1991).

16. Searches on the Bay and in neighboring counties

a. Bay search with dive teams and helicopter

Beginning on December 28, 2002, professional dive teams from
various law enforcement agencies, used side-scan sonar equipment48 to
search San Francisco Bay from the Berkeley Marina north toward Point
Richmond and the Richmond Marina. (52 RT 10205-10206.) This
included the area between the Berkeley Marina and Brooks Island where

48 The sonar can profile the bottom of a body of water in a search for
missing objects. A computer reconstructs images taken by a small torpedo-
shaped device being towed by the boat (known as a “fish”). The fish sends
out a sound beam and reflections are reconstructed on the computer screen.
(86 RT 16489.) The sonar provides a 95 degree view of a body of water
and 100 feet on either side of the fish. There is a narrow blind spot because
the sound beam is in the shape of a “V.” (86 RT 16492.)
appellant said he had been fishing.49 (62 RT 12221; 2 Supp. CT Exhs. 294.)
The Bay search operation was conducted over 15 days or so from late
December 2002 until May 2003. (86 RT 16497-16498.)
The search conditions on the Bay were consistently difficult for the
dive teams. (64 RT 12636-12637; 86 RT 16502.) First, the wind and wave
action on the Bay made it nearly impossible for the search boat captain to
maintain a straight track on the water in carrying out the planned search
pattern. (86 RT 16494, 16051.) Second, due to extreme currents and flood
tides at times, divers could not see more than a foot in front of them. (52
RT 10208.) The currents and tides also made it difficult for divers to dive
down directly on a target; divers had to be dropped a certain distance from
the target and then float with the current until they reached the target. (52
RT 10206-10207.) When the side-scan sonar registered an object the team
wanted to investigate further, they fixed coordinates to aid the dive team in
locating the object. (64 RT 12638.) However, when the boat made a
second pass over the area immediately after, the object could not be located
at the fixed coordinates. (64 RT 12638.)
Dive teams from the FBI assisted in the Bay search. These teams
employed magnetometers and conducted a very methodical hand search on
the floor of the Bay. (64 RT 12641.) Additionally, the East Bay Regional
Parks District and the California Highway Patrol participated in a helicopter
search of the shoreline area along San Francisco Bay. (52 RT 10214.)
Yet, despite these extensive search efforts, nothing of evidentiary
value was located. (52 RT 10298, 10305-10307.) That was not surprising
to Geoffrey Baehr, the head diver for San Mateo County’s Sheriff’s Office
49 Although Brooks Island was part of the search perimeter,
authorities did not necessarily assume that the immediate area around
Brooks Island was where appellant disposed of Laci’s body. (65 RT
12734-12735.)
65

Marine Dive Cliff Rescue Unit, who participated in the search. He
explained that the conditions on the Bay made looking for a body or a small
weight difficult using the side-scan sonar, especially if either had become
buried in or covered with mud. (86 RT 16485, 16509-16510, 16518-16519.)

b. Shoreline search with K-9 teams discovers
Laci’s scent at the Marina

On December 28, 2002, in addition to the Bay search that day,
searchers combed the Berkeley Marina shoreline on foot. (52 RT 10205;
84 RT 15933.) Directed by Captain Boyer, K-9 search teams checked the
entry and exit points of the boat launch area of the marina for Laci’s scent.
(52 RT 10205; 84 RT 15997.) Dog handler Eloise Anderson and her dog
Trimble used Laci’s sunglasses that were collected by Captain Boyer as a
scent article. (84 RT 15933-15934, 16077-16078.) After scenting Trimble
with Laci’s sunglasses, Anderson had Trimble check two possible entry
areas (“choke points”) into the marina. (84 RT 16079.) Trimble detected
no scent in the vegetation surrounding the first area searched. (84 RT
16079-10680.) Nor did Trimble indicate a scent trail near the bathroom
area. (84 RT 16084.) Anderson presented the scent article to Trimble
again and directed the dog to the other entry area to the marina. (84 RT
16080.) This time, Trimble alerted to Laci’s scent by pulling steadily on
her line and maintaining a level head position all the way out to a pylon at
the edge of the water. Once there, Trimble gave Anderson the indication
that it was the end of the trail. (84 RT 16080-16081, 16085.)

Another K-9 trailing team checked the east area of the marina near the
bathrooms using Laci’s pink slipper as a scent item. (84 RT 15997, 16000-
16001.) Dog handler Ronald Seitz reported to Boyer that his dog did not
pick up Laci’s scent in that area. (84 RT 16005.)
c. Search of the Modesto foothills and Tracy
area

On January 6, 2003, Modesto Police Department personnel searched
the Modesto foothills, including mineshafts in the area, using an all-terrain
vehicle. (49 RT 9756-9757.)

On January 10, Modesto police personnel traveled 40 miles to the
Tracy area and investigated an anonymous tip that Laci was being held in a
storage container behind two small white houses. (52 RT 10329-10330; 53
RT 10338-10343; 86 RT 16392.) In addition to officers from the Modesto
Police Department, personnel from the San Joaquin and Alameda Counties
Sheriff’s Departments searched the area specified in the tip over a four-day
period, including various residences, but neither Laci nor anything related
to her disappearance was discovered. (52 RT 10330; 86 RT 16393-16394,
16406.)

17. February 18, 2003 search warrant

A second search warrant was served on the Covena residence on
February 18, 2003. (55 RT 10845.) Before police began the search,
appellant asked to retrieve some bags he had packed. (94 RT 17843.)
Before turning the bags over to appellant, police searched them and found
$2,081 in cash, clothing, a watch, appellant’s wedding ring, and a bottle of
wine. (94 RT 17845-17849; People’s Exhs. Nos. 274A-I.)

During the search, Detective David Hawn retrieved what appeared to
be a very small piece of concrete on the dining room on the floor. (69 RT
13422, 13426.) Investigators also noticed one of the bed pillows at the
house was missing a pillow case. (99 RT 18682.)

Authorities asked Amy Rocha to assist them in determining if the
clothes Laci was wearing on December 23, when Amy last saw Laci, were
in the house. (95 RT 18017.) Amy identified a blouse, a scarf, and black
shoes.50 (45 RT 8866-8867; 95 RT 18017.)
Police also searched appellant’s storage facility in Modesto. (68 RT
13346.) Inside, they found some items that had been in appellant’s
warehouse. (68 RT 13354.) Among the items in the storage unit was a
photo album from appellant and Laci’s wedding. (68 RT 13351.) The
album was stored inside a waste basket. (68 RT 13351, 13353.)
18. Appellant’s actions following Laci’s disappearance
draw increasing attention from authorities
a. Appellant’s subscription to pornography
channels
Donald Toy of the DISH Network Satellite Company testified that
when Laci opened an account in March 2001, the subscription was for the
top 100 channels in the greater Sacramento area and for Home Box Office.
(74 RT 14239.)
On January 8, 2003, about two weeks after Laci disappeared, there
was a change to the Peterson’s DISH Network programming: the Playboy
Channel was added. (74 RT 14240.) Five days later, records showed that
the Playboy Channel was dropped and the Ecstasy Channels were added.
(74 RT 14240, 14243-14244, 14254.) Ecstasy was comprised of two
different channels of “[v]ery explicit” sexual content—the most sexually
explicit of the DISH Network’s adult programming. (74 RT 14240-14241,
50 Amy stated that when she last saw Laci on the evening of
December 23, Laci was wearing cream-colored Capri slacks, a black blouse
with cream-colored polka dots or flowers, a black jacket, a cream-colored
scarf, and black shoes. (45 RT 8847.) Shown a photo of cream-colored
maternity pants sold by the brand name “Motherhood Maternity,” Amy said
the pants were similar to those Laci had been wearing on the evening of
December 23. (45 RT 8892-8893; 46 RT 8940-8941; People’s Exh. No.
11.)
68

14254.) The subscription was on a monthly basis, but permitted unlimited
use. (74 RT 14240-14241.)

The above information came to light because while officers were
searching the Peterson’s home on February 18, Officer Kipp Loving
noticed that the television, which he had turned on, suddenly went dark.
(73 RT 14121-14122.) Loving, who knew Toy from previous
investigations, called Toy a short while later and asked him to check the
Peterson’s DISH network account to see if there was any activity on the
account. (74 RT 14241-14242.) Toy learned that the account was
terminated two hours before Loving’s call. (74 RT 14242.) Toy explained
that service could not have been disconnected without authorization by the
account holder. (74 RT 14243-14244.) According to the company’s
representative who processed the February 18 termination of service, the
customer had called and said they were moving overseas. (74 RT 14244-
14245.)

b. Appellant closes down his warehouse

On January 13, 2003, appellant alerted the property management
company that maintained the warehouse on North Emerald that he intended
to vacate the premises in 30 days. (87 RT 16575.) The lease was not due
to expire until October 2003. (87 RT 16575.)

c. Appellant’s inquiry into selling the couple’s
home furnished

While at the volunteer center in January 2003, appellant asked Terri
Western, a real estate agent and the mother of Laci’s close friend Stacey
Boyer, about selling the Covena residence. (86 RT 16418-16419.)
Western told appellant that she did not feel it was the time or place to be
discussing the sale of the home. (86 RT 16419.)

Later that month, appellant initiated a series of discussions with Brian
Argain, another realtor, about selling the Covena home. On January 22,
appellant told Argain, “I’d like to put it on the market right now.”
(People’s Exh. No. 207C [recorded conversation], 207C2 [transcript]; 9
Supp. CT Exhs. 1999.) Appellant asked Argain if he could sell it furnished.
(9 Supp. CT Exhs. 2000.) Appellant repeatedly asked Argain to keep quiet
about the matter. (9 Supp. CT Exhs. 1999-2000.)

In a conversation on January 29, Argain told appellant that appellant
would likely have to consult an attorney on whether he could sell the house
with Laci’s name still on the title. (People’s Exh. No. 207C, 207C5; 9
Supp. CT Exhs. 2004.) After a brief conversation about possible legal
ramifications involving a sale, appellant explored the idea of renting the
house instead. (9 Supp. CT Exhs. 2005.)

d. Appellant sells Laci’s Land Rover

On January 29, appellant traded in the Land Rover for a Dodge
Dakota pick-up truck. (86 RT 16429; People’s Exh. No. 213.) The Land
Rover was the car that Laci typically drove and which was widely viewed
as her car, including by appellant. (51 RT 10027.)

e. Appellant stops mail delivery to the Covena
residence

On January 30, appellant completed and signed forms requesting that
all mail addressed to him, Laci, or both, at 523 Covena be immediately
forwarded to the Mailboxes Etc. post office box appellant set up the day
before Laci went missing. (101 RT 18952-18953; People’s Exh. No. 285B.)

f. Appellant’s use of the nursery for storage

Detective Warren Ruskamp participated in the searches at 523 Covena
in December 2002 and February 2003. He was specifically assigned to
search the nursery. (68 RT 13247.) Ruskamp explained that when police
returned to the residence in February, the nursery had been converted to a
storage room of sorts. The nursery now contained office chairs and
bedding, which made accessing the room difficult. (68 RT 13248-13249;
People’s Exh. No. 145A.)

g. Appellant’s seeming disinterest in a possible
sighting of Laci in Longview, Washington

On January 30, 2003, appellant received a phone call at 9:09 p.m.
from Rita Cosby at FOX News. (People’s Exhs. Nos. 207D [recorded
conversation],51 207D2 [transcript]; 9 Supp. CT Exhs. 2010.) During the
call, Cosby asked appellant if he had heard about a possible sighting of Laci
in Longview, Washington that was reportedly captured on videotape. (9
Supp. CT Exhs. 2010.) Appellant said he had “definitely” heard about the
tip. However, he relied on Cosby to provide him with the details. (9 Supp.
CT Exhs. 2010.)

51 There are 19 audio tracks on the compact disc admitted as
People’s Exhibit number 207D.

About 10 minutes later, appellant received a phone call from his
friends Heidi and Aaron Fritz. (People’s Exhs. Nos. 207D, 207D-3; 9 Supp.
CT Exhs. 2012.) Heidi mentioned the possible sighting. (9 Supp. CT Exhs.
2012.) Appellant told Heidi that he had called the Longview Police and
talked to “this guy” who was pulling the tapes together and that appellant
was going to “keep checking with him.” (9 Supp. CT Exhs. 2012.) Yet,
Investigator Steve Jacobson, who was monitoring appellant’s phone calls
during this time, testified that appellant made no such call to Longview
police before speaking to the Fritz’s. (81 RT 15422.) The investigator
confirmed this with authorities in the Longview Police Department. (83 RT
15878.)

The next morning, January 31, appellant received more phone calls
about the possibility that Laci was in Longview, including from his mother
Jackie, which was captured by the wiretap. (People’s Exhs. Nos. 207D,
207D5; 9 Supp. CT Exhs. 2020.) In the voicemail message she left for
appellant, Jackie suggested that appellant get on a plane to Washington as
soon as possible and that he could stay with “Rachel”—presumably a
family friend or relative—who attended school in Washington. Jackie also
mentioned that Rachel was putting up posters about Laci in Washington. (9
Supp. CT Exhs. 2020.) At the end of Jackie’s message, appellant can be
heard making a sound that might reasonably have been interpreted as
chuckling. (People’s Exh. No. 207D5.)52
Appellant eventually spoke to his mother at 9:29 a.m. that same day.
(People’s Exhs. Nos. 207D, 207D6; 9 Supp. CT Exhs. 2022.) In discussing
the Washington tip, Jackie said to appellant, “Why don’t you hop on a
plane?” (9 Supp. CT Exhs. 2022.) Appellant replied, “I’ll definitely . . .
you know, I called up there and talked to one of ‘em.” (9 Supp. CT Exhs.
2022.)
After two days of repeated conversations with members of the media,
friends, and family asking appellant about the possible sighting of Laci in
Washington, at 10:02 a.m. on January 31, appellant called directory
assistance for the phone number for the Longview Police Department.
However, the wiretap monitoring of the call was disconnected by an
incoming call on appellant’s phone. (81 RT 15425-15426; People’s Exhs.
Nos. 207D, 207D7; 9 Supp. CT Exhs. 2025.)
At 11:23 that morning, appellant checked his voicemail messages
again. One message was left by Rita Cosby from FOX News. While
appellant listened to Cosby’s message, he said, “Fuck you, Rita.” (People’s
Exhs. Nos. 207D, 207D9; 9 Supp. CT Exhs. 2031.)
52The trial court left it to the jury’s determination if the sound at the
end of the message was laughter, notwithstanding the “Ha…Ha…Ha”
attributed to appellant in the transcript of the call. (81 RT 15424.)
72

A few minutes later, appellant spoke to his sales associate, Eric Olsen,
at 11:25 a.m. (People’s Exhs. Nos. 207D, 207D-9; 9 Supp. CT Exhs. 2031.)
Appellant told Olsen that he was “hanging out by the airport” in case he
needed to go up to Washington “real quick.” (9 Supp. CT Exhs. 2033.)
Information from appellant’s cell phone records disclosed that appellant
was in Atwater. (People’s Exh. No. 207D1; 9 Supp. CT Exhs. 2009.)

On February 1, appellant called his sister-in-law’s phone number and
was put through to her voicemail. While Janey Peterson’s prerecorded
message can be heard in the background, appellant said aloud,
“Unbelievable . . . $100 tax to go to Mexico?” He then whistled. (People’s
Exhs. Nos. 207D, 207D16; 9 Supp. CT Exhs. 2041.)

On February 3, while listening to a message Rita Cosby from FOX
News left on his voicemail, appellant said aloud: “It’s tough to come back
now.” (People’s Exhs. Nos. 207D, 207D18; 9 Supp. CT Exhs. 2045.) As
Cosby was leaving her message, appellant could be heard to say, in a
mocking tone, “Rita Cosby I’m a real nice lady.” He erased Cosby’s
message before she finished speaking. (People’s Exhs. Nos. 207D, 207D18;
9 Supp. CT Exhs. 2045.)

That same day, appellant left a message for a female friend and told
her that he had not returned her calls because “[f]or the past, ah four days or
so, I went to ah, grief counseling um, it was out in the hills, no phones.”53
(People’s Exhs. Nos. 207D, 207D19; 9 Supp. CT Exhs. 2046.)

53 The timeline showing appellant’s calls and his whereabouts during
the relevant time period would seem to contradict his assertion that he had
been out in the hills with no phone service. (People’s Exh. No. 207D1; 9
Supp. CT Exhs. 2009.)

Appellant also called the Longview Police Department and spoke to a
detective. Appellant introduced himself and said, “I’ve called a few times,
but um . . . I’m glad to finally get to speak to you.” (People’s Exhs. Nos.
207D, 207D20; 9 Supp. CT Exhs. 2047.) After speaking to the detective,
appellant phoned the Modesto Police Department and informed Lieutenant
Aja that he wanted to view the videotape purportedly showing Laci. (83
RT 15865.)

On February 4, investigators shut down the first wiretap operation of
appellant’s phones because, during a recent conversation, appellant told his
sister-in-law Janey Peterson that his phones were tapped. Appellant was
careful not to reveal his location during that call. (81 RT 15523-15524.)

19. Appellant’s affair is revealed

a. Early January 2003: Frey confronts appellant
about being married, but appellant tells Frey
that Laci is “fine” with the affair

On January 6, investigators decided that it was time for Frey to
confront appellant about being married to the missing woman. (93 RT
17718; 102 RT 19068.)

So, at the instruction of investigators, Frey left a message for
appellant intimating that she had received troubling information from a
friend who knew something and had become concerned for Frey’s well-
being. (77 RT 14768-14769.) Doing damage control, appellant phoned
Frey and told her the wife that he said he “‘lost’” was, in fact, missing. (7
Supp. CT Exhs. 1602-1603; People’s Exhs. No. 195R, 196R.) Appellant
denied having anything to do with his wife’s disappearance, but he told
Frey that although she deserved an explanation, he could not discuss the
matter. (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1604.) Appellant did not discourage Frey when
she said she might consider contacting authorities. (80 RT 15187-15189.)

In a later conversation with Frey on January 6, appellant said:

Our hope, and it’s a sad hope, is that . . . well, I mean we need a
tip, that’s why we have such a big reward. And we just hope
that someone is holding her for her child and that we can, you
know, get her back with a tip.
(7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1634; People’s Exhs. No. 195S, 196S1, emphasis added.)
He went on to say, “I think we will find her well and with her child . . . .”
(7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1647, emphasis added.)

When appellant spoke to Frey the next day, he told Frey that he still
hoped for a future with her. (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1688; People’s Exhs. No.
195T, 196T1.) A little later in the conversation, the following exchange
took place:

FREY: But I’m saying now was Laci aware of the situation
about me?

[APPELLANT]: Yes.

FREY: She was?

[APPELLANT]: Yeah.

FREY: Really? How did she respond about it?

[APPELLANT]: Fine.

FREY: Fine?

[APPELLANT]: Yeah.

(7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1705; People’s Exhs. No. 195T, 196T2, emphasis added.)

In fact, during a conversation on January 8, appellant told Frey that he
shared news of the affair with Laci after appellant’s first date with Frey in
November. (8 Supp. CT Exhs. 1748; People’s Exhs. No. 195U, 196U.)
Later in the call, this exchange took place:

FREY: So did you love Laci and your baby?

[APPELLANT]: I love Laci. I loved Laci, no question. And
she doesn’t . . .

FREY: Yeah, but . . . go ahead.

[APPELLANT]: She doesn’t deserve to be missing.

(8 Supp. CT Exhs. 1761.)
b. Police confront appellant about the affair that
has become public

On January 15, authorities decided to tell the Rocha and Peterson
families about appellant’s affair with Frey because a media publication was
going to break the news. (94 RT 17775.) Detectives Buehler and
Brocchini advised the Rocha’s, while Detective Grogan flew to San Diego
to meet with appellant’s parents. (94 RT 17776-17777.) The Rocha’s
agreed to begin taping their conversations with appellant. (94 RT 17777-
17778.)

Laci’s family’s relationship with appellant became strained after they
learned of appellant’s affair with Frey. They no longer supported him. (47
RT 9144.) Terri Western, whose daughter Stacey was close friends with
Laci, decided to close down the volunteer center after she learned of the
affair. (86 RT 16417.)

c. Appellant lies repeatedly to Diane Sawyer
during a nationally televised interview and
maintains that Laci knew about his affair

Appellant hid his affair from everyone. Neither Laci’s family nor her
close friends were aware of appellant’s affair with Frey. (45 RT 8890; 46
RT 8979; 47 RT 9121-9122; 54 RT 10521.) Nor did appellant’s father did
know about the affair until police revealed its existence during a private
conversation. (88 RT 16867-16868.) Appellant’s close friends Gregory
Reed, Mike Richardson, and Aaron Fritz did not know about the affair with
Frey. (75 RT 14441; 101 RT 19005, 19009.)

Appellant lied when confronted about the affair. He told Detective
Brocchini that he was not having an affair. (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 308.)
Appellant told the same lie to Detective Grogan when Grogan asked about
an affair. (93 RT 17708, 17713-17714.) Appellant lied to Ron Grantski
when Ron questioned him. (47 RT 9121.) Appellant lied to Brent Rocha
about an affair. (47 RT 9270-9271.) As stated, appellant went so far as to
suggest that a photo which depicted him with Amber Frey was doctored in
some fashion to include him. (46 RT 8955, 9021.)

Yet, appellant maintained to Amber Frey and ABC’s Diane Sawyer
that Laci knew about the affair. (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1705; People’s Exhs.
No. 195T, 196T-2 [Frey]; 11 Supp. CT Exhs. 2657 [Sawyer].)

In his interview with Sawyer for “Good Morning America,” which
aired in late January 2003, appellant lied and said that he told police
“immediately” “the first night” about his affair with Frey. (94 RT 17799,
17818; People’s Exhs. Nos. 131A [tape], 270 [transcript]; 11 Supp. CT
Exhs. 2656-2657).

Appellant also told Sawyer that he revealed the affair to Laci in early
December. (11 Supp. CT Exhs. 2657.) Hearing appellant’s explanation
about Laci’s purported reaction, Sawyer asked appellant, in a somewhat
incredulous tone: “Do you really expect people to believe that an eight and
a half month pregnant woman learns her husband has had an affair and is
saintly and casual about it, accommodating, makes a peace with it?”
(People’s Exh. No. 131A; 11 Supp. CT Exhs. 2657.) Appellant replied:
“Well, yeah, you don’t know—no one knows our relationship but us.” (11
Supp. CT Exhs. 2657.) Appellant told Sawyer that he told Laci because it
was the right thing to do. (11 Supp. CT Exhs. 2657.) Yet, appellant
confirmed that he continued his relationship with Frey even after
purportedly telling Laci. (11 Supp. CT Exhs. 2657-2658.)

In the second segment of the Sawyer interview that aired on January
29, appellant described his marriage to Laci as “glorious.” (People’s Exhs.
Nos. 131B (tape), 270 (transcript); 11 Supp. CT Exhs. 2659). Sawyer then
pointed out that appellant had not mentioned his unborn son. Seconds
passed and then appellant, devoid of emotion, said, “Hmm. . .that was—it’s
so hard.” With regard to the nursery, appellant said, “Can’t go in there.”54
(People’s Exh. No. 131B; 11 Supp. CT Exhs. 2659). When Sawyer asked
appellant about whether he loaded something large into his vehicle on
Christmas Eve morning, he said he did, but they were large market
umbrellas. (11 Supp. CT Exhs. 2660.) Appellant explained: “Because it
was raining, put in warehouse.” (11 Supp. CT Exhs. 2660.)55
After watching the broadcast of the interview, Detective Grogan
phoned appellant. During their conversation, appellant admitted that he
lied when he told Sawyer that he had disclosed the affair to authorities. (94
RT 17808; People’s Exh. No. 271A; 11 Supp. CT Exhs. 2669 [“they caught
me answerin’ a question about that I told you about a girlfriend ah—is not
true. We both know that.”].)
Other portions of Sawyer’s interview with appellant aired on ABC’s
“Prime Time” on August 4, 2003, after appellant had been arrested.
(People’s Exhs. Nos. 131C [tape], 270 [transcript].) Again, appellant lied
to Sawyer and stated that, two days after Laci went missing, he told Amber
Frey that he was married.56 (People’s Exhs. Nos. 131C (tape), 270
(transcript); 11 Supp. CT Exhs. 2663.)
The video segments were played for the jury. (94 RT 17805-17806.)
54 Appellant apparently did go into the nursery to store numerous
items. (94 RT 17851-17852.)
55 This would appear to conflict with appellant’s separate statements
to Detectives Grogan and Brocchini that he twice forgot to put the
umbrellas in the warehouse on Christmas Eve and that they stayed in his
truck to and from the Berkeley Marina. (93 RT 17714 [Grogan]; 2 Supp.
CT Exhs. 300 [Brocchini].)
56 As stated previously, Frey found out about appellant’s true marital
status, and his connection to the missing Modesto woman, from friends at a
party on December 30, 2002. (60 RT 11729; 76 RT 14711; 79 RT 15122.)
78

d. Appellant continues his relationship with Frey
until authorities instruct her to discontinue
contact

As January and February wore on, Frey continued taping her
conversations with appellant. (See People’s Exhs. Nos. 198, 199A-H.)
During their conversation on January 28, Frey brought up appellant’s recent
statement during the television interview that he was not in love with Frey.
(8 Supp. CT Exhs. 1886; People’s Exhs. No. 198, 199H.) Appellant
responded, “Yeah. I thought that might bother you.” (8 Supp. CT Exhs.
1886.) Appellant told Frey that he was coached to reply that way and that
he actually said more positive things after that, but the positive statements
about Frey were edited out. (8 Supp. CT Exhs. 1886.)

On February 7, appellant suggested that he and Frey get away to his
friend’s lake house in Southern California. (8 Supp. CT Exhs. 1900-1902;
People’s Exhs. No. 200, 201B.)

On February 10—Frey’s birthday—appellant told her to go to a
certain location because he had left a package for her there. (78 RT 14863.)
Inside, among other items, was a necklace. (78 RT 14866.)

On the morning of February 19, at the direction of investigators (102
RT 19071), Frey told appellant that they should stop talking to each other.
Appellant agreed. (8 Supp. CT Exhs. 1945; People’s Exhs. No. 200K,
201K.)

20. Appellant’s Christmas Eve trip to the Bay

a. A slow day at the Marina with few boaters

According to Berkeley Marina employees who worked on December
24 2002, it was a cold, cloudy, windy, and somewhat rainy day on the Bay.
(62 RT 12065, 12088, 12111.) There were very few people at the marina.
(62 RT 12066, 12083, 12099.) Christmas Eve was typically a slow day,
with few, if any, boaters. (62 RT 12066, 12086-12087, 12095-12096,
12133.) There were no bookings for fishing trips out of the marina that day
(62 RT 12100) and only

three boat launch fees were collected from December 23 through
December 27 (62 RT 12108).

b. Appellant’s fishing gear contradicted his claim
that he went fishing

As mentioned earlier, on December 8, 2002, the Peterson’s home
computer was used to search fishing-related web sites, some of which
pertained to striped bass and sturgeon fishing. (75 RT 14399-14400,
14402-14404.) Yet, on December 24, when Officer Letsinger asked
appellant what type of fish he had been hoping to catch on the Bay that
morning, appellant could not answer the question. (50 RT 9796-9797.)
And, when appellant had dinner with Sharon and Ron on January 14, 2003,
appellant did not answer Ron’s question about the type of bait appellant
used when he went sturgeon fishing on the Bay. (46 RT 9034.)

Based on appellant’s assertion that he was on the Bay to fish, the
prosecution called expert angler Angelo Cuanang to testify about fishing in
San Francisco Bay. (71 RT 13739.) Cuanang had been fishing for about
40 of his 48 years. (71 RT 13738.) He and his brother co-authored several
books on fishing in the Bay: one on fishing for striped bass and two on
sturgeon fishing. (71 RT 13738-13739.) Cuanang also had numerous
articles published in fishing magazines and was a presenter at the
International Sportsmen’s Exposition. (71 RT 13739-13740.)

Cuanang was very familiar with sturgeon fishing on the Bay having
caught thousands of the fish. (71 RT 13740.) In Cuanang’s opinion, the
area around the Berkeley Marina was not good for sturgeon fishing. (71
RT 13753.) He explained that in December most of the sturgeon were
running in the northern part of San Francisco Bay known as San Pablo
Bay.57 (71 RT 13745-13746.)
Cuanang pointed out numerous problems with appellant’s fishing
equipment as it related to fishing for sturgeon: 1) the one functional fishing
rod had a line weight of 18 to 20 pounds which was too light for fishing for
sturgeon58 (71 RT 13757); 2) the lure was appropriate for fresh water black
bass, but not for sturgeon because it was not heavy enough to be used in the
Bay where currents moved swiftly (71 RT 13756-13757); 3) live bait was
preferred to fishing lures (71 RT 13746-13747); 4) typically sturgeon
fishing required a landing net or some type of snare system (71 RT 13750-
13751); and, 5) the homemade cement weight was insufficient to anchor
appellant’s boat because there was nothing on the weight that could grab on
to the bottom of the Bay to keep the boat from drifting (71 RT 13754,
13757; People’s Exh. No. 72).
Additionally, although appellant told Detective Brocchini that he had
been trolling for fish on the Bay (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 295), Cuanang
explained that it was illegal to troll for sturgeon. (71 RT 13747.)
As for striped bass, Cuanang stated that the best time to fish was
spring through early fall in San Pablo Bay. (71 RT 13755.) The same
fishing equipment that was used for catching sturgeon could be used to fish
for striped bass since both types of fish fed on the bottom of the Bay during
winter months. (71 RT 13755.) Therefore, according to Cuanang,
appellant’s equipment was also not suitable for catching striped bass.
57 People’s exhibits numbers 171 A through C show the location of
San Pablo Bay relative to where appellant said he went fishing near the
Berkeley Marina.
58 With respect to other fishing rods, one was new with the tag still
on it and no fishing line. Another had no handle and was not functional.
(71 RT 13758.)
81

Although one of appellant’s lures could be used for striped bass, live bait
was used in winter months since striped bass fed at the bottom of the Bay in
the winter. (71 RT 13762; People’s Exh. No. 74.) The other problem with
appellant’s lure was that it could only sink five to eight feet into the
water—not deep enough to reach striped bass feeding at much lower depths
at the bottom of the Bay. (71 RT 13763-13764). Appellant’s other lures
were used for rock fishing or fishing near deep reefs in the ocean, not on
the Bay. (71 RT 13762.)

c. Appellant never mentions that he went fishing

Appellant spoke briefly to his good friend Gregory Reed around 2:30
p.m. on December 24, but appellant did not mention that he had just been
fishing on the Bay. (75 RT 14425, 14436-14437.) Afterward, appellant
then spoke to his father twice by phone that afternoon at 2:40 and 2:45. (88
RT 16835-16836.) They discussed appellant’s plans for that evening, but
appellant never mentioned that he had just been fishing at the marina. (88
RT 16865.)

d. Appellant had other more convenient options
for fishing

Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office investigator Kevin
Bertalotto researched fishing locales near Modesto. He identified at least
11 freshwater fishing areas within a range of 9 to 60 miles from appellant’s
residence. (86 RT 16561-16564; 88 RT 16796; People’s Exh. No. 217.)

According to Ron Grantski, there were plenty of good fishing spots in
and around Modesto. (47 RT 9099-9101.) He had asked appellant to go
fishing on numerous occasions, but appellant only accepted the offer once.
(47 RT 9103-9104.) After that trip, appellant told Grantski to keep
appellant’s expensive fishing pole at Ron’s house. (47 RT 9106-9107.)

And, although Grantski went fishing on Christmas Eve, he was an avid
fisherman and fished often. (47 RT 9110; 100 RT 18789.)
21. A-boy-called-Sue sort of thing

On April 11, 2003, while he was in the San Diego area, appellant
looked into purchasing a 1990 Saab convertible from Mario Ruvalcalba.
(101 RT 18963.) After arriving at a verbal agreement with appellant about
the purchase price and transfer, Ruvalcalba completed his portion of the
requisite paperwork. (101 RT 18964.) In completing the buyer’s portions
of the documentation, appellant wrote down his mother’s name. (101 RT
18966, 18969-18970; People’s Exh. No. 286 [sealed].) Appellant also
signed the documents in his mother’s name. (101 RT 18968.) Ruvalcalba
did not ask appellant about this at the time because Ruvalcalba did not look
at the paperwork until after appellant had left. (101 RT 18970.)
Ruvalcalba ultimately sold the car to another individual who had previously
expressed interest. (101 RT 18965.)

The next day, April 12, appellant negotiated the purchase of a
Mercedes from Michael Griffin. (101 RT 18976.) Again, appellant wrote
“Jacqueline Peterson” as the buyer on the DMV documents. (101 RT
18977; People’s Exh. No. 277.) Griffin asked appellant if he was buying
the car for his wife. (101 RT 18977.) Appellant replied, “‘No, that’s my
name.’” (101 RT 18977.) Griffin then asked appellant if that was a
“French thing” like “Jacques.” (101 RT 18978.) Appellant responded,
“‘No, it’s kind of a boy-named-Sue type thing. That’s what my parents
hung me with. I go by Jack.’” (101 RT 18978.) Griffin asked appellant if
he had a driver’s license. (101 RT 18978.) Appellant gave Griffin a
driver’s license number and said it was from Florida, which Griffin wrote
down on a piece of paper, including the expiration date appellant provided.
(101 RT 18978-18979; People’s Exh. No. 288.) Appellant paid for the car
with thirty-six $100 bills. (101 RT 18980.)
22. Laci’s and Conner’s bodies wash ashore

a. April 13, 2003: Conner

On April 13, Michael Looby and his wife were walking their dog
along the shoreline area of Bayside Court in the city of Richmond. They
were looking for a place where their dog could swim. (61 RT 11871.) It
was low tide and as they walked along the beach and over a rocky area
toward the marsh, they saw a small baby’s body on the beach. (61 RT
11873-11874, 11880.) It was apparent the baby was dead. (61 RT 11881.)
The body was later identified as that of Conner Peterson. (70 RT 13599.)
Conner’s left arm was attached, but his right was partially severed. (61 RT
11931-11932.) Conner’s head was intact. (61 RT 11932.) There was a
twine-like substance around his neck (61 RT 11933-11934)59 and what
appeared to be vegetation stuck to the body (62 RT 12038-12039).
Conner’s body was badly decomposed. (62 RT 12017.)

59 A senior criminalist at the state Department of Justice crime
laboratory later analyzed the material and opined that it was most consistent
with polyethylene—a man-made plastic material typically used in
packaging materials. (86 RT 16451-16452.)

Looby recalled that the day before there had been a strong storm in
the area. (61 RT 11884.) A fair amount of debris was around Conner’s
body. (61 RT 11884-11885.) Looby was surprised by how far the debris
field extended up from the shore. (61 RT 11885.)

Neither Looby nor his wife had a cell phone, so they had workers in
the area call 911. (61 RT 11882.) The Richmond Fire Department
received the alert at 4:49 p.m. (61 RT 11905.) When the fire department
arrived a few minutes later, Looby took them to the body. (61 RT 11882.)
Richmond Fire Department Captain Erik Newman put in a call to the
Richmond Police Department and then with other fire department personnel
preserved the scene until police arrived. (61 RT 11901-11903.)

Police sealed off the area, contacted witnesses, and searched for
evidence. (61 RT 11905.) Officer Tod Opdyke, the first responding police
officer, observed that Conner’s body was located within the high tide water
line, as was the debris that surrounded his body. (61 RT 11922, 11942.)
Opdyke opined that Conner’s body was likely submerged at high tide. (61
RT 11922.)

Fellow officer Brian Gard recalled a large storm in the area the night
before. (61 RT 11976.) As a result, the tides rose higher than what was
typical. (61 RT 11986.) Gard explained that when debris came in on the
tide, it became trapped along the beach and breakers as the water moved
back out. (61 RT 11977, 11986.) The tidal area where Conner’s body was
found was connected to San Francisco Bay. (61 RT 11987.)

The first low tide in the area on April 13 occurred at 4:04 a.m. and the
second was at 4:23 p.m. (61 RT 11979.) When the Richmond Fire
Department received the emergency call on the report of a baby down at
4:49 p.m. (61 RT 11905), it was less than 30 minutes after the afternoon
low tide.

b. April 14, 2003: Laci

The following morning, around 11:15 a.m., Alena Gonzalez was at
the dog park at Point Isabel with her family and their dogs. (61 RT 11990;
62 RT 12004.) Point Isabel was situated along the San Francisco Bay
shoreline in the city of Richmond—part of the East Bay Regional Parks
District. (93 RT 17553-17554.) After the dogs were let off their leashes,
they ran ahead. Gonzalez and her family followed behind. (61 RT 11992.)

On the beach, near the water, Gonzalez observed another dog that
appeared to be focused on something. (61 RT 11993.) Gonzalez realized it
was a human body. (61 RT 11993.) The body, which was partially clothed
(65 RT 12724), was later identified as that of Laci Peterson. (70 RT 13598.)
Gonzalez had her father and sister stay with the body while Gonzalez went
to call for police. (61 RT 11994.) When the fire and police departments
responded, Gonzalez led them to Laci’s body, which was partially
submerged in the water. (61 RT 11995, 11998.)

The area around Laci’s body was littered with debris. (62 RT 12053;
93 RT 17563.) A bag with a Target60 logo was found in the area, but it was
not near Laci’s body. (62 RT 12053-12054, 12060.) An officer with the
East Bay Regional Park District Police Department observed that the bag
smelled like it had been in the water for a long period of time (93 RT 17572,
17576)—like seaweed and algae (93 RT 17582)—and typical of smells on
the shoreline (93 RT 17582). Nonetheless, police collected the bag because
it had duct tape on it, as did Laci’s body. (93 RT 17583.)

60 The company manufactured cementitious products for use in the
construction industry. The company had no affiliation with the well-known
retailer of the same name. (91 RT 17241.) A company representative
identified the bag as one used to cover pallets of its product (“poly cap
bags”). (91 RT 17244.) The company had supplied 5000 pallets for the
seismic retrofit of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The materials were
shipped directly to the job site. (91 RT 17245-17246.) The contractor
maintained the pallets in a holding yard and barges transported the pallets
on San Francisco Bay to the bridge. (91 RT 17248.) After the poly cap
bags were removed, they were considered garbage. (91 RT 17246-17247.)

Contra Costa County Coroner investigator Deputy Leo Martin, along
with other officers, transferred Laci’s body onto a sheet and then placed it
in a vinyl bag. (62 RT 12045.) Deputy Martin transported the body to the
Coroner’s Office. (62 RT 12045.)

The area along the Bay shoreline where Laci’s body was recovered
was less than a mile from where Conner’s body was found. (64 RT 12625-
12626; People’s Exh. No. 280 [aerial view showing proximity].) The
distance from Brooks Island, where appellant said he went fishing, to where
Laci’s remains were located was about one and one-quarter miles. It was
the same distance from Brooks Island to Conner’s body. (64 RT 12625;
People’s Exh. No. 280.)

Although the bodies had yet to be identified, after the female body
was discovered on April 14, Detective Jeff Soler from the Richmond Police
Department surmised that the Modesto Police Department should be
notified. (93 RT 17617.)

Detective Grogan was informed about the bodies. (96 RT 18051.)
The police department had a plan in place in the event Laci’s and Conner’s
bodies were found. (96 RT 18052.) Other detectives were dispatched to
attend the autopsies, while Grogan secured authorization for a second
wiretap on appellant’s phones to try and identify his location. (96 RT
18055.) Grogan wanted to find appellant before the DNA test results were
completed on the bodies. (96 RT 18056-18057.)

c. Appellant never returns Sharon Rocha’s call
about discovery of the bodies or calls Detective
Grogan to ask about the developments

On April 14, after Sharon Rocha learned about the recovery of the
bodies, she called appellant on his cell and asked him to call her right away.
He never did. (46 RT 9035-9036.)

Although media coverage was intensifying after the bodies washed
ashore, appellant never phoned Detective Grogan to inquire about those
developments. (96 RT 18066.)

23. Condition of Laci’s and Conner’s bodies

What remained of Laci’s body was clothed with a bra, underpants,
and portions of what appeared to originally have been tan-colored slacks,
which had deteriorated to the extent that they resembled shorts.61 (69 RT
13498.) However, there still remained “some decayed fabric clumps” that
were adhered to the lower portion of the right leg. (69 RT 13498.) The
clothing was in the normal position of wear. (69 RT 13499.) A criminalist
who later examined Laci’s clothing found barnacles on what remained of
Laci’s slacks. (90 RT 17066.) Laci’s clothing contained no rips or tears.
(90 RT 17065-17066.) Nor was there any blood or other biological fluids
on the clothing. (90 RT 17081.)
As for extraneous material, there were four stray hairs on various
parts of the body, a couple of pieces of plant material, and a piece of red
plastic. (69 RT 13501.) Additionally, there was a piece of gray duct tape
that was adhered to the slacks in the waistband area and which draped
down across the right thigh. (69 RT 13501.) The duct tape was
approximately 15 inches long. (69 RT 13501-13502.) Decomposing
tissue and barnacles were adhered to the tape. (90 RT 17068-17072.)
The plastic bag with the Target logo that was recovered from Point
Isabel was also inventoried. It had duct tape on it, but the tape did not
contain barnacles. (69 RT 13523; 90 RT 17074-17077.) There was also a
clump of loosely tangled duct tape that was separate from the plastic bag,
which was likewise inventoried. (69 RT 13523.) According to the
criminalist who examined the materials, there was no decomposing tissue
61 “Motherhood Maternity” was the brand of slacks Laci was
wearing when her body was discovered. (91 RT 17400; People’s Exh. No.
51 [sealed].) A company employee identified the style, size, and color
from the style number on the clothing label. (50 RT 9955-9956.) They
were cropped pants. (50 RT 9956.) Laci purchased the cropped slacks on
August 30, 2002. (50 RT 9972-9973; 52 RT 10139-10140.) According to
the stock-keeping unit (“SKU”) identifier on the receipt, the color of the
cropped slacks was “stone.” (50 RT 9984.) Laci’s sister Amy described
the color of the slacks that Laci had been wearing on the evening of
December 23 as cream-colored, Capri slacks. (45 RT 8847.)
88

on the bag or the duct tape associated with bag. (90 RT 17077.) The bag
did not smell of decomposing tissue. (90 RT 17078, 17168.) Nor did the
thread counts in the duct tape match that of the tape found on Laci’s body.
(90 RT 17077.)

There were a total of 12 hairs or hair fragments found on Laci’s body.
(70 RT 13667.) Only two were human: one brown pubic hair with a root
was one of the four loose hairs collected from Laci’s body and the other
was a brown pubic hair fragment found on the duct tape. The rest were
animal hairs. (70 RT 13667.) Using microscopic analysis, a criminalist
compared the pubic hair and hair fragment to reference samples taken from
Laci and determined the pubic hair and hair fragment were consistent with
the reference samples. (70 RT 13619, 13667, 13694-13696, 13704.)

With respect to the twine-like material found around Conner’s neck,
the criminalist who examined it noted there was a bow knot at one end. (90
RT 17084-17085.) There were no barnacles on the twine. (90 RT 17090.)

Debris found with Conner’s body included purple gloves, food
packaging materials, and caution tape. (90 RT 17092-17093.) The twine-
like material found around Conner’s neck was similar in composition to
plastic material found in the debris pile associated with Conner’s body. (90
RT 17094-17095, 17149.)

24. Autopsy results

Forensic pathologist Doctor Brian Peterson conducted the autopsies
on Laci and Conner on April 14, 2003, for the Contra Costa County
Coroner’s Office. (91 RT 17394-17395.) At the time of trial, Dr. Peterson
had performed approximately 5,500 autopsies in his career. (91 RT 17391.)
He was board-certified in the areas of anatomic and clinical pathology and
forensic pathology. (91 RT 17391.) Dr. Peterson had testified as an expert
in forensic pathology between 100 and 200 times. (91 RT 17391-17392.)
In each of those cases, he was called upon to provide a cause of death. (91
RT 17392.)

a. Dr. Peterson’s conclusion that Laci died while
still pregnant

At the time of the autopsy, Dr. Peterson did not know the body was
that of Laci Peterson. (91 RT 17395-17396.) There were a number of body
parts missing: head, neck, forearms, and the left lower leg. (91 RT 17396.)
Much of the soft tissue and internal organs were also absent from the body.
(91 RT 17396-17397.) The only internal organ still in the body was the
uterus. (91 RT 17397.) Peterson attributed the postmortem changes to a
number of possible causes including the effects of the water, being acted on
by bacteria, and feeding on the body by marine life. (91 RT 17397.)

During the first portion of the examination, Peterson reviewed the x-
rays of Laci’s body. He looked specifically for any foreign material such as
bullets or fragments of a knife. (91 RT 17398-17399.) The x-rays
disclosed no significant findings. (91 RT 17399.)

As for the clothing that remained on Laci’s body, her bra was in the
normal position of wear and remained secured by two hook and loop
fasteners. (91 RT 17399.) What was left of the light-colored slacks was
also in the normal position of wear. (91 RT 17399-17400.) The button
closure and zipper on the slacks was still in place, as was the drawstring
cord in the waistband. (91 RT 17400.) The crotch of the slacks was
shredded and stony mineral deposits were mixed in with fibers that
remained. (91 RT 17400.) As stated, there was duct tape on the front of
the body, which adhered to the waistband of the slacks and around one leg,
and which extended up to the zipper area of the slacks. (91 RT 17400,
17417.) Underpants were on the body beneath the slacks, but the portion of
the underwear covering the buttocks was missing. (91 RT 17400.) The
front portion was intact and part of the elastic band was in place around
each leg. (91 RT 17400.)

During the course of his external examination of Laci’s body, Dr.
Peterson observed that the only skin remaining was a small amount on the
left thigh. (91 RT 17401.) Skeletal muscle was exposed in some places; in
other places there was still some fat beneath the skin. (91 RT 17401.)
From the waist up, there was very little soft tissue remaining, exposing
bones, including ribs, vertebrae, and shoulder blades. (91 RT 17404.) Body
fat had undergone postmortem changes and was now adipocere. (91 RT
17404.) Dr. Peterson explained that adipocere resulted when body fat body
was exposed to a cold, moist environment. The fat turned into a “crumbly
white material” and appeared soapy. (91 RT 17404, 17415.) A marine
environment could cause this change, developing over a period of weeks to
months. (91 RT 17405.) Aside from changes related to decomposition,
there was no evidence of injury to Laci’s external genitalia. (102 RT
19029-19030.) The presence of adipocere, mineralization, barnacles on the
thigh bone, and stony deposits on her clothing, confirmed that the body had
been in a marine environment. (91 RT 17408-17409.)

Dr. Peterson did not observe any tool marks on Laci’s joints, which
indicated to him that tools were not used to dismember parts of the body.
(91 RT 17406; 92 RT 17433.) However, tidal action and marine animal
feeding could explain removal of the extremities. (92 RT 17406.) Dr.
Peterson explained that gravity would have caused the body to have been
floating face down with the arms and legs hanging down. (91 RT 17407.)
As the body sank to the bottom or near bottom of the Bay, the tides and
currents could have dragged the body along the bottom such that the
extremities were susceptible to coming into contact with things at the like
rocks and debris. (91 RT 17407.) The combination of decomposition and
tidal action, even without animal feeding, could have dislodged the limbs,
head, or neck from the body. (91 RT 17407-17408.)

Internally, Laci’s uterus—the only organ remaining—was
substantially enlarged corroborating the fact of her pregnant state. (91 RT
17410, 17424.) Dr. Peterson explained that the uterus remained intact
because it was relatively protected down in the pelvic area and, therefore,
resistant to degradation. (91 RT 17424.) The top portion of the uterus was
abraded and open. (91 RT 17411.) For the upper portion of the uterus to
have become abraded, portions of the abdominal wall would have to have
been missing, including the peritoneum. (92 RT 17431.) Dr. Peterson also
noted the uterine wall was very thin. (91 RT 17411.) The condition of the
uterus caused him to conclude that the uterus had contained a baby. (91 RT
17411.)

Dr. Peterson determined that Laci died while pregnant. (92 RT
17432.) He explained that after birth, the uterus shrinks back down to the
size of an orange or apple. (92 RT 17431-17432.) The fact that Laci’s
uterus did not reduce in size indicated that the baby was still inside when
she died. (92 RT 17432.)

Dr. Peterson also concluded that the baby did not pass through the
birth canal because the cervix and lower uterus—the birth canal—were
closed. (91 RT 17411-17412.) Also, there was no incision near the pubic
bone or in the uterus, or other tool marks, that would indicate a Caesarian-
section birth. (91 RT 17412, 17423; 92 RT 17516.) Since the fundus was
open at the top, Dr. Peterson concluded the baby exited through the top of
the uterus. (91 RT 17412, 17423.)

The doctor reviewed the autopsy photos and described what each
depicted, highlighting what he had previously explained about his
observations and conclusions. (91 RT 17413-17423.) In several photos, Dr.
Peterson pointed out that two upper ribs were fractured and another was
frayed at the point where there would have been cartilage. (91 RT 17418-
17422.) He could not determine if the fraying occurred before or after
death. (91 RT 17420, 17428.)

Dr. Peterson removed the right tibia and some of the remaining
skeletal muscle, which were sent to the California Department of Justice’s
DNA lab for analysis. (92 RT 17434.) Normally, fingerprints, teeth, blood,
urine, or fluids in the eye would be used for identification purposes, but that
was not an option in this case. (92 RT 17435.)

b. Dr. Peterson’s conclusion that Conner could
have lived had he been permitted the chance

Dr. Peterson conducted Conner’s autopsy first. He did not know the
identity of “Baby Doe” at the time of the autopsy. (92 RT 17438-17439,
17461.)

Conner’s body was decomposed and had undergone a great deal of
postmortem change. (92 RT 17439.) Autolysis and maceration had
occurred. 62 (92 RT 17438.) Although Conner’s organs were inside his
body, “they were remarkably liquefied.” (92 RT 17441.) However, there
were no body parts missing. (92 RT 17440.)

62 Autolysis occurs when chemicals in the body (i.e., acid in the
stomach or enzymes in the pancreas) facilitate organs digesting themselves.
(91 RT 17425.) Maceration is the process of decomposition by which the
body becomes liquefied as a result of being immersed in fluid over a period
of time. (92 RT 17441.)

63 There was no bleeding associated with the tearing, which
indicated that the injury occurred after Conner’s death. (92 RT 17443-
17444.)

As for observations about the external portion of the examination, Dr.
Peterson noted postmortem tearing that involved one shoulder and which
extended across the baby’s chest to his abdomen. 63 The body was soft and
highly pliable. (92 RT 17442.) Dr. Peterson opined that the tearing could
have been caused by forces acting on the body when it was washed ashore.
(92 RT 17442.) There was no clothing on the body. (92 RT 17442.)
About one-quarter of an inch of umbilical cord was still attached to
Conner’s body. (92 RT 17457.) The end of the cord was soft, friable
(crumbly), and falling apart. There was no evidence of a knot tied in the
cord or that it had been cut. (92 RT 17457.)

There was a piece of plastic tape around Conner’s neck. One end near
Conner’s left shoulder had a knot in it. There were about two centimeters
between the tape and Conner’s neck. (92 RT 17444.) The skin underneath
the tape was not damaged, nor were the organs. (92 RT 17445.) Because
there were no external or internal injuries associated with the tape, Dr.
Peterson concluded that the tape was debris that had become associated
with the body. (92 RT 17445.) Had the tape been a ligature purposefully
placed around the neck, there would have been evidence of injuries
associated with such use. (92 RT 17445-17446.)

Conner’s colon contained meconium. As Dr. Peterson observed, it
“was a clue to me that likely he had died before the birthing process, before
he had a chance to get rid of [the meconium].” (92 RT 17460.) Peterson
explained:

In the colon there was a material call meconium. It’s a dark
green, kind of thick, it’s a pasty fluid. And typically when
newborns have their first bowel movement, that’s what you see
is meconium. [¶] Sometimes when babies are in distress in the
uterus they can actually dump that in the uterus, which can cause
lung problems later. But in Conner’s case the meconium was
still where it belonged, in the colon.

(92 RT 17459.)

Based on his examination, including the fact that there was nothing
anatomically wrong with Conner’s body, Dr. Peterson concluded that
Conner would have survived outside the womb. (92 RT 17446-17447.)
Given the condition of Conner’s body, Dr. Peterson could not determine a
cause of death. (92 RT 17457, 17460-17461.) However, the manner of
death was ruled a homicide. (92 RT 17463.)

As he did in the case of Laci’s autopsy, Dr. Peterson explained the
photos associated with Conner’s autopsy. (92 RT 17448-17451.)

Conner was positively identified later in the week with DNA testing
of skeletal muscle and marrow from his thigh bone. (92 RT 17461.) DNA
analysis confirmed that Conner was appellant’s son. (70 RT 13598-13602.)

c. Comparison of the bodies and Dr. Peterson’s
conclusion that Laci’s death caused Conner’s
death

Compared to Laci’s body, Conner’s body was in much better
condition. (92 RT 17452.) Although Conner’s body exhibited
decomposition associated with soaking in fluid, in Dr. Peterson’s view, it
did not suffer the effects of exposure to animal feeding and tidal effects that
Laci’s did. (92 RT 17453.) He opined that as small and as soft as Conner’s
body was, if he had spent substantial time unprotected in the water, he
would have been eaten. (92 RT 17453.)

Comparing his examination of both bodies, including the condition of
Laci’s uterus relative to the rest of her body, Dr. Peterson concluded that
Conner was protected by Laci’s uterus. (92 RT 17453.) Over time, the
uterus was abraded open and Conner’s body was released into the Bay, and
eventually washed ashore. (92 RT 17453-17354.) Dr. Peterson further
opined that it took some time for Laci’s abdominal wall to wear away to
reach the point where the uterus was exposed and even more time to wear
away the top of the uterus permitting Conner to be released from Laci’s
body. (92 RT 17454.)

Although the exact time of Laci’s death could not be determined, Dr.
Peterson estimated that “it was months.” (92 RT 17471.)

[T]ruly, I believe that whatever – for whatever reason that Laci
met her demise, it was her death that caused Conner’s death; that
he was still in the uterus. And I base that, again, on the
difference in the bodies in terms of presence and absence,
feeding, no feeding, protection, no protection.

(92 RT 17461.)

Although Dr. Peterson could not definitively rule out the chance that
Conner was born alive and protected by something else in the marine
environment (92 RT 17474, 17493), the doctor stated: “My opinion is that
when Laci was deposited in the marina environment, Conner was still
within Laci. And ultimately, because of the effects of environment, animal
feeding and decomposition, Laci’s front degraded sufficiently to allow
access of the uterus to the outside world, and ultimately Conner.” (92 RT
17469.)

On the subject of the possible weighting of Laci’s body prior to being
released into the Bay, Dr. Peterson opined that Laci’s remains were
consistent with disarticulation caused by a marine environment and,
likewise, consistent with her limbs having been anchored. (92 RT 17470.)

d. The condition of Laci’s body precluded
identifying the cause of her death

The considerable postmortem changes to Laci’s body precluded
isolating a cause of death. (91 RT 17396-17398; 92 RT 17438.) The
doctor explained:

My challenge with Laci is that so much was missing. Could
there have been damage before she died to the head, to the neck,
to organs in the chest? There most certainly could have, but I
simply found no evidence that I could point at and say [t]his
must correlate to antemortem injury. [¶] No bullets, no cut
marks, just nothing that I could make into lethal damage. [¶]
The toxicology was also not productive. We found some
decomposition chemical and some caffeine. We probably all
have caffeine. [¶] So at that point I was left with undetermined.
Nothing positive there that I could make cause death.

(92 RT 17464.)
When queried about the possibility that Laci was strangled to death,
Dr. Peterson stated:

Well, the challenge there is that — one principle of forensic
pathology is that parts of the body that are injured tend to
decompose quicker, for a number of reasons. Could there have
been damage to her neck or to her face? Sure. But the problem
was her neck and her face were missing, so I simply couldn’t say
that in a positive way.

(92 RT 17465.)

With respect to possible manifestations of death by suffocation, Dr.
Peterson explained:

Asphyxial-type death in general can be associated with more
fluid inside the lungs, which is a reaction to asphyxia. And
somebody who is going through that process can certainly have
bloody foam coming out of their nose and mouth. But not
always. [¶] In terms of – there’s not really a nice way to put
this, but in terms of ways of killing people that aren’t going to
leave that kind of material outside the body, certainly
smothering is one of those ways that’s more likely not to
produce blood and fluid outside the body.

(92 RT 17466.) Dr. Peterson also pointed out that strangulation with a
ligature and poisoning were other modalities of inflicting death that could
leave little, if any, evidence of death external to the body. (92 RT 17466.)
In some cases, however, even this manner of death might result in
postmortem urination, defecation, or purging of stomach contents.64 (92
RT 17497-17498.)

64 Dr. Peterson expounded, however, that purging typically occurred
after a matter of days. (92 RT 17507.)
25. Examination of the bodies by a forensic
anthropologist confirms that Laci was in the water
for a minimum of three months

After the autopsies were completed, Dr. Allison Galloway, a forensic
anthropologist, was brought in by the Contra Costa County Coroner’s
Office to try and determine two things: how long Laci had been in the
water and Conner’s age. (92 RT 17509-17510, 17520-17521.)

After examining Laci’s remains, in addition to corroborating many of
the findings made by Dr. Peterson, Dr. Galloway noted that the rib fractures
were perimortem defects. (92 RT 17525.) This meant that the two rib
fractures, which Dr. Galloway described as “clean fractures” and which she
distinguished from the “very frayed” portion of what remained of a third rib,
could have occurred from the time period prior to Laci’s death before
healing began, until the time postmortem when the bones lost their
resiliency. (92 RT 17525-17526.)

Based on an examination of Laci’s bones, the nature and extent of the
decay of remaining tissue on the body, the presence of adipocere in large
amounts, and the amount of hemoglobin in the muscle tissue, Dr. Galloway
determined that Laci had been in the water for a minimum of three months
and as long as six months. (92 RT 17528.)

26. Conner’s age, viability, and estimated date of death

Laci’s first prenatal appointment with the medical staff at the Hera
Medical Group was on July 11, 2002. (51 RT 10104-10105.) Based on the
date of Laci’s last menstrual period, along with findings from her first-
trimester ultrasound, Laci’s due date was initially estimated to be February
10, 2003. (51 RT 10105-10106, 10111; 91 RT 17235-17236.) After her
second ultrasound at 20 weeks, the estimate was revised to February 16.
(91 RT 17228, 17236.) However, as Doctor Esther Towder, Laci’s
gynecologist, explained: if the results of the second ultrasound put the due
date within seven days of the original due date, as was the case here, the
first date was still considered the projected delivery date. In Laci’s case,
the six-day differential was within a “very normal range,” according to Dr.
Towder. (91 RT 17239.)

Laci had a routine prenatal check-up with Dr. Towder mid-afternoon
on December 23, 2002. (91 RT 17728, 17234.) The pregnancy was
progressing normally and Laci reported that Conner was very active. (51
RT 10125-10126; 91 RT 17230.) He was positioned head down. (91 RT
17230.) Based on ultrasounds, Conner’s age on December 23 was 32
weeks. (51 RT 10117; 53 RT 10394-10395.) However, if the date of
Laci’s last menstrual cycle and her fundal height were incorporated into the
calculation, Conner’s gestational age on that day was 32 weeks 6 days. (53
RT 10393-10394.)

In the opinion of Dr. Towder, the baby would have been viable had he
been born on December 23. (91 RT 17230.) As stated above, Dr. Peterson
also shared this view. (92 RT 17446-17447.)

Utilizing post-autopsy anthropological measurements of the growth of
Conner’s limb bones, Dr. Galloway, the forensic anthropologist, estimated
Conner’s age to be within a range of 33 to 38 gestational weeks.65 (92 RT
17529-17530.) She arrived at this estimate using studies that correlated age
with bone measurements.66 (92 RT 17529.)

65 Dr. Galloway’s estimate utilized the mother’s last menstrual cycle.
(92 RT 17532.) Although Dr. Peterson initially thought the baby was full-
term at nine months (92 RT 17472-17474), his estimation was based on
crude measurements (92 RT 17479-17480).

66 Dr. Galloway noted that the tables she used for her calculations
were generated by studies involving children of Eastern European descent
and that the tables needed to be adjusted for American babies. (92 RT
17510-17511, 17532.) According to Dr. Galloway, the baby’s
environment—including the mother’s health—could affect the accuracy of
the age calculation. (92 RT 17533.) If the mother was in an adverse
environment with poor nutritional levels and disease, the baby was
typically shorter, which caused for some variation from the studies. (92 RT
17533.) Dr. Galloway accounted for this variation by providing an age
range. (92 RT 17534.) Although Dr. Galloway’s measurements initially
indicated an age closer to 35 or 36 weeks, she explained that she used a
standard interval of two weeks on either side of the estimated age so as to
include 95 percent of children in the range. (92 RT 17545-17546.)

Doctor Greggory Russell DeVore, a specialist in high-risk obstetrics
and maternal-fetal medicine, was asked by the prosecution and the Modesto
Police Department to assist in determining Conner’s gestational age and the
approximate date that Conner died. (95 RT 17861.) Dr. DeVore saw about
6,000 pregnant patients each year, who were referred to him by
approximately 700 different OB/GYN doctors in the greater Los Angeles
area. (95 RT 17858.) He estimated that he had conducted 75,000
ultrasound examinations of pregnant women in his career. (95 RT 17859,
17933.)

Dr. DeVore reviewed Laci’s obstetric medical records, along with Dr.
Galloway’s report and conclusions. (95 RT 17861, 17872.) Dr. DeVore
explained the importance of the first-trimester ultrasound in determining
the baby’s age and the estimate of the time of conception. (95 RT 17877-
17880.) In his opinion, the first ultrasound measurements were the “gold
standard” to use as reference points and ensured greater accuracy in
determining the age of the fetus. (95 RT 17864, 17946-17947.) The
question to be answered was how much did Conner grow since the first-
trimester ultrasound and what that growth meant in terms of Conner’s age
at the time of his death. (95 RT 17955.)

Dr. DeVore took three separate measurements of Conner’s femur
bone using a method that was very similar to the first-trimester ultrasound.
(95 RT 17868-17870, 17888-17889.) Dr. DeVore’s measurements resulted
in a “very, very good” correlation with the ultrasound measurements. (95
RT 17869.)

He also compared his measurement results to Dr. Galloway’s and the
difference was quite small. In Dr. DeVore’s opinion, it was a “very precise
correlation” despite the fact that he and Dr. Galloway used different
approaches. (95 RT 17871-17872, 17916.) Dr. DeVore explained that the
study upon which Dr. Galloway based her interpretation of her
measurements involved babies who had died due to some pathology, which
would have affected growth rates. (95 RT 17914.)

Dr. DeVore estimated the date of Conner’s death as December 23,
2002. (95 RT 17881.) Using the femur bone measurement from the first
ultrasound as a reference point,67 as well as the three measurements DeVore
obtained himself, the doctor initially determined three estimated dates of
death that were within a three-day range: December 21, 2002, based on a
measurement of 64 millimeters and a gestational age of 32 weeks, 8 days;
December 23, based on a measurement of 64.7 millimeters and a
gestational age of 32 weeks, 6 days; and December 24, based on a
measurement of 65 millimeters and a gestational age of 33 weeks, 2 days.68

67 Dr. Devore explained at length that, in his view, using the crown-
rump measurement from the first ultrasound was the most reliable reference
point in determining a baby’s gestational age; not the femur length from the
second ultrasound. (95 RT 17933-17942.) If Dr. Devore had used the
femur length measurement from Laci’s second ultrasound, four days would
be added to Conner’s estimated date of death. (95 RT 17942-17943.)

68 With respect to the fact that the evidence established that Conner
was alive at least until the late afternoon or early evening of December 23,
which meant that one or perhaps two of Dr. Devore’s measurements were
incorrect, he explained that the focus was on a timeframe within a couple of
days of when Conner most likely died. The timeframe suggested by Dr.
Devore’s measurements was consistent with other information concerning
when Conner died. (95 RT 17904-17905.)

Dr. DeVore averaged these measurements to arrive at a date of December
23, based on 64.5 millimeters and a gestational age of 33 weeks, 1 day. (95
RT 17880-17883, 17960.)

27. Movement of bodies in the Bay

Doctor Ralph Cheng, a senior research hydrologist for the U.S.
Geological Survey, testified as an expert in hydrology and fluid dynamics
as it concerned the processes underlying the movement of water in San
Francisco Bay, including the ways in which the tides and currents affected
objects in the Bay. (100 RT 18858, 18866.)

Dr. Cheng explained that on April 12, 2003, the day before Conner’s
body washed ashore and two days prior to Laci’s body coming ashore,
there was a major wind event that created a great deal of energy in the
water in the Bay. (101 RT 18897.) Dr. Cheng also explained that in the
spring, the low tides around the Bay shoreline were exceedingly low. (101
RT 18895.) In fact, a very low tide occurred right after noon on April 12 in
the area where Laci’s and Conner’s bodies were recovered. (101 RT
18896.) The water level in that area was very shallow and would rise to no
more than about two to five feet. (101 RT 18902-18903.) In Dr. Cheng’s
view, the energy generated in the water by the strong winds on April 12 had
sufficient force to move bodies from shallower areas of the Bay, if they
were not weighted down. (101 RT 18904-18905.)

The Modesto Police Department asked Dr. Cheng if he would be able
to work backward from where Laci’s and Conner’s bodies were recovered
to help determine where in the Bay Laci’s body had been deposited. (101
RT 18900-18901.) Using equations derived from the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers Coastal Engineering Handbook, and calculations of hour by hour
movement of the Bay waters based on wind drift, Dr. Cheng concluded that
the location where Laci’s body was likely deposited was within a quarter-
mile square area that lay between the Berkeley Marina and Brooks Island.
(101 RT 18912-18915; People’s Exh. No. 284.) Dr. Cheng pointed out that
his calculations were based on the highest probabilities and were not
conclusive determinations. (101 RT 18914, 18930-18931.) Dr. Cheng also
noted that if Laci’s body had been placed in deeper water, it would have
washed out to the ocean or, perhaps, behind Angel Island. (101 RT 18916-
18917.)

Dr. Cheng was able to estimate a trajectory for the movement of
Conner’s body to shore, but not Laci’s. (101 RT 18925.) This was because
of the difference in size of the bodies, as well as the possibility that Laci’s
body may have been weighted down initially, which would have caused her
body to behave differently in the water. (101 RT 18913, 18942-18943.)

28. Appellant changes his appearance, huddles with his
family in Southern California, and plays cat-and-
mouse with law enforcement

Detective Grogan had been working on an arrest warrant. (96 RT
18061.) In addition to what the investigation had uncovered at that point,
Grogan explained that his decision to seek a warrant was based on the fact
that Laci’s and Conner’s bodies were found in the same general location
where appellant said he was during the time Laci disappeared; the clothing
on Laci’s body did not match what appellant said she was wearing when he
left; the autopsy results suggested Conner was in utero until shortly before
the bodies were recovered and there was no indication from the autopsy
that Laci had given birth; and the extent of decomposition of Laci’s body
correlated with her having been in the Bay for months. (96 RT 18062-
18063.)
As Grogan pursued authorization for the arrest warrant to issue, it was
decided to continue surveillance of appellant so that he did not flee the area
before he could be arrested. (96 RT 18063.) Special Agent Alex Quick of
the California Department of Justice was one of the agents assigned to
surveil appellant while he was in the San Diego area in mid-April 2003.
(95 RT 17968.) Agents located appellant on April 16. (95 RT 18003.)
Appellant was driving two different cars, neither of which were previously
associated with him: a Mercedes and a Lexus. (95 RT 17974.)
Appellant’s brother was driving appellant’s truck. (95 RT 17972-17973.)

Compared to Quick’s earlier observations of appellant in late January
and February, appellant had grown a thick goatee and mustache and his hair,
including his eyebrows, was now an orange-blonde color.69 (95 RT 17968-
17970, 17972; People’s Exhs. Nos. 276A-E.)

69 According to Amy Rocha, who had frequently cut appellant’s hair
in the past, while appellant may have grown a goatee before, he had never
dyed his hair a different color. (45 RT 8838-8840.) Appellant told his
good friend Mike Richardson that his hair changed color after swimming in
Aaron Fritz’s pool. (101 RT 18990-18991.) Aaron Fritz, who had been
good friends with appellant since high school, was not aware of any time
that appellant had been in his pool. (101 RT 19008-19009.) In any event,
Amy explained that appellant’s hair color would not change that drastically
from mere exposure to chlorine in a swimming pool. (46 RT 8952-8953,
8959-8960; People’s Exh. No. 16.)

On the morning of April 16, Deputy Ronald Schweitzer of the San
Diego County Sheriff’s Office was also assisting in the surveillance of
appellant. (99 RT 18619-18620.) Schweitzer was in an unmarked car. (99
RT 18620.) At one point during the surveillance, appellant pulled up
alongside Schweitzer’s car and asked the deputy what agency he was with
and whether it was state or local. Schweitzer responded that he did not
know what appellant was talking about. (99 RT 18620-18621.) Appellant
shook his head and said, “Right.” (99 RT 18621.) Appellant drove forward
a bit and then appeared to write down the license plate number of the
deputy’s vehicle. (99 RT 18621.) Appellant told the deputy that he saw the
deputy following him all morning. (99 RT 18621.)

A few minutes later, appellant walked up to Special Agent Kevin
Kolbe as Kolbe was sitting in his unmarked vehicle. (100 RT 18800.)
While standing at the driver’s side window, appellant said something to the
effect of: “‘That was a real nice block-off maneuver that that guy in the
green van did.’” (100 RT 18801.) Kolbe told appellant that he did not
know what appellant was talking about, although Kolbe was aware that the
person in the green van was an undercover officer also surveilling appellant.
(100 RT 18801.) Appellant then recited the license plate number of the van
and Kolbe repeated again said that he did not know what appellant was
talking about. (100 RT 18801.) Appellant asked Kolbe what agency
Kolbe worked for—state or local. (100 RT 18801.) When Kolbe reiterated
that he did not know what appellant was talking about, appellant said,
“‘Yeah, whatever,’” in a disgusted tone and walked off. (100 RT 18801.)

Special Agent Sonia Ramos was also part of the team surveilling
appellant on April 16. (100 RT 18833.) Ramos suspected appellant knew
they were surveilling him. On one occasion, when appellant was on foot
and Ramos was following him, appellant doubled back and ducked down
an alley. (100 RT 18834.) Ramos paralleled appellant’s path, walking
along a different street. When the agent arrived at the corner, appellant was
standing there waiting and smiling. (100 RT 18834.)

Another time, while appellant was driving a white Honda Accord,
Ramos tried to follow him in her vehicle, but appellant managed to get
behind Ramos. As Ramos came to a stop sign, appellant, who was still
behind her, honked his horn. (100 RT 18835.)

On the morning of April 18, Agent Quick rejoined the surveillance
team at 7:00. (95 RT 17975.) Appellant was driving through a gated
community in Escondido, north of San Diego. He was in his recently
purchased Mercedes. (95 RT 17976.) Appellant proceeded south on
Interstate 15 to the Ocean Beach area. Quick surmised that appellant knew
he was being followed because right as Quick caught up to appellant on the
freeway, appellant exited the freeway and then immediately got back on.
(95 RT 17977.) Seeing Quick, appellant extended his middle finger. (95
RT 17978.) Quick continued to follow appellant through a residential area.
During that time, appellant engaged in odd driving maneuvers such as
stopping on the side of the freeway, U-turns, three-point turns, and
alternating between fast and slow driving speed. (95 RT 17978.)

Appellant left the residential area around 7:45 a.m. and over the next
hour headed north on Interstate 5 to Orange County. (95 RT 17980;
People’s Exh. No. 277 [showing route taken].) Appellant and the
surveillance team passed through a border checkpoint near San Clemente.
(95 RT 17981.) Over the police radio, Agent Quick heard that appellant
exited the freeway and was now traveling north on State Route 57. (95 RT
17982.) While on route 57, appellant jumped from lane to lane, which
signaled to Quick that appellant was trying to determine if he was being
followed. At that point, there were 9 or 10 unmarked cars trailing appellant.
(95 RT 17982, 17990-17991.) Special Agent Claude Jubran saw appellant
clapping his hands up by his right shoulder as appellant went from the first
lane, traveled across all the other lanes to the shoulder of the freeway, and
then re-entered the freeway. (100 RT 18824-18825.) In Jubran’s opinion,
appellant was applauding the agents for keeping up with him. (100 RT
18828.)

Appellant next took State Route 91 east toward Riverside County.
From there, appellant entered Interstate 15 and headed south. It was 10:00
a.m. (95 RT 17983.) Appellant stopped to buy gas in Temecula. (95 RT
17984.) Afterward, he got on the freeway and made his way back to San
Diego County from where he had started. (95 RT 17984-17985.) The 160-
mile excursion ended when authorities stopped appellant on his way into
the Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla. (95 RT 17986, 17999; 100 RT
18846.) The decision had been made to arrest appellant for murder. (95
RT 17986.)

Detective Grogan explained the decision to arrest appellant at that
point was based on appellant’s change of appearance, appellant’s conduct
toward the agents, which suggested he was aware that he was being
surveilled, and a report that someone matching appellant’s description had
previously eluded the surveillance units when they attempted to follow. (96
RT 18058-18060.) Grogan and other detectives arrived in San Diego early
in the morning on April 18—the morning of appellant’s arrest. (96 RT
18063.)

29. April 18, 2003: Appellant is arrested with $15,000
in cash, outdoor equipment, and foreign currency

After appellant was handcuffed, he asked, “‘Have they found my wife
and son?’” (95 RT 18005-18006.) Detective Grogan noticed that appellant
was not wearing his wedding ring at the time. (96 RT 18066.)

Among the items police found in the Mercedes were the following:70
nearly $15,000 in cash (102 RT 19106 ); foreign currency71 (102 RT
19100-19101); a ticket stub for a Mexican exhibit at a local museum from
the preceding day (102 RT 19102-19103); two driver’s licenses—one
belonging to appellant and the other to his brother John (102 RT 19095); a
credit card belonging to another family member (102 RT 19096); a check

70 The contents of the Mercedes were documented in photographic
exhibits. (See People’s Exhs. Nos. 293-1 through 293-46, found in Volume
12 of the Supplemental Clerk’s Exhibits Transcript.)

71 Judging from the photo, it would appear to be Mexican currency.
(People’s Exh. No. 293-29.)
written out to appellant by a family member dated April 12, 2003 (102 RT
19101); a backpack containing folding knives, scissors, razor blades, a
water purifier, cooking utensils, pots and pans, binoculars, a hammock, a
camp ax, and an unopened package with a snorkel and mask (102 RT
19097-19099); four cell phones (102 RT 19101); a shovel (102 RT 19099);
a considerable amount of clothing including a snowboarding jacket, shoes,
pants, sweatshirt, shirts, shorts, sweaters, ties, belt, and socks (102 RT
19099-19100); a fishing rod and reel (102 RT 19099); a photo of appellant
and Laci (102 RT 10987), and a MapQuest printout dated April 16, 2003,
which corresponded to Amber Frey’s place of employment (102 RT 19085-
19087).
30. Further searches in the Bay for remains and other
evidence

In May 2003, searchers returned to the Bay with sonar equipment to
try and locate additional remains or other evidence. (62 RT 12206.)
Twelve law enforcement agencies and three civilian side-scan sonar
operators participated in the search. (62 RT 12227-12228; 64 RT 12627.)

Teams searched from May 16 to May 23 under very poor
conditions—including strong undercurrents and near-zero visibility for
divers—but found nothing related to the investigation. (62 RT 12207,
12211-12112, 12265; 63 RT 12268, 12271; 64 RT 12627.) There was also
a great deal of garbage underneath the Bay, some of which was encountered
during the search. (63 RT 12247, 12260-12265.)

In June 2003, the search management team plotted a targeted area
with a perimeter of one and one-quarter miles in length and one and three-
quarters mile down.72 (64 RT 12629; 65 RT 12729.) This area was then
broken down into one-quarter mile grids. (64 RT 12630.) Global
positioning system coordinates were used to pinpoint search targets. (64
RT 12632-12633.) To aid in the searches, authorities rented a Remote
Environmental Unit (“REMUS”), which was a self-propelled sonar unit.
(64 RT 12644.) The advantage to using REMUS was that it could proceed
in a straight line, unlike the side-scan sonar towed by the boats. (54 RT
12645.)
Searchers returned to the Bay in July, September, and October 2003,
but did not find anything of evidentiary value pertaining to the case. (62
RT 12206; 65 RT 12709-12710; 66 RT 12844.)
All told, the Bay search teams covered approximately 75 to 80 percent
of the targeted area: one and one-eighth mile east to west and one and onehalf
miles north to south. (64 RT 12710.)
31. The prosecution’s evidence refuted appellant’s
suggestion that Laci was kidnapped while walking
in the park, as well as the defense theory that
authorities rushed to judgment
Throughout the prosecution’s case-in-chief, defense crossexamination
attempted to bolster appellant’s suggestion to authorities that
Laci walked McKenzie on Christmas Eve morning and was abducted by
transients, or several men in a van who may have also been responsible for
a burglary that occurred in the neighborhood a couple of days after Laci
disappeared, or individuals associated with a later burglary of the Peterson
residence. And, relatedly, the defense attempted to portray the
72 As Bay search coordinator Detective Hendee explained, the
targeted area was the equivalent of 21 football fields across and 39 football
fields down, end zone to end zone. (64 RT 12629, 12631.)
109

investigation’s focus on appellant as a misguided rush to judgment.73 The
prosecution’s evidence addressed these theories.
a. The investigation initially focused on those
closest to Laci, including appellant
Initially, police followed up on tips and investigated Laci’s family
members. As lead detective Craig Grogan explained, oftentimes the
suspect was someone who knew the victim. (93 RT 17644-17645.)
Detective Grogan asked Amy Rocha to verify her whereabouts at the time
in question. (46 RT 8953-8954; 93 RT 17715.) Amy supplied authorities
with her employment records. (94 RT 17808.) Investigators also inquired
into Brent Rocha’s whereabouts and talked to Brent’s employer to ascertain
whether he had an alibi. (47 RT 9211-9212; 93 RT 17715.) Authorities
also talked with Brent’s wife Rose about his comings and goings during the
time in question, as well as her own. (47 RT 9297.) Investigators also
asked Rose about appellant and Laci’s marriage. (47 RT 9297.)
With respect to Laci’s family members, Detective Grogan
investigated whether it was possible that the inheritance played a role in
73 Throughout the course of the prosecution’s case-in-chief, the trial
court permitted defense counsel, during cross-examination of prosecution
witnesses, to elicit a large number of hearsay statements. (See, e.g., 98 RT
18476-18511 [hearsay statements from several individuals concerning
purported sightings of Laci where none of the individuals testified].) The
prosecution repeatedly expressed its concerns to the trial court. (See, e.g.,
58 RT 11371-11379; 59 RT 11523-11529) The court permitted the
questioning since the stated objective was to enable the jury to assess the
reasonableness of the police investigation. (58 RT 11371-79; 59 RT
11523-11529.) The trial court provided the jury with occasional reminders
that, aside from one instance, the evidence could not be considered for its
truth. (58 RT 11379-11380; 98 RT 18561.) The court also permitted the
prosecution to present evidence that the hearsay declarants were alive and,
thus, available to testify. (59 RT 11537.) After the defense guilt-phase
argument, the prosecutor reminded the jury of the judge’s admonitions
concerning the hearsay testimony. (111 RT 20524.)
110

Laci’s disappearance. (46 RT 8954; 93 RT 17716.) However, by mid-
January, Grogan had ruled out a financial motive based on financial
documentation and other information. (94 RT 17771.)

Before December 24, 2002, it was difficult for Laci’s family to
envision appellant hurting her. (46 RT 9063-9064; 47 RT 9144, 9262.)
However, that changed after December 24. Laci’s mother Sharon
explained that while she had been quite fond of appellant (46 RT 9063),
after Laci disappeared, appellant’s demeanor was troubling to her. (47 RT
9154.) In Sharon’s view, appellant did not show the level of concern one
might expect from a husband and expectant father. (46 RT 9073.) He also
avoided being alone with Sharon. And, when Sharon and appellant were at
the volunteer center together, he would never elaborate on his comings and
goings. (46 RT 9073.) Sandy Rickard also noticed that when Sharon tried
to talk to appellant, he would say that he had to leave. (47 RT 9308.)

Early on, authorities considered whether appellant may have been
responsible for Laci’s disappearance. (75 RT 14428.) As Detective
Grogan explained, one the of the goals of the investigation at the outset was
to eliminate appellant as a suspect, if possible. However, evidence gathered
over time pointed increasingly toward appellant’s involvement. (99 RT
18650-18651.) Grogan observed that the nature of his contact with
appellant changed over time. As the investigation wore on, appellant asked
mostly about the return of certain items of property. (99 RT 18628.) At
best, he asked about the status of the investigation on a monthly basis. (99
RT 18628-18629.)

By January 21, 2003, Grogan, compiling all of the information they
knew at the time, theorized that Laci’s body was in the Bay. (94 RT
17781-17782.) He detailed for the jury how and why authorities came to
that conclusion. (94 RT 17782-17788.) So, Grogan decided that the search
for Laci needed to be limited San Francisco Bay. (94 RT 17788-17789.)
However, if tips came in with information about a specific location,
authorities followed up on it. (94 RT 17789.)

b. Laci’s compromised physical condition in the
latter stages of her pregnancy

Laci stopped teaching in November 2002 because she had become
very uncomfortable later in her pregnancy. (46 RT 8973.) Indeed, the
Peterson’s housekeeper noticed that, during the latter part of 2002, Laci
seemed tired and sometimes sat with her feet up. (44 RT 8669.)

Although Laci enjoyed taking McKenzie for walks early in her
pregnancy, in late October or early November of 2002, Laci told her mother
and sister that she had become dizzy and vomited during a walk. (45 RT
8832; 46 RT 8946-8949, 8982, 8985.)

During a prenatal check-up on November 6, Laci reported to her
obstetrician, Dr. Endraki, that she was experiencing symptoms of dizziness
and lightheadedness when she walked. (53 RT 10376.) It happened twice
that very day and once during the prior week. (53 RT 10376.) Endraki
recommended that Laci stay hydrated and refrain from exercise. However,
if she did exercise, she should do it later in the day. (53 RT 10376.)

On November 8, Laci called the doctor’s office to report that she was
experiencing shortness of breath while walking. (53 RT 10378.) Her
mother Sharon sensed that after this incident, Laci took her doctor’s advice
more seriously. (46 RT 9053.) During this same time period, Laci
complained to Sharon about her feet swelling, having back pain, and
feeling tired frequently. (46 RT 8985.)

At a party on November 14, Laci told friends that she had to stop
walking because she was getting nauseous and tired. (54 RT 10508-10509,
10552.)

On November 25, during another prenatal check-up, Laci complained
of swelling in her extremities. (53 RT 10379.)
Over Thanksgiving, Laci accompanied appellant to Southern
California for a baby shower for one of appellant’s family members. (46
RT 8985, 8990.) While they were there, the couple went to Disneyland
even though Laci was not feeling well and did not want to go. Due to her
physical condition, Laci needed a wheelchair to get around in the park. (46
RT 8985-8986; 95 RT 18026.)

Although Laci did prenatal yoga during her pregnancy (46 RT 8935-
8936; 54 RT 10585-10586), her yoga instructor Debra Wolski noted that as
the pregnancy progressed, Laci was very uncomfortable (54 RT 10587).
Wolski said that Laci was concerned that McKenzie might think Laci was
upset with him because she never walked him anymore. (54 RT 10589.)
Laci explained to Wolski that the last few times she walked McKenzie, she
became dizzy and lightheaded. So much so that she had to cut her walks
short. (54 RT 10589.)

A few weeks before she disappeared, Laci went to the movies with
her mother and Sharon’s good friend Sandy Rickard. (47 RT 9307.)
Rickard recalled that Laci mentioned getting light-headed when she took
her dog for a walk. (47 RT 9307.) Laci also complained about feeling tired
and heavy. (47 RT 9307.)

On December 14, when Laci arrived at Stacey Boyer’s house for a
Christmas party, Boyer observed that Laci was exhausted. (54 RT 10511.)
At the party, Laci told her childhood friend Lori Ellsworth that she was
very tired. (54 RT 10554.) Laci also told Terri Western, Boyer’s mother,
that she was tired a lot and that it was hard for her to walk. (86 RT 16423.)

On December 20, Laci had a phone conversation with her good friend
Rene Tomlinson and told her that she was feeling tired and ready for the
baby to arrive. (54 RT 10576.) Laci went to her prenatal yoga class that
day and, although she was able to negotiate the stairs that led up to the yoga
studio on the second floor, Laci told her instructor that she was in pain
because she thought the baby had turned. (54 RT 10587; 97 RT 18233.)
Laci’s feet were very swollen. (54 RT 10588.)

Laci and appellant’s neighbor Karen Servas last spoke to Laci on
December 22. (48 RT 9416.) Laci told Servas that she felt tired and had
almost fallen into the pool a couple of weeks prior because she was off-
balance. (48 RT 9416.)

Individuals who saw Laci on December 23 observed that she seemed
tired or complained of being tired. (44 RT 8668 [housekeeper]; 45 RT
8694-8695, 8708 [spa employees]; 45 RT 8832 [Amy Rocha]). Indeed, the
Peterson’s housekeeper Margarita Nava observed that on that day Laci was
moving slowly. (44 RT 8668.) Also, at her spa appointment, Laci told
owner Michelle Bauer that she was uncomfortable and having trouble
sleeping. (45 RT 8710.) Spa employee Tina Reiswig noted that Laci did
not seem herself that day. (45 RT 8695.)

Stacey Boyers talked to Laci for the last time around 4:45 p.m. on
December 23. (54 RT 10512.) Laci said she was somewhat despondent
about not being able to throw her traditional Christmas party. (54 RT
10512.) Laci told Boyers that she was tired all the time and every time she
tried to do something, she had to stop and rest. (54 RT 10512.)

Inasmuch as appellant specifically suggested Laci went walking in La
Loma park, the dirt trail leading from the park to Covena was steep (47 RT
9115-9116), and “[v]ery, very rough” (48 RT 9357-9358). One woman
from the neighborhood explained that she could not negotiate the trail when
she was pregnant because it was steep and uneven. (87 RT 16751-16752.)

c. Purported sightings of Laci across the United
States and overseas

With regard to defense-elicited hearsay statements of purported
sightings of Laci walking McKenzie on Christmas Eve morning in the park
(see, e.g., 98 RT 18476-18511), the prosecution called numerous witnesses
in its case-in-chief to demonstrate that there may have been pregnant
women—some with dark hair like Laci’s74—walking alone or with their
dogs in the area of La Loma park that morning, or who usually walked in
the area, none of whom was Laci Peterson. (87 RT 16705-16714 [witness
C. Van Sandt], 16732-16736, 16740-16741 [M. Dempewolf], 16743-
16749 [J. Visola-Prescott], 16753-16755 [E. Guptill], 16760-16763 [J.
Lear]; 88 RT 16802-16807 [K. Westphal], 16815-16818 [P. Mewhinney],
16830-16832 [J. Lee], 16835-16837 [D. Merenda], 16843-16845 [M.
Martinez]).
In fact, a couple of these prosecution witnesses reported nothing out
of the ordinary on Covena on Christmas Eve morning. Brian Lee left his
home around 10:00 a.m. to go for a run reaching Covena around 10:15. (88
RT 16824.) He “didn’t see a soul.” (88 RT 16825.) Kim Westphal was
walking with a neighbor that morning. Westphal estimated they reached
Covena around 10:50 and walked past the Peterson residence. There was
no activity on the street at the time. (88 RT 16807.)
There were at least 74 reported sightings of Laci, including sightings
of her on San Francisco Bay on December 24. (94 RT 17761; People’s
Exhs. Nos. 267 [map showing Modesto area sightings], 268A [California
sightings].) Also, there were numerous purported sightings of her in 26
states and overseas. (96 RT 18077; People’s Exh. No. 268B [including
Canada, Italy, France, and the Virgin Islands].) Only a few of the reported
sightings fit the timeframe75 and location, as authorities could best
74 See, for example, the different women depicted in People’s
exhibits numbered 223, 224, 229A.
75 Based on appellant’s statements, the physical evidence, and
appellant’s phone records from December 24, authorities narrowed the time
frame that Laci would have gone for a walk—as appellant claimed she
intended that day—to between 10:08 a.m. and 10:18 a.m. (96 RT 18075.)
115
(continued…)

Therefore, Laci would have needed to change out of the black slacks
appellant said she was wearing when he left (given that tan slacks were
found on her body), put on shoes and socks (appellant said she was barefoot
when he left), put the leash on the dog, and have taken her walk by 10:18
a.m. when Karen Servas found McKenzie in the street. (96 RT 18076.)

determine. Most were not viable and none were corroborated. (94 RT
17661-17666.)

d. The burglary at the Medina’s residence

Susan and Rodolfo Medina resided at 516 Covena, on other side of
street from the Peterson’s. (49 RT 9582-9583, 9585, 9617.) The Medina’s
left town on Christmas Eve 2002. When they returned home on December
26, they discovered their home had been burglarized while they were gone.
(49 RT 9602-9608.) The burglars forced entry into the home. (49 RT
9721.) The master bedroom was somewhat ransacked and items were
stolen, including a large safe. (49 RT 9712, 9716.) According to the
investigating patrol officer, it was a typical grab-and-go robbery. (49 RT
9716.) Police were looking for an older light brown or tan van that might
be associated with the burglary. (52 RT 10238-10240.) Two individuals
were eventually arrested and most of the Medina’s property was recovered.
(53 RT 10335-10337.) During the burglary investigation, officers found
nothing that connected the burglary to Laci’s disappearance. (53 RT
10360-10361.)

e. Homeless or transients in the area

Susan Medina said she would occasionally see homeless individuals
walk on Covena early in the morning coming from the Gospel Mission,
which was about a mile away, and then head back later in the afternoon.
(49 RT 9644-9645; 53 RT 10366.) However, Medina did not see any
homeless individuals on the street before she and her husband left their
house around 10:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve morning. (49 RT 9593, 9645-
9646.) La Loma area neighbor Jill Lear explained that she walked her dog
regularly around the Dry Creek Park area. During her walks she would see
people who were homeless, but they never bothered her. (87 RT 16760-
16763.)

f. A van in the neighborhood on December 24

During defense questioning of prosecution witness Detective Allen
Brocchini, a hearsay statement was elicited that Kristin Reed—a neighbor
and friend of Laci and appellant (58 RT 11397)—said during an interview
in September 2003 (59 RT 11530), that although she was not sure, she may
have seen a blue or brown van on Covena in the morning on December 24,
around 9:39 when Reed left to go to the gym. (58 RT 11399-11402.)76
However, Reed made no mention of a van on the street when she was first
interviewed shortly after Laci’s disappearance. (58 RT 11402.) In fact,
Reed explained that her recollection could just as easily have been due to
the power of suggestion generated by something she had read in the
media.77 (58 RT 11402-11403; 59 RT 11530; 99 RT 18680.)

76 Defense counsel elicited the same hearsay testimony during
questioning of Detective Craig Grogan. (99 RT 18569-18570.) The trial
court cautioned the jurors that the statement could not be considered for the
truth of the matter. (99 RT 18569.)

77 Neighbor Diane Jackson had given a statement to police on
December 27, 2002, wherein she claimed to have seen a white van and
three dark-skinned individuals on Covena at 11:40 a.m. on December 24
(99 RT 18682; 108 RT 20060-20061.) Consequently, information about a
mystery van had been heavily reported in the media by the time of Kristin
Reed’s subsequent September 2003 interview with Detective Brocchini.
(59 RT 11530-11531.)
g. Burglary of the Peterson’s home on January
19, 2003

During his cross-examination of Detective Brocchini, defense counsel
also elicited hearsay statements that in the early morning hours of January
19, 2003, Covena neighbor Amie Krigbaum called police after seeing a
woman coming out of the Peterson’s home carrying a bundle, which the
woman put into the trunk of a white Honda Civic. (58 RT 11304-11306.)
Krigbaum reported that it was the same woman who Krigbaum had seen
walking the Peterson’s dog. (58 RT 11307.) When police responded to the
residence, they found a window broken, Christmas presents unwrapped,
and the house rifled through. (58 RT 11304-11309.) The perpetrator was
identified as Kim McGregor—a woman who had worked herself into a
position of trust with the Peterson-Rocha families by helping out after Laci
was first reported missing. McGregor sometimes took McKenzie for walks.
(58 RT 11318-11319.) During McGregor’s interview with police, she
confessed to the burglary. (58 RT 11313.)

B. Defense Case

1. The Medina residence burglary

Officer Michael Hicks of the Modesto Police Department assisted in
the investigation of the Medina residence burglary. (108 RT 20049.) A
confidential informant provided information to a department detective,
which led police to the arrest of suspects Todd and Pearce.78 (108 RT
20055.) Hicks spoke to Steven Wayne Todd. 79 (107 RT 20015.) When
police initiated questioning, the first thing Todd said was that the burglary

78 Mr. Pearce’s name was also spelled “Pierce” in the Reporter’s
Transcript.

79 The trial court admonished the jury that Todd’s statements were
not being offered for the truth of the matter. (107 RT 20015-20016.)
had no connection to the missing woman with the baby. (107 RT 20016.)
Although Todd was initially confused about the date he and his associate
Pearce committed the Medina burglary, the investigation confirmed that it
occurred on the morning of December 26, 2002. (107 RT 20017-20018.)
Officer Hicks related what Todd told him about the Medina burglary,
including that Todd targeted the Medina residence because one car was
missing from the driveway and there was mail in their mailbox. (107 RT
20018-20023; 108 RT 20057.) Hicks observed that both suspects were
“very willing” to share information about the burglary. (108 RT 20053.)
2. Appellant’s use of concrete

In January 2004, defense investigator Carl Jensen retrieved concrete
samples from the driveway area at 523 Covena for further testing. (103 RT
19191-19198.) Jensen returned to the driveway with concrete expert
Steven Gebler in September 2004 and observed Gebler remove additional
samples of concrete from the same area of the driveway. (103 RT 19198-
19200.) Neither Jensen nor Gebler took samples of the concrete used in
conjunction with fence posts near the front yard area. (103 RT 19200,
19228.)

The defense employed Gebler to determine whether samples from the
anchor, debris found in the bed of appellant’s pick-up truck, and debris
from the boat cover were consistent with samples taken from side of the
driveway at 523 Covena. (103 RT 19247.) Gebler determined there was no
difference in the composition of the samples taken from the driveway area
relative to the anchor or the debris found in the truck or on the boat cover. 80
(103 RT 19263.) He disagreed with the conclusion of Mr. O’Neill, the

80 The defense supposition was that appellant—after making one
anchor—used the remaining concrete for improvements alongside the
driveway and not for other anchors used to weigh down Laci’s body. (110
RT 20409-20412.)
prosecution’s expert, that the cement sample taken from the driveway by
police on December 27, 2002, was not of the same composition as the
anchor and debris. (103 RT 19286, 19296-19297.)
Nonetheless, Gebler conceded that changes could have occurred to the
cement found in the driveway area between late December 2002, when
police retrieved a sample, and January 2004, when Gebler obtained his
samples (103 RT 19308).

Although Gebler was not a petrographer and did not conduct a
petrographic examination of the concrete samples, Gebler explained that he
did consult with a petrographer by the name of Dave Vollmer who did the
testing and wrote a report. (103 RT 19276-19280.) Mr. Vollmer did not
testify.

The parties stipulated that Vladimir Rodriquez—the Peterson’s new
next door neighbor on Covena—purchased several bags of concrete and
placed them in the Peterson’s driveway. (108 RT 20087.) Rodriguez
intended to use the concrete to replace a fence post that supported the gate
by the driveway. However, when the contractor removed the fence post,
they found it was not in concrete. (108 RT 20087.) Rodriguez identified
the bag of concrete in the photos labeled People’s exhibit numbers, 295A
through F, as belonging to him. (108 RT 20087.) The bag remained in the
driveway for several weeks. Rodriguez does not know what happened to
the bag of concrete, but assumed the contractor used it for something else.
(108 RT 20087-20088.) Rodriguez did not have any concrete work done
on the Peterson’s property. (108 RT 20088.)

During direct examination, appellant’s father, Lee Peterson, explained
that he took photos of fishing boats at a lake near San Diego. (107 RT
19996; Defense Exhs. Nos. D9B1-D9B3.) Each boat had one cement
anchor. (107 RT 19996; Defense Exhs. Nos. D9B1, D9B3.) However, on
cross-examination, Lee acknowledged the boats were rowboats, the lake
was an inland lake—much smaller than San Francisco Bay—with no ocean
access, and there were long ropes attached to each anchor.81 (107 RT
20005-20007.)
3. Appellant’s motivation for getting a post office box
James Cavallero worked for a fertilizer company and met appellant
through a business transaction. (103 RT 19329.) Cavallero recalled that
appellant contacted him shortly after November 7, 2002, about a check that
Cavallero’s company had written to appellant’s company, which was stolen
earlier in the month. (103 RT 19330.) Cavallero concluded that appellant’s
mailbox at the warehouse location—shared with other tenants—was not
secure. (103 RT 19334.) So, Cavallero suggested to appellant that he get a
post office box. (103 RT 19335.)
Cavallero was unaware that appellant did not get a post office box
until nearly six weeks later. (103 RT 19337.) Cavallero was likewise
unaware if appellant ever provided the post office box number to
Cavallero’s company. (103 RT 19337-19338.)
4. Appellant’s financial position
Certified Public Accountant Martin Laffer reviewed financial
documents pertaining to TradeCorp. (103 RT 19343-19344.) Laffer
explained that appellant had no financial exposure relative to the losses that
TradeCorp sustained. (103 RT 19348.) However, Laffer acknowledged
that if TradeCorp failed, appellant would have become unemployed and
that would have been compounded by the fact that Laci was not working
during the latter stages of her pregnancy. (104 RT 19440-19441.) In any
event, Laffer opined that TradeCorp was not having unexpected financial
problems. On the contrary, it was a well-capitalized start-up. (103 RT
81 There was no long rope attached to the cement weight (also
referred to as an “anchor”) found in appellant’s boat. (55 RT 10768.)
121

19350-19351.) Yet, Laffer conceded that TradeCorp documents disclosed
that appellant was 50 percent short of his revised business plan projection
for October 2002. (104 RT 19442-19443.)

When the prosecutor pointed out that appellant approved his own
expenses on behalf of TradeCorp for reimbursement to himself, Laffer
remarked that “[i]t’s not uncommon.” (104 RT 19436-19437.) Laffer
acknowledged that appellant would sometimes charge personal expenses on
TradeCorp’s credit card. (104 RT 19457-19458.)

Laffer also reviewed documents pertaining to appellant’s personal
financial health and concluded that Laci and appellant were spending less
than they were making. (103 RT 19355.) There was no indication the
couple was living beyond their means. (103 RT 19361.) However, Laffer
acknowledged that appellant’s car insurance payments, which were not
accounted for in the documentation, could affect the balance sheet. (104
RT 19437-19438.)

Although Laffer initially stated that appellant’s credit card payments
were timely (103 RT 19352), he conceded appellant had received notices
from creditors about overdue payments (104 RT 19456). Laffer said that,
as a forensic accountant, it would not necessarily cause him concern, but it
was of sufficient interest that he made a note of it after reviewing
appellant’s financial information. (104 RT 19456.)

Regarding Laci’s inheritance, Laffer concluded that appellant had
nothing to gain if Laci or Conner were dead and could, therefore, discern no
financial motive for killing them. (103 RT 19356-19357.) In fact, Laffer
explained, appellant would have stood more to gain financially if Laci were
alive since her inheritance would have vested when she turned 30 years
old.82 (103 RT 19359.)
Appellant’s mother Jackie testified that she received what was
apparently a tax document from TradeCorp, mailed to her address, that
showed appellant was paid $41,000 in the first four months of 2003. (107
RT 19977-19978; Defense Exh. No. D9A [sealed].)
5. Laci’s physical condition during pregnancy and her
walking habits
Jackie testified that during the December 2002 trip to Carmel, she and
Laci walked “all over town” because the men took the car and went golfing.
(107 RT 19974.) Although Laci and Jackie had another vehicle at their
disposal, according to Jackie, neither she nor Laci could drive it because it
was two feet off the ground and neither could fit behind the steering wheel.
(107 RT 19983-19984.)
Jackie and Laci’s walks around Carmel included going “up the hill”
three blocks to shop in town. (107 RT 19975.) On December 18, they
walked for a couple of hours in the morning during their shopping trip and
then walked back to the hotel. (107 RT 19976.) Laci was able to walk,
although “[s]he was slower.” (107 RT 19976.) They also walked to the
beach. (107 RT 19993.)
Defense investigator Carl Jensen testified that the distance to the
beginning of the beach area from the hotel in Carmel where Laci and the
Peterson family stayed was 1,419 feet and another 150 yards down to the
water. (103 RT 19189.) Jensen stated that it was a steep 15 to 20 minute
walk from the edge of the parking lot, where the sandy area began, to the
waterfront and back. (103 RT 19189-19190.) The walking distance
82 As stated earlier, there was no evidence adduced as to whether
appellant was aware of issues related to any survivorship interest he may or
may not have had with respect to Laci’s inheritance.
123

between Sachs department store and the hotel was about three-quarters of a
mile. (103 RT 19191.)

Jackie acknowledged that parking was available at the shopping areas
around Carmel, at the beach, and at the hotel. (107 RT 19985.) Jackie also
acknowledged that, at the time, her lung function was compromised such
that she required the assistance of supplemental oxygen. (107 RT 19985.)

District Attorney Investigator Kevin Bertalotto interviewed an
individual named Chris Clark on April 23, 2004.83 (105 RT 19667.) Clark
called the District Attorney’s Office after reading a story in a local paper
that prosecutors intended to present evidence that Laci had not walked her
dog for the two months prior to her disappearance. (105 RT 19668.) Clark
told Bertalotto that, beginning on October 15, 2002, he saw Laci walk her
dog eastbound on Encina, near Covena, five times between 8:00 and 8:30
a.m. (105 RT 19670-19672.) Clark described the dog as a Golden
Retriever mix. (105 RT 19672.) He also thought he saw Laci walking the
dog in the park by the creek. (105 RT 19672.) On three occasions, Clark
saw Laci walking by herself. (105 RT 19672.) The last time he saw Laci
out walking was two weeks before she went missing. (105 RT 19673.)
Clark was certain it was Laci, as he saw her photos in the news. (105 RT
19674-19675.)

83 The hearsay statements of Chris Clark elicited through
Investigator Bertalotto were not offered for the truth of the matter, but to
shed light on the reasonableness of the police investigation. (105 RT
19668.)

In talking with Clark, Bertalotto learned that Clark had a substance
abuse problem and had been arrested three times for driving under the
influence. (106 RT 19736.) Clark related that he had been in and out of
residential treatment programs, his last ending on September 30, and was
wearing an ankle bracelet because he was then under house arrest stemming
from his most recent drunk driving offense. (106 RT 19736-19737.)

6. The smell of the Target bag

After Laci’s body was discovered along Point Isabel, Officer Timothy
Phillips of the East Bay Regional Park District Police Department was
assigned the task of walking the area to look for items that might have
evidentiary value. (105 RT 19572.) The standing order for the police
department for a long period of time was to collect anything in the area
where the remains were found and book any such item into evidence. (105
RT 19573-19574).

Phillips collected the Target bag, which was located on the other side
of Hoffman Channel about 800 to 1,000 feet north of where Laci’s body
was recovered. (105 RT 19549-19551, 19558.) Phillips thought the bag
important because a citizen had brought it to his attention. (105 RT 19553,
19557.) The bag was wedged in the rocks and concrete adjacent to the
shoreline. Phillips had to dislodge it from the rocks. (105 RT 19577.)
There was a piece of duct tape on the bag (105 RT 19552) and a heavy
piece of metal entangled with the duct tape (105 RT 19555-19556). The
metal piece contained barnacles and was very brittle. (105 RT 19578.)
There were no barnacles on the duct tape. (105 RT 19578.)

In Phillips’s view, the bag had an odor that was similar to Laci’s
remains. (105 RT 19554.) Phillips mentioned this observation to his
sergeant and then to officers from the Modesto Police Department while at
the coroner’s office. (105 RT 19558-19559). However, Phillips did not
record this observation in his report.84 (99 RT 18663-18664; 105 RT

84 The prosecution initially subpoenaed Phillips. (105 RT 19599.)
However, when representatives from the District Attorney’s office
interviewed him, Phillips mentioned that he had omitted something from
his report. (105 RT 19600.) The prosecution team told Phillips there
would be further proceedings on the issue. (105 RT 19592.) The next day,
the prosecution facilitated a meeting with Phillips and defense counsel so
that Phillips could explain what he had left out of his report. (105 RT
19600.) Phillips spent most of the time at the meeting answering questions
from defense counsel. (105 RT 19601.)

19581.) He explained that since the bag was found far from Laci’s body,
he did not want to overstate its significance. (105 RT 19582.) Phillips
turned the bag over to a criminalist at the scene for testing. (105 RT 19582-
19583.) Phillips acknowledged that he had been in the area of the remains
for about seven hours. The smell was quite strong and was one that stayed
with him for some time. (105 RT 19579.)

A professional dog handler that was on scene brought her cadaver dog
over to the bag. (105 RT 19558, 19574-19575.) Phillips was not present
when this occurred. (105 RT 19575.) The prosecution was permitted to
elicit that Phillips was told the dog did not alert on the bag. (105 RT
19575-19576.) The information was not being offered for the truth of the
matter, but was relevant to the reasonableness of the police investigation.
(105 RT 19575.) Phillips did, however, record in his report that the cadaver
dog did not hit on the bag. (99 RT 18664.)

7. Scent trailing at the Marina

Ronald Seitz and his certified trailing dog “T.J.” were called out to the
Berkeley Marina on December 28, 2002, as part of a mutual aid request.
(105 RT 19603-19604.) Captain Boyer, who was overseeing the search and
rescue teams at the marina, instructed Seitz to have T.J. work from a scent
article associated with Laci to see if T.J. picked up a scent trail. (105 RT
19607.) Seitz elected to use a pink slipper after asking some preliminary
questions. (105 RT 19608.) Seitz was told the glasses case was a spare and
so Seitz thought the slipper would offer a better scent. (105 RT 19613.)
With regard to scent articles, Seitz said that, generally speaking, he
was concerned about cross-contamination in any situation where a scent
article was touched by anyone other than the dog handler. (105 RT 19624.)
However, with reference to the particular scent articles used at the marina,
Seitz offered that he did not have any specific information that suggested
the articles were cross-contaminated with another person’s scent besides
Laci’s. (105 RT 19625.) Seitz opted for the pink slipper because he
thought it was the item least likely to have been contaminated. (105 RT
19626.) Seitz opined that even if appellant had handled Laci’s sunglasses,
the predominant or strongest scent on the glasses would still be Laci’s.
(105 RT 19657.) If there was contamination on the article and the source
of the contamination was present (i.e., appellant), Seitz would expect the
dog to follow the trail of the source of the contamination. (105 RT 19657.)
However, since Seitz had no information suggesting there was cross-
contamination on the sunglasses or the case, he could not speculate on
whether his dog would have followed appellant’s trail out of the marina.
(105 RT 19658.)

At the marina, Seitz took T.J. to the boat ramp area because he
believed that it was the area least likely to be intruded upon by vehicles,
which could potentially degrade any scent that was present. (105 RT
19610.) Nonetheless, Seitz agreed that a viable alternative search strategy
would have been to work the choke points of the parking lot area at the
marina adjacent to the boat launch area. (105 RT 19661.) Seitz worked T.J.
for about 90 seconds along the mouth of the boat ramp area on both sides.
(105 RT 19615, 19651.) T.J. did not alert in that area. (105 RT 19611.)

Eloise Anderson and her trailing dog Trimble arrived near the end of
Seitz’s participation in the search at the marina. (105 RT 19615.) Seitz
was not privy to where Anderson and Trimble began their search. He only
saw them come in from the west side of the marina, go down to the dock,
and then end near the mouth of the boat ramp. (105 RT 19655.)

Seitz was aware that Anderson worked Trimble in the same area using
a different scent item and Trimble had alerted. Seitz had previously opined
that either dog could have been accurate on that particular day. (105 RT
19662.) He explained that dogs have different abilities and those abilities
can vary from day to day. (105 RT 19663.) Seitz estimated that T.J.—like
most trailing dogs—was accurate about 70 to 80 percent of the time. (105
RT 19640.) In any event, Seitz was clear that the efficacy of the dog’s
efforts was directly related to the competence of the handler’s interpretation
of the dog’s behavior. (105 RT 19629.)

With respect to scent theory, Seitz explained that while trailing dogs
could certainly pick up the scent of a live person days after the person had
passed through a given area, he had not seen anything in the scientific
literature, including any studies that had been conducted, concerning the
particular theory that someone who is deceased can still give off live
residual scent that could be picked up by a trailing dog. (105 RT 19619-
10620.) Yet, Seitz acknowledged that “[t]here probably is residual scent”
that comes from the body. (105 RT 19646.) Also, clothing on a dead body
might contain residual scent. (105 RT 19635.) Seitz further agreed that,
under certain conditions, it was possible for a dog to trail an individual that
was traveling in a vehicle. (105 RT 19641.) If the individual were in a
truck or on a boat, it was possible the person’s scent might leave a trail.
(105 RT 19645.)

8. A stranger in the neighborhood on December 23
and unclaimed shoes

Judge Ricardo Cordova was a Stanislaus County Superior Court judge
who lived near the Peterson’s in December 2002. (106 RT 19745-19746.)
At the time, Judge Cordova was a public defender. (106 RT 19746-19747.)
Judge Cordova recounted that on the night of December 23, 2002, a
stranger came to his door asking for money for his girlfriend who the man
said was stranded somewhere. (106 RT 19746, 19755.) The man
explained that he had been to other houses in the neighborhood asking for
money and other people were not home. (106 RT 19747.) He told Judge
Cordova that he was staying at a house in the neighborhood, which was at
the corner of Edgebrook and Encina. There was a white station wagon
parked at that house. (106 RT 19747-19748.)

In his experience as a public defender, Judge Cordova was acquainted
with scams involving pleas for money, which occurred with some
frequency because there existed a large number of people who were kind-
hearted and actually gave money. (106 RT 19755.) In the judge’s view, it
was more than likely that these scams occurred in more affluent
neighborhoods. (106 RT 19755-19756.) Judge Cordova also stated that he
suspected the man may have been casing the neighborhood because the
holidays were a ripe time for burglaries. (106 RT 19747.) The judge knew
that his former office had represented someone that used a similar modus
operandi. (106 RT 19756.)

On Christmas day, Judge Cordova told Detective Sebron Banks of the
Modesto Police Department, with whom the judge was previously
acquainted, about the visit from the stranger. (106 RT 19747.) Together,
they walked toward the house the stranger described, which was around the
corner from the Peterson’s residence. (106 RT 19748.) In a grassy area on
the front lawn of the property, Judge Cordova noticed a pair of women’s
sandals. (106 RT 19748, 19754.) He described them as “platform flip-
flops that were probably an inch and a half, two inch heels with maybe an
inch soles on them that were an orange flower pattern.” (106 RT 19753.)
They were summer-type sandals. (106 RT 19754.) Although Judge
Cordova thought the shoes might be connected to Laci’s disappearance,
Detective Banks did not retrieve the sandals. (106 RT 19748-19749.)

The following day, Judge Cordova was driving in the neighborhood
and encountered a different police officer whom he knew. (106 RT 19749.)
Judge Cordova told the officer about the stranger. At the officer’s
suggestion, Judge Cordova relayed the information to the sergeant in
charge of the search for Laci. (106 RT 19749.) The judge was later
contacted by a detective. (106 RT 19750.) At some point, Judge Cordova
also spoke to one of his neighbors who recounted that a stranger had come
by their house, too. (106 RT 19749-19750.)

Investigator Bertalotto interviewed Judge Cordova in June 2003. (106
RT 19752-19754.) Judge Cordova may have told Bertalotto that the shoes
did not look like a pair of walking shoes and certainly not a pair of walking
shoes for a woman who was late into her pregnancy. (106 RT 19753-
19754.) Judge Cordova stated that he had no indication at the time he saw
the shoes that they were related to Laci’s disappearance. (106 RT 19754.)

Judge Cordova knew appellant and Laci having met them at a
community meeting over a proposed housing development. (106 RT
19751.) Judge Cordova spoke to Laci about some of the people that
frequented the local park. (106 RT 19751-19752.) He became concerned
about appellant and Laci’s actions in confronting some of these people.
(106 RT 19752, 19755.)

9. Conner’s gestational age

Doctor Michael March testified was the defense expert on Conner’s
gestational age at the time of his death.85 The focus of Dr. March’s private

85 The defense attempted to cast doubt on the estimated time of
Conner’s death because if it was possible that Laci was alive after
December 24, that would support the defense supposition that someone
other than appellant deposited her body in the Bay. (110 RT 20475-20478.)

practice was infertility. (106 RT 19790.) Dr. March was acquainted with
the prosecution’s expert Dr. DeVore because they previously worked
together. (106 RT 19789.) Although March had conducted and reviewed
many ultrasounds in his career, not all were of pregnant women. (106 RT
19792-19793.) Dr. March acknowledged that Dr. DeVore had conducted
more ultrasounds of pregnant women. (106 RT 19793.)

Having reviewed the relevant reports and testimony, including that of
Dr. DeVore (106 RT 19762-19763), Dr. March explained that he did not
dispute the measurements Dr. DeVore used to establish Conner’s age and
estimated date of death (106 RT 19783). Indeed, Dr. March agreed that Dr.
DeVore’s measurements were nearly identical to those generated by Dr.
Galloway the forensic anthropologist. (106 RT 19838-19839.) However,
Dr. March disagreed with the fundamental premise relied upon by Dr.
DeVore that Conner’s gestational age could accurately be projected based
on measurements from the first-trimester ultrasound from July 2002. (106
RT 19770.) Yet, when pressed by the prosecutor, Dr. March acknowledged
that the first-trimester ultrasound was generally more accurate in
determining gestational age than the second-trimester ultrasound, but only
if any variation established by the second-trimester ultrasound was also
considered. (106 RT 19816-19817, 19844 [“there’s no question everyone
says the first ultrasound is more accurate . . . .”].)

Dr. March used the findings from the second ultrasound and Dr. Yip’s
recalculations of Conner’s age at that time, which shifted the due date by
six days from February 10, 2003, to February 16. (106 RT 19779, 19785.)
Dr. March acknowledged that he was aware that the other obstetricians
from the medical practice who treated Laci during her pregnancy—Drs.
Endraki and Towder—did not abide by Dr. Yip’s practice of altering the
due date if the results of the second ultrasound established a date within six
days of the original due date. (106 RT 19819-19820.) Based on the
measurements from the second ultrasound, Dr. March concluded that on
December 23, 2002, Conner’s gestational age was 32 weeks, 2 days, not 33
weeks, 1 day—six days younger than the timeframe provided by Dr.
DeVore. (106 RT 19779.) Dr. March theorized that even if Conner’s
gestational age was the latter, Conner’s date of death at the earliest, would
have been December 29, 2002. (106 RT 19779-19780, 19848-19849.)

Dr. March’s conclusions were also based on a different date of
conception, which was. (106 RT 19796-19800.)86 That was the day Laci’s
friend Renee Tomlinson said Laci called to say she was pregnant. Dr.
March acknowledged the June 9 date was nowhere in Laci’s medical
records. (106 RT 19798-19800.) Using June 9 as the date of conception
meant that Dr. March’s estimate was 10 days later than the generally
accepted computation of taking the date of the woman’s last menstrual
period and adding two weeks.87 (106 RT 19856.) Dr. March
acknowledged his conclusions rested on the assumption that the day Laci
called Tomlinson was the same day Laci took the pregnancy test. (106 RT
19801-19802.) He conceded there was no evidence establishing what day
Laci actually took the pregnancy test. (106 RT 19804.) However, Dr.

86 In his report, Dr. March repeatedly referred to the date of
conception as June 11, 2002, which he said was a mistake. (106 RT 19800-
19801.)

87 Dr. DeVore had explained that it was impossible to pinpoint the
date of conception unless you were there, which explained why medical
practitioners used the date of the women’s last menstrual period plus two
weeks as the date of conception. (95 RT 17879-17880, 17884, 17886; 106
RT 19856.)
March stated that his assumption was based on information provided to him
by the defense.88 (106 RT 19804.) Dr. March did not know if the
information was generated through trial testimony. (106 RT 19804-19805.)
In any event, Dr. March clarified that the date of conception was of
minimal importance to his conclusions. (106 RT 19843-19844.)
10. The circumstances around the time of appellant’s
arrest
a. Buying the Mercedes in his mother’s name
Jackie Peterson explained that it was her idea to have appellant buy
the Mercedes in her name. This was because the police kept impounding
appellant’s vehicles. (107 RT 19986.) However, Jackie acknowledged that
at the time appellant purchased the Mercedes in April 2003, none of
appellant’s vehicles were impounded. (107 RT 19989.)
b. Golf plans for April 18—the day of appellant’s
arrest
Appellant’s father Lee explained that he made a golf reservation for
he and his sons, including appellant, for the morning of April 18. He made
the reservation a week or two before. (107 RT 19997.) Lee told appellant
to borrow his brother’s license so appellant could save $20 or $40 on
golfing fees since local residents received discounts. (107 RT 19997-19999,
20004.) Lee was aware that had appellant used his brother’s license, it
would have been a misrepresentation. (107 RT 20004.)
88 During the defense case, Detective Craig Grogan testified that he
had notes from Sharon Rocha that Laci called her at 7:00 a.m. on June 9,
2002, and told her that she was pregnant. (107 RT 19912.) Also, Jackie
Peterson testified that Laci called her and Lee Peterson very early in the
morning on June 9 to say that she had taken a test and was pregnant. (107
RT 19977.)
133

c. Phone call between appellant and his brother
Joe on the morning of April 18

The defense played an audio recording of a phone call between
appellant and his brother Joe that occurred at 7:08 a.m. on April 18, prior to
appellant’s arrest. (107 RT 19950-19951; Defense Exh. No. D8X.) A
transcript of the call was projected for the jury. (107 RT 19951.)

During the call, appellant told his brother Joe that he was being
followed by “private investigators” and that he could not shake them.
(PowerPoint Transcript, page no. 1; Defense Exhibit No. D8X.) Appellant
did not think he should “come play golf” because, as appellant said, “I
don’t think [sic] want a picture of me in the press playing golf.”89
(Transcript, pp. 1-2.)

89 Appellant’s father testified that appellant had given him a list of
license plate numbers of cars that had been following him. Lee said, “We
were convinced it was the Enquirer.” (107 RT 20002.) This would seem to
be contradicted by evidence that appellant confronted surveilling agents and
asked whether they worked for state or local agencies. (100 RT 18801.)

Appellant and his brother went on to discuss the recent recovery of
the then-unidentified bodies. (Transcript, pp. 3-5.) Joe conjectured that
authorities knew that it was not Laci, but were taking their time to try and
figure out how to convey that information publicly. (Transcript at 4.)
Appellant thought he knew otherwise: “Oh, I think they’re holding off
because they don’t know who it is anymore.” (Transcript, p. 5.)

The prosecutor asked Lee about appellant’s reaction to discovery of
the bodies:

[PROSECUTOR]: All right. To your knowledge, during that
particular week, when — after it was pronounced that the bodies
had been discovered, to your knowledge did your son make any
effort to travel up to Northern California to look into the
situation regarding that?
[LEE PETERSON]: I believe my wife called and spoke to
someone at — some authority in either Modesto or from the East
Bay area about doing that, and was told that they weren’t
welcoming anybody to come up there.

[PROSECUTOR]: To your knowledge did your son — did the
defendant, in this case, make any effort?

[LEE PETERSON]: I don’t know.

(107 RT 20005.)

d. The large amount of cash

Appellant’s mother Jackie explained that she withdrew $10,000 from
her Bank of America account on April 8, 2003. (107 RT 19966-19967.)
She intended to loan the money to appellant’s brother John so that John
could buy appellant’s white pick-up truck. (107 RT 19968.) When asked
by the prosecutor if John was aware there was a GPS tracking device on the
truck, Jackie said the family “used to joke about it,” but “it didn’t seem
possible.” (107 RT 19980.) According to Jackie, Bank of America
mistakenly took the money out of appellant’s bank account, not hers. (107
RT 19969.) Jackie explained that her name was also on appellant’s bank
account. (107 RT 19970.) Jackie gave $8,000 to appellant and John was
responsible for paying appellant the balance of $2,000. (107 RT 19970-
19971.) Jackie said that she gave appellant cash instead of a check because
appellant was going to buy a car and people did not necessarily accept
checks as payment. (107 RT 19973.)

On April 17, Jackie withdrew $10,000 from her account at
Washington Mutual Bank to replace the $10,000 Bank of America
mistakenly took out of appellant’s account. She gave it to appellant that
day. (107 RT 19972.) Jackie explained that she gave appellant cash again,
instead of some other form of payment, because she was replacing the
money mistakenly taken out of his account and she did not want him to
have to wait to access the money while the check cleared. (107 RT 19972.)

With respect to a recorded phone conversation between Lee and
appellant, that occurred on January 14, 2003, which seemed to suggest that
Lee had deposited $5,000 into appellant’s bank account, Jackie testified
that had no knowledge of this. (107 RT 19981-19983.) When asked by the
prosecutor if she deposited money into appellant’s bank account in January,
February, or March, Jackie said, “Not to my memory.” (107 RT 19983.)

During Lee’s testimony, the prosecutor asked him if he gave appellant
$5,000. (107 RT 20007-20008.) Lee responded: “You know, I do not
remember that. Do you have a check, or –.” (107 RT 20008.) The
prosecutor then showed appellant’s father a summary of the phone call
between he and appellant on January 14. (107 RT 20008.) When asked if
that refreshed his recollection, Lee said, “It really doesn’t. But we were
discussing it. I may have.” (107 RT 20008.)

e. The Mexican exhibit at the art museum

Jackie testified that she accompanied appellant to the San Diego
Museum of Art on April 17, which was when she gave him the large
amount of cash. (107 RT 19972-19973.) They were both unaware that the
museum was featuring a Mexican exhibit. (107 RT 19973.)

f. Appellant’s goatee

Jackie described a photo that depicted appellant at the baptism of Ann
Bird’s son on January 12, 2003. (107 RT 19976-19977; Defense Exh. No.
D8Z.) Referring to appellant in the photo, Jackie said that appellant was
starting to grow a goatee then. (107 RT 19977.)
11. Other evidence

a. Statements made to Investigator Bertalotto

Investigator Bertalotto stated that when Ron Grantski made his 911
call to report Laci missing, Grantski relayed information that appellant had
been golfing that day. (106 RT 19717.) In his interview with Bertalotto in
October 2003, Grantski said that it was appellant who had told Grantski he
had been golfing on Christmas Eve. (106 RT 19716.) But, in the 911 call,
Grantski explained that he thought Sharon Rocha was the source of that
information. (106 RT 19718.) Sharon told Bertalotto that when appellant
called them on December 24 to tell them about Laci, Sharon assumed
appellant had been out golfing. (106 RT 19741.)

Neighbor Susan Medina reported to Bertalotto that she saw Laci
walking her dog, but could not remember when. (106 RT 19719.) Susan’s
husband said that he also saw Laci walking her dog sometimes and, on
occasion, appellant would walk with Laci. (106 RT 19719.)

Bertalotto spoke to neighbor Karen Servas about her observations
concerning the package in the Peterson’s mailbox when she left her home
in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve. (106 RT 19721.) Servas told
Bertalotto that she did not think she could see the package and she did not
remember it being dark before she left her home. (106 RT 19722.)
Servas’s comments to Bertalotto stemmed from Servas’s realization, after
she testified at the preliminary hearing, that the information she provided
about the timing of her actions that day may have been inaccurate. (106 RT
19731.) Originally, Servas testified that she left her home around 5:05 p.m.
to head to Ripon. (106 RT 19731.) However, she revised her time estimate
to 4:05 p.m. because she realized her earlier estimate was inaccurate. (106
RT 19731.)
On June 18, 2004, during the pendency of the trial, Servas advised
Bertalotto that she requested her automated teller transaction records for
December 24, 2002, from her bank. (106 RT 19720.) Servas told
Bertalotto that the records showed she completed her ATM transaction at
10:53 a.m. (106 RT 19720.)

Amy Rocha told Bertalotto that on December 23, 2002, while she was
cutting appellant’s hair, Laci called and ordered pizza that she and appellant
planned to pick up on their way home. (106 RT 19723.) Appellant asked
Amy if she wanted to come over for pizza, but she declined because she
was entertaining a friend who was visiting. (106 RT 19724.)

With regard to the defense proposition that Investigator Steve
Jacobson hid his familiarity with the Rocha family, defense counsel asked
Bertalotto about a January 2003 phone conversation with Jacobson during
which Jacobson explained his relationship to the Rocha family. (106 RT
19725-19726.) Jacobson said that he knew Robin Rocha due to
circumstances involving a stolen saddle. (106 RT 19725-19726.) At the
time, Jacobson did not mention that Robin Rocha was a good friend or that
he was neighbors with the Rocha’s. (106 RT 19726-19727, 19730.)

However, Bertalotto explained that the Oakdale area where Jacobson
and the Rocha’s lived was a very small, rural community where everyone
in town knew each other. Bertalotto understood this because he also lived
there. (106 RT 19730.) Under those circumstances, the fact that Jacobson
helped Robin Rocha with the return of some personal property was not
unusual. (106 RT 19731.)

In June 2003, Bertalotto interviewed Judge Cordova who told
Bertalotto that he noticed a pair of platform sandals in the front yard of the
residence at the corner of north Covena and Edgebrook on Christmas
morning while he was out walking. (106 RT 19727.) Cordova pointed out
the shoes to his walking companion that day who was a Modesto Police
Department detective. (106 RT 19728.) Cordova reported that the shoes
were still there on December 26. (106 RT 19727.) Cordova told Bertalotto
that he was not sure the shoes had anything to do with Laci’s disappearance.
(106 RT 19729.)

b. Statements made to Detective Grogan

Detective Craig Grogan testified that he spoke to Sharon Rocha on
numerous occasions between December 24, 2002, and the end of January
2003. (107 RT 19922-19924.) January 28 was the first time Sharon
mentioned that appellant had referred to Laci as “‘missing’” during
appellant’s call to Sharon on December 24. (107 RT 19925.) Referring to
a transcript of a television interview—not offered as evidence—defense
counsel asked Grogan whether he was familiar with the interview. Grogan
said he was not. (107 RT 19925.) Nonetheless, defense counsel asked
Grogan if, during that interview, Sharon had said that she knew Laci was
missing on December 24 because of the panic in appellant’s voice. (107
RT 19925.) Presumably referring to a transcript of the interview, Grogan
responded, “Yes, that’s what it says.” (107 RT 19925.) Yet, Grogan
confirmed that during Ron Grantski’s 911 call, Grantski said to the
dispatcher, “‘we’ve been told that Laci’s missing, our daughter’s missing.’”
(107 RT 19934.)

This line of questioning by the defense suggested that Laci’s family
and friends began providing more information to Grogan after appellant’s
affair became public (107 RT 19925-19927), which, in turn, might have
called into question whether the information was tainted by bias.
However, Grogan explained that early on in the investigation he was
mindful of the fact that those closest to Laci did not want to believe that she
was murdered, even though Grogan knew it was a possibility. (107 RT
19929.) Therefore, he did not push Laci’s family and friends for
information that would have suggested this possibility. (107 RT 19928-
19929.)

Further, it appeared to Grogan that Laci’s family and friends initially
did not want to believe that appellant had anything to do with her
disappearance. (107 RT 19930.) Detective Grogan explained why he went
back to Laci’s friends and family after the affair became public and asked
them to think back on appellant’s behavior:

Well, the family was very supportive of Scott, both families
were initially, and that information [referring to appellant’s
affair] did cause them to question what his actions may have
been in this so they may have told me more things at that point
then they would have told me at a time when they were in full
support of Mr. Peterson.

(107 RT 19932.)

Grogan also explained that it was common during an investigation to
continue to receive information from people after they were first
interviewed. (107 RT 19934.) That was especially true in this case
because there was a very long time period between Laci’s disappearance
and appellant’s arrest, during which people had ongoing interactions with
appellant. (107 RT 19934.)

In any event, the detective acknowledged that some witnesses, who
provided later recollections, were mistaken or not entirely accurate in their
assertions. (107 RT 19935-19937, 19940-19941.) Grogan explained that
it was important for investigators to attempt to corroborate information
provided by individuals. (107 RT 19937.)

c. Statements made to Detective Buehler

In February and March 2003, Detective Jon Buehler interviewed
Salon Salon employees to try and determine what Laci had been wearing
while at the salon on December 23. (107 RT 19945-19948.) Buehler
received inconsistent descriptions among those he interviewed. (107 RT
19946.)

d. Austin’s no-sale receipt

A no-sale receipt was entered into evidence that was the subject of
defense questioning of William Austin during the prosecution’s case-in-
chief.90 (108 RT 20088.)

90 Austin’s was the store that the Peterson’s neighbor Karen Servas
patronized after seeing McKenzie out in the street on Christmas Eve
morning. (48 RT 9434-9437.) During his cross-examination of Mr.
Austin, defense counsel focused on whether the time on the receipt was
accurate in that it partially served as the foundation for the timeline set forth
in Servas’s testimony. (48 RT 9487-9488.)

e. Yahoo search

The parties stipulated that a three-page printout of a Yahoo search
using the terms “map+san+francisco+bay+chart” was recovered from
appellant’s computer by Lydell Wall on August 7, 2003. (108 RT 20089;
Defense Exh. No. 9D.)

f. Email regarding TradeCorp

The parties stipulated that the email exchange between appellant and
his TradeCorp manager concerning October 2002 revised sales targets and
the possibility of outsourcing warehousing was found on the dining room
table at 523 Covena during search of the premises on February 18, 2003.
(108 RT 20088; People’s Exh. No. 298.)

II. PENALTY PHASE

A. Prosecution Case

During the penalty phase, the prosecution presented four witnesses—
members of Laci’s family: Her brother Brent, her sister Amy, her
stepfather Ron, and her mother, Sharon. They talked about who Laci was
as a person, including the irreplaceable role she played in their lives, and
the interminable grief wrought by appellant’s murder of Laci and Conner.

1. Laci was the lively one with a kind heart

Brent was four years older than Laci. (113 RT 20978, 20981.) He
described Laci as “a very outgoing person, always having a good time in all
settings.” (113 RT 20980.) Brent observed, “I’m the boring one, she was
the lively one . . . .” (113 RT 20981.) He also described Laci as “kind” and
“good-hearted.” (113 RT 20985.) Laci “was just a really genuine person
and she meant what she said and she said it from the bottom of her heart.”
(113 RT 20989.) Brent explained that as he and Laci got older, they
became closer to each other. (113 RT 20979.) When Brent and Rose got
married, Laci was a bridesmaid in their wedding. (113 RT 20982.) Brent
recounted how Laci gave a speech at the wedding welcoming Rose into the
family. (113 RT 20989.) It was one of the special memories about Laci
that Brent said would always stay with him. (113 RT 20989.)

Amy was six years younger than Laci. They were half-siblings who
shared the same father. (113 RT 20990.) Amy looked up to Laci and
would often tag along when Laci had her friends over. (113 RT 20991.)
Like Brent, Amy described Laci as outgoing and fun and someone who
liked to have a good time. (113 RT 20993.) Laci also loved helping people.
(113 RT 20994.)

Ron Grantski first met Laci when he went to Sharon’s house to pick
Sharon up for a date. Then two-year-old Laci came running to the door and
answered it. (113 RT 20998-20999.) Ron said that Laci always had a
smile and “lit up any room”; she drew people’s attention to her. (113 RT
20999.) “She was the love of many peoples’ lives . . . .” (113 RT 20999.)
Ron added that Laci was “very, very smart” and got straight A’s. (113 RT
21000.)
Laci’s mother Sharon described Laci as someone who was positive,
upbeat, and happy. (113 RT 21008.) She followed her heart and never
dwelled on the negative. (113 RT 21005-21006.) Laci could laugh at
herself. (113 RT 21011.) These qualities attracted people to Laci and she
enjoyed a circle of close friends who had known each other since they were
very young. (113 RT 21006, 21008.) Laci was very involved in clubs and
activities in high school. (113 RT 21007, 21009.) While attending Cal
Poly, where she was a horticulture major, Laci won the Outstanding
Freshman award. (113 RT 21007.) But, it was Laci’s affinity for children
that led her to the teaching profession. (113 RT 21012-21013.)

Each of Laci’s family members shared photographs and related
memories of Laci. (113 RT 20979-20982, 20991-20995, 21000-21001,
21008-21012; People’s Exhibits Nos. 302-A-D, 303A-F, 304A-B, 305A-J.)

2. Laci was excited to be a mom

As their lives progressed, Brent and Laci talked about wanting to have
children around the same time so they could all stay close as a family. (113
RT 20983.) He never saw Laci as excited as she was when she called to
say she was pregnant. That was partly because she had been having
difficulty becoming pregnant. (113 RT 20983.) Laci was “thrilled” when
she became pregnant. (113 RT 20983.) Amy agreed: Laci “was really
excited.” (113 RT 20996.) Brent could tell Laci was looking forward to
being a mom and “was going to be a great mother.” (113 RT 20984-20985.)
Laci was in the delivery room when Brent and Rose’s son Antonio was
born. (113 RT 20985.) Often, Laci asked Rose about her pregnancy, since
Rose had just given birth. (113 RT 20985.) Laci loved then one-year-old
Antonio and was very tender toward him. (113 RT 20984-20985.)

Sharon recounted that Laci was really looking forward to becoming
pregnant and talked to her frequently about becoming a mother. (113 RT
21013.) When Brent and Rose announced that Rose was pregnant, Laci
called Sharon and was crying because she really wanted to become
pregnant. (113 RT 21013-21014.) Sharon recounted a conversation with
Laci during which Laci explained that “Scott said he wasn’t ready yet, but
she really wanted to have a baby because she wanted to have a baby at the
same time that Rose did.” (113 RT 21014.)

After becoming pregnant, Laci kept Sharon very involved. She called
Sharon after every doctor’s appointment to talk about the results. (113 RT
21014.) Laci gave her mother a copy of the sonogram. Sharon recalled
that around mid-December, Laci wanted Sharon to feel Conner moving.
(113 RT 21014.) So, Laci had Sharon put her hand on her stomach.
Sharon recounted how she kept her hand on Laci for the rest of that evening
as she talked to Conner. (113 RT 21014.)

3. The nightmare that began on Christmas Eve 2002

When asked to describe her feelings upon learning that Laci was
missing, Sharon said, “I was scared to death because I knew she wouldn’t
just be missing. Laci didn’t just disappear. I knew something had
happened to her.” (113 RT 21014.) At first, Ron could not believe what
Sharon told him about Laci being missing. (113 RT 21002.) He thought
Laci was just at a friend’s and had not called. (113 RT 21002.) But, Ron
explained that it did not take him long to sense the panic in Sharon’s voice
and so he called the police. (113 RT 21002.) “It’s just been a nightmare
ever since. It’s still not over.” (113 RT 21002.)

Sharon recalled that it was cold that Christmas Eve night and so she
brought coats and blankets for everyone, including Laci, “because I knew
she’d be freezing when we found her.” (113 RT 21014-21015.) That first
night, Sharon, Ron, and Brent stayed up all night. (113 RT 21015.) Sharon
did not go to bed for weeks; she wanted to be awake in case Laci called.
Sharon was also afraid to sleep because she feared that she would have
nightmares about what might be happening to Laci. (113 RT 21015.)
Sharon explained how she and the rest of Laci’s family and her
friends begged for the public’s help in finding Laci and Conner. (113 RT
21015.) “And there was somebody who knew all along. And wouldn’t tell
us.” (113 RT 21015.) The last time Sharon saw her daughter alive was
December 15, 2002. (113 RT 21015.)

Sharon recalled that while Laci was still missing, one of Laci’s young
students came to the volunteer center with his mother. The boy was very
upset about Laci and could not sleep at night. (113 RT 21013.)

Brent found out about Laci being missing around 7:00 p.m. on
Christmas Eve. He immediately drove down to Modesto. (113 RT 20985.)
Describing what those first hours were like, Brent said he just felt shock
and disbelief. (113 RT 20986.) As time went on, he also felt guilt and
remorse because he was not able to protect his sister. (113 RT 20986-
20987.)

When Amy found out Laci was missing, it initially struck her as
“strange” and she felt confused. (113 RT 20996.) Amy assumed that Laci
was at one of her friend’s or maybe at her mom’s. (113 RT 20996.) But, as
time went on, Amy became more worried. (113 RT 20996.) It “was like a
nightmare.” (113 RT 20997.)

Sharon described the time in April 2003 when the bodies were
recovered:

The day they were found I wasn’t feeling well. I was at home
and I heard footsteps come to my door and I didn’t answer the
door because I knew. I hadn’t heard anything, but I just knew. I
knew. And then when they went into the backyard to the back
door I knew I had to answer the door. But I knew, in my soul I
knew they’d been found. And later when I was told it would be
several days before they’d be identified and I asked why.
Because they told me that they could use dental charts
immediately if it was her. And then when I was told she didn’t
have a head, I — I didn’t believe. I just dropped the phone and I
fell to the floor. It never occurred to me what condition she
might be in.

(113 RT 21016.)

Regarding the burial, Sharon said:

I knew that I needed to spend some time with her and to have
the opportunity to say good-bye to her alone. And I knew she
was in the casket and I knew her baby was there, but I knew she
didn’t have arms to hold him either. She should have had her
arms and her head on her entire body. It just haunts me all the
time. I just hope she didn’t know what was happening.

(113 RT 21017.)

4. The void left behind

Sharon described her life after Laci’s and Conner’s murders:

Every morning when I get up I — I cry. It takes me a long time
just to be able to get out of the house because I just keep
thinking why did this happen. I miss her. I wanted to know my
grandson. I wanted Laci to be a mother. I wanted to hear her
called mom. When I go to buy birthday cards, Mother’s Day
cards, I just can’t stand it. I always look at the ones with
daughter and mom or mom to daughter. And she’s gone. I
don’t sleep well. I think about her all of the time.

(113 RT 21017-21018.) On the first Mother’s Day after Laci’s
murder, Sharon laid on the floor and cried most of the day. (113 RT
21012.)

Sharon explained that sometimes when the phone rang, she thought it
was Laci calling. (113 RT 21018.) Sharon described one instance when
she heard the phone ring and went back inside the house:

I remember one time walking into the house. I opened the door
and walked into the entryway and I had to stop and she turned
around and said, “Hi, Mom.” It was though she was right there.
I saw her. A lot of times I think when I have a question about
something that’s been going on, I’ll just ask her and she’ll tell
me. But I can’t. She’ll always be here for me. Laci didn’t
deserve to die.
(113 RT 21018.)

Brent missed Laci very much. (113 RT 20988.) He explained that he
woke up in the middle of the night and thought “constantly” about what
had happened. (113 RT 20988.) Laci was Brent’s only full-sibling and “a
big part of the family that’s missing now.” (113 RT 20988.) Laci was “the
centerpiece of the family” and the mobilizing force for family get-togethers,
especially around the holidays. (113 RT 20988.) Amy added that Laci
was a great cook and enjoyed entertaining. (113 RT 20993.)

Ron shed light on why the holidays, in particular, were difficult for
their family: “Laci was murdered on Christmas Eve, the bodies were found
at Easter, so we don’t have the same meaning. They’ll never be the same.
At least, I can’t see them being the same.” (113 RT 21003.) Since Laci’s
and Conner’s murders, Brent had not really celebrated the holidays; “it’s
awkward.” (113 RT 20988-20989.) He only went through the motions on
the holidays for his children. (113 RT 20988.) Amy missed Laci “a lot”
and said the holidays would never be the same without her. (113 RT 20994,
20997.)

When asked to describe his life without Laci and Conner, Ron said:

Well, I don’t know how it would [be] with Conner. I never was
given the opportunity. I know what it is without Laci.
Unfortunately, a lot of it you don’t realize because you’re used
to having them there and you don’t realize a lot of things until
they’re gone. And I can’t explain it right, but when you have
somebody that you watch grow up for so long and things that
you wished you had said differently or wished you would have
said, and now you don’t. You can’t. It’s hard. Nobody should
have to go through this. I wished I could be the one gone and
not her.

(113 RT 21002-21003.)
Ron had been looking forward to Conner’s birth because he wanted to
teach him about fishing, the stars, the ducks, and everything outside. (113
RT 21000.) “[T]hat was taken from me.” (113 RT 21000.)

Amy could not imagine going on with the rest of her life without Laci.
(113 RT 20997.) She also lamented the fact that she would never get to
meet Conner. (113 RT 20997.)

B. Defense Case

The defense evidence, as presented by 39 witnesses, including
members of appellant’s family, as well as friends, teachers, school
administrators, coaches, employers, and business associates, portrayed
appellant as unfailingly kind, polite, generous, and thoughtful to all who
knew him. Appellant, like his parents, was stoic, calm, and was never
heard to utter a word in anger.

1. Family background

Appellant’s father Lee shared information about his family
background, including his formative years in Minnesota, and how his
family recovered from a major financial setback. (114 RT 21046-21053.)

Lee married his high school sweetheart and had three children. (114
RT 21055, 21058-21059.) The family moved to San Diego where Lee
worked for a trucking company. (114 RT 21060.) Lee’s passion for golf
began during this time when he was in his mid-twenties. (114 RT 21057-
21058.) A couple of years after the family moved to San Diego, Lee and
his first wife divorced. (114 RT 21061.)

Appellant’s mother Jackie had no real memory of her father who was
murdered during a robbery of his business when she was young. (117 RT
21361; 119 RT 21568.) After the murder, Jackie’s mother developed
scleroderma—a long and debilitating illness that resulted in a painful death.
(117 RT 21361; 119 RT 21569.) Because her mother was unable to care
for Jackie and her three brothers when they were young, they were placed
in a Catholic orphanage in San Diego. (117 RT 21362; 119 RT 21570-
21571.) Jackie returned home when she was in eighth grade and took care
of her ailing mother until Jackie was in high school, during which time her
mother passed away. (119 RT 21573.) According to Jackie’s older brother
John Latham, Jackie was the “heartbeat” of the family. (117 RT 21366.)

Jackie became pregnant with her son Don when she was 19 years old.
She gave Don up for adoption because she could not adequately care for
him. (119 RT 21574-21575.) Jackie became pregnant a second time with
her daughter Ann and gave her up for adoption. (119 RT 21576-21577.)
As adults, Don and Ann endeavored to locate their birth mother and were
eventually reunited with Jackie. (114 RT 21091-21092; 119 RT 21577.)
Jackie’s third child, John, was born later and Jackie raised him as a single
parent for several years before she eventually married Lee. (119 RT 21577.)

Jackie suffered from a respiratory condition due to her lungs having
been scarred by numerous bouts of pneumonia when she was a child. (119
RT 21567.) Over time, Jackie’s health deteriorated and her lung capacity
decreased significantly. (119 RT 21567.) She had been on the list for a
lung transplant for a number of years and needed supplemental oxygen on a
full-time basis. (114 RT 21101; 119 RT 21567.) This compromised
Jackie’s mobility such that she could only walk for two blocks at a time.
(114 RT 21102.)

2. Lee and Jackie marry and appellant is born

Lee met Jackie while they were taking courses at a community college.
(114 RT 21060-21061; 119 RT 21577-21578.) They married in 1971. (114
RT 21062.) Jackie’s close friend Joanne Farmer described Jackie and Lee
as a “very loving” couple who respected each other greatly. (114 RT 21118;
117 RT 21360-21370.) Another family friend observed that Jackie and Lee
were “calm and easy-going.” (115 RT 21212.) The couple was also
described as “very gracious, very giving.” (116 RT 21277-21278.)

Lee started a crating company in 1975, which he still owned. (114 RT
21062-21063.) After three or four years, the business prospered. (114 RT
21064.) Lee and Jackie bought a dress shop in upscale La Jolla, which
Jackie managed. (114 RT 21065.) However, after a couple of years, Jackie
left to join Lee in the crating business. (114 RT 21065.)

About a year after they were married, appellant was born on October
24, 1972. (114 RT 21070; 119 RT 21578.) Appellant was the only child
from their marriage. (114 RT 21059.) At the time, only Jackie’s son John
was living with the family in La Jolla. (114 RT 21070.) Lee’s other
children—Susan, Mark, and Joe—were living elsewhere. (114 RT 21070.)
Jackie said that appellant was “a joy from the minute he was born.” (119
RT 21578.) When appellant was a baby, Lee described appellant as
“perfect” and having a “[g]reat disposition.” Appellant woke up smiling
and went to bed smiling. (114 RT 21070.) Lee’s daughter and appellant’s
stepsister Susan Caudillo noted that appellant’s birth connected the family.
(114 RT 21138-21139.)

One family friend described appellant as a sweet child. (114 RT
21119.) Susan, who spent considerable time with appellant during his early
years, described him: “He was a very easygoing kid.” “Had a great
disposition.” (114 RT 21139.)

Appellant’s brother John Peterson said that the only time he saw
appellant lose his temper was after Lee spanked appellant when appellant
was four years old. (115 RT 21248.) Appellant cried, went to his room,
came back out, and punched his father in the stomach. (115 RT 21248.)

A family friend recalled that appellant related well to adults and
would serve cookies at Jackie and Lee’s holiday parties when he was 11 or
12 years old. (114 RT 21120-21121.)
Appellant’s brother Joe Peterson described appellant as shy and quiet
when he was young, but by the time appellant reached high school, he was
more confident and outgoing. (116 RT 21308-21309.) Other family
members also described appellant as quiet when he was younger. (117 RT
21390, 21396, 21407.)

3. Appellant was loved and well-cared for

Joanne Farmer observed that Jackie and Lee were very loving parents
toward appellant and doted on him, as did the rest of their family. (114 RT
21122.) Appellant had a loving and strong bond with his parents. (115 RT
21213.) The strong bond came from working and playing together as a
family. (115 RT 21213.)

Appellant’s father Lee acknowledged that appellant had more
advantages than his other children because the family business was very
successful during appellant’s formative years. (114 RT 21092.)
Appellant’s stepsister Susan explained that appellant lived in nicer, bigger
houses than she and her brothers and went on more vacations. (114 RT
21141.) However, all the children were loved equally. (114 RT 21141.)

One of appellant’s cousins observed that appellant “always had cool
toys” when they were growing up and was “always generous” with them.
(117 RT 21398.)

Appellant’s brother Joe noted that his father and Jackie modeled
warmth, love, and stability for their children, appellant included. (116 RT
21289.) Joe said that Lee and appellant had a very special relationship.
(116 RT 21315-21316.) Appellant tried very hard to please his parents.
(117 RT 21391.)

4. The formative years: Appellant was caring,
responsible, polite, and a model student

Appellant was a good student in elementary school who received
good grades. (114 RT 21081; 119 RT 21583.) Teachers “unanimously”
like appellant and he never got into trouble at school. (114 RT 21081.) He
was a crossing guard, a cub scout, and a baseball little-leaguer. (119 RT
21580.) Appellant’s teachers told Jackie that they wished they had a
roomful of students like appellant. (119 RT 21580.) In eighth grade,
appellant won the Distinguished Student Award. (119 RT 21583.) His
principal in junior high school, Ronald Rowe, said that appellant was
cooperative, dependable, and industrious. (117 RT 21331-21333.)
Although appellant was on the quiet side, he fit in well with other students.
(117 RT 21333.)

Former San Diego Padre Britton Scheibe was friends with appellant in
junior high school. (115 RT 21197.) Scheibe described appellant as
“gentle” and “kind”—a view shared by others (116 RT 21271; 117 RT
21408)—and the last person Scheibe would expect to be accused of such a
heinous crime. (115 RT 21207.)

Referring to appellant, his cousin Abraham Latham opined that “there
wasn’t a violent bone in his body.” (117 RT 21403.) Abraham never saw
appellant react with anger or physical aggression. (117 RT 21403.)

As a teenager, appellant was a leader and continued to be a good
student. (114 RT 21089.) He was very loving and polite. (114 RT 21122.)
The principal at appellant’s high school described appellant as reliable,
responsible, and punctual. Appellant had no disciplinary issues. (117 RT
21336-21337.)

Aaron Fritz met appellant on the golf team in high school. (115 RT
21169-21170.) When Aaron moved to the San Diego area from Indiana, he
did not know anyone at his new high school. Appellant, who was a year
ahead of Aaron, went out of his way to befriend Aaron and make him feel
comfortable at the school. (115 RT 21170-21171; 116 RT 21271.)

Appellant also enjoyed a close relationship with Aaron’s parents,
Conception and Paul, who found appellant to be respectful, caring, and
considerate. (115 RT 21174-21176; 116 RT 21272, 21283.) Paul recalled
that appellant was especially enamored of the considerable traveling that he
and Conception had done. (116 RT 21283.) Appellant treated Aaron’s
younger brother like his own. (116 RT 21276.)

Aaron’s friendship with appellant continued through their adult years.
(115 RT 21172.) Appellant was in Aaron’s wedding. (115 RT 21191.)
Aaron admired and respected appellant and wanted to emulate him. (115
RT 21193.)

To illustrate appellant’s independence, his stepsister Susan recounted
an incident when appellant was in high school and became involved in a car
accident when he swerved to avoid an animal. (114 RT 21144.) He had
just attended a Students Against Drunk Drivers meeting and on his way
home to Rancho Santa Fe. (114 RT 21144.) After receiving assistance
from the California Highway Patrol, appellant called Susan, who lived in
Escondido, for a ride. However, appellant only called after he had taken
care of other matters himself. (114 RT 21145.)

As for college, appellant enrolled at Arizona State University where
famed golfer Phil Mickelson also attended school. (114 RT 21087.)
Appellant’s parents paid appellant’s tuition and expenses. In return,
appellant was to get good grades and become a professional golfer. (114
RT 21094.)

According to appellant’s sister-in-law Janey Peterson, when appellant
was in college, he had a delivery business and talked about starting a t-shirt
screening business. (115 RT 21229.) This industriousness stemmed from
Lee having modeled a strong work ethic and an appreciation for the value
of a dollar. (116 RT 21289.) Janey’s husband Joe—appellant’s brother—
described appellant as “ambitious” and “a go-getter.” (116 RT 21313.)
5. Appellant Leaves ASU and returns to San Diego

Appellant did not graduate from Arizona State University. He left
college and returned to San Diego where he worked for six months in the
family business. (114 RT 21087, 21093.)

6. Appellant leaves San Diego and attends community
college in Morro Bay

Appellant subsequently moved north to Morro Bay—as did his
parents—where appellant attended Cuesta Community College. (114 RT
21088, 21095.) At that point, when appellant was 20 years old, he
expressed a desire to become financially independent from his parents.
(114 RT 21094-21095; 119 RT 21588.)

7. Appellant leaves community college in Morro Bay
and enrolls at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo where
he meets Laci

Appellant next moved further north to San Luis Obispo. (114 RT
21092.) Eventually, Lee and Jackie also moved to San Luis Obispo where
appellant and Lee started a crating business. (114 RT 21096.)

James Gray owned the business next door. (118 RT 21459-21460.)
Gray’s initial impression of appellant was: “Very low key individual.
Friendly. Low key. I mean just an all around super guy. I mean never an
anger moment, or whatever.” (118 RT 21461.) Eventually, appellant and
his father sold the crating business to Gray. (118 RT 21462.)

While attending classes at Cal Poly, appellant worked in the crating
business, at a local golf course, and also as a waiter at a local restaurant.
(114 RT 21097-21098.) Appellant met Laci at Cal Poly and introduced her
to his parents shortly after they started dating. (114 RT 21099.) According
to Jackie, Laci adored appellant. (119 RT 21589.) The two of them were
inseparable. (119 RT 21589.) Lee said that Laci was the first of
appellant’s girlfriends that they met. (114 RT 21099.) Lee and Jackie
spent a great deal of time with Laci and appellant during that time period.
(119 RT 21589.) Laci was like a daughter to Jackie and Lee. (117 RT
21370-21371; 119 RT 21589-21590.)

Those that came to know Laci were favorably impressed. Janey
Peterson described Laci as “bubbly and fun and energetic and beautiful.”
(115 RT 21233.) James Gray felt that Laci and appellant were the
“[p]erfect couple.” (118 RT 21465.) Appellant’s cousin Leeta Latham
thought Laci was “the perfect match” for appellant because he had a
tendency to be “very quiet” and “a bit standoffish.” (117 RT 21397.)

Robert Thompson, Jr., who taught Agricultural Economics at Cal Poly,
had appellant and Laci in one of his classes. (118 RT 21492.) Thompson
stated that appellant was a very good student. Appellant made the Dean’s
List several times and was a member of an academic fraternity. (118 RT
21493.) Appellant’s overall grade point average was 3.38. (118 RT 21493.)

Thompson and appellant cultivated a close friendship over time. (118
RT 21495.) Thompson had dinner at appellant and Laci’s home four or
five times. (118 RT 21494.) Thompson described the couple as “fun
people” who were “friendly, very outgoing, polite. . . .” (118 RT 21494.)
With particular regard to appellant, Thompson said he was “very intelligent,
bright, but confident and able, productive. He seemed more mature at the
time. He seemed more focused, like he was fully formed, like he was well
raised and well rounded.” (118 RT 21496-21497.) As an example of
appellant’s thoughtfulness, Thompson noted that appellant made him one of
the best martinis Thompson ever had and brought him cigars. (118 RT
21496, 21498.) Even after Laci and appellant moved to Modesto, appellant
would visit Thompson and stayed at Thompson’s house. (118 RT 21494.)
In fact, appellant stayed with Thompson on two occasions after Laci’s
disappearance. (118 RT 21498-21499.) Although Thompson grieved
Laci’s murder, he believed appellant was a “fine young man.” (118 RT
21501.)

Julie Galloway was the hostess at the Pacific Café in Morro Bay
where appellant worked as a waiter. (117 RT 21432.) They worked
together for four years while they were both attending college. (117 RT
21440.) Galloway said that appellant was “the most generous man I ever
met, ever.” (117 RT 21437.) Although appellant was somewhat reserved,
Galloway explained that appellant was such a personable waiter that some
customers would come in on days he was working just to see him. (117 RT
21439, 21443.) Appellant was very patient and, for that reason, he would
be the one to step in and interact with disgruntled customers. (117 RT
21442.)

Abbas Imani owned the Pacific Café. (118 RT 21477-21478.) Imani
said that appellant was a very, very good waiter and the most courteous and
polite person Imani had ever known. (118 RT 21481.) Appellant went out
of his way for certain customers and had a “fantastic” work ethic. (118 RT
21483-21484.) Imani trusted appellant. (118 RT 21488.) Employees of
the café who had daughters wanted them to marry appellant. (118 RT
21487.) Imani came to know Laci after she and appellant started dating.
(118 RT 21486.) Imani described her as “full of life.” (118 RT 21486.)
He said that appellant was excited about Laci and made sure that there were
roses on the table when he met Laci’s family for the first time at the
restaurant. (118 RT 21487-21488.)

Eric Sherar and his wife were neighbors and friends with Laci and
appellant when they were living in San Luis Obispo. (118 RT 21448.)
Sherar explained that the couples lived in close proximity to one another.
(118 RT 21450.) Sherar did not recall “any real bad arguments” between
the couple and described appellant and Laci as “an average couple.” (118
RT 21452.) Sherar recounted an incident when his dog, which liked to
fight, “got ahold” of Laci and appellant’s dog McKenzie. (118 RT 21452-
21453.) Sherar explained that Laci became very upset, but appellant’s
intervention “[m]ellowed things out.” (118 RT 21453.)

Sometime during their association, Sherar sold appellant a 12-foot
boat. (118 RT 21453.) Sherar assumed appellant wanted it for fishing or
hunting because he was aware that appellant had gone out on Morro Bay a
few times to hunt down ducks. (118 RT 21453.) As it turned out, the
motor on the boat did not work. Although appellant questioned Sherar
about whether Sherar had intentionally deceived him, appellant told Sherar
he was going to let it slide. (118 RT 21454.)

Shelly Reiman had a casual friendship with appellant and Laci while
they were in college. (119 RT 21547.) Reiman came to know appellant
and Laci through her cousin Mike Richardson who had a close friendship
with the couple. (119 RT 21547.) Reiman described appellant as a “very
gracious, caring person” who “always seemed to be upbeat, happy.” (119
RT 21549.) At a barbecue, appellant took the time to interact with
Reiman’s two-year-old daughter. (119 RT 21550.) Reiman thoroughly
enjoyed her conversations with appellant. (119 RT 21549.) Reiman’s
husband remarked to her one time that appellant seemed thrilled about
becoming a father. (119 RT 21551.) Although Reiman had conversations
with appellant in December 2002, appellant never mentioned his
relationship with Amber Frey or that he had told Frey that he did not want
to have children. (119 RT 21552.)

8. Appellant and Laci marry and move to Modesto

Appellant and his father sold their crating company in San Luis
Obispo to James Gray so that appellant and Laci could start their own
restaurant, which they called “The Shack.” (114 RT 21100.)

After a while, Lee and Jackie returned to the San Diego area because
there were some problems with the family’s main crating business. (114
RT 21096.) Around that time, Laci and appellant sold “The Shack” and
moved to Modesto. (114 RT 21100-21101.)

Gray said that appellant would sometimes return to San Luis Obispo
and stop by to see him. (118 RT 21467.) Gray observed: “I think he
missed San Luis. The Shack, the business, et cetera.” (118 RT 21467.)

Appellant’s close friend Aaron Fritz and his wife spent time with Laci
and appellant, including vacationing together. (115 RT 21192.) Fritz never
saw appellant lose his temper with Laci; appellant was “very even-
keeled.”91 (115 RT 21192.)

91 The jury heard evidence to the contrary during the guilt phase:
Harvey Kemple, the husband of Sharon’s cousin Gwendolyn, contrasted
appellant’s calm demeanor on the evening of December 24, 2002, with his
observation of appellant’s emotional state when they were at Laci and
appellant’s home the previous July 4th. (48 RT 9353, 9407.) On July 4,
Kemple observed appellant get angry and slam down the lid of the barbecue
after appellant burned the chicken on the grill. (48 RT 9407.) Kemple
testified, “I didn’t see him upset that night [referring to December 24] about
Laci being gone.” (48 RT 9407.) The jury also was aware that appellant
told Amber Frey that he wanted “to kill” the “fucking dog” that would not
stop barking. (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1499.)

Susan Medina, appellant and Laci’s neighbor on Covena, recounted
that appellant offered to drive Medina to an appointment one day when she
was had car trouble. (118 RT 21503-21504.) During the ride, appellant
told Medina how he was rearranging his work schedule so that he could
accompany Laci to her prenatal appointments. (118 RT 21505.)

Thomas Beardsley was appellant’s first customer after TradeCorp was
formed. (119 RT 21537-21538.) Beardsley explained that appellant came
to him first because Beardsley knew people who were friends of the
Peterson’s. (119 RT 21539.) They had an instant friendship. (119 RT
21544.) Beardsley described appellant as someone who was calm and at
ease with people; he was a person who made plans and then executed them.
(119 RT 21542.)

9. Appellant’s and Laci’s evolving thinking on having
children

Jackie said that it took Laci and appellant three years to get pregnant.
(119 RT 21590.) Jackie elaborated:

And originally Laci made jokes she didn’t want any children
because she thought she couldn’t have any. And we all
understood it. [¶] And one Thanksgiving my grand kids were
wrestling, she said, that’s a good reason for birth control right
over there. But nobody took it that way because we knew she
would not be unkind. And over the years she had some medical
treatments and was able to — they talked about adoption. They
wanted a baby. And when she got pregnant we were all elated.
Thrilled.

(119 RT 21590-21591.)

Janey Peterson described the evolution in Laci’s and appellant’s views
on having children:

And I used to remember the comments that she [referring to Laci]
would make about our kids, or Scott might make that, you know,
first it would be they would comment about how watching
rambunctiousness was good birth control. Just fun to come there
and play with all the kids, and then they would get to go home.
[¶] And they would — I remember they progressed from in the —
I remember Laci first talking about, we don’t know if we are
going to have kids. Then the next year would come along, and
they would say probably going to have the kids after we’re 30. I
remember thinking I wish I had a tape recorder, you know, to
play this back, you know, in five, ten years for her. [¶] And
then another Thanksgiving or two later, she was taking her Folic
Acid. They were trying to get pregnant. And it was just neat to
watch them mature and grow as a couple.

(115 RT 21239-21240.)
10. Appellant’s charitable works in high school

At appellant’s high school, students had to complete 100 hours of
community service as a graduation requirement. (117 RT 21338.)
Appellant did charity work in Tijuana, Mexico at a home for the elderly.
(114 RT 21089-21090.) He also tutored the homeless when he was in high
school (119 RT 21587), and was a designated driver for the Students
Against Drunk Drivers chapter of his high school (115 RT 21179).
According to his good friend Aaron Fritz, appellant did more volunteer
work than that dictated by the high school class requirement. (115 RT
21179.)

11. Appellant’s caring attitude toward his family

Various family members talked about appellant’s caring attitude
toward his family. One family friend said that appellant enjoyed an
“excellent” relationship with Jackie and Lee. (115 RT 21213.) Appellant
was instrumental in helping to organize his parents’ twenty-fifth wedding
anniversary luncheon. (114 RT 21149; 115 RT 21236-21237.)

Appellant taught some of his younger relatives how to snowboard
(115 RT 21238-21239), and taught one of his nieces how to drive (116 RT
21318). He attended his nieces’ sporting events. (119 RT 21557.)
Appellant was the best man in his brother John’s wedding and was present
for the birth of John’s daughter. (115 RT 21253.)

12. Appellant’s passion for golf

Golf was a staple in the lives of the Peterson family. Lee introduced
appellant to golf when appellant was three years old. (114 RT 21076.) In
fact, all of the family played golf and would often play on holidays. (114
RT 21086.) Appellant and his family spent Christmas at Pebble Beach.
(117 RT 21488.)
Appellant developed into a very good golfer and made his high
school’s varsity golf team when he was a freshman. (114 RT 21082-21083.)
Appellant eventually became captain of the golf team. (115 RT 21183.)
Phil Mickelson was one of appellant’s teammates in high school. (114 RT
21083.) Frequently, Lee would leave work around 3:00 p.m. and he and
appellant would play golf together. (114 RT 21085.) Appellant wanted to
be a professional golfer, but in Lee’s view, although appellant was talented,
he did not have the necessary drive. (114 RT 21085.)

David Thoennes was appellant’s high school golf coach. (117 RT
21341.) Thoennes played golf with appellant’s father Lee quite frequently
during that time. (117 RT 21343.) Appellant, Lee, and Jackie hosted
Thoennes at their club. (117 RT 21343.) Appellant was an excellent player
and the most valuable player on the team during his junior and senior years.
(117 RT 21342-21343.) In fact, Thoennes appointed appellant as the very
first captain of the golf team. (117 RT 21343-21344.)

Thoennes opined that one can learn a great deal about another
person’s character from playing golf with them. (117 RT 21343.) He
never saw appellant lose his temper or patience with other players who
were much less talented. (117 RT 21345.) In Thoennes view, appellant
was very devoted to his parents because, instead of going out on the
weekends on his own, appellant opted to play golf with them. (117 RT
21344-21345.) To Thoennes, appellant was one of the finest young men
that he ever coached and Thoennes knew that appellant would be a success
in whatever he did. (117 RT 21346.)

Aaron Fritz’s father Paul observed that appellant was a very good
golfer. Although appellant was very competitive, Paul Fritz never saw him
become angry on the golf course. (116 RT 21282.)

Around the time he was 16 years old, appellant worked at the Rancho
Santa Fe Golf Club where his family had a membership. (117 RT 21349,
21355.) Charles Courtney, the head professional at the club at the time,
noted that appellant was “a very reliable employee” and “just a great kid.”
(117 RT 21350.) Although appellant came from a privileged background,
Courtney remarked that appellant did not have an attitude. (117 RT 21352.)
Another club employee, Sandra Betram, said appellant was an
“[i]nteresting, very smart young man” who “was always a pleasure.” (117
RT 21354.)

While appellant was living in Morro Bay, he worked at a golf course.
(117 RT 21415.) His friend and former roommate William Archer met
appellant at the golf course where Archer also worked. (117 RT 21415.)
Archer perceived that appellant and his father Lee had a good relationship
judging from their interaction playing golf. (117 RT 21421.) Archer
explained the ways in which appellant had been a very good friend to him.
(117 RT 21419-21420.)

While attending community college in San Luis Obispo, appellant
played on the golf team. Hugh Gerhardt was his coach for two years. (118
RT 21470-21471.) Gerhardt related that he had played 10 rounds of golf
with appellant and appellant had never cheated once or lost his temper.
(118 RT 21472.) If appellant made a mistake, he would just grit his teeth
and move on. (118 RT 21472.) Gerhardt provided a few of examples of
appellant’s kindness toward him during that time, including making sure
that when Gerhardt brought his girlfriend to the Pacific Café, their table
was adorned with flowers. (118 RT 21473-21474.)

Appellant helped others become more proficient in their respective
abilities to master the game of golf. Appellant helped his former Cal Poly
teacher, Robert Thompson, Jr., with his golf game. (118 RT 21496.)
Appellant also assisted his stepsister’s husband so he would be proficient
enough to play with his in-laws. (114 RT 21148.)
Thomas Beardsley, appellant’s first TradeCorp customer, recounted
one time when appellant played in a tournament with Beardsley and some
of Beardsley’s business associates, appellant helped them to win and then
turned the monetary prize over to the business association. (118 RT 21543-
21544.)

13. The Peterson family culture and dynamics

Lee described himself as “pretty stoic,” owing to his Scandinavian
roots. (114 RT 21104.) He observed that although Jackie was also “very
stoic” and never cried, she was “a hugger” and loved appellant as much as
any parent loved her child. (114 RT 21103.) According to her brother John,
Jackie’s stoicism stemmed from the tragic circumstances of their childhood.
(117 RT 21367.) Another observer said that the Peterson family
temperament was generally “quiet” and family members were prone to
keeping much inside. (114 RT 21121.) Appellant’s cousin Rachel Latham
described Lee as quiet and reserved. (117 RT 21376.)

Witnesses who worked for the Peterson’s spoke positively of the
experience. Joanne Farmer’s son, Craig, worked for the Peterson’s in their
business. As employers, the Peterson’s were welcoming and treated people
fairly. (114 RT 21121132-21133.) Jeff Cleveland also worked for the
family. (114 RT 21126.) He described the Peterson’s as “mellow” and a
family that worked well together. (114 RT 21126-21127.) “They were
always in control.” “Always contained.” (114 RT 21129.) There were
never great displays of emotion either way. (114 RT 21129.) It was
apparent that Lee and his sons, including appellant, maintained a positive
working relationship. (114 RT 21127, 21134.) According to Craig Farmer,
the Peterson’s were “a very, very close family.” (114 RT 21135.)

Aaron Fritz’s mother described the Peterson’s as a loving, supportive,
and positive family. (116 RT 21278.) They were welcoming to those
individuals that married into the family. (115 RT 21261.) Also, Jackie’s
niece Rachel explained that Lee and Jackie cleared out their office while
they were living in Morro Bay so Rachel could live there while she
attended grade school. (117 RT 21375-21376.)

The Peterson’s enjoyed going fishing and hunting. (116 RT 21303-
21304.) Appellant and his brother Joe went fishing together at lakes around
Northern California. (116 RT 21301-21302.) When appellant and his
family visited relatives in Alaska, appellant went hunting with the men.
(117 RT 21378-21379.)

14. Present circumstances

When asked by defense counsel how the present circumstances had
affected his life, Lee said he was depressed, deeply saddened, and also
frightened for appellant. (114 RT 21104.) He and Jackie visited appellant
in jail as much as they could. (114 RT 21111.) Lee loved appellant very
much and had great respect for him. (114 RT 21103.) Like Lee, Jackie
enjoyed a close relationship with appellant. (114 RT 21102-21103.)

Jackie said that she and Lee felt like “shells” with “nothing left inside
us.” (119 RT 21591.) If appellant received a death sentence, it would
mean a whole family was wiped off the face of the earth. (119 RT 21591.)
“[I]t would be like they never existed.” (119 RT 21591.) Jackie believed
that appellant could “do a lot of good things with his life.” (119 RT 21591.)
She believed that appellant was victimized by the media and police and was
nothing like how he had been portrayed. (119 RT 21591-21592.)

Jackie’s close friend Joanne Farmer remarked that the circumstances
had aged Jackie and Lee considerably and broken their hearts. (114 RT
21123.) Farmer did not want to consider the possibility that appellant
might receive a death sentence. (114 RT 21123.)

Appellant’s stepsister Susan stated that during appellant’s time in jail
he maintained contact with Susan’s children. (114 RT 21154.) One time,
Susan’s 14-year-old daughter wrote to appellant about an issue she was
having with Susan. Appellant provided a valuable perspective that
improved the situation. (114 RT 21155.) Appellant also kept regular
contact with his other nieces and nephews. (115 RT 21243; 116 RT 21319;
119 RT 21557, 21563.) Appellant’s niece Brittney said that appellant’s
letters made her feel loved and important. (119 RT 21564.)

Robert Thompson, Jr., appellant’s former teacher at Cal Poly, still
communicated with appellant by letter. (118 RT 21499.) Thompson
recalled that in his first letters, appellant talked about missing Laci. (118
RT 21499.)

Susan said that if appellant were put to death, it would “kill” Jackie
and Lee. (114 RT 21157.) Jackie’s close friend Joan Pernicano was
worried about the effect it would have on Jackie’s health, as was Susan
Medina who had gotten to know Jackie and Lee after Laci disappeared.
(115 RT 21218; 118 RT 21506.) Others agreed that if appellant was put to
death, it would have a devastating effect on the family. (117 RT 21372,
21384, 21392, 21409; 119 RT 21559.)

Aaron Fritz said it would be “a horrendous tragedy” if appellant were
executed. (115 RT 21194.) Other witnesses generally agreed. (115 RT
21208, 21218, 21244, 21259.) Numerous witnesses, when asked, affirmed
their belief that appellant could continue to positively impact the lives of
others and make a contribution to society if sentenced to life in prison.
(115 RT 21194; 116 RT 21278-21279, 21285, 21320; 117 RT 21358,
21383, 21392, 21423, 21430, 21444-21445; 118 RT 21476, 21489, 21499-
21500; 119 RT 21559.)

Some witnesses made it clear that they thought the jury arrived at the
wrong verdict. (117 RT 21372, 21391.) This sentiment was shared by
appellant’s niece Brittney, who said, “I can’t stand back and watch my
innocent uncle go through this.” (119 RT 21562.)
Lee recounted that he was in San Diego when the jury returned with
the guilt-phase verdict. He did not think the jury would have arrived at a
verdict so quickly. (114 RT 21110.) When the verdict was announced, all
of his grandchildren burst into tears. (114 RT 21110-21111.) Appellant
was upbeat through it all, trying to protect Lee and Jackie. (114 RT 21111-
21112.)

15. Documentary evidence

Numerous photographs that depicted appellant and different events in
his life were discussed by various witnesses. Those defense exhibits are
found in volume number 15 of the Supplemental Clerk’s Exhibits
Transcript beginning at page number 3,753.

ARGUMENT

I. THE TRIAL COURT PROPERLY EXCUSED THE IDENTIFIED
THIRTEEN PROSPECTIVE JURORS FOR CAUSE BECAUSE
THEIR QUESTIONNAIRES DEMONSTRATED THAT EACH WAS
“SUBSTANTIALLY IMPAIRED” WITHIN THE MEANING OF
WAINRIGHT V. WITT

Appellant contends the penalty judgment must be reversed because
the trial court improperly discharged 13 prospective jurors for cause based
on their opposition to the death penalty, as reflected in their respective
questionnaire responses. (AOB 72-107.)

We disagree. Reversal of the penalty judgment is unwarranted
because substantial evidence supports the trial court’s exclusion of the
identified jurors. Review of the identified jurors’ questionnaires
demonstrates that each was substantially impaired in the ability to consider
both penalties. Also, a number of the prospective jurors were properly
excused on alternative grounds. At any rate, even if one or more of these
identified jurors was erroneously excluded, the error was harmless.
A. The Jury Selection Process

There were approximately 1,250 jurors summoned for this case (36
RT 7096) of which over 300 were brought in for voir dire (39 RT 7896).
Of those 300, the trial court determined that 76 were qualified to serve as
jurors. (41 RT 8310.)

As will be shown, appellant’s contention on appeal that the trial
court—facilitated by the prosecution’s purported silence—tipped the venire
to favor death is baseless. Appellant, through his able counsel, helped to
shape the venire. And, from this constitutionally acceptable venire,
impartial and unbiased jurors were culled.

Further, insofar as appellant asserts the trial court misapprehended the
law governing the jury selection process in a capital case and excused
jurors who merely registered opposition to the death penalty, instead of
those who were incapable of imposing it, appellant’s contention is without
merit, as we explain below.

At the start of jury selection, the trial court, which had presided over
at least 20 capital cases (11 RT 2083), assured defense counsel: “[W]hen I
go through this in jury selection, I’m going to see that a level playing field
is here. To the best of my ability that will happen.” (3 RT 738.) The court
repeated this reassurance: “I’m going to try my very best to see that you
end up with a level playing field in this case.” (3 RT 738.) The court made
good on its promise. Throughout the trial, the court worked tirelessly to
ensure that appellant received the fair trial due him. That was nowhere
more true than during the jury selection process. Indeed, well into jury
selection, defense counsel said, “I think the court has exercised Herculean
efforts in trying to get a fair panel here.” (36 RT 7082.)

Before jury selection began, the trial court provided the parties with
sample juror questionnaires that the court had used in the past. (1 RT 355.)
The court invited the parties to propose additional questions (1 RT 356) and
also suggested that the parties confer and try to stipulate regarding jurors
that could not be death-qualified (1 RT 357). The court expected there
would be as many as 250 prospective jurors brought in each day to
complete the questionnaire. (1 RT 356.)

The court and parties developed the proposed questions one by one (6
RT 1230-1270), including those which addressed the question of penalty (6
RT 1262-1268). During this process, the court explained that it did not
want to make the questionnaire too complicated for the prospective jurors.
(6 RT 1268.) About a week later, the court and parties conferred over the
questionnaire a second time before it was finalized. (10 RT 1960-1968.)

In its final form, the questionnaire was 20 pages and composed of 116
questions. (See, e.g., Vol. No. 21, Hovey92 Voir Dire (“HV”) – Excused
Questionnaires, pp. 5752-5771.) Thirteen questions addressed the
prospective juror’s view on the issue of penalty. (See, e.g., 21 HV 5770-
5771.) Ten of the questions on penalty invited a juror to amplify their
checked answers. (See, e.g., 21 HV 5770-5771.)

92 Hovey v. Superior Court (1980) 28 Cal.3d 1.

Before prospective jurors completed the questionnaire, the trial court
explained its contents. For example, on the question of punishment, the
trial court explained:

Now, when you come back, we’re going to spend some time
here talking about these two punishments; how you feel about
the death penalty, how you feel about life without the possibility
of parole. And when you come back I’m going to tell you also
that this is not some kind of a test when we ask you these
questions. There is no right or wrong answer. We just want to
know how you feel about these two possible penalties and how
you feel about this particular charge, this particular trial in
general.

Now, in order to do that, we’re going to have you fill out a
questionnaire here. And I’ll explain that to you in just a second.
But before we get into the questionnaire, there is one thing I
want to throw out there, because I want you to think about [].

Forgetting about Mr. Peterson, forget about this case. Just you,
knowing the type of person that you are. And the question is
this. You don’t have to answer it now, but I want you to think
about it before you came back here. This is one of the first
questions I’m going to ask you when you come back here.
Forgetting about there [sic] case, do you think you could [] vote
to execute another human being? Could you do something like
that? Okay. So think about that.

(11 RT 2051-2052.) Prior to asking the jurors to do some soul-searching on
their attitudes about the death penalty, the court had explained, among other
things, the function of the guilt and penalty phases and evidence in
mitigation and aggravation. (See, e.g., 11 RT 2048-2049.) Therefore, the
identified jurors’ questionnaire answers, discussed below, are informed by
the court’s admonition to give careful and thoughtful consideration to the
questions concerning the death penalty, along with its explanation of the
penalty phase process.

During voir dire, it was not unreasonable for the court to
simultaneously consider and balance a number of issues which could
potentially impact a juror’s ability to serve, including hardship requests,
Witherspoon-Witt93 considerations, and other biases which might spawn
for-cause challenges by either party. As we explain in more detail below,
the trial court determined that some jurors, by their questionnaire answers
alone, had demonstrated disqualification under Witt. This Court has
recognized the efficacy in using the questionnaires alone in excluding Witt-
impaired jurors. (People v. Thompson (2010) 49 Cal.4th 79, 96-97 [“[T]he
reason for using the questionnaires to exclude obviously Witt-impaired

93 Witherspoon v. Illinois (1968) 391 U.S. 510, 521 (Witherspoon);
Wainwright v. Witt (1985) 469 U.S. 412, 416 (Witt).
prospective jurors was not to gain speed for its own sake; rather, it was to
spend more time with the remaining jurors at voir dire.”] see also United
States v. Rahman (2d Cir. 1999) 189 F.3d 88, 121-122 [holding, where
district court removed some potential jurors for cause based on responses to
questionnaires while conducting oral voir dire of remaining venirepersons,
that court’s “voir dire skillfully balanced the difficult task of questioning
such a large jury pool with the defendants’ right to inquire into the sensitive
issues that might arise in the case”].)
The following colloquy, for example, reflects three things, all of
which undermine appellant’s negative characterization of the jury selection
process in this case. First, the trial court was determined to impanel jurors
who were open-minded and fair when it came to both phases of the trial.
Second, the court was willing to voir dire prospective jurors who did not
demonstrate an inability to consider both penalties based on their
questionnaire answers alone. And, third, the prosecution was actively
engaged in the selection of fair and impartial jurors.

THE COURT: Job will pay for trial time. This is

juror number 29556. Full time leadership position and

school might suffer. I am not sure if payment is over six

months. [¶] Let’s see if it’s going to interfere with his job
performance. [¶] Supports the death penalty. He said it’s a
heavy burden, should only be used in the most serious cases.
LWOP, he says I’m glad there is a choice, which is the way they
should be. That’s the right answer. [¶] Unfortunately he said
he’s likely guilty. Have you formed an opinion. Yes. But the
juror says I would certainly be open, try to be open to all the
evidence.

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Gets paid or doesn’t get paid?

[PROSECUTOR NO. 1]: Does get paid.

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Does get paid?

[PROSECUTOR NO. 2]: I think that’s one we should just

order back. See how it goes.
THE COURT: I don’t know if this guy would make it through a
challenge for cause.

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Let’s just see. I don’t mind ordering
him back.

THE COURT: You want to talk to him?

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: I’m with [prosecutor no. 2]. I’ll talk
to him.

THE COURT: All right. We’ll order him back. He’s a
geologist. [¶] 29556. But I want to ask him about the impact on
his employment before I order him back.

(14 RT 2933-2935.)

The record shows many instances in which the court, after reviewing
questionnaire answers, conducted voir dire—or planned to—of those jurors
whose views were not entirely clear, or those who, irrespective of their
views for or against the death penalty, manifested an apparent willingness
to set their views aside. (See 13 RT 2487 [No. 8135—opposed to death
penalty] 16 RT 3286-3304 [No. 4821—opposed to death penalty]; 18 RT
3720 [No. 4089—opposed to death penalty]; 27 RT 5205-5206 [No.
16740—conflicting answers on penalty]; 29 RT 5571 [No. 8457—“mixed
feelings” regarding death penalty]; 31 RT 6186 [No. 6271—opposed to
death penalty, but may be justified in certain instances]; 37 RT 7440-7441
[No. 1214—unclear answers on issue of penalty].)

The court’s assessment under Witherspoon-Witt appropriately focused
on whether the prospective juror would be able to impose either penalty. If
in the court’s assessment the answer was no, then the juror was not fit to
serve. (12 RT 2283.) In suggesting otherwise, appellant lifts out of context
a comment made by the trial court when the court excused prospective juror
number 6033—a ruling not challenged on appeal. (AOB 72.) Here is the
comment in context:
THE COURT: [] 6033.

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: 6033.

THE COURT: Okay. [Referring to an answer in the juror’s
questionnaire] 19:108 says: I could never accept responsibility
in the death of another person. Opposes the death penalty. So
there’s a stipulation, with the reservation [referring to defense
counsel] that he’s objecting I’m excluding a person who could
never impose the death penalty, correct?

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: That’s correct.

THE COURT: All right. So with that reservation, we’ll excuse
6033 because the court’s of the opinion that she can’t — if you
don’t support the death penalty you cannot be death qualified.

(18 RT 3716, emphasis added.) In her questionnaire, this juror explained
that she was “unable to sentence another a person to death.” (5 HV 1153,
emphasis added.) The juror also wrote that, “I could not live with myself if
I imposed that sentence.” (5 HV 1170.) She would be unable to impose
the death penalty regardless of the facts. (5 HV 1170.) Given the context
of the court’s comments, it was evident that the court excluded the
prospective juror because, if this was true, the juror was unable to impose
the death penalty, not because she merely opposed it.

On page 73 of his opening brief, appellant references other comments
made by the trial court, which suggest the trial court did not abide by the
law and excused jurors for mere opposition to the death penalty. With
respect to the first of these references at page 3556 of volume 16 of the
Reporter’s Transcript, the trial court made clear, during the relevant
colloquy with defense counsel, that it had earlier qualified a prospective
juror who was “opposed to the death penalty.” This further demonstrates
that, in the court’s view, opposition to the death penalty did not equate with
disqualification. The next cited reference concerns prospective juror
number 24095. The trial court first summarized some of the juror’s
questionnaire responses:

Opposes the death penalty. What are your feelings regarding the
death penalty. Against the death penalty. Thinks your client’s
guilty. Court proceedings are expensive. The prosecution must
feel they have a strong case to take this case to trial, otherwise
we wouldn’t be here. [¶] I don’t know if I could set aside my
pre-existing opinions or attitudes. This guy opposes the death
penalty.

The court continued, “I’m going to excuse him because he opposes the
death penalty and also thinks–,” at which point defense counsel interrupted
the court and implicitly acknowledged there were issues with this juror.
(17 RT 3388-3389.) Appellant next cites a comment the court made with
respect to the excusal of juror number 29280—one of the jurors challenged
here. This was a juror who described the death penalty as “ethically unjust”
and who had been involved in circulating anti-death penalty petitions. (17
RT 3485.) As we argue below, the court correctly determined that this
juror’s opposition to the death penalty rose to a level that rendered them
incapable of performing his duties under Wainright v. Witt. (17 RT 3486.)
Appellant also highlights the trial court’s comments concerning prospective
juror number 630. In his questionnaire, this juror answered that he held
religious or philosophical beliefs that would interfere with his ability to
serve as a juror. He explained that he was opposed to the death penalty for
humanitarian reasons. (Vol. 36, Hardship – Excused Questionnaires (“HS”),
p. 10140.) The prospective juror’s religious beliefs rendered him unable to
impose the penalty of death regardless of the facts. (36 HS 10157.)
Notably, defense counsel stipulated to the excusal of this juror. (14 RT
2868.) So, when appellant suggests the trial court applied an erroneous
legal standard, he is wrong. The quote that appellant isolates does not tell
the whole story, absent the context of the colloquy in its entirety and the
prospective juror’s questionnaire answers.
On the contrary, a reasonable reading of the cited comments in the
specific context in which they were rendered, as well as in the context of
the record of voir dire on the whole, demonstrates that when the trial court
referred to a juror’s opposition to the death penalty and opined that the
juror failed Wainright v. Witt, it meant that, in the court’s view, the juror
was incapable of conscientiously giving the death penalty serious
consideration as a sentencing alternative. Thus, the trial court’s
understanding of the guiding legal principles was correct. In this regard,
this Court has observed, “Witt has long been the law and it is clear the court
was aware of the appropriate standard to apply. In the absence of evidence
to the contrary, we presume that the court ‘knows and applies the correct
statutory and case law.’” (People v. Thomas (2011) 52 Cal.4th 336, 361.)

As for the defense’s position during voir dire, defense counsel made
this blanket statement: “If I haven’t said it before, obviously anybody who
strongly opposes the death penalty, it goes without saying I object to them
being excused.” (17 RT 3367.) Yet, that was not truly the position of the
defense. It became clear throughout the course of voir dire, that the defense
was primarily concerned with finding favorable jurors for the guilt phase,
regardless of their suitability for a possible penalty phase. (3 RT 737
[Defense counsel: “And the guilt phase is the whole ball of wax here. We
don’t care about the penalty phase.”].)

B. Legal Principles

Under our state and federal Constitutions, a criminal defendant is
guaranteed the right to be tried by an impartial jury. (Cal. Const., art. I, §
16; U.S. Const., 6th & 14th Amends.)

While “a criminal defendant has the right to an impartial jury drawn
from a venire that has not been tilted in favor of capital punishment by
selective prosecutorial challenges for cause [citing Witherspoon],” “the
State has a strong interest in having jurors who are able to apply capital
punishment within the framework state law prescribes [citing Witt].”
(Uttecht v. Brown (2007) 551 U.S. 1, 9.)

In accord with these principles, a prospective juror may properly be
excused for cause if the juror’s views on the death penalty “would ‘prevent
or substantially impair the performance’” of the juror’s duties such that she
or he is unable to comply with the court’s instructions and his or her oath.
(Witt, supra, 469 U.S. at p. 424.) Under Witt, the notion of substantial
impairment encompasses whether a prospective juror can “conscientiously
consider all of the sentencing alternatives, including the death penalty
where appropriate.” (People v. McWhorter (2009) 47 Cal.4th 318, 340.)

On appeal, this Court independently reviews the trial court’s decision
to excuse a prospective juror for cause when the excusal is based solely
upon that juror’s written responses to a questionnaire. (People v.
McKinnon (2011) 52 Cal.4th 610, 643 (McKinnon).) The Court must
determine whether the trial court’s rulings were fairly supported by the
record. (People v. Duff (2014) 58 Cal.4th 527, 541.)

“‘[A] prospective juror in a capital case may be discharged for cause
based solely on his or her answers to the written questionnaire if it is clear
from the answers that he or she is unwilling to temporarily set aside his or
her own beliefs and follow the law.’ [Citations.]” (McKinnon, supra, 52
Cal.4th at p. 643, original italics.) “The juror’s written answers need not,
however, dispel ‘all possible or theoretical doubt’ regarding the juror’s
fitness to serve [citation], . . . .” (People v. Jones (2013) 57 Cal.4th 899,
915, original italics.)

This Court has recognized that

[t]rial courts possess broad discretion over both “[d]ecisions
concerning the qualifications of prospective jurors to serve”
[citation] and the manner of conducting voir dire [citation].
Indeed, decisions of the United States Supreme Court in this
area “have made clear that ‘the conduct of voir dire is an art, not
a science,’ so ‘ “[t]here is no single way to voir dire a juror.” ’
[Citation.]” [Citation.] “ ‘The Constitution … does not dictate a
catechism for voir dire, but only that the defendant be afforded
an impartial jury.’ ” [Citation.]

(People v. Whalen (2013) 56 Cal.4th 1, 29-30.) The trial court is in the best
position to assess the attitudes and qualifications of prospective jurors.
(People v. McKinzie (2012) 54 Cal.4th 1302, 1329.)

The United States Supreme Court’s decisions in Witherspoon and Witt
“limit the extent to which jurors may be excused for cause because of their
views on capital punishment, but they do not hold such views are the only
grounds on which a challenge for cause may be granted. [Citations.]”
(People v. Jackson (2014) 58 Cal.4th 724, 752.)

C. The Trial Court’s Excusal of Each of the Thirteen
Identified Jurors Is Supported by Substantial Evidence

In this claim, appellant is not asserting that the jurors who heard the
evidence at the guilt and penalty phases and who rendered verdicts against
him were biased or otherwise partial. After all, he repeatedly expressed his
satisfaction with the jury that tried him. (42 RT 8345, 8362.) Instead,
appellant challenges the venire from which the seated jurors were drawn
and contends the trial court’s discharge of 13 prospective jurors based on
their opposition to the death penalty tipped the balance of the venire such
that it was weighted in favor of death.

In ascribing error to the trial court’s excusal of the identified jurors,
appellant rests his argument on the pro forma assurances in the jurors’
questionnaires that they could be fair and impartial. (See generally AOB
85-100.) Likewise, appellant relies on the identified jurors’ perfunctory
and unadorned responses to the question of whether they possessed any
moral, religious, or philosophical views that would render them incapable
of serving as jurors. (AOB 106.)
However, this Court has made clear that such token answers by a
prospective juror do not bar the juror’s excusal:

Importantly, neither we nor the high court has asserted that any
statement—however unconvincing or ambiguous—by a
prospective juror of willingness to apply the law despite strong
death penalty views bars the juror’s excusal, even if other
statements by the prospective juror clearly demonstrate that he
or she cannot do so. We have been careful to note that, even
when an excusal was based on questionnaire responses alone,
the excusal may be upheld if those answers, “taken together,”
clearly demonstrate the juror’s unwillingness or inability,
because of attitudes about the death penalty, to perform his or
her duties in a capital trial. [Citation.]

(McKinnon, supra, 52 Cal.4th at p. 647.) The United States Supreme Court
has indicated that an expressed willingness to abide by the law does not
necessarily overcome other indications of bias. (Morgan v. Illinois (1992)
504 U.S. 719, 735.)

We also note that insofar as appellant’s claim relies upon this Court’s
decision in People v. Stewart (2007) 33 Cal.4th 425 (Stewart), wherein the
Court found error in the trial court’s excusal of certain prospective jurors
based on their questionnaire answers alone (AOB 104, 105), the
questionnaire used in this case was far more comprehensive and inviting of
detailed responses, and thus illuminating, than the questionnaire used in
Stewart. In Stewart, the questionnaire was 13 pages in length and
contained only one question that focused on prospective jurors’ views about
the death penalty. (Stewart, supra, 33 Cal.4th at pp. 441-443.) And, that
one question inadequately stated the relevant standard under Witt, which
made it impossible for the trial court to properly evaluate whether the
prospective juror was, indeed, substantially impaired in the ability to
impose the death penalty. (Id. at pp. 446-447.) As we set forth in greater
detail in section III, post, the questionnaire employed by the trial court in
this case did not suffer from any such weakness.
As we argue below, substantial evidence supports the trial court’s
excusal of each of the identified 13 jurors. The court properly discerned
from the jurors’ questionnaires, taking each juror’s answers together (see
People v. Avila (2006) 38 Cal.4th 491, 533), that these jurors were
substantially impaired in that they could not fairly consider both possible
punishments.

In some cases, the prospective juror’s beliefs or attitudes also revealed
additional bases for disqualification, including hardship and bias. In People
v. Ghent (1987) 43 Cal.3d 739 (Ghent), the Court considered the contention
that several prospective jurors were erroneously excused for cause based on
their attitudes toward the death penalty. (Id. at p. 767.) After assessing that
each juror ultimately demonstrated an inability to impose death, the Court
stated:

The record indicates that prospective juror Mrhre was excused
on the proper alternative ground of hardship. In addition, the
responses of two other challenged veniremen (Chasuk and
Villalobos) indicated substantial doubt regarding their ability to
render an impartial decision of the special circumstances issue, a
proper ground for their exclusion wholly apart from their
feelings regarding the penalty. (See Hovey v. Superior Court,
supra, 28 Cal.3d 1, 11; People v. Lanphear (1980) 26 Cal.3d
814, 841 [163 Cal. Rptr. 601, 608 P.2d 689].)

(Id. at p. 768, emphasis added.)

As we explain below, in addition to proper Witt-based disqualification,
various of the identified prospective jurors’ questionnaire answers also
presented “substantial doubt” regarding their ability to be fair and impartial
jurors. In those instances, the juror’s excusal was also properly predicated
on these additional grounds.
1. Prospective Juror Number 696394
The trial court and parties discussed this prospective juror during the
trial court’s evaluation of hardship issues in early March 2004.95 (14 RT
2715.) The juror had a three-week vacation planned with his family for that
coming July. (31 HS 8754; 14 RT 2715.)
As a threshold matter, discharge of this juror was a proper exercise of
the trial court’s authority based on personal hardship. “‘[A] trial court has
authority to excuse a person from jury service for undue personal hardship.
[Citations.] Exercise of that authority is reviewed for abuse of discretion.
[Citation.]’ [Citations.]” (People v. Tate (2010) 49 Cal.4th 635, 663.)
Given that the juror was going to be unavailable for an extended period
during the course of the trial, which was expected to last five to six months
(11 RT 2043), the trial court’s excusal of this prospective juror was
properly predicated on the additional ground of hardship. (See Ghent,
supra, 43 Cal.3d at p. 768.)
In any event, substantial evidence supports the trial court’s discharge
of the juror under Witherspoon-Witt. Under that standard,
“‘[t]here is no requirement that a prospective juror’s bias against
the death penalty be proven with unmistakable clarity.
[Citations.] Rather, it is sufficient that the trial judge is left with
the definite impression that a prospective juror would be unable
94 We address each prospective juror in the order set out by appellant
in his opening brief.
95 The defense interposed blanket objections on occasion and
specific objections to certain prospective jurors, as referenced throughout
this section of our brief. In any event, the no-forfeiture rule set forth by the
Court in People v. Velasquez (1980) 26 Cal.3d 425, was in operation at the
time of trial and an objection was not necessary to preserve Witherspoon-
Witt excusal error for appeal. (See People v. Jones (2013) 57 Cal.4th 899,
914-915 [overruling Velasquez’s no-forfeiture rule for cases tried in the
future].)
179

to faithfully and impartially apply the law in the case before the
juror.’ [Citation.]”

(People v. Vines (2011) 51 Cal.4th 830, 853; see also People v. Tully (2012)
54 Cal.4th 952, 996 [“unmistakable clarity” of view not required]; People v.
Jones (2012) 54 Cal.4th 1, 41 [same]; People v. Abilez (2007) 41 Cal.4th
472, 497-498 [same].) It is not uncommon that prospective jurors “may not
know how they will react when faced with imposing the death sentence, or
may be unable to articulate, or may wish to hide their true feelings.” (Witt,
supra, 496 U.S. at p. 425.) Whether a juror is excludable under the
Witherspoon-Witt standard is a question of fact. (Witt, at pp. 423-424.)

The court noted from the questionnaire that juror number 6963
checked that he was “strongly opposed” to the death penalty and wrote that
he was “against it.” (14 RT 2715.) Not surprisingly, defense counsel stated,
“I’ll rehabilitate him.”96 (14 RT 2715.) The trial court did not provide
counsel that opportunity and excused the juror. (14 RT 2716.) The trial
court was under no obligation to indulge counsel given the clarity of the
juror’s responses concerning his views about the death penalty. (See
People v. Carpenter (1997) 15 Cal.4th 312, 355.) Further, in People v.
Mendoza (2000) 24 Cal.4th 130, 165-166, this Court observed in the
context of an ineffective assistance of counsel claim:

96 The trial court and defense counsel held fundamentally different
views about the propriety and efficacy of trying to “rehabilitate” a juror
who harbored unequivocal views about the death penalty that rendered the
juror morally incapable of voting for death. (See, e.g., 21 RT 4251.)

When, as here, prospective jurors indicate they would have
difficulty imposing the death penalty, but their answers are
somewhat ambiguous, defense counsel may reasonably conclude
from the answers given that the ability of each prospective juror
to follow the law was substantially impaired, and that additional
rehabilitative questioning would be futile. Alternatively,
counsel may conclude that further questioning might provide
additional indications of the prospective juror’s unwillingness to
impose the death penalty, thus increasing the likelihood of
getting a juror favorable to the defense excused. [Citations.]
Under these circumstances, counsel cannot be said to have
rendered ineffective representation. [Citation.]

Although Mendoza concerned counsel’s actions during voir dire of the
prospective jurors, the Court’s reasoning applies with more force in this
instance because there was no such ambiguity in this juror’s questionnaire
answers.

Juror number 6963 checked “Strongly Oppose” when asked his views
about the death penalty in question number 109 and checked “yes” when
asked in question number 110 whether it would be difficult to impose the
death penalty if the crime was the guilty party’s first offense (31 HS 8753),
as was the case here. When asked in the next question about possible
influences for his views about the death penalty, number 6963 stated, “It’s
just my feelings against it.” (31 HS 8753.) His views against the death
penalty had not changed in the previous 10 years. (31 HS 8753.) Thus,
there existed no conflict or ambiguity in this juror’s attitude toward the
death penalty.

Additionally, the juror’s answers demonstrated that he harbored a pro-
defense bias, regardless of what the evidence might show. To question
number 95, which concerned whether the juror had formed an opinion
about appellant’s guilt or innocence, number 6963 checked “innocence”
and wrote, “No evidence he murder the wife.” (31 HS 8750.) Question
number 98 asked if the juror could set aside any opinions already formed
about the case and base a decision on the evidence presented in the
courtroom. Number 6963 did not answer the question. However, he did
answer every other applicable question on that page. (31 HS 8751.) In
response to a question asking whether he would abide by the court’s
instructions to avoid news coverage of the case, the juror checked “no.”
(31 HS 8751.)

This juror also harbored a bias against police. When asked in
question number 73 about his attitude toward law enforcement, number
6963 wrote, “not good.” (31 HS 8747.) His answers to questions 81 and
82 concerning the credibility of police officers and whether they were
generally too quick to arrest a suspect when there was a significant amount
of publicity confirmed his bias. (31 HS 8748.) (See People v. Thompson
(2010) 49 Cal.4th 79, 101 [expressed bias against the legal system and law
enforcement by prospective juror indicated an inability to engage in
deliberative process].)

Further, when asked in question number 83 about his level of
confidence in certain types of evidence, the juror checked “not much” with
respect to nearly every item of evidence listed, including DNA evidence,
expert testimony, and photographic evidence (31 HS 8748), all of which
were eventually presented in the trial.

As shown above, because this juror’s questionnaire answers
demonstrated substantial impairment under Witherspoon-Witt and
“substantial doubt” as to his ability to be fair and impartial (Ghent, supra,
43 Cal.3d at p. 768), he was unfit to serve as a juror and was properly
excused.

2. Prospective Juror Number 6284

This prospective juror was also discussed during the court’s
evaluation of hardship issues. (12 RT 2384.) The trial court first noted the
juror was unemployed, but had a near-term employment opportunity. (12
RT 2384; 17 HS 4558.) Defense counsel also observed: “He’s
unemployed and may have a job.” (12 RT 2384.) The court went on to
note that the juror’s position on the death penalty excluded him from
serving as a juror. The court excused the juror over defense objection. (12
RT 2384.)

Discharge of this juror was a proper exercise of the trial court’s
authority based on the juror’s personal hardship, given that the juror was
then unemployed and had what appeared to be an opportunity for
employment. (See People v. Tate, supra, 49 Cal.4th at p. 663; Ghent, supra,
43 Cal.3d at p. 768.)

The juror’s dismissal was likewise properly based on the juror’s
unequivocal views against the death penalty, which constituted substantial
impairment. In response to question number 107, which asked the juror’s
feelings about the death penalty, number 6284 wrote: “I don’t believe in
the death penalty.” (17 HS 4556.) His answer to question number 108,
which asked the jurors about their feelings concerning life without parole,
was: “more suited to life in prison.” (17 HS 4556.) He rated his attitude
toward the death penalty as “Oppose.” (17 HS 4556.) When asked in
question number 114 whether his views on the death penalty had changed
over the previous 10 years, the juror checked “no.” (17 HS 4557.) Thus,
the juror was not merely stating that he would have difficulty imposing a
death sentence; he did not believe in the death penalty and favored life
without parole. (See People v. Avila, supra, 38 Cal.4th at p. 530 [“mere
difficulty in imposing the death penalty does not, per se, prevent or
substantially impair the performance of a juror’s duties”], original italics.)

Moreover, juror number 6284 did not answer numerous questions on
the questionnaire, some of which addressed whether the juror or his family
members had ever been arrested or charged with an offense, attitudes about
the credibility of police officers, following the court’s instructions, and
level of confidence in certain types of evidence.97 (17 HS 4550, 4552.)

97 Contrasting juror number 6284’s omissions with those of number
7110 who had a language problem (13 RT 2510-2511), suggests number
6284’s omissions were not inadvertent or due to a language barrier.

3. Prospective Juror Number 27605

The court initially observed that this prospective juror was
“qualifiable,” meaning that he could potentially serve on the jury. (16 RT
3102.) However, the court subsequently noted the juror was opposed to the
death penalty, citing information from the juror’s questionnaire. (16 RT
3104.) Later, when the court and parties discussed this juror again, the
court detailed the basis for its excusal under Witt. (16 RT 3179.) Although
the prosecution was willing to stipulate to the juror’s excusal based on other
answers which suggested prejudgment of the case and unwillingness to
consider the evidence, defense counsel would not. (16 RT 3104-3106,
3178-3179.)

This prospective juror was properly excused without the need for voir
dire because the juror’s questionnaire answers demonstrated that he was
substantially impaired under Witt. The juror checked “Strongly Oppose”
when describing his attitude toward the death penalty and wrote that he was
“against it.” (2 HV 88.) His views on the death penalty had not changed in
the previous 10 years. (2 HV 89.) In answering question number 110, as to
whether it would be difficult for him to impose the death penalty if the
crime was the guilty party’s first offense, number 27605 checked “Yes.” (2
HV 89.) “A prospective juror who would invariably vote either for or
against the death penalty because of one or more circumstances likely to be
present in the case being tried” is subject to challenge for cause whether or
not the particular circumstance is alleged in the charging document.
(People v. Kirkpatrick (1994) 7 Cal.4th 988, 1005, overruled on other
grounds in People v. Doolin (2009) 45 Cal.4th 390, 421, fn. 22.)

In addition to Witt-based disqualification, in response to question
number 97a, which asked whether the juror could base his or her decision
on evidence adduced at trial and not from other sources, prospective juror
number 27605 checked “No.” (2 HV 86.) In this regard, the juror would
have been unable to fulfill his obligations to follow the court’s instructions
and his excusal was properly predicated on this additional ground. (See
Ghent, supra, 43 Cal.3d at p. 768)

4. Prospective Juror Number 4841

When the court and parties first discussed this prospective juror, the
court noted the juror’s strong opposition to the death penalty as reflected in
the questionnaire. (16 RT 3103.) Defense counsel responded, “Right” and
offered to stipulate to the court’s excusal of number 4841. (16 RT 3103.)
The prosecution was also willing to stipulate. (16 RT 3179.) However,
defense counsel reversed course and objected to the juror’s excusal. (16 RT
3178.) The court, again, cited the juror’s position on the death penalty and
excused her. (16 RT 3180.)

The trial court’s excusal of this juror on Witherspoon-Witt grounds is
supported by substantial evidence. In response to question number 107,
this juror stated she had no feelings about the death penalty. (2 HV 226.)
However, with respect to question number 108, which asked the juror’s
feelings regarding life without the possibility of parole, number 4841 wrote,
“If guilty, that person deserves that.” (2 HV 226.) Thus, this prospective
juror indicated that life without parole was the only sentencing alternative
she would consider.

And, of the six possible answers to question number 109, which asked
the juror to rate her attitude toward the death penalty, this juror checked
“Strongly Oppose”—the choice that registered the greatest amount of
disapproval. (2 HV 226.) This juror’s views about the death penalty had
remained fixed for the previous 10 years. (2 HV 227.)

The trial court’s decision discharging the identified juror here is
unlike the erroneous excusal of juror “N.K.” in People v. Riccardi (2012)
54 Cal.4th 758 (Riccardi). In Riccardi, the trial court excused N.K. based
on her questionnaire answers alone. (Id. at p. 778.) However, N.K.’s
answers were clearly in conflict with one another when it came to her views
on the death penalty. (Id. at p. 782.) On the one hand, N.K. wrote in her
questionnaire that she supported the death penalty and that it was not used
enough. Conversely, she stated that she would “not feel right” in imposing
the death penalty, even if it was warranted in some cases. The latter answer
was in response to the question of whether she had any views that would
affect her ability to be fair and impartial. (Ibid.) The Court found that the
trial court should have conducted voir dire of N.K. given N.K.’s
equivocation and inconsistent answers on her views on the death penalty.
(Ibid.)

Here, there was no such equivocation. And, while appellant
highlights the juror’s perfunctory assurances to be fair and impartial (AOB
90), such assurances did not bar the court from excusing her. (See
McKinnon, supra, 52 Cal.4th at p. 647.) This juror’s written questionnaire
responses left no reason to think that bringing her in for extensive
questioning would make her eligible to serve as a juror in this case.

5. Prospective Juror Number 29280

Juror number 29280 wrote that the death penalty was “‘ethically
unjust’” and he was strongly opposed to it. (5 HV 939; 17 RT 3485.) Also,
the juror had been involved with circulating petitions against the death
penalty. (5 HV 940; 17 RT 3485.) Nonetheless, defense counsel objected
to excusal of this juror. (17 RT 3485.) The court excused juror number
29280 based on Witherspoon-Witt considerations. (17 RT 3486.)
In his questionnaire, this juror described life in prison as being “better
than the death penalty.” (5 HV 939.) He also checked the “yes” response
when asked in question number 110 if he would have difficulty voting for
the death penalty if it were the guilty party’s first offense. (5 HV 940.)
When asked what, if anything, informed his views on the death penalty, he
wrote: “My ethics class in high school.” (5 HV 940.)

Taking the juror’s questionnaire responses together (McKinnon, supra,
52 Cal.4th at p. 647), the trial court’s excusal of this juror is supported by
substantial evidence. There was no sense of equivocation in the juror’s
questionnaire about his views on the death penalty that warranted further
elucidation. The juror believed the death penalty was ethically unjust, he
had worked on behalf of abolishing it, and believed that life in prison was
the preferred alternative.

6. Prospective Juror Number 6960

After a brief discussion with the parties about this juror’s opposition
to the death penalty that, in the trial court’s view, was held “without
reservation,” the court excused the juror. (8 HV 2043; 21 RT 4245.)

The trial court’s exclusion of this juror is supported by substantial
evidence. When asked to describe her feelings about the death penalty, this
juror wrote, “I wish it was not a thing needed.” (8 HV 2043.) Consistent
with this view, she felt that life without parole was “good in some cases.”
(8 HV 2043.) The juror responded in the affirmative when asked if it
would be difficult for her to vote for the death penalty if it was the guilty
party’s first offense. (8 HV 2044.) As this Court has stated, “[a]
prospective juror who would invariably vote either for or against the death
penalty because of one or more circumstances likely to be present in the
case being tried” is subject to challenge for cause whether or not the
particular circumstance is alleged in the charging document. (People v.
Kirkpatrick, supra, 7 Cal.4th at p. 1005.) In terms of what may have
influenced her opposition to the death penalty, the juror stated: “Did see on
T.V. someone being electrocuted—awful.” (8 HV 2044.) Her views on the
death penalty had remain fixed for the previous 10 years. (8 HV 2044.)

This juror was properly excluded because her questionnaire answers
constitute substantial evidence that imposition of the death penalty was not
a reasonable possibility. (See People v. Williams (2013) 58 Cal.4th 197,
278 [a prospective juror must be able to do more than simply consider
imposing the death penalty; the death penalty must be a reasonable
possibility].)

7. Prospective Juror Number 7056

The court excused this juror based on the juror’s position on the death
penalty. (23 RT 4469.) In opposing the excusal, defense counsel cited the
juror’s answers to questions which primarily impacted the guilt phase. (23
RT 4469.)

Substantial evidence supports the trial court’s excusal of this juror. In
her questionnaire, juror number 7056 wrote, “I don’t believe in the death
penalty.” (10 HV 2572.) She also checked the response “Oppose” when
asked to rate her attitude about the death penalty. (10 HV 2572.) The juror
replied in the affirmative when asked if it would be difficult for her to vote
for death if it was the guilty party’s first offense. (10 HV 2573.) (See
People v. Kirkpatrick, supra, 7 Cal.4th at p. 1005.) Her views on the death
penalty had not wavered in the previous 10 years. (10 HV 2573.)

Like the others, this juror’s questionnaire answers demonstrated an
inability to conscientiously consider death as a sentencing alternative. Her
questionnaire responses revealed no ambivalence about her views on the
death penalty which would have put the trial court on notice to bring her in
for further clarification of her views. A juror does not have to admit to a
particular bias before a court can discharge a sitting juror for reasons that
would have supported a challenge for cause. (People v. Lomax (2010) 49
Cal.4th 530, 589.)

Last, when this juror was asked if she harbored any attitudes or beliefs
that would prevent her from relying on circumstantial evidence, she
responded by checking “yes.” (10 HV 2569.) This view squarely
conflicted with the court’s eventual instruction to the jurors that “direct and
circumstantial evidence are acceptable as means of proof. Neither is
entitled to any greater weight than the other.” (43 RT 8419; CALJIC No.
2.00 [Direct and Circumstantial Evidence—Inferences].) “A juror whose
personal views on any topic render him or her unable to follow jury
instructions or to fulfill the juror’s oath is unqualified. [Citation.]” (People
v. Clark (2011) 52 Cal.4th 856, 901.) This juror’s excusal was properly
predicated on this additional ground. (Ghent, supra, 43 Cal.3d at p. 768.)

8. Prospective Juror Number 16727

Initially, the court and parties discussed the fact that the juror failed to
appear that day. When the court’s clerk called the juror, the juror said he
made a mistake and thought he was not due in court for another five days.
(24 RT 4769-4770.) The court went on to note that the juror was strongly
opposed to the death penalty. (10 HV 2641; 24 RT 4770.) The court
excused the juror over defense objection. (24 RT 4770.)

In his questionnaire, juror number 16727 wrote: “I am against death
penalty”—but, when it came to life without parole, the juror stated, “100%
support it.” (10 HV 2641.) He rated his attitude about the death penalty as
“Strongly Oppose.” (10 HV 2641.) The juror explained that his opposition
to the death penalty was based on his spirituality. (10 HV 2642.) As this
Court observed, a trial court may properly excuse a prospective juror in a
capital case when that juror has an “internal conflict” as evidenced by
indicating “it would be very hard for him to ignore his belief system in
order to carry out his duties as a juror.” (People v. Rountree (2013) 56
Cal.4th 823, 848.) The juror’s views in this regard had remained steadfast
for the previous 10 years. (10 HV 2642.)

This juror’s strong opposition to the death penalty contrasted with his
full endorsement of life without parole supported the trial court’s excusal of
the juror. There was no need to voir dire this individual merely to confirm
the substantial impairment reflected in the juror’s questionnaire.

9. Prospective Juror Number 8340

When the court and parties discussed this juror, the court noted from
the juror’s questionnaire that the juror’s religious views caused him to be
strongly opposed to the death penalty. (28 RT 5485.) Although the
prosecution was willing to stipulate to the juror’s excusal, the defense
objected. (28 RT 5485.) The trial court excused the juror based on “the
juror’s opposition to the death penalty on religious grounds.” (28 RT 5485.)

The trial court’s decision was supported by substantial evidence. In
answering question number 107, which asked the juror about her feelings
concerning the death penalty, the juror wrote: “I feel strongly against this;
due to religious beliefs.” (15 HV 4043.) The trial court’s assessment of the
juror’s death-penalty views, as they were informed by her religious beliefs,
was an appropriate consideration in evaluating the juror’s ability to vote for
either penalty. (See People v. Rountree, supra, 56 Cal.4th at p. 848.) As
for her feelings about life without parole, the juror stated: “I prefer this
over the previous penalty to be given to any defendants found guilty being
that it gives the person an opportunity to live and accept his mistakes.” (15
HV 4043.) Like some of the other identified jurors, number 8340
indicated that it would be difficult for her to vote for death if it was the
guilty party’s first offense. (15 HV 4044.)
10. Prospective Juror Number 23873

When this juror was discussed, the court pointed out that the juror
believed it unfair that the case had received so much attention. (32 RT
6384-6385.) Specifically, question number 102 asked if there was a reason
the juror could not be fair in this case. This juror responded “Yes” and
explained: “I just think there is too much attention, and I don’t think that is
fair.” (21 HV 5584.) The juror reiterated this concern when asked if there
was anything about her qualifications as a juror of which the court should
be aware. (21 HV 5584.) The court excused the prospective juror for cause
based on the juror’s questionnaire answers about the death penalty. (32 RT
6385.)

Given the unequivocal nature of the juror’s questionnaire responses,
substantial evidence supports the trial court’s excusal of this juror on
Witherspoon-Witt grounds. In her questionnaire, this juror rated her
attitude toward the death penalty as “Strongly Oppose.” (21 HV 5585.) In
describing her feelings about the death penalty, she wrote: “Not good.”
(21 HV 5585.) As for life without parole: “that’s ok.” (21 HV 5585.)
Juror number 23873 responded in the affirmative when asked if it would be
difficult to vote for death if the crime were the guilty party’s first offense.
(21 HV 5586.) Her views on the death penalty had remained unaltered over
the previous 10 years. (21 HV 5586.)

This prospective juror also harbored other views that supported her
excusal on additional grounds. (See Ghent, supra, 43 Cal.3d at p. 768.)
For example, the juror’s views on the criminal justice were unfavorable.
The juror had a family member who spent 10 years in prison. (21 HV
5579.) When asked how she felt the criminal justice system treated this
person, the juror responded, “Badly.” (21 HV 5579.) As a victim of crime,
the juror also complained about “the process” going on “forever.” She
explained that she “had to continue to go to court.” (21 HV 5580.)
This juror also made clear that she did not have much confidence in
circumstantial evidence; she wrote, “Need the real thing.” (21 HV 5581.)
Yet, circumstantial evidence is “the real thing.” (43 RT 8419 [CALJIC No.
2.00].) “A juror whose personal views on any topic render him or her
unable to follow jury instructions or to fulfill the juror’s oath is unqualified.
[Citation.]” (People v. Clark, supra, 52 Cal.4th at p. 901.)

11. Prospective Juror Number 593

The trial court excused this prospective juror based on the juror’s
questionnaire answers concerning the death penalty. (17 RT 3486.) The
prosecutor observed that the juror had indicated it would be difficult for
him to vote for death if it was the guilty party’s first offense. (4 HV 871;
17 RT 3486.)

The trial court’s discharge of this juror is supported by substantial
evidence. In addition to having checked “Strongly Oppose” when asked to
rate his attitude toward the death penalty (4 HV 870), the juror reiterated
this answer to question number 107, by writing “strongly oppose” to
describe his feelings about the death penalty. (4 HV 870.) The juror’s
views on the death penalty had remained unchanged over the previous 10
years. (4 HV 871.) The answers, taken together, demonstrated substantial
impairment in the juror’s ability to consider both punishments. This Court
has made clear that a juror’s questionnaire need not “establish beyond all
possible or theoretical doubt that the juror cannot apply the law and
instructions, or follow the juror’s oath in a capital case.” (McKinnon, supra,
52 Cal.4th at p. 647, original emphasis.)

Further, apart from Witt-related impairment, this juror’s questionnaire
answers demonstrated other potential for-cause issues. When asked to rate
his degree of confidence in certain types of evidence, as provided in
question number 83, the juror checked “Not much” for circumstantial
evidence and expert testimony, among others. (4 HV 866.) As is clear, this
was a circumstantial evidence case. This juror’s excusal was properly
predicated on this additional ground. (Ghent, supra, 43 Cal.3d at p. 768.)

12. Prospective Juror Number 23916

Immediately preceding discussion of this prospective juror, defense
counsel suggested the parties had arrived at stipulations. (34 RT 6672.)
Counsel then said, “What about 23916?” 23916 I was going to submit.”
The court explained that the juror would only be paid for three days of jury
duty. (34 RT 6672.) In the juror’s questionnaire, she indicated that if she
was not paid for the duration of service, it would be a hardship. (21 HV
5772.) The court noted a page and question number from the juror’s
questionnaire. And, the prosecutor pointed out the juror’s views opposing
the death penalty. (34 RT 6672.) Defense counsel stated that he would
submit the matter. (34 RT 6673.) The court excused the juror without
explicitly stating its grounds, noting it excused the juror “by stipulation.”
(34 RT 6673.)

First, the court’s excusal was a proper exercise of discretion based on
the juror’s hardship request. (See People v. Tate, supra, 49 Cal.4th at p.
663; Ghent, supra, 43 Cal.3d at p. 768.) The trial was expected to last five
or six months—well beyond the three days the juror’s employer was
willing to compensate her.

Second, because the juror’s questionnaire evinced a decided and
unequivocal bias against the death penalty in favor of life without parole,
the trial court’s excusal on Witherspoon-Witt grounds is supported by
substantial evidence. In answering question number 107 regarding her
feelings about the death penalty, the juror wrote: “I do not believe in the
death penalty.” (21 HV 5770.) As for her feelings about life without
parole, she stated: “I feel this is a better sentence for someone convicted of
murder.” (21 HV 5770.) She also replied, “yes” when asked if it would be
difficult for her to vote for death if it were the guilty party’s first offense, as
it was in this case. (21 HV 5771.)

13. Prospective Juror Number 5909

The court excused this prospective juror for because the juror was not
qualified under Witt. (39 RT 7862.)

Substantial evidence supports the court’s actions. In her questionnaire,
this juror rated her attitude toward the death penalty as “Strongly Oppose.”
(27 HV 7360.) In describing her feelings about the death penalty, she
wrote: “I’m against the death penalty.” (27 HV 7360.) On the other hand,
life without parole was “fine.” (27 HV 7360.) Like a number of the other
identified jurors, number 5909 indicated that it would be difficult for her to
vote for death if the guilty party had committed no prior offenses. (27 HV
7361.) As cited above, “A prospective juror who would invariably vote
either for or against the death penalty because of one or more circumstances
likely to be present in the case being tried” is subject to challenge for cause
whether or not the particular circumstance is alleged in the charging
document. (People v. Kirkpatrick, supra, 7 Cal.4th at p. 1005.) Thus,
substantial evidence supports the trial court’s excusal of this juror.

D. Any Error Was Harmless

As argued above, the record refutes appellant’s contention that “the
questionnaires of these 13 jurors show only that they were opposed to the
death penalty, nothing more.” (AOB 106.)

Further, even if any one of the identified prospective jurors was
erroneously excluded (AOB 76, 78, 106-107), appellant’s death sentence
should still be affirmed.

With respect to those identified prospective jurors who were properly
subject to excusal for cause on grounds in addition to those under
Witherspoon-Witt, the Court has stated that “‘[t]he general rule [is] that an
erroneous exclusion of a juror for cause provides no basis for overturning a
judgment.’ [Citation.]” (People v. Holt (1997) 15 Cal.4th 619, 655-656;
see also People v. Tate, supra, 49 Cal.4th at p. 672.) Appellant has “a right
to jurors who are qualified and competent, not to any particular juror.”
(People v Holt, supra, 15 Cal.4th at p. 656; People v. Tate, supra, 49
Cal.4th at p. 672.) As we pointed out above, appellant does not contend
that, as a result of the excusal of the identified 13 prospective jurors, he was
tried by a jury that was not fair and impartial. “Moreover, defendant cites
no authority for his assumption that an error in excusing a juror for reasons
unrelated to the jurors’ views on imposition of the death penalty requires
reversal.” (Ibid.)

With regard to those jurors whose excusal was limited to
Witherspoon-Witt grounds, the Court has explained:

“[U]nder existing United States Supreme Court precedent, the
erroneous excusal of a prospective juror for cause based on that person’s
views concerning the death penalty automatically compels the reversal of
the penalty phase without any inquiry as to whether the error actually
prejudiced defendant’s penalty determination.” (Riccardi, supra, 54
Cal.4th at p. 783, citing Gray v. Mississippi (1987) 481 U.S. 648; see
People v. Riccardi, at p. 840 (conc. opn. of Cantil-Sakauye, C. J.).)

Assuming the Court finds any of the identified prospective jurors
were erroneously excused under Witherspoon-Witt, the error was
nonetheless harmless. As the Chief Justice recognized in Riccardi, supra,
54 Cal.4th 758, 840-846 (conc. opn. Of Cantil-Sakauye, C.J.), in Gray v.
Mississippi (1987) 481 U.S. 648, 666, the United States Supreme Court
examined two theories upon which harmless error analysis might be applied
to a violation of the review standard created under Witherspoon-Witt. In
Gray, a majority of the Supreme Court rejected only one of those theories:
the contention than an erroneous Witherspoon-Witt exclusion had no effect
on the composition of the jury. Gray found that the exclusion necessarily
had an effect on the jury composition, even if it were assumed the
prosecutor would have exercised a peremptory challenge against the death-
scrupled prospective juror. As the Chief Justice’s concurrence concluded
in Riccardi, “Gray stands for the proposition that Witherspoon-Witt error is
reversible per se because the error affects the composition of the panel “‘as
a whole’” . . . by inscrutably altering how the peremptory challenges were
exercised.” (Riccardi, supra, 54 Cal.4th at p. 842 (conc. opn. Of Cantil-
Sakauye, C.J.).) As the concurrence in Riccardi further recognized, the
Supreme Court thereafter rejected the Witherspoon-Witt remedy in Ross v.
Oklahoma (1988) 487 U.S. 81, as well as the rationale employed in Gray,
as applied to an erroneously included pro-death juror, explaining that the
Sixth Amendment was not implicated simply by the change in the mix of
juror viewpoints (either death penalty supporters of skeptics) who were
ultimately sworn. (Id. at pp. 842-844 (conc. opn. Of Cantil-Sakauye, C.J.).)

Notwithstanding these observations, this Court “felt compelled to
follow that precedent that is most analogous to the circumstances presented
here[,]” which was Gray, as opposed to Ross. (Riccardi, supra, 54 Cal.4th
at p. 845 (conc. opn. Of Cantil-Sakauye, C.J.).) Respondent respectfully
asks this Court to revisit this conclusion in light of the observation that in
Gray, the State (as well as the dissent) had argued the error had no effect on
the case. Here lies a “reasoned basis” (id. at p. 844 fn. 2), for the different
results in these cases. The “no-effect” rationale for adopting a harmless
error rule only goes so far, and allowed the Gray Court to reject it so long
as there was some effect on the jury composition. The state’s proffered
rationale therefore never required the Court to account for the nature of a
Witherspoon-Witt violation. Respondent, however, now asks this Court to
do so. The appropriateness of harmless error analysis should take into
account the “differing values” particular constitutional rights “represent and
protect[.]” (Chapman v. California (1967) 386 U.S. 18, 44.)

Witherspoon protects capital defendants against the State’s unilateral
and unlimited authority to exclude prospective jurors based on their views
on the death penalty. Therefore, “‘Witherspoon is not a ground for
challenging any prospective juror. It is rather a limitation on the State’s
power to exclude . . . .’ [Citation.]” (Wainwright v. Witt, supra, 469 U.S.
at p. 423.) Beyond this protection is the simple misapplication of the
Witherspoon-Witt standard because it does not grant the prosecution the
unilateral and unlimited power to exclude death-scrupled jurors, and as this
Court has recognized, there is no cognizable prejudice simply in the
absence of any viewpoint or any balance of viewpoints on the jury.
(Riccardi, supra, 54 Cal.4th at p. 843-844 (conc. opn. Of Cantil-Sakauye,
C.J.); Lockhart v. McCree (1986) 476 U.S. 162, 177-178.) As a result, any
prospective juror who may have been excluded because of the erroneous
application of the Witherspoon-Witt standard results in purely “technical
error that should be considered harmless[.]” (Gray v. Mississippi, supra,
481 U.S. at p. 666.)

II. THE GUILT-PHASE VERDICTS AND SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE
FINDING ARE CONSTITUTIONALLY SOUND BECAUSE DEATH
QUALIFICATION OF A JURY COMPORTS WITH
CONSTITUTIONAL MANDATES, INCLUDING THOSE UNDER THE
EIGHTH AMENDMENT

Appellant contends that because the 13 identified jurors were
erroneously excluded, the reliability of the guilt phase judgment is
necessarily compromised under Eighth Amendment principles. (AOB 108-
116.) Appellant’s argument is predicated on the oft-repeated assertion that
death-qualification of jurors results in a jury that is more prone to convict.
(AOB 114-116.) In other words, death-scrupled jurors tend to be less likely
to convict. In appellant’s view, excusing the 13 identified Witt-impaired
jurors harmed the deliberative process during the guilt phase. Accordingly,
he contends the guilt verdicts must be overturned. (AOB 108-116.)

We disagree. The presumption that death qualification of jurors in
capital trials breeds constitutionally impaired conviction-prone juries is a
contention which the United States Supreme Court and this Court have
repeatedly rejected. In point of fact, the jury selection process in this case
suggests that death-scrupled jurors are not less likely to convict and death-
inclined jurors are not less likely to acquit.

In any event, this Court has made clear that the erroneous exclusion of
jurors for cause based on Witherspoon-Witt considerations does not compel
reversal of the guilt phase judgment, even in light of Eighth Amendment
considerations.

A. Established Precedent Provides That Even if Any One
of the Identified Prospective Jurors Was Erroneously
Excluded, Reversal of the Guilt-Phase Judgment is
Unwarranted

The United States Supreme Court has found that “‘[d]eath
qualification’ … is carefully designed to serve the State’s concededly
legitimate interest in obtaining a single jury that can properly and
impartially apply the law to the facts of the case at both the guilt and
sentencing phases of a capital trial. There is very little danger . . . that
‘death qualification’ was instituted as a means for the State to arbitrarily
skew the composition of capital-case juries.” (Lockhart v. McCree, supra,
at pp. 175-176, fn. omitted.)

Accordingly, this Court has repeatedly rejected the claim that death
qualification of a jury in a capital case violates a defendant’s right to a jury
selected from a representative cross-section of the community. (People v.
Taylor (2010) 48 Cal.4th 574, 603; People v. Gurule (2002) 28 Cal.4th 557,
597-598; People v. Carrera (1989) 49 Cal.3d 291, 331]; see also (Lockhart
v. McCree, supra, 476 U.S. at pp. 173-184 [rejecting contention that
exclusion of “guilt phase includables” violates “fair-cross-section” or
“impartial jury” constitutional mandates]; People v. Ashmus (1991) 54
Cal.3d 932, 956-957 [same, under federal and state law].)

And, dispositive of appellant’s claim here, Witt error does not require
reversal of the guilt judgment or special circumstance finding in this case.
(See Riccardi, supra, 54 Cal.4th at p. 783 [reversing penalty phase
judgment for erroneous exclusion of prospective juror for cause, but
affirming guilt judgment and one special circumstance finding]; People v.
Stewart (2004) 33 Cal.4th 425, 455 [reversing penalty phase judgment for
erroneous exclusion of prospective jurors for cause, but affirming guilt
judgment and special circumstance finding]; People v. Heard (2003) 31
Cal.4th 946, 958-969 [same].) Appellant concedes the point. (AOB 108-
110.)

B. This Court Has Considered the Erroneous Excusal of
Jurors in the Context of the Eighth Amendment and
Rejected Similar Claims

Despite the aforementioned authority, appellant maintains that no
court has vetted Witt-exclusion error on Eighth Amendment grounds;
specifically, as it relates to the need for increased reliability in both the guilt
and penalty phases of a capital trial. (AOB 112.)

As a threshold matter, we acknowledge that, even if appellant’s trial
counsel did not interpose a specific objection to the court’s exclusion of
each of the identified jurors on Eighth Amendment grounds, trial counsel
made clear the defense view that death-qualified jurors were more likely to
convict. (3 RT 737 [“all you do when you death qualify, you get pro-
prosecution jurors”].)

Appellant’s Eighth Amendment reliability claim is not novel. This
Court has previously considered and rejected a similar argument:

Raising for the first time an Eighth Amendment challenge,
[defendant] observes that neither we nor the high court has
specifically considered the propriety of death-qualification in
light of the constitutional interest in heightened reliability of
guilt and penalty phase determinations in capital cases. Insofar
as our research enables us to say, his observation is correct.
However, his Eighth Amendment claim appears to be merely a
restatement of his Sixth Amendment claims, and as such we find
it to be without merit.

(People v. Johnson (1992) 3 Cal.4th 1183, 1213; see also United States v.
Brown (11th Cir. 2006) 441 F.3d 1330, 1354 [rejection of Eighth
Amendment challenge to death-qualification].) The same holds true here
where appellant claims, at essence, that his rights to a fair cross section or
impartial jury were abridged.

In People v. Taylor, supra, 48 Cal.4th at pp. 603-604, the Court
rejected other Eighth Amendment arguments:

We likewise find flawed the premise underlying defendant’s
assertion that death qualification, by eliminating the segment of
the community that opposes the death penalty, skews the data
courts typically rely on to determine “evolving standards of
decency” for Eighth Amendment purposes. Through the death
qualification process, individuals may be excused not only for
their unyielding opposition to capital punishment but also for
their intractable support of it. [Citations.] We reject
defendant’s contention that death qualification is irrational
because it disqualifies individuals based on their moral beliefs
when the penalty phase determination is “ ‘inherently moral and
normative.’ ” [Citations.]

And, in People v. Thompson, supra, 49 Cal.4th 79, the Court
implicitly rejected the defendant’s claim that the trial court’s exclusion of
18 prospective jurors for cause, based on their questionnaire answers alone,
violated the Eighth Amendment. (Id. at pp. 95-105.)

As stated above, the United States Supreme Court flatly rejected the
claim that excluding jurors from the guilt phase resulted in a jury
unconstitutionally “slanted” in favor of conviction. (Lockhart v. McCree,
supra, 476 U.S. at pp. 177-78.) Appellant provides no rationale for why the
identical argument would be any more persuasive if considered under the
Eighth Amendment.

C. Voir Dire in This Case Undermines the Social Science
Studies Upon Which Appellant Relies

As set forth in section I.A., ante, there were many prospective jurors
in this case who were opposed to the death penalty, but who tended to
believe appellant was guilty (i.e., death-scrupled jurors who were
conviction-prone). (See, e.g., 11 RT 2174 [prospective juror number 4845],
2180-2181 [No. 21241], 2183 [No. 75], 2187 [No. 21315], 2204-2205 [No.
4870]; 12 RT 2276-2277 [No. 29314], 2282-2283 [No. 1110], 2285 [No.
22], 2290 [No. 8141], 2293-2294 [No. 818], 2294-2295 [No. 5856], 2300
[No. 667], 2302-2303 [No. 29298], 2308 [No. 29316]; 13 RT 2550 [No.
7208], 2596 [No. 6151]; 14 RT 2712-2713 [No. 6995], 2716 [No. 7186],
2743 [No. 29498], 2746 [No. 29520], 2748 [No. 643], 2765 [No. 658],
2855 [No. 796]; 15 RT 2950 [No. 9777], 2964 [No. 9588], 2976 [No. 534],
2977 [No. 30293], 3048 [No. 29823], 3078 [No. 9985]; 17 RT 3390 [No.
23978].) Thus, undermining appellant’s theory that opposition to the death
penalty necessarily portends a predisposition toward innocence over guilt.

Further, insofar as appellant cites several timeworn studies which
posit that death qualification of juries tends to result in juries predisposed to
guilty verdicts (AOB 115), this Court has previously considered social
sciences studies of this ilk and found them unpersuasive. (See People v.
Taylor, supra, 48 Cal.4th at p. 602; People v. Lenart (2004) 32 Cal.4th
1107, 1120; People v. Jackson (1996) 13 Cal.4th 1164, 1198-1199; see also
Lockhart v. McCree, supra, 476 U.S. at p. 173 [upholding the
constitutionality of death qualification despite study findings].)98

98 The trial court explained that of the 20-plus juries that it had
death-qualified, 6 returned death verdicts. (11 RT 2083.)
In sum, appellant has not provided any persuasive basis upon which to
reconsider the established authorities on the issue or view any purported
error as a “structural defect” that compromised the entire trial, including the
guilt phase.
III. THE IDENTIFIED SEVENTEEN PROSPECTIVE JURORS WERE
PROPERLY EXCUSED FOR CAUSE AS THE QUESTIONNAIRE
ADEQUATELY DISCERNED A PROSPECTIVE JUROR’S ABILITY
TO IMPOSE EITHER PENALTY UNDER WITHERSPOON-WITT

Appellant next challenges the exclusion of 17 additional jurors whom
he claims were erroneously excused for cause based on their opposition to
the death penalty as reflected in the affirmative answer of each to question
number 115 in the juror questionnaire, which asked whether the juror’s
moral, religious, or philosophical opposition to the death penalty was so
strong that she or he would be unable to impose the death penalty
regardless of the facts. (AOB 117-127.)

Appellant’s claim, at essence, is that the questionnaire did not make it
“‘sufficiently clear’” (AOB 124), that the identified jurors were excludable
under Witherspoon-Witt because the questionnaire, “looked at as a whole”
(AOB 124), did not assess whether a prospective juror could set aside her
or his moral, religious, or philosophical opposition to the death penalty and
follow the law (AOB 125).

Appellant’s claim lacks merit. First, insofar as he is challenging the
adequacy of the questionnaire on appeal, he has forfeited the issue.
Appellant’s trial counsel participated in formulation of the questions and
did not otherwise object to its content.

In any event, like the previously identified prospective jurors, these 17
jurors were properly excluded from service because their questionnaire
answers, taken together, demonstrated substantial impairment under Witt.
As we explain, substantial evidence supports the trial court’s rulings.
A. Appellant Has Waived His Claim Insofar As It Is
Predicated on the Adequacy of the Questionnaire

As we stated in section I.A., ante, the trial court invited the parties to
provide input on the juror questionnaire. (1 RT 355-356.) The court and
parties also went through each of the proposed questions, including
question number 115. (6 RT 1266 [number 111 when discussed].) When
the trial court suggested that some of the questions might be cumulative,
defense counsel agreed. (6 RT 1267.) A short while later, defense counsel
said, “Right. The more I think about it the more I would rather do that
individually as opposed to keep beating them over the head with the death
penalty in the questionnaire.” (6 RT 1268.)

When the court and parties finalized the questionnaire a week later,
defense counsel did not object to question number 115. Nor did counsel
specifically object to the questionnaire as misstating the Witherspoon-Witt
standard. (10 RT 1960-1968.) Therefore, insofar as appellant’s claim rests
in whole or in part on the adequacy of the questionnaire, the claim has not
been preserved for appeal. (People v. Thompson, supra, 49 Cal.4th 79, 97
[“Because defense counsel initially drafted the questions, agreed to the
various revisions the trial court and prosecutor suggested, and accepted,
without apparent objection, the final form of the questionnaire, defendant
waived these claims.”]; see also People v. Rogers (2009) 46 Cal.4th 1136,
1149; People v. Robinson (2005) 37 Cal.4th 592, 617.)

B. The Questionnaire, Taken As a Whole, Was
Sufficiently Clear on the Witherspoon-Witt Standard As
Aided by the Trial Court’s Explanation Regarding
Penalty Considerations

Even if viable, appellant’s claim is without merit. The questionnaire
was sufficiently clear on the Witherspoon-Witt standard.

As appellant rightly anticipated (AOB 125-127), this Court’s decision
in People v. Thompson, supra, 49 Cal.4th 79, undermines his claim. In
Thompson, the defendant challenged the wording of a penalty-related
question, which asked “‘can you see yourself’: (A) voting for the death
penalty or (B) voting for life imprisonment.” (Id. at p. 98.) The defendant
argued that a prospective juror might respond in the negative to “(A) simply
because he or she could not ‘imagine’ the situation, rather than because he
or she would be unable to consider the option of imposing the death
penalty.” (Ibid.) Although the Court found the defendant waived the
claims predicated on the purported flaws in the questionnaire (id. at p. 97),
the Court addressed the merits and found the defendant’s interpretation of
the question was “unreasonable and thus unpersuasive” (id. at p. 98). The
Court went on to explain: “Within the context of the questionnaire as a
whole and the court’s explanations to the prospective jurors, the jurors
would reasonably have understood the question as referring to their
willingness to consider the option of imposing the death penalty.
[Citation.]” (Id at p. 98.)

Likewise, in People v. Wilson (2008) 44 Cal.4th 758 (AOB 123-124),
the Court’s analysis of the questionnaire was informed by contextual
considerations. The Court considered “the import of the questionnaire as a
whole,” “[t]he prefatory statement at the beginning of the section of the
questionnaire concerning the death penalty,” and “the trial court’s oral
statement, delivered before the jurors were given the questionnaires, which
provided similar background information.” (Id. at p. 788.) The Court
found no error in the trial court’s excusal of the identified jurors based on
their questionnaire responses alone. (Id. at p. 790.)

Also, in People v. Avila (2006) 38 Cal.4th 491, 531 (AOB 122-123),
the Court found the questionnaire at issue was not defective, noting with
favor that the design of the questionnaire format included “expansive and
detailed questions on capital punishment and gave jurors the clear
opportunity to disclose views against it so strong as to disqualify them for
duty on a death penalty case.”

This context-driven inquiry, utilized by this Court in Thompson,
Wilson, and Avila, was previously employed by the high court in Darden v.
Wainwright (1968) 477 U.S. 168, 176 [“We therefore examine the context
surrounding [the prospective juror’s] exclusion to determine whether the
trial court’s decision that [the juror’s] beliefs would ‘substantially impair
the performance of his duties as a juror’ was fairly supported by the
record.”].)

The aforementioned authorities support the adequacy of the
questionnaire employed in this case for determining whether a prospective
juror was substantially impaired in the ability to vote for either penalty.
Prior to the jurors completing the questionnaires, the trial court explained
the trial process, the questionnaire, including the questions on penalty, and
the need for the jurors to give careful consideration to whether they could
vote to execute another human being. (See, e.g., 11 RT 2051-2052 [first
panel], 2125, 2133-2134, 2139, 2143 [second panel]; 12 RT 2251, 2263
[third panel], 2349-2350 [fourth panel]; 13 RT 2473, 2475-2476 [fifth
panel], 2593-2594 [sixth panel]; 14 RT 2702-2703 [seventh panel], 2798
[eighth panel]; 15 RT 2909 [ninth panel], 3035 [tenth panel]; 35 RT 6843-
6844 [eleventh panel], 6941 [twelfth panel], 7014 [thirteenth panel]; 38 RT
7566-7567 [fourteenth panel], 7687-7688 [fifteenth panel]; 39 RT 7807
[sixteenth panel].)99 Therefore, the prospective jurors reasonably
understood the context and import of the questions on punishment,
particularly those on the death penalty.

99 We cite those pages from the trial court’s explanations that are
most relevant to the questions about the death penalty. The court worded
its remarks differently each time, but the message was generally the same.
Moreover, the wording of question number 115, in the context of the
questionnaire as whole, would reasonably have been understood by the
prospective jurors as an attempt to ascertain their willingness to consider
voting to impose the death penalty under any circumstances. In all, there
were 13 questions on the matter of penalty. (See, e.g., 21 HV 5770-5771.)
Question number 115 was next to the last and asked: “Do you have any
moral, religious, or philosophical opposition to the death penalty so strong
that you would be unable to impose the death penalty regardless of the facts?
(See, e.g., 21 HV 5771.) Immediately following the question, the juror was
given the opportunity to check “yes” or “no,” followed by an opportunity to
explain, if the juror answered in the affirmative. (21 HV 5771.) As we
detail below, many of the identified prospective jurors took advantage of
this opportunity to expound upon their stated inability to vote to impose
death.
The contextual considerations inherent in the design of the
questionnaire itself, as aided by the trial court’s admonition, were further
buttressed by the following statement in the questionnaire, which preceded
the questions on penalty:

The court is asking the following questions regarding your
feelings about the death penalty because one of the possible
sentences for a person convicted of the charges the prosecution
has filed is the death penalty. Therefore, the court must know
whether you could be fair to both the prosecution and the
defense on the issue of punishment if you reach that issue. By
asking these questions, the court is not suggesting that you will
ever need to decide this question because the court has no way
of knowing what the evidence in this case will be, or whether or
not you will find the defendant guilty of anything at all. In other
words, the only way the issue of punishment will be decided by
the jury is if it should find the defendant guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt of the first degree murder of at least one count,
and guilty of first or second degree murder on the other count,
and the alleged special circumstance true beyond a reasonable
doubt.
By asking about your views on penalty now, the court is not
suggesting that the jury in this case will find the defendant guilty.

(See, e.g., 21 HV 5770, original emphasis.)

Other sections of the questionnaire contained questions which
specifically asked the prospective juror if she or he could follow the court’s
instructions. (See, e.g., 21 HV 5766 [questions nos. 79, 80], 5767 [no. 89],
5769 [no. 100].) Therefore, by the time the jurors reached question
number 115, they were conditioned to accept the principle that following
the court’s instructions (i.e., the law) was of paramount importance if they
were to serve as jurors in this case.

C. The Trial Court’s Exclusion of the Seventeen Identified
Prospective Jurors Is Supported by Substantial
Evidence

In somewhat summary fashion, appellant contends 17 individual
jurors were erroneously excluded for cause under Witherspoon-Witt. (AOB
118, 124.) Although appellant’s claim is primarily predicated upon these
jurors’ answers to one question, which appellant argues is infirm, this Court
has made clear that “the excusal may be upheld if those answers, ‘taken
together,’ clearly demonstrate the juror’s unwillingness or inability,
because of attitudes about the death penalty, to perform his or her duties in
a capital trial. [Citation.]” (McKinnon, supra, 52 Cal.4th at p. 647.)

Substantial evidence supports the trial court’s exclusion of these
jurors. Appellant acknowledges that every one of these jurors indicated
that their moral, religious, or philosophical opposition to the death penalty
was so entrenched that they would be unable to impose the death penalty.
(AOB 118.) However, in support of his claim, appellant relies on the
perfunctory assurances of certain of these jurors that their religious, moral,
or philosophical beliefs would not interfere with their ability to serve as
jurors. (AOB 124.) Yet, the trial court was not bound to give such pro
forma assurances more weight than the bulk of each identified juror’s
answers which, together, evinced substantial impairment under
Witherspoon-Witt.

1. Prospective Juror Number 651

With respect to the question of her feelings about the death penalty,
the juror wrote: “I don’t believe in the death penalty.” (21 HS 5890.)
However, life in prison was a “humane [and] just outcome.” (21 HS 5890.)
The juror checked “Oppose” when she rated her attitude about the death
penalty. (21 HS 5890.) She explained that the fact that she did not believe
in the death penalty would make it difficult for her to vote for death if the
crime was the guilty party’s first offense. (21 HS 5891.)

With respect to her opposition to the death penalty on moral, religious,
or philosophical grounds (no. 115), the juror explained: “At this moment, I
do not believe in the death penalty—if faced with something truly
heinous—I don’t know my response—” (21 HS 5891.) On the other hand,
this juror had no moral, religious, or philosophical beliefs that rendered her
unable to vote for life without parole, regardless of the facts. (21 HS 5891.)
Her position against the death penalty had remained unchanged for 10 years.
(21 HS 5891.)

Question number 79 asked if the juror would be able to follow the
trial court’s instruction that a defendant arrested for any offense is
presumed to be innocent. This juror did not check either of the answer
options: “yes” or “no.” Instead, she wrote, “For this case I am not sure.”
(21 HS 5886.) The juror wrote the same answer when asked in question
number 80 whether she would be able to follow the court’s instruction that
the defendant is innocent unless and until the prosecution proves guilt
beyond a reasonable doubt. (21 HS 5886.) The juror also wrote in
response to question number 95 that appellant’s “actions (granted—as
presented by the press) do not fit with my perception of a grieving husband.”
(21 HS 5888.) When asked in question number 97a whether she could base
her decision entirely on the evidence produced in court and not from an
outside source, the juror again declined to check “yes” or “no.” Instead,
she wrote: “Not sure. I would like to think I could be objective but cannot
state [] so absolutely.” (21 HS 5888.)

Additionally, when the court and parties first discussed this juror, the
court observed that the juror would not be paid during the period of jury
service. (12 RT 2425.) The juror appended a letter to her questionnaire
from her employer to this effect. (21 HS 5892, 5895.) Thus, the trial
court’s excusal would have also been a proper exercise of its discretion
based on hardship. (See People v. Tate, supra, 49 Cal.4th at p. 663; Ghent,
supra, 43 Cal.3d at p. 768.) But, in any event, the excusal under
Witherspoon-Witt is supported by substantial evidence.

2. Prospective Juror Number 4931

When the court and parties discussed this juror, the court noted from
the questionnaire that this juror was opposed to the death penalty and did
not believe in “‘cutting a life short.’” (17 RT 3463, 3467.) Defense
counsel responded, “Why don’t you bring in [sic], see if we can rehabilitate
him.” (17 RT 3467.) The court declined. (17 RT 3467.)

This juror was strongly opposed to the death penalty. (4 HV 617.)
He explained his feeling that “cutting a life short” denied the spirit a chance
to gain wisdom. (4 HV 617

.) Conversely, life without
parole enabled the person to learn and grow in spiritual wisdom. (4 HV
617
.) This juror responded in the affirmative when
asked if it would be difficult for him to vote for the death penalty if the
crime was the person’s first offense. (4 HV 618.) His views against the
death penalty had remained steadfast for the previous 10 years. (4 HV 618.)
And, with respect to his affirmative answer to question number 115, the
juror explained that the “death penalty just brings the spirit back in a future
physical life to cause trouble since learning was cut short.” (4 HV 618.)

3. Prospective Juror Number 912

During the discussion of this juror, the court observed that the juror
was strongly opposed to the death penalty. (17 RT 3486-3487.) The
prosecutor referenced other anti-death penalty answers. (17 RT 3487.) The
court excused the juror based on her opposition to the death penalty. (17
RT 3487.)

Substantial evidence, as found in the juror’s questionnaire answers,
supports the trial court’s decision. Juror number 912 identified herself as a
Baptist who actively participated in her religion. (5 HV 909.) This juror
rated her attitude about the death penalty as “Strongly Oppose.” (5 HV
916.) She wrote that life without parole was “a more accepta[b]le
punishment.” (5 HV 916.) Her views in this regard were influenced by her
“religious beliefs.” (5 HV 917.) The juror replied in the affirmative when
asked if it would be difficult for her to vote for death if the crime was the
guilty party’s first offense. (5 HV 917.) And, she, like the others, indicated
that her moral, religious, or philosophical opposition to the death penalty
rendered her incapable of voting to impose it. (5 HV 917.)

4. Prospective Juror Number 6263

The trial court noted this prospective juror’s vehement opposition to
the death penalty and strong preference for life without parole. (18 RT
3717.) The court stated the juror was excused by stipulation, noting
defense counsel’s “reservation.” (18 RT 3717.)

This juror responded affirmatively when asked in question number 10
if her religious or philosophical beliefs would interfere with her ability to
serve as a juror in this case. (6 HV 1222.) She explained, “Philosophically,
I feel I have no right to judge another person’s fate.” (6 HV 1222.) The
juror described herself as “very liberal.” (6 HV 1227.)

In the latter section of the questionnaire that specifically addressed
penalty, this juror repeated that she “vehemently” opposed the death
penalty. (6 HV 1238.) Asked about life without parole, she wrote: “I
strongly recommend it.” (6 HV 1238.) She checked “Strongly Oppose” in
rating her attitude about the death penalty. (6 HV 1238.) This juror
checked “yes” when asked if it would be difficult to impose the death
penalty for a first offense. (6 HV 1239.) And, with respect to her
affirmative answer to question number 115, this juror wrote: “Moral—I
would not want to be responsible for another person’s death. I believe in
Karma.” (6 HV 1239.) In response to question number 101, which asked if
there was anything else the court should know about her qualifications as a
juror, this juror checked “yes” and wrote: “Yes, I am vehemently opposed
to the death penalty and sitting in judgment of someone’s life.” (6 HV
1237.)

As for potential biases addressed by questions 94 through 97a, the
juror admitted that she had formed the opinion that appellant was guilty:
“I’ve assumed he’s guilty because he was closest.” “He had the most
opportunity, and I don’t believe his alibi. The fact that he was out fishing
and they found the bodies in the Bay.” (6 HV 1236.) This juror checked
“no” and wrote “not sure” in response to the question that asked if she
could base her decision entirely on the evidence. (6 HV 1236.) This
prospective juror was subject to excusal on this additional basis. (See
Ghent, supra, 43 Cal.3d at p. 768.)

5. Prospective Juror Number 6399

From this juror’s questionnaire, the trial court related that the juror
was strongly opposed to the death penalty and believed the State should not
be committing acts of murder. (18 RT 3718.) Acknowledging the juror’s
issues with the death penalty, defense counsel nonetheless maintained the
juror was otherwise suitable. (18 RT 3718.) The court excused the juror.
(18 RT 3719.)

In the penalty section of the questionnaire, this juror wrote: “The
State should not be commit[t]ing acts of murder[.]” (6 HV 1284.) He rated
his attitude about the death penalty as “Strongly Oppose.” (6 HV 1284.)
The juror explained that his “spiritual beliefs” influenced his opposition. (6
HV 1285.) He checked “yes” that it would be difficult for him to vote for
death if it was the guilty party’s first offense. (6 HV 1285.)

Question number six asked the juror to specify race or ethnic
background. This juror checked the “Other” option and wrote “Human.”
(6 HV 1268.) This juror responded “yes” when asked in question number
10 if his religious or philosophical beliefs would interfere with his ability to
serve as a juror in this case. He explained: “The State of California in the
name of the People of California, should not commit murder.” (6 HV 1268.)
The juror described himself as “very liberal.” (6 HV 1273.) In response to
question number 101, which asked if there was anything else the court
should know about his qualifications as a juror, this juror checked “yes”
and wrote: “I strongly oppose the death penalty.” (6 HV 1283.)

Also, the prospective juror’s answers to questions 67c through 69, 76,
and 82 revealed a decided bias against law enforcement based on his wife’s
personal experience in being charged with contributing to the delinquency
of a minor. (6 HV 1278-1279.) The juror was, thus, subject to being
excused on this additional ground. (See People v. Thompson 49 Cal.4th,
supra, at p. 101 [expressed bias against the legal system and law
enforcement indicated an inability to engage in deliberations]; Ghent, supra,
43 Cal.3d at p. 768.)
6. Prospective Juror Number 6162

The trial court excused this prospective juror based on the juror’s
Witt-related impairment. (18 RT 3718.) The juror’s questionnaire answers
constitute substantial evidence supporting the trial court’s excusal. This
juror rated their attitude toward the death penalty as “Strongly Oppose.” (6
HV 1215.) He described his feelings about the death penalty as “not in
favor,” but life with parole was “ok with me.” (6 HV 1215.) His views on
the death penalty had not changed over the previous 10 years. (6 HV 1216.)
As noted, he responded “yes” that he would unable to impose the death
penalty regardless of the facts. In explanation, he wrote: “Moral.” (6 HV
1216.) (See People v. Thornton (2007) 41 Cal.4th 391, 424-425 [upholding
excusal of juror because moral opposition to the death penalty “was close to
absolute”].) The juror also responded “yes” that it would be difficult to
vote for death if it was a first offense. (6 HV 1216.)

7. Prospective Juror Number 7152

The court initially observed there might be a language barrier with
regard to this juror. (21 RT 4162.) The court, with some apparent
difficulty reading the juror’s questionnaire answers, noted the juror’s
opposition to the death penalty based on the juror’s Buddhist religious
beliefs. (21 RT 4162.) The court asked defense counsel for his
interpretation of the questionnaire. Afterward, the court said: “I don’t
think she would be qualifiable. So is there a stipulation, or do you want me
to bring her in and ask her?” (21 RT 4162.) The prosecution offered to
stipulate. Defense counsel stated, “I’ll submit,” and the court confirmed
that it was with defense counsel’s “usual objection.” (21 RT 4162-4163.)
Notably, defense counsel did not take the trial court up on its offer to bring
this juror in for voir dire.
The court excused the juror because “for all those reasons I don’t
think she ever could impose the death penalty.” (21 RT 4163.) The trial
court’s explanation undermines appellant’s general assertion that the trial
court excused jurors based solely on some generalized discomfort with the
death penalty instead of the juror’s inability to impose it (AOB 72, 73,
75).100 As we explained in section I.C., ante, while the trial court
repeatedly referred to a prospective juror’s opposition to the death penalty
upon excusing the juror, the animating principle was the court’s evaluation
that the juror could not vote to impose death.
The juror’s questionnaire supports the trial court’s assessment that this
juror lacked sufficient facility with the English language. First, the
questionnaire is replete with misspellings. Additionally, this juror made
question marks next to numerous questions—including in the section
addressing penalty—which indicated a lack of comprehension. (9 HV
2107-2112 [questions numbers 78, 79, 80, 88, 94, 97a, 103a, 103b, 108,
110, 116].) Individuals cannot serve as prospective jurors in California
unless they are “possessed of sufficient knowledge of the English language.”
(Code Civ. Proc., § 203, subd. (a)(6); People v. Eubanks (2011) 53 Cal.4th
110, 130.) Given the lack of English fluency, as reflected in the
questionnaire, excusal was proper for this reason alone. (See People v.
Lomax, supra, 49 Cal.4th at p. 566 [insufficient command of the English
language is a nondiscriminatory basis for excusing a prospective juror].)
Nonetheless, to the extent this juror was able to communicate her
views on the death penalty, she indicated she was against it and opposed it.
(9 HV 2112.) In answering question number 115 affirmatively, the juror
100 In any event, the trial court was under no obligation to announce
its conclusions that a juror was biased, nor make detailed findings on the
record, where, as here, such bias was evident from the record. (See Witt,
supra, 469 U.S. at p. 430.)
214

wrote that she will not kill people. (9 HV 2113.) She described herself as a
Buddhist who was active in the practice of her religion. (9 HV 2096.)
Under Witherspoon-Witt, this juror was properly dismissed.

The propriety of the trial court’s actions are also supported by defense
counsel’s choice to decline the trial court’s offer to bring the juror in for
clarification of her views. Although counsel’s actions do not rise to the
level of a forfeiture with regard to this juror, such actions are not without
import in the Court’s consideration of this claim. (McKinnon, supra, 52
Cal.4th at p. 644 [inference that defense counsel acquiesced in
Witherspoon-Witt excusal reinforced when, faced with a tentative ruling
that the prospective juror is excusable, defense counsel declined offer of
further voir dire].)

8. Prospective Juror Number 10012

When this juror was discussed, the court stated on the record that the
juror checked “yes” in response to question number 10 that he possessed
philosophical or religious beliefs that interfered with his ability to serve as a
juror. (30 RT 5808-5809; 16 HV 4326 [“cannot consider death penalty”].)
The court went on to note that other answers confirmed the juror’s
opposition to the death penalty, including the juror’s explanation for
answering in the affirmative to question number 115: “‘we may not take a
human life.’” (30 RT 5809; 16 HV 4343.) In describing his feelings on life
without parole, the juror wrote: “justified.” (16 HV 4342.) He also
expressed that it would be difficult for him to impose the death penalty for
a first offense. (16 HV 4343.) The court observed the juror identified as
“Christian” (30 RT 5808; 16 HV 4326) and the juror indicated that he was
active in the practice of his religion. (16 HV 4326.) Thus, substantial
evidence supported this juror’s excusal under Witherspoon-Witt.

Additionally, this juror checked “not much” when asked how much
confidence he had in circumstantial evidence and expert testimony. (16 HV
4338.) Thus, this juror was subject to excusal on these additional grounds.
(See Ghent, supra, 43 Cal.3d at p. 768.)

9. Prospective Juror Number 29331

Referencing the juror’s view that the death penalty was “‘morally
wrong,” and noting other questionnaire answers that evinced a decided
opposition to the death penalty, the trial court excused this juror for cause.
(29 RT 5684.)

Substantial evidence supports this excusal. When asked in question
number 101 if there was anything else the court should know about the
juror’s qualifications, this juror checked “yes” and wrote: “Don’t believe in
the death penalty.” (16 HV 4157.) Asked in question number 107 about
his feelings concerning the death penalty, this juror wrote: “I don’t like the
death penalty.” (16 HV 4158.) However, life without parole “is fine.” (16
HV 4158.) His views in this regard were influenced by “the book that was
made into a movie with Susan Sarandon.” (16 HV 4159.) The juror also
indicated that he may have previously signed a petition in opposition to the
death penalty. (16 HV 4159.) His views in this regard had remained fixed
for the previous 10 years and he responded that it would be difficult to
impose the death penalty if the crime was a first offense. (16 HV 4159.)

Last, in response to question number 88, which asked if the juror held
any attitudes or beliefs that prevented him from relying on circumstantial
evidence, the juror checked “yes” and wrote “seems to me direct [evidence]
is strong.” (16 HV 4155.) This view was especially problematic in a case
such as this where the prosecution relied heavily on circumstantial evidence.

10. Prospective Juror Number 29631

The court read aloud this juror’s answer to question 10 concerning
whether the juror held religious or philosophical views that would interfere
with his ability to sit as a juror in this case: “‘I do not believe in death
penalty or giving extreme judgment.’” (30 RT 5914; 16 HV 4280.) This
juror described himself as a practicing Catholic who was “very religious.”
(16 HV 4280-4281.) The juror cited praying as one of his hobbies, along
with walking, music, and movies. (19 HV 4286.)

The court also referenced the juror’s answer to the question which
asked about the juror’s feelings regarding the death penalty: “I do not
really agree due to religious belief.” (30 RT 5914; 16 HV 4296.) Beyond
checking “yes” to question 115 regarding his inability to impose the death
penalty, this juror explained: “‘Thou shall not kill.’” (16 HV 4297.) On
the subject of life without parole, this juror wrote: “Ok.” (16 HV 4296.)

This juror was properly excluded under Witherspoon-Witt based on
his staunch opposition to the death penalty, as informed by his religious
beliefs. (See People v. Rountree, supra, 56 Cal.4th at p. 848.)

11. Prospective Juror Number 8607

The court quoted from this juror’s answer to the question concerning
his feelings about the death penalty: “‘Against my belief because I am a
Christian.’” (30 RT 5915; 16 HV 4319.) On the other hand, as the court
observed, this juror believed that life without parole was okay, if the person
was guilty. (30 RT 5915; 16 HV 4319.)

With regard to question number 10 and whether the juror possessed
any religious or philosophical views which rendered him unable to serve as
a juror in this case, this juror checked “yes” and wrote: “No death penalty.”
(16 HV 4303.) He rated his opposition to the death penalty as “Strongly
Oppose.” (16 HV 4319.) When asked what, if anything, influenced his
feelings about the death penalty, the juror wrote “Bible.” (16 HV 4320.)
He checked “yes” that it would be difficult to vote for death on a first
offense. (16 HV 4320.) He explained his affirmative answer to question
number 115 and his inability to vote for death: “Christian.” (16 HV 4320.)
Apart from this substantial evidence supporting Witherspoon-Witt
impairment, this juror also checked “no” when asked in question number
103 if he would be able to return a guilty verdict if he was convinced
beyond a reasonable doubt based on the evidence presented. (16 HV 4318.)
Conversely, the juror checked “yes” when asked the same question, but in
reference to his ability to return a not guilty verdict. (16 HV 4318.) This
prospective juror’s bias in this regard supported his excusal on this
additional ground. (See Ghent, supra, 43 Cal.3d at p. 768.)

12. Prospective Juror Number 9503

The court observed that this juror was strongly opposed to the death
penalty and wrote that he did not believe in an eye for an eye. (31 RT
6107.) As the court continued to reference answers in the juror’s
questionnaire, defense counsel interrupted and said: “I’ll [] submit it, with
my usual.” Which the court took to mean defense counsel’s “usual
objection.” (31 RT 6107.) The juror was excused for cause. (31 RT 6107.)

No doubt defense counsel cut the court short on making a record
because this juror’s intractable views on the death penalty, like the others
identified, were unambiguous. When asked for his feelings about the death
penalty in question number 107, the juror wrote, “strongly against.” (18
HV 4825.) He checked “Strongly Oppose” when he rated his attitude about
the death penalty. (18 HV 4825.) It was his “personal belief,” which
influenced his feelings in this regard. (18 HV 4826.) The juror checked
“yes” that he had previous involvement with petitioning for abolition of the
death penalty. (18 HV 4825.) In explaining his moral, philosophical, or
religious opposition to the death penalty, as the court noted, the juror wrote:
“I do not believe in ‘eye for an eye.’” (18 HV 4826.) Conversely, this
juror had no moral, philosophical, or religious opposition to life without
parole. (18 HV 4826.)
Also, this juror held negative views of law enforcement. He had
family members who had been convicted of crimes. (18 HV 4819.) The
juror opined that one of those family members “didn’t deserve jail time, but
head officer didn’t like him and always tried to find something to arrest him
with.” (18 HV 4819.) The juror had been the victim of a residential
burglary. He felt the police “acted poorly unsympathetic.” (18 HV 4820.)
The juror believed that law enforcement was “weak in some harsh cases,
and to[o] strong on weak cases.” (18 HV 4820.) He checked “Strongly
agree” when asked in question number 82 whether the police were too
quick to arrest a suspect in cases where there was a significant amount of
publicity or pressure to find the perpetrator. (18 HV 4821.)

The juror’s questionnaire answers also raised other potential for-cause
considerations related to evidence and following the court’s instructions,
which supported his excusal on additional grounds. (See Ghent, supra, 43
Cal.3d at p. 768.) The juror responded affirmatively to question number 88
which asked if he had any attitudes or beliefs that would prevent him from
relying on circumstantial evidence. Consistently, he checked “No” when
asked in the following question if he could follow the court’s instruction
that direct and circumstantial evidence were entitled to the same weight.
(18 HV 4822.) The juror checked “no” to questions numbered 103 and 104,
which asked if he could return either a guilty verdict or not guilty verdict.
(18 HV 4824.)

13. Prospective Juror Number 9736

After the court and parties discussed juror number 9736, defense
counsel characterized the juror as “a submit.” (31 RT 6188.) The court
then queried, “Do you want to submit with your usual objection?” Defense
counsel replied in the affirmative. (31 RT 6188.) The court stated that the
juror was excused for cause. (31 RT 6188.)
The court was correct in its evaluation of this juror. In response to
question number 107 asking the juror for his feelings about the death
penalty, he wrote: “I am completely against it under any circumstance.”
(19 HV 5217.) Regarding his feelings about life without parole, the juror
wrote: “I approve, when deserved.” (19 HV 5217.) He rated his attitude
toward the death penalty as “Strongly Oppose.” (19 HV 5217.) This juror
checked “Yes” when asked if it would be difficult for him to vote for death
on a first offense. (19 HV 5218.) His position against the death penalty
had remained unchanged for the previous 10 years. (19 HV 5218.) The
juror explained: “Killing is wrong—the government shouldn’t do it
either—I’ve always felt this way.” (19 HV 5218.) He elaborated on his
inability to impose the death penalty on moral, religious, or philosophical
grounds: “As above—I would never advocate the death penalty under any
reason.” (19 HV 5217

.)

14. Prospective Juror Number 24073

Referencing this juror’s answers, the court described her as being
“really emphatic.” (33 RT 6484.) The court pointed out the juror was a
Jehovah’s Witness and would not sit in judgment of another human. (33
RT 6484-6485; 20 HV 5454 [questions numbers 9, 10.) The court went on
to note that the juror did not believe that human beings had the right to take
another’s life and that the death penalty was contrary to her religious
convictions. (33 RT 6485.)

This juror wrote that she “will not vote for the death penalty.” (20
HV 5469, original emphasis.) This was in response to question number 102,
which asked if there was any reason she would not be a fair juror in this
case. The juror also double-underlined “this case” in the question. (20 HV
5469.) With respect to her feelings about the death penalty, the juror wrote:
“I do not have moral right to vote for it.” (20 HV 5470.) She rated her
attitude toward the death penalty as “Strongly Oppose.” (20 HV 5470.)
The juror explained that her feelings were influenced by “religious
teachings.” (20 HV 5471.) In explaining her unwillingness to vote for
death, this juror wrote: “Not morally right for humans to judge another to
extent of death as we’re all imperfect.” (20 HV 5471

.)

Further, this juror felt that life without parole should be reserved only
for those individuals that are likely to reoffend, such as in cases of child
rape and pornography. (20 HV 5470.) Presumably, even life without
parole was off the table as far as this juror was concerned since appellant
was not charged with those recidivist-type offenses.

The prosecution offered to stipulate to the juror’s excusal and the trial
court asked defense counsel if he wanted to join in the stipulation. (33 RT
6485.) Unsurprisingly, even in the face of such unequivocal religious
opposition to the death penalty and steadfast unwillingness to impose such
a penalty on the part of this juror, defense counsel submitted the matter
with his usual objection. (33 RT 6485.) Appropriately, the trial court
excused the juror for cause based on the juror’s opposition to the death
penalty.

15. Prospective Juror Number 455

The court observed that this juror was against the death penalty
because it did not serve any purpose. (36 RT 7105; 23 HV 6325 [“I am
against the death penalty because I don’t think it serves any purpose besides
revenge.”].) Defense counsel, quoting from the juror’s explanation for why
he was unable to impose the death penalty, stated: “‘I think it’s barbaric
and uncivilized and an embarrassment to this country.’” (36 RT 7105

.) On the other hand, the juror wrote that he was “neutral”
on life without parole. (23 HV 6326.)

The trial court excused this juror for cause after defense counsel
submitted the matter. (36 RT 7105.) Submitting the matter and objecting
to the court’s ruling are not the same thing. “Although ‘this failure to
object does not forfeit the right to raise the issue on appeal, . . . it does
suggest counsel concurred in the assessment that the juror was excusable.’”
(People v. Hawthorne (2009) 46 Cal.4th 67, 82-83, abrogated in part as
stated in McKinnon, supra, 52 Cal.4th at p. 637.) Substantial evidence
supports the trial court’s evaluation of this juror.

In addition to the answers cited above, this juror checked “yes” in that
he would find it difficult to vote to impose the death penalty if the crime
was the guilty party’s first offense. (23 HV 6326.) He rated his attitude
toward the death penalty as “Strongly Oppose.” (23 HV 6325.) This
juror’s opposition to the death penalty had not changed over the previous
10 years. (23 HV 6326.)

16. Prospective Juror Number 6712

After the court made reference to this juror’s opposition to the death
penalty, defense counsel stated: “And

115 says yes. So
I’ll submit based upon the answer to 115. (36 RT 7106.) The trial court
excused the juror for cause. (36 RT 7106.) Counsel’s statement, at the
very least, is a lukewarm acknowledgement that the trial court’s for-cause
excusal of this juror was reasonable based on the juror’s inability to impose
the death penalty.

When asked for his feelings about the death penalty in question
number 107, this juror wrote: “detrimental to society.” (22 HV 5957.)
Responding to the next question regarding his feelings about life without
parole, the juror stated: “preferable to death penalty.” (22 HV 5957.) In
rating his attitude about the death penalty, the juror checked “Oppose.” (22
HV 5957.) His attitudes about the death penalty had not changed over the
last 10 years. (22 HV 5958.) The juror checked “yes” that it would be
difficult for him to vote for death if the crime was a first offense. (22 HV
5958.)
Thus, the trial court’s actions are supported by substantial evidence,
along with defense counsel’s seeming acquiescence to the juror’s excusal.
(See People v. Hawthorne, supra, 46 Cal.4th at pp. 82-83.)

17. Prospective Juror Number 7236

The court first noted that this juror rated her attitude toward the death
penalty as “‘Strongly oppose.’” (36 RT 7113; 22 HV 5980.) The court
next quoted the juror’s response regarding her feelings about the death
penalty: “‘No right to take another[’s] life.’” (36 RT 7113; 22 HV 5980

.) Defense counsel then stated: “Based on the
[affirmative] answer to 115, as well, I would submit.” (36 RT 7113; 22 HV
5981.) Juror number 7236 checked “yes” when asked in question number
10 if her religious or philosophical views would interfere with her ability to
serve as a juror in this case. (22 HV 5964.) She explained that she did not
believe she had any right to vote for a death sentence for another human
being. (22 HV 5964.) This juror’s views against the death penalty had not
wavered in the previous 10 years. (22 HV 5981.) When asked in question
number 108 for her feelings on the penalty of life without parole, this juror
wrote: “Yes, person has to pay for their crime.” (22 HV 5980.)

Substantial evidence supports the trial court’s exclusion of this juror.
Again, defense counsel’s implicit approval of the court’s actions weighs in
favor of the propriety of the court’s evaluation of this juror.

D. Any Error Was Harmless

Further, even if any one of the identified prospective jurors was
erroneously excluded, appellant’s death sentence should still be affirmed.
As we explained in section I-D, ante, with respect to those identified
prospective jurors who were properly subject to excusal for cause on
grounds in addition to those under Witherspoon-Witt, this Court has stated
that “‘[t]he general rule [is] that an erroneous exclusion of a juror for cause
provides no basis for overturning a judgment.’ [Citation.]” (People v. Holt,
supra, 15 Cal.4th 619, 655-656; see also People v. Tate, supra, 49 Cal.4th
at p. 672.) Appellant has “a right to jurors who are qualified and competent,
not to any particular juror.” (People v Holt, supra, 15 Cal.4th at p. 656;
People v. Tate, supra, 49 Cal.4th at p. 672.) Appellant does not contend
that, as a result of the excusal of the identified 17 prospective jurors, he was
tried by a jury that was not fair and impartial. “Moreover, defendant cites
no authority for his assumption that an error in excusing a juror for reasons
unrelated to the jurors’ views on imposition of the death penalty requires
reversal.” (Ibid.)

As for those prospective jurors who may have been erroneously
excused under Witherspoon-Witt, respondent respectfully asks this Court to
revisit its conclusion in Riccardi, supra, 54 Cal.4th at p. 783, for the
reasons previously advanced in section I-D, ante, and to uphold the penalty
judgment.

IV. SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE SUPPORTS THE TRIAL COURT’S
EXCUSAL OF THE FIVE IDENTIFIED PURPORTEDLY
EQUIVOCAL PROSPECTIVE JURORS AS EACH WAS
SUBSTANTIALLY IMPAIRED IN THE ABILITY TO IMPOSE THE
DEATH PENALTY

Appellant’s last claim challenging the trial court’s for-cause excusals
of prospective jurors under Witherspoon-Witt focuses on five jurors who,
appellant argues, were equivocal in their expressed inability to vote for
death, but not substantially impaired. His argument is predicated on the
contention that United States Supreme Court precedent dictates that the trial
court’s assessment of the juror’s actual state of mind, which may have
contributed to its conclusion that each juror was substantially impaired,
should not be credited by this Court. (AOB 128-147.)

There is no merit to appellant’s claim. As an initial matter, this
Court’s jurisprudence on the issue is in accord with United States Supreme
Court precedent: In the case of an equivocal juror, deference is paid to the
trial court’s determination if supported by substantial evidence. However,
the questionnaire and voir dire responses of the identified jurors disclose
that none of them were equivocal in the inability to vote for the death
penalty. And, even if equivocal, substantial evidence supports the trial
court’s determination that each of the identified jurors was nonetheless
substantially impaired.

A. This Court’s Decisions on the Standard of Review
Governing a Trial Court’s Determination of a
Prospective Juror’s Actual State of Mind Are in
Accord with United States Supreme Court Precedent

Appellant initially argues that this Court’s decisions according
deference to a trial court’s resolution of ambiguities and inconsistencies
regarding a prospective juror’s state of mind is contrary to the holdings of
the United States Supreme Court in Adams v. Texas (1980) 448 U.S. 38 and
Gray v. Mississippi (1987) 481 U.S. 648. (AOB 128-138.)

The Court has previously considered and rejected this argument.
(People v. Bryant, Smith and Wheeler (2014) 60 Cal.4th 335, 400; People v.
Thomas (2012) 53 Cal.4th 771, 7901-791.) As this Court stated in People v.
Williams (2013) 58 Cal.4th 197:

Although defendant is correct that at times each prospective
juror gave equivocal or conflicting responses, under such
circumstances the trial court’s determination as to the juror’s
actual state of mind is binding if supported by substantial
evidence. [Citation.] After giving appropriate deference to the
trial court’s determination regarding the state of mind of these
prospective jurors, we find the trial court’s ruling fairly
supported by the record and conclude that the trial court did not
err in excusing [the prospective jurors] for cause.

(Id. at pp. 278-279; accord People v. Jackson (2014) 58 Cal.4th 724, 752;
People v. Duenas (2012) 55 Cal.4th 1, 10; People v. Wilson, supra, 44
Cal.4th at p. 779.)
This Court’s decisions comport with United States Supreme Court
precedent. The high court has stated that a trial court’s finding of
impairment

“may be upheld even in the absence of clear statements from the
juror that he or she is impaired because ‘many veniremen simply
cannot be asked enough questions to reach the point where their
bias has been made “unmistakably clear”; these veniremen may
not know how they will react when faced with imposing the
death sentence, or may be unable to articulate, or may wish to
hide their true feelings.’ [Citation.] Thus, when there is
ambiguity in the prospective juror’s statements, ‘the trial court,
aided as it undoubtedly [is] by its assessment of [the
venireman’s] demeanor, [is] entitled to resolve it in favor of the
State.’”

(Uttecht v. Brown, supra, 551 U.S. 1, 7.)

Yet, the Supreme Court has also stated that “[t]he need to defer to the
trial court’s ability to perceive jurors’ demeanor does not foreclose the
possibility that a reviewing court may reverse the trial court’s decision
where the record discloses no basis for a finding of substantial impairment.”
(Uttecht v. Brown, supra, 551 U.S. at p. 20; accord Gentry v. Sinclair (9th
Cir. 2013) 705 F.3d 884, 912.) Therefore, appellant’s concern, as
expressed by his citation to Adams v. Texas and Gray v. Mississippi (AOB
129-137), has been addressed and resolved by the high court more recently
in Uttecht v. Brown.

In sum, this Court’s decisions are in line with Supreme Court
precedent, which allows for meaningful review of a trial court’s assessment
of a prospective juror’s actual state of mind. Nonetheless, “[t]he trial court
is in the best position to determine the potential juror’s true state of mind
because it observes firsthand the prospective juror’s demeanor and verbal
responses.” (People v. Clark (2011) 52 Cal.4th 856, 895.)
B. The Trial Court Properly Excluded the Five Identified
Prospective Jurors for Cause

A review of the five identified jurors’ questionnaire responses and the
record of voir dire supports the trial court’s determination that each juror
was properly excluded.

As a threshold matter, appellant complains that the trial court did not
ask any of these jurors whether they could set aside their “preferences” and
follow the court’s instructions. (AOB 139, 140, 142, 143, 145.) However,
the trial court was under no obligation to ask that question. “[T]rial courts
possess considerable discretion to formulate the questions to be asked on
voir dire and to tailor those questions to the needs of each individual
prospective juror. [Citations.]” (People v. Whalen (2013) 56 Cal.4th 1, 50
[trial court need not ask “set aside” question when questionnaire responses
make clear prospective juror could not set aside personal beliefs]. )

1. Prospective Juror Number 21369

Although appellant gives short shrift to this juror’s questionnaire
responses (AOB 138-139), a thorough review discloses an unambiguous
and unequivocal unwillingness on the part of this juror to vote for death.

When asked in question number 10 if the juror had religious or
philosophical beliefs that would interfere with his ability to serve as a juror
in this case, this juror checked “yes” and wrote: “I would not like to be
responsible for sentencing anyone to death.” (8 HS 1958.) In response to
question number 102, which asked if there was any reason the juror could
not be fair in this case, this juror checked “yes” again and explained: “I
would not like to be a part of putting anyone in jail or putting them to
death.” (8 HS 1973.)

As for the juror’s answers in the penalty section of the questionnaire,
in response to question number 107, which asked the juror’s feelings on the
death penalty, this juror wrote: “I am against it. If guilty he should suffer
in jail.” (8 HS 1974.) As to his feelings about life without parole, the juror
wrote: “If he is guilty it is fine but I would not like to be a part in the
decision.” (8 HS 1974.) This juror rated his attitude toward the death
penalty as “Oppose.” (8 HS 1974.) He checked “yes” in response to
question number 115 which asked if he had any moral, religious, or
philosophical opposition to the death penalty so strong that he would be
unable to impose the death penalty regardless of the facts. (8 HS 1975.)
The juror explained: “I would not like to be a part of putting anyone to
death even if guilty.” (8 HS 1975.)

Apart from Witt-related impairment, this juror answered “no” when
asked whether he would be able to return a guilty verdict based on proof
beyond a reasonable doubt or a not guilty verdict in the absence of such
evidence. (8 HS 1973 [questions numbers 103, 104].) The juror also
admitted that he harbored negative feelings toward law enforcement. (8 HS
1969 [questions numbers 73, 76, 77].)

Additionally, this juror made a hardship request: “Just started new
job have started to plan for vacation in June told boss dates I wanted to
leave but have not bought tickets.” (8 HS 1976.)

When the court and parties first discussed this juror, the court
referenced the juror’s hardship request. The court went on to cite some of
the juror’s questionnaire responses. (11 RT 2200.) Defense counsel
indicated that excusal of this juror would be over defense objection. The
court asked counsel if he wanted the court to interview the juror. (11 RT
2200.) Counsel said yes and the court brought the juror in for voir dire.
The juror first affirmed his opposition to the death penalty. (11 RT 2200.)
The court continued its questioning:

THE COURT: And you could never select it as a penalty in this
case?

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: I wouldn’t want to.
THE COURT: Well, could you ever pick it?

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: I don’t think so.

THE COURT: Okay. What kind of — you just started a new job.
What kind of work do you do?

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: Auto body painter.

THE COURT: Auto body painter. Are you on probation now at
your work?

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: Yeah, for three months.

THE COURT: Okay, we’ll excuse you over the defense
objection. Okay. You’ll be excused.

(11 RT 2200-2201.)

After the juror left, the court stated: “I don’t think he would qualify.
Failed Wainright v. Witt.” (11 RT 2201.)

The record of voir dire suggests the juror was excused based on the
juror’s hardship request. Under the circumstances, there was no abuse of
the court’s discretion. (See People v. Tate, supra, 49 Cal.4th at p. 663;
Ghent, supra, 43 Cal.3d at p. 768.) The court’s post-excusal comment
suggests that the court was also of the view that, absent the hardship, the
juror would be properly excluded for cause under Witt. Clearly, the juror’s
questionnaire answers supported the court’s view.

Further, insofar as this juror responded “I don’t think so” and “I
wouldn’t want to” during voir dire, such statements do not undermine the
trial court’s finding that this juror was substantially impaired. In People v.
Guzman (1988) 45 Cal.3d 915, 956 (overruled on other grounds in Price v.
Superior Court (2001) 25 Cal.4th 1046, 1069, footnote 13), the Court held
that a prospective juror’s use of equivocal phrases such as “I think” or “I
believe” when communicating an inability to vote for the death penalty did
not prevent the trial court from properly concluding that the juror’s ability
to follow the trial court’s instructions would be substantially impaired.
Therefore, appellant’s argument to the contrary (AOB 146), is unavailing.

2. Prospective Juror Number 4486

In her questionnaire, this juror described her feelings about the death
penalty as “mixed.” (2 HV 134.) She felt that life without parole “may be
a suitable punishment for some crimes.” (2 HV 134.) The juror rated her
attitude toward the death penalty as “Weakly Oppose” and “Weakly
Support.” (2 HV 134.) She checked “Depends on the Evidence” when
asked in question number 110 if it would be difficult for her to vote for
death if it were the guilty party’s first offense. (2 HV 135.)

During voir dire, the court first asked this juror if she could ever vote
to execute another human being. (16 RT 3142-3143.) The juror responded:
“I really don’t think I could.” (16 RT 3143.)

THE COURT: You don’t think you could? That’s okay. A lot
of people feel the same way that you do. [¶] So is it reasonable
for me to assume that if you [were] selected as a trial juror in
this case, the death penalty would not be an option for you?

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: I would have a really hard time.

THE COURT: Well, if you say you’d have a hard time, you’re
sort of leaving it open that you could maybe select it; but is it
really an option for you?

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: I don’t think so.

THE COURT: You don’t think so? Okay. We’ll excuse you,
okay?

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: Okay.

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Over the defense objection.

THE COURT: Over the defense objection; all right. This is
Wainwright vs. Witt.

(16 RT 3143.)
During voir dire, this juror provided three consistent responses (“I
really don’t think I could”; “I would have a really hard time”; “I don’t think
so”), which signaled to the trial court that voting for death was not an
option for this juror. These responses constitute substantial evidence
supporting the trial court’s decision. Further, the court was in a position to
observe firsthand this juror’s demeanor and verbal responses (People v.
Clark, supra, 52 Cal.4th at p. 895), which presumably informed its decision
to excuse this juror.

This juror also possessed problematic views on circumstantial
evidence. She checked “not much” when it came to rating her confidence
in circumstantial evidence. In fact, it was the only category of evidence
that she rated that low. (2 HV 130

.) She explained:
“would like to have something to back it up . . . .” (2 HV 130.)
Additionally, when asked in question number 88 whether she harbored any
attitudes or beliefs that would prevent her from relying on circumstantial
evidence in a murder case, the juror did not check either the “yes” or “no”
responses provided. Instead, she wrote: “would want something to back it
up[.]” (2 HV 131.)

3. Prospective Juror Number 4475

In response to question number 107, which asked for the juror’s
feelings about the death penalty, this juror wrote: “hard to take away
another human being’s life.” (10 HV 2503.) The juror rated her attitude
about the death penalty as “Weakly Support.” (10 HV 2503.) As for her
feelings about life without parole, this juror wrote: “If it’s warranted.” (10
HV 2503.) She checked “depends on the evidence” when asked in
question number 110 if it would be difficult for her to vote for death if it
were the guilty party’s first offense. (10 HV 2503.)

Before this juror was brought in for voir dire, the court remarked that
it had preliminarily assessed the juror “as a plus.” (23 RT 4473.) The court
started by asking the juror: “[K]nowing the type of person that you are,
could you ever see yourself voting to execute another human being? Is that
something you think you could ever do? (23 RT 4475.)

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: I think that would be something for
me to — to do very hardly.

THE COURT: I can’t hear you, ma’am.

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: It was — it would be extremely hard.

THE COURT: Of course it’s hard, but do you think you could
ever do it if you thought somebody deserved it?

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: If I had to.

THE COURT: Well, nobody’s ever going to tell you are going
to have to do it. Forget about whether you have to do it or
whether you don’t have to do it. [¶] The question is just you,
knowing the type of person that you are, could you ever see
yourself voting to execute another human being? Is that
something that you have in you to do that?

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: I don’t think I could do it.

THE COURT: You don’t think you could do it; is that right?

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: Yes.

THE COURT: Okay. That’s fair enough. You can be excused.
Thank you.

(23 RT 4475-4476.)

Substantial evidence supports the trial court’s excusal. First, the court
was correct in advising this prospective juror that she would never be
required to vote for the death penalty. (See People v. Brown (1988) 46
Cal.3d 432, 475.) It is apparent from the record that this juror was
struggling to try to assure the court that she would seriously consider voting
for death. However, the court rightly sensed from the juror’s voir dire
responses and, presumably from the her demeanor, that the juror herself
was not convinced of her ability to vote for death. Notably, the defense did
not object to this juror’s excusal.

4. Prospective Juror Number 4823

This juror was discussed during hardship evaluations. In her
questionnaire, the juror stated: “I do not know if my employer paid for to
many days in case I be select.” (11 HS 2808.) The court and parties
discussed the hardship request. (12 RT 2366.) The court then noted the
juror was opposed to the death penalty. However, it was the fact that the
juror left “a lot of blank spots” in her questionnaire, which caused the court
concern. (12 RT 2366.) The defense objected when the court stated its
intention to excuse the juror. The court brought the juror in for questioning.
(12 RT 2366-2367.)

After the court determined that the juror’s employer would pay for
five months of jury service (12 RT 2367; 11 HS 2791), the court questioned
the juror about her views on the death penalty:

THE COURT: There are two possible penalties in this case, if
you were opposed to the death penalty does that mean you can
never pick the death penalty under any circumstances in a case
like this?

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: Well, too many questions in paper. I
understand some. I don’t understand.

THE COURT: Okay. But you know what the death penalty is?

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: Yes.

THE COURT: You checked you oppose the death penalty.

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: Does that mean you can never select?

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: I don’t like death penalty.

THE COURT: Okay. You don’t like it, but can you ever select
it?

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: I don’t think so.
THE COURT: You don’t think so. Okay. You can be excused.
Thank you.

(12 RT 2367-2368.)

The court properly excused this juror. Her questionnaire, and voir
dire, suggest there was a language barrier beyond any issues with
impairment under Witt. When asked in question number 34 if she had
further education plans for the future, the juror checked “yes” and wrote:
“learn English.” (11 HS 2794.) She watched and listened to Spanish
television and radio programs. (11 HS 2797.) Further, as the trial court
noted, the juror left many questions blank. (11 HS 2792 [no. 26], 2801 [no.
78], 2803 [nos. 88, 89], 2804 [nos. 91, 97a], 2805 [nos. 97b, 98, 99, 100,
101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106], 2806 [A, B].) Given this juror’s lack of
English fluency, as reflected in the questionnaire, as well as the lack of
understanding she expressed during voir dire, her excusal was proper for
this reason alone. (Code Civ. Proc., § 203, subd. (a)(6); People v. Eubanks,
supra, 53 Cal.4th at p. 130; People v. Lomax, supra, 49 Cal.4th at p. 566.)

As for those penalty-related questions this juror did answer, she
conveyed her negative view of the death penalty and inability to vote for it.
Regarding her feelings about the death penalty, the juror wrote: “I am not
agree.” (11 HS 2806.) But, she wrote “depends on the evidence” when it
came to her feelings about life without parole. (11 HS 2806.) This juror
rated her attitude about the death penalty as “Oppose.” (11 HS 2806.) She
checked “yes” when asked in question number 110 if it would be difficult
for her to vote for death if it was the guilty party’s first offense. (11 HS
2807.) Her views on the death penalty had remained unaltered over the
previous 10 years. (11 HS 2807.) And, she checked “yes” that she had
moral, religious, or philosophical views that were so strong that she would
be unable to vote for death regardless of the facts. (11 HS 2807.) Thus, the
juror’s answers during voir dire merely confirmed that she was
substantially impaired in her ability to seriously consider voting to impose
the death penalty.

There were other for-cause issues with this juror. For example, she
admitted to an anti-police bias. (11 HS 2801 [questions numbers 76, 77].)
Also, the juror checked “undecided” regarding her confidence level in
every category of evidence listed in question number 83. (11 HS 2802.)

5. Prospective Juror Number 17976

In her questionnaire, this prospective juror rated her attitude toward
the death penalty as “Oppose.” (12 HV 3055.) Regarding her feelings
about the death penalty, she wrote that she wished the law was different,
but that she understood that jurors needed to follow the law. (12 HV 3055.)

The court and parties discussed the juror’s answers. (26 RT 5039.)
The court noted the juror’s opposition to the death penalty, but the court
stated its intention to bring the juror in and ask her if she could ever vote to
execute another human being. (26 RT 5039-5040.) The court stated that if
the juror could not vote for the death penalty, she was excluded under
Witherspoon-Witt. (26 RT 5040.)

After the court’s prefatory remarks, the following dialogue occurred:

THE COURT: This is just as if you and I were just talking.
Now, you know the type of person that you are; could you ever
see yourself voting to execute another human being? Is that
something you think you could do?

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: The way I see it is that — it is the law,
that’s the way I see it, even though I don’t believe that — I think
it’s wrong to kill another human being, that many things in
society that exist there that I don’t like it, but because it is part of
the law, I abide by them. So that would be —

THE COURT: But, you see, in this case no one is ever going to
tell you that you have to vote for the death penalty. No one is
ever going to tell you that. That’s a choice that you would have
to make after your heard all the evidence if you felt that that was
the appropriate penalty. See what I’m saying?
PROSPECTIVE JUROR: Yeah. Well, I understand is that there
are –I’m sorry, I — there are certain — . . . circumstances in
which the law said that — that the death penalty will apply if
these are the conditions that the case — . . . .

THE COURT: But we never come to a point in this case where
you add up all the points and say, okay, if he gets ten points he
gets the death penalty. That doesn’t happen that way.

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: Okay.

THE COURT: Because nobody in this case is ever going to tell
you that you must select the death penalty. That’s a choice you
have to freely and voluntarily make after you’ve heard all the
evidence. [¶] So that’s why I want to ask you if you could ever
see yourself voting to execute another human being. Is that
something that you could ever do? Nobody’s going to make you
do that choice in this case.

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: No, it would be – I’ve never placed
myself in that situation. I think it would be very difficult for me
to do that.

THE COURT: Okay. Well, would the death penalty then be an
option for you in this case if you were selected as a trial juror?

. . .

THE COURT: [W]ould the death penalty be an option for you
in this case, understanding that no one will ever tell you that you
must pick the death penalty?

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: If the death penalty will be an option
for me?

THE COURT: Yes.

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: After hearing the case?

THE COURT: Mm-hm.

PROSPECTIVE JUROR: Probably not.

(26 RT 5041-5043.)
This juror’s voir dire answers confirm that her opposition to the death
penalty, disclosed by her questionnaire answers, prevented her from voting
to impose the death penalty. Taken together, this juror’s questionnaire and
voir dire responses (“it’s wrong to kill another human being”; “I think it
would be very difficult for me to do that”; “probably not”) constitute
substantial evidence supporting the trial court’s evaluation and excusal of
this juror.

Insofar as there may have been any equivocation by this juror
regarding her inability to vote for death, it is explained by her candid
acknowledgement that “I’ve never placed myself in that situation . . . .”
(26 RT 5043). It is not uncommon that prospective jurors “may not know
how they will react when faced with imposing the death sentence, or may
be unable to articulate, or may wish to hide their true feelings.” (Witt,
supra, 496 U.S. at p. 425.)

C. Any Error Was Harmless

Even if any one of the five identified prospective jurors was
erroneously excluded, appellant’s death sentence should still be upheld.
As we explained in sections I-D and III-D, ante, with respect to those
identified prospective jurors who were properly subject to excusal for cause
on grounds in addition to those under Witherspoon-Witt, this Court has
stated that “‘[t]he general rule [is] that an erroneous exclusion of a juror for
cause provides no basis for overturning a judgment.’ [Citation.]” (People v.
Holt, supra, 15 Cal.4th 619, 655-656; see also People v. Tate, supra, 49
Cal.4th at p. 672.) Appellant has “a right to jurors who are qualified and
competent, not to any particular juror.” (People v Holt, supra, 15 Cal.4th at
p. 656; People v. Tate, supra, 49 Cal.4th at p. 672.) Appellant does not
contend that, as a result of the excusal of the identified five prospective
jurors, he was tried by a jury that was not fair and impartial. “Moreover,
defendant cites no authority for his assumption that an error in excusing a
juror for reasons unrelated to the jurors’ views on imposition of the death
penalty requires reversal.” (Ibid.)

As for those prospective jurors who may have been erroneously
excused under Witherspoon-Witt, respondent respectfully asks this Court to
revisit its conclusion in Riccardi, supra, 54 Cal.4th at p. 783, for the
reasons previously advanced in sections I-D and III-D, ante, and to uphold
the penalty judgment.

V. AN IMPARTIAL JURY WAS IMPANELED TO TRY APPELLANT IN
SAN MATEO COUNTY

Appellant challenges the decision of the San Mateo County court
denying his motion to transfer venue a second time from that county to a
third county. Appellant argues that prejudice should be presumed in this
case given the extent and nature of the pretrial publicity in San Mateo
County, which he contends resulted in an unacceptable level of
prejudgment among the 1,250 summoned prospective jurors. (AOB 148-
178.)

We disagree. As a threshold matter, controlling authority from this
Court and the United States Supreme Court requires appellant to
demonstrate error and actual prejudice. He has done neither. Substantial
evidence supports the trial court’s determination that appellant could
receive a fair trial in San Mateo County. And, the record of voir dire shows
that appellant did, in fact, receive a fair trial in the county.

Appellant, who did not exhaust his peremptory challenges at trial and
who, on appeal, has not identified a single prospective juror to whom the
trial court erroneously denied a defense challenge for cause, cannot show a
circumstance that invalidates the trial court’s ruling refusing to transfer the
trial from San Mateo County.
A. Second Venue Change Motion: Southern California
May Have Been Better Suited to the Specific Needs of
the Defense, But San Mateo County was the Best Venue
for the Trial

There was never any doubt from the start as to where the defense
wanted this case transferred: Southern California. As defense counsel
candidly stated, “I always prefer Los Angeles, Your Honor.” (1/8/04
Stanislaus RT 206.) Defense counsel was engaged in various cases in the
Los Angeles area as this case got underway. (See, e.g., 9/2/03 Stanislaus
RT 408; 10/17/03 Stanislaus RT 421-422; 11/3/03 Stanislaus RT 680-682;
11/5/03 Stanislaus RT 732-736; 1/20/04 Stanislaus RT 265-266; 1 RT 321-
322.) So, moving the trial to Southern California would have been much
more convenient for defense counsel. It would also have been more
convenient for appellant’s family members who resided in Southern
California. (1/20/04 Stanislaus RT 254, 258.) It appeared the defense
assumed its wishes in this regard would be granted. (12/3/03 Stanislaus RT
5 [defense counsel: “once that [venue change] motion is granted, if it is
granted, is just move the discrete part, which is the trial itself and starting
the jury selection down there,” emphasis added].) Indeed, defense counsel
had already engaged in a discussion with a judge in Los Angeles county
about the prosecution’s request for a prospective juror list and how such a
request would fare in Los Angeles county:

I can only imagine [the judge’s] reaction in Los Angeles when
he receives that order across his desk. I dare say it would hit the
receptacle next to his desk very quickly. Nobody’s going to
honor that in Los Angeles would be my guess, based upon my —
I think I had previously made a representation, when I
approached [the judge] in Los Angeles about doing anything like
this, he considered it to be tampering with the jury pool.

(12/3/03 Stanislaus RT 47.)
The defense’s preference for Los Angeles prompted the Stanislaus
County court to counter that in choosing a new venue it was considering the
logistical needs and convenience of the majority of the witnesses in the case:
“Better one person be inconvenienced than a whole lot of others.” (1/8/04
Stanislaus RT 206.) Given this, Los Angeles County was disfavored in the
court’s view. (1/8/04 Stanislaus RT 206 [“I’m not preferring Los
Angeles”].)

After the Stanislaus County court granted appellant’s motion to move
the trial from that county, it conducted an extensive hearing (see generally
McGown v. Superior Court (1977) 75 Cal.App.3d 648), to select a new
venue from among the four counties identified by the Administrative Office
of the Courts: Santa Clara, Alameda, San Mateo, or Orange. Appellant
preferred Orange, while the People preferred Santa Clara. (12 CT 4058-
4059.)

Persisting in his desire to move the case south, defense counsel
offered an inducement if the court moved the case to Orange County: The
defense would not make an application for Penal Code section 987.9
funding. (1/20/04 Stanislaus RT 254-255.) This tactic was called out by
the prosecution: “[E]very time the Court has a decision to make where
money comes up, the defense suddenly starts attempting to persuade [] the
Court that they’re going to charge the Court money if the Court doesn’t
give them their way.” (1/20/04 Stanislaus RT 257-258.)

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Stanislaus County court, in a
ruling supported by detailed factual findings (11 CT 3776; 1/20/04
Stanislaus RT 264-265), ordered the matter transferred to San Mateo
County.

Appellant enjoyed no right to have his trial moved to Southern
California. Rather, due regard for hardship and the ameliorating effects of
proximity argued strongly for selecting San Mateo County. Defense
counsel acknowledged the persuasive reasons for holding the trial there.
(1/20/04 Stanislaus RT 262-263.) Indeed, an evaluation of the relevant
factors and circumstances confirms that the trial court did not err in denying
transfer from that county. In assessing the correctness of that ruling, “the
fact that venue has already been changed once affects the analysis” (People
v. Cooper (1991) 53 Cal.3d 771, 805 (Cooper)), for common sense dictates
that successive transfers will, at best, be diminishingly effective at
enhancing the fairness of the jury selection process (id. at p. 807 [“It is
speculation to suppose the results of jury selection would [be] significantly
different in any county”], original italics).

Following the transfer to San Mateo County, on May 3, 2004,
appellant moved to change venue to a third county, after jury selection was
underway. (14 CT 4487-4507.) Again, the defense preference was for Los
Angeles or another county in Southern California. (25 RT 5009-5010.)
The crux of the defense argument in favor of moving the trial again was
that San Mateo was in the same television market as Modesto and that
resulted in a prejudgment rate adverse to appellant.101 (36 RT 7080.)
Defense counsel contended there would be less media coverage in Southern
California. (36 RT 7084.)

101 This was not true. As the prosecutor pointed out, San Mateo
County was in the same broadcast market as San Francisco. On the other
hand, Modesto was part of the Sacramento broadcast market. (15 CT 4720;
36 RT 7089.)

102 The defense motion with exhibits can be found in volume number
14 of the Clerk’s Transcript at pages 4487-4716. The prosecution’s

On May 11, appellant’s efforts were rejected by the San Mateo
County court after the issue was thoroughly briefed and argued by the
parties.102 The court detailed its findings for the record. (36 RT 7094-
7102.) We discuss these findings below.
opposition is in volume number 15 at pages 4717-4785. The defense reply
is at pages 4786-4819.

On May 27, the parties selected the jury and six alternate jurors. (42
RT 8313-8365.) Appellant expressed his satisfaction with the jurors and
alternate jurors. (42 RT 8345, 8362.)

B. Legal Principles: Appellant Must Show Error and
Actual Prejudice

A defendant is entitled to a change of venue when she or he shows
“there is a reasonable likelihood that a fair and impartial trial cannot be had
in the county.” (Pen. Code, § 1033, subd. (a).) In determining an initial
motion to change venue, a trial court considers the nature and gravity of the
offense, the size of the community, the status of the defendant, the
popularity and prominence of the victim, and the nature and extent of the
publicity. (People v. Vieira (2005) 35 Cal.4th 264, 279.) “The same
factors apply to a motion for a second change of venue, except that ‘the fact
that venue has already been changed once affects the analysis.’” (People v.
Davis (2009) 46 Cal.4th 539, 578 (Davis), quoting Cooper, supra, 53
Cal.3d at p. 805.)

On appeal, it is the defendant’s burden to show: (1) that denial of the
venue motion was error (i.e., a reasonable likelihood that a fair trial could
not be had at the time the motion was made); and (2) that the error was
prejudicial (i.e., a reasonable likelihood that a fair trial was not in fact had).
(People v. Lewis (2008) 43 Cal.4th 415, 447, overruled on other grounds in
People v. Black (2014) 58 Cal.4th 912, 920; People v. Williams (1989) 48
Cal.3d 1112, 1126.) The reviewing court sustains any factual
determinations supported by substantial evidence, and independently
reviews the trial court’s determination as to the reasonable likelihood of a
fair trial. (People v. Rountree (2013) 56 Cal.4th 823, 837.)
Appellant contends that the level of pretrial publicity in this case was
of such magnitude that prejudice should be presumed, thereby relieving
him of the burden to show actual prejudice—that the seated jurors, who
appellant selected, were biased against him.

Former Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling presented a similar argument
to the United States Supreme Court without success. Appellant’s argument
here should meet the same fate.

In Skilling v. United States (2010) 561 U.S. 358 (Skilling), the high
court explained why prejudice was presumed in Rideau v. Louisiana (1963)
373 U.S. 723, Estes v. Texas (1965) 381 U.S. 532, and Sheppard v.
Maxwell (1966) 384 U.S. 333—three cases which appellant likens to his
own (AOB 163-168). Referring to Rideau, the high court stated:

“What the people [in the community] saw on their television
sets,” we observed, “was Rideau, in jail, flanked by the sheriff
and two state troopers, admitting in detail the commission of the
robbery, kidnapping, and murder.” [Citation.] “[T]o the tens of
thousands of people who saw and heard it,” we explained, the
interrogation “in a very real sense was Rideau’s trial–at which
he pleaded guilty.” [Citation.] We therefore “d[id] not hesitate
to hold, without pausing to examine a particularized transcript of
the voir dire,” that “[t]he kangaroo court proceedings” trailing
the televised confession violated due process. [Citation.]

(Skilling, supra, 561 U.S. at p. 379.) The opinion continued:

In Estes v. Texas, [citation], extensive publicity before trial
swelled into excessive exposure during preliminary court
proceedings as reporters and television crews overran the
courtroom and “bombard[ed] . . . the community with the sights
and sounds of” the pretrial hearing. The media’s overzealous
reporting efforts, we observed, “led to considerable disruption”
and denied the “judicial serenity and calm to which [Billie Sol
Estes] was entitled.” [Citation.]

(Skilling, supra, 561 U.S. at pp. 379-380.) And,

in Sheppard v. Maxwell, [citation], news reporters extensively
covered the story of Sam Sheppard, who was accused of
bludgeoning his pregnant wife to death. “[B]edlam reigned at
the courthouse during the trial and newsmen took over
practically the entire courtroom,” thrusting jurors “into the role
of celebrities.” [Citation.] Pretrial media coverage, which we
characterized as “months [of] virulent publicity about Sheppard
and the murder,” did not alone deny due process, we noted.
[Citation.] But Sheppard’s case involved more than heated
reporting pretrial: We upset the murder conviction because a
“carnival atmosphere” pervaded the trial, [citation].

(Skilling, supra, 561 U.S. at p. 380.)

Justice Ginsburg, writing for the high court, explained that the
convictions were overturned in these three cases because the press coverage
corrupted the trial atmosphere. (Skilling, supra, 561 U.S. at p. 380.) Here,
on the other hand, there was no such corruption. Despite the information-
age challenges that existed in this case,103 thanks to the efforts of the then
presiding judge of the San Mateo County Superior Court, and the trial court
in this case, the media was not permitted to turn the courthouse or the
courtroom into a carnival atmosphere.104 Appellant’s trial counsel even
acknowledged that “the lion’s share of the media has been very responsible
in this case.” (54 RT 10615.) All that appellant can muster in support of
his argument for a finding of presumptive prejudice are photos of two
billboards: One was in downtown Redwood City near the courthouse and

103 Defense counsel acknowledged these challenges: “The fact of the
matter is that the Internet has exploded in terms of its influence and its
pervasiveness since [the O.J. Simpson criminal trial]. Cable TV has
exploded in terms of its influence.” (Stanislaus RT 8/14/03 356.)

104 The record is replete with hearings and orders regarding the San
Mateo County court’s efforts to balance the legitimate interests of the
media to cover the proceedings and the trial court’s mandate to ensure
appellant received a fair trial, including the trial court’s decision to exclude
cameras from the courtroom (1 RT 319-321) and the order of the presiding
judge of the San Mateo County Superior Court limiting one pool camera to
the first floor of the courthouse positioned at least 25 feet away from the
security checkpoint (54 RT 10615-10617).
the other near a freeway.105 (AOB 151-152.) Notably, appellant says
nothing about the atmosphere inside the courtroom.
In Skilling, the Supreme Court reiterated the bedrock principle that
“[p]rominence does not necessarily produce prejudice, and juror
impartiality . . . does not require ignorance.” (Skilling, supra, 561 U.S. at p.
381, citing Irvin v. Dowd (1961) 366 U.S. 717, 722.) To reinforce this
principle, the high court quoted its decision in Reynolds v. United States
(1879) 98 U.S. 145, 155-156:
“[E]very case of public interest is almost, as a matter of
necessity, brought to the attention of all the intelligent people in
the vicinity, and scarcely any one can be found among those best
fitted for jurors who has not read or heard of it, and who has not
some impression or some opinion in respect to its merits.”
(Skilling, at p. 381.) Therefore, the high court made clear that: “[a]
presumption of prejudice, our decisions indicate, attends only the extreme
case.” (Ibid.)
This Court agrees. It is well-settled that pretrial publicity itself—even
if pervasive, adverse publicity—does not invariably lead to an unfair trial.
(People v. Prince (2007) 40 Cal.4th 1179, 1216; see also People v. Farley
(2009) 46 Cal.4th 1053, 1084 [discussing “extraordinary cases” reviewed in
105 The trial court ordered the San Mateo County Sheriff to have the
billboard in town moved away from the courthouse. (1 RT 316-317.) As
for the one near the freeway, appellant assumes that all potential jurors took
the same route to reach the courthouse in Redwood City and, therefore,
must have seen the billboard adjacent to one freeway. (AOB 151 [“This is
what potential jurors who drove to the courthouse saw on their way . . .:”].)
However, it is a matter of common knowledge that, like most Bay Area
cities, there existed a number of different routes that the residents of San
Mateo County could have traveled to reach the courthouse in Redwood
City. Therefore, the contention that all potential jurors saw the billboard is
unfounded.
245

People v. Prince wherein high court presumed prejudice from pretrial
publicity].)

In this case, the press coverage and public interest were admittedly
far-reaching and pervasive. But, the media onslaught stopped at the
courtroom doors. Contrary to appellant’s contention, this was not an
“extreme case,” according to the decisions of the United States Supreme
Court or an “extraordinary” case, as this Court has so defined. Therefore,
appellant must show not only error, but also actual prejudice. As we argue
below, he cannot show either.

C. Appellant Has Not Established That the Trial Court
Erred When it Determined There Was No Reasonable
Likelihood That Appellant Could Not Receive a Fair
Trial in San Mateo County

“Although a defendant’s right to a fair trial in a capital case, as in any
case, may not be infringed, considerations of relative hardship, and the
conservation of judicial resources and public funds, are important factors in
deciding between various possible venue sites. [Citations.]” (Cooper,
supra, 53 Cal.3d at p. 805.)

Here, substantial evidence supports the trial court’s determination that
consideration of the relevant factors counseled against another change of
venue. Although relegated to a footnote, appellant acknowledges that he
has premised his claim on only one of these factors: the extent and nature
of the pretrial publicity. He characterizes the other factors as “largely
neutral.” (AOB 170, fn. 38.) Appellant’s characterization is not persuasive.

1. Size of community

The size of San Mateo County weighed against another change of
venue. The trial court noted that San Mateo county was the 13th most
populous county in the state with a population at the time of over 701,000.
(36 RT 7095-7096.) This Court has described San Mateo County as having
a “geographically dispersed and economically diverse population.” (People
v. Sully (1991) 53 Cal.3d 1195, 1237.)

Indeed, San Mateo County is substantially larger than other venues
that have proved adequate to the task, even in exceptionally high-profile
cases, of ensuring the selection of a fair and impartial jury. (See, e.g.,
United States v. McVeigh (10th Cir. 1998) 153 F.3d 1166, 1180 [upholding
transfer of Oklahoma City bombing case to Denver, Colorado (population
554,636 (2000 census))].)

Cases in which venue changes were granted or ordered upon review
by this Court have typically involved counties with significantly smaller
populations than that of San Mateo. (See, e.g., Williams v. Superior Court
(1983) 34 Cal.3d 584, 592 [Placer County, 117,000 population]; Martinez v.
Superior Court (1981) 29 Cal.3d 574, 582 [same, 106,500 population];
Frazier v. Superior Court (1971) 5 Cal.3d 287, 293, fn. 5 [Santa Cruz
County, 123,800 population]; People v. Tidwell (1970) 3 Cal.3d 62, 64
[Lassen County, 17,500 population]; Fain v. Superior Court (1970) 2
Cal.3d 46, 52, fn. 1 [Stanislaus County, 184,600 population]; Maine v.
Superior Court (1968) 68 Cal.2d 375, 385, fn. 10 [Mendocino County,
51,200 population].)

In fact, this Court has upheld denials of requests for change of venue
in cases involving counties with significantly smaller populations than that
of San Mateo County. (See, e.g., People v. Vieira, supra, 35 Cal.4th at pp.
280-283 [Stanislaus County, population 370,000]; People v. Hayes (1999)
21 Cal.4th 1211, 1251 [Santa Cruz County, under 200,000 population]
People v. Coleman (1989) 48 Cal.3d 112, 134 [Sonoma County, 299,681
population].)

2. Gravity of crime

There is no question that this case is serious in that it is a capital
murder. It has long been recognized, however, that the nature and gravity
of the offense are not dispositive. (People v. Dennis (1998) 17 Cal.4th 468,
523, quoting People v. Pride (1992) 3 Cal.4th 195, 224.) Here, the trial
court found this factor to be neutral. (36 RT 7095.)

In People v. Williams (1997) 16 Cal.4th 635, this Court concluded
that while the case was a capital murder involving the murder of four
people, including two children, those factors were not dispositive in favor
of a change of venue. (Id. at p. 655.) This Court has frequently upheld the
denial of change of venue motions where there were multiple murders.
(People v. Ramirez (2006) 39 Cal.4th 398, 407, 435 [12 counts of first
degree murder, one count of second degree murder, five counts of
attempted murder, four counts of rape, three counts of forcible oral
copulation, four counts of forcible sodomy]; People v. Welch (1999) 20
Cal.4th 701 [six counts of first degree murder, including two young
children]; People v. Bonin (1988) 46 Cal.3d 659, 668, 678 [four counts of
first degree murder and four counts of robbery], overruled on other grounds
in People v. Hill (1998) 17 Cal.4th 800, 823, fn. 1.)

3. Status of appellant and his victims

The community status of appellant also weighed against another
change of venue. There was no evidence that appellant or his family was
known before Laci and Conner Peterson went missing. Appellant grew up
in Southern California, not Northern California. He “was not associated
with any group (such as a disfavored racial minority or juvenile street gang)
towards which the community was ‘likely to be hostile,’” (People v.
Famalaro (2011) 52 Cal.4th 1, 23 (Famalaro)). In the words of the San
Mateo County court: Appellant was “not somebody who sticks out. He
was a fertilizer salesman that’s been accused of this crime.” (36 RT 7097.)

While Laci and Conner became well-known after Laci’s
disappearance, there was no evidence that she was from a family with ties
to the community or that the jury pool was made up of people who knew
her. (Famalaro, supra, 52 Cal.4th at pp. 23-24.)

This Court has recognized that

[a]ny uniquely heightened features of the case that gave the
victim[] and defendant any prominence in the wake of the
crimes, which a change of venue normally attempts to alleviate,
would inevitably have become apparent no matter where
defendant was tried.

(People v. Prince, supra, 40 Cal.4th at p. 1214, quoting People v. Dennis,
supra, 17 Cal.4th at p. 523.) It is the victim’s status prior to the crime that
is relevant to this particular issue (see People v. Prince, supra, 40 Cal.4th at
p. 1214; People v. Ramirez, supra, 39 Cal.4th at p. 434), and post-crime
publicity is more appropriately addressed under the category of nature and
extent of media coverage.

Thus, the reasons which resulted in Laci and Conner becoming known
to the public were aspects that “would have followed the case to any county
to which venue was changed.” (Famalaro, supra, 52 Cal.4th at p. 1203.)
The trial court presaged this Court’s observations in Famalaro and Prince:
“[J]urors and people in general can sympathize with the victim and her
family wherever the case is tried.” (36 RT 7097.)

4. Extent and nature of news coverage

There is no debate: This case received an enormous amount of
attention from the media and the public. But, not just in Stanislaus or San
Mateo counties. The Stanislaus County court characterized the notoriety of
the case as “worldwide.” (5/2/03 Stanislaus RT 16.) Which explains why
the court had concerns, given the level of publicity that followed the case,
about “hopscotching all over the state.” (5/9/03 Stanislaus RT 64.) As the
San Mateo County court observed later in the trial:

The only place you could send this case probably where they
wouldn’t hear about it – I’m not so sure about that — would be
send it to Mars, you know. That’s the only place where you
could try this case where nobody would know anything about it.
It’s been all over the world.[106]
(111 RT 20608.)
In this case, where approximately 1,250 prospective jurors were
summoned, appellant’s contention that 12 unbiased jurors could not be
found is contradicted by the record, as we argue below. As this Court has
observed: “The huge number of prospective jurors initially summoned
(1,200) ensured that an ample number of unbiased prospective jurors
remained after the biased ones had been excused.” (Famalaro, supra, 52
Cal.4th at p. 30.)
a. Extent of coverage
In assessing this factor, the San Mateo County court found that the
defense had made “no showing that this case would receive any less
publicity in another venue, let alone in Los Angeles, which is the media
capital of the world.” (36 RT 7097; see also Famalaro, supra, 52 Cal.4th at
p. 22 [characterizing Southern California as “media-saturated”].)
The trial court’s assessment was supported by the research and
conclusions of the prosecution’s expert, Dr. Ebbe Ebbesen,107 whose report
was appended to the prosecution’s opposition to the second venue motion.
(15 CT 4729-4774 [Exhibit No. 1].) Dr. Ebbesen concluded that the Los
106 The San Mateo County court disclosed that it had received letters
about the case from states as far away as Florida and North Dakota. (36 RT
7098.) And, as indicated in the Statement of Facts, ante, there were
purported sightings of Laci in 26 states and overseas.
107 Dr. Ebbesen received his Ph.D. in experimental and research
psychology from Stanford University with specializations in social
psychology and methodology. (15 CT 4730.) At the time, Dr. Ebbesen
was a Research Professor of Psychology at the University of California,
San Diego. (15 CT 4730.) He had either testified or submitted affidavits in
connection with 45 change of venue motions. (15 CT 4731.)
250

Angeles and San Diego metropolitan area media markets were no less
“‘saturated’” with media coverage than the Sacramento Valley or San
Mateo. (15 CT 4750-4753; Figure No. 1 [graph showing total number of
television news broadcasts that mentioned this case for Los Angeles, San
Diego, and Sacramento markets between December 25, 2002 and
November 27, 2003]; Figure No. 2 [graph showing proportion of
population in each market that constituted potential audience for news
accounts].) From this data, Dr. Ebbesen concluded that newspaper
coverage of the case in Southern California would be no less prolific than
in the northern portion of the state. (15 CT 4752.)

Further, Dr. Ebbesen’s report showed that recognition rates for Los
Angeles County were marginally higher than for San Mateo County. (15
CT 4744; Table No. 1.) Using the figures presented by defense experts and
as reflected in the juror questionnaires, Dr. Ebbesen’s data for San Mateo
County was 96.3 percent. (15 CT 4744.) The recognition data for Los
Angeles County—based on an average of the results of Dr. Ebbesen’s
surveys—was 97.95 percent. (15 CT 4744.)

Additionally, Dr. Ebbesen’s research findings demonstrate that
although the television news coverage of the case was persistent over time,
there was an ebb and flow nature to the coverage, with the zenith of the
coverage occurring around the time Laci’s and Conner’s bodies were
recovered, followed by appellant’s arrest in mid-April 2003. (15 CT 4751
[Figure No. 1], 4752 [Figure No. 2].) In that regard, Dr. Ebbesen’s graph
reveals that by November 27, 2003—approximately three and one-half
months before jury selection commenced—coverage had somewhat abated.
(See People v. Lewis, supra, 43 Cal.4th at p. 449 [the passage of time
diminishes the potential prejudice from pretrial publicity].)

The trial court’s ruling was likewise supported by the opinion of
another prosecution expert, Howard Varinsky, detailed in exhibit number 2
of the prosecution’s opposition. (15 CT 4776-4783.) Varinsky previously
consulted on a number of high-profile criminal and civil trials, including
the trial of Timothy McVeigh. (15 CT 4777-4779.) Based on his
experience, and noting that this case was “national in scope,” Varinsky
concluded moving it to a third venue, like Los Angeles, would not result in
decreased publicity. (15 CT 4780.)

This Court has previously upheld the denial of a change of venue
when there was extensive publicity attending the trial resulting in high
recognition rates. (People v. Rountree, supra, 56 Cal.4th at p. 836 [85
percent of the public had heard of the case]; People v. Leonard (2007) 40
Cal.4th 1370, 1396 [85 percent of the public had heard of the case]; People
v. Ramirez, supra, 39 Cal.4th at p. 433 [94.3 percent of the public had heard
of the case].)

Thus, substantial evidence supports the trial court’s conclusion that
changing venue to a third county “‘offered no solution to the publicity
problem.’” (Davis, supra, 46 Cal.4th 539, 579, quoting People v. Manson
(1976) 61 Cal.App.3d 102, 177.)

b. Nature of coverage

Insofar as appellant argues that the nature of the press coverage in this
case resulted in heightened rates of prejudgment against appellant (AOB
170-176), the San Mateo County court also addressed this issue and found
there was nothing presented by the defense to suggest that prejudgment
rates would be appreciably better for appellant in any other county. (36 RT
7099.)

The trial court’s determination was, again, supported by the research
and conclusions of Dr. Ebbesen. Dr. Ebbesen’s report specifically
addressed whether appellant would have fared better with respect to
prejudgment rates in Southern California, particularly Los Angeles, and Dr.
Ebbesen’s opinion was no. (15 CT 4746-4749.) His research data revealed
that 27 percent of prospective jurors in San Mateo County reported in their
questionnaire responses that they could not set aside their fixed opinions
that appellant was guilty. (15 CT 4744; Table No. 1.) The average
percentage for Los Angeles County was 28.7.108 (15 CT 4744; Table No. 1.)
Additionally, jury consultant Howard Varinsky watched “all but two
days” of jury selection in this case and stated “unequivocally” that the trial
court had “exercised extraordinary caution to ensure the selection of a fair
jury.” (15 CT 4781-4782.) In fact, as Varinsky explained, the San Mateo
County court excused jurors for cause who would have otherwise been
subject to challenge by the defense through the use of peremptories. (15
CT 4782.) Moreover, Varinsky observed: “Even though many jurors have
said they can put the publicity aside and judge the case by evidence
presented in court, the court has used utmost care to ensure any juror who
had even a vague suspicion or even had discussions with family members
or co-workers was excused.” (15 CT 4782.)
In support of its determination, the trial court quoted Irvin v. Dowd,
supra, 366 U.S. at pp. 722-723:
[To] hold that the mere existence of any preconceived notion as
to the guilt or innocence of an accused, without more, is
sufficient to rebut the presumption of a prospective juror’s
impartiality would be to establish an impossible standard. It is
sufficient if the juror can lay aside his impression or opinion and
render a verdict based on the evidence presented in court.
108 As Dr. Ebbesen explained in his report, he did not employ the
same “‘guilt’” question in his December 2003 surveys that was presented in
the juror questionnaire (which predated the development of the
questionnaire in this case) and, therefore, prejudgment rates between the
counties could not be compared in a meaningful fashion. (15 CT 4746.)
However, because the relevant question posed in Dr. Ebbesen’s surveys
assessed fixed opinions about appellant’s guilt or innocence (15 CT 4746-
4747), the question was actually more probative of bias since a fixed
opinion is essentially the product of prejudgment that cannot be set aside.
253

(36 RT 7100.) In this regard, the court explained that it had qualified 66
prospective jurors at that juncture, all of whom had satisfactorily assured
the court of their impartiality and none of whom the defense had challenged
for cause. (36 RT 7100.)

Appellant cites Sheppard v. Maxwell, supra, 384 U.S. 333, and
contends there were substantial references in the media to facts that were
inadmissible at trial. (AOB 166-168.) However, appellant has not
demonstrated that such references would have been limited to San Mateo
County only. Further, there simply “is ‘no presumption of a deprivation of
due process of law aris[ing] from prior exposure to publicity concerning the
case.’” (People v. Jenkins (2000) 22 Cal.4th 900, 945.) And this is true
even when, as here, the pretrial publicity may have included accounts of
dog-tracking efforts and the fact that appellant hired a lawyer before
charges were filed. (See People v. Weaver (2001) 26 Cal.4th 876, 906-907
[coverage included some reports that mentioned defendant’s incriminating
statements, uncharged crimes in which he was suspected of involvement,
dismissed charges, and some especially “lurid details” of a charged offense
that “proved largely untrue”]; People v. Hart (1999) 20 Cal.4th 546, 599
[coverage included information “that defendant had been treated as a
mentally disordered sex offender for nearly three years . . . and had been
released despite warnings from doctors that he was still dangerous others”];
People v. Hill (1998) 17 Cal.4th 800, 823, fn. 1 [coverage included mental
health history, convictions of 10 counts of murder, and death sentence];
accord, People v. Coffman and Marlow (2004) 34 Cal.4th 1, 44-45
[coverage included more than 150 articles and television videos, some of
which referred to the defendants’ commission of other crimes and
confessions to the charged crimes, and characterized the defendants as
“armed and dangerous transients implicated in serial killings”]; Mu’Min v.
Virginia (1991) 500 U.S. 415, 430-431 [reports that included “indications
that [defendant] had confessed” did not foreclose seating an unbiased jury].)

Last, we would be remiss if we neglected to point out that, despite
appellant’s castigation of the media coverage in this case, he did not
hesitate to use the media’s interest to his advantage when he took to local
and national television to try and sell his innocence to the public. (See
People’s Exhs. Nos. 131A-131D, 270B, 272B, 273B.)

D. Appellant Has Not Established a Reasonable
Likelihood That He Did Not Receive a Fair Trial in San
Mateo County

1. Voir dire in San Mateo County

“When pretrial publicity is at issue, ‘primary reliance on the judgment
of the trial court makes [especially] good sense’ because the judge ‘sits in
the locale where the publicity is said to have had its effect’ and may base
[the] evaluation on [the judge’s] ‘own perception of the depth and extent of
news stories that might influence a juror.’” (Skilling, supra, 561 U.S. at p.
362.)

There is no requirement that jurors be totally ignorant of the facts of a
case, so long as they can lay aside their impressions and render an impartial
verdict. (People v. Lewis, supra, 43 Cal.4th at p. 450.) “The defendant
bears the burden of proof that the jurors chosen have such fixed opinions
that they cannot be impartial.” (People v. Hayes (1999) 21 Cal.4th 1211,
1250, italics added.)

Here, the voir dire of the jurors impaneled to try appellant’s case does
not establish a reasonable likelihood that appellant did not have a fair trial.
On the contrary, it demonstrates that every juror selected was equipped to
render decisions on guilt and penalty based strictly on the evidence
presented at trial.
a. Juror Number 1 (11175)

During voir dire, Juror Number 1 stated that he had not followed the
case in the media “at all.” (40 RT 8068.) His questionnaire disclosed that
the first time he had read, seen, or heard anything about the case was about
two years before. (Vol. 1, Main Juror Questionnaires (“MJQ”), page 17.)
Juror Number 1 was aware from news coverage that two bodies were found
in the Bay and one was a baby. (1 MJQ 17.)

This juror had not formed any opinions about the case, including
about appellant’s guilt or innocence. Juror Number 1 checked, “Not
enough information to decide” and explained: “Don’t follow the news
enough.” (1 MJQ 17.) As for his ability to base his decision on the
evidence, Juror Number 1 assured the prosecutor during voir dire, “I can go
by the facts . . . .” (40 RT 8071.) The juror affirmed this in his
questionnaire response: “Listen to the case go from there.” (1 MJQ 17.)
The juror likewise told defense counsel that he was open to the possibility
that appellant had been accused of a crime he did not commit. (40 RT
8075.) He explained: “[I]f I was in that situation, I [would] want
somebody to give me a fair deal, as fair [a] deal as possible.” (40 RT 8076.)
Juror Number 1 made clear that he understood the presumption of
innocence and that the burden of proof was with the prosecution. (40 RT
8081.)

At the conclusion of voir dire, the court admonished him “not to listen,
read, or watch any media reports of this trial, nor discuss it with any
representatives of the media or their agents.” (40 RT 8084.)

b. Juror Number 2 (8510)

This juror had some familiarity with the case from watching television
news reports and reading a few news articles. (1 MJQ 40; 34 RT 6777.)
The first time he had read, seen, or heard anything about the case was about
a year before. (1 MJQ 40.)

Juror Number 2 indicated in his questionnaire and during voir dire
that he initially thought appellant had committed the crime. (1 MJQ 41; 34
RT 6786, 6788-6789.) However, this juror made clear that had not made a
decision about appellant’s guilt or innocence. (34 RT 6777-6778; see also
1 MJQ 40

.)

Some of Juror Number 2’s business associates had expressed opinions,
with some believing appellant was innocent, while others thought he was
guilty, but this juror stated that those opinions would not influence him.
(34 RT 6781-6783.)

Juror Number 2’s answers to defense counsel’s questions during voir
dire confirmed his willingness and ability to base his decision regarding
appellant’s guilt or innocence on the evidence adduced at trial. The juror
stated that he was open to the possibility that appellant had been charged
with a crime that appellant did not commit. (34 RT 6789.) When this juror
was pressed by defense counsel about his ability to set his preliminary
opinion aside, the juror responded: “[I]f the instructions are to put it aside,
don’t worry, just base it on what you’ve heard, then I’m comfortable with
that. Just basing the case on the evidence.” (34 RT 6791.)

Juror Number 2 explained that his prior jury service would assist him
if called as a juror in this case. He had previously served on two juries—
one civil and one criminal. (1 MJQ 39; 34 RT 6773.) One of those trials
received media attention. (34 RT 6790.) He understood that his decision
would be based on what was presented at trial; he learned that from “the
last trial.” (34 RT 6779.) Juror Number 2 abided by the principles that
appellant was presumed innocent (34 RT 6779-6780), and that the burden
of proof was on the prosecution (34 RT 6787). He said: “I’ve been on
juries and I know the procedure.” (34 RT 6793.)

Although defense counsel described Juror Number 2 as “very candid”
(34 RT 6801), “completely sincere,” “admirable” (34 RT 6802), “very
honest,” and “reflective” (34 RT 6803), counsel expressed concerns about
the juror’s ability to base his decision on the evidence and not on any
preformed opinion (34 RT 6801-6804). The trial court had no such
concerns, making similar observations about the authenticity of Juror
Number 2’s assurances to base his decision on the evidence, especially in
light of the juror’s prior jury service. The court qualified Juror Number 2.
(34 RT 6801-6805.)

The court then gave this juror the admonishment regarding avoiding
any media exposure involving this case. (34 RT 6805.)

c. Juror Number 3 (23874)

Juror Number 3 described her level of knowledge of the case, gleaned
from the media, as “probably superficial.” (33 RT 6568.) The first time
she had read, heard, or seen anything about the case was when the media
initially reported the story. (1 MJQ 63.)

Juror Number 3 had not formed any opinions about the case. (33 RT
6569; 1 MJQ 63 [“Not enough information to decide”].) Others had
expressed their opinions to her; some thinking appellant was guilty. (33 RT
6569.) Juror Number 3 did not tend to engage in discussions when others
expressed their opinions. (33 RT 6577-6578.)

In response to defense questioning, this juror said that she was open to
the possibility that appellant was charged with a crime he did not commit.
(33 RT 6578.) She subsequently stated: “I strongly believe in fairness in
any regard.” (33 RT 6583.)
As with the others, the trial court gave this juror the admonishment to
stay away from any media reports of the trial or discussions with
representatives of the media. (33 RT 6584.)

d. Juror Number 4 (4741)

The first time Juror Number 4 had any media exposure to this case
was in December 2002, when Laci first went missing. (1 MJQ 86.)

Juror Number 4 harbored no preconceived notions about appellant’s
guilt or innocence, as revealed by his questionnaire responses. When asked
in question number 94 if he had formed any preliminary opinions about the
case, the juror responded in the negative. (1 MJQ 86.) Question number
95 specifically asked if the juror had formed or expressed any opinions
about appellant’s guilt or innocence. Juror Number 4 checked “Not enough
information to decide.” (1 MJQ 86.) In response to question number 97a
that asked if the juror could set aside anything he may have read, heard, or
seen about the case and base his decision on the evidence adduced at trial,
this juror checked “yes” and explained: “I have not seen nor heard
anything that would so far suggest guilt or innocence.” (1 MJQ 86.)

This juror assured defense counsel that he understood that the
prosecution carried the burden of proof. (17 RT 3432.) Juror Number 4
also acknowledged his understanding that appellant was presumed innocent.
The fact that appellant was seated at the defense table did not change that.
(17 RT 3433 [“Just means he has a chair at the table.”].)

Before ordering Juror Number 4 back, the trial court gave him the
admonishment about avoiding publicity about the case. (17 RT 3434.)
e. Juror Number 5 (9997)109
When asked in the questionnaire if he had read, seen, or heard
anything about the case, Juror No. 5 responded, “as little as possible.” (1
MJQ 339.) In this juror’s view, the media portrayed appellant as being
guilty. (1 MJQ 339.) However, the juror was also of the view that the
media did not always portray the story accurately. (34 RT 6698-6699.)
The juror checked “Not enough information to decide,” when asked
whether he had formed or expressed his own opinions about appellant’s
guilt or innocence. The juror explained: “Court room evidence is the
deciding factor.” (1 MJQ 339.) Although others had expressed their
varying opinions about appellant’s guilt or innocence to him, Juror No. 5
indicated in his questionnaire that he could base his decision entirely on the
evidence produced in court (1 MJQ 339) and that he could be fair to both
sides (1 MJQ 340). He said, “Opinions are cheap.” (34 RT 6700.)
Juror No. 5 disclosed in his questionnaire that his future son-in-law
owned “The Shack,” which the Peterson’s had previously owned. (1 MJQ
340.) During voir dire, the juror explained that his future son-in-law
worked for appellant and Laci when the couple owned the business, but
only for about six weeks. (34 RT 6686, 6687.) Juror No. 5’s future son-inlaw
had very little to say about appellant. (34 RT 6688.) The juror
explained that his future son-in-law, as the then owner of the restaurant, had
received some attention from the media at one point. (34 RT 6688.)
Although the juror and his son-in-law discussed the interview, they never
discussed anything about the case. (34 RT 6705.) The future son-in-law
“never” said anything negative or positive about appellant. (34 RT 6705.)
109 This juror, originally Alternate Juror No. 3, replaced the second
Juror No. 5 (5806, originally Alternate Juror No. 1), who had replaced the
first Juror No. 5 (20840). (19 CT 5991; 56 RT 10978; 112 RT 20805-
20806.)
260

This juror never met appellant or Laci and he did not feel that his
connection to the restaurant would have any effect on his ability to serve as
a juror. (34 RT 6687, 6689.)

Juror No. 5 had previously served on criminal and civil juries. (34 RT
6676, 6695.) He described his service: “They were both pleasurable, I
guess. I enjoyed being on them. It was interesting. And it was nice to see
the system work. It seemed to work as far as I could see.” (34 RT 6696.)

Juror No. 5 recalled at one point having breakfast with some of his co-
workers and expressing his suspicion that appellant was guilty. (34 RT
6706-6707.) However, as far as any previously held notions about
appellant’s guilt, the juror explained that he was aware that there were
people who had been on death row and released from prison after it was
determined that evidence against them was “fabricated, or whatever.” (34
RT 6701.) He observed that there had been “more than one person falsely
accused.” (34 RT 6709.) Juror No. 5 assured defense counsel that he could
be fair to the defense and pointed out that when he served on a criminal
jury, he and his fellow jurors found the defendant not guilty. (34 RT 6709.)
Referring to the prosecution, the juror stated: “[U]nless they can prove it,
he’s definitely innocent.” (34 RT 6710.)

The court admonished Juror No. 5 about avoiding media coverage of
the case. (34 RT 6715.)

f. Juror Number 6 (17903)

In his questionnaire responses, Juror Number 6 stated that the first
time he had read, heard, or seen anything about the case was when Laci
went missing. (1 MJQ 132.) He heard the case was moved to San Mateo
County and that the death penalty was being considered. (1 MJQ 132.)
The juror explained during voir dire that he did not watch very much
television “at all.” (27 RT 5268.)
Juror Number 6 had not formed an opinion about appellant’s guilt or
innocence. (1 MJQ 132.) He explained: “I don’t feel strongly in either
direction.” (1 MJQ 132.)

Insofar as others may have expressed the opinion to this juror that
appellant was guilty, he was not influenced by such sentiments. (27 RT
5268-5270.)

During voir dire by the prosecutor, the juror affirmed his willingness
to abide by the principle that appellant was presumed innocent. (27 RT
5268.) Juror Number 6 assured defense counsel that he could accept the
possibility that appellant had been charged with a crime he did not commit.
(27 RT 5276.)

At the conclusion of voir dire, the trial court gave this juror the same
admonition about avoiding news coverage and contact with media
representatives. (27 RT 5284-5285.)

g. Juror Number 7 (6756)110

110 This juror was originally Alternate Juror No. 2. She replaced the
original Juror No. 7 (6869). (19 CT 5990; 112 RT 20775.)

This juror first became aware of the case when Laci first disappeared.
(1 MJQ 316.) As far as what she may have read, seen, or heard about the
case, the juror responded that it was just basic information. (1 MJQ 316.)
During voir dire, Juror No. 7 explained that any interest she may have
initially had in the case “just died off” because it was “the same thing day
after day.” (23 RT 4615.) Juror No. 7 had not formed any preliminary
opinions about the case and checked “Not enough information to decide”
when it came to her views about appellant’s guilt or innocence. (1 MJQ
316.) She did not think the media always presented the story accurately. (1
MJQ 317.)
Although others had expressed their opinions to Juror No. 7 about
appellant’s guilt, she could base her decision entirely on what was
presented in court. (1 MJQ 316, 317.) In her questionnaire, the juror
responded that she could be fair to both sides and follow the court’s
instruction to avoid any news coverage about the case. (1 MJQ 317.)

During voir dire, Juror No. 7 acknowledged that, at one point, she was
of the opinion that it was “not looking good” for appellant. (23 RT 4624.)
However, the juror assured defense counsel that she was open to the
possibility that appellant, although charged with murder, had not committed
the crimes. (23 RT 4625 [“I’m open to hear anything . . . I mean this is
somebody’s life.”].) Juror No. 7 harbored no suspicion that appellant was
guilty. (23 RT 4626.) She abided by the principles that the burden of proof
was entirely with the prosecution. (23 RT 4627-4628.)

The trial court admonished the juror not to listen to, read, or watch
any media accounts of the case. (23 RT 4630.)

h. Juror Number 8 (18106)

This juror’s questionnaire responses disclosed that he had seen, read,
or heard “very little” about the case. (1 MJQ 178.) During voir dire, Juror
Number 8 characterized his exposure to publicity about the case as “maybe
a news blip, a headline or something, but—pretty much that’s about it.”
(26 RT 5063.) He first became aware of the case in 2003. (1 MJQ 178.)
Through news coverage, the juror learned that the trial was moved to
Redwood City. (1 MJQ 178.) When the prosecutor asked Juror Number 8
if the publicity about the case would affect him, the juror responded: “Not
at all.” (26 RT 5068.)

This juror harbored no opinions about the case generally or about
appellant’s guilt or innocence specifically. (1 MJQ 178.) He checked “yes”
in response to question number 97a, which asked if he could set aside
information gleaned from outside sources and base his decision solely on
the evidence presented at trial. (1 MJQ 178.) The juror reiterated this
promise during voir dire. (26 RT 5068.) In response to defense counsel’s
question, Juror Number 8 stated that he was amenable to considering that
appellant had been charged with a crime he did not commit. (26 RT 5077.)
This juror felt “strongly” that it was appropriate that the prosecution had to
prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. (26 RT 5078.)

Juror Number 8 previously served as a juror on a civil trial that was
tried to a verdict after “fairly long” deliberations. (1 MJQ 177; 26 RT
5069-5071.) He described that process as “rewarding” and was of the view
that the jury “did the right thing.” (1 MJQ 177.)

The trial court gave the juror the admonition to avoid news coverage
and representatives of the media. (26 RT 5084.)

i. Juror Number 9 (8659)

When asked in question number 91 what she had seen, heard, or read
about the case, Juror Number 9 responded: “The same as everybody else.”
(1 MJQ 201.) She first learned about the case around Christmas when Laci
went missing. (1 MJQ 201.) During voir dire, defense counsel, noting that
this juror listed a particular radio station among those media outlets she
consulted from time to time, asked Juror Number 9 if she was familiar with
the radio station’s billboards positing whether appellant was a man or a
monster and asking listeners to vote. (29 RT 5733.) The juror said, “No, I
missed that.” (29 RT 5733.) She did, however, acknowledge having
“[h]eard it all” when defense counsel asked what types of things she
learned about the case from the media. (29 RT 5734.)

This juror had not formed any opinions about the case or, particularly,
with respect to appellant’s guilt or innocence. (1 MJQ 201

.) However, others had
expressed their opinions to the juror. (1 MJQ 201.) Some of the juror’s
family members voiced the view that appellant was innocent, while some
co-workers felt that appellant was guilty. (29 RT 5728.) Juror Number 9
did not agree or disagree when these views were articulated. (29 RT 5729.)
In her questionnaire, the juror responded “yes” that she could set aside
outside influences or preexisting opinions and base her decision on the
evidence presented at trial. (1 MJQ 201.) The juror expounded upon her
response: “I am very fair and the media is not always accurate.” (1 MJQ
201.) She reiterated this view during the prosecution’s questioning. (29
RT 5730-5731.)

Juror Number 9 understood that appellant was “presumed innocent
until he’s proven guilty.” (29 RT 5735.) Likewise, she grasped the concept
that the defense carried no burden of proof. (29 RT 5736.)

The trial court instructed the juror not to pay attention to any media
accounts of the case and not to discuss the case with any representatives
from the media. (29 RT 5741.)

j. Juror Number 10 (9533)

In her questionnaire responses, this juror stated that she first heard of
the case on Christmas Eve when Laci was first reported missing. (1 MJQ
224.) Juror Number 10 characterized her exposure to news accounts as
“Laci missing” and “basic headline news.” (1 MJQ 224.) During voir dire,
she explained:

To be honest, probably I noticed it more so of late, probably
because I’m a little more involved in it. In the beginning I knew
of it on the news and stuff. I have a busy family, so I don’t stop
everything I’m doing [sic] watch the news at five. I may hear it
in another room, what’s going on. I may hear the news on the
radio when I’m driving someone to school. I don’t make it a
point to seek it out basically.

(31 RT 6343.) The juror clarified that if she heard something that caught
her interest on the news, she would pay attention. (31 RT 6343.)
Otherwise, she did not typically seek out information about the case. (31
RT 6343-6344.) However, she did consult the internet to determine if the
trial had been moved to San Mateo County. (31 RT 6344.) In response to
defense counsel’s question asking where she had read about the case, this
juror explained: “Since [the trial] has been changed from Modesto to San
Mateo County, I don’t get the paper regularly. But when I see it, you
know, it’s been in the San Mateo County Times. Maybe the San Francisco
Examiner might have something here and there. But not on a daily basis.”
(31 RT 6353.) Juror Number 10 watched the movie “The Perfect Husband:
The Laci Peterson Story.” (1 MJQ 225; 31 RT 6353-6354.) The movie did
not affect her views or opinions about the case. (1 MJQ 225.) As for cable
television viewing, Juror Number 10 said that it was “[m]ostly sports going
on 24-7” in her household. (31 RT 6354.)

This juror did not hold any preconceived opinions about the case in
general or appellant’s guilt or innocence in particular. (1 MJQ 224 [“Not
enough information to decide”].) She confirmed this during the
prosecutor’s questioning. (31 RT 6344.) This juror explained that when
family or friends expressed their opinions to her that appellant was guilty,
her reply was to remind them that a person was innocent until proven
guilty. (31 RT 6345.) In fact, once she had been summoned as a
prospective juror, Juror Number 10 did her best to avoid such
conversations. (31 RT 6345-6346.) Juror Number 10 responded in the
affirmative when asked in question number 97a if she could base her
decision only on the evidence adduced at trial and not on any preexisting
opinion or outside influence. (1 MJQ 224.)

The juror assured defense counsel that she could presume appellant
innocent. (31 RT 6347-6348.) She understood that the burden was on the
prosecution to prove appellant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. (31 RT
6348-6349.)
Juror Number 10 stated during voir dire that she might have had a
“suspicion” that appellant could be guilty, but that she would “try to keep
an open mind.” (31 RT 6350.) She reiterated her belief that “he’s innocent
until proven guilty.” (31 RT 6350.)

At the conclusion of voir dire, the trial court reminded Juror Number
10 that, as a prospective juror, she should not be following the case in the
news. (31 RT 6356.) The court gave her the standard admonition and told
her that she was to follow the instruction “religiously.” (31 RT 6356-
6357.)

k. Juror Number 11 (24023)

As stated in her questionnaire, the first time Juror Number 11 became
aware of the case was when the news broke that Laci was missing. (1 MJQ
247.) However, she did not follow the case closely after initial news
reports. (34 RT 6740.) Juror Number 11 stated in her questionnaire and
during voir dire that she could set aside what she may have read, heard, or
seen about the case and base her decisions on the evidence. (1 MJQ 247;
34 RT 6743.)

This juror had not formed or expressed any opinions about the case
generally or about appellant’s guilt or innocence specifically. (1 MJQ 247
[“Not enough information to decide”].) When a co-worker expressed the
view that appellant was guilty, this juror did not engage her co-worker in
further discussions. (34 RT 6742-6743.)

The juror understood that appellant was presumed innocent, the
defense had no obligation to prove appellant’s innocence, and the
prosecution carried the burden to prove appellant’s guilt. (34 RT 6743-
6744.) She answered affirmatively when defense counsel asked if she
would, indeed, hold the prosecution’s feet to the fire (34 RT 6746) and
whether she could entertain the possibility that appellant had been charged
with a crime he did not commit (34 RT 6746-6747).
This juror had previous jury service on a civil case. (1 MJQ 246; 34
RT 6735-6736.)

The trial court admonished Juror Number 11 to avoid news accounts
of the trial and not to discuss the trial with media representatives. (34 RT
6752-6753.)

l. Juror Number 12 (17901)

This juror first became aware of this case when Laci went missing
around Christmas 2002. (1 MJQ 270.) Juror Number 12 gleaned the
information primarily from local television news and from the San
Francisco Chronicle. (1 MJQ 270.) During voir dire, this juror said: “I
just haven’t been that involved or following [the case], or that intrigued by
it.” (26 RT 5105.) The juror checked “yes” in response to question 97a,
which asked if she could set aside information from outside sources and
base her decision exclusively on the evidence presented at trial. (1 MJQ
270.)

Although the juror’s co-workers talked about appellant’s arrest when
it occurred and their views that appellant was likely guilty, Juror Number
12 tried to steer clear of such judgments; she did not like the
“sensationalism” that attended the case. (26 RT 5104.) Juror Number 12
explained that her own employer had been the subject of frequent news
reports at the time and she was aware that “the facts aren’t in the
newspapers.” (26 RT 5105.) She also told defense counsel that she
understood the impartial role of a juror having investigated alleged
instances of child abuse “you look at the situation, you find the facts.” (26
RT 5107.)

In her questionnaire responses, Juror Number 12 stated that she did
not hold any preconceived opinions about the case in general or about
appellant’s guilt or innocence in particular. (1 MJQ 270.) After checking
the response “Not enough information to decide,” this juror elaborated on
her answer: “I have said ‘I wasn’t there.’ I do believe a person is innocent
until proven guilty. The news media can easily distort facts.” (1 MJQ 270.)

This juror assured defense counsel that she was open to the possibility
that appellant was charged with a crime he did not commit. (26 RT 5107.)
She also embraced the principle that appellant did not have to testify or
otherwise prove his innocence and that the burden was on the prosecution
to prove appellant was guilty. (26 RT 5110.)

At the conclusion of voir dire, the court admonished Juror Number 12
about refraining from consulting news accounts about the case or
interacting with members of the media. (26 RT 5111.)

In summary, the voir dire process confirmed that appellant could and
did, in fact, receive a fair trial in San Mateo County despite the widespread
pretrial publicity the crime received. (People v. Welch, supra, 20 Cal.4th at
p. 745.) No juror’s initial impressions of the case were resolutely held, and
all of the jurors provided assurance—accepted by the trial court—that
pretrial publicity would not prevent them from performing their duties
fairly and impartially. (See People v. Leonard (2007) 40 Cal.4th 1370,
1396 [“jurors selected to try this case bear out the trial court’s conclusion
that an unbiased jury could be found”].)

Further, as stated, at the conclusion of individual voir dire, the court
admonished each of the jurors to avoid news coverage of the case and any
contact with members of the media.111 And, each juror responded in their
respective questionnaires that they would follow the court’s instruction to
avoid news coverage about the case. (1 MJQ 18 [Juror No. 1], 41 [No. 2],

111 The trial court repeatedly admonished the jury throughout the
proceedings about avoiding news coverage of the trial and contact with the
media. (See, e.g., 44 RT 8683; 45 RT 8894; 46 RT 9080; 47 RT 9337; 48
RT 9553; 49 RT 9779; 51 RT 10137; 52 RT 10332; 53 RT 10473; 54 RT
10664; 55 RT 10852.)
64 [No. 3], 87 [No. 4], 340 [No. 5], 133 [No. 6], 317 [No. 7], 179 [No. 8],
202 [No. 9], 225 [No. 10], 248 [No. 11], 271 [No. 12].) It is presumed the
jury followed the trial court’s instructions. (People v. Montes (2014) 58
Cal.4th 809, 888.)
2. Appellant’s demonstrated satisfaction with the jury
as selected

Finally, we note appellant “expressed no dissatisfaction with the jury
as selected.” (People v. Fauber (1992) 2 Cal.4th 792, 819-820.) This fact,
especially when coupled with the fact that he did not exhaust his
peremptory challenges, “strongly suggests the jurors were fair and that the
defense so concluded.” (People v. Coffman and Marlow, supra, 34 Cal.4th
at p. 46; People v. Dennis, supra, 17 Cal.4th at p. 524; People v. Panah
(2005) 35 Cal.4th 395, 448.)

Appellant acknowledges that he did not exhaust his available
peremptory challenges (AOB 176), but contends it was a defensive act
based on the possibility that there might be individuals in the remaining
pool of qualified prospective jurors who were less appealing to the defense
than those jurors who were ultimately chosen (AOB 177-178).

This argument fails. Appellant, we note again, expressed no
dissatisfaction with the jury as selected, and he cannot credibly claim that
he accepted a juror he believed (but did not then assert) was “unfair”—
despite having the means and opportunity to remove him or her—because
he feared the speculative consequences of having a replacement juror
randomly drawn from the remaining pool of prospective jurors. But even
putting aside how inconceivable it is that appellant’s trial counsel actually
conducted themselves on the basis of such remote probabilities, appellant’s
resort to the defensive acts doctrine must be rejected. The law reasonably
contemplates that parties will use the means available to them to ensure the
fairness of their proceedings (see, e.g., People v. Ashmus (1991) 54 Cal.3d
932, 964, fn. 8), not attempt to justify their inaction by resort to unfounded
speculation. Accordingly, appellant should have used as many of his
remaining peremptory challenges as were necessary to remove any juror or
jurors he genuinely believed to be unfair, and at that point, if he were still
dissatisfied and had exhausted all available challenges, he could have asked
the trial court for more.

Moreover, on appeal, appellant does not identify a single prospective
juror as to whom the court erroneously denied a defense challenge for cause.
Nor has appellant shown that “exhausting his remaining peremptories
would necessarily have resulted in the seating of a juror who ought to have
been removed for cause.” (People v. Price (1991) 1 Cal.4th 324, 401.)

As this Court has made clear:

Because the existence of unused peremptory challenges strongly
indicates defendant’s recognition that the selected jury was fair
and impartial, the failure of the defense to exhaust all
peremptory challenges, without a reasonable explanation, can be
a decisive factor, even in close cases, in confirming that the
denial of a change of venue was justified. [Citations.]

(Davis, supra, 46 Cal.4th at p. 581.)

In sum, appellant has not provided this Court with any legally
sufficient or persuasive reason for failing to exhaust his peremptory
challenges. Thus, the defense’s conduct and the record of voir dire strongly
support the conclusion that appellant and his counsel were in fact satisfied
with the jury they accepted.

VI. THE TRIAL COURT PROPERLY ADMITTED THE MARINA DOG
TRAILING EVIDENCE

Appellant claims the trial court abused its discretion in admitting dog
trailing evidence. (AOB 179-238.) He contends the admission of such
evidence was so prejudicial that it warrants reversal of the judgment.
(AOB 232-238.)
We beg to differ. The jury heard evidence that “Trimble”—a certified
trailing dog—detected Laci’s scent at the Berkeley Marina four days after
she was reported missing. A few months later, Laci’s and Conner’s bodies
washed ashore not far from the marina where Trimble picked up Laci’s
scent and where appellant had been on the day Laci disappeared. There
exists no stronger testament to Trimble’s capabilities than the corroborative
nature of that tragic circumstance.

In any event, appellant misconstrues the nature of the dog scent
evidence admitted at his trial. Ample foundation for admission of dog
trailing evidence was presented at an Evidence Code section 402 hearing.
Appellant’s complaints go merely to the weight, rather than the
admissibility, of the evidence. Given this, appellant fails to meet his
burden of showing the trial court’s ruling constituted an abuse of discretion.

Last, any alleged error in admitting the dog trailing evidence was
harmless in light of the overwhelming evidence against appellant. Finally,
appellant’s claim that admission of the dog scent evidence violated his
constitutional rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments is
forfeited. But, if viable, the claim is without merit.

A. Pretrial Hearings and Rulings

Over several days in late February 2004, the trial court conducted an
extensive section 402 hearing on the admissibility of the dog trailing
evidence. (See 7 RT 1285-1481; 8 RT 1490-1646; 9 RT 1678-1836.)

The court permitted introduction of Trimble’s alert at the Berkeley
Marina because the detection of Laci’s scent at the marina was
independently corroborated, unlike the other proffered dog trailing evidence
that the court excluded. (10 RT 2000-2004.)
1. Testimony

a. Dog handler Eloise Anderson

Anderson was a certified dog handler who participated in trailing and
cadaver searches for the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department. (7 RT
1469.) She had over 20 years of experience working with dogs. In 1982,
Anderson started doing professional obedience training for dogs, including
dogs involved in American Kennel Club competitions. (7 RT 1467; 8 RT
1488.) In 1990, she shifted her focus to working with dogs in a volunteer
search and rescue capacity. (7 RT 1467; 8 RT 1489.) Anderson trained
dogs for area, cadaver, water, evidence, and trailing searches.112 (7 RT
1467.)

112 A scent-based trail can be deposited by a subject while he or she
is on foot, on a bicycle, or while riding in a vehicle. Thus, a scent trail can
be left even where the subject’s feet do not make contact with the ground.
The trailing dog follows the residual scent left by the subject. (7 RT 1286-
1287.) A person’s scent consists of skin “rafts” or tiny particles of skin that
are shed by the body. (8 RT 1547.) Tracking involves the dog working
from footprint to footprint. (7 RT 1287.)

113 Cindee Valentin, who was also a dog handler for the Contra
Costa County Sheriff’s Office and worked on the same search and rescue
team with Anderson and Trimble, testified that CARDA certification was
required before dogs were permitted to work for the state Office of
Emergency Services (“OES”). (7 RT 1291-1292, 1478, 1481.)

Anderson served as a trainer for the California Rescue Dog
Association (“CARDA”).113 In that position, she evaluated dogs for
certification in the areas of area, cadaver, water, and trailing searches. (7
RT 1474.) Anderson had conducted over 100 certification tests. (7 RT
1475.) She was also a Certified Search Manager having completed training
on basic search management plans and operations. (7 RT 1475.)

Trimble, Anderson’s trailing dog, was a CARDA-certified Labrador
Retriever. (7 RT 1469, 1473, 1478; People’s Exh. No. 209 [photo of
Trimble in harness].) Part of the certification required that Trimble work
trails of different ages, which included a trail that was 96 hours old. (7 RT
1472.)

Trimble participated in ongoing training, which included running
trails in different scent environments. For example, Trimble trained in
urban settings where there was vehicle traffic and asphalt, which presented
unique challenges for scent conditions. (7 RT 1477; 8 RT 1489-1490.) In
October 2003, Trimble attended training in Texas that was typically
reserved for bloodhounds. In that training session, Trimble was exposed to
various “scent pictures,” which included different terrains and some interior
environments, as well. (7 RT 1477-1478.) Anderson stated that she and
Trimble also attended training seminars in 1999 and 2000, in California and
Kansas. (7 RT 1478-1479.) The practical training took place in various
locales because it was important that Trimble be exposed to different terrain
and environmental influences to learn how scent was affected in those
environments. (7 RT 1479; 8 RT 1497.) The training exercise also honed
Anderson and Trimble’s skills as a team (7 RT 1480), including Anderson’s
ability to accurately read Trimble’s cues (8 RT 1493).

When Trimble ran a trail, she wore a harness with a line (a leash of
sorts) that could extend up to 30 feet as Trimble worked a trail. (8 RT
1492.) As the handler, Anderson watched Trimble’s behavior as Trimble
worked a trail. Typically, when Trimble had picked up the subject’s scent,
she would “line out” meaning she was at the end of her line, with her head
and body level, driving straight ahead. (8 RT 1494; People’s Exh. No. 209
[inset showing Trimble’s trail posture].) If Trimble lost the trail, which
could be due to the scent becoming diluted or Trimble missing a turn in the
trail, she worked her way back and tried to pick up the scent again. (8 RT
1494.) Anderson explained that trailing dogs identified the freshest scent,
which was typically the strongest scent. (8 RT 1500-1501.) Trimble’s
“alert” involved tagging the subject with her nose and then standing off and
barking at the subject. (8 RT 1492.)

Anderson kept a training log for Trimble and testified about specific
training exercises. On November 23, 1999, Trimble worked an outdoor
trail that was five days old. (8 RT 1491.) During the intervening time after
the trail was laid and before Trimble’s training exercise, there were heavy
rains. (8 RT 1491.) The trail involved a grass median, intersection, park,
and a parking lot. (8 RT 1491.) Trimble successfully found the subject of
the search. (8 RT 1491.)

On December 30, 2001, Trimble participated in a non-contact trailing
exercise where the subject rode a bicycle from Walnut Creek to the Bay
Area Rapid Transit (“BART”) commuter station in Dublin and then
traveled on BART to his home. (8 RT 1495.) The subject then returned to
the BART station parking lot in a vehicle and waited in the station. (8 RT
1495.) The trail required that Trimble navigate an area with vehicle traffic,
a bike trail, and a commuter station. (8 RT 1495-1496.) The 22-mile trail
was 96 hours old when Trimble successfully found the subject in the BART
station. (8 RT 1496.)

On January 19, 2002, Anderson conducted another non-contact
vehicle trailing exercise with Trimble. (8 RT 1497-1498.) The subjects
drove their vehicles from a side road where the vehicles were initially
parked and out onto a freeway. (8 RT 1498.) Trimble and Anderson
traveled in a vehicle to three exit ramps along the same freeway. (8 RT
1498.) At each exit, Trimble was presented with the subject’s scent again
and then Anderson watched to see if Trimble would take a path off the
freeway exit or continue on the freeway. (8 RT 1498.) At the third exit,
the subjects were instructed to take the exit, turn right, and park their cars.
When the dogs arrived at that exit, the subjects were instructed to begin
walking on the sidewalk as if they were pedestrians. (8 RT 1498.) That
same day, Anderson also had Trimble attempt a six-day-old wilderness trail.
(8 RT 1498-1499.) The trail was a combination contact and non-contact
bicycle trail where the subject rode the bike along a bike trail and then
walked up a steep hill. (8 RT 1499.) Although Trimble had to take some
time to work through one particular area of the trail, she tagged the subject
after he walked by her in the dark. (8 RT 1499-1500.)

On March 9, 2002, Trimble successfully completed a trail that was 14
days old. (8 RT 1501.)

On April 7, 2002, Anderson had Trimble work a bike trail that was
four and one-half days old. (8 RT 1502.) There were two bicycle riders,
one of whom was the subject. The non-subject rider made contacts with the
trail along the way, which required Trimble to differentiate between the
scent of the subject and the scent of the non-subject bike rider. Trimble
tagged the subject at the end of the trail. (8 RT 1502.)

On May 18, 2002, Anderson conducted another bicycle trail with
Trimble that was 24 hours old. (8 RT 1503, 1504.) Most of the trail was
non-contact because the subject was riding a bike, but at one point, the
subject sat on a bench with another bike rider. (8 RT 1503.) Anderson
explained that bicycle trails presented the challenge of “a discontinuous
scent picture” for Trimble. (8 RT 1504.) Trimble successfully completed
the exercise. (8 RT 1504.)

On September 1, 2002, Trimble participated in a trailing exercise
inside a mall that was designed to present as many distractions as possible.
(8 RT 1504-1505.) The exercise took place on a Sunday evening after
many people had passed through the mall over the weekend. (8 RT 1505.)
The subject was placed in a hamburger restaurant inside the mall. (8 RT
1505.) Trimble negotiated different smells and surfaces than those which
she was accustomed to and successfully tagged the subject. (8 RT 1505.)
On July 25, 2003, Trimble ran a vehicle trail. The subject was in the
trunk of a vehicle. (8 RT 1505.) The exercise also involved a cadaver dog
team and cadaver sources, which tested Trimble’s ability to differentiate the
subject scent in the trunk of one vehicle from cadaver scent in a different
vehicle. (8 RT 1505-1506.) Trimble successfully completed the exercise.
(8 RT 1506.)

On July 26, 2003, Trimble was tested in her ability to follow the
subject’s scent off a street and onto a foot path trail going up a hill. (8 RT
1506.) The trail was 48 hours old. (8 RT 1507.) A decoy was placed in
the middle of the trail—someone who Trimble had previously trailed. (8
RT 1506.) Another distraction was built into the exercise because the
subject’s husband also walked the trail with the subject. (8 RT 1506.) So,
Trimble needed to work past the decoy and then differentiate the subject
from her husband. (8 RT 1506-1507.) Trimble tagged the subject. (8 RT
1507.)

As for real-life situations, Anderson related that Trimble followed the
trail of a runaway boy who had left home on his bicycle. She tagged the
boy as he was heading back to his home. (8 RT 1508.) On another
occasion, a girl ran away from home. The girl left in a van with two adult
males. (8 RT 1508.) The group stopped at the girl’s friend’s house, but the
friend declined to go with them. (8 RT 1508.) Trimble was scented under
the bedroom window of the friend’s house two days later. (8 RT 1508.)
Trimble followed the trail to the main highway, but while Trimble worked
the trail, authorities had developed other investigative information and
Anderson and Trimble were called off. (8 RT 1508.)

Anderson acknowledged one instance in March 2001, where Trimble
did not successfully locate the subject during a trailing exercise. (8 RT
1549-1550.)
On December 28, 2002, the Modesto Police Department, working
through OES, engaged the services of Anderson and Trimble for the
purpose of determining whether Laci’s scent was present at the Berkeley
Marina. (8 RT 1516.) The scent article was Laci’s sunglasses contained in
a hard cover case, which were collected from the Peterson’s Covena
residence. (8 RT 1517.) Anderson explained that because sunglasses were
exposed to an individual’s skin oils or make-up, the sunglasses were a
potentially good source for scenting a dog. (8 RT 1580.)

At the marina, there were two possible entrances to the harbor area.
(8 RT 1517; People’s Pretrial Exh. No. 12.)114 There were also three piers
that ran north to south. (8 RT 1585.) Anderson first scented Trimble with
Laci’s glasses behind a line of trees that separated the two asphalt parking
areas at the marina northeast of the boat launch area. (8 RT 1519, 1585.)
Trimble went to the end of her line, but gave Anderson a “no trail
indication.” (8 RT 1519.) As Anderson explained, she moved Trimble
closer to vegetation in the same area since scent adhered to vegetation more
readily than to asphalt. (8 RT 1519; People’s Pretrial Exh. No. 12.) Again,
Trimble gave a negative trail indication. (8 RT 1519.)

114 This exhibit can be found in the Clerk’s Pretrial Motions Exhibits
Transcript at page 155. The specific areas that Anderson and Trimble
searched are highlighted in yellow.

Anderson next moved Trimble to the opposite side of the parking lot
on the northwest side of the boat launch area. (8 RT 1519-1520, 1586;
People’s Pretrial Exh. No. 12.) Anderson scented Trimble a second time
behind the line of trees that separated the two entrances to the marina. (8
RT 1520.) Anderson described Trimble’s behavior after the dog was
scented in this second location:

She drove away from me for a very short distance, to the end of
her line, came back, went up against — on the pavement, but up
along the edge of the tree line and the vegetation line, and made
a straight line — where there’s a circle there? [Referring to
exhibit number 12.] That was a little open area. She did a circle
up onto the vegetation and then came back out, lined out, led —
head level, tail up and lined out straight to the end of the — to the
end of that particular pier where it made a sharp turn to the right,
and stopped by a pylon that’s right there at that pier.

(8 RT 1520; People’s Pretrial Exh. No. 12.) The western-most pier was
connected to the pylon. (8 RT 1520-1521, 1587.) A boat could be tied to
the pylon, but not launched from the pier. (8 RT 1521, 1593-1594.)

After giving Trimble “a moment to settle” while at the end of the pier,
Anderson described Trimble’s subsequent behavior:

She went, took the turn and went to the portion of the pier where
it went about ten or 15 feet, made a sharp left, went about
another 15 feet there, stopped, came back, and came back to the
pylon. Again hard eye contact on my left side. End of trail.

(8 RT 1521.)

During cross-examination, Anderson explained that even if Laci was
deceased when she was present at the marina, her body could have
continued to release skin rafts. (8 RT 1588.) That was because, in
Anderson’s view, friction from clothing on the body could slough off
particles of skin. (8 RT 1588.) When defense counsel asked Anderson if
she could point to a particular book that discussed the potential for skin
rafts to be shed by deceased individuals, Anderson cited “Syrotuck, Scent
and the Scenting Dog.” (8 RT 1590.)115

115 Although appellant’s trial counsel declined to cross-examine
Anderson on the cited source during the pretrial hearing, appellate counsel
attempts to do so in a footnote. (AOB 200, fn. 45.) However, no such
evidence was presented in the trial court at the hearing. (See, e.g., People
v. Fulcher (2006) 136 Cal.App.4th 41, 54 [any erroneous factual
assumptions by expert could be addressed through cross-examination].)
Had appellant presented this “evidence” at the hearing rather than wait to
present it for the first time on appeal, Eloise Anderson or the prosecutor
would have had an opportunity to address appellant’s specific assertion
about skin rafts and wind velocities. Appellant’s attempt to impeach
Anderson on appeal with information outside the record should be rejected.

When asked by defense counsel if Trimble’s trail from the
northwestern portion of the launch area out to the pier was a contact or
vehicle trail, Anderson opined that owing to the manner in which Trimble
worked the trail, it was a non-contact trail. (8 RT 1590.) Anderson
acknowledged that a non-contact trail could be affected by environmental
factors, including wind. (8 RT 1590.) Although the wind typically moved
west to east from the ocean to the Bay, Anderson stated that her
recollection was that the wind was not coming in from the west that day. (8
RT 1592-1594.) In fact, in Anderson’s opinion, there were no
environmental factors that day that created interference with Trimble’s
ability to run the trail. (8 RT 1618.)

Even if the wind had been moving from west to east, Anderson’s
experience with Trimble was that she could work either side of the trail—
the near or far side relative to the direction of the wind. (8 RT 1592-1593.)
Anderson had already explained that Contra Costa County, where she and
Trimble worked, was an area with strong cross winds, which necessitated
that Trimble learned how to successfully navigate scent in the wind. (8 RT
1504.) Anderson disagreed with defense counsel’s assertion that a wind
blowing west to east would necessarily have deposited all of a person’s
scent on the eastern-most pier. (8 RT 1594-1595.) Depending on the
velocity of the prevailing wind, skin rafts could still have remained
deposited in the wake of the wind. (8 RT 1595.) Anderson said she
“probably wouldn’t” expect skin rafts to withstand winds above five miles
per hour. (8 RT 1595.)
As for the prospect of contamination on Laci’s sunglasses, Anderson
explained that, based on the information she received at the time the
sunglasses were collected, she understood that appellant may have handled
Laci’s purse, which contained the sunglasses case, but Anderson had no
information which suggested that appellant handled Laci’s sunglasses, or
the sunglasses case. (8 RT 1551-1552.)

Further, Anderson explained that Trimble was trained with
contaminated scent articles so that she could learn to distinguish among
scents. (8 RT 1615.) For example, Anderson had different individuals—in
addition to the subject—handle a scent article. This was called a “missing
member” test. (8 RT 1615-1616.) Before setting out to attempt a trail on
the subject scent, Trimble was initially required to “check” to see if the
person who deposited the non-subject scent was present. If so, Trimble
touched the person with her nose. She then understood that she was to trail
the scent of the person who was “missing” or not present. (8 RT 1615-
1617.) Anderson estimated that she had run this type of test about 12 times
with Trimble. (8 RT 1625.) However, Anderson did not see a need to run
the missing member test with Trimble at the marina using appellant as a
non-subject scent. (8 RT 1625.)

Anderson also testified to Trimble’s vehicle trailing along Highways
33 and 132 in and around Modesto on January 4, 2003, which were also
undertaken in response to a request from the Modesto Police Department.
(8 RT 1515, 1522-1528, 1566-1580.)

Anderson was familiar with an instructor by the name of Andrew
Rebmann from Washington State. (8 RT 1614.) Rebmann had worked
with Trimble and Anderson. Anderson documented the training logs
Trimble completed with Rebmann, which were successful. (8 RT 1614.)
The trial court made a finding that Trimble was “[r]eliable in tracking
humans.”116 (8 RT 1613.)

116 The trial court used the term “tracking,” but the record suggests
the correct term was “trailing.” Throughout the hearing, the court and
parties occasionally used the terms “trailing” and “tracking”
interchangeably.

b. Captain Christopher Boyer

Captain Christopher Boyer was the head of Contra Costa County’s
volunteer search and rescue team. (8 RT 1629.) His supervisory
responsibilities included oversight of five K-9 search teams. (9 RT 1691.)
Boyer started with the agency as a volunteer about 10 years previously. (8
RT 1634.) Boyer explained that the California Governor’s Office of
Emergency Services (“OES”) was the agency responsible for search and
rescue and rescue mutual aid in the state. (8 RT 1634.) He taught a 40-
hour course in search and rescue management for the agency. (8 RT 1634-
1635.) Boyer also taught at national and regional search and rescue
seminars (8 RT 1636-1637), including a two-hour seminar on scent theory,
which was part of the National Search and Rescue Seminar held in Reno,
Nevada, in September 2003 (8 RT 1636). He trained representatives from
federal agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency
(“FEMA”) and the FBI. (8 RT 1637.)

In addition to his role as the head of the county search and rescue
team, Boyer was also a K-9 handler. (8 RT 1629.) He worked with a
certified cadaver dog, which was a Labrador Retriever. (8 RT 1633, 1634.)
Boyer had also trained a Bloodhound as a trailing dog for one year before
ending the dog’s training due to the dog developing hip dysplasia. (8 RT
1633-1634.) With respect to the breed of dog it employed, OES did not
distinguish between Bloodhounds and Labrador Retrievers. The agency
based its certification on the qualifications of the dog, not the breed. (8 RT
1635.)

Boyer described “[s]cent theory” as “how the dog detects the scent,
how the environment affects the scent, and how to manage your dog and
work your dog so that you put it in a better position to find those things and
work through any problems that you might have in the environment.” (8
RT 1638.)

He made clear that it was possible for a person to give off a live scent
as well as a necrotic or decomposing scent. (8 RT 1640.) Live scent was
produced typically from shedding of skin cells. In short, live scent was
produced externally. (9 RT 1678.) Boyer analogized the body’s process of
producing live scent to “Post-it notes fall[ing] off.” (9 RT 1680.) A human
shed roughly 150,000 skin rafts every hour. (9 RT 1689.) Skin rafts
degraded as they were consumed by bacteria over time. (9 RT 1688.) They
were also subject to being dispersed due to environmental conditions, like
wind. (9 RT 1690.) However, Boyer pointed out that sometimes wind
actually created a trail. (9 RT 1794.) He also explained that the conditions
on the Bay were not necessarily unfavorable to a trailing dog’s ability to
detect scent: “In fact, some salt water environments it’s much simpler.
The hydroscopic nature of salt water maintains humidity and the fog in that
area maintains humidity. It’s much simpler and easier to work in that area,
actually.” (9 RT 1784.)

On the other hand, “[d]ead scent” was the result of internal bodily
processes, which were vented through the body’s orifices. (9 RT 1678-
1679.) The cooler the environment, the less quickly dead scent was
produced. (9 RT 1680.) However, even after a person died, skin rafts
remained on the body. (9 RT 1680.) According to Boyer, “you can still
have a very overwhelming live smell attached to that person for a very long
time. Especially if the environmental conditions are very cool.” (9 RT
1680.)

Boyer explained the circumstances presented to search and rescue K-9
teams when a person was reported missing:

Every time a dog is called out that’s a cadaver dog, we
obviously are looking for decomposing human remains. But any
dog that’s called out for a search where we have a missing
person, we never know whether that person has expired or not.
And so the search is always for an assumed live human. But
that person could be dead at the end of a trail for [a] trailing dog,
or they could be dead in the area that an area search, or a
wilderness search, a dog that’s looking for live remains. Even in
an avalanche you don’t know whether the victim is alive or dead
under the avalanche. Dog has to figure that out.

(8 RT 1639.)

Boyer described K-9 searches as both science and art. In his view, the
aspect of the search function that was more of an art was the relationship
between the handler and the dog, including the handler’s ability to interpret
the dog’s behavior. (9 RT 1796-1797.) Generally speaking, it had been
Boyer’s experience that CARDA-certified dogs were typically able to
follow a scent trail to its end. (9 RT 1799.) With particular regard to his
participation in Anderson’s training exercises with Trimble, Boyer stated
that Trimble was able to successfully locate the subject of the search. (9
RT 1799.)

With respect to scent contamination issues, Boyer pointed out that
because scent articles were not necessarily pure in the sense that they
contained only the subject’s scent, search dogs were trained to work the
“predominant scent” from a scent article. (9 RT 1681, 1682.) The dogs
were also trained to follow the freshest scent trail, even if the scent was
weaker than other scents. (9 RT 1803.)

Ideally, “very personal” scent articles were optimal; those that the
subject’s skin came in contact with on a daily basis, such as a watch,
toothbrush, glasses, hair barrettes, sleepwear, and pillows. (9 RT 1681-
1682.) With particular regard to Laci’s sunglasses, Boyer explained that he
and search team member Cindee Valentin collected the item from Laci’s
purse, while at the Covena residence on December 26. (9 RT 1714.) Boyer
held the purse, pulled items out, and showed them to Valentin. (9 RT 1720.)
Valentin decided the sunglasses, which were in their case, would be a good
scent item. (9 RT 1720.) Boyer was the person who removed the glasses
case from the purse. (9 RT 1720, 1721.) Boyer and Valentin wore latex
gloves during the collection of scent items. (9 RT 1714, 1717.) The items
were individually packaged in plastic bags. (9 RT 1714.) Boyer changed
gloves after handling each scent item. He could not recall if Valentin did
the same. (9 RT 1717.) Boyer did not believe that Valentin handled
appellant’s brown slipper, which was the last scent item collected. (9 RT
1720-1721.)

Boyer was the search and rescue scene manager at the Berkeley
Marina on December 28 when Anderson and Trimble were deployed in the
search for Laci. (8 RT 1643.) To aid in the marina search, the Modesto
Police Department had requested a water dog—a dog that could find human
remains under water—and a trailing dog. (9 RT 1772-1773.) In addition to
Anderson and Trimble, Boyer arranged for a second trailing team to search
at the marina, along with a K-9 team that specialized in water searches. (9
RT 1773.) Ronald Seitz from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office was the
other trailing dog handler who responded as part of mutual aid. (9 RT
1773-1774, 1780.)

Boyer supervised the trailing dog teams and was familiar with the
areas Anderson and Trimble searched, as well as those searched by Seitz
and his dog. (8 RT 1643; 9 RT 1775.) Boyer had Seitz scent his dog with
one of Laci’s slippers to see if they could locate a trail in the boat launch
ramp area. (9 RT 1776, 1822.) Seitz and his dog went off to search while
Boyer briefed Anderson. (9 RT 1776.) Subsequently, Seitz reported to
Boyer that his dog did not locate Laci’s scent along the tarmac area on the
side of the marina nearest to the restrooms. (9 RT 1776-1777, 1822.) Seitz
and his dog searched the area for about 10 or 15 minutes. (9 RT 1778.)

Boyer was aware that Anderson and Trimble searched the “choke
points” at the marina, which were the areas where Laci would necessarily
have had to pass through. (9 RT 1803-1804, 1805.) Specifically, there
were two vehicle choke points to the marina’s parking lot. (9 RT 1805.)
Referencing the exhibit Eloise Anderson used to illustrate the locations
Trimble searched, Boyer stated that the area where Anderson indicated
Trimble had found no trail was the same area that Seitz and his dog had
also searched with the same result. (9 RT 1823-1824; People’s Pretrial Exh.
No. 12.) Boyer described the pier where Trimble detected Laci’s scent, as
being on the Bay side, near the marina exit, and “towards the open area of
Brooks Island.” (9 RT 1686.) The pier extended out over the water about
30 yards. (9 RT 1686.)

At the time of the marina search, Boyer was unaware that appellant
stated he had gone out on the Bay from the marina. (9 RT 1806-1807,
1821.) Therefore, Boyer did not advise his search teams prior to the search
on December 28 that appellant stated he had been at the marina. (9 RT
1806-1807.)

Boyer was also acquainted with the areas where Laci’s and Conner’s
bodies washed ashore. (9 RT 1685.) The recovery site for Laci’s body was
approximately two miles from the Berkeley Marina. (9 RT 1685-1686.) It
was approximately the same distance from the marina to Brooks Island. (9
RT 1686.)

The captain was familiar with dog handler and instructor Andy
Rebmann. (8 RT 1636.) Boyer had attended two of Rebmann’s cadaver-
search training seminars, while Rebmann attended Boyer’s two-hour
seminar on scent theory in Reno in September 2003. (8 RT 1636; 9 RT
1700.)

As for vehicle trailing, Boyer stated that there were differing views on
the capabilities of search dogs to undertake such efforts. (9 RT 1701.)
CARDA certification did not include vehicle trailing. (9 RT 1705.) Boyer
was not familiar with Eloise Anderson’s training log as it concerned
Trimble’s vehicle trailing exercises. (9 RT 1702.) However, Boyer pointed
out that what was more important in assessing a dog’s capabilities was
whether they could follow a non-contact trail; it did not have to be a vehicle
trail. For example, it could be a bicycle trail. (9 RT 1800.)

2. Appellant’s objection and the trial court’s ruling

Although defense counsel referred to the dog trailing proffer generally
as “voodoo” (10 RT 1982), “nonsense” (10 RT 1996), and the equivalent
of “pin the tail on the donkey” (10 RT 1997), it was clear that the defense’s
primary objection was not to the evidence involving Trimble’s detection of
Laci’s scent at the Berkeley Marina. On the contrary, the defense was
concerned with the dog trailing that was done around the Covena residence
and appellant’s warehouse. (10 RT 1984-1985.) The defense likewise
objected to the vehicle trailing that involved Cindee Valentin’s dog Merlin.
(10 RT 1983-1984, 1996.) Defense counsel repeatedly argued the lack of
corroboration necessary to admit such evidence. (10 RT 1981, 1984, 1985,
1998.)

Having considered the criteria articulated in People v. Malgren (1983)
139 Cal.App.3d 234 (Malgren), and other relevant authorities, the trial
court excluded most of the dog trailing evidence. However, the court found
sufficient foundation had been laid for admission of Trimble’s trailing at
the marina.117 (10 RT 1984, 2000-2004.) The court found that Kelly was
inapplicable to the trailing evidence.118 (10 RT 1987.) Defense counsel
interposed no objection to the court’s finding. The court first noted that
Trimble had previously detected scents that were up to six days old and that
he was certified for trailing up to 96 hours. (10 RT 2002.) Further, Eloise
Anderson’s description of Trimble’s behavior supported that the dog was
following Laci’s scent. (10 RT 2002.) The court found that Trimble’s
detection of Laci’s scent at the marina was corroborated by the fact that
Laci’s and Conner’s bodies washed ashore a few months later (10 RT 2002),
and their bodies were discovered about two and one-half miles from the
marina (10 RT 2002, 2004), where appellant admitted he had been just four
days prior to Trimble’s trailing at that location (10 RT 2004).

117 During argument, the prosecutor pointed out that the trial court
had already made findings on the first three Malgren factors: the handlers
had the requisite level of experience, the dogs were trained to track humans,
and Trimble, in particular, was reliable in tracking humans. (8 RT 1613; 10
RT 1986.) Defense counsel did not dispute this assertion. We discuss the
Malgren factors in detail below.

118 “Kelly-Frye” refers to the rule for admitting “evidence derived
from a new scientific methodology” (People v. Roybal (1998) 19 Cal.4th
481, 505) and is based on People v. Kelly (1976) 17 Cal.3d 24, and Frye v.
United States (D.C.Cir. 1923) 293 F. 1013. The proponent of such
evidence must sufficiently establish that the technique has gained general
acceptance in its particular scientific field, the expert witness proffering
testimony concerning the technique is qualified to do so and correct
scientific procedures were used. (People v. Roybal, supra, 19 Cal.4th at p.
505; People v. Kelly, supra, 17 Cal.3d at p. 30.)

Under Evidence Code section 352, the trial court found that, with the
exception of Trimble’s trailing at the marina, the other evidence of dog
trailing would be confusing for the jury and would result in an undue
consumption of time. (10 RT 2003.)
Notably, defense counsel did not express displeasure with the trial
court’s ruling. To the contrary, counsel said, “Thank you, your Honor.”
(10 RT 2004.)

B. Applicable Legal Principles: This Case Did Not
Involve Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

As a threshold matter, appellant has inaccurately framed the evidence
of Trimble’s trailing at the marina as “non-contact vehicle trailing in a
marine environment” (AOB 217). Trimble’s activities at the marina did not
involve her trailing of a vehicle. Further, while the marina could be
considered adjacent to a “marine environment,” Trimble’s trailing occurred
in specific areas of the marina, which were not unique scent environments
beyond Trimble’s capabilities, as we explain below.

Dog-trailing evidence is admissible upon a sufficient showing of the
particular dog’s ability and reliability in tracking humans. (Malgren, supra,
139 Cal.App.3d at p. 238, disapproved on other grounds in People v. Jones
(1991) 53 Cal.3d 1115, 1144-1145.) Each particular dog’s ability and
reliability must be shown on a case-by-case basis. (People v. Craig (1978)
86 Cal.App.3d 905, 915 (Craig).) “This testimony should come from a
person sufficiently acquainted with the dog, his or her training, ability, and
past record of reliability.” (Ibid.)

Thus,

the following must be shown before dog trailing evidence is
admissible: (1) the dog’s handler was qualified by training and
experience to use the dog; (2) the dog was adequately trained in
tracking humans; (3) the dog has been found to be reliable in
tracking humans; (4) the dog was placed on the track where
circumstances indicated the guilty party to have been; and (5)
the trail had not become stale or contaminated.”

(Malgren, supra, 139 Cal.App.3d at pp. 237-238 [adopting “majority view”
from other states].)
Mistakenly framing the issue as he does, appellant contends the
evidence here needed to have satisfied additional foundational requirements
set forth in People v. Willis (2004) 115 Cal.App.4th 379 (Willis), including
a Kelly analysis. (AOB 212-213.) Indeed, appellant throws down the
gauntlet and argues that his conclusion derives from “the only sensible
reading of the case.” (AOB 213.)

We take up that challenge and argue the contrary: Willis does not
control because Willis involved dog scent identification techniques,119 not a
dog scent trailing (or tracking) case, as these methods have been understood
by lower courts, including the trial court in this case. Indeed, that is the
understanding noted by this Court when it referred to Willis as detailing
“the foundational requirements for dog scent identification evidence . . . ,”
(People v. Eubanks (2011) 53 Cal.4th 110, 142, emphasis added.) In fact,
the Willis court made clear that its decision did not apply to dog trailing:
“As has already been observed, dog trailing is a lot different from dog scent
recognition. [citing Mitchell].” (Willis, at p. 386, internal quotation marks
omitted.) In Willis, the Court of Appeal was concerned with the use of the
scent transfer unit,120 which the court viewed to be a novel scientific
technique and, for that reason, should have been subjected to a Kelly
hearing at trial. (Id. at p. 385.) The Willis court explained other
foundational issues with the case:

119 Canine scent identification line-ups involve a dog sniffing scent
“from an object a person is known to have touched and determining
whether a second object has been touched by the same individual.” (People
v. Mitchell (2003) 110 Cal.App.4th 772, 779 (Mitchell).)

120 A scent transfer unit (“STU”) is a vacuum device that holds a
gauze pad, which “ostensibly collects and preserves the scent from virtually
any object a person has touched. The dog handler uses the scent pad from
the STU instead of simply using the object itself . . . .” (Willis, supra, 115
Cal.App.4th at p. 384.)
A more difficult case is presented when the dog is not tracking a
suspect but rather is given a scent from a gauze pad some length
of time after an incident and is watched to see if the dog “shows
interest” in various locales frequented by the defendant.
Showing interest in locations is a far cry from tracking a suspect
and giving an unambiguous alert that the person has been
located. Furthermore, there is no proof that appellant ever
touched the matchbook from which a scent was collected. The
matchbook was found in a parking lot used by many people, any
one of whom could have thrown the matchbook on the ground.

(Id. at p. 386.)

So, there are two major distinctions between Willis and the case here:
1) a scent transfer unit was not used in this case to extract scent from the
scent item (i.e., the novel technique subject to Kelly), and 2) the scent item
was known to be Laci’s. Willis is, therefore, inapposite. In short,
Trimble’s search at the marina involved non-contact trailing—a search that
employed no novel techniques and one that Trimble had performed reliably
many times in the past. Therefore, the evidence here needed only to hurdle
the foundational considerations discussed in Malgren.

Moreover, insofar as appellant contends Mitchell, supra, 110
Cal.App.4th 772, controls (AOB 224-228), his argument is likewise
erroneous. In Mitchell, the dog was presented with various scents extracted
by a scent transfer unit and then presented with two “lineups” of various
pads from the scent transfer unit. (Id. at pp. 780-781.) The dog matched
scent pads obtained from shell casings and a victim’s shirt to a pad
collected from one defendant’s shirt, but was unable to match any scents to
a pad obtained from another defendant. (Ibid.) In addition to trial court
error in failing to conduct a Kelly hearing for such novel evidence, the
Court of Appeal held insufficient foundation was laid for its admission.
(Mitchell, supra, 110 Cal.App.4th at pp. 790-794.) The court expressed
concerns about “the precise nature and parameters of a dog’s ability to
discriminate scents,” multiple sources of possible contamination of the
objects from which the scent pads were extracted, the lack of “evidence that
every person has a scent so unique that it provides an accurate basis for a
scent identification lineup.” (Id. at pp. 790-793.)

In light of these considerations, the Mitchell court revised the fifth
Malgren factor for purposes of scent identification lineups. (Mitchell,
supra, 110 Cal.App.4th at pp. 790-791.) In cases involving scent
identification lineups where scents are transferred to an STU so that dogs
can discriminate among them, the courts have found a Kelly hearing is
required because an STU is considered to be a novel device. (Mitchell, at
pp. 787-789; accord Willis, supra, 115 Cal.App.4th at p. 385.)

Here, while the case resided with the Stanislaus County Superior
Court, the prosecution brought its motion to admit dog trailing evidence at
appellant’s preliminary hearing. In its motion, the prosecution argued that
a Kelly hearing was not required. (7 CT 2242-2244.) The defense filed an
opposition. (6 CT 2151-2157) The Stanislaus County court declined to
hold a Kelly hearing. (10/24/03 Stanislaus RT 436.) As stated above, the
San Mateo County court also found Kelly inapplicable. (10 RT 1987.)
Both courts were correct:

“Kelly is applicable only to ‘new scientific techniques.’
[Citations.]” [Citation.] It “only applies to that limited class of
expert testimony which is based, in whole or part, on a technique,
process, or theory which is new to science and, even more so,
the law.’ [citation.]”

(Mitchell, supra, 110 Cal.App.4th at p. 782, quoting People v. Leahy (1994)
8 Cal.4th 587, 605, original emphasis; see also People v. Roybal, supra, 19
Cal.4th at p. 505.)

Thus, Kelly analysis is limited to situations where it will
“forestall the jury’s uncritical acceptance of scientific evidence
or technology that is so foreign to everyday experience as to be
unusually difficult for laypersons to evaluate. [Citation.] In
most other instances, the jurors are permitted to rely on their
own common sense and good judgment in evaluating the weight
of the evidence presented to them. [Citations.]”

(Mitchell, supra, 110 Cal.App.4th at p. 783, quoting People v. Venegas
(1998) 18 Cal.4th 47, 80.)

There is nothing new about dog trailing evidence. As the Craig case
shows, such evidence has been recognized in California since 1978. In
People v. Gonzales (1990) 218 Cal.App.3d 403 (Gonzales), the Court of
Appeal acknowledged “the antiquity” of the use of dog tracking evidence,
while noting ongoing disputes as to its reliability. (Id. at p. 311.) In
acknowledging the historical significance of dog trailing, the Court of
Appeal cited this oft-quoted passage:

“‘If we may credit Sir Walter Scott, such evidence was looked
upon with favor as early as the twelfth century. In the Talisman
it is related that in the joint crusade of Richard I of England and
Phillip II of France, Roswell, the hound, pulled from the saddle
Conrade, Marquis of Montserrat, thus mutely accusing him of
the theft of the banner of England. Phillip defended the Marquis
with the remark:

“‘“Surely, the word of a knight and a prince should bear him out
against the barking of a cur.”’

“‘To which Richard replied:

“‘“Royal brother, recollect that the Almighty who gave the dog
to be companion of our pleasures and our toils, both invested
him with a nature noble and incapable of deceit. He forgets
neither friend nor foe; remembers, and with accuracy, both
benefit and injury. He hath a share of man’s intelligence, but no
share of man’s falsehood. You may bribe a soldier to slay a man
with his sword, or a witness to take life by false accusation; but
you cannot make a hound tear his benefactor; he is the friend of
man save when man justly incurs his enmity. Dress yonder
Marquis in what peacock robes you will, disguise his appearance,
alter his complexion with drugs and washes, hide himself amidst
a hundred men; I will yet pawn my scepter that the hound
detects him, and expresses his resentment, as you have this day
beheld.”’”
(Gonzales, supra, 218 Cal.App.3d at pp. 411-412.) In an accompanying
footnote, the Gonzales court clarified: “To the statement of Phillip of
France, ‘Surely the word of a knight and a prince should bear him out
against the barking of a cur,’ we would simply add a more modern response:
‘It depends on what prince and which dog.’” (Id. at p. 412, fn. 5.)

Indeed, it is common knowledge that dogs have keener senses of
smell than people, and there is nothing unusually difficult for a lay person
to evaluate the weight to be given to a dog trailing a scent in light of all the
circumstances presented. As explained in Craig, “[g]eneral acceptance in
the scientific community of inanimate scientific techniques” is
distinguishable from “specific recognition of one animal’s ability to utilize
a subjective, innate ability [which] depends upon many variables within the
animal itself. . . .” (Craig, supra, 86 Cal.App.3d at p. 916.)

Thus, dog tracking evidence is not subject to the foundational
hearing requirements articulated in Kelly. (Craig, supra, 86 Cal.App.3d at
pp. 915-916.) To be sure, the Mitchell court recognized the law was “well
established” that “dog tracking or trailing evidence does not involve a
scientific technique within the meaning of Kelly.” (Mitchell, supra, 110
Cal.App.4th at p. 790.) In contrast, as explained above, the Mitchell court
found scent transfer units which utilized gauze pads for scent identification
lineups were novel scientific devices within the meaning of Kelly. (Id. at
pp. 787, 793; accord Willis, supra, 115 Cal.App.4th at pp. 385-386,)

Here, the evidence at issue involved dog trailing not scent
discrimination through the use of a scent transfer unit machine and scent
pads. Therefore, neither the Stanislaus nor San Mateo County courts erred
in not conducting a Kelly hearing. (Craig, supra, 86 Cal.App.3d at pp. 915-
916; Mitchell, supra, 110 Cal.App.4th at p. 790.)

Moreover, the additional foundational requirements discussed in
Mitchell and Willis are inapplicable to the trailing evidence here.
“The Craig court itself suggested that what the law in this state
actually requires is not that dog trailing evidence be viewed with caution,
but that it be treated as any other evidence, with its weight left to the trier of
fact.” (Malgren, supra, 139 Cal.App.3d at p. 242.)

C. Appellant Fails to Show the Trial Court’s Admission of
Trimble’s Detection of Laci’s Scent at the Marina
Constituted an Abuse of Discretion

The trial court’s ruling under Evidence Code section 352 admitting
only that portion of the dog trailing evidence at the Berkeley Marina is
supported by substantial evidence. Appellant fails to demonstrate
otherwise.

Trial courts enjoy broad discretion in determining whether an
adequate foundation has been laid for admission of evidence before the
jury. (See People v. Hovarter (2008) 44 Cal.4th 983, 1011.) Thus, a trial
court’s ruling on a foundational question cannot be reversed absent a
showing that “the court clearly abused its discretion.” (Ibid., citing People
v. Beeler (1995) 9 Cal.4th 953, 978; see also People v. McWhorter (2009)
47 Cal.4th 318, 362 [expert testimony]; People v. Curl (2009) 46 Cal.4th
339, 359-360 [expert testimony].)

Abuse of discretion is a “deferential standard” of review. (People v.
Curl, supra, 46 Cal.4th at p. 359.) Typically, a trial court abuses its
discretion when it rules in an “arbitrary, capricious, or patently absurd
manner” (People v. Rodriguez (1999) 20 Cal.4th 1, 9-10; People v. Jones
(1998) 17 Cal.4th 279, 304), the ruling “exceeds the bounds of reason”
(People v. Montes (2014) 58 Cal.4th 809, 859-860), or the trial court’s
decision is “irrational or arbitrary” (People v. Myers (1999) 69 Cal.App.4th
305, 309-310).
Where there is substantial evidence supporting the trial court’s
finding that dog tracking evidence is sufficiently reliable for admission, that
ruling will be upheld on appeal. (Craig, supra, 86 Cal.App.3d at p. 917.)

1. The Malgren factors

All five foundational criteria, outlined in Malgren, were established
in the section 402 hearing to admit the marina dog trailing evidence.

First, the evidence showed Eloise Anderson was qualified by training
and experience to utilize Trimble as a trailing dog. At the time of the
hearing, Anderson had worked with K-9 search and rescue for
approximately 14 years. (7 RT 1467; 8 RT 1489.) Prior to her involvement
with search and rescue, Anderson worked in a professional capacity in
obedience training of dogs. (7 RT 1467; 8 RT 1488.) Also, Anderson
served as a training adviser for CARDA and had conducted over 100
certification tests of dogs in various types of searches, including trailing. (7
RT 1474-1475.) She was also certified as a Search Manager. (7 RT
1475.)121 In all, Anderson spent the previous 20 years working with dogs
and understanding their behavior.

121 Anderson’s curriculum vitae was admitted as People’s Pretrial
Exhibit number 11 during the hearing. (7 RT 1468; Clerk’s Pretrial
Motions Transcript, Vol. 1, pp. 152-153.)

As part of Contra Costa County’s Search and Rescue team, and in
compliance with CARDA directives, Anderson was required to maintain
and train Trimble on an ongoing basis. (7 RT 1476, 1480.) Given
Anderson’s credentials and experience, she was well-qualified to handle
Trimble. A trial court is given “considerable latitude” to determine an
expert’s qualifications, and its ruling will not be disturbed on appeal absent
a manifest abuse of discretion. (Malgren, supra, 139 Cal.App.3d at p. 238.)
Thus, Malgren’s first prong is supported by substantial evidence.
Insofar as appellant contends that Anderson’s training of Trimble was
possibly tainted by “handler cuing” (AOB 221), such argument is purely
speculative and entirely unfounded. The fact that Anderson, like other
handlers, knew “most of the time” where the trail was, does not equate with
Anderson having somehow influenced Trimble during the dog’s exercises.
And, Anderson certainly did not know the particular trail Laci’s body took
in the marina; only appellant knew that information.

Second, substantial evidence showed Trimble was adequately trained
in trailing humans. She was certified by CARDA. (7 RT 1469, 1473.)
That certification included, among other things, Trimble’s successful
completion of a number of trails, the oldest of which was 96 hours. (7 RT
1472.) In fact, Trimble had successfully located a subject whose trail was
14 days old. (8 RT 1501.) As part of Trimble’s training, Anderson also
exposed Trimble to an array of different scent environments and terrains:
shopping mall (8 RT 1505 ), commuter station (8 RT 1495-1496), grass
median, parking lot, and park (8 RT 1491), vehicle traffic and asphalt (7 RT
1477; 8 RT 1489-1490), and outdoor wilderness areas (8 RT 1498-1499).
Some of the outdoor trails were encumbered by environmental effects, such
as heavy rains (8 RT 1491), and strong winds (8 RT 1503-1504). Also,
Trimble’s training included non-contact trails left by subjects who had
traveled all or part of the designed route on bicycles. (8 RT 1499, 1502,
1503, 1504.) In some cases, this necessitated that Trimble work through a
“discontinuous scent picture.” (8 RT 1504.) There were also training
exercises during which Trimble had to differentiate a decoy from the
intended subject of the search. (8 RT 1502, 1506-1507.) Trimble’s
training included trails of varying lengths with the longest trail at 22 miles.
(8 RT 1496.) Trimble was also familiarized with contaminated scent
articles so that she could learn to distinguish among scents. (8 RT 1615.)
Third, substantial evidence supported the trial court’s finding that
Trimble was sufficiently reliable in tracking humans (8 RT 1613). “This
testimony should come from a person sufficiently acquainted with the dog,
his training, ability and past record of reliability.” (Craig, supra, 86
Cal.App.3d at p. 915.) Eloise Anderson was such a witness. In addition to
the detailed record of Trimble’s success with certification requirements and
other trailing exercises, Anderson testified to Trimble’s real-life trailing of
a runaway boy who had left home on a bicycle (8 RT 1508), and a runaway
girl who had left home in a van with two adult males (8 RT 1508).

Trimble’s accuracy provided substantial evidence of reliability for the
trial court to admit the dog tracking evidence. We recognize that the dogs
in Malgren and Craig were certified as 100 percent accurate. (See
Malgren, supra, 139 Cal.App.3d at p. 238; Craig, supra, 86 Cal.App.3d at
pp. 916-917.) And, although Trimble did not successfully complete a
trailing exercise in March 2001 (8 RT 1549-1550),122 “each dog’s ability
and reliability [must] be shown on a case-by-case basis.” (Craig, supra, 86
Cal.App.3d at p. 915.) Any variance from perfection went to the weight
rather than admissibility of the evidence.

122 Appellant contends there were two unsuccessful trails, implying
Trimble could not locate the subject either time (AOB 188), but a closer
reading of the record suggests it was only one unsuccessful trail. The April
2001 trailing exercise was aborted because the subject had to leave on short
order. (8 RT 1549.)

Fourth, Trimble was placed on a trail where circumstances indicated
the subject to have been. In this case, the subject of the search was Laci.
The prosecution’s theory was that appellant, who admitted to being at the
marina on Christmas Eve (10 RT 2004), transported Laci’s body to that
location. As the trial court observed: “[Eloise Anderson] testified that the
dog’s head was level, gave evidence of [a] trail at the marina that ended at
the end of the pier with the water at a pylon. So we have a scent, ostensibly
the scent of Miss Peterson at the marina.” (10 RT 2002.) The court was
referring to Anderson’s testimony that Trimble’s head was level, her tail
up, and she was lined out, which indicated Trimble had picked up Laci’s
scent. (8 RT 1520.) Trimble’s behavior at the marina was consistent with
Anderson’s description of Trimble’s posture when following a scent trail.
(8 RT 1494.) By the time of the hearing, it was clear that someone had
deposited Laci’s body in the Bay and the Berkeley Marina—where
appellant admitted he was on Christmas Eve—was not far from the location
where their bodies were discovered. (10 RT 2002.) Therefore, the
circumstances suggested Laci was at the marina.

Also, Trimble’s reliability was corroborated by Captain Boyer’s
testimony that Trimble did not detect Laci’s scent when she and Anderson
searched the same area where Ronald Seitz and his dog had searched. Both
dogs arrived at the same result: no scent detected. (9 RT 1823-1824;
People’s Pretrial Exh. No. 12.) This additional corroboration of Trimble’s
accuracy provides further support for Trimble’s detection of Laci’s scent
later in the search.

Further, Trimble’s practical training exercises involved controlled
situations where the path of the subject was predetermined and therefore
Trimble’s trailing efforts were immediately verifiable.

Fifth, the trail had not become stale or contaminated. At the time
Trimble searched the marina on December 28, Laci had been missing for
about four days. No evidence was adduced at the hearing to suggest the
trail was stale relative to Trimble’s capabilities. Trimble was certified on
trails as old as four days. (7 RT 1472.) Beyond that she had successfully
completed multiple trailing exercises where the trail was laid down in
excess of four days before the exercise. (8 RT 1491 [5 days], 1498-1499 [6
days], 1501 [14 days].)
Likewise, substantial evidence demonstrated that there was no
contamination of the search. First, as stated above, Trimble’s dog handler
stated that Trimble was trained to detect a subject’s scent from other scents.
As Captain Boyer explained, search dogs were trained to work the
predominant scent on any scent article that contained more than one scent.
(9 RT 1681, 1682.) In this regard, Trimble’s practical exercises included
testing her ability to detect a subject’s scent from that of a decoy—
including one situation where the wife was the subject and her husband was
the decoy. (8 RT 1506-1507.) Trimble’s successful trailing of the wife
was especially probative because presumably the husband-decoy was
exposed to the wife-subject’s scent during the normal course of the day,
which would have made it all the more challenging for Trimble to
distinguish the subject from the decoy.

Further, the manner in which the scent item—Laci’s sunglasses—
were collected ensured they were not contaminated with anyone else’s
scent, particularly that of appellant. Captain Boyer held Laci’s purse while
removing different potential scent objects for handler Cindee Valentin’s
evaluation. (9 RT 1720.) Boyer and Valentin wore latex gloves as they
packaged the sunglasses case into a plastic bag. (9 RT 1714, 1717.) Even
if appellant had touched the sunglasses case, it was the sunglasses
themselves that Anderson used to scent Trimble. (8 RT 1517.) As
Anderson explained, the sunglasses were a particularly good scent item
because they would have contained Laci’s skin oils or make-up. (8 RT
1580.) Therefore, there was no need for Anderson to have conducted the
“missing member” test. Accordingly, appellant’s contention that Anderson
did not follow correct procedures (AOB 220) is baseless.

Moreover, there was no evidence to suggest that the trail that Trimble
followed was itself contaminated. Although there was a fair amount of
defense questioning of Anderson about prevailing winds at the marina and
the dispersion of scent, Anderson testified that, in her opinion, there were
no adverse environmental factors at the marina on December 28, which
would have complicated Trimble’s ability to trail Laci’s scent. (8 RT 1618.)
Even if wind had been a factor, Anderson explained that Contra Costa
County, where Trimble and Anderson worked, was subject to strong cross-
winds. (8 RT 1504.) Therefore, wind was not something new to Trimble.
Anderson also stated that Trimble was capable of working either side of a
trail when it was windy—up-wind or down-wind. (8 RT 1592-1593.) And,
Captain Boyer testified that, in some instances, the wind actually created a
trail. (9 RT 1794.)

As for appellant’s suggestion that Trimble’s capabilities did not
extend to a “marine environment,” that is simply wrong. Trimble did not
trail on the water. She worked the parking lot, vegetation around the
parking lot, and the pier. These surfaces were certainly within Trimble’s
range of ability based on the training exercises discussed in detail by Eloise
Anderson. Further, as Captain Boyer explained, the scent environment
around salt water, given its hydroscopic nature, was actually more
conducive to holding scent than other environments. (9 RT 1784 [“[i]t’s
much simpler to work in that area, actually”].)

Also, the trail in appellant’s case was only a matter of feet or yards, at
best. (8 RT 1520.) The track found reliable in Malgren was seven-tenths
of a mile through a “game reserve of bushes and high grass” between a
burglarized home and the location where the defendant was found.
(Malgren, supra, 139 Cal.App.3d at p. 237.)

Thus, all five foundational criteria for the admission of the dog
trailing evidence were established in appellant’s case and supported by
substantial evidence. Accordingly, the evidence was properly admitted.
(See Malgren, supra, 139 Cal.App.3d at pp. 238-239; Craig, supra, 86
Cal.App.3d at p. 917.)
Expectedly, appellant is unhappy with the trial court’s ruling since it
provided the prosecutor with additional incriminating evidence to admit at
trial.

It is essentially an argument that the evidence should have been
excluded because it pointed to his guilt. A party cannot seek to
exclude evidence merely because it is helpful to the other side.
Only if there is substantial risk of prejudice, confusion, or time
consumption sufficient to outweigh relevance is an Evidence
Code section 352 objection well founded. [Citation.]

(People v. Brown (2014) 59 Cal.4th 86, 102.)

Here, appellant cannot show the trial court’s evidentiary ruling was
arbitrary, capricious, irrational, patently absurd or outside the bounds of
reason. (See People v. Rodriguez, supra, 20 Cal.4th at pp. 9-10; People v.
Jones, supra, 17 Cal.4th at p. 304; People v. Montes, supra, 58 Cal.4th at
pp. 859-860; People v. Myers, supra, 69 Cal.App.4th at pp. 309-310.)
Mere disagreement with the trial court’s assessment of Anderson’s and
Boyer’s testimony does not satisfy appellant’s burden of showing a clear
abuse of discretion. (See People v. Hovarter, supra, 44 Cal.4th at p. 1011.)

2. Scent theory and the non-contact trail

Appellant’s arguments here go to weight rather than admissibility of
the dog trailing evidence. Yet, even were the Court to credit appellant’s
argument calling for additional foundation, an adequate foundation on the
subjects of scent theory and non-contact trailing was presented to the trial
court.

Again, despite appellant’s characterization to the contrary, the
evidence at issue here was not a vehicle trail. Trimble did not trail Laci in
appellant’s truck, or in the boat, from Modesto to the marina. Instead,
Trimble trailed Laci’s scent the short distance from one choke point in the
parking lot out to the pier. The evidence involved Trimble’s ability to
follow the scent from Laci’s body (i.e., skin rafts) as a non-contact trail.
In that regard, Captain Boyer, who headed Contra Costa County’s
search and rescue team, explained the science of scent theory (8 RT 1638),
and the manner in which humans left scent trails when skin cells were shed
(9 RT 1678), at a rate of roughly 150,000 skin rafts per hour (9 RT 1689).
Boyer also stated that even after a person died, the body still contained skin
rafts that could be shed. (9 RT 1680.) Thus, an “overwhelming live smell”
could theoretically remain attached to the body “for a very long time,”
especially if the environmental conditions were “very cool” (9 RT 1680), as
the conditions were in December 2002.

Although appellant contends Captain Boyer was not an expert (AOB
226-227), Boyer’s credentials demonstrated otherwise.123 In addition to
leading the county search and rescue team, including all of the K-9 units,
Boyer had trained his own trailing dog for a year and worked with a
certified cadaver dog. (8 RT 1629, 1633, 1634.) He taught at national and
regional search and rescue seminars and had also trained members of
FEMA and the FBI. (8 RT 1636-1637.) And, Boyer’s teaching credentials
included a two-hour seminar on scent theory. (9 RT 1700.) Additionally,
at trial, Boyer explained that CARDA and at least one other agency
required handlers to take a scent theory class before they could be certified.
(83 RT 15898.) Boyer was one of three scent-theory instructors in the
state. (83 RT 15898-15899.)

123 Captain Boyer’s resume is found in the Clerk’s Pretrial Motions
Exhibits Transcript at pages 158-159.

“A person is qualified to testify as an expert if he has special
knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education sufficient to qualify
him as an expert on the subject to which his testimony relates.” (Evid.
Code, § 720, subd. (a).) This “may be shown by any otherwise admissible
evidence, including his own testimony.” (Evid. Code, § 720, subd. (b).) As
discussed above, Boyer’s expertise in scent theory and trailing dogs was
satisfactorily established through his testimony concerning his relevant
training, education and experience. Insofar as the trial court credited
Boyer’s expertise, “[t]he trial court is given considerable latitude in
determining the qualifications of an expert; its ruling will not be disturbed
on appeal, absent a manifest abuse of discretion.” (Malgren, supra, 139
Cal.App.3d at p. 238.)

Also, as detailed above, Trimble had demonstrated reliability on
non-contact trails: December 2001, bicycle and BART trailing (8 RT 1495-
1496); January 2002, vehicle trailing (8 RT 1497-1498); January 2002,
combination contact and bicycle trail (8 RT 1499-1500); April 2002,
bicycle trail (8 RT 1502); May 2002, bicycle trail (8 RT 1503-1504); and,
July 2003, vehicle trail (8 RT 1505-1506). Thus, appellant’s arguments
also fail to appreciate that “each particular dog’s ability and reliability be
shown on a case-by-case basis.” (See Craig, supra, 86 Cal.App.3d at p.
915.)

D. Any Alleged Error in Admission of the Dog Trailing
Evidence Was Harmless

The harmless error standard articulated in People v. Watson (1956) 46
Cal.2d 818, applies to dog tracking or trailing evidence, as well as scent
identification evidence. (Willis, supra, 115 Cal.App.4th at p. 388; Mitchell,
supra, 110 Cal.App.4th at p. 795; Gonzales, supra, 218 Cal.App.3d at p.
415; Malgren, supra, 139 Cal.App.3d at p. 242.) Under Watson, reversal is
unwarranted unless “‘an examination of the entire cause, including the
evidence’” shows “it is reasonably probable that a result more favorable to
the appealing party would have been reached in the absence of the error.”124

124 Whereas Watson provides the standard for errors of state law,
Chapman v. California (1967) 386 U.S. 18, provides the standard for errors
of federal constitutional dimension. (See People v. Boyette (2002) 29
Cal.4th 381, 428, citing People v. Fudge (1994) 7 Cal.4th 1075, 1102-
1103.) Under Chapman, reversal is required unless the reviewing court
finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the error did not contribute to the
verdict. (Chapman v. California, supra, 386 U.S. at p. 24.)

(See People v. Watson, supra, 46 Cal.2d at p. 836.) Although Watson
controls the analysis here, we contend the admission of the trailing
evidence, if erroneous, was also harmless under the more stringent federal
constitutional standard.

First, culling a mere 19 words (111 RT 20534 [“If Laci Peterson’s
scent is at the Berkeley Marina, then he’s guilty. I mean that’s as simple as
that.”]) out of the thousands uttered by the prosecutors during opening and
rebuttal arguments, appellant contends the prosecution bet the farm on
Trimble’s ability to fetch guilty verdicts. (AOB 179 [“relying solely on
dog-scent evidence”], 229 [“central to the prosecution’s case”].) These
assertions are not supported by the record. The prosecutor’s statement
tying Trimble’s detection of Laci’s scent at the marina to appellant’s guilt
was of nominal importance not only in terms of it being a brief reference in
an otherwise lengthy closing argument, but because the prosecutor made
clear during argument that the fact that the bodies washed ashore in the area
of the Bay where appellant said he went fishing was among the most
damning pieces of evidence pointing to appellant’s guilt. (109 RT 20197-
20198, 20278, 20286, 20326; 111 RT 20525.)

Further, defense counsel conducted a thorough and searching cross-
examination in an attempt to undermine Eloise Anderson’s testimony (85
RT 16103-16133, 16144-16146), as well as that of Captain Boyer (84 RT
15935-16011, 16020). This included the circumstances surrounding an
exercise that Anderson and Trimble participated in with retired trailing dog
handler Andrew Rebmann and whether Anderson had omitted this
information when she testified at the pretrial hearing the previous February.
(85 RT 16112-16132; Defense Exh. No. D5Y .) During cross-examination, the defense characterized the
exercise as a failed vehicle trailing and suggested Anderson hid it from the
court. Appellant reiterates this view on appeal. (AOB 188-190.) However,
on redirect examination, Anderson clarified what the exercise was intended
to test (i.e., it was not a vehicle trail) and she explained why she disagreed
with defense counsel’s characterization of Trimble’s performance as having
failed the test. (85 RT 16138-16143.)

Additionally, the defense called dog handler Seitz during its case to
talk about Seitz’s dog’s inability to detect Laci’s scent at the marina. (105
RT 19603-19629.) This was an attempt to neutralize any residual value the
prosecution may have derived from Anderson’s and Boyer’s testimony
after defense counsel’s cross-examination. Therefore, cross-examination
and Seitz’s testimony may have lessened the weight of the trailing evidence
but did not undermine the foundation for admission of the evidence.

Notably, that portion of the defense argument which concerned the
trailing evidence takes up just three pages of transcript (110 RT 20437-
20440), out of approximately 161 pages worth of closing argument (110 RT
20333-20454, 20475-20498; 111 RT 20504-20518), which in mathematical
terms equates to less than two percent of the defense argument as a whole.
This suggests the defense was not that concerned with the dog trailing
evidence.

Moreover, the trial court’s instruction on the dog trailing evidence
provided the jury with meaningful guidance with respect to the evidence.
CALJIC number 2.16, as modified by the court and parties, made explicitly
clear that the dog trailing evidence was not sufficient by itself to prove
appellant’s guilt (111 RT 20549), thereby dispelling any arguable
suggestion by the prosecutor to the contrary. The instruction also stated
that the dog trailing evidence needed to be independently corroborated
before it could be considered accurate and used to infer appellant’s guilt.
In according any weight to the trailing evidence, the jury had to consider
six separate factors, modeled on those set forth in Malgren, with an
additional catch-all factor. (111 RT 20549-20550.) We discuss this
instruction in greater detail in Argument VIII, post.

And, of course, the jury was instructed that the arguments of counsel
were not evidence (111 RT 20545), and that if anything the attorneys said
conflicted with the court’s instructions, the jurors were to follow the
instructions (111 RT 20544). The jurors are presumed to have followed
these instructions. (People v. Montes, supra, 58 Cal.4th at p. 888.)

Last, the prosecution presented overwhelming evidence, independent
of the dog trailing evidence, which proved that appellant murdered Laci and
Conner. We briefly summarize some of the evidence against appellant:

For weeks before Laci and Conner disappeared, appellant was
carrying on a clandestine affair with Amber Frey. (See generally 76 RT
14556-14694.) In early December 2002, when Frey found out that
appellant might be married, appellant reassured Frey that he was single, but
he used to be married and had “‘lost’” his wife. (76 RT 14619-14620.) It
was around this time that appellant purchased a boat (62 RT 12148, 12156),
which he never told anyone about (45 RT 8889-8890; 46 RT 8991-8993; 47
RT 9097-9098), and he researched the currents and tides in San Francisco
Bay (75 RT 14397, 14400-14401, 14405-14407).

When Laci disappeared on Christmas Eve, appellant was weeks away
from a life-altering event: the birth of his first child (91 RT 17228,
17236)—a responsibility that would last a lifetime. Or, so it seemed.
During a conversation with Frey, appellant lamented that he had never
enjoyed “a prolonged period of freedom [] from responsibility” in his life.
(7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1480.) He found the responsibility-free existence, as
recounted by author Jack Kerouac, to be “interesting” and something that
could be incorporated into life. (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1480.) Appellant also
told Frey that he felt no need to have his own offspring and that her
daughter was enough for him. (76 RT 14674.)

Appellant’s statement that he went fishing by himself on Christmas
Eve was, indeed, a fish story. His manufactured alibi was belied by the fact
that he did not have the right fishing gear for catching sturgeon or striped
bass in the Bay, including an “anchor” that was incapable of adequately
anchoring the boat, and that part of San Francisco Bay near the Berkeley
Marina was not the place to go sturgeon or striped bass fishing at that time
of year. (71 RT 13746-13747, 13753-13757, 13762.) In fact, appellant’s
halting reaction to the most innocuous of questions from responding
officers on December 24 about his fishing excursion demonstrated that
appellant was lying. (50 RT 9868-9869.) Realizing that his answers had
served to garner suspicion instead of dispel it, appellant threw his flashlight
down in anger and muttered a curse word under his breath. (50 RT 9871,
9882.) No doubt this was illuminating to the jury. It was also curious that
appellant spoke to his father and a close friend after leaving the marina on
Christmas Eve, but never mentioned that he had gone fishing. (75 RT
14425, 14436-14437; 88 RT 16865.)

Incredibly, in the hours immediately following Laci’s disappearance,
appellant was overly concerned with comparatively inconsequential things
such as when Detective Brocchini bumped the door of appellant’s truck
against the door of Laci’s Land Rover (55 RT 10746), and when Captain
Boyer was told by appellant to put something between Boyer’s writing pad
and the dining room table to prevent the table from getting damaged (84 RT
15923-15924). This was not owing to any fastidiousness on appellant’s
part, as we explain below.
Appellant’s arrogance in thinking that he could get away with murder
provided him with a false sense of security which, in turn, spawned a
number of highly suspicious behaviors inconsistent with what one could
reasonably expect of a worried husband and soon-to-be father: 1)
subscribing to pornographic television programs less than two weeks after
Laci disappeared (74 RT 14240, 14244, 14254); 2) inquiring about selling
the couple’s home furnished, less than a month after Laci went missing (9
Supp. CT Exhs. 1999-2000, 2004; 86 RT 16418-16419); 3) selling Laci’s
Land Rover at the end of January 2003 (86 RT 16429); 4) stopping all mail,
including Laci’s, from being sent to the Covena residence (101 RT 18952-
18953); and, 5) using the nursery for storage (68 RT 13248-13249).
Appellant knew Laci and Conner were not coming home.

As the search for Laci and Conner expanded to include San Francisco
Bay, appellant made repeated surreptitious trips to the Berkeley Marina in
January 2003, driving a different vehicle every time. He never stopped to
talk to anyone at the marina. (85 RT 16163-16164, 16169-16172, 16268,
16280-16281.) As the prosecutor argued, appellant was checking to see if
searchers were looking in the right place. (109 RT 20271.) As time wore
on, appellant stopped going to the marina.

But, as fate would have it, Laci’s and Conner’s bodies washed ashore
along the Bay not far from where appellant stated he went fishing a few
months before. (2 Supp. CT Exhs. 294; 61 RT 11873-11874, 11880, 11990,
11993; 70 RT 13599, 13598, 13602.) The condition of the bodies
suggested they had been in the Bay for a matter of months (92 RT 17471,
17528), and Laci died while she was still carrying Conner (92 RT 17432).
The forces of nature carrying Laci’s and Conner’s bodies ashore constituted
unimpeachable evidence that appellant did not go to the Bay to fish; he
went to dispose of his pregnant wife’s body.
Appellant’s penchant for lying was on a par with his unfailing
dedication to self-interest. It was also corroborative of his guilt. For
example, he told some people on the evening of December 24 that he went
golfing that day (48 RT 9362, 9510, 9534), not fishing. The clothing found
on Laci’s body did not match what appellant told police she had been
wearing when he left the house. (96 RT 18062.) Appellant lied to
everyone about his affair with Amber Frey, including the police (61 RT
11825; 93 RT 17653). He repeatedly lied to Shawn Sibley and Amber Frey
about his marital status. (60 RT 11724; 76 RT 14611.) He even told Frey
that he was in Paris on Christmas Eve, when he was, in fact, at the vigil for
Laci and Conner. (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1449-1452 [describing for Frey the
fireworks at the Eiffel Tower and the playing of American pop songs].) In
early January, appellant told Laci’s family members that police showed him
a photo of him with another woman (Amber Frey). Appellant suggested
the photo had been altered and the man depicted (who was appellant)
looked a lot like him. (46 RT 9021-9022; 93 RT 17708.) On January 11,
appellant lied about his whereabouts to his mother (81 RT 15397-15398),
his father, Sharon Rocha (9 Supp. CT Exhs. 1970, 1975, 1979), and to a
number of his close friends (9 Supp. CT Exhs. 1985-1991). Appellant lied
to Diane Sawyer, and a national television audience, telling her that he
revealed the affair to Laci and then suggesting to Sawyer that Laci was at
peace with it. (11 Supp. 2657.) After Frey confronted appellant about
being married, he told her that Laci knew about the affair and that she was
“fine” about it. (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1705.) Appellant’s assertions about
Laci’s knowledge of the affair are contradicted by the fact that he lied to
Laci about the reason he could not accompany her to the Christmas party.
(46 RT 9025; 86 RT 16422.) Appellant assured Detective Brocchini that
the loaded gun found in appellant’s truck was not functional (2 Supp. CT
Exhs. 307-308), but it was tested and found to fire normally (59 RT 11597,
11599). Appellant even lied to the man from whom he purchased the
Mercedes in April 2003, saying that his name was Jacqueline (“‘a boy-
named-Sue type thing’”). (101 RT 18978.)

As for some of the physical evidence adduced at trial, there was: 1)
hair that was microscopically consistent with Laci’s found in pliers in
appellant’s boat (70 RT 13617, 13644, 13658; 87 RT 16599, 16603; 94 RT
17837); 2) numerous multiple round voids of cement powder suggestive of
additional “anchors” having been made in appellant’s warehouse (64 RT
12591; 67 RT 13061-13062); 3) cuts on appellant’s hands (11 Supp. CT
Exhs. 2632); and, 4) appellant’s blood on the comforter in the couple’s
bedroom (63 RT 12338; 89 RT 17033; 90 RT 17196), and in his truck (89
RT 17039-17040; 90 RT 17197).

One would reasonably expect that if appellant had truly been
concerned about the disappearance of his wife and child, then he would
take some action when he learned that the bodies of a woman and a baby
were recovered. He did not. Appellant never returned Sharon Rocha’s call
about the discovery of the bodies. (46 RT 9035-9036.) Nor did he phone
Detective Grogan. (96 RT 18066.) To be sure, the record suggests
appellant never made any attempt to head north to the Bay area from San
Diego, where he was huddled with his family during the time he was being
surveilled. When the prosecutor asked Lee Peterson if appellant made any
attempt to return to the Bay Area upon learning about the bodies washing
ashore, Lee was evasive. (107 RT 20005.)

Instead of appellant traveling north, the police headed south to San
Diego. Authorities arrested appellant before he could go on a planned golf
outing with his father and brothers. (107 RT 20003.) Appellant was found
with approximately $15,000 in cash (102 RT 19106), his brother’s
identification (102 RT 19096), multiple cell phones (102 RT 19101),
foreign currency (102 RT 19100-19101), a large amount of clothing and
outdoor gear and equipment (102 RT 19097-19099), and a changed
appearance (95 RT 17968, 17972). This evidence suggested that appellant
was on the move, but he was not heading north where his wife’s and child’s
bodies were in the process of being identified.

During the course of the prosecution’s case, evidence was also
adduced which undermined the defense theory that a roving band of
homeless people in the neighborhood kidnapped and killed Laci when she
went out for a walk in the park Christmas Eve morning. Or, that Laci was
kidnapped by three assailants in a van while out walking. As the prosecutor
argued, the record demonstrated that Laci was in no condition to walk the
trail through the park during the latter stages of her pregnancy. (109 RT
20274-20275.) Further, the timeline evidence derived from several sources
contradicted appellant’s statement that Laci could have taken McKenzie for
a walk. (109 RT 20219-20226.)

Since appellant’s claim here involves a canine, it seems fitting to
recount one last piece of evidence: On New Year’s night, appellant spoke
to Amber Frey on the phone. According to appellant’s story, he was still in
Paris, sampling French cuisine. (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1499.) Of course, he
was not. During that conversation, appellant complained that there was “a
fucking dog” next to his Paris hotel that “just keeps barking.” (7 Supp. CT
Exhs. 1499.) Appellant told Frey: “I just want to kill it.” (7 Supp. CT
Exhs. 1499, emphasis added.) Frey could hear the dog barking on
appellant’s end of the phone during this call, as well as during a previous
call. (77 RT 14761-14762.) When appellant talked to Frey the following
night he complained again about the barking dog. He asked Frey, “Can you
hear that damn dog?” (7 Supp. CT Exhs. 1513.) Given the state of the
evidence, the prosecution argued that the dog in question was the family’s
dog McKenzie. (109 RT 20316.) Whether the barking dog was, indeed,
McKenzie matters little. However, what was probative of appellant’s guilt
was his instinctive reaction to a living being whose existence he viewed as
inconvenient: appellant wanted to kill it.

Given the compelling evidence against appellant, this was not a close
case, as appellant suggests (AOB 231). We contend that such evidence
amply meets the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt federal constitutional standard
under Chapman. Accordingly, it is not reasonably probable that appellant
would have received a more favorable outcome in the absence of the dog
trailing evidence, under California law.

Nor is there anything about the length of jury deliberations (AOB
233), that suggests the case was close in light of the fact that the guilt phase
lasted nearly six months, with approximately 200 witnesses, and was
founded on circumstantial evidence. The fact that deliberations occurred
over a nine-day period hardly demonstrates this was a close case. “Rather
than proving the case was close, the length of the deliberations suggests the
jury conscientiously performed its duty. [Citation.]” (People v. Carpenter
(1997) 15 Cal.4th 312, 422.)

In Willis, the Court of Appeal found the dog scent evidence harmless
where the defendant had a motive for a murder and warned a friend not to
tell anyone that he had seen him. (Willis, supra, 115 Cal.App.4th at pp.
387-388.) As shown above, the evidence identifying appellant as the
murderer was far stronger than that which rendered the evidentiary error
harmless in Willis. Likewise, appellant’s case stands in stark contrast to
Gonzales where “not one piece of unambiguous corroborative evidence
supported the [dog scent] identification.” (See Gonzales, supra, 218
Cal.App.3d at p. 415.)

In Mitchell, the Court of Appeal found the dog scent evidence
harmless where a victim identified the defendant as looking like the suspect
in a photo lineup, the defendant later bragged about the shooting, bullets of
the same brand and caliber used in the murder were found in the
defendant’s home, and the defendant acquired a gang tattoo following his
arrest. (Mitchell, supra, 110 Cal.App.4th at pp. 794-795.) The evidence
here is, at a minimum, of equal force to that in Mitchell.

Therefore, in light of the overwhelming independent evidence
proving appellant’s identity as Laci and Conner’s killer, any alleged error in
admitting the dog trailing testimony was harmless. Accordingly, reversal is
unwarranted.

E. Appellant’s Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment Claims
Are Forfeited and Meritless

Appellant contends the purportedly erroneous admission of dog
trailing evidence violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendments of the federal Constitution. (AOB 228-230.) However,
because appellant failed to object on these grounds in the trial court, he has
forfeited his ability to claim any such violations on appeal.

Evidence Code section 353 states:

A verdict or finding shall not be set aside, nor shall the judgment
or decision based thereon be reversed, by reason of the
erroneous admission of evidence unless:

(a) There appears of record an objection to or a motion to
exclude or to strike the evidence that was timely made and so
stated as to make clear the specific ground of the objection or
motion; and

(b) The court which passes upon the effect of the error or errors
is of the opinion that the admitted evidence should have been
excluded on the ground stated and that the error or errors
complained of resulted in a miscarriage of justice.

In order to preserve a challenge to the admission of trial evidence for
appeal purposes, a party must comply with Evidence Code section 353.
(People v. Catlin (2001) 26 Cal.4th 81, 131 [“Defendant’s perfunctory
claim that the admission of this evidence constituted a denial of due process
of law and a violation of the Eighth Amendment guarantee of a reliable
guilt and penalty determination was not raised below, and it is without
merit.”]; see also People v. Ramos (1997) 15 Cal.4th 1133, 1171.)

These requirements may be satisfied by a “properly directed motion
in limine” in which the party obtains an express ruling from the trial court.
(Ibid.) Here, appellant did not assert these federal constitutional grounds
contemporaneously with the admission of the dog trailing evidence. (See 6
CT 2151-2157; 7 RT 1285-1481; 8 RT 1490-1646; 9 RT 1678-1836; 10 RT
1980-2004.) This Court has “consistently held that the ‘defendant’s failure
to make a timely and specific objection’ on the ground asserted on appeal
makes that ground not cognizable” on appeal. (People v. Seijas (2005) 36
Cal.4th 291, 302, quoting People v. Green (1980) 27 Cal.3d 1, 22; see also
People v. Williams (1988) 44 Cal.3d 883, 906.)

This rule of forfeiture applies to due process claims not raised in the
trial court with the exception of “a very narrow due process argument” that
the error asserted in his or her objection below “had the additional legal
consequence of violating due process.” (People v. Partida (2005) 37
Cal.4th 428, 435; see People v. Riggs (2008) 44 Cal.4th 248, 292 [to the
extent “constitutional claim is merely a gloss on the objection raised at trial,
it is preserved”]; People v. Guerra, supra, 37 Cal.4th at p. 1084, fn. 4.)

Even if viable, for the reasons outlined above, appellant’s argument
that he was denied his federal constitutional rights is without merit. The
admission of the challenged evidence did not violate due process or fail to
meet the Eighth Amendment requirement of heightened reliability for the
reasons outlined above. (Woodson v. North Carolina (1976) 428 U.S. 280,
305.)
VII. ANY INFERENCE PERMITTED BY THE DOG TRAILING
INSTRUCTION DID NOT IMPERMISSIBLY SHIFT THE BURDEN
OF PROOF

Appellant contends the trial court’s instruction with CALJIC No. 2.16
provided the jury with an impermissible alternative theory of murder that
allowed the jury to convict him based on dog trailing evidence alone,
without any proof of the requisite mental state. (AOB 239.) Appellant
argues the instruction constituted a constitutionally infirm evidentiary
presumption that omitted the element of malice and served to lighten the
prosecution’s burden of proof. (AOB 241.) Accordingly, appellant argues
this was either structural error or error under Chapman v. California
warranting reversal. (AOB 253.)

We disagree. The instruction was properly given in light of the
charge as a whole and the arguments of counsel. Further, the instruction
contained a permissive inference that did not by its nature implicate any
burden-shifting. Nor, did the inference otherwise violate due process
because the inference permitted by the instruction was rationally related to
the proven facts. In any event, if the instruction was erroneously given, it
was harmless.

A. Procedural Background

The court and parties discussed the dog trailing instruction on October
29, 2004. The court first pointed out that the instructions had to be
modified to comport with the facts of this case since the search involved a
missing person, not a suspect. (108 RT 20143.) The court, having
reviewed the parties’ proposed instructions on the trailing evidence (108
RT 20143-20144), read its own proposed instruction, including the court’s
addition of a catch-all provision, which allowed the jury to consider “any
other factor that could affect the accuracy of the dog tracking evidence”
(108 RT 20144-20145). The court declined several requests by the defense
to alter the instruction because such modifications were impermissible
commentary or argument. (108 RT 20145-20148.) When the trial court
asked defense counsel if he was objecting to the instruction “for the record,”
defense counsel said “[y]es.” (108 RT 20148.) However, the grounds for
the objection were not stated.

A few days later on November 1, the court and parties reviewed the
instruction again. (109 RT 20188-20189.)

The following day, after the close of evidence, the court went over the
proposed instructions with the parties. (110 RT 20329.) While the trial
court noted defense counsel’s strong objection to the instructions on second
degree murder and flight, no mention was made of any further objection to
CALJIC No. 2.16, including any concerns that it might lessen the
prosecution’s burden of proof or otherwise confuse the jury on the issue of
the element of malice. (110 RT 20329-20330.)

Defense counsel previewed the dog trailing instruction during his
closing argument. First, counsel cautioned the jury that “this is evidence
you must use in a certain way.” (110 RT 20439.) Then, counsel read the
instruction to the jury (110 RT 20439) and argued the reasons the jury
should disregard the dog trailing evidence (110 RT 20439-20440).

After argument was concluded, the court instructed the jury with
CALJIC No. 2.16, as modified:

Now, in this case we had dog tracking evidence. Remember
Trimble? And this relates to this dog tracking evidence.

Evidence of dog tracking of the victim has been received for
your consideration. This evidence is not, by itself, sufficient to
permit an inference that the defendant is guilty of the crime of
murder. Before guilt may be inferred, there must be other
evidence that supports the accuracy of the dog tracking evidence.
The evidence can be direct or circumstantial, and must support
the accuracy of the dog tracking evidence.
In determining the weight to give to dog tracking evidence, you
should consider:

One, whether or not the handler was qualified by training and
experience to use the dog;

Two, whether or not the dog was adequately trained in tracking
humans;

Three, whether or not the dog has been found reliable in tracking
humans;

Four, whether the dog was placed on the track where
circumstances have shown the victim to have been;

Five, whether or not the trail has become stale or contaminated
by the environment, weather, or any other factor;

And, six, any other factor that could affect the accuracy of the
dog tracking evidence.

(19 CT 6071; 111 RT 20549-20550.)

In addition to the dog trailing instruction, the trial court instructed the
jury regarding other legal principles relevant here: duty to consider
instructions as a whole (19 CT 6060 [CALJIC No. 1.01]), requirement of
union of act and specific intent (19 CT 6089 [CALJIC No. 3.31]), elements
of murder, including malice (19 CT 6092 [CALJIC No. 8.10]), definition of
malice (19 CT 6093-6094 [CALJIC No. 8.11]), deliberate and premeditated
murder (19 CT 6095-6096 [CALJIC No. 8.20]), unpremeditated second
degree murder (19 CT 6097 [CALJIC No. 8.30]), second degree murder
resulting from an unlawful act dangerous to life (19 CT 6098 [CALJIC No.
8.31]), duty of the jury as to degree of murder (19 CT 6101 [CALJIC No.
8.70]), and, doubt as to whether first or second degree murder (19 CT 6102
[CALJIC No. 8.71]).
B. Appellant Has Forfeited the Claim

We question the adequacy of defense counsel’s pro forma objection to
CALJIC No. 2.16 in preserving the specific error he now asserts on appeal.
In order to avoid forfeiture, appellant must have objected on the “specific
grounds” asserted as error on appeal. (People v. Fuiava (2012) 53 Cal.4th
622, 689].) Certainly, we recognize that this Court can address the merits
of appellant’s claim to the extent any instructional error affected appellant’s
substantial rights. (People v. Prieto (2003) 30 Cal.4th 226, 247.)

However, not only did trial counsel neglect to assert the same
grounds—or any for that matter—contemporaneously with the objection,
the dog trailing instruction proposed by the defense, in effect, approved the
language which appellant now finds objectionable. (Court Exh. No. 27;
Supplemental Clerk’s Court Exhibits Transcript, Vol. 1, pp. 64-65.) On
this record, the claim has not been preserved for appeal.

Even if viable, the claim is without merit, as we argue below.

C. General Legal Principles

“‘It is well established in California that the correctness of jury
instructions is to be determined from the entire charge of the court, not
from a consideration of parts of an instruction or from a particular
instruction. [Citations.] “[T]he fact that the necessary elements of a jury
charge are to be found in two instructions rather than in one instruction
does not, in itself, make the charge prejudicial.” [Citation.] “The absence
of an essential element in one instruction may be supplied by another or
cured in light of the instructions as a whole.” [Citation.]’ [Citation.]”
(People v. Bolin (1998) 18 Cal.4th 297, 328.)

As the Court has explained:

“In reviewing the purportedly erroneous instructions, ‘we
inquire “whether there is a reasonable likelihood that the jury
has applied the challenged instruction in a way” that violates the
Constitution.’ [Citations.] In conducting this inquiry, we are
mindful that ‘“a single instruction to a jury may not be judged in
artificial isolation, but must be viewed in the context of the
overall charge.”’ [Citations.]”

(People v. Frye (1998) 18 Cal.4th 894, 957, overruled on other grounds in
People v. Doolin, supra, 45 Cal.4th at p. 421, fn. 22.) “It is fundamental
that jurors are presumed to be intelligent and capable of understanding and
applying the court’s instructions. [Citation.]” (People v. Gonzales (2011)
51 Cal.4th 894, 940.)

A reviewing court considers the instructions as a whole, the jury’s
findings, and the closing arguments of counsel. (People v. Cain (1995) 10
Cal.4th 1, 35-36.) Error will only be found if it is reasonably likely the
instructions as a whole caused the jury to misunderstand the applicable law.
(People v. Hajek and Vo (2014) 58 Cal.4th 1144, 1217; Estelle v. McGuire
(1991) 502 U.S. 62, 74.)

D. CALJIC No. 2.16 Was Properly Given Because it
Ensured the Dog Trailing Evidence Could Only Be
Considered if Reliability and Corroboration
Prerequisites Were Met

In Malgren, the Court of Appeal found that a jury is properly
instructed on dog trailing evidence when it is informed that there must be
some other evidence, direct or circumstantial, supporting the accuracy of
the identification and, in determining what weight to give such evidence,
the jury should consider the training, proficiency, experience, and proven
ability of the dog, its trainer, and its handler, together with the
circumstances surrounding the trailing in question. (Malgren, supra, 139
Cal.App.3d at p. 242.) Gonzalez elaborated that the “corroborating
evidence necessary to support dog trailing evidence need not be evidence
which independently links the defendant to the crime; it suffices if the
evidence merely supports the accuracy of the dog tracking.” (Gonzales,
supra, 218 Cal.App.3d at p. 408.)

CALJIC No. 2.16 correctly stated the law set forth in Malgren.
(Mitchell, supra, 110 Cal.App.4th at p. 786, fn. 3.) The Mitchell court’s
approval of CALJIC No. 2.16 is especially probative in light of the fact that
Mitchell involved an appeal from first degree murder convictions (id. at p.
775) where the jury was instructed with CALJIC No. 2.16 and, presumably,
the requisite instructions on murder.

In People v. Najeera (2008) 43 Cal.4th 1132, this Court cited Malgren
and Gonzales in explaining the propriety of instructing the jury that
corroboration is necessary with respect to certain evidence involving
considerations related to reliability. (Id. at p. 1137, fn. 2.)

Here, CALJIC No. 2.16 did not give the jury license to convict based
solely on the dog trailing evidence. The prerequisites acted as a safeguard,
guaranteeing that any dog-related evidence would be deemed reliable
before it was considered. (See Gonzales, supra, 218 Cal.App.3d at p. 411
[the main concern is whether the tracking animal is reliable].) Since the
“other evidence” pertains to the accuracy of the dog’s detection, logic
dictates that no link to appellant was required. Accordingly, to ensure
reliability the evidence must show that the dog is trained and certified, as
well as some independent evidence demonstrating accuracy. In this case,
there was adequate, if not ample, independent evidence supporting
Trimble’s accuracy, discussed in section VI.C., ante, which had nothing to
do with appellant. Thus, the “other evidence” had no link to appellant
because none was needed.

Inasmuch as appellant advances the contention that CALJIC No. 2.16
conflicted with the battery of instructions on murder (AOB 241-242), he is
wrong. There was no conflict. And, appellant points to nothing in the
record to support his argument. To the contrary, during the course of
deliberations, the jury requested exhibits and evidence. (19 CT 5981, 5983,
5985.) Notably, there was no question from the jury on the instructions.
This demonstrates the instructions were clear and posed no conflict.

Additionally, the instructions provided the jury with the requisite law
on murder, including the element of malice, along with its definition. (19
CT 6092-6098, 6101-6102.) The trial court also instructed the jury that
before appellant could be convicted of one or both charges of murder, he
needed to have the requisite mental state, which could be found in the
definition of the crime. (19 CT 6089 [CALJIC No. 3.31].) Therefore, even
if one were to abide appellant’s characterization of the dog trailing
instruction, CALJIC No. 3.31 would have put the jury on notice that it
needed to find appellant had the requisite mental state before convicting
him of murder. The jury was also told to disregard any instruction “which
applies to facts determined by you not to exist.” (19 CT 6110 [CALJIC No.
17.31].) Given this record, the instructions taken as a whole cannot be
characterized as conflicting or ambiguous, in that the jury had to choose
between two conflicting instructions. (See Estelle v. McGuire, supra, 502
U.S. at pp. 72-73.)

Moreover, the prosecution’s closing arguments reinforced the
applicable legal standards relating to the requisite mental states for first and
second degree murder. In his opening argument, the prosecutor explained:

First degree requires premeditation, which I have talked to you
about. Second degree requires no premeditation. Still requires
malice. You still have to have specific mental intent to kill
somebody.

Malice, actually there is two types. There is express, which
means I’m going to kill, and I do it, but I don’t really think about
it. If you really think about it, that’s going to fall into first
degree and premed[itation].

Implied malice means you do an act that’s so dangerous that the
law implies malice. Put a bag over somebody’s head, hold it
shut, even in your mind you don’t mean to kill them. Kind of an
— kind of a hard example, hard concept to grasp. That would
probably be implied malice.

(109 RT 20323-20324.) There was no objection from the defense that the
prosecutor misstated the applicable law. It was the prosecution’s theory
that Laci’s and Conner’s murders were of the first degree. (111 RT 20523.)
Hence, the prosecutor argued the facts as evidence of appellant’s
premeditation and deliberation. (109 RT 20324.) During rebuttal
argument, the prosecutor analogized the elements of a crime to the
ingredients of a recipe. (111 RT 20522.) He tailored the analogy to the
crime of murder, including highlighting the necessary ingredient of
“malice aforethought.” (111 RT 20522.)

In addition to the instructions as a whole and the prosecutor’s
argument, the verdicts also demonstrate the jury did not misapprehend the
instructions. Having returned verdicts of first and second degree murder, it
is evident the jury abided by the court’s instructions, which required it to
find whether, if a murder occurred, it was of the first or second degree. (19
CT 6101.) In making that determination, the jury had to consult CALJIC
No. 8.20, which defined first degree murder, including that it was “killing
with express malice aforethought.” (19 CT 6095.) And, CALJIC 8.30
explained that second degree murder “was the unlawful killing of a human
being with malice aforethought.” (19 CT 6097.)

Further, CALJIC No. 2.16 was helpful to appellant because it
explained to the jury how to consider the dog trailing evidence and warned
that the evidence, even if believed, was not enough to establish appellant’s
guilt.

In light of this record, it is not reasonably likely the jury understood
CALJIC No. 2.16 to permit them to find appellant guilty of first and second
degree murder absent the requisite mental states.
E. CALJIC No. 2.16 Contained a Permissive Inference
That Comported with Due Process

Appellant further argues that the instruction was an unconstitutional
permissive instruction (AOB 244-251), but that contention is likewise
without merit. Even though the instruction created a permissive inference,
such an instruction was proper because the evidence permitted a rational
juror to make such an inference based on the proven facts before the jury.

The Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause “protects the
accused against conviction except upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt of
every fact necessary to constitute the crime with which he is charged.” (In
re Winship (1970) 397 U.S. 358, 364.) As part of this protection, a state
may not create evidentiary presumptions which relieve it of its burden of
proving each element of the charged crime. (Sandstrom v. Montana (1979)
442 U.S. 510, 520-524.) Jury instructions which contain mandatory
presumptions regarding an element of the offense, whether or not the
presumption is rebuttable, violate due process. (Francis v. Franklin (1985)
471 U.S. 307, 315-317 (Francis) [instructions telling jurors that the “acts of
a person of sound mind and discretion are presumed to be the product of the
person’s will,” and that a person “is presumed to intend the natural and
probable consequences of his acts”]; Sandstrom v. Montana, supra, 442
U.S. at p. 515 [instruction telling jurors that “the law presumes that a
person intends the ordinary consequences of his voluntary acts”].)

However, instructions which merely create permissive inferences are
constitutional, unless the suggested conclusion is not one which reason and
common sense justify in light of the proven facts before the jury. (County
Court of Ulster County v. Allen (1979) 442 U.S. 140, 157-163 [upholding
state statute which provided that if one occupant of vehicle possesses
unlawful weapon, all occupants in vehicle presumed to know of weapon’s
presence].) In other words, a permissive inference violates due process if it
is irrational. (Francis, supra, 471 U.S. at pp. 314-315.) Unlike a
mandatory presumption, “[a] permissive inference does not relieve the State
of its burden of persuasion because it still requires the State to convince the
jury that the suggested conclusion should be inferred based on the predicate
facts proved.” (Francis, at p. 314.)

Here, given the foregoing authorities, there is no burden-shifting
because CALJIC No. 2.16 does not contain a mandatory presumption.
Appellant acknowledges that the instruction involved a permissive
inference. (AOB 244.)

Moreover, the permissive inference at issue here—that appellant
murdered Laci, transported her pregnant body to the Berkeley Marina, and
disposed of her body in San Francisco Bay—is one which reason and
common sense justified in light of the proven facts before the jury, as
detailed in section VI.C., ante.

In People v. San Nicolas (2004) 34 Cal.4th 614, this Court rejected
the defendant’s contention that instructions which told the jury it could
infer guilt if it found the defendant made a false or misleading statement, or
willfully attempted to suppress evidence, created unreasonable inferences.
The court found that a rational juror could draw the inferences contained in
the instructions, and the instructions simply told jurors to evaluate certain
evidence with “reason and common sense.” (Id. at pp. 666-667.)

In People v. Mendoza (2000) 24 Cal.4th 130, the Court, utilizing the
high court’s framework in Francis, addressed the defendant’s claim that the
standard flight instruction (CALJIC No. 2.52)125 created an unconstitutional

125 As given to the jury, CALJIC No. 2.52 read: “‘The flight of a
person immediately after the commission of a crime, or after he is accused
of the crime, is not sufficient in itself to establish his guilt, but is a fact
which, if proved, may be considered by you in light of all other proved
facts in deciding the question of his guilt or innocence. The weight to
which such circumstance is entitled is a matter for the jury to determine.’”
(Mendoza, supra, 24 Cal.4th at p. 179.)

126 As given to the jury, CALJIC No. 2.15 read: “‘If you find that
[defendant] was in conscious possession of recently stolen property, the
fact of that possession is not by itself sufficient to permit an inference that
the defendant is guilty of the crime of murder or arson. Before guilt may be
inferred, there must be corroborating evidence tending to prove his guilt.
However, this corroborating evidence need only be slight, and need not by
itself be sufficient to warrant an inference of guilt. [¶] As corroboration,
you may consider the attributes of possession—time, place and manner,
that the defendant had an opportunity to commit the crime charged, the
defendant’s conduct, or any other evidence which tends to connect him
with the crime charged.’” (Rogers, supra, 57 Cal.4th at p. 334.)

permissive inference. (Id. at p. 179.) The Court found that the test set forth
in Francis permitted a jury to infer, if it chose to, that the flight of a
defendant immediately following the commission of a crime indicated a
consciousness of guilt. (Id. at p. 180.) Therefore, as the Court held, the
flight instruction did not violate due process. (Ibid.)

On the other hand, this Court found error in People v. Rogers (2013)
57 Cal.4th 296 (Rogers) with respect to instruction with CALJIC No.
2.15,126 concerning the inferences to be drawn from the defendant’s
possession of stolen property as they related to the charged crimes of arson
and murder. The Court observed that the permissive inference contained in
the instruction was properly given in a case that involved theft-related
offenses, but not non-theft-related cases where the instruction could create
the inference that possessing stolen property meant the defendant was
guilty of murder. (Id. at p. 335.) However, because the instruction did not
create a mandatory presumption in favor of guilt, the Court rejected the
defendant’s related contention, which appellant makes here, that the
instruction shifted or otherwise lowered the prosecution’s burden of proof.
(Id. at p. 336.)
This case is more akin to San Nicolas and Mendoza because the jury
could rationally make the connection between the detection of Laci’s scent
at the marina and appellant’s murder of Laci. In other words, the inferred
fact—appellant transported Laci’s body to the marina after killing her and
disposed of her body in the Bay—more likely than not flowed from the
proved fact of Trimble having detected Laci’s scent at the marina, as
corroborated by a wealth of other evidence, including that appellant was at
the marina on the day Laci disappeared and the bodies washed ashore not
far from the marina.

Appellant’s reliance on Schwendeman v. Wallenstein (9th Cir. 1992)
971 F.2d 313, is unavailing. In that case, the Court of Appeals found that
the permissive inference in the instruction at issue, which allowed the jury
to infer reckless driving from excessive speed, was unconstitutional. (Id. at
p. 316.) The challenged instruction stated: “‘A person who drives in excess
of the maximum lawful speed at the point of operation may be inferred to
have driven in a reckless manner. [¶] This inference is not binding upon
you and it is for you to determine what weight, if any, such inference is to
be given.’” (Id. at p. 315.)

The court’s interpretation of the instruction was that “[t]he jury was
told, in effect, that it could ignore all the other evidence, consider only the
evidence of [the defendant’s] speed, and if it found [the defendant] was
exceeding the speed limit, that was enough to convict him – not of speeding,
but of reckless driving.” (Ibid.) The instruction impermissibly focused the
jury on the evidence of speed alone. (Ibid.)

Here, CALJIC No. 2.16 provided, in part:

Evidence of dog tracking of the victim has been received for
your consideration. This evidence is not, by itself, sufficient to
permit an inference that the defendant is guilty of the crime of
murder. Before guilt may be inferred, there must be other
evidence that supports the accuracy of the dog tracking evidence.
The evidence can be direct or circumstantial, and must support
the accuracy of the dog tracking evidence.

(19 CT 6071, emphasis added.) In light of the plain language of the
instruction, unlike that at issue in Schwendeman, CALJIC No. 2.16 did not
permit the jurors to infer guilt from the dog trailing evidence alone. There
needed to be other corroborating evidence to support the reliability of the
dog trailing evidence before guilt could be inferred. (See People v. Parson
(2008) 44 Cal.4th 332, 356 [finding no due process violation and
distinguishing Schwendeman].)

F. If Error, It Was Harmless

This Court has made clear that Watson governs the analysis here. In
People v. Moore (2011) 51 Cal.4th 1104, the Court addressed the proper
standard of prejudice to apply in determining whether this type of error
required reversal, and concluded that “contrary to defendant’s arguments
that the error is one of federal constitutional magnitude, . . . the error is one
of state law only.” (Moore, supra, at p. 1130.) In reaching this conclusion,
the Court reasoned, in part:

First, informing the jury that it may infer defendant’s guilt of
murder in these circumstances did not allow it to convict
defendant based on a “fundamentally incorrect theory of
culpability.” The instruction in no way altered the trial court’s
proper instructions concerning the elements of murder that the
prosecution was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
The jury was instructed it could draw merely “an inference of
guilt” from the fact of possession with slight corroboration,
which any rational juror would understand meant he or she
could consider this inference in deciding whether the
prosecution has established the elements of murder (and the
other offenses) elsewhere defined in the trial court’s instructions.
The instruction purported to explain to the jury its proper
consideration of a particular item of circumstantial evidence in
reaching a verdict on the charges; it did not alter the defining
elements of those charges.
(Moore, supra, at p. 1131.)

In Rogers, supra, 57 Cal.4th 296, the defendant made an argument
similar to that advanced by appellant here that the instructional error was
subject to automatic reversal because the jury was presented with both
legally correct and legally incorrect theories and the reviewing court could
not discern from the record on which of the theories the subsequent general
verdict of guilt rested. (Rogers, supra, 57 Cal.4th at p. 336.) However,
citing numerous cases that held otherwise, the Court stated: “[I]t is well
established the People v. Watson (1956) 46 Cal.2d 818, 836 [299 P.2d 243],
test applies. [Citations.]” (Ibid.)

Here, there is no reasonable probability a result more favorable to
appellant would have occurred had the trial court not given the CALJIC No.
2.16 instruction in this case. Even without the permissive inference arising
from Trimble’s detection of Laci’s scent at the marina, the other evidence
of appellant’s guilt was exceedingly strong, as we set out in section VI.C.,
ante.

Further, given the other instructions that aided the jury’s consideration
of the evidence (e.g., CALJIC Nos. 2.90 [presumption of innocence and
reasonable doubt standard of proof], 2.00 [defining direct and
circumstantial evidence], 2.02 [sufficiency of circumstantial evidence to
prove specific intent], 3.31 [requirement of union of act and specific intent],
1.01 [duty to consider instructions as a whole]), in addition to the battery of
instructions on murder, there is no reasonable likelihood of a more
favorable outcome for appellant.

Appellant had a full opportunity to argue his case, including any flaws
in Trimble’s ability to detect scent or in the credibility of Eloise Anderson’s
testimony about Trimble’s capabilities. As stated, appellant’s trial counsel
worked diligently to uncover any inadequacies in this testimony. Therefore,
under the Watson test—whether it is reasonably probable defendant would
have obtained a more favorable result had the instruction not been given—
the error here in extending CALJIC No. 2.16 to the murder charges was
manifestly harmless.

Appellant’s alternative contention is that a variation of the Chapman
standard applies. Citing Schwendeman, appellant argues that we must
prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury did not rest its verdicts on the
predicate fact and ignore all other evidence. (AOB 249-251.) In other
words, we have to dispel the notion that the jury convicted appellant only
because Trimble detected Laci’s scent at the marina. Although we disagree
that Schwendeman stands for that proposition, the Chapman standard is
inapplicable, not just in light of this Court’s authority, but also because
CALJIC No. 2.16 did not instruct the jury to ignore all other evidence save
the dog trailing evidence. Therefore, the absence of constitutional error
refutes appellant’s contention that the Chapman standard applies. In any
event, the compelling evidence of guilt renders any instructional error
harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.

VIII. THE DOG TRAILING INSTRUCTION, AS GIVEN, WAS NOT A
PINPOINT INSTRUCTION THAT BENEFITTED THE
PROSECUTION

Appellant asserts the dog trailing instruction constituted a
constitutionally defective pinpoint instruction in the prosecution’s favor
because it did not also state that the jury could rely only on the dog trailing
evidence to acquit appellant. In short, appellant argues the instruction was
unbalanced and that reversal of the guilt verdicts is warranted. (AOB 255-
265.)

We disagree. First, as we argued in section VII., ante, CALJIC No.
2.16 did not tell the jury it could convict appellant of murder based on the
dog trailing evidence alone. Further, the instruction did not direct the jury
to consider potentially inculpatory dog trailing evidence to the exclusion of
potentially exculpatory dog trailing evidence. Nor, did it otherwise shift
the burden of proof to the defense. In any event, if the instruction was
erroneous, it was harmless.

A. Appellant Has Forfeited the Claim

As a threshold matter, appellant’s trial counsel did not ask the court to
modify CALJIC No. 2.16 by adding language to balance the instruction in
the manner appellant now argues was necessary. (108 RT 20143-20148;
109 RT 20188-20189; 110 RT 20330; see also Court Exh. No. 27 [proposed
defense instruction].)

As we acknowledged in section VII.B., ante, a defendant need not
object to preserve a challenge to an instruction that incorrectly states the
law and affects his or her substantial rights. (People v. Prieto, supra, 30
Cal.4th at p. 247; see also Pen. Code, § 1259.) Even so, “‘[a] party may not
complain on appeal that an instruction correct in law and responsive to the
evidence was too general or incomplete unless the party has requested
appropriate clarifying or amplifying language.’” (People v. Sully (1991) 53
Cal.3d 1195, 1218, quoting People v. Lang (1989) 49 Cal.3d 991, 1024.)

As we maintained in section VII., ante, CALJIC No. 2.16 correctly
stated the law under Malgren and was responsive to the dog trailing
evidence adduced at trial. Had appellant wanted more balance to the
instruction, he should have incorporated language to that effect in his
proposed instruction. He did not. (See Court Exh. No. 27.) The omission
deprived the trial court of the opportunity to consider the request and make
the modification, if appropriate. Accordingly, appellant has forfeited the
claim.

In any event, his claim is unavailing, as we contend below.
B. CALJIC No. 2.16 Did Not Instruct the Jury That
Exculpatory Evidence Had to Be Proved Beyond a
Reasonable Doubt

Appellant rests his argument on Cool v. United States (1972) 409
U.S. 100 (Cool). (AOB 258-261.) His reliance on that case is misplaced.
In Cool, the defense relied heavily on the testimony of an accomplice, who
admitted his own guilt and insisted that the defendant had no culpability.
The trial court instructed the jury that the accomplice’s testimony should be
viewed with suspicion, but that it could be considered if the jury was
“‘convinced it is true beyond a reasonable doubt.’” (Cool, supra, 409 U.S.
at p. 102.) The trial court further instructed the jury that the accomplice’s
testimony, if believed, could “support your verdict of guilty . . . .” (Id. at p.
103, fn. 4.)

The United States Supreme Court relied on In re Winship, supra,
397 U.S. 358, and Washington v. Texas (1967) 388 U.S. 14, 18 in holding
that the instruction required reversal of the defendant’s conviction because:
1) it “place[d] an improper burden on the defense” to prove that the
accomplice’s testimony was true beyond a reasonable doubt (Cool, supra,
409 U.S. at p. 103), and 2) it was “fundamentally unfair in that it told the
jury that it could convict solely on the basis of accomplice testimony
without telling it that it could acquit on this basis” (Ibid., fn. 4).

Contrary to appellant’s argument, Cool is not controlling and does not
establish that it was error to instruct the jury here with CALJIC No. 2.16.
The language appellant challenges in CALJIC No. 2.16 does not remotely
resemble the blatant constitutional flaw of the instruction in Cool. The
instruction in Cool basically told the jury that exculpatory testimony of an
accomplice had to be proven true beyond a reasonable doubt before it could
be given any consideration. The overriding concern of the high court in
Cool was the improper use of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” language in
the instruction. (Cool, supra, 409 U.S. at p. 103.) Unlike the instruction in
Cool, which shifted the burden to the defendant, CALJIC No. 2.16 did not
isolate potentially exculpatory testimony and instruct the jury that such
evidence could not be considered unless proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Rather, CALJIC No. 2.16 reminded the jury that, before it could use the
dog trailing evidence to infer appellant’s guilt, there were numerous
reliability hurdles that had to be cleared. Therefore, this instruction favored
appellant, and it was not error to give it. (See People v. Lawley (2002) 27
Cal.4th 102, 161-162; United States v. Anderson (9th Cir. 1981) 642 F.2d
281, 286.)

As discussed in sections VII.C. and VII.D., ante, CALJIC No. 2.16
did not suggest the jury could infer guilt merely from the dog trailing
evidence; the elements of first or second degree murder must have been
proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The charge to the jury elsewhere
instructed that appellant was presumed innocent, that appellant did not have
to prove he was not guilty, and that the prosecution had the burden of proof
beyond a reasonable doubt. (CALJIC Nos. 2.61, 2.90.) The instructions
are considered as a whole, not in isolation. (People v. Castillo (1997) 16
Cal.4th 1009, 1016.) So read, CALJIC No. 2.16 did not erroneously shift
the burden of proof.

Further, the instruction did not bar the jury from considering other
dog trailing evidence as being indicative of appellant’s innocence (i.e.,
testimony of dog handler Ronald Seitz). Appellant was free to argue, and
did, the import of the fact that Seitz’s trailing dog T.J. did not detect Laci’s
scent at the marina. (110 RT 20438.) The instruction here merely told the
jurors that if they were to use the dog trailing evidence to infer guilt, there
were certain preconditions that must be met. Otherwise, the jury was free
to discount the evidence entirely or use it to infer appellant’s innocence;
there were no preconditions in that regard.
Moreover, our position is bolstered by the high court’s language in
Cool: “[T]here is an essential difference between instructing a jury on the
care with which it should scrutinize certain evidence in determining how
much weight to accord it and instructing the jury, as the judge did here, that
as a predicate to the consideration of certain evidence, it must find it true
beyond a reasonable doubt.” (Cool, supra, 409 U.S. at p. 104.)

Appellant argues that the purported error here was actually more
egregious than that in Cool. First, appellant asserts that because CALJIC
No. 2.16 followed the instruction on motive—the motive instruction being
“a balanced and proper instruction” in appellant’s view—the sequencing
signaled to a reasonable juror that the dog trailing evidence could only be
used to convict appellant. (AOB 260.) Not so. Actually, the instruction on
dog trailing evidence preceded the instruction on motive. (19 CT 6071-
6072 [CALJIC No. 2.16], 6079 [CALJIC No. 2.51]; 111 RT 20549-20550
[CALJIC No. 2.16], 20552 [CALJIC No. 2.51].) So, any preconditioning
could not have occurred.

Second, appellant’s contention that the balance issue compounded the
infirmities discussed in section VII, ante, (AOB 260-261) is also
unpersuasive. As we argued, there was no impermissible burden-shifting
created by CALJIC No. 2.16, or other constitutional flaws, both on its own
terms and in light of the instructions as a whole. Stated simply, there was
no error to compound.

C. If Error, It Was Harmless Under Any Standard

If the instruction was erroneous, it was not prejudicial under any
standard of review. (See People v. Humphrey (1996) 13 Cal.4th 1073,
1089 [reasonable probability of different outcome standard applies to state
law instructional error affecting defense; harmless beyond a reasonable
doubt standard applies to instructional error that prevents presentation of
complete defense]; People v. Rogers (2006) 39 Cal.4th 826, 867-868, & fn.
16, 886-887.)

Appellant contends the error was not harmless under Chapman for
several reasons. None of the reasons have merit. First, contrary to
appellant’s assertion, the dog trailing evidence was not of “overarching
importance” (AOB 261) to the prosecution’s case. As we discussed in
section VI.D., ante, there was a tremendous amount of evidence,
independent of the dog trailing evidence, that pointed the finger of guilt
squarely at appellant. At the risk of redundancy, it bears repeating that the
fact that Laci’s and Conner’s bodies washed ashore not far from where
appellant said he was fishing on the day his pregnant wife disappeared
eclipsed any probative value to be accorded to Trimble’s detection of Laci’s
scent at the marina. The defense tried to minimize the import of this
crushing blow to appellant’s claim of innocence by suggesting that
appellant was framed by the real killer who, along with the rest of humanity,
knew appellant was at the marina on Christmas Eve. (110 RT 20483-
20484.) However, the-defendant-was-framed theory was rendered
incredible by, among other evidence, appellant’s numerous surreptitious
trips to the marina. In different vehicles each time. And, never speaking to
anyone.

Next, appellant contends the dog trailing evidence relating to Trimble
was unreliable, while that concerning Ronald Seitz’s dog was reliable.
(AOB 262-265.) As we maintained in section VI., ante, Trimble had a
demonstrated history of reliability when it came to trailing, including non-
contact trails. This was corroborated by the fact that Laci’s and Conner’s
bodies were discovered not far from the marina a few months after Trimble
detected Laci’s scent. In any event, CALJIC 2.16 mandated that the jury
make specific findings about reliability before it could consider the
evidence relating to Trimble.
Further, the record shows that the evidence concerning the search
conducted by dog handler Ronald Seitz and his dog T.J. was not more
reliable than the search by Eloise Anderson and Trimble. There was
absolutely no evidence adduced that the scent item used by Anderson to
scent Trimble—Laci’s sunglasses—was contaminated with appellant’s
scent. Therefore, appellant’s somewhat veiled assertion that the scent item
used by Seitz—Laci’s slipper—was a better scent item which, in turn,
facilitated a more reliable search by Seitz’s dog (AOB 263-264), is simply
unsupported by the record. Defense counsel asked Seitz if the sunglasses
could become cross-contaminated “if” appellant “had cleaned the
sunglasses” or reached into Laci’s purse and touched the sunglasses. (105
RT 19625.) But, there was no evidence showing that appellant had, in fact,
touched the sunglasses themselves or, for that matter, the case in which
they were contained. Even if appellant had touched the sunglasses,
according to Seitz, Laci’s scent would have been the predominant scent on
the article and the scent which Trimble would have followed. (105 RT
19657.)

Also, Seitz acknowledged that T.J. had an accuracy rate that hovered
around 80 percent and that sometimes T.J. made mistakes in trailing. (105
RT 19661-19662.) Seitz recognized that, based on his training, Anderson
could have been correct in her assessment that Trimble reliably detected
Laci’s scent at the marina. (105 RT 19662.) Therefore, the results of
Trimble’s and T.J.’s respective search efforts at the marina cannot be
reasonably characterized as one being reliable and the other not.
Accordingly, appellant’s argument that the instruction was not harmless
because it permitted the jury to consider inculpatory dog trailing evidence
to the exclusion of exculpatory dog trailing evidence is not supported by the
law or the record.
IX. THE TRIAL COURT PROPERLY ADMITTED EXPERT
TESTIMONY CONCERNING THE WIND, TIDES, AND CURRENTS
ASSOCIATED WITH SAN FRANCISCO BAY

Appellant next contends the trial court erred by admitting expert
testimony supplied by the prosecution’s expert, Dr. Ralph Cheng, who
testified about conditions on the Bay, including as the conditions related to
movement of Laci’s and Conner’s bodies. More pointedly, appellant
argues the testimony should not have been admitted without first assessing
the reliability of Dr. Cheng’s methodology and conclusions under the Kelly
rule. (AOB 266-285.) Appellant further contends the purported error
requires reversal. (AOB 285-296.)

We disagree. A Kelly hearing was unnecessary because there was
nothing new or novel about Dr. Cheng’s application of the principles of
fluid mechanics. In any event, the expert testimony met the foundational
requirements under Kelly and was otherwise properly admitted. Regardless,
any error in the admission of the testimony was harmless.

A. Appellant Has Waived the Claim

During the section 402 hearing on September 30, 2004, the prosecutor
noted that defense counsel had preemptively elicited much of the
information concerning Dr. Cheng’s involvement in the case during
counsel’s cross-examination of Detective Hendee. The effect of which was
to essentially impeach Dr. Cheng before Dr. Cheng was even permitted to
testify. (100 RT 18854.) The cross-examination occurred on July 15, 2004,
which was nearly three months before the 402 hearing involving Dr. Cheng.
(See 66 RT 12809-12819.)

During the hearing, defense counsel referred to Dr. Cheng’s proffered
testimony, admitting: “[I]n actuality, in some ways I want it to come in
because I believe his ultimate conclusion is that he can’t say anything about
Laci.” (100 RT 18855.) The court asked counsel why he was objecting
then. To which counsel replied, “besides being ludicrous, there is no basis
upon which he can come to that conclusion.” (100 RT 18855.)

Given these circumstances, we find appellant’s implicit suggestion—
that a party opponent can introduce the opposing party’s evidence for its
own benefit, later move to exclude that evidence on the ground that an
inadequate foundation has been laid for its admission, and subsequently
challenge the admission of that evidence on appeal—anomalous, to put it
mildly. We contend that by introducing Dr. Cheng’s findings during cross-
examination (66 RT 12809-12819), appellant waived his right to complain
about the trial court’s decision to officially admit the evidence months later.
(See People v. Medina (1995) 11 Cal.4th 694, 750 [defendant’s challenge
on appeal to testimony elicited during defense cross-examination of witness
deemed waived]; see also Jackson v. Superior Court (1937) 10 Cal.2d 350,
358 [a party is estopped from asserting on appeal an error that was invited
or provoked by the party or his or her counsel].) And, in Lissak v. Crocker
Estate Co. (1897) 119 Cal. 442, 446, in an analogous context, the Court
cited the following passage:

“The contestant could not sit by during the examination of the
physicians, and after their evidence had been elicited by
examination and cross-examination, upon finding it injurious to
her case, claim as a legal right to have it stricken out. There are
bounds to the enforcement of the statutory provisions which will
not be disregarded at the instance of a party who, being entitled
to their benefit, has waived or omitted to avail himself of them.
It is perfectly true that public policy has dictated the enactment
of the code provisions by which the communications of patient
and client are privileged from disclosure; but the privilege must
be claimed, and the proposed evidence must be seasonably
objected to. The rule of evidence which excludes the
communications between physician and patient must be invoked
by an objection at the time the evidence of the witness is given.
It is too late after the examination has been insisted upon, and
the evidence has been received without objection, to raise the
question of competency by a motion to strike it out.” [Citation.]
(Emphasis added.)

If appellant is permitted to pursue his claim, it is nonetheless without
merit.

B. Evidence Code Section 402 Hearing

At the outset of the proceeding on September 30, 2004, defense
counsel stated that a Kelly-Frye hearing was necessary. (100 RT 18853.)
The trial court, having reviewed Dr. Cheng’s PowerPoint presentation (100
RT 18852-18553; see also People’s exhibit number 283), disagreed since
“[t]hey’ve been charting tides since Sir Francis Drake went up the coast.”
(100 RT 18853.) The prosecutor explained that Dr. Cheng, at the request of
the Modesto Police Department, worked backward from the location where
Laci’s and Conner’s bodies were recovered, to try and isolate where in the
Bay the bodies had started their movement to the shore. (100 RT 18854.)
Even so, the court did not agree that a Kelly hearing was needed to vet the
ebb and flow of tides and why sea levels rise and fall. (100 RT 18855.)

As explained above, although defense counsel took issue at the
hearing with certain aspects of Dr. Cheng’s intended testimony, counsel
had no problem preemptively introducing portions of Dr. Cheng’s findings
insofar as it may have helped take the wind out of the prosecution’s sails.
(100 RT 18855.)

Regardless, the trial court was of the opinion that defense counsel’s
concerns went to the weight to be accorded Dr. Cheng’s testimony, not to
its admissibility. (100 RT 18855.)

C. Summary of Dr. Cheng’s Trial Testimony

1. Voir dire

Doctor Ralph Cheng was a senior research hydrologist for the U.S.
Geological Survey (“USGS”). In 1967, he obtained master’s and doctorate
degrees in the field of applied mathematics and fluid dynamics from the
University of California at Berkeley. (100 RT 18859.) Afterward, Dr.
Cheng taught at the State University of New York (“SUNY”) and then
joined the USGS in 1974. (100 RT 18859.)

The primary focus of Dr. Cheng’s research with the USGS was
studying the “hydraulics” or physical processes of how water moved in San
Francisco Bay. (100 RT 18860.) Dr. Cheng explained that the movement
of water in the Bay was mostly driven by tides, which, in turn, were driven
by the rotations of the sun and moon around one another. The inflow from
freshwater rivers also affected water movement in the Bay. (100 RT
18860.) Dr. Cheng was part of a research team that addressed issues
concerning water quality, biological processes, plankton balance, and other
environmental factors affecting San Francisco Bay. (100 RT 18864.)
However, his focus was on physical aspects of the Bay; particularly,
movement of water in the Bay. (100 RT 18864-18865.)

Among his professional achievements, Dr. Cheng authored numerous
articles, which were published in peer-reviewed journals and served as an
advisor to international conference organizations. Also, Dr. Cheng had
been bestowed with numerous awards honoring his work, including one
from the U.S. Department of the Interior. (100 RT 18861-18863.)

This case was Dr. Cheng’s first time testifying as an expert witness in
court. (100 RT 18863.) He explained that his opinions were “based on
science” with the understanding “that all science has a little room of
tolerance.” (100 RT 18865.) The trial court accepted Dr. Cheng as “an
expert hydrologist and qualified to give an opinion about the movement of
water in San Francisco Bay, among other things.” (100 RT 18866.)

2. Expert testimony

Using a PowerPoint presentation, Dr. Cheng provided an overview of
tidal action and water currents and how they were influenced by
astronomical forces. (100 RT 18866-18868; People’s Exh. No. 283.)127 He
explained that there were two high tides and two low tides each day and
that the rise and fall of tides along the shoreline was more extreme in the
spring. (100 RT 18870-18871; 101 RT 18889-18890.) The magnitude of
the tidal current was generally proportional to the depth of the water; water
moved fastest in shallow areas. (100 RT 18878.)
As for San Francisco Bay, Dr. Cheng stated that the current was
strongest where the water was deepest, which was underneath the Golden
Gate. (100 RT 18878.) He also discussed the effects of seasonal wind
patterns on the Bay, particularly, how winds affect the wave motion of
water in the Bay, which, in turn, transmitted energy downward to the
bottom. (100 RT 18880-18882.) This wave energy affected the movement
of objects in the water. (100 RT 18878; 101 RT 18891.) Assembling all of
this information—tides, tidal currents, winds, and waves—researchers were
able to predict the movement of water in San Francisco Bay and,
accordingly, the movement of objects in the water, with a certain degree of
accuracy. (101 RT 18891.) Researchers could predict astronomical tides
and tidal currents using a validated numerical model founded upon the
aforementioned scientific principle that the magnitude of the tidal current
was generally proportional to water depth. (101 RT 18891.)
With regard to this case, Dr. Cheng recounted that the Modesto Police
Department contacted him in February 2003 with respect to helping
authorities locate Laci’s body by explaining how things moved through the
waters in the Bay. (101 RT 18891-18892, 18922.) Dr. Cheng directed the
jurors’ attention to the presentation slide that summarized the waves and
tidal conditions near the Richmond area for the time period beginning on
127 The exhibit can be found in Volume number 12 of the
Supplemental Clerk’s Exhibits Transcript at pages 2734 through 2759.
341

December 23, 2002 through December 25, 2002. (101 RT 18892; People’s
Exh. No. 283; 12 Supp. CT Exhs. 2755.) He explained that around noon
on December 24 the wind was very weak on the Bay, which was a typical
winter pattern. At the time, the tide was rising bringing ocean water
flowing into the Bay. (101 RT 18893-18894; People’s Exh. No. 283; 12
Supp. CT Exhs. 2756.) Dr. Cheng noted that his chart was based on data
from the Bay Air Quality Management District, which collected such data
continuously. (101 RT 18892, 18893.)

Dr. Cheng’s next slide documented the tides and winds near
Richmond for the time period when Laci’s and Conner’s bodies washed
ashore in mid-April 2003. Specifically, the chart showed data for the time
period beginning on April 11 and continuing through April 13. (People’s
Exh. No. 283; 12 Supp. CT Exhs. 2757.) Dr. Cheng described how, in
spring, water levels went to extremes: low tides were exceedingly low and
high tides were exceedingly high. (101 RT 18895.) He pointed out that,
during this time, it was very windy with winds exceeding 40 knots and
sustained winds averaging around 20 knots. (101 RT 18896.) And, shortly
after noon on April 12, there was also the occurrence of a very low tide.
(101 RT 18896.) The wind, which Dr. Cheng opined was of “quite a
magnitude,” produced a significant amount of energy in the water. (101 RT
18896, 18897.) The wind energy permeated the shallower areas of the Bay
stirring up the sediment at the bottom. (101 RT 18898.) The areas along
the shore where Laci’s and Conner’s bodies were recovered were “very,
very shallow.” (101 RT 18902.) In Dr. Cheng’s opinion, this weather
event would have produced enough energy in the more shallow portions of
the Bay to move a body. (101 RT 18906.)

Dr. Cheng clarified that in trying to assist authorities in February
2003—before Laci’s and Conner’s bodies were recovered—he was
working with some degree of uncertainty as to the specific location where
Laci’s body started its travel in the Bay. (101 RT 18900.) Nonetheless, Dr.
Cheng was able to reconstruct the tides and currents in the Bay “within a
reasonable degree of accuracy.” (101 RT 18900.) However, because the
initial position of Laci’s body was not precise, Dr. Cheng could not predict
the path that Laci’s body would have traveled in the Bay. (101 RT 18900.)

After Laci’s and Conner’s bodies were discovered, authorities
returned to Dr. Cheng to see if he could work backward from the location
where the bodies washed ashore to trace where Laci’s body may have been
deposited in the Bay. With that information, authorities could concentrate
their search for additional evidence such as weights or limbs. (101 RT
18900-18901, 18907, 18940.) Dr. Cheng explained that while the
information available to him had “improved,” such calculations still
involved some uncertainty. (101 RT 18901.) He then detailed how he
created a “Progressive Vector Diagram” to narrow down the area. (101 RT
18904-18905; People’s Exh. No. 284; 12 Supp. CT Exhs. 2760.) Dr.
Cheng charted hour-to-hour movement based on a wind-drift estimation
mathematical formula. (101 RT 18909-18910.) The formula utilized data
from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Coastal Engineering Handbook.
(101 RT 18910.) Dr. Cheng acknowledged that, while he was able to
narrow down the area where the bodies may have started their travel in the
Bay, he could not refine it to a matter of inches or even feet. (101 RT
18912.) His task was complicated by the fact that two bodies of different
mass were recovered, which meant that, when they drifted in the Bay, they
may have behaved differently. (101 RT 18913.)

Dr. Cheng was able to determine a probable track for Conner’s body,
but not Laci’s. (101 RT 18925, 18942, 18944.) This was owing to several
circumstances including the investigative assumption that Laci’s body was
likely weighted down by anchors initially, which would have caused her
body to behave differently in the water than Conner’s. (101 RT 18942.)
Also, being heavier than Conner’s body, Laci’s body could have been
resting on the bottom of the Bay. (101 RT 18925.)

Based on Dr. Cheng’s calculations, the larger area he identified was
approximately a quarter-mile by one and three-quarters mile. He broke this
area down into smaller quarter-mile sections or grids, with one particular
grid being the target area. (101 RT 18912; People’s Exh. No. 284.) Dr.
Cheng described this area as “lying right in the middle distance between
Berkeley Marina and Brooks Island, roughly.” (101 RT 18915.) He
qualified: “It’s not a deterministic prediction, but it’s a highest probability”
(101 RT 18914) based on “assumptions and scientific data” (101 RT
18920). The map containing Dr. Cheng’s conclusions corresponded to the
area of the Bay depicted in People’s Exhibit number 215. (101 RT 18908.)
Additionally, Dr. Cheng’s research and calculations revealed that, had
Laci’s body had been placed into deeper waters in the Bay, it would not
have migrated to the Berkeley Flat area. (101 RT 18917.)

Although Dr. Cheng acknowledged that his research did not include
the specific study of the movement of human bodies in the Bay, he had
studied the movement of “drifters” in the Bay. Drifters were floating
devices that could be weighted to assess the action of currents at varying
depths. (101 RT 18926, 18938.) Typically, the drifters were weighted at
zero so that they were of neutral density in the water. (101 RT 18945.)

Dr. Cheng explained that he was quite familiar with the principles of
fluid mechanics as they involved the movement of objects through air and
that these same principles were generally applicable to movement of
objects in water. (101 RT 18938 [“a law of similitudes”].)128

128 For example, principles of fluid mechanics can be applied to the
movement of a soccer ball through the air. (Conner W., The Wall Street
Journal, The Zidane of Fluid Dynamics Tries to Explain Why a Ball Curves,
<<http://blogs.wsj.com/dailyfix/2014/07/03/the-zidane-of-fluid-dynamics-
tries-to-explain-why-a-ball-curves>>[as of August 29, 2014].) Likewise,
principles of fluid mechanics help Olympic swimmers understand how to
move their bodies through the water more efficiently. (Johnson C., EE
Times, Fluid Mechanics used to improve U.S. Olympic
swimmers<<http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1169100&gt;
>[as of August 29, 2014].)

D. A Kelly Hearing Was Unnecessary Because There Was
Nothing New or Novel About Dr. Cheng’s Application
of Fluid Dynamics in a Hydrological Context

As a preliminary matter, we point out that appellant’s chief complaint
concerns that portion of Dr. Cheng’s testimony that addressed the location
from which Conner’s body migrated to the shoreline. (AOB 281.) As we
contend below, there was nothing scientifically new or novel inherent in Dr.
Cheng’s testimony about the movement of Conner’s body in the water.
Further, there was nothing scientifically new or novel about the operation
of the tides, currents, and wind, as they occurred in San Francisco Bay at
the relevant time periods. Consequently, the trial court was correct in
finding a Kelly hearing was unnecessary.

Although we briefly discussed People v. Kelly (1976) 17 Cal.3d 24
(Kelly) in section VI., ante, in relation to the admissibility of the dog
trailing evidence, we set out the applicable legal principles more fully here.
“The Kelly test is intended to forestall the jury’s uncritical acceptance of
scientific evidence or technology that is so foreign to everyday experience
as to be unusually difficult for laypersons to evaluate. [Citation.] In most
other instances, the jurors are permitted to rely on their own common sense
and good judgment in evaluating the weight of the evidence presented to
them. [Citations.]” (People v. Venegas (1998) 18 Cal.4th 47, 80.)
“[A]bsent some special feature which effectively blindsides the jury, expert
opinion testimony is not subject to Kelly . . . .” (People v. Stoll (1989) 49
Cal.3d 1136, 1157.) Kelly “only applies to that limited class of expert
testimony which is based, in whole or part, on a technique, process, or
theory which is new to science and, even more so, the law.” (People v.
Stoll, supra, 49 Cal.3d at p. 1156.)

The expert testimony at issue in this case is akin to applications that
are not considered new or novel scientific techniques. (See, e.g., People v.
DePriest (2007) 42 Cal.4th 1, 40 [Kelly inapplicable to overlay technique to
compare shoe prints]; People v. Webb (1993) 6 Cal.4th 494, 524 [chemical
and laser process for photographing fingerprints not subject to Kelly];
People v. Clark (1993) 5 Cal.4th 950, 1018 [Kelly inapplicable to blood
spatter expert testimony], overruled on other grounds in People v. Doolin,
supra, 45 Cal.4th at p. 421, fn. 22; People v. Rowland (1992) 4 Cal.4th 238
[Kelly inapplicable to expert medical testimony on sexual assault]; People v.
McDonald (1984) 37 Cal.3d 351, 376 [Kelly inapplicable to expert
testimony on psychological factors affecting eyewitness identification],
overruled on other grounds in People v. Mendoza (2000) 23 Cal.4th 896,
914 .)

Appellant’s reliance on People v. Leahy (1994) 8 Cal.4th 587 (AOB
281-282), is unpersuasive. In Leahy, the Court held that, “[i]n determining
whether a scientific technique is ‘new’ for Kelly purposes, long-standing
use by police officers seems less significant a factor than repeated use,
study, testing and confirmation by scientists or trained technicians.”
(People v. Leahy, supra, 8 Cal.4th at p. 605.) By its very nature, however,
application of the more sophisticated principles of hydrology and fluid
mechanics typically requires the involvement of scientists and trained
technicians, not law enforcement. And, insofar, as appellant intimates that
Dr. Cheng’s credentials were the functional equivalent of a sailor’s (AOB
282), he is clearly mistaken.
As Dr. Cheng explained, application of fluid mechanics in a
hydrological context was no different than the application of fluid
mechanics as it related to how objects moved through the air. (101 RT
18938.) People v. Roehler (1985) 167 Cal.App.3d 353 (Roehler), supports
the application of fluid mechanics in the context in which it was utilized in
this case. In Roehler, the defendant was charged with the murders of his
wife and young stepson. (Roehler, supra, 167 Cal.App.3d at p. 359.) The
defendant contended the victims died in an accidental drowning when the
small boat they were in capsized on the ocean. (Id. at p. 365.) After
presenting evidence that the victims suffered severe blunt force trauma to
the head just prior to their deaths by drowning, the prosecution called Dr.
Scott Hickman who was a professor of mechanical and environmental
engineering at the University of California at Santa Barbara and whose
specialty was fluid mechanics. (Id. at p. 369.) Besides supervising the
testing of the boat’s stability and offering an opinion on the force needed to
overturn the boat, Dr. Hickman tested the velocity at which a boy of the
stepson’s weight and height would have risen through the waters after
immersion. (Ibid.) So, appellant’s contention that Dr. Cheng’s testimony
was a new and novel scientific application because it involved the physics
of the movement of objects in water (AOB 283), is unfounded.

Therefore, if Kelly is inapplicable, “[a] trial court’s determination to
admit expert evidence will not be disturbed on appeal absent a showing that
the [trial] court abused its discretion in a manner that resulted in a
miscarriage of justice. [Citations.]” (People v. Robinson (2005) 37 Cal.4th
592, 630.)

Here, there were no concerns that the jurors would be blindsided by
Dr. Cheng’s expert testimony or otherwise give it uncritical acceptance.
Truly, the gravamen of Dr. Cheng’s testimony was to explain to the jury
how the waters in San Francisco Bay acted and how the weather influenced
the movement of waters in the Bay. Intending no disrespect to Dr. Cheng,
as the trial court accurately assessed, “[t]hey’ve been charting tides since
Sir Francis Drake went up the coast.” (100 RT 18853.) Yet, Dr. Cheng’s
testimony did provide the jurors with a credible explanation, based on
scientific data, for how it was that Conner’s and Laci’s bodies came ashore
when and where they did. This testimony was based on the operation of
Bay tidal currents and the particular weather conditions attending
appellant’s visit to the Bay on Christmas Eve 2002, and the time period in
mid-April 2003 when the bodies came ashore. (101 RT 18892-18898;
People’s Exh. No. 283; 12 Supp. CT Exhs. 2756, 2757.)

Dr. Cheng’s testimony suggested that when appellant deposited Laci’s
body in the Bay in late December, in the more shallow area near Brooks
Island (101 RT 18902), the winds were weak and the water was moving
from the ocean into the Bay (101 RT 18893-18894). That would explain
why Laci’s body was not washed out to the Pacific and how it could have
stayed in the Bay during the remainder of the winter months. Likewise,
given Dr. Cheng’s testimony, it was understandable that Laci’s and
Conner’s bodies would be washed ashore in mid-April, given the
exceedingly low tide in springtime along with the storm and high winds
that immediately preceded the discovery of the bodies. (101 RT 18895-
18896, 18906.) Therefore, this portion of the expert testimony while
helpful to the jury’s understanding of certain evidence, was not a novel
application of existing scientific principles.

As for Dr. Cheng’s research, which isolated the likely area from
which Conner’s body started its migration to shore, Dr. Cheng stated that
he based his conclusions on mathematical formulas, scientific data, and
certain assumptions. (101 RT 18909-18910, 18920.) In arriving at his
projections, Dr. Cheng utilized resources published by the Bay Air Quality
Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (101 RT
18892, 18893, 18910.) These are hardly fringe groups espousing novel
scientific theories. (See People v. Eubanks (2011) 53 Cal.4th 110, 140 [no
Kelly hearing necessary as expert’s calculations were based, in part, “on
principles from textbooks and literature in her field”].)

Further, Dr. Cheng studied the movement of drifters in the Bay and he
was well-versed in fluid dynamics to enable him to render an opinion about
how the Bay waters would affect movement of an object in the Bay. (101
RT 18926, 18938.)

Besides, Dr. Cheng made clear that his conclusions were best viewed
as highest probabilities, not certainties. (101 RT 18900-18901, 18914.)
The lack of scientific certainty did not deprive his conclusions or opinions
of their evidentiary value. (See Travelers Ins. Co. v. Ind. Acc. Com. (1949)
33 Cal.2d 685, 687; People v. Mendibles (1988) 199 Cal.App.3d 1277,
1293-1294, overruled on other grounds in People v. Soto (2011) 51 Cal.4th
229, 248, fn. 12.) Dr. Cheng was likewise forthright about what
information he was lacking that would have enhanced the predictive value
of his projections as to Conner or enabled him to chart a path for Laci’s
body. (101 RT 18900-18901.) Therefore, the jurors were not somehow
beguiled into thinking that this portion of Dr. Cheng’s testimony was
infallible. Appellant equates uncertainty with scientific unreliability, but
they are not the same. Any uncertainty went to the weight to be accorded
the challenged portion of Dr. Cheng’s testimony, not its admissibility.

E. There Was a Proper Foundation for Admission of Dr.
Cheng’s Testimony under Kelly

Even if Kelly is applicable to that portion of Dr. Cheng’s testimony
that involved his plotting of the path of the migration of Conner’s body to
the shore, the requisite foundation was satisfied given Dr. Cheng’s
testimony.

Under Kelly certain foundational requirements must be met:
Admissibility of expert testimony based upon the application of
a new scientific technique traditionally involves a two-step
process: (1) the reliability of the method must be established,
usually by expert testimony, and (2) the witness furnishing such
testimony must be properly qualified as an expert to give an
opinion on the subject. [Citations.] Additionally, [(3)] the
proponent of the evidence must demonstrate that correct
scientific procedures were used in the particular case.
[Citations.]

(Kelly, supra, 17 Cal.3d at pp. 30-32.) “Reliability,” for Kelly admissibility
purposes, means that a particular scientific technique “‘must be sufficiently
established to have gained general acceptance in the particular field in which
it belongs.’” (Kelly, supra, 17 Cal.3d at p. 30 (quoting Frye v. United States
(D.C. Cir. 1923) 293 F. 1013, 1014, italics omitted; see People v. Venegas,
supra, 18 Cal.4th at p. 76.) Kelly’s first prong tests the “fundamental validity
of a new scientific technology.” (People v. Cooper (1991) 53 Cal.3d 771,
812-814; see People v. Farmer (1989) 47 Cal.3d 888, 913, overruled on
other grounds in People v. Waidla (2000) 22 Cal.4th 690, 724, fn. 6.)

“Whether a new scientific technique has gained general acceptance is a
mixed question of law and fact. [Citation.] ‘[W]e review the trial court’s
determination with deference to any and all supportable findings of
“historical” fact or credibility, and then decide as a matter of law, based on
those assumptions, whether there has been general acceptance.’ [Citation.]”
(People v. Doolin, supra, 45 Cal.4th at p. 447.) In resolving questions of
general acceptance previously, this Court has surveyed relevant authorities
that include national reports, legal commentary, scientific publications, and
appellate court decisions in California and other state and federal
jurisdictions, in addition to reviewing the trial court record. (See, e.g.,
People v. Venegas, supra, 18 Cal.4th at p. 89.) This process of considering
secondary authorities is in keeping with Kelly’s paradigm of determining
validity by considering the scope of the technique’s use in the field, rather
than conducting an original assessment of the science in the courtroom:

Kelly does not demand that the court decide whether the
procedure is reliable as a matter of scientific fact: the court
merely determines from the professional literature and expert
testimony whether or not the new scientific technique is
accepted as reliable in the relevant scientific community and
whether scientists significant either in number or expertise
publicly oppose [a technique] as unreliable. . . . General
acceptance under Kelly means a consensus drawn from a typical
cross-section of the relevant, qualified scientific community.

(People v. Soto (1999) 21 Cal.4th 512, 519, internal quotation marks and
citations omitted.)

Here, as Dr. Cheng explained, his testimony involved the specialty of
fluid mechanics or hydraulics (movement of fluids), as applied in a
hydrological context (movement of water). (101 RT 18938.) These
disciplines have been acknowledged in court decisions. (See e.g., People v.
Cox (2003) 30 Cal.4th 916, 932 [soil hydrology], overruled on other grounds
in People v. Doolin, supra, 45 Cal.4th at p. 421, fn. 22; Lagunitas Water Co.
v. Marin Water Co. (1912) 163 Cal. 332, 334 [hydraulics related to creek and
its tributaries]; People v. Roehler, supra, 167 Cal.App.3d 353, 368-369 [fluid
mechanics as applied to boat stability and movement of body through water];
Weck v. Los Angeles County Flood Control Dist. (1947) 80 Cal.App.2d 182,
205 [recognizing foundation for expert testimony in area of hydraulic and
hydrological engineering]; United States v. Hubenka (10th Cir. 2006) 438
F.3d 1026, 1030 [river hydrology].) These authorities, being of some
vintage, support the proposition that the scientific disciplines at issue here
are not new or novel in the first instance. Regardless, the fact that these
disciplines are time-tested is corroborative of their reliability.
In Oakland v. Williams (1940) 15 Cal.2d 542, this Court offered its
own opinion on how the movement of the waters in San Francisco Bay
would affect the matter at issue:

Preliminarily, it is well to state that while it may not be wholly
impossible for each of the several named cities to separately
solve its sewage disposal problem, yet by reason of their
geographical location and the topography of the area, with
which this court is quite familiar and of which it may take
judicial knowledge, any independent action of one or more of
said cities looking to the solution of the problem would, because
of the action of the tides and currents of San Francisco Bay, still
leave unabated the obnoxious nuisance and health menace
resulting from sewage deposited on the common shores by the
neighboring cities continuing to discharge their sewage into the
bay.

(Oakland v. Williams, supra, 15 Cal.2d at p. 546, emphasis added.) With
all due respect, if the Court—composed as it were of jurists most expert in
the law—could opine as to the effects of the tides and currents of San
Francisco Bay in moving refuse (i.e., discarded objects) in and about the
Bay, then Dr. Cheng, with his expert background in fluid mechanics and
hydrology, could properly offer his opinion about how the tides and
currents of the Bay affected the movement of the bodies that appellant
treated as refuse and unceremoniously discarded into the Bay. In short,
issues of reliability related to the relevant scientific disciplines were
satisfied under Kelly’s first prong.

As for the second prong, Dr. Cheng had the requisite qualifications to
render an opinion about the migration of Conner’s body to the shore, as
well as the other matters to which he testified. His credentials were
unimpeachable. (100 RT 18858-18863.) Appellant acknowledges as much.
(AOB 295 [referring to Dr. Cheng’s credentials as “impressive”].) The fact
that Dr. Cheng was never previously called upon to offer an expert opinion
in a court of law is irrelevant because, in and of itself, the lack of previous
qualification in court does not prove a lack of sufficient expertise to qualify
as an expert. To be sure, every expert has to qualify as an expert for the
first time. As such, appellant’s protestations to the contrary (AOB 283-
284), are unavailing.

Further, beyond his in-depth knowledge and experience related to
fluid mechanics and hydrology, Dr. Cheng’s research involved the use of
drifters to monitor the workings of the tides and currents in the Bay. (101
RT 18926, 18938.) While it is true that these floating objects were
typically weighted in a manner to be density-neutral (101 RT 18945), that
does not preclude Dr. Cheng’s ability to offer an opinion on the movement
of an infant’s body that, based on all accounts, was certainly of limited
weight and density. Contrary to appellant’s assertion, Dr. Cheng did not
reconstruct the movement of “large objects” in bays and estuaries. (AOB
281.)

As for the third prong in Kelly, there was no evidence adduced to
suggest that the procedures by which Dr. Cheng created the progressive
vector diagram showing the path of Conner’s body to the shore were
incorrect or otherwise suspect. The same holds true for the other matters
that he addressed. Dr. Cheng explained how he charted hour-to-hour
movement based on a wind-drift estimation mathematical formula supplied
by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Coastal Engineering Handbook. (101
RT 18909-18910.) He pointed out that tidal currents in the Bay—being
weak—were not a factor in the calculation. (101 RT 18910-18911.) That
meant that in Dr. Cheng’s view there was one primary variable and that was
the wind. While he acknowledged that weight of the bodies was a factor,
Dr. Cheng described its significance as merely “[t]o some degree.” (101
RT 18914.) On the diagram that is People’s Exhibit number 284, Dr.
Cheng plotted numerous data points based on the mathematical calculations
of wind-drift derived from the handbook. His conclusions were based on
“actual observation of the wind and scientific judgment.” (101 RT 18914.)

As for appellant’s contention that admission of this evidence violated
his rights under federal law—specifically, the Eighth Amendment (AOB
284-285)—we contend, as we did with respect to the dog trailing evidence
in section VI.E., ante, that this claim has been forfeited. In any event,
admission of the challenged evidence did not fail to meet the requirement
of heightened reliability under the Eighth Amendment. (See People v.
Eubanks, supra, 53 Cal.4th at p. 146.)

F. Any Error Was Harmless

Finally, any error in failing to conduct a Kelly hearing in this case was
harmless. The Watson standard of prejudice applies to the erroneous
admission of scientifically unreliable evidence. (Kelly, supra, 17 Cal.3d at
p. 40; accord Mitchell, supra, 110 Cal.App.4th at 795 [applying Watson
standard to improper admission of dog scent identification evidence under
Kelly].)

It is not reasonably probable appellant would have been acquitted if
Dr. Cheng’s testimony had not been admitted. Appellant could not have
suffered prejudice from the admission Dr. Cheng’s testimony because
appellant was in a boat on San Francisco Bay on the day his wife and
unborn child disappeared and a few months later the bodies of his wife and
child were found along the shoreline not far from appellant’s known
location on the Bay. Therefore, Dr. Cheng’s testimony concerning the path
Conner’s body took to shore was merely corroborative of a highly
inculpatory fact otherwise proven, along with a plethora of other
incriminating evidence. Indeed, appellant seems to acknowledge that the
location where the bodies were discovered in relation to where appellant
was on the Bay connected him to the murders. (AOB 269 [“Apart from the
general proximity of Brooks Island and the points where the bodies washed
ashore . . . .”].) That fact is, indeed, a part of the inculpatory evidence.

As argued above, Dr. Cheng’s testimony was helpful in explaining
how Conner’s and Laci’s bodies would have remained in the Bay for
several winter months and then come ashore during a springtime weather
event with strong winds. Yet, this portion of Dr. Cheng’s testimony was
largely inconsequential in terms of its inculpatory effect. Therefore, it
carried little, if any, potential for prejudice.

Further, the defense worked to negate any value Dr. Cheng’s
testimony may have had for the prosecution. During cross-examination and
argument, defense counsel honed in on the fact that searchers found no
evidence, such as anchors or body parts, in the area identified by Dr. Cheng.
(66 RT 12809-12819; 110 RT 20484-20485.) To be sure, appellant sounds
this refrain in recounting the fruitless Bay search efforts. (AOB 270-273.)

In all, defense counsel devoted a paltry 44 words in closing argument
to the specifics of Dr. Cheng’s testimony: “They brought in Doctor Cheng,
the U.S.G.S. expert, to tell you from where these bodies were, this is where
you should have found the evidence. And they didn’t find one iota of
evidence that was related to this case.” (110 RT 20484.) Therefore, at the
urging of the defense, the jury may well have determined that this portion
of Dr. Cheng’s testimony should be accorded little, if any, weight.

And, appellant is mistaken when he suggests that Dr. Cheng’s
testimony was of profound importance in establishing appellant’s guilt, as
evidenced by 10 words taken from the prosecutor’s opening argument.
(AOB 267.) Putting those words into context, it is clear that the prosecutor
was dispelling the notion, advanced by the defense, that appellant was
framed. First, the prosecutor referred to Dr. Galloway’s (the forensic
anthropologist) testimony that the bodies had been in the Bay between three
and six months, which corresponded with the timing of appellant’s visit to
the Bay in late December. (109 RT 20277-20278.) The prosecutor argued
that if someone wanted to frame appellant, the bodies would have been left
on the shore in close proximity to the time appellant was there. (109 RT
20279.) The prosecutor stated, including the verbiage appellant references:

The only reason those bodies were found is remember what Dr.
Cheng testified to. There was an extremely low tide on [April129]
12th. And there was a very violent storm on [April] 12th. That
combination broke [] Laci Peterson free and sent her floating
towards the shore. That’s the only reason that those bodies were
found at all. Not because of some magical frame-up job, or for
any other reason. [¶] And if that’s the fact, and that’s the
evidence that was before you in this case, then that man’s a
murderer. It’s as simple as that. [¶] Again, like I said, there’s
no mysteries in this case.

129 The prosecutor misspoke and stated the month was February.

(109 RT 20279-20280.)

This passage puts the prosecutor’s remarks about Dr. Cheng’s
testimony in the proper perspective and refutes appellant’s claim that Dr.
Cheng’s testimony was the only link in the evidentiary chain between the
location of Laci’s and Conner’s bodies and appellant’s “fishing trip.”
(AOB 266, 267.) Clearly, Dr. Galloway’s testimony about the length of
time the bodies were in the Bay was an important piece of evidence
connecting appellant’s visit to the Bay the timing and location of the
discovery of Laci’s and Conner’s bodies.

Last, we agree with appellant that under either standard—Watson or
Chapman—the outcome is the same. (AOB 286.) However, we disagree
about the outcome. Under either standard, any error was harmless. Even
without Dr. Cheng’s testimony, given the surfeit of evidence proving
appellant’s guilt, admission of the testimony, if error, was harmless beyond
a reasonable doubt.
Appellant spills much ink discussing the purported variables at issue
in Dr. Cheng’s testimony. (AOB 287-294.) But, as we explained above,
given certain unknown factors, Dr. Cheng did not attempt to offer a
trajectory for the movement of Laci’s body to the shore. And, insofar, as
Dr. Cheng made the calculations as to the movement of Conner’s body, it
was based on one variable, which was wind-drift. So, when appellant states
that Bay currents were “important under Cheng’s thesis” (AOB 293), he is
simply wrong.

In appellant’s view, Dr. Cheng essentially licked his index finger and
pointed it to the wind. But, the record demonstrates otherwise. Isolating
the one variable that mattered, Dr. Cheng used data collected by reputable
agencies to arrive at his mathematical calculations pertaining to the
trajectory of Conner’s body. As for any unknown factors, Dr. Cheng made
clear that his conclusion in this regard was best interpreted as a high
probability, not a scientific certainty. Again, this was an issue of weight to
be accorded the findings, not whether the testimony was admissible in the
first place.

In support of his argument that Dr. Cheng’s testimony was
prejudicially unreliable, appellant cites People v. Dellinger (1984) 163
Cal.App.3d 284. (AOB 292-293.) However, the facts of Dellinger bear
scant resemblance to this case. In Dellinger, the expert testimony at issue
was founded upon an experiment that consisted of a police officer dropping
an anthropomorphic dummy down a flight of stairs from different positions,
without any accompanying trajectory analysis done by the expert.
(Dellinger, supra, 163 Cal.App.3d. at pp. 292, 295.) The Court of Appeal
characterized the experiment as “the cavalier throwing of anthropomorphic
dummy down a flight of stairs . . . .” (Id. at p. 296, fn. 2.) Among the
numerous Kelly-related infirmities the Court of Appeal found with the
evidence, the Dellinger court noted that the expert “neglected to consider
several important factors,” including measurements that were available to
the expert, but which she did not use. (Id. at p. 295.) In finding prejudice,
the Court of Appeal observed that the coroner based his findings on the
expert’s conclusions and the coroner testified that if the expert’s
conclusions were erroneous, he would have classified the child’s death as
an accident. (Id. at p. 296.) Additionally, the Dellinger court found that
the prosecution’s case “rested on ‘the aura of certainty’ enveloping [the
expert’s] scientific findings.” (Ibid.)

Here, there was no “cavalier” attempt at an experiment that was
scientifically unsound. Nor did Dr. Cheng ignore data available to him in
reaching his conclusions. Further, that portion of Dr. Cheng’s testimony
that appellant finds most objectionable, at best, was merely corroborative
evidence; it was not the foundation for a finding of a cause of death.
Finally, there was no false “‘aura of certainty’” concerning Dr. Cheng’s
testimony as it related to the path of Conner’s body in the Bay. As we have
stated, Dr. Cheng credibly positioned his finding in this regard as one
involving probability, not certainty. And, the prosecution’s case did not
rest on Dr. Cheng’s testimony.

X. THE TRIAL COURT’S RULINGS ON ISSUES PERTAINING TO THE
STABILITY OF APPELLANT’S BOAT WERE PROPER

Appellant argues the trial court committed prejudicial error in: 1)
excluding the defense’s proffered videotaped boat experiment; 2) requiring
the prosecution to be present for a second experiment; and 3) denying a
defense motion for a mistrial based on the conduct of certain of the jurors.

We disagree. Each of the trial court’s rulings was a proper exercise of
its discretion. First, the defense’s videotaped experiment was properly
excluded because it was not substantially similar to the actual events.
Second, the trial court offered the defense the opportunity to conduct a new
experiment using appellant’s boat. The court’s requirement that a
representative from the prosecution be present at the experiment properly
balanced the interests of the parties. This is especially true in light of the
infirmities with the first defense experiment. Third, the jurors’ conduct in
examining and manipulating the boat was “within the lines of offered
evidence” and, therefore, the trial court properly denied appellant’s motion
for a mistrial.

A. The Videotaped Boat Experiment Was Properly
Excluded

Appellant contends that the trial court’s exclusion of the boat stability
experiment conducted by the defense violated his rights under state and
federal law. (AOB 308-320.)

Appellant’s contention lacks merit. Because the experiment was not
substantially similar to the events in question, the trial court properly
excluded the evidence.

1. Procedural background

On October 19, 2004, during the course of the defense case, the court
held a 402 hearing on the proffered defense boat demonstration. First, the
court and parties watched the video recording of the demonstration. (104
RT 19371, 19401; Defense Exh. No. D9E [as marked].)

Afterward, the prosecution objected for the following reasons: 1) the
make and model of the boat were unknown to the prosecution because any
identifying marks on the boat, including registration information, were
covered over with tape; 2) the boat in the demonstration had a different
engine than that on appellant’s boat; 3) the seats were mounted on pieces of
wood, which raised the center of gravity of the boat; 4) the weight of the
object being thrown overboard was unknown; 5) ropes could be seen
trailing the back of the boat and it was unclear if they were attached to
anything; 6) Raffi Naljian, who worked for defense counsel’s firm, wore a
weight belt, which would have impeded his movement; 7) Naljian’s
manipulation of the weighted object occurred in the rear of the boat while
Naljian was standing on the boat’s gunwale (top edge of the side of the
boat), which was surely intended to sink the boat;130 8) the prosecution had
received no information on who was present during the demonstration or
where it took place; 9) it was unknown how long the experiment took to
recreate; 10) the weather conditions on the unknown body of water were
likewise unknown, including winds, tides, and currents; 11) it was
unknown why the boat was already sinking before the experiment was
conducted; 12) the gas tank was on wrong side compared to its position on
appellant’s boat; 13) the boat’s batteries were also in a different location;
and, 14) the dummy, being apparently made of sand, started to take on
weight when wet. (104 RT 19402-19404.)
The defense responded: 1) the dummy was made of rock and
weighed 150 pounds before and after the experiment; 2) Naljian wore a
weight belt to add 20 pounds of weight, presumably to approximate
appellant’s December 2002 weight of nearly 200 pounds; 3) the boat used
was the “[e]xact same boat” as appellant’s; 4) the location was San
Francisco Bay “[r]ight off of Brooks [I]sland at 12:30 or 1:00”; 5) the
demonstration was filmed by another lawyer from defense counsel’s firm; 6)
the rope attached to the boat had no effect on the experiment; it was a safety
measure; 7) the dummy was placed in one of three positions which
corresponded to prosecution evidence concerning the possible positions of
Laci’s body in the boat; 8) a weight was placed in the boat which
130 In the video, Naljian can be seen with his right foot firmly
planted on the gunwale, while his body is positioned in the stern or rear of
the boat and on the starboard or right side. The bulk of the weight in the
boat appears to be concentrated at the stern, including Naljian, the dummy,
and the motor. Approximately 350 pounds of weight (Naljian and the
dummy) was concentrated in the right rear quadrant of the boat.
360

corresponded to the location of the battery on appellant’s boat; 9) there
were also weights placed in the boat to approximate the four anchors the
prosecution theorized were in appellant’s boat; and, 10) the water
conditions were calmer during the experiment than they had been on
Christmas Eve. (104 RT 19404-19405.) Defense counsel argued that the
prosecution’s concerns went to the weight of the experiment, not its
admissibility. (104 RT 19406.)

Addressing defense counsel’s observation that the prosecution
considered doing an experiment and then decided against it, the prosecutor
explained that under California law such an experiment must have been
substantially similar to the actual events. (104 RT 19406.) Yet, there were
no eyewitnesses to what exactly transpired on the Bay. And, insofar as the
prosecution called witnesses to talk about certain aspects of appellant’s trip
to the Bay, no witness testified that appellant stood on the gunwale of the
boat. (104 RT 19406-19407.) The prosecutor also reiterated his concerns
about the effect of the plywood in the boat pointing out that, at the end of
the videotape, there was no longer any plywood in the base of the boat (or
seats mounted on top of the plywood). This led the prosecutor to the
conclusion that the addition of the plywood was intended to adversely
affect the stability of the boat because it raised the center of gravity. (104
RT 19407.)

With presumably unintended irony, defense counsel responded that
the issue of plywood in the boat went to weight, not admissibility. (104 RT
19407.) However, the court disagreed:

No, I think it goes to the admissibility. I’m going to rule under
[Evidence Code section] 352 that it’s not admissible, because
that’s a point well taken. Because it has to be substantially
similar. We don’t know what [] the situation was there. There
is no testimony []as to how this body may have been disposed of
from a boat. We don’t know that.
(104 RT 19407.)

Defense counsel argued that the experiment was needed to test the
prosecution’s theory that appellant took Laci’s body on his boat and
disposed of it in the Bay. (104 RT 19407.) When counsel asked the court
how the defense could otherwise counter the prosecution’s theory, the court
suggested using appellant’s boat, having someone not affiliated with
counsel’s law firm do the experiment, and doing it under wave and tidal
conditions similar to those on Christmas Eve 2002. (104 RT 19408.) The
court noted that the defense had not presented any specifics about the
conditions during the experiment, characterizing that portion of the
experiment as “speculation and conjecture.” (104 RT 19408.) The court
also pointed out that when the prosecution placed a pregnant woman in
appellant’s boat to demonstrate that Laci’s body could be hidden in the boat,
the model’s weight was similar to Laci’s. (104 RT 19409.) When defense
counsel countered that the model was an employee of the District Attorney,
the court responded that all the woman did was lay in the boat; she did not
attempt to throw something in the water from the boat. (104 RT 19409.)

Defense counsel called the court’s ruling “an outrage” and “absurd.”
(104 RT 19409.) He then demanded that appellant’s boat be turned over to
the defense. (104 RT 19409.) When the court tried to explain the
distinction between the defense’s proffer and what the prosecution did with
appellant’s boat, defense counsel interrupted and again demanded the court
order the boat to the defense. (104 RT 19410.) The court tried once again
to explain the distinction to counsel, but counsel cut the court off a second
time. (104 RT 19410.) After the court managed to eke out a few words,
defense counsel interrupted a third time. (104 RT 19410.) Out of apparent
frustration, the court said, “I don’t have to explain my damn rulings. I
made my rulings. I made this ruling, and that’s the ruling, period.” (104
RT 19410.) And, the court told counsel that it was not going to give him
appellant’s boat. (104 RT 19410.) The court explained its reasoning for
excluding the defense taped experiment:

I’m not persuaded that particular demonstration is accurate
enough to be sent to this jury for the reasons I have stated on the
record. It’s not the same boat. [] You don’t know what the
wave action was. We don’t know [] if it was windy. We don’t
know anything about – – we don’t know where by Brooks Island.
[¶] If this is what happened, I don’t know what happened out
there. I wasn’t there. I don’t know where in Brooks [I]sland
this body could have been thrown in the water. I don’t know.
They could have been [thrown] in the shallow part for all I know.

(104 RT 19410-19411.)

After addressing defense counsel’s further argument, the court stated:
“I’m not satisfied that that’s a close enough representation of what
happened. That’s it.” (104 RT 19411.)

A short while later, the court told the parties it wanted to revisit the
issue. As the court was speaking, defense counsel interrupted again and
said, “Well, I don’t want to get hot – – I don’t want to – – I know I have got a
boiling point.” (104 RT 19413.) At last, defense counsel permitted the
court to explain, “I’d be willing to [] turn the boat over to you if you want
to conduct the experiment. I think you should have representatives of the
[P]eople there to observe what happens.” (104 RT 19413.) Responding to
defense counsel’s protestations, the court explained it was to avoid the
problems that were encountered with the videotaped experiment. (104 RT
19413.) After further brief discussion with the court, counsel stated the
defense would consider the court’s suggestion. (104 RT 19414.)

The court elaborated on what other things might ensure the
admissibility of a defense experiment, including the suggestion that the
boat be placed in the area of the Bay identified by Dr. Cheng and that the
boat’s position be identified in relation to Brooks Island. (104 RT 19414.)
The court explained that the prosecution would be in another boat and
could observe the experiment. (104 RT 19414.) Under those
circumstances, the court was also willing to have Mr. Naljian conduct the
experiment again. (104 RT 19415.) While it might be difficult to recreate
the exact same situation with tides, winds, and currents, the court expressed
its willingness to revisit the issue. (104 RT 19414-19415.) But, the court
advised that the weather conditions should be as similar as possible to those
on the Bay on December 24, 2002. (104 RT 19416.) The court also
pointed out that using appellant’s boat obviated the plywood issue that was
a problem with the videotaped demonstration. (104 RT 19418.)

The court reiterated its willingness to reconsider its ruling and
explained that, if a representative of the prosecution was permitted to
observe the experiment, that witness could testify to what they observed.
(104 RT 19418.) Under those circumstances, the observations would be
germane to the weight to be accorded the experiment, not its admissibility.
(104 RT 19418.) Defense counsel thanked the court and stated that he
would talk with appellant and look into weather conditions on the Bay for
the upcoming weekend. (104 RT 19415, 19416.)131 As appellant
acknowledges (AOB 304), the defense elected not to conduct a boat
demonstration using appellant’s boat on the Bay and, therefore, declined to
take the trial court up on its offer to reconsider its ruling excluding the
videotaped demonstration.

131 During the course of the discussion, the court also apologized for
losing its patience earlier (104 RT 19414), with defense counsel’s
numerous interruptions.

At the start of the penalty phase on November 30, 2004, the subject of
the excluded experiment came up again. Referring to Mr. Naljian’s
position on the gunwale of the boat, the court observed that “nobody stands
on the gunwales of a boat, puts his feet on the gunwales of a boat and tries
to dump a body in water.” (113 RT 20959.) The court also mentioned its
concerns about the plywood in the boat (113 RT 20960) and the “issue as to
the conditions of the bay at that time” (113 RT 20961). The court reiterated
its view that there was a lack of foundation for admissibility of the
experiment because “it was not reliable.” (113 RT 20959.)

Further, the court reminded defense counsel that it gave the defense
an opportunity to conduct a new experiment using appellant’s boat. (113
RT 20960.) Defense counsel responded that requiring the presence of the
prosecution during such an experiment was a violation of appellant’s Fifth
and Sixth Amendment rights. (113 RT 20960.) With respect to the
videotaped experiment, counsel stated that the plywood was in the boat to
make it easier to stand in the boat. (113 RT 20961.) Defense counsel
contended the boat was in “identical condition” to appellant’s boat. (113
RT 20961.) Counsel also stated that the boat was located in the same area
of the Bay identified by Dr. Cheng during his testimony. (113 RT 20961.)

2. The videotaped experiment was not substantially
similar to what was known about appellant’s boat
trip on the Bay

A defendant’s right to present evidence is not absolute. (Perry v.
Rushen (9th Cir. 1983) 713 F.2d 1447, 1450.) “In the exercise of this right,
the accused, as is required of the State, must comply with established rules
of procedure and evidence designed to assure both fairness and reliability in
the ascertainment of guilt and innocence.” (Chambers v. Mississippi (1973)
410 U.S. 284, 302.)

A trial court has broad discretion in determining relevancy, but it
cannot admit evidence that is irrelevant or inadmissible under constitutional
or state law. (People v. Blacksher (2011) 52 Cal.4th 769, 819.)

“A party who seeks to introduce experimental evidence must
show as foundational facts that the experiment was relevant, that
it was conducted under conditions the same as or substantially
similar to those of the actual occurrence, and that it ‘will not
consume undue time, confuse the issues, or mislead the jury
[citation].’ [Citation.] The party need not, however, show that
the conditions were absolutely identical. [Citations.] Under
Evidence Code section 352, the trial court has wide discretion to
admit or reject experimental evidence. We reverse decisions to
admit or exclude such evidence only when the trial court has
clearly abused its discretion.” [Citation.]

(People v. Jones (2011) 51 Cal.4th 346, 375-376.) “‘The proponent of
experimental evidence bears the burden of production and proof on the
question whether such evidence rests on an adequate foundation.’
[Citation.]” (People v. Turner (1994) 8 Cal.4th 137, 198.)

In this case, the trial court properly excluded the videotaped
demonstration because the defense failed to show that its boat stability
experiment was conducted under conditions that were substantially similar
to those involving appellant’s boat trip on San Francisco Bay on December
24. In that regard, it would have misled the jury.

First, the boat the defense used was very different from appellant’s
boat. The demonstration boat contained plywood boards on top of which
seats were mounted—the one in the stern raised quite high. The boat also
contained plywood in the hull. (Defense Exh. No. D9E [as marked].)
Appellant’s boat was not outfitted with plywood boards with mounted seats
or plywood in the hull. (People’s Exhs. Nos. 106G, 106I.) Therefore,
defense counsel’s assurance that it was the “[e]xact same boat” (104 RT
19404) was clearly inaccurate. Appellant makes the same mistake when he
states, “The trial court accurately noted that although the defense used the
same model boat . . . .” (AOB 311.) The trial court did not make a finding
that it was, in fact, the same model as appellant’s boat. (104 RT 19408.) In
fact, as the prosecutor pointed out (104 RT 19402), and as can be seen in
the video, the boat’s markings and registration information were covered
with tape so it was unclear if the boat used in the experiment was, in fact,
the same model as appellant’s boat. The prosecution was not permitted the
opportunity to view the boat. (104 RT 19402.) Even if it was the same
model, the demonstration boat had been significantly modified.

Further, as the prosecutor argued, raising the center of gravity made it
more likely the demonstration boat was susceptible to capsizing. (104 RT
19402, 19407.) Watching the demonstration, including Mr. Naljian putting
the weight of his right leg onto the gunwale of the boat, it seems the
experiment was designed to sink the boat, as the prosecutor reasonably
contended. (104 RT 19402, 19407.) It was also unclear what effect the
weight of the boat’s engine may have had during the experiment. The
prosecutor noted that the boat in the experiment was outfitted with a
different engine than that on appellant’s boat. (104 RT 19402.)

Referencing the videotape, the prosecutor pointed out that the
experiment was conducted from the back of the boat (104 RT 19402), and
that, combined with a higher center of gravity and Mr. Naljian’s weight on
the gunwale, affected the reliability of the experiment. Indeed, as the
prosecutor observed, the boat was already sinking before the experiment
began. (104 RT 19403; Defense Exh. No. D9E.)

Additionally, no evidence had been presented to the jury that
appellant deposited Laci’s body into the Bay from the rear of the boat,
while standing with his right leg on the gunwale.

Moreover, during the pendency of the trial court’s consideration of the
issue, the defense proffered no credible testimony as to the exact location
on the Bay where the experiment was conducted or whether the wind and
wave action was comparable to the conditions on December 24, 2002, as
testified to by Dr. Cheng (101 RT 18893-18894; People’s Exh. No. 283).
The only information the trial court received in this regard was defense
counsel’s personal assurance that the Bay conditions were calmer during
the experiment than they had been on December 24 (104 RT 19405) and
Mr. Naljian’s statement that the experiment was conducted “[r]ight off of
Brooks [I]sland” (104 RT 19404).132 These unsubstantiated statements
compounded the foundational problems with the experiment.
In People v. Roehler, supra, 167 Cal.App.3d 353, which we discussed
for its relevance to the issues in section IX, ante, the Court of Appeal found
a sufficient foundation had been laid for prosecution experiments involving
the stability of the boat involved in the murders. On the day in question,
the defendant, his wife, eight-year-old stepson, and the family’s dog set out
on the ocean in a dory—“a small craft propelled by oars.” (Roehler, at p.
365.) The group started rowing out to Bird Rock, a jagged rock rising out
of the ocean and inhabited by numerous sea birds. (Ibid.) Testimony was
taken that the weather conditions were “relatively calm” that day in early
January. (Ibid.) According to the defendant, at one point the dog, enticed
by the birds, attempted to jump out of the boat. The defendant reached for
the dog suddenly, which caused the boat to upend quickly and send
everyone overboard. (Ibid.)
The prosecution presented evidence that contradicted appellant’s
contention that the drownings were accidental, including experiments that
addressed the boat’s stability. The testing took place in July, approximately
six months after the incident. (Roehler, supra, 167 Cal.App.3d at p. 369.)
The actual boat was used and the testing took place at Bird Rock, where the
incident occurred. (Ibid.) Three individuals who approximated the size
and weight of the victims participated. They were also dressed as the
defendant and his victims had been at the time of the incident. (Ibid.) A
132 After the guilt phase was concluded, defense counsel belatedly
told the trial court that the experiment was conducted in the area of the Bay
identified by Dr. Cheng during his testimony. (113 RT 20961.) And,
counsel continued to maintain that the boat in the experiment was
“identical” to appellant’s boat. (113 RT 20961.) Clearly, it was not.
368

police detective was used in place of appellant and a female employee of
the sheriff’s department took the place of the defendant’s wife. A young
boy stood in as the defendant’s stepson. (Ibid.) Evidence was adduced that
the seas were rougher in July than they had been in January. (Ibid.)

In Roehler, the prosecution conducted eight separate tests. During the
first three tests, the participants moved their bodies about the small craft in
an attempt to cause it to overturn. However, while the boat took on water,
it righted itself. (Roehler, supra, 167 Cal.App.3d at p. 369.) In the next
three tests, the participants managed to overturn the boat utilizing their
shifting body weight, compounded by the “considerable wind and choppy
seas.” But, the boat turned over very slowly. (Ibid.) The seventh test did
not overturn the boat. During the eighth test the boat did overturn, but
again, it happened very slowly. (Ibid.) An experienced naval architect later
testified that dories are manufactured so that they are very difficult to
capsize. (Ibid.)

The defendant contended the trial court erred in admitting evidence of
the experiments. (Roehler, supra, 167 Cal.App.3d at p. 385.) The Roehler
court disagreed and upheld the trial court’s determination that the testing
was conducted under substantially similar conditions. (Ibid.) Although the
trial court misinstructed on one aspect of the testing conditions—the
weather—the Court of Appeal found it unlikely the jury was misled
because “ample evidence was presented to them concerning the actual
weather conditions extant both on January 2, 1981 and during the July 1981
testing.” (Id. at p. 388.) The appellate court also noted that the trial court
had determined the seas were no rougher at the time of the incident than
they had been during the experiments. If anything, the conditions were
worse in July, when the testing was conducted. (Ibid.) In upholding the
trial court’s ruling, the Court of Appeal also looked favorably upon the fact
that the same boat was used for the experiments. (Ibid.)
Conversely, in People v. Gonzalez (2006) 38 Cal.4th 932, the
defendant sought to admit a videotape of the crime scene which purportedly
showed the lighting conditions at the time of the shooting. The trial court
found there were “‘too many differences’” between the tape and the actual
crime scene conditions, including the lighting conditions, and excluded the
tape for fear of the jury being misled. (Gonzalez, supra, 38 Cal.4th at p.
952.) The Court upheld the trial court’s decision as a proper exercise of its
discretion. (Gonzalez, at pp. 952-953; see also People v. Jones, supra, 51
Cal.4th at p. 376.)

Likewise, here, there were too many differences between the
defense’s videotaped demonstration and what evidence had been adduced
about appellant’s boat trip on Christmas Eve. The defense’s edited taped
experiment contained none of the hallmarks of similarity to known
circumstances surrounding the murders, which serves to distinguish it from
the experiments admitted into evidence in Roehler. Further, the defense
demonstration assumed facts not in evidence, such as where appellant was
positioned in the boat when he pushed Laci’s body overboard. For these
reasons, if there was any probative value to the defense’s experiment, it was
far outweighed by the potential to mislead the jurors.

Insofar as appellant contends his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights
were compromised by the trial court’s evidentiary ruling (AOB 315-318),
the argument fails.

“As a general matter, the ‘[a]pplication of the ordinary rules of
evidence … does not impermissibly infringe on a defendant’s
right to present a defense.’ [Citations.] Although completely
excluding evidence of an accused’s defense theoretically could
rise to this level, excluding defense evidence on a minor or
subsidiary point does not impair an accused’s due process right
to present a defense. [Citation.] If the trial court misstepped,
‘[t]he trial court’s ruling was an error of law merely; there was
no refusal to allow [defendant] to present a defense, but only a
rejection of some evidence concerning the defense.’ [Citation.]
(People v. Boyette (2002) 29 Cal.4th 381, 427-428.)

Here, the trial court did not impede appellant’s ability to mount a
defense. Instead, the court properly excluded highly unreliable and
irrelevant evidence the defense put forward concerning the stability of
appellant’s boat. Because the defense experiment was not substantially
similar to the events in question, the videotape was irrelevant to the issue of
the boat’s stability. (See Evid. Code, § 210 ; see also id., § 350.)

Further, the trial court agreed to reconsider its ruling if the defense
opted to conduct a new experiment using appellant’s boat in the area of the
Bay identified by Dr. Cheng, and in Bay conditions similar to those on
December 24, 2002. Not wanting the prosecution to observe any such
experiment, as the trial court required, the defense declined the court’s offer.
Nor did the trial court preclude the defense from calling witnesses—experts
or otherwise—on the issue of the boat’s stability. For these reasons,
appellant’s “attempt to inflate garden-variety evidentiary questions into
constitutional ones is unpersuasive” (Boyette, supra, 29 Cal.4th at p. 427).

Even if the trial court’s ruling excluding the videotaped experiment
was error, it is not reasonably probable appellant would have been acquitted
in the absence of any error. (See Boyette, supra, 29 Cal.4th at p. 428
[applying Watson standard of review].) Credible evidence strongly
supported the prosecution’s position that appellant’s boat was inherently
stable. First, David Weber, the Vice President of Engineering for the
company that manufactured appellant’s boat, testified that the boat’s
capacity was four people or 500 pounds. Adding in a 15-horsepower motor
and any gear, the maximum weight capacity for the boat was 680 pounds.
(71 RT 13849-13850; People’s Exh. No. 132.)133 These capacities were in
accord with the United States Coast Guard’s guidelines. (71 RT 13849-
13850.) Weber detailed the numerous flotation and stability tests that were
necessary to certify the boat as seaworthy according to the National Marine
Manufacturers Association’s standards. (71 RT 13850-13851.) Again,
these standards mirrored those of the Coast Guard. (71 RT 13851.)
Appellant’s boat passed the test parameters and recertification
approximately 15 times. (71 RT 13851-13852, 13877.) Weber also
mentioned that the 14-foot Gamefisher boat was designed to cut through
rough water. (71 RT 13852-13853.) That model had been manufactured
for at least 30 years. (71 RT 13878.) In Weber’s opinion, it was “a safe
boat.” (71 RT 13878.)
As for the effects, if any, of weight distribution on appellant’s boat,
Bruce Peterson—the man who sold the boat to appellant—testified that he
and his wife used the boat to go fishing together. (62 RT 12153.) Peterson
explained that while the boat was on the water, he and his wife could stand
up and move around in the boat. (62 RT 12154.). On many occasions,
Peterson and his wife would be on the same side of the boat as one of them
reeled in the fish while the other prepared to net the fish. (62 RT 12155.)
Additionally, expert fisherman Angelo Cuanang explained that he
could get a 150-pound fish out of a 13-foot boat by himself while the boat
was drifting or anchored. (71 RT 13794-13796.)
Had the defense been permitted to introduce the videotaped
experiment, it is safe to say the prosecution would have readily exposed the
numerous infirmities associated with the experiment. Contrasted with the
133 This information was posted on the boat itself. (People’s Exh.
No. 132.) Similar information for the defense’s demonstration boat was not
presented. Nor does it appear to be visible in the videotape.
372

credible testimony concerning the stability of appellant’s boat presented
during the prosecution’s case, the jurors would have accorded little, if any,
weight to the defense experiment.

B. That Portion of the Trial Court’s Ruling Permitting the
Prosecution to Observe a New Defense Experiment
Was a Reasonable Order Designed to Protect the
Interests of Both Parties While Advancing the Search
for the Truth

Appellant next contends the trial court’s offer to reconsider its ruling
if the defense conducted a new experiment with appellant’s boat, under
similar conditions, and with the prosecution present to observe, violated his
Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel (AOB 321-
326) and right to due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments
(AOB 326-327).

Appellant’s claim is without merit. The court’s requirement that a
representative from the prosecution be present at the experiment properly
balanced the interests of the parties while ensuring the jury received
evidence that was probative on the issue of the boat’s stability and not
misleading. This is especially true in light of the infirmities with the first
defense experiment.

1. Procedural problems: a justiciable claim is lacking
but otherwise the claim was waived

As a threshold matter, we contend the issue is not ripe for this Court’s
consideration because appellant’s constitutional rights were not implicated,
given the procedural posture in the court below. Had the trial court actually
permitted the prosecution to present inculpatory evidence derived from a
second defense stability experiment, when the defense opted not to present
evidence of the second experiment, there could be a justiciable issue,
perhaps. But, that is not what happened here. The defense elected not to
do a second experiment. Therefore, the facts never gave rise to a potential
constitutional violation. Simply put, there is no justiciable issue. “[T]he
ripeness requirement prevents courts from issuing purely advisory opinions,
or considering a hypothetical state of facts in order to give general guidance
rather than to resolve a specific legal dispute. [Citation.]” (Hunt v.
Superior Court (1999) 21 Cal.4th 984, 998.)

Indeed, appellant’s argument—as evidenced by the cases he cites in
support—amounts to nothing more than a hypothetical: His constitutional
rights might have been abridged had the prosecution witnessed a second
defense experiment that may have produced inculpatory results, which
results the trial court might have permitted the prosecution to present, even
though the defense may have presented no evidence associated with the
experiment.

Alternatively, given the propriety of the trial court’s ruling, which we
argue below, appellant has waived the issue by declining to avail himself of
the opportunity to test appellant’s boat. In choosing to forego conducting a
new experiment, he has forfeited his right to complain that he had no means
to rebut the prosecution’s evidence on the subject. (See People v. Velez
(1983) 144 Cal.App.3d 558, 569 [where prosecutor argued erroneous
instruction during closing argument defendant waived error by declining
trial court’s offer to reopen closing argument]; see also People v. Newlun
(1991) 227 Cal.App.3d 1590, 1604-1605 [lack of notice claim waived by
failure to object or request continuance to prepare response to new
evidence]; 6 Witkin & Epstein, Cal. Criminal Law (2d ed. 1989) Reversible
Error, § 3289, pp. 4068-4069 [“A defendant may be precluded from raising
an error as a ground of appeal where, by conduct amounting to
acquiescence in the action taken, he waives the right to attack it.”].)

In any event, appellant’s argument is without merit.
2. The Court’s ruling did not violate appellant’s Sixth
Amendment right to the effective assistance of
counsel or his right to due process under the Fifth
and Fourteenth Amendments

In light of the substantial problems with the defense’s first take at a
boat stability experiment, the trial court offered to reconsider its ruling
excluding such testing if the new experiment was done under substantially
similar conditions and with the prosecution present. (104 RT 19413.) The
boat was, after all, prosecution evidence. (People’s Exh. No. 299.) The
defense could choose to accept the condition of the prosecution’s presence
or not.

The criminal process, like the rest of the legal system, is replete
with situations requiring ‘the making of difficult judgments’ as
to which course to follow. [Citation.] Although a defendant
may have a right, even of constitutional dimensions, to follow
whichever course he chooses, the Constitution does not by that
token always forbid requiring him to choose.

(McGautha v. California (1971) 402 U.S. 183, 213, vacated in part on other
grounds sub nom. in Crampton v. Ohio (1972) 408 U.S. 941; see also
People v. Cooper (1991) 53 Cal.3d 771, 816 (Cooper).)

Appellant’s claim under the Sixth Amendment is without merit. “The
Sixth Amendment does not confer the right to present testimony free from
legitimate demands of the adversarial system; one cannot invoke the Sixth
Amendment as a justification for presenting what might have been a half-
truth.” (United States v. Nobles (1975) 422 U.S. 225, 241.) And, that is
precisely what was at risk here. The purpose of the trial court’s order was
to allow the prosecution the opportunity to observe what occurred on the
scene, to ascertain for themselves whether new evidence was taken,
whether existing evidence was altered or destroyed, and to otherwise
witness the occurrence of any other irregularities.
Had the trial court permitted the defense to propound a second
experiment—conducted in secrecy and with the ability to edit out portions
of the experiment—the prosecution would have been at a distinct
disadvantage to meaningfully rebut such “evidence” because important
details could have been effectively altered or destroyed. The jury would
have, thus, been left to consider a half-truth.

In Cooper, this Court observed:

“When defense counsel alters or removes physical evidence, he
necessarily deprives the prosecution of the opportunity to
observe that evidence in its original condition …. [T]o bar
admission of testimony concerning the original condition and
location of the evidence in such a case permits the defense in
effect to ‘destroy’ critical information ….’ [Citation.]”

(Cooper, supra, 53 Cal.3d at p. 815, quoting People v. Meredith (1981) 29
Cal.3d 682.)

By way of analogy, in People v. Bolden (2002) 29 Cal.4th 515
(Bolden), the trial court permitted the prosecution to call the defense expert
as a percipient witness for purposes of a Kelly hearing involving DNA
evidence. (Bolden, supra, 29 Cal.4th at p. 552.) The trial court determined
the prosecution needed the ability to corroborate its own expert after the
defense challenged the prosecution’s expert. To this end, the trial court
permitted the prosecution to call the defense expert—the only other witness
to the testing. (Ibid.) This Court found no violation of the defendant’s
rights to federal and state due process or his right to the effective assistance
of counsel. (Ibid.)

Unlike Bolden, where there was an insufficient quantity of DNA
material for testing, in Prince v. Superior Court (1992) 8 Cal.App.4th 1176
(Prince), there existed multiple pieces of evidence to permit testing by both
parties. The trial court allowed the parties’ experts to be present at the
testing and all reports were made available to each party. (Prince, supra, 8
Cal.App.4th at p. 1179.) Given that the evidence would not be consumed
by defense testing and, thus, the prosecution not put at a disadvantage, the
appellate court held the defense investigation and findings were not
discoverable and the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to effective
assistance of counsel was, therefore, infringed upon. (Id. at pp. 1179-
1180.)

In People v. Varghese (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 1084 (Varghese), the
same appellate court that decided Prince was faced with “a situation
somewhere along the spectrum” because there were two samples of DNA,
but each could only be tested once and the prosecution had already used up
one sample. (Id. at p. 1095.) The trial court had fashioned a compromise
remedy whereby “the remaining sample could be tested by an independent
expert or an expert of defendant’s choice but requiring defendant to reveal
the bottom-line result of the test, that is, whether the testing identified
defendant or not.” (Ibid.) The appellate court reviewed the relevant
authorities, observing that “[t]he opportunity for the prosecution to
adequately meet a defendant’s challenge to its expert and the expert’s
findings is an important component of the choice to be made. Indeed, that
component appears to underlie all of the cases, including our decision in
Prince.” (Ibid.) The Varghese court found the trial court’s remedy
“protected the interests of both parties and advanced the interest of
determining the truth. It reflected an acceptable exercise of discretion.”
(Id. at p. 1096.)

Varghese eventually made its way to the Ninth Circuit Court of
Appeals on habeas review. (Varghese v. Uribe (2013) 736 F.3d 817.) In
affirming the district court’s decision in favor of the state court judgment,
the Ninth Circuit recognized that “the state, which has to prove its case
beyond a reasonable doubt, has an interest in bulletproofing its
evidence . . . .” (Id. at p. 826.) Evaluating Varghese’s Sixth Amendment
claim, similar to that advanced by appellant here, the Court of Appeals
observed that “[a] reasonable jurist might well conclude that disclosure of
an expert’s test results is less of an intrusion on the attorney-client
relationship than disclosure of the expert’s subjective impressions or mental
processes would be.” (Id. at p. 827.)

Here, if the defense elected to conduct the experiment, a
representative from the prosecution would have been in a different boat
merely observing the experiment and the conditions under which the
experiment was conducted. (104 RT 19414.) Under those circumstances,
there would have been no intrusion into confidential communications,
subjective impressions, or mental processes of any member of the defense
team.134

134 Relatedly, this Court has held that reciprocal discovery under Penal
Code section 1054 does not limit a defendant’s right to the effective
assistance of counsel by chilling trial preparation or requiring the discovery
of attorney work product. (Izazaga v. Superior Court (1991) 54 Cal.3d
356, 379-382.) Although attorney work product is generally
nondiscoverable under state statutory provisions, the work product of an
attorney can be discovered if “the court determines that the denial of
discovery will unfairly prejudice the party seeking discovery or will result
in an injustice.” (Izazaga, supra, at p. 381; Code Civ. Proc., former § 2018,
subd. (b).)

Further, viewed in the context of the consumption-of-evidence cases
discussed above, the prosecution’s presence ensured that the defense would
not be able to alter or destroy evidence pertaining to the stability of
appellant’s boat by virtue of the manner in which the experiment was
conducted or in the subsequent editing of the videotape of the experiment.
Indeed, the prosecution’s presence insulated the defense from the very
infirmities that sank the excluded defense experiment. In other words, the
prosecution’s presence enhanced the likelihood the experiment would be
admitted.

The opinions upon which appellant relies, such as State v. Mingo
(1978) 77 N.J. 576 [392 A.2d 590], are readily distinguishable from the
order at issue here. Those cases stand for the proposition that the Sixth
Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel prohibits the
prosecution from discovering the identities and reports of non-testifying
experts retained by the defense and is likewise prohibited from calling such
experts to testify at trial. The Mingo court made clear that its opinion was
“confined to reports of opinions of expert witnesses and is not intended in
any way to bear upon the question of discovery or utilization at trial of
information of any other nature assembled by the defense.” (Mingo, supra,
77 N.J. at p. 585.)

In this case, the court’s order did not make any provision for the
prosecution to discover the reports of a defense expert or to call a non-
testifying defense expert as a witness. Further, the court’s order did not
impede defense counsel’s retention of an expert or an expert’s testing.
Thus, there was no imposition on appellant’s right to the effective
assistance of counsel in the preparation of appellant’s defense. Instead, the
trial court’s order was properly geared toward advancing the truth-seeking
function of the trial.

Appellant relies on Ake v. Oklahoma (1985) 470 U.S. 68, 76 (Ake),
for his argument that the court’s order deprived him of a fair opportunity to
present a defense under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.135 (AOB
326-327.) But, Ake does not compel the result that appellant seeks here.

135 The Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause applies only to the
federal government, not the states. (See Public Utilities Comm’n v. Pollak
(1952) 343 U.S. 451, 461 [strictures of Fifth Amendment due process apply
only to actions of federal government]; Moose Lodge No. 107 v. Irvis
(1973) 407 U.S. 163, 172-173 [Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause
applies to the federal government, while the Fourteenth Amendment Due
Process Clause applies to the states].) Therefore, to the extent that
appellant argues a Fifth Amendment due process violation (see, e.g., AOB
326, 333, fn. 53), he fails to state a proper ground for relief.

Ake held that the Constitution requires that a state provide access to
a psychiatrist’s assistance if the defendant cannot otherwise afford one.
(Ake v. Oklahoma, supra, 470 U.S. at pp. 76-83.) Denying psychiatric
assistance

leads inexorably to the conclusion that, without the assistance of
a psychiatrist to conduct a professional examination on issues
relevant to the defense, to help determine whether the insanity
defense is viable, to present testimony, and to assist in preparing
the crossexamination of a State’s psychiatric witnesses, the risk
of an inaccurate resolution of sanity issues is extremely high.
With such assistance, the defendant is fairly able to present at
least enough information to the jury, in a meaningful manner, as
to permit it to make a sensible determination.

(Ake, supra, 470 U.S. at p. 82.)

Quite distinct from what occurred in Ake, appellant was never
deprived of any expert assistance in the preparation of his defense. He was
simply not allowed to take the prosecution’s evidence—appellant’s boat—
and divest the prosecution of the ability to observe the experiment in real
time. Otherwise, the prosecution would be relegated to having to rebut a
heavily edited videotape and a host of unknown variables, as occurred with
the excluded experiment.

Appellant’s suggestion that the prosecution could have conducted its
own experiment (AOB 327), misses the point. Having already viewed one
deficient defense experiment, the trial court wanted to ensure that any new
experimental evidence put before the jury was substantially similar to
known events (i.e., that it was relevant) and that the party against whom
that evidence was introduced—the prosecution—be permitted a meaningful
opportunity to cross-examine any defense witnesses or otherwise rebut the
manner in which the experiment was conducted, as well as the results. The
trial court’s order, balancing the interests of the parties while advancing the
search for the truth, was an acceptable exercise of discretion.

3. Appellant has not demonstrated prejudice under
Watson, Strickland, or Chapman

Appellant must demonstrate prejudice to be entitled to reversal on the
basis of evidentiary error or ineffective assistance of counsel. In both
instances, the applicable test is whether there is a reasonable probability of
a more favorable verdict in the absence of the complained of error or
omission. (People v. Watson, supra, 46 Cal.2d at p. 836; Strickland v.
Washington (1984) 466 U.S. 668, 688 (Strickland).)

Appellant relies on Strickland as support for his argument that
prejudice should be presumed in this case because the government—in this
case, the trial court—induced counsel’s ineffectiveness in not conducting
the second stability experiment. (AOB 328-333.) However, because the
facts here do not constitute governmental interference with appellant’s right
to effective assistance, as we contend below, he must demonstrate prejudice.
As the high court explained:

In certain Sixth Amendment contexts, prejudice is presumed.
Actual or constructive denial of the assistance of counsel
altogether is legally presumed to result in prejudice. So are
various kinds of state interference with counsel’s assistance.
See United States v. Cronic, 466 U.S., at 659, and n. 25, 104
S.Ct., at 2046-2047, and n. 25. Prejudice in these
circumstances is so likely that case-by-case inquiry into
prejudice is not worth the cost. 466 U.S., at 658, 104 S.Ct., at
2046. Moreover, such circumstances involve impairments of
the Sixth Amendment right that are easy to identify and, for
that reason and because the prosecution is directly responsible,
easy for the government to prevent.
(Strickland, supra, 466 U.S. at p. 692, emphasis added.)

In considering the issue of presumptive prejudice in this context, in
People v. Hernandez (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1095, this Court, citing Bell v.
Cone (2002) 535 U.S. 685, clarified:

A defendant claiming counsel failed or was unable to subject the
prosecution’s case to meaningful adversarial testing is relieved
from the burden of showing prejudice only if “ ‘counsel entirely
fails to subject the prosecution’s case to meaningful adversarial
testing.’ ” (Bell v. Cone, supra, 535 U.S. at p. 696, italics added,
quoting [United States v.] Cronic [1984], supra, 466 U.S. [648]
at p. 659.)

(People v. Hernandez, supra, 53 Cal.4th at p. 1106.)

In Hernandez, the Court listed examples of Supreme Court cases
where the government’s interference with counsel warranted a presumption
of prejudice. (Id. at p. 1104, citing Cronic, supra, 466 U.S. at p. 659, fn.
25.) These cases included the denial of counsel at a preliminary hearing, a
bar on an attorney-client consultation during an overnight recess, denial of
counsel at arraignment, and a bar on counsel’s ability to give a closing
argument at a bench trial (see AOB 330-331, citing Herring v. New York
(1975) 422 U.S. 853). (Ibid.)

Given these authorities, Strickland does not impose a “prejudice
presumed” standard in a matter, such as this, where a state court ruling has
permitted the defense to conduct testing of prosecution evidence (as
requested), but with the condition that the prosecution be permitted to
observe the experiment. Strickland was concerned about those cases where
a defendant is deprived of the right to counsel altogether and prejudice is
impossible to assess. (Strickland, 466 U.S. at p. 692.) Here, appellant was
not deprived of the right to counsel. Indeed, he was not even deprived of
the right to do the very testing he was seeking to do. Furthermore, this was
not the type of scenario that renders prejudice “so likely that case-by-case
inquiry into prejudice is not worth the cost.” (Strickland, 466 U.S. at p.
692.) Therefore, appellant’s attempt to avoid the obligation of proving
prejudice is unavailing.

Appellant cannot demonstrate that it is reasonably probable he
would have achieved a more favorable result had he been allowed to
conduct confidential testing of the prosecution’s evidence. (Strickland,
supra, 466 U.S. at p. 694.) On the contrary, appellant’s argument
suggests the Court speculate that if he had been permitted to test the boat
in clandestine fashion, the results would have been exculpatory. We
cannot know that because the defense elected not to test the boat under
substantially similar conditions absent the veil of secrecy and the
potential benefits of editing.

All in all, appellant cannot establish prejudice due to the
overwhelming amount of irrefutable incriminating evidence against him,
detailed in section VI.D., ante. Further, the defense would be hard-pressed
to also overcome the credible evidence derived from unbiased sources (e.g.,
the boat’s manufacturer, the boat’s former owner, and an expert angler)
establishing the inherent stability of appellant’s boat.

Last, the outcome is no different if the trial court’s ruling constituted a
violation of appellant’s Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and is
subjected to harmless error analysis under Chapman v. California. Insofar,
as appellant argues to the contrary (AOB 333, fn. 53), we point out that his
reliance on the taped experiment as being indicative of the instability of
appellant’s boat is—like that experiment itself—unfounded.

C. The Trial Court’s Ruling Denying the Defense Motion
for a Mistrial Based on the Jurors’ Examination of
Evidence Was a Proper Exercise of Discretion

The last sub-part to this claim is appellant’s challenge to the trial
court’s denial of the defense motion for a mistrial. (AOB 333-342.) The
motion was based on the jurors’ actions during the second viewing of
appellant’s boat. Appellant alleges prejudicial misconduct on the part of
the jurors. Therefore, in appellant’s view, the trial court’s denial of the
motion was an abuse of its discretion.

Not so. We contend the trial court got it right: The jury committed
no misconduct. What the jurors did was well within the bounds of
permissible examination of appellant’s boat as an item of evidence and in
the context of evidence adduced concerning the stability of the boat. Even
if the jurors committed misconduct, it was not prejudicial, given the court’s
admonition. Therefore, denial of the defense motion for a mistrial was a
proper exercise of the court’s discretion.

1. Procedural background

In late July 2004, during the course of the prosecution’s case, the
court and parties permitted the jury an opportunity to view appellant’s boat.
(See 71 RT 13730-13731, 13835-13843.)

A few months later, on November 8, during deliberations, the jury
made a request for certain exhibits and asked to see appellant’s boat and
trailer again. (111 RT 20640; People’s Exhs. Nos. 299, 300.) The court
and parties, including appellant, were present for the second viewing, as
they were for the first. (111 RT 20642.) As defense counsel recounted for
the record, some jurors asked if they could get into the boat, which the trial
court permitted. Once in the boat, a couple of jurors tried rocking the boat
back and forth. (111 RT 20643, 20644.) Defense counsel objected at that
point. (111 RT 20644.) At the end of the viewing, the trial court
admonished the jurors that the boat’s stability on the trailer was not the
same as stability on the water. (111 RT 20644-20645.) Defense counsel
characterized the jurors’ actions as the taking of evidence and asked to
reopen so the defense could show the videotaped demonstration. (111 RT
20643, 20645.)

The court explained:
I did advise the jury that they should bear in mind that this boat
was not in the water as they stood in the boat. And I also advised
them that the boat appeared — also that the boat was secured to a
trailer. [¶] The reason why the Court permitted the jury to get
into the boat initially — I didn’t know they were going to jump
up and down on the boat — was the fact that the District
Attorney had presented an experiment where they had — a
representative of the District Attorney’s Office had actually laid
down flat in the boat. And I thought it was important for the jury
to take a look, see if there was enough room for somebody to sit
— lay down flat in the boat. [¶] That was not, in my opinion,
taking additional evidence because it was already set forth on
the record.

In response to defense counsel’s argument, the prosecutor countered
that the boat and trailer were exhibits admitted into evidence and, as such,
the jurors were free to examine them thoroughly. (111 RT 20646.) She
explained in more detail what occurred during the second viewing:

Two jurors who got into the boat were not jumping up and down.
One had a foot a little bit on one side, one foot on the other. The
other stood up and walked towards the end and stood. There
wasn’t a lot of actual manipulation, standing in it, walking in it.
And other jurors looking inside of it. So we don’t believe, by
any stretch, this is an experiment or demonstration or anything
similar.

(111 RT 20646.)

Defense counsel augmented this description stating that the two jurors
inside the boat shifted their body weight back and forth. (111 RT 20646.)
Defense counsel reiterated his request to reopen the taking of evidence or,
in the alternative, he moved for a mistrial. (111 RT 20647.)

The trial court cited case authority for the proposition that close
observation or even physical manipulation of evidentiary exhibits during
deliberations is not prohibited. (111 RT 20647.) Given this, the court felt a
cautionary instruction was sufficient to address defense counsel’s concerns.
(111 RT 20647.) The court also observed that the jurors’ actions in the
boat could work to the benefit of the prosecution or the defense; it was
impossible to predict. (111 RT 20647-20648.) As the court stated:

They carefully sized the boat, they looked at the underneath part
of the boat. They could certainly come to [the] conclusion that
this boat would have been unstable in attempting to throw
somebody over the side. So I think this works both ways. It
works — could work for the prosecution; but it could work for
the defense benefit, depending on how the jury interpreted the
evidence. So the request is denied.

(111 RT 20648.) The following day, the court clarified that it had denied
both the defense request to reopen and the motion for a mistrial. (112 RT
20713.)

On November 30, 2004, at the start of the penalty phase, the court and
parties briefly revisited the issue. The court first noted that testimony was
taken from a representative of the manufacturer of appellant’s boat about
the boat’s stability. (113 RT 20961.) The previous owner of the boat also
testified to the boat’s stability. (113 RT 20961.) And, the prosecution
presented evidence as to how a pregnant woman would fit into the boat.
(113 RT 20961-20962.) The court disagreed that the jurors conducted an
experiment in the boat. The court also stated that it had given the jurors an
admonition about the boat being on a trailer as opposed to on the water.
(113 RT 20963.)

2. Applicable legal principles

A trial court should grant a motion for mistrial “only when ‘ “a
party’s chances of receiving a fair trial have been irreparably
damaged” ’ ” (People v. Ayala (2000) 23 Cal.4th 225, 282 []),
that is, if it is “apprised of prejudice that it judges incurable by
admonition or instruction” (People v. Haskett (1982) 30 Cal.3d
841, 854 []). “Whether a particular incident is incurably
prejudicial is by its nature a speculative matter, and the trial
court is vested with considerable discretion in ruling on mistrial
motions.” (Ibid.) Accordingly, we review a trial court’s ruling
on a motion for mistrial for abuse of discretion. (See People v.
Valdez (2004) 32 Cal.4th 73, 128 [].)
(People v. Avila (2006) 38 Cal. 4th 491, 573.) Here, of course, the
propriety of the trial court’s denial of the motion turns on whether the
court’s assessment of the jurors’ conduct was correct.

In People v. Collins (2010) 49 Cal.4th 175 (Collins), this Court traced
a century’s worth of jurisprudential history attending a claim of jury
misconduct based on experimentation. The Court began its review noting
“the venerable authority of Higgins v. L.A. Gas & Electric Co. (1911) 159
Cal. 651 (Higgins)] and its progeny.” (Collins, supra, 49 Cal.4th at p. 249.)
In Higgins, supra, 159 Cal. at pages 656 through 657, the Court rejected
claims of jury misconduct that were based upon the jury’s examination of
and possible experimentation with an admitted exhibit—a flashlight. In
that context, the Court set out the following framework:

It is a fundamental rule that all evidence shall be taken in open
court and that each party to a controversy shall have knowledge
of, and thus be enabled to meet and answer, any evidence
brought against him. It is this fundamental rule which is to
govern the use of such exhibits by the jury. They may use the
exhibit according to its nature to aid them in weighing the
evidence which has been given and in reaching a conclusion
upon a controverted matter. They may carry out experiments
within the lines of offered evidence, but if their experiments
shall invade new fields and they shall be influenced in their
verdict by discoveries from such experiments which will not fall
fairly within the scope and purview of the evidence, then,
manifestly, the jury has been itself taking evidence without the
knowledge of either party, evidence which it is not possible for
the party injured to meet, answer, or explain.

(Higgins, supra, at pp. 656-657.)

From Higgins and subsequent authorities, the Court in Collins
distilled these principles:

Not every jury experiment constitutes misconduct. Improper
experiments are those that allow the jury to discover new
evidence by delving into areas not examined during trial. The
distinction between proper and improper jury conduct turns on
this difference. The jury may weigh and evaluate the evidence it
has received. It is entitled to scrutinize that evidence, subjecting
it to careful consideration by testing all reasonable inferences. It
may reexamine the evidence in a slightly different context as
long as that evaluation is within the ‘ “scope and purview of the
evidence.” ’ [Citation.] What the jury cannot do is conduct a
new investigation going beyond the evidence admitted.”

(Collins, supra, 49 Cal.4th at p. 249; original emphasis.)

In Collins, the victim was killed by a bullet which entered the right
rear of the head and exited through the right forehead. (Collins, supra, 49
Cal.4th at p. 184.) The coroner’s testimony established this was consistent
with the victim kneeling and the shooter standing, and with the victim’s
head tilting backward. (Id. at pp. 235-236.) During penalty phase
deliberations, Juror G.B. worked out height patterns on his computer and
determined “‘that anyone standing six feet away from another person would
have to just about be standing on a stool two and a half feet high to get a
downward trajectory through the back of the skull of an individual ….’”
(Id. at p. 237.)

The following day, Juror G.B. conducted a demonstration of his
conclusions to fellow jurors. (Collins, supra, 49 Cal.4th at p. 238.) He did
not tell them about using his computer, “but relied on it ‘to back up the
statements that were made in the deliberation room about an execution
instead of a murder.’” (Ibid.) Juror G.B. used a protractor, some string,
and the help of another juror to demonstrate his theory to the jury. (Ibid.)
Since the medical evidence gave no specific angle of trajectory other than it
was at a slightly downward angle, Juror G.B. placed the protractor at about
five to 10 degrees. (Ibid.) The string was positioned at the center of the
protractor and held six feet away because the nearest footprints to the body
were found six feet away. (Ibid.) The Court concluded the jurors’ action
was not improper because the conduct “did not go beyond the record in its
attempt to evaluate the trial evidence.” (Collins, supra, 49 Cal.4th at p.
251.) “None of the variables relied upon by the jury were outside the scope
of the evidence.” (Id at p. 251.) The jury’s demonstration in the
deliberation room was simply a “more critical examination” of the evidence
admitted. (Id. at p. 256, citing Higgins, supra, 159 Cal. at p. 659.)

In People v. Cooper (1979) 95 Cal.App.3d 844, the defendant argued
the jury committed misconduct after a juror indicated that during
deliberations, the jurors “reenacted” the defendant’s throwing of a plastic
bag and based upon that reenactment, they confirmed the police officers’
testimony and an in-court demonstration of the throwing incident. The
Court of Appeal disagreed:

The experiment in the present case did not result in the
generation of new evidence. [Citation.] During the trial, Officer
Rowe had demonstrated the manner in which defendant had
thrown the contraband. The jurors simply repeated the officer’s
reenactment. Nothing requires that the jury’s deliberations be
entirely verbal, and we would expect a conscientious jury to
closely examine the testimony of the witnesses, no less so when
that testimony takes the form of a physical act. There was no
error in denying the motion for new trial on this ground.

(Id. at p. 854.)

One of the cases relied cited by the trial court here was People v.
Turner (1971) 22 Cal.App.3d 174. (111 RT 20647.) In that case, jurors
used a magnifying glass during deliberations to assist them in comparing
two photographs. (Id. at p. 179.) That conduct did not constitute either
new evidence or an impermissible experiment. (Id. at pp. 182-183
[“‘“[T]he mere making of a more critical examination of an exhibit than
was made during the trial is not objectionable.”’”].)

And, in People v. Bogle (1995) 41 Cal.App.4th 770, another case
cited by the trial court here (111 RT 20647), the defendant’s set of keys and
the victims’ safe were admitted into evidence. The defendant testified to
what each key unlocked, but he never made mention that any of the keys
were related to the victims’ safe. During deliberations, the jurors used one
of the keys to unlock the safe. The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial
court’s determination that the jurors’ conduct was proper because it tested
the defendant’s veracityand any relationship the defendant may have had to
the safe. (Id. at pp. 780-781.) “Palpation of the safe and the keys was
‘within the lines of offered evidence.’ [Citation.]” (Id. at p. 779.) The
Boglecourt also observed that a jurycan reexamine “the evidence in aslightly different context” than was presented at trial, to assist it in reaching
a verdict. (Id. at p. 781.)

Conversely, an example of impermissible jury experimentation that
resulted in the acquisition of new evidence is found in People v. Conkling(1896) 111 Cal. 616. In that case, two jurors sitting on a murder case
conducted out-of-court experiments to ascertain at what distance powder
marks upon clothing would be caused by the firing of a rifle. They fired a
different, but similar, rifle at cotton drilling in an attempt to make thatdetermination. (Id. at p. 627.) Describing the conduct as “too zealous” in
“getting at the truth of the matter,” the Court found the jurors’ experiment
to be prejudicial misconduct. (Id. at pp. 627-628.)

And, in People v. Castro(1986) 184 Cal.App.3d 849, a juror “‘went
home and used binoculars to see if a witness could have possiblyseen what
he . . . said he did,’” and then took the information back to jurydeliberations the next day. (Id. at p. 852.) The Court of Appeal found this
conduct exceeded the record properlybefore the jury. (Id. at p. 853.)

Having undertaken the extensive review of authorities on the subject
in Collins, this Court reiterated: “‘To prohibit jurors from analyzing
exhibits in light of proffered testimony would obviate anyreason for
sending physical evidence into the jury room in the first instance.’
[Citation.] An evaluation of a misconduct claim ‘must necessarily focus on

390
whether the experiments were based on evidence received in court.’”
(Collins, supra, 49 Cal.4th at p. 246.)

Applying the principles outlined in Collins, we contend the jury here
did not go beyond the record in its attempt to evaluate the evidence. In that
regard, the facts in this case are most closely aligned with those in Collins,
Cooper, Turner, and Bogle. As the trial court correctly pointed out, close
observation or physical manipulation of appellant’s boat was not prohibited.
(111 RT 20647.) The fact that two jurors shifted their weight back and
forth in the boat (111 RT 20646 [defense counsel’s description of the
conduct]) did not constitute the taking of new evidence. During trial,
evidence was taken as to whether someone of Laci’s size could be secreted
in the boat (62 RT 12185-12189, 12191; People’s Exhs. Nos. 106F, 106H,
106J), along with evidence about the boat’s stability, as we discussed above.
Thus, the jurors’ actions were simply a “more critical examination” of the
evidence admitted; the jury did not receive extrinsic evidence. (Collins,
supra, 49 Cal.4th at p. 256.) Accordingly, the trial court acted well within
its considerable discretion in denying appellant’s motion for a mistrial.

Inasmuch as appellant contends the jurors’ actions violated his Sixth
Amendment right to an impartial jury and to a verdict based on evidence
subjected to confrontation and assistance of counsel (see Turner v.
Louisiana (1965) 379 U.S. 466, 471-473) (AOB 337), that argument is
likewise without merit for the reasons we outlined above.

Additionally, in Henry v. Ryan (9th Cir. 2013) 720 F.3d 1073, the
Ninth Circuit considered the situation where two jurors performed an
experiment to test the defendant’s assertion that while he was riding in the
camper portion of a truck, he could hear his acquaintance arguing with the
victim in the cab of the truck prior to the victim’s murder. The jurors’
experiment consisted of driving a similar vehicle on a gravel road. (Id. at p.
1085.) From this, the jurors concluded the defendant could not have heard
a purported argument taking place in the cab of the truck. (Ibid.) The
Court of Appeals found the extraneous information was not inherently
inflammatory, contrasting the jurors’ actions with cases where juries
considered information that had been excluded from the trial. (Id. at p.
1086.) The court also noted the extraneous information was less likely to
be prejudicial because it merely confirmed what the jurors already knew as
a matter of common knowledge. (Ibid.) Further, the extraneous
information was cumulative because the defendant had been “thoroughly
impeached” at trial. (Ibid.) And, last, evidence supporting the defendant’s
guilt was “substantial.” (Id. at p. 1087.)

Here, adopting the Ninth Circuit’s analysis in Henry v. Ryan, the
jurors’ actions in shifting their weight in the boat would not be extraneous
information in the first instance. Moreover, even if moving around in the
boat was the equivalent of securing extraneous information, it was, at worst,
cumulative to testimony already taken about the boat’s inherent stability.

In any event, if the jurors’ actions constituted misconduct, no
prejudice resulted. (See People v. Pierce (1979) 24 Cal.3d 199, 207
[presumption of prejudice can be rebutted by showing no prejudice
resulted].) First, as the trial court pointed out, moving about the boat to
explore the boat’s stability could have worked to the defense’s benefit.
(111 RT 20648.) In that regard, the jurors may have determined that the
boat was not as stable as the prosecution’s evidence suggested. No matter,
the trial court’s admonition to the jurors in which the court cautioned that
stability of the boat on a trailer was a much different situation than stability
of the boat on the water (111 RT 20644-20645), headed off any prejudice.

Also, under federal standards, there was no prejudice because the
jurors’ actions were cumulative to evidence already adduced and there was
substantial evidence establishing appellant’s guilt. (See Henry v. Ryan,
supra, 720 F.3d 1073.)
In support of his prejudice argument, appellant sounds a now familiar
refrain contending the prosecution did not answer the how, where, and
when questions, thereby suggesting the evidence underlying appellant’s
convictions was inadequate. (AOB 340-341.) As we have explained, the
only question the prosecution needed to answer was the who question:
Who murdered Laci and Conner Peterson? The prosecution’s evidence
answered that question loud and clear. If that were not the case, appellant
would certainly have advanced a claim of insufficiency of the evidence.
The absence of such a claim in this appeal is, therefore, noteworthy given
appellant’s intimation that the evidence supporting his convictions was in
some way deficient.

XI. THE PROSECUTOR’S REMARKS DURING CLOSING ARGUMENT
CONCERNING THE STABILITY OF APPELLANT’S BOAT WERE
PROPER

Appellant contends the prosecutor committed prejudicial misconduct
in arguing the absence of defense evidence on the issue of the stability of
appellant’s boat in light of the prosecution’s successful objection to the
defense’s videotaped demonstration. Accordingly, appellant argues the
purported misconduct violated his right to due process. (AOB 343-350.)

We disagree and maintain the prosecutor’s argument was fair
comment on the state of the evidence. Because the challenged remarks
were predicated on the trial court’s proper ruling excluding the defense
experiment, there was no error. Even if the remarks constituted error,
appellant was not prejudiced.

A. Factual Background

1. Defense cross-examination

During the prosecution’s case, defense counsel conducted a searching
cross-examination of witnesses in an attempt to leave the jurors with the
impression that appellant’s boat was unstable and, therefore, it was unlikely
that appellant could have deposited Laci’s body in the Bay without
capsizing the boat. For example, with regard to expert angler Angelo
Cuanang, defense counsel asked if he “had any experience trying to take a
fish that weighed approximately a hundred and 50 pounds and having four
anchors attached to it and sliding that out of the boat?” To which the
witness replied, “No. No.” (71 RT 13793-13794.)

Defense counsel asked David Weber, the boat manufacturer’s
representative, whether testing of the boat included side stability tests using
400 pounds (presumably, appellant’s weight and Laci’s weight, including
four anchors). Counsel asked numerous follow-up questions along these
same lines. The answer to each question was generally no. (71 RT 13859-
13860, 13868-13869, 13880.) A fair reading of this cross-examination
suggested that defense counsel’s hypotheticals were somewhat modeled on
the excluded defense experiment. Counsel’s questioning also elicited the
fact that the tests were not conducted in salt water or on a bay subject to
wind and waves. (71 RT 13867.)

2. Prosecutor’s closing remarks

During the prosecutor’s opening argument, he addressed the issue of
the boat’s stability:

Let’s talk about the boat. The 14 foot aluminum fishing boat.
You know, and these kind of boats have been around for years.
And, you know, I know there was a lot of talk that — I don’t
know if ‘talk’ is the right word. Maybe insinuation is the right
word; that, you know, somehow these are unstable and, you
know, they’re ready to tip over at the drop of a hat and boy,
there’s no way that, you know, you could dump a body out of
the boat and that’s impossible because, you know, it’s going to
go over and the defendant would have gone in the water, and the
whole bit.

Of course, there’s no evidence that would have done that. In fact,
the guy from the company that makes these boats, remember
what he said. He brought the, you know, the pictures to show
the tests they do. They fill the boat completely full with water.
Completely submerged and it still floats. They put weights on
one side, completely submerged, it still floats. They put — I
think they put weights in the — let me take a look here.

Yeah, they do side stability tests with the boat full of water.
They do level flotation with the boat full of water. They do all
these calculations.

And, you know, the things [sic] is these aluminum fishing boats,
they’ve been around for years. I can’t remember exactly what
the guy testified to, I think it was at least 20 years. It was
probably more. And don’t you think, if these boats were tipping
over every time a couple of guys leaned on one side to net a fish,
that there — that there would be — we wouldn’t have these boats
or they would fix them or they would do something?

Remember Bruce Peterson? We brought in the guy who sold the
boat to the defendant. Remember what he said? Did you ever
use that boat? Heck, yeah, I used it all the time. Well, what did
you use it for. For fishing. Well, where at? And, you know, he
told us a bunch of different places. Who went with you? My
wife. Well, were you and your wife ever on the same side of the
boat? Yeah. Yeah, if she caught a fish, I’d go over there. Did
you ever have any problems? No. Could you get up and walk
around? Yeah. Was there any problems? No.

You know, it’s a ridiculous argument to say you can’t do this. I
mean, look, you’ve got Laci Peterson in the boat, you sit on the
middle of the seat; you know, I’m not saying take Laci Peterson
and sit up on the gunwale of the boat, you know, the rim. That’s
not how you do this. It’s easy. Sit on the middle of the seat,
pull her up so you kind of counterbalance it, and push her over.
That’s it. It’s done in probably a minute, or less.

You know, you want to see some other pictures, take a look at
this exhibit. Remember what the fisherman said? Here’s a guy
– here’s three adults, full sized adults, fishing in a 13 foot
aluminum boat. This one is actually smaller than the
defendant’s. Three adults in the Bay, standing up in the boat on
the same side while they’re about to land — I think he said this is
a 60 to 70 pound sturgeon.
I said Did you have any problem doing that? He said no. And I
think — I can’t remember if I asked him or the defense did, but
somebody asked him Well, could you pull a big sturgeon in and
out of that boat? Yeah. Yeah, he said no problem. Well, you
couldn’t do it by yourself, could you? He said Yeah, sure I
could. He said it just like I said it, you sit on the seat, you pull it
in, you know, you put one end up on the side and slide it over. It
wouldn’t be any problem at all.

There’s no evidence to contradict that whatsoever.

(109 RT 20292-20294.)

Later, the prosecutor mentioned that Dr. Cheng testified that the
winds on the Bay were calm on Christmas Eve, which, in the prosecutor’s
view, likewise countered the

defense’s suggestion that the boat would have overturned had
appellant tried to push Laci’s body overboard. (109 RT 20310-20311.)

3. Defense counsel’s closing remarks

During closing argument, defense counsel took the prosecution to task
for not conducting a demonstration to test the stability of appellant’s boat,
even though investigators considered the idea at one point. (110 RT 20369-
20370.) Defense counsel argued the prosecution “didn’t believe their own
theory” about how appellant deposited Laci’s body in the Bay. (110 RT
20369-20370.) Defense counsel argued:

They discussed it but they never did it?

You know why they never did it? Under the rules of law in this
state and in the United States, if they do a demonstration, they
must turn it over to the defense. It’s called Brady material. So
if they do that demonstration and it doesn’t work, case over.
They know that.

And that’s why they made the decision. That’s why the
detectives were saying Let’s try it, and they discuss it with the
DA’s office and the DA’s office says no. Because they know, if
they do it and it doesn’t work, case over. Or, what they’ve done
in this case is just come up with a new theory. Maybe it wasn’t
Scott on the boat, maybe it was something else. That’s a real
significant problem for them.

(110 RT 20372.)

As for the prosecution’s evidence concerning the stability of
appellant’s boat, defense counsel had this to say:

Remember they brought this guy in Weber? We kept you guys
cooling your heels for about 15 minutes when we brought him
out from Tennessee while I talked to him, because it was a
witness they brought in. This guy was a guy who has — the
manufacturer of the boat. And specifically I asked him: If you
go to the side of the boat, and the side of the boat, that’s not the
center of gravity, correct? When you go to the side and put 400
pounds on the side, have you ever done that? No, sir. Would
you expect that that would probably turn turtle? I can’t honestly
answer that.

You’re going to convict somebody beyond a reasonable doubt
on a theory that the manufacturer of the boat can’t answer, on a
theory that the lead detective had his doubts about, on a theory
that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever? How could you
possibly do that? And based upon that it couldn’t be carried out
by one person?

I’ll tell you, turn turtle is when they talked about that boat
flipping, and yesterday [the prosecutor] got up here and told you
Well, we asked Cuanang about it, we asked Cuanang about it,
Cuanang the fisherman.

Well, Cuanang the fisherman, take a look at the book, I don’t
have it handy here, but there’s three guys standing in the middle
of the boat like this. They’re not standing on the side — you can
look at it – they’re not leaning over, they’re not trying to dump
something out, they’re not trying to push it over the side on an
ocean, or a bay, while the boat is out there with his 200 and
some-odd pounds on top of it, with the weights attached to it.
Try to push that out.

(110 RT 20371-20372.) Counsel briefly revisited this argument later in his
presentation. (110 RT 20406.)
B. The Claim Is Forfeited

As appellant correctly anticipates (AOB 349-350), we contend he has
forfeited the claim for failing to object to the challenged remarks at the time
they were made and request a curative admonishment. “A defendant’s
failure to object and to request an admonition is excused only when ‘an
objection would have been futile or an admonition ineffective.’ [Citation.]”
(People v. Fuiava (2014) 53 Cal.4th 622, 679.) Appellant does not
contend an objection would have been futile or an admonition ineffective.
Most likely that is because appellant is aware that defense counsel
exhibited no hesitation in interposing objections during the course of the
trial, with the trial court sustaining a fair number of them. (See People v.
Friend (2009) 47 Cal.4th 1, 29-30 [forfeiture exception inapplicable
because record demonstrated “the trial court kept a firm hand on the actions
of the attorneys and maintained a fair proceeding”].) Therefore, since
appellant did not act to preserve his claim, it is forfeited.

Appellant’s preemptive response to the forfeiture issue is that
appellant’s trial counsel had no tactical reason for failing to object or
request a curative admonition. In other words, trial counsel rendered
ineffective assistance in this regard. (AOB 350.)

We disagree. Given the propriety of the prosecutor’s argument, in
light of the trial court’s correct ruling excluding the defense’s taped
experiment (see sections IX, X, ante), defense counsel correctly recognized
he had no basis for objecting to the prosecutor’s remarks.

Appellant’s claim fails on its merits regardless, as we argue below.
C. The Prosecutor Did Not Err136
In this case, the challenged remarks constituted fair comment in light
of the trial court’s proper evidentiary ruling excluding the proffered defense
boat experiment. “Prosecutors must have reasonable latitude to fashion
closing argument, and thus can argue reasonable inferences based on the
evidence.” (United States v. Necoechea (9th Cir. 1993) 986 F.2d 1273,
1276.)
“A prosecutor’s conduct violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the
federal Constitution when it infects the trial with such unfairness as to make
the conviction a denial of due process. Under California law, a prosecutor
who uses deceptive or reprehensible methods of persuasion commits
misconduct even if such actions do not render the trial fundamentally
unfair.” (People v. Blacksher (2011) 52 Cal.4th 769, 828, fn. 35, internal
quotation marks and citations omitted.)
Here, the prosecutor’s challenged remarks were within the bounds of
appropriate argument, under state and federal due process principles, as
they were directly responsive to the defense position—elicited through
defense counsel’s cross-examination—that the prosecution had not proved
that appellant’s boat was stable when significant weight was concentrated
on the side of the boat. Appropriately, the prosecutor responded to this in
136 Because there is no evidence the prosecutor intentionally or
knowingly committed misconduct, appellant’s claim should be
characterized as one of prosecutorial “error” rather than “misconduct.”
(People v. Hill (1998) 17 Cal.4th 800, 823, fn. 1 [“We observe that the term
prosecutorial ‘misconduct’ is somewhat of a misnomer to the extent that it
suggests a prosecutor must act with a culpable state of mind. A more apt
description of the transgression is prosecutorial error”]; see also ABA
House of Delegates, Resolution 100B (August 9-10, 2010) [adopting
resolution urging appellate courts to distinguish between prosecutorial
“error” and “misconduct”].)
399

his argument. It was likewise proper for the prosecutor to point out that
there was no evidence establishing that the boat was unstable. A prosecutor
may comment on a defendant’s failure to produce material evidence or to
call logical witnesses. (United States v. Robinson (1988) 485 U.S. 25, 26-
34; United States v. Garcia-Guizar (9th Cir. 1998) 160 F.3d 511, 521-522;
United States v. Lopez-Alveraz (9th Cir. 1992) 970 F.2d 583, 595-596 [“a
prosecutor may properly comment upon the defendant’s failure to present
exculpatory evidence, as long as it is not phrased to call attention to
defendant’s own failure to testify,” citations omitted].)

The fact that the prosecutor was aware that the defense had attempted
to counter the prosecution’s evidence on boat stability with its taped
experiment does not change this calculus. This Court held in People v.
Lawley (2002) 27 Cal.4th 102 (Lawley), that a prosecutor does not commit
misconduct when he or she comments on the state of the evidence as
defined by proper evidentiary rulings despite knowledge of additional and
even contradictory information excluded by the trial court. (Lawley, supra,
27 Cal.4th at p. 156.) In Lawley, the prosecutor argued in closing that
“nobody else in this case had a reason to kill [the victim],” notwithstanding
information proffered by the defense but properly excluded by the trial
court that a third party had been induced by the Aryan Brotherhood gang to
kill the victim. (Id. at pp. 151-152, 156.) The situation in this case is
precisely the same. As we argued in sections IX and X, ante, the trial
court’s ruling excluding the defense experiment was correct. Therefore, the
prosecutor committed no error in pointing out the absence of evidence
supporting defense counsel’s argument that appellant’s boat was too
unstable to permit appellant to deposit Laci’s body in the Bay without also
capsizing the boat.

Further, the trial court instructed the jurors that anything the attorneys
stated in their arguments that may have conflicted with the court’s
instructions was to be disregarded and that the statements of the attorneys
were not evidence. (111 RT 20544, 20545.) In determining whether a due
process violation occurred, “arguments of counsel generally carry less
weight with a jury than do instructions from the court.” (Boyde v.
California (1990) 494 U.S. 370, 384; accord Ortiz-Sandoval v. Gomez (9th
Cir. 1996) 81 F.3d 891, 898 [“The arguments of counsel are generally
accorded less weight by the jury than the court’s instructions and must be
judged in the context of the entire argument and the instructions.”].)

Appellant cites a number of cases in support of his argument, among
them are People v. Daggett (1990) 225 Cal.App.3d 751 and People v.
Varona (1983) 143 Cal.App.3d 566. However, those cases are inapplicable
because they “each involved erroneous evidentiary rulings on which the
prosecutor improperly capitalized during his closing argument.” (Lawley,
supra, 27 Cal.4th at p. 156.) As we maintain above, the trial court’s ruling
excluding the proffered defense experiment was correct and, therefore, the
challenged remarks were appropriate argument, contrary to the situations in
Daggett and Varona.

Likewise, Paxton v. Ward (10th Cir. 1999) 199 F.3d 1197, is readily
distinguishable. There, the prosecutor was aware that the former district
attorney dismissed the first prosecution brought against the defendant
because the defendant passed a polygraph test. (Id. at p. 1216.) Yet, during
his closing remarks, the prosecutor “invited the jury to speculate” about the
reasons the case was dismissed, including the suggestion that the
defendant’s daughter may have been afraid to testify against her father. In
that regard, the Court of Appeals found the prosecutor’s argument deceitful.
(Ibid.) The prosecutor misrepresented the reason for the absence of facts
before the jury as to why the first prosecution was dismissed. (Id. at p.
1217.) Here, there is no such deceit; the prosecutor merely argued the state
of the evidence.
D. If Error, it Was Harmless

Even if the prosecutor erred, it did not result in prejudice. Indeed,
even in a case where the prosecutor concededly gave an improper
summation of the kind that prosecutors had been repeatedly warned not to
make, the Supreme Court held that a reversal of conviction was
unwarranted because the error was harmless. (United States v. Hasting
(1988) 461 U.S. 499, 507 [observing that “the interest preserved by the
doctrine of harmless error cannot be so lightly and casually ignored in order
to chastise what the court viewed as prosecutorial overreaching”].)

Under any standard of harmless error analysis, if there was error here
by the prosecutor, it was harmless beyond all question. First, the
challenged comments were brief and the remarks represented a very minor
portion of an otherwise extensive closing argument.

Further, defense counsel countered the prosecutor’s remarks during
his own closing argument. In fact, even though there was no evidence
adduced that the prosecution declined to conduct a stability experiment
with appellant’s boat for fear of being compelled to discover such results to
the defense, defense counsel ascribed such a motive to the prosecution in
the absence of such evidence. (110 RT 20372.)

In any event, the state of the evidence regarding the boat’s stability
was such that no one, except for appellant, knew exactly how he positioned
Laci’s body in the boat, where he was in the boat, and how he maneuvered
Laci’s body into the Bay. Contrary to appellant’s suggestion, those
circumstances mattered very little. What mattered was that, in the midst of
his clandestine affair with another woman, appellant drove about three
hours and 180 miles round-trip from Modesto to go “fishing” for about 45
minutes to an hour on San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve—in a recently
purchased boat that he told no one about—on the day his pregnant wife
went missing (who appellant claimed was “fine” with him having an affair),
with fishing gear that an expert angler opined was inappropriate for the type
of fish that appellant said he was trying to catch that day, in a location that
was much less than ideal for catching that type of fish. Additionally,
investigators discovered hair that was microscopically consistent with
Laci’s hair clamped in a pair of pliers that were in located in appellant’s
boat and multiple cement voids on the boat’s trailer, which were consistent
with an anchor found in appellant’s boat. That “anchor” had no rope
attached to it. And, Laci’s disarticulated body, and the body of their son,
came ashore a few months later not far from where appellant had been on
the Bay “fishing.” Truly, the only fish implicated by appellant’s claim is a
red herring. From this evidence, along with other evidence, the reasonable
inference was that appellant was able to successfully get Laci’s body into
the Bay from his boat. Whether it was from the center, side, front, or rear
of the boat was of little moment.

XII. THE TRIAL COURT’S REMOVAL OF JUROR NO. 5 WAS A
PROPER AND NECESSARY EXERCISE OF ITS DISCRETION
BECAUSE THE JUROR’S PATTERN OF MISCONDUCT
RENDERED HIM INCAPABLE OF PERFORMING HIS DUTIES

Characterizing Juror No. 5’s repeated disregard for the trial court’s
instruction not to discuss the case as merely “technical” and “innocuous”
violations (AOB 370, 375), appellant contends the trial court abused its
discretion when it discharged this juror while refusing to dismiss two other
jurors and two alternate jurors for the same purported conduct. (AOB 370-
385.) Accordingly, appellant maintains that the trial court’s actions
violated state and federal law warranting reversal. (AOB 372.)

Appellant’s claim lacks merit. As the record amply supports, Juror
No. 5 was much more interested in his Warholian 15 minutes of fame than
he was in performing his duties as a juror in this case. Further, his repeated
instances of willful and unapologetic misconduct presented a threat to the
ability of other jurors to fulfill their duties. The trial court’s decision to
discharge Juror No. 5 is supported by substantial evidence, as we maintain
below. The same is true of the court’s retention of the challenged jurors
and alternates.

A. Procedural Background

On June 1, 2004, the jurors, including Juror No. 5, swore an oath to
abide by the trial court’s instructions. (43 RT 8412.) The court
admonished the jurors that prior to deliberations: “You must not converse
among yourselves or with anyone else on any subject connected with this
trial . . . .” (43 RT 8415.)

On June 2, the prosecution began its presentation of evidence. (44 RT
8660.) The court repeated the admonition not to discuss the case. (See,
e.g., 44 RT 8683 [June 2]; 45 RT 8894 [June 3]; 46 RT 9080 [June 7]; 47
RT 9337 [June 8]; 48 RT 9553 [June 9]; 49 RT 9779 [June 10]; 51 RT
10137 [June 15]; 52 RT 10332 [June 16]; 53 RT 10473 [June 17]; 54 RT
10664 [June 21]; 55 RT 10852 [June 22].)

1. The trial court’s inquiry into Juror No. 5’s
interaction with Brent Rocha reveals the juror’s
preoccupation with the attention he received from
the media

On June 21, the court conducted a hearing into the controversy
surrounding Juror No. 5’s interactions with Laci’s brother Brent while he
and Brent were going through security in the lobby of the courthouse a few
days before. (54 RT 10474-10475.) The court first took sworn testimony
from Brent in chambers. Brent explained that while he was waiting for his
personal items to pass through the x-ray machine, Juror No. 5 approached
from Brent’s left and said something to the effect of, “I got in the way of
your shot for the news today.” (54 RT 10477.) Brent responded, “Well, at
least they’re not bugging you yet,” referring to the media. (54 RT 10477.)
There was no discussion of the case. (54 RT 10478.)
After Brent was excused, the court called Juror No. 5 into chambers.
Immediately upon entering, Juror No. 5 said, “Hey. I’m a popular guy this
week.” (54 RT 10479.) Upon questioning from the court, Juror No. 5
recounted that Brent said “[g]ood morning” when they encountered each
other at the security checkpoint. (54 RT 10481.) Seeing a television
camera near Brent, Juror No. 5 said, “Ah, I’m ruining all your shots, I guess
you’re not going to be on the news tonight.” (54 RT 10481.) Brent replied,
“Good” and walked the other way. (54 RT 10481.)

After the court concluded its questioning, Juror No. 5 made a request
of the court and parties: “[S]ince I’m here, and all the other jurors want me
to say this, and I want one of y’all to get on the news to say I don’t say Yo,
yo, what’s up, Peeps to anybody. Especially – that’s the report.” (54 RT
10482.) After brief comments by defense counsel and the court, Juror No.
5 continued: “My girlfriend wants to kick the crap out of the Court TV
lady. She – apparently [said] I walked up to [appellant] in the courtroom
and said Yo, yo, peace out.” (54 RT 10483.) Defending Juror No. 5,
defense counsel assured the court that did not happen. (54 RT 10483.)
Counsel also explained that there was a news account that Juror No. 5 came
up to him and whispered something to him at the podium. (54 RT 10484.)
Juror No. 5 elaborated: “And put my arm or touched him or something.
My girlfriend told me that.” (54 RT 10484.) The juror also recounted
some other interactions that he had with Brent and Amy Rocha and Juror
No. 6. (54 RT 10484 [“there’s actually a picture somewhere of me with
Amy underneath my arm and Brent on this side of me, talking to Juror No.
6”].) Juror No. 5 explained that he had encountered Brent in the bathroom,
in the elevator, and in the hallway prior to this incident. (54 RT 10484.)

The court asked Juror No. 5 if he had discussed the case with anybody.
(54 RT 10484-10485.) Juror No. 5 said, “No. No, not at all.” (54 RT
10485.) The court explained the importance of jurors maintaining their
distance to avoid getting caught in these situations. (54 RT 10485-10486.)
During the course of its admonition to Juror No. 5, the court asked the juror
again whether he had discussed the case with anyone. Juror No. 5 said no.
(54 RT 10485.) The court assured Juror No. 5 that he had done nothing
wrong. Juror No. 5 responded, “Mm-hmm. But of one of y’all got to get
out there, I don’t say Yo, yo Peeps. That’s just –” (54 RT 10486.)

During the hearing, Juror No. 5 also revealed that he was aware that
his family had heard about the incident with Brent Rocha. (54 RT 10486.)
The juror explained, “Well, the — what it was, too, was apparently, like,
when they showed it nationally, they fuzzed my face out.” (54 RT 10487.)
Juror No. 5 continued: “But when – if you continue watching, they follow
him, and then you see me walk behind him and I’m not fuzzed out . . . .
The Court TV lady is apparently the bad one. She’s really ripping into me
good . . . .” (54 RT 10487.) When defense counsel asked Juror No. 5 if he
was able to cut off discussion of the case with his family, the juror
responded: “Yeah. I spent the whole weekend going Shut up, you know,
Don’t worry about it, and in the end it will all come out. But I’ve enjoyed
listening to the stories.” (54 RT 10488.)

After further discussion, the court told Juror No. 5 that he was free to
rejoin the other jurors. (54 RT 10489.) Before he left, Juror No. 5 had
another question for the court: “Can I address the media when I walk in
there?” (54 RT 10489.) The court told the juror that he could not and
admonished him again that he was not to talk with anyone about the case.
(54 RT 10489.)

2. The court investigates a report from jurors that
Juror No. 5 is discussing the case

On June 23, two days after the hearing on Juror No. 5’s interaction
with Brent Rocha, Jurors Nos. 3 and 8, and a third juror, reported to one of
the court’s bailiffs that Juror No. 5 had been watching news accounts of the
trial and that he made comments to other jurors about the anchor and the
prosecution’s presentation of evidence. (56 RT 10853-10854.) The court
stated its intention to bring Juror No. 5 in first and then speak to the other
jurors and alternate jurors. (56 RT 10854.) The prosecutor reminded the
court that they had just learned two days prior that Juror No. 5 had
discussions about case-related matters with his family. (56 RT 10854.)
And, the court observed that Juror No. 5 spoke with his girlfriend, too. (56
RT 10855.) If the jurors’ allegations were verified, the court explained that
it was grounds for misconduct sufficient to support the discharge of Juror
No. 5. (56 RT 10854.)

a. Juror No. 5

After Juror No. 5 entered chambers and was sworn, he asked,
“What’d I do now?” (56 RT 10858.) The court explained that it was
investigating allegations reported by other jurors. (56 RT 10858.) Juror No.
5 denied watching television news accounts of the trial. (56 RT 10858.)
When asked whether he discussed the anchor with other jurors, Juror No. 5
said, “Well, it was – an anchor was mentioned.” (56 RT 10858.) But, he
insisted that he and other jurors were talking about Hawaii. (56 RT 10858-
10859.) The court then confronted Juror No. 5 with a written
communication from another juror, later identified as Juror No. 8 (56 RT
10866), in which the juror stated that Juror No. 5 “‘constantly speaks about
the facts and issues in this case.’” (56 RT 10859.) The court related the
specific allegations: 1) Juror No. 5 felt that Detective Brocchini’s
testimony was lacking; 2) Juror No. 5 made comments about Laci’s weight
during pregnancy the day her medical records were admitted into
evidence;137 3) he commented on inconsistencies in Modesto Police
Department reports in the context of Juror No. 5’s own experience
preparing reports as an airport screener; 4) Juror No. 5 made comments
about the deficiencies of the prosecutors in presenting their case; 5) he
talked about the attention he received from Court TV, as it was related to
him by his girlfriend; and, 6) Juror No. 5 made comments suggesting he
took pride in being “a loose cannon” and very gregarious. (56 RT 10859.)
In the letter, Juror No. 8 went on to say, “‘If juror number 5 is going [to]
prejudice himself by exposing his beliefs, other jurors may be persuaded to
prejudice themselves regarding the rest of this trial.’” (56 RT 10860.)
In response to these allegations, Juror No. 5 said, “Wow.” (56 RT
10860.) He went on to characterize the discussions as “general
conversations.” Directing his remarks to the court, he said, “[Y]ou can sit
there and you can skew them any way you want.” (56 RT 10860.) Juror
No. 5 continued, “Well, you know what, if you sit there and, you know, you
pick them apart, I guess, yeah, you say it supposedly does have to do with
the case.” (56 RT 10860-10861.) When the court asked Juror No. 5 if he
was denying that he made comments about Detective Brocchini’s testimony,
Juror No. 5 responded, “I – I don’t think I did.” (56 RT 10862.) As for his
alleged comments about Laci’s weight during pregnancy, Juror No. 5 said:
“You know what, I know comments were made . . . But I don’t think I
made them. I may have responded or said something during that
conversation, but I don’t think I’m the one that made it.” (56 RT 10862.)
Juror No. 5 denied saying anything about the prosecutors. (56 RT 10863.)
As for how Juror No. 5 was aware that Court TV’s coverage mentioned him,
137 This most likely occurred on June 15, 2004, during prosecution
witness Lisa Martin’s testimony. (51 RT 10103; People’s Exh. No. 56
[sealed].)
408

he said that his friends called him and told him about it, but he and his
friends did not discuss details of the case. (56 RT 10863.) And, when the
court asked if it was true that Juror No. 5 took pride in being called “a loose
cannon,” the juror responded: “Well, that’s a big joke downstairs. And
loose cannon is not the only name I’ve been called. And I don’t know if I
said I took pride in it, but I said Hey, you know, keep them coming. [¶] I
think it was mentioned today, too. You know, somebody said Blame juror
number 5 because he’s the moron. Somebody called me a moron, I guess,
and they’re down there telling me I’m a moron.” (56 RT 10863-10864.)

The court then asked Juror No. 5 if he had made other comments
about the trial in front of other jurors. Juror No. 5 responded, “Not like in
general. I mean maybe general.” (56 RT 10864.) Juror No. 5 went on to
explain that these general conversations inevitably occurred among the
jurors, but that the jurors would “usually cancel the conversation.” (56 RT
10865.) He explained that the comments attributed to him about the police
reports occurred as a result of another juror asking Juror No. 5 about his
own experiences in preparing reports. (56 RT 10865.) When defense
counsel asked which jurors were involved in the discussion, Juror No. 5
said No. 6 was getting blamed, but “it wasn’t even his thing.” (56 RT
10865.) Juror No. 5 went on to detail the substance of the conversation.
(56 RT 10866.)

Before the next juror was brought in, the prosecutor noted for the
record that Juror No. 5 took “the longest pause I’ve ever seen when [the
court] asked the juror the questions for what should have elicited a pretty
quick denial.” (56 RT 10867.)

b. Juror No. 1

Juror No. 1 said that he did not hear Juror No. 5 discuss the facts of
the case, including the specific allegations recounted by the court. (56 RT
10869-10870.) However, this juror explained that because of a medical
condition, he went for frequent walks and was not always present in the
jury room. (56 RT 10870.) Juror No. 1 recalled hearing Juror No. 5
comment that Juror No. 5’s girlfriend told him he was in trouble judging
from television news reports. (56 RT 10870.) The court asked Juror No. 1
if other jurors had confronted Juror No. 5 about not discussing the evidence:

JUROR NO. 1: Once again, other – no. I haven’t heard that,
but I’m not –

THE COURT: You’re not in there.

JUROR NO. 1: I’m trying to stay –

THE COURT: Okay.

JUROR NO. 1: I need to keep my head clear.

(56 RT 10871.) The juror stated that no one had discussed the facts of the
case in his presence. (56 RT 10871.)

c. Juror No. 2

This juror tended to stay outside the courthouse when court was not in
session. (56 RT 10872.) Juror No. 2 did not hear Juror No. 5 talk about
Detective Brocchini’s testimony, Laci’s weight during pregnancy, or
inconsistencies in police reports. (56 RT 10873.) As for comments about
the prosecutors, Juror No. 2 heard something along those lines, but the juror
did not “think specifically” that he heard it come from Juror No. 5. (56 RT
10873.) Yet, Juror No. 2 was unable to identify the juror who made the
remark. (56 RT 10873-10874.) This juror recalled hearing that someone
had called Juror No. 5 and told him that he was on television. (56 RT
10874.) Juror No. 2 verified that he and another juror (“a couple of us”)
told Juror No. 5 that he should not be discussing matters related to the case.
Juror No. 5’s response was to deny that the discussions involved evidence
or details of the case. (56 RT 10874.) The matter at issue was “the camera
incident.” (56 RT 10875.)
d. Juror No. 3

This juror said she sometimes stayed in the jury room and other times
she went outside. (56 RT 10876.) Juror No. 3 did not recall hearing Juror
No. 5 say anything about the anchor, Detective Brocchini, or Laci’s weight.
However, Juror No. 3 did hear Juror No. 5 discuss the prosecution’s
deficiencies. (56 RT 10877.) Specifically, “[c]omments about ability to
speak and presentation style.” (56 RT 10878.) Juror No. 5 made these
remarks to other jurors. (56 RT 10878.) Juror No. 3 recalled that on one
occasion she cautioned a couple of jurors about a conversation that was
leading into an area Juror No. 3 felt was inappropriate. (56 RT 10879.)
Juror No. 3 also stated that Juror No. 5 commented on what the media was
saying about him. (56 RT 10879.) Specifically, that he was a “loose
cannon” and a “moron.” (56 RT 10880.) Juror No. 3 denied that she was
one of the jurors that advised the court’s bailiff that Juror No. 5 was
behaving inappropriately. (56 RT 10880-10881.)

e. Juror No. 4

Juror No. 4 recounted that one of the alternate jurors expressed an
interest in seeing the anchor and knowing how much it weighed. (56 RT
10883.) Juror No. 4 said that “it could have been [Juror No.] 5,” but Juror
No. 4 was not certain who gave an opinion about the weight of the anchor.
(56 RT 10883.) At that point, Juror No. 4 suggested to the two that they
would have an opportunity to get the information later. (56 RT 10883.)
Juror No. 4 also told the court that, on his way to lunch a couple of days
before with Jurors Nos. 5, 6, and 7 and a couple of alternates, Juror No. 5
asked him if he got anything out of Detective Brocchini’s testimony. (56
RT 10884.) Juror No. 4 did not recall hearing Juror No. 5 comment on
Laci’s weight or the police reports. (56 RT 10884.) However, Juror No. 4
heard commentary on the presentation of the prosecution’s case, but he was
not sure if Juror No. 5 made the remarks. (56 RT 10884.) Juror No. 5
mentioned that his girlfriend contacted him about what was said on Court
TV about his actions inside and outside the courtroom, including at the
security checkpoint. (56 RT 10885.) Jurors Nos. 5 and 6 previously made
comments about the media. (56 RT 10885.) Juror No. 4 was not privy to
any admonishment of Juror No. 5 by Jurors Nos. 2 or 3. (56 RT 10885.)

f. Juror No. 6

When the court asked this juror what, if anything, he may have heard
Juror No. 5 say about the anchor, Juror No. 6 responded: “They were just
talking about an anchor and he went out boating and how it’s amazing what
underwater currents can do, or whatever, and pull a boat with an anchor.”
(56 RT 10887.) As far as Juror No. 6 could tell, the comment was not
specific to the case. (56 RT 10887-10888.) Someone also made statements
about Detective Brocchini “[g]etting a reaming” during his testimony the
previous day. Juror No. 6 was not sure if it was Juror No. 5 who made the
observation. (56 RT 10888.) While Juror No. 6 did not hear Juror No. 5
say anything about Laci’s weight (56 RT 10888), he did hear Juror No. 5
make a comment about the police reports (56 RT 10889). The comments
were in connection with Juror No. 5 apparently having a law enforcement
background. (56 RT 10889.) Juror No. 5 made the observation that the
prosecution seemed disorganized. (56 RT 10889.) As to whether Juror No.
5 had been watching news accounts of the case, Juror No. 6 stated that he
had not heard Juror No. 5 “specifically [] say” that he watched television,
but Juror No. 6 was “shocked” as to “what people know in there.” (56 RT
10890.) Juror No. 6 speculated that a number of the jurors had people
calling them. (56 RT 10890.)

The court asked Juror No. 6 about Juror No. 5’s account of their
mutual interaction with Brent and Amy Rocha. (56 RT 10891.) Juror No.
6 stated that he remembered the incident “very vividly” and explained what
occurred, which essentially tracked Juror No. 5’s account. (56 RT 10892.)
Additionally, Juror No. 6 recounted that Juror No. 5 told other jurors about
his interaction with Brent at security and that his girlfriend called him to
say that he was on television. (56 RT 10894.) Juror No. 6 told the court
that a friend of his called the previous day to ask if he was Juror No. 5. The
juror told his friend no. (56 RT 10894.)

g. Juror No. 7

Juror No. 7 recalled hearing a conversation in the jury room about the
anchor and wishing that the jurors could handle it and see how heavy it was.
(56 RT 10897.) Juror No. 7 could not recall which jurors were involved in
that conversation. (56 RT 10897.) With respect to anything Juror No. 5
may have said about Detective Brocchini’s testimony, Juror No. 7 said, “I
might not have been paying attention, but I don’t remember hearing that.”
(56 RT 10897.) The juror did not recall hearing Juror No. 5 make any
comments about Laci’s weight, the police reports, the manner in which the
prosecution was conducting its case, or talking to his girlfriend about Court
TV accounts. (56 RT 10898.) The only comments Juror No. 7 heard Juror
No. 5 make were about the anchor. (56 RT 10898.) Occasionally, Juror No.
7 would hear comments being made, but then someone else would say
“‘Shh’” and people would stop talking. (56 RT 10898-10899.) Juror No. 7
did not know if Juror No. 5 was among those talking. (56 RT 10899.) In
any event, the conversations did not involve conclusions or opinions about
the case. (56 RT 10899.)

h. Juror No. 8

Juror No. 8 was the chief complainant regarding Juror No. 5’s actions.
(56 RT 10900.) He explained that when he stated in his letter that Juror No.
5 “‘constantly’” spoke about issues and facts regarding the case, it was after
the court had instructed the jury to avoid such conduct. (56 RT 10900.)
For example, the previous day, Juror No. 5 opined that the size of the
anchor was too small to anchor appellant’s boat in the Bay because the
currents would drag the boat. (56 RT 10900-10901.) Juror No. 5 also said
that he had a lot of questions about Detective Brocchini’s testimony. (56
RT 10901.) As for Laci’s pregnancy weight, Juror No. 5 said that her
weight gain was significant going from 126 pounds to 153 and, because of
that, Laci may have actually been more than eight months along in her
pregnancy. (56 RT 10902.) Earlier in the case, while four or five of the
jurors were in the hallway, Juror No. 5 said to Juror No. 6 that the Modesto
Police Department should have done a better job with their reports. Juror
No. 5 knew from his job as an airport screener that reports needed to be
accurate. (56 RT 10902-10903.) On more than one occasion, Juror No. 5
said that the prosecution “doesn’t come across gracefully” and “they don’t
hit the point as [defense counsel] does.” (56 RT 10903.) The most recent
observation along those lines occurred the previous day. (56 RT 10903.)
As for the allegation concerning Court TV, Juror No. 8 stated that Juror No.
5’s girlfriend and friends called him to tell him what the media was saying
about him, including characterizing him as “a loose cannon.” Juror No. 5’s
response to the description was, “‘Well, I sort of pride myself on that.’”
(56 RT 10904.)

Juror No. 8 stated that he confronted Juror No. 5 twice about
discussing the case. However, he stopped because “it’s not working. And
[Juror No. 5] keeps saying if anybody has a problem with this, they should
be man enough to come up to him.” (56 RT 10904.) Juror No. 8 reported
the first incident—Juror No. 5’s comments about the police reports—to the
bailiff. (56 RT 10904.) Juror No. 8 thought (“I think”) that might have
occurred during the first week of the trial. (56 RT 10904.) The second
report to the bailiff was the previous day concerning Juror No. 5’s
comments about the anchor, Detective Brocchini’s testimony, and the
prosecution “not hitting the points.” (56 RT 10905.)

The court asked Juror No. 8 about other jurors discussing matters in
the jury room. (56 RT 10905.) Juror No. 8 recalled that one of the
alternates—a female with red hair, who the court identified as Alternate
Juror No. 2—and Jurors Nos. 4 and 6 were involved in the conversation
from the previous day. (56 RT 10905, 19007.) Juror No. 5’s comment that
if anybody had a problem they should approach him directly, was made “a
second ago” during the course of the court’s inquiry. Referring to Alternate
Juror No. 2, Juror No. 8 indicated that she shared those sentiments. (56 RT
10907.) Juror No. 5 took issue with Juror No. 8’s suggestion that he could
help himself by not talking about the case. (56 RT 10908.)

In response to the court’s question whether anything Juror No. 8 had
heard would interfere with his ability to be a fair juror, the juror explained
that he was not affected. However, the juror was concerned that the other
jurors who were part of Juror No. 5’s “clique” might be influenced by his
views. (56 RT 10908.) Juror No. 8 felt that a couple of those jurors may
“sort of cover for him.” (56 RT 10909.) Juror No. 8 was referring to Juror
No. 6 and Alternate Juror No. 2, in particular. (56 RT 10909.)

As a result of Juror No. 5’s discussions about the case, the jury had
divided into two groups: those that listened to Juror No. 5’s running
commentary about the case and those that “don’t want to hear about it.”
The latter group would “alienate themselves to one side of the room.” (56
RT 10909.) Juror No. 3 also told Juror No. 5 not to talk about the case. (56
RT 10910.) Juror No. 5 was “the leader of the clique” and was the one
who usually started the conversations, along with Alternate Juror No. 2.
(56 RT 10910.)

Juror No. 8 explained his motivation in coming forward: “Because I
don’t want to sit here – I wouldn’t waste the court’s time if this is all for
naught. I mean, you know, if it’s a ballgame, we’re only in about the third
inning, right?” (56 RT 10910-10911.) “I mean, we’ve got a long ways to
go. I’ve got to be fair to both sides. I mean, we haven’t even heard, you
know, the whole pack. I can’t – there’s no decision at this point.” (56 RT
10911.)

i. Juror No. 9

Juror No. 9 reported that she heard general comments about an anchor
in the context of fishing. (56 RT 10912-10913.) However, this juror was
“[n]ot really” paying attention to the conversation. (56 RT 10913.) Juror
No. 9 did not hear Juror No. 5 make comments about Detective Brocchini’s
testimony, Laci’s pregnancy weight, the police reports, or the manner in
which the prosecution was presenting its case. (56 RT 10913.) This juror
“kind of” “sort of” heard Juror No. 5 talk about reports from his girlfriend
about Court TV. (56 RT 10914.)

When the court asked Juror No. 9 whether, in the context of the
court’s inquiry, she heard Juror No. 5 make comments that day about
approaching him directly if any juror had an issue with him, the juror said
that a couple of people expressed that position. (56 RT 10914.) At that
point, defense counsel interjected: “I don’t think it was 5.” (56 RT 10914.)
This prompted the prosecutor to suggest allowing the juror to speak for
herself. (56 RT 10914.) Juror No. 9 said, “We just decided that if we have
something to say, we need to say it to each other.” (56 RT 10914.)

Juror No. 9 had not heard either Juror No. 2 or No. 3 advise No. 5 not
to talk about the case. (56 RT 10914-10915.) Nor did this juror hear Juror
No. 5 say anything directly related to the case, but “[m]aybe about people
in the courtroom.” (56 RT 10915.) When the court followed up asking if
Juror No. 5 talked about the case at all, Juror No. 9 said, “No, not really.”
(56 RT 10915.)
j. Juror No. 10

The juror explained that she was a smoker and did not typically
inhabit the jury room. (56 RT 10916.) On those occasions when Juror No.
10 was in the jury room, she did not hear Juror No. 5 comment on evidence
in the case. (56 RT 10917.) The juror did hear Juror No. 5 mention that he
found out from his girlfriend that he was on television and the Court TV
woman “was really slamming him.” (56 RT 10918.) Juror No. 10 did not
hear Juror No. 5 say anything that morning when Juror No. 5 returned from
speaking with the court. (56 RT 10918-10919.) Juror No. 10 explained
that, if she was not outside smoking, she would typically go for long walks
at lunch by herself. (56 RT 10919.)

k. Juror No. 11

When the court asked Juror No. 11 if she had heard Juror No. 5 make
comments about the evidence, the juror said, “Playfully, but not – playfully.”
(56 RT 10920.) However, the juror explained that she did not pay much
attention because she was in the midst of dealing with an issue at her
workplace. (56 RT 10920-10921.) Juror No. 11 did not hear Juror No. 5
make comments about the anchor, Detective Brocchini’s testimony, Laci’s
weight, the police reports, or about the prosecution. (56 RT 10921.) Juror
No. 11 did hear, however, some comments that were jokingly made about
Juror No. 5 in connection with what transpired at the security screening
area. (56 RT 10922.) Nonetheless, this juror explained that she would
“kind of tune things out.” (56 RT 10922.)

l. Juror No. 12

This juror did not hear Juror No. 5 make comments about the case.
(56 RT 10924.) However, Juror No. 12 did hear Juror No. 5 remark that his
girlfriend told him that the Court TV anchorperson was being disrespectful
toward him. (56 RT 10925.) The juror did not hear Juror No. 5 refer to
himself as “a loose cannon,” but Juror No. 12 was under the impression that
this was how others perceived Juror No. 5. (56 RT 10925.) Juror No. 12
had not heard any juror tell Juror No. 5 not to discuss matters like that with
other jurors. (56 RT 10926.) However, Juror No. 12 explained that she
was typically “[o]n the sidelines” and did not “pay a lot of attention.” (56
RT 10926.)

m. Alternate Juror No. 1

The juror did not hear Juror No. 5 make any of the remarks at issue
other than about the Court TV matter. (56 RT 10927-10928.) In that
regard, Alternate Juror No. 1 recalled Juror No. 5 told the group that his
girlfriend was very upset with the Court TV reporter and that his girlfriend
said she was going to kill the reporter. (56 RT 10928.) Juror No. 5 also
said that his girlfriend was keeping a record. (56 RT 10928-10929.)
Alternate Juror No. 1 did not hear any juror admonish Juror No. 5. (56 RT
10929.)

n. Alternate Juror No. 2

Alternate Juror No. 2 stated that she broached the subject of the
anchor because she wanted to know how much it weighed. (56 RT 10931.)
When the court asked Alternate Juror No. 2 what, if anything, Juror No. 5
said in response, she answered: “You know what, Judge, I really don’t
know because I brought it up, could we ask you to, you know, could we see
that, and I don’t really remember who said that, you know.” (56 RT 10931-
10932.) Alternate Juror No. 2 stated that she did not hear Juror No. 5
comment on any of the identified matters. (56 RT 10932.) But, she did
hear him relay what his girlfriend told him about the characterization of
him on Court TV. (56 RT 10933.) When the trial court asked Alternate
Juror No. 2 if she heard any of the other jurors admonish Juror No. 5, the
juror said that one of the other alternates cautioned against discussing
things in response to the conversation about the anchor. (56 RT 10933.)

o. Alternate Juror No. 3

This juror explained that he did not take breaks in the jury room. (56
RT 10935.) He usually went outside and walked around or got coffee. (56
RT 10936.) The only comments of Juror No. 5 that Alternate Juror No. 3
was privy to concerned the Court TV matter. (56 RT 10936-10937.) To
this juror, the interesting part was that Juror No. 5’s girlfriend was of the
opinion that the Court TV reporter “was really a good reporter.” (56 RT
10937.) Alternate Juror No. 3 did hear someone chastise Juror No. 5 “a
long time ago” “very early in the trial” after Juror No. 5 made a comment.
(56 RT 10937-10938.) Alternate Juror No. 3 could not recall what the
comment concerned. (56 RT 10938.)

p. Alternate Juror No. 4

This alternate juror typically stayed inside during breaks. (56 RT
10941.) She did not recall hearing Juror No. 5 comment on the alleged
matters. (56 RT 10941-10942.)

q. Alternate Juror No. 5

The previous day, Juror No. 5 was at the lunch table with this juror,
however the alternate juror did not hear Juror No. 5 comment on the anchor;
they talked about cars. (56 RT 10944.) Alternate Juror No. 5 left the lunch
group to use the restroom and then left early to retrieve a sweater. (56 RT
10944.) She did not hear anyone talk about Detective Brocchini’s
testimony, police reports, or Laci’s weight. (56 RT 10944-10945.) When
she was asked if she recalled hearing any comment about the prosecution’s
presentation of evidence, Alternate Juror No. 5 responded, “Kind of.” (56
RT 10945.) She did not “remember [Juror No. 5] saying anything,” but
recalled that “right after opening statements there was a comparison
contrast. And a response was, they have different roles.” (56 RT 10945.)
Alternate Juror No. 5 could not remember who made the comparison. (56
RT 10945.) However, she did remember that Juror No. 5 related that his
girlfriend told him “the Court TV lady was a bitch.” (56 RT 10946.)
Alternate Juror No. 5 recalled hearing jurors admonish others to stop
talking about certain things, but this juror could not think of anyone who
had been singled out for the warning. (56 RT 10946.)

During the court’s colloquy of this juror, defense counsel again
interjected a comment which, reasonably construed, was a defense of Juror
No. 5. (56 RT 10946.)

r. Alternate Juror No. 6

When asked if he spent most of his time in the jury room, this juror
explained that he liked to “mix it up.” (56 RT 10948.) In the morning, he
typically would go out and get coffee, but be in the jury room in the
afternoon. (56 RT 10949.) This juror stated that he heard Juror No. 5
comment that the anchor was smaller than he thought it would be and was
too small to anchor a boat the size of appellant’s. (56 RT 10949.) This
juror and Juror No. 5 talked about fishing and Alternate Juror No. 6 asked
Juror No. 5 if it was the kind of anchor that one would use in the Bay.
Juror No. 5 replied that it probably was not. (56 RT 10949.) The juror did
not hear Juror No. 5 comment on Detective Brocchini’s testimony, Laci’s
weight, or police reports. (56 RT 10950-10951.) In response to the court’s
question about whether he heard Juror No. 5 comment about the
prosecution, Alternate Juror No. 6 explained that there were “comments
that have floated around the jury room” “about somebody doing something
particularly well or . . . not.” (56 RT 10951.) As the juror explained his
reluctance to be more explicit, “I’m trying to be polite, since everybody is
in the room.” (56 RT 10951.) The juror did not hear Juror No. 5 recount a
conversation with his girlfriend about Court TV, but the juror recalled Juror
No. 5 saying that he was “trashed by someone at Court TV.” (56 RT
10952.)

3. Argument and ruling

Defense counsel blamed the problems encountered with Juror No. 5
on the media and the media’s purported desire to see the juror removed.
(56 RT 10956-10957 [“choosing off five”].) However, defense counsel
conceded Juror No. 5 had a “boisterous” personality and an ego. (56 RT
10957.) Defense counsel also acknowledged that Juror No. 5 “bumped into
the podium” while defense counsel was speaking to the prosecutor. (56 RT
10958.)

Defense counsel contended that if the court discharged Juror No. 5, it
would also need to remove two alternates and another juror for engaging in
similar conduct, which would result in a mistrial. (56 RT 10958, 10967.)
Counsel told the court that all the court needed to do was give the jurors
a “Come-to-Jesus talk” and that would be sufficient. (56 RT 10960, 10966.)

For his part, the prosecutor argued that the problem was Juror No. 5’s
actions, not the media fabricating lies about the juror. (56 RT 10964.) The
prosecutor pointed out that even before the court received the letter from
Juror No. 8, Juror No. 5 was already disseminating information from
outside sources to other jurors. (56 RT 10965.) Additionally, Juror No. 5’s
demeanor during the court’s questioning of him suggested there was truth
to the allegations: The juror made “a very long pause” before answering
and his denials were “very weak.” (56 RT 10965.) There was also
corroboration from other jurors that supported Juror No. 8’s allegations
about Juror No. 5, including that other jurors were telling Juror No. 5 to
stop discussing the case, but he persisted despite the trial court’s
admonitions. (56 RT 10965-10966.) The prosecutor asked that Juror No. 5
be removed. (56 RT 10966.)
Defense counsel argued that Juror No. 5 merely responded to
questions from Alternate Jurors Nos. 2 and 6. (56 RT 10966-10967.)
Counsel repeated his opinion that the media was at fault for targeting Juror
No. 5. (56 RT 10967-10968.)

The court pointed out that the allegations at issue came from another
juror. (56 RT 10968.) And, that since the beginning of the case, according
to the other jurors’ testimony, they had warned Juror No. 5 not to talk about
the facts. (56 RT 10968-10969.) In the court’s view, Juror No. 5’s conduct
was not an isolated incident, but a pattern of conduct. (56 RT 10969.)

Given the jurors’ answers, the court suspected that at least one of the
jurors was intimidated by the prospect of reporting Juror No. 5’s
misconduct. (56 RT 10969.) Along those lines, the prosecutor observed
that, according to some jurors, immediately after leaving the court’s
chambers, Juror No. 5 went back into the jury room and complained about
the inquiry, saying that jurors needed to approach him directly if there was
a problem. (56 RT 10970.)

The court stated its reasons for its decision to remove Juror No. 5: 1)
the juror was, in fact, a loose cannon and prided himself on it (56 RT
10970); 2) he made comments earlier in the proceedings and after other
jurors told him to refrain from doing so (56 RT 10970); 3) it was the second
incident involving this juror, referring to the first at the security screening
station (56 RT 10970); 4) Juror No. 8 was more credible than Juror No. 5
(56 RT 10971); 5) Juror No. 5 was not following the court’s admonitions
(56 RT 10972); 6) Juror No. 5’s opinion about the anchor found in
appellant’s boat, as articulated to other jurors, was not favorable to the
defense (56 RT 10972); and, 7) the court’s views were supported by the
demeanor of Juror No. 5, Juror No. 8, and other jurors who appeared
“reluctant” to speak about Juror No. 5 (56 RT 10973).
Defense counsel moved for a mistrial, or in the alternative, to
sequester the jury. The trial court denied the motions. (56 RT 10973.)

When the court called Juror No. 5 into chambers and told him he was
being excused, Juror No. 5 observed that he was “going to get it” from the
press. (56 RT 10974.) The court apologized, but explained that its
obligation was to the trial. Juror No. 5 responded, “Yup.” (56 RT 10974.)

B. General Legal Principles

An accused has a constitutional right to a trial by an impartial jury.
An impartial jury is one in which no member has been improperly
influenced