Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Mike Chiavetta's sighting disputes the Karen Servas timeline

Those familiar with the Scott Peterson trial know that the State relied heavily on the Karen Servas timeline to dispute reported sightings of Laci in the neighborhood as well as claims that she encountered Steven Todd later that morning. Servas initially said she found McKenzie on the street and put him in his backyard at 10:30 a.m., then subsequently changed the time to 10:18 a.m.

No one disputes that Servas found McKenzie and put him into the backyard. What is in dispute is when she did so. Her claim is that she found McKenzie as she was leaving home to do her errands, and she produced a receipt from Austin's to confirm her checkout time. Backtracking from that time, she established that she must have found McKenzie at 10:18.

The receipt from Austin's proves that she went to Austin's and made a purchase. It does not prove that Servas found McKenzie before she went to Austin's. And several items of evidence indicate that Servas found McKenzie after she returned from her errands.
  1. The Medinas were out front packing up their car for a holiday trip during the time Servas said she found McKenzie, yet they neither saw McKenzie loose, nor did they see Servas stop her car in the street, nor did they see Servas leave again. That's a lot of activity for them to have missed. The Medinas were on their way at 10:33, before Servas returned home from her errands.
  2. Amy Krigbaum and Tara Venable were awakened by two dogs barking at 10:35-10:38 a.m. They recognized one of the dogs to be Sage, who lived in the home to their north, and later reported the other dog to be McKenzie. Since Krigbaum and Venable did not know McKenzie's bark, it is reasonable to conclude that they could not hear McKenzie barking from his own backyard when they were in their house. So McKenzie must have been out of the yard and in the vicinity of Sage's yard, on his way to the park.
  3. The postman delivered mail to the Petersons sometime between 10:35 and 10:50. That mail included a package (a book), which protruded somewhat. The postman testified that if McKenzie was out, he would stay in the yard and guard the yard. However, McKenzie was not out in the yard on the 24th. One reason is that he was already back in the yard, per Servas. The other is that he was already in the park.
  4. Mike Chiavetta reported seeing a dog in the park about 10:45 -- a dog that he was certain was McKenzie. Chiavetta saw McKenzie near the olive grove, which is adjacent to the dirt path that leads up to Covena.
  5. Servas said that when she left for a dinner appointment later that afternoon, she observed the package protruding from the Peterson mailbox. I doubt that Servas had sufficient observation skills to notice the package from that distance. I suspect that she noticed the package when she walked to the front gate to put McKenzie in, and then across the yard to use the other side gate. Servas arrived home from her errands about 11:45.


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