Saturday, July 31, 2010

Todd's lies

By Marlene Newell
Contributions from Linda Smith and Jane Hamilton

Todd told Officer Hicks the following, as found in Hicks’ trial testimony:

GERAGOS: Okay. Then he says on Christmas day when he road by he noticed that 516 Covena appeared to be empty; is that right?
HICKS: That's correct.
GERAGOS: And 516 Covena is the Medina's house, right?
GERAGOS: Okay. And he says he noticed it because there was only one car in the driveway, right?
GERAGOS: Which he described as being either a Mercedes or a BMW, right?
HICKS: Correct.
GERAGOS: Okay. And he said he also noticed that the mail in the mail box; is that right?
GERAGOS: And he could see when he's riding his bike down the street, not only the car, but that he could see mail in the mail box, right?

My previous article, The Medina Mailbox, proves that Todd could not have seen any mail in the Medina mailbox on December 25, 2002.

But that wasn’t the only lie Todd told Hicks. He also told him that he spent Christmas Day with his kids, family, and friends on Tioga.

FLADAGER: Initially, in your interview with Mr. Todd, he told you what he was doing at Christmas day; is that right?
FLADAGER: And did he tell you that after he had ridden from his mother's house, he is driven down to Covena, he noticed what he noticed about the Covena, the home, thinking maybe no one was home there, that he went back to his residence and met with his friend Pearce. Did he tell you that?
FLADAGER: And did he tell you, then, that he rode over to his kids' house on Tioga?
FLADAGER: And did he tell you that he stayed there with friends and family?

However, Todd’s kids did not live on Tioga Dr. on Christmas Day, 2002.

Public records show that Elizabeth Garcia, Todd’s ex-wife and mother of his children, lived at 1131 TIOGA DR APT A, MODESTO, CA 95354-4264 from 06/1991 - 12/1992. Other public records show that Garcia and the children lived at 2120 RAMROD AVE APT 211, HENDERSON, NV 89014-2009 from 01/2001 - 09/2006.’s “U.S. Phone and Address Directories, 1993-2002” lists Las Vegas as her city of residence in 2001-2002. Henderson is southwest of Las Vegas and engulfed in the Las Vegas metropolitan area.

In fact, no one lived at 1131 Tioga Drive on December 25, 2002, because that residence didn’t exist – it had been razed by the city of Modesto.
Northern California was drenched by a series of rainstorms Dec. 29, 1996, through Jan. 4, 1997. A "pineapple express" brought a series of storms from the central Pacific that caused heavy, prolonged, and unusually warm precipitation across the northern half of the state. . . . Precipitation up to 24 inches was recorded for the week. Significant flooding occurred and disaster areas were declared in 43 counties. . . . The foothills of the Sierra Nevada and areas downstream of the foothills were particularly hard hit, especially in the communities of Wilton, Olivehurst, and Modesto.

Published on July 27, 1999 by Modesto Bee, The (CA).
This item appeared in the B section on page 1.
Coming before the Modesto City Council today is the final piece of a strategy to prevent a repeat of the devastating 1997 floods in the Airport Neighborhood.
For more than a year, the city has tried to acquire 14 houses along the Tuolumne River, most of them damaged or destroyed by floodwaters. Modesto wants to bulldoze the homes and turn the area into 2 1/2 acres of parkland, so the river would cause far less damage the next time it overflows.

Published on October 22, 2000 by Modesto Bee, The (CA).
This item appeared in the B section on page B3.
A two-alarm fire gutted an abandoned house in Modesto's Airport Neighborhood at about 1 p.m. Saturday.
The home, along the Tuolumne River at Hillside and Tioga drives, was one of about a half-dozen that the city purchased after January 1997 floodwaters damaged the properties.
A large pile of garbage in the back yard and about one-fourth of the home was in flames when the first firetruck crew arrived.

Published on December 16, 2000 by Modesto Bee, The (CA).
This item appeared in the B section on page B3.
Modesto City Council members expect to pay $106,000 to demolish 14 Airport Neighborhood homes flooded in January 1997.
The city used federal money to buy all 14 and moved the residents, with the idea of preventing a recurring disaster. The homes are south of Hillside Drive between Tioga and Empire avenues, closest to the Tuolumne River.

The parcel map for Stanislaus County shows the homes along Tioga and Hillside that were purchased. I have added labels to identify Tioga Drive and Empire Ave. Click to enlarge.

When you click on 1131 Tioga Drive, you get the following information [click to enlarge]:

When you click the other parcels along Hillside Dr, you get the same information, that they are owned by the city of Modesto.

This current aerial from Google Maps shows that there are no residences on the south side of Hillside from Tioga west to Empire. Click to enlarge.

Neither did Todd visit his children at any of Garcia’s relatives on Tioga, because none lived on Tioga on December 25, 2002. Public records show that her three brothers, Xavier, Marcus, and Arthur, were living at 737 Cadillac Dr. in Modesto; her father Ricardo was living at 708 Thrasher, Modesto; and her mother Mary Oakley was living at 2314 5th St in Ceres.

This map shows the location of the other two Modesto addresses in relation to 1131 Tioga Drive. Ceres is south of Modesto. Click to enlarge.


Why didn't Hicks know that Todd could not have been on Tioga visiting his children on Christmas Day? Simple. Because he didn't bother to check out any of Todd's explanations for his whereabouts on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. He seemed only concerned about recovering the jewelry Todd said he had sold or given away, and closing the case as soon as possible so this nasty little distraction could be put to rest and the world could again focus exclusively on Scott Peterson as the only explanation for what happened to Laci.

Officer Hicks, you could have been the hero that solved Laci Peterson's disappearance, and probably saved her life and Conner's. Can you please explain why you didn't find it necessary to verify Todd's account for where he was on December 24 and 25 when the anonymous tipster specifically reported that he/she was concerned about Laci Peterson and the first words out of Todd's mouth were a reference to Laci? It's inexplicable to me how you could so easily shove Laci aside in your investigation into this robbery.

Our Name Changed!

I've changed the name of the blog to put the focus wholly on seeking Justice for Scott Peterson. Many forums exist to provide information about wrongful convictions in general and other specific cases, but scarce few to advocate for justice for Scott Peterson.

I've also added a Followers list. Be sure to sign up if you follow this blog.

Some question has come up in the past about who authors the blog posts. Most of them I author, and when someone else authors, or co-authors, or contributes to a post, their names are provided in the byline.

Marlene Newell
Blog Editor

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Scandal in the San Francisco Crime Lab

$140K machine not helping SF DNA crime lab

I thought this was interesting, with all of the emphasis on the backlog of DNA testing. The title is misleading, as there are actually 2 of those machines sitting idle. However, what really caught my attention was the confusion on which crime lab processed the DNA identification of Laci and Conner Peterson. The TV reporter was denied access to the crime lab to do this story, but the article says:

[Cmdr. Denise Schmitt] did say ABC7 was not allowed into the crime lab to see the machines because she said the lab is too sensitive.

However, ABC7 reporter Heather Ishimuru was allowed in the crime lab and given a tour of the facility back in 2003. The case that occupied the crime lab back then was the Lacy Peterson murder case. The Scott Peterson trial was one of the most sensational trials in the city's history.

The DNA crime lab that processed the DNA for Laci and Conner Peterson is the Richmond DNA lab in Richmond CA. Didn't the author of this article know that? Part of the video included in the article is of the Richmond crime lab, located in Richmond CA, I assume, not the SF crime lab, which, of course, is located in San Francisco. A quick check with Heather Ishimuru confirmed that she visited the SF DNA lab in 2003 on a case not directly related to the Peterson case.

The SF crime lab has been reeling from another scandal. San Francisco Crime Lab Scandal Growing, Thousands Of Criminal Cases May Be Dismissed

These cases have to do with the drug unit of the SF crime lab, in which Deborah Madden, a criminalist, is accused of skimming cocaine from the crime lab.

The fallout from San Francisco's lab scandal is still unfolding and experts say it could take years to clean up, especially if authorities fail to establish which criminal cases were compromised.

"I don't think we have a full grasp on the magnitude of this yet," said Jim Norris, former head of the lab. "A lot of this runs on trust that the lab results have been correct, but now people don't think they are. So the whole system has grinded to a halt."

Madden's attorney, Paul DeMeester, said last week that her February talk with police was honest and forthright, and she "talked about all of the wrongdoing she had committed at the lab, which is very minimal."

"And it will take years for the people in that lab and the San Francisco Police Department to come back from that, even if it's one person," Inspector Peter Walsh told Madden on the tape. "If it's a mistake, you just need to tell us it's a mistake."

"I didn't do it," she said, admitting only to snorting small amounts of cocaine spilled on her work station.

The drug unit employed Madden, two other criminalists and a supervisor.

But according to another article in the Deseret News, the problem goes much deeper than Madden.

The lab had at least three technicians working there between July and December, each handling about 5,000 to 7,000 cases a year. The state's average is slightly more than 1,000 cases per year, the report said.

Gascon said the department will hire at least six more technicians to decrease the workload.

The report also found that technicians often left drug evidence in unsecured boxes or lockers ripe for possible theft, and technicians did not record when they may have reopened evidence sampling. The lab also failed to calibrate scales used for weighing drugs, the report said. In a criminal case, the weight of the drug can result in a greater or lesser sentence.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Medina mailbox

Scott Peterson Case: Truth be Told: If not Scott, then who did it? Part 1 does an excellent job of showing that by Todd's own words, he had to be on Covena on the 24th between 10:35 and 10:50 a.m.

To further illustrate, this first picture shows a very similar mailbox offered on

This second picture shows the actual mailbox with manila envelopes the same size as the mail that was put out by Susan Medina on the 24th. Susan's outgoing mail consisted of blank forms, thus no need for privacy. The incoming mail, however, would be the completed forms and other sensitive mail for her work. Thus the need for the incoming mail to be under lock and key. When you open the flap, there is a slot that the mailman drops the incoming mail through, to fall into the bottom locked box. Graybill said he had to first remove the outgoing mail, and then deposit the incoming mail. As stated on the Facebook page, Todd would have seen the outgoing mail sticking out, not the incoming mail.

This next picture shows the actual location of the Medina mailbox on December 24, 2002. The privacy wall was built after the burglary/Laci's disappearance, and the mailbox moved to the side of the privacy wall.

New features . . .

I've added some new features to make it easier to share these blog articles. Just below the article, in the white box, you will see some icons: M for email, B for blog, t for twitter, f for facebook, and the globe for Google buzz.

You can also quickly give your reaction to the article.

This feature is globally applied, so all of the past articles now include it.