Monday, January 3, 2011

More, or Less, from Jacobson

Reviewing Richard Cole's articles for the Daily News group, I was reminded of the MPD's duplicity towards Amber Frey. Cole writes: "To her face, Modesto police detectives praised her cooperation and feigned concern for her emotional state. But behind her back they wrote reports suggesting she was involved in Laci Peterson's disappearance. Some reports apparently falsely accused her of hiding phone calls to Peterson as well as arranging secret trysts with [Peterson]. . . . Even after Frey passed a lie detector test with flying colors, police suggested she might have met secretly with Peterson at Lake Arrowhead during the weekend of Feb. 22-24 in 2003." Cole writes that Jacobson "wrote numerous reports and affidavits claiming Frey was holding secret conversations with Peterson and lying about it. In one affidavit to continue wiretaps on Peterson's phones, Jacobson contended, 'there was no way one person could have done that to Laci Peterson'." Wednesday, August 25, 2004)

This is how Jacobson described his suspicion of Amber:

GERAGOS: Okay. And, specifically, you wanted to, at that point, you told the magistrate the reason you needed the wiretap, specific reason you needed the wiretap, you believed it took more than one person to commit this crime, correct?
JACOBSON: I didn't specifically tell him that. I'm not quite sure. I have heard that in the media. I have heard it elsewhere. I'm not quite sure where you are getting that at. If could you maybe show me in a report or in the affidavit itself, I did a conspiracy theory with the affidavit. I'm not quite sure.
GERAGOS: Did you testify in this courtroom on February 19th of this year?
JACOBSON: I believe so, yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Did you just say that you don't know where somebody got that from?
JACOBSON: No. I'm just saying if you have that, if you could direct my attention to that.
GERAGOS: Sure. I'll show you page 964 of your testimony on February 19th of this year in this courtroom.
JACOBSON: Yes, sir. Kind of jumped that first paragraph there.
GERAGOS: I'm asking you about it. I'm going to ask you about it right now. One of the reasons you wanted to get a wiretap is because you believed that there may be co-conspirators in this case?
JACOBSON: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Okay. That's what I asked you back in February, and that's what you answered then?
JACOBSON: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: And I said that was because you did not believe that this could have been accomplished by a single person; is that correct? Isn't that what I asked you?
DISTASO: Objection. It's argumentative.
JUDGE: Overruled. Is that what he asked you?
JACOBSON: I believe so. If I could look at your transcript on that.
GERAGOS: I'm going to ask you, before I refresh your recollection, wasn't that one of the reasons that you sought the wiretap?
JACOBSON: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Because you believed that this could not have been accomplished, that the abduction of Laci Peterson could not have been accomplished by one person, correct?
JACOBSON: I believe that there could possibly be more than just one person involved in Laci's disappearance, yes.
GERAGOS: Well, you testified, and I felt that based on my experience in law enforcement that this, I felt this was carried out by more than one person, correct?
JACOBSON: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: That was your, that was your feeling then. That's why you got the affidavit. That's why you signed it under penalty of perjury, correct?
JACOBSON: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Now, specifically, you also, I asked you, and you believed that, based on your experience, and based on what happened here involving Laci Peterson's disappearance, is that one person, I asked you, is that one person could not have accomplished that. Isn't that a fair statement? Do you remember what your answer was?
DISTASO: Objection, your Honor. It's been asked and answered.
JUDGE: Not that. Do you remember your answer, Mr. Jacobson?
JACOBSON: I think, I believe I said for the co-conspirator or conspiracy portion of this affidavit, I felt that there was more than one person involved.
GERAGOS: That's not, you believed that when you wrote this application that more than one person was perhaps responsible for this crime?
JACOBSON: That's what I just stated that.
GERAGOS: Okay. Didn't I ask you specifically if you believed that Amber Frey, as of January 10th, was cooperating?
JACOBSON: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: And wasn't your answer, I was suspect of some of the cooperation from witnesses, or a witness, and that I did not believe that more, and I did believe that more than one person could be responsible for this crime?
JACOBSON: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Okay. And I asked you who was the witness that you were suspect of?
JACOBSON: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: And who was that?
JACOBSON: I believe I responded that I was suspect of Amber Frey's cooperation.
GERAGOS: And the reason you were suspect of Amber Frey's cooperation was?
JACOBSON: Was because I had had some conversations with some detectives from the Modesto Police Department, and we had conversed regarding whether or not Amber had communicated with Scott at different periods of time. And I was told information that which basically contradicted what I believed at the time with what the wire intercept was showing me, and the toll records.
GERAGOS: So your information is, after the 10th, that you are already suspicious on the 10th. That's why you fill out an affidavit for the wiretaps, because you don't believe that one person could have committed this crime alone, correct? Under your conspiracy theory, correct?
JACOBSON: Yes, sir. I believed that more than one person could have been involved in this case.
GERAGOS: Okay. So that's your belief. Then moving, I want to get pre the 10th, and after the 10th, so we don't mix it up. Before the 10th, that's your working theory, correct? One of your working theories?
JACOBSON: One of my working theories was to find every aspect to any possible leads, to see if we can develop any further co-conspirators, whether they were known or unknown.
GERAGOS: But the, specifically, specifically, you were, one of your the witnesses that you were specifically focused on was Amber Frey, correct?
JACOBSON: She was listed as an interceptee. We believed we were going to be intercepting her communications with Scott. And I felt it was very important that we listen to these phone calls separately and apart from what Miss Amber Frey was doing. She had no idea that we were going up on a wire intercept. Felt it was important to either corroborate her statements that she was making to the police; or if she wasn't being truthful to the police, to start looking in that area as well.
GERAGOS: And you believed, within three to four days, that she wasn't being truthful with the police; isn't that correct?
DISTASO: Objection. Asked and answered.
JUDGE: I don't think so, no. Overruled.
GERAGOS: You believed within three or four days of that suspicion, that she was not being truthful with the police, correct?
JACOBSON: I had believed that, yes, sir. But as I look back on it now, after talking with John Buehler, going over your question that you had, law enforcement was mistaken. And we were operating under a, not a valid concern there.
GERAGOS: Well, let me just take you back. Let's go step-by-step through this. As of February of this year, you believed that, correct, that she was not being truthful?
JACOBSON: February?
GERAGOS: February is when you,
JACOBSON: February of this year.
GERAGOS: February this year, when you testified before Judge Delucchi, and I was asking you questions, February 19th of this year, I asked you specifically, easy for me to say, as to whether or not you were suspect of, or you said you were suspicious of the cooperation, right?
JACOBSON: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: I also asked you, is it a fair statement that she was telling her handler, Detective Buehler, one thing, and you had toll records which revealed another? Is that a fair summary? And your answer was, I'm not calling the lady a liar. I'm just saying I was suspect in the fact that some of my information that I had didn't quite jibe with the information that was being told to me by the detective.
JACOBSON: That's correct, yes, sir.
GERAGOS: And I said to you, did it appear that, to the detectives at least, that they were telling you that Amber Frey appeared to want to have a relationship with Scott, and appeared to be, for lack of a better word, if not lying, working the detectives? And your answer was, that's correct. And I asked you specifically, do you remember, was that Detective Buehler who was telling you that? And you said, yes, sir. Correct?
JACOBSON: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: So then I asked you where is this call that you guys, you, Brocchini, Buehler, Grogan, three guys from SDEA, listened to on the 13th together?
JACOBSON: At least, yes, sir.
GERAGOS: And all seven of you came to the conclusion that Amber Frey must have been working it, lying. You didn't want to call her a liar?
JACOBSON: No, I don't want to do that.
GERAGOS: Didn't want to call the lady a liar. You were saying that she, we're at the point with making her a co-conspirator, weren't we?
JACOBSON: I don't know if I would label her a co-conspirator. I said I was very suspicious of her cooperation. I wanted to listen to more of their communications. I wanted to basically hear it for myself.
GERAGOS: And when you, that was on the 10th. Once you got to the 13th, by the time you got to the 13th, you were starting to go down that path, right?
JACOBSON: I was, yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Okay. And up until the time I said where is this call, nobody bothered to come up with any analysis of it to determine what it was; isn't that correct?
JACOBSON: That would be a fair statement, yes.
GERAGOS: Okay. So last week for the first time, somebody goes back and takes a look and, lo and behold, turns out you guys were wrong, all seven of you; is that right?
JACOBSON: I don't know if I would say wrong.
GERAGOS: You just changed your mind?
JUDGE: Wait a minute.
JACOBSON: I don't think so.
JUDGE: Stop. Stop. Let him finish the question. Let him finish the answer before you ask the next question. Finish your answer.
JACOBSON: Yes, sir, I don't think it's a matter of who is wrong and who is right. I think it's a matter of the timing of that particular call and how this whole thing got started. If you would like me to elaborate and explain.
GERAGOS: I'll ask you,
DISTASO: Let him finish his answer.
GERAGOS: He wanted to elaborate. It's non-responsive when he goes on in the speech.
JUDGE: It's cross. When you take him back on directs, you can have him elaborate. All I'm asking, Mr. Geragos, let him finish.
GERAGOS: I will, judge.
JUDGE: Ask the next question. I have a court reporter here that's going to be very upset with me and you. Next question.
GERAGOS: Now, you then write up, or not you, but Buehler writes up, Buehler writes up a two-page analysis of what he thinks actually transpired; is that right?
JACOBSON: I believe it was analysis of what we believed, collectively.
GERAGOS: Well, and you saw this. This was, it's dated August 17th, right?
JACOBSON: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Okay. And that's whose handwriting is that?
JACOBSON: That's Detective Buehler.
GERAGOS: Did you review this?
JACOBSON: I don't believe I read it verbatim; but I was there when he wrote it out.

5 days later, during direct examination by Distaso, we learn that the meeting on Jan 13th was simply about calls that the wiretap recorded on the 12th that Amber Frey didn't turn over to Buehler.

DISTASO: Now, there was some confusion that counsel asked you about regarding some calls that Ms. Frey recorded on January 12th, do you remember that series of questions?
JACOBSON: I do, yes, sir.
DISTASO: At the time on January 12th and I guess into the 13th, what was law enforcement's belief about whether or not Ms. Frey had actually recorded those calls on the 12th?
GERAGOS: Objection as to what law enforcement's belief is.
JUDGE: Law enforcement's,
DISTASO: That's fine.
DISTASO: What was your understanding at the time on the 12th?
JACOBSON: On the 12th or the morning of the 13th?
DISTASO: Morning. Yeah.
JACOBSON: When I talked to Detective Buehler.
JACOBSON: It was my belief and the belief of the other detectives that were there that it was possible that Ms. Frey was deceiving us in her recordings; that perhaps she was recording or she was talking with Scott and not turning over those recordings to law enforcement.
DISTASO: Did you subsequently go back, when you went in and kind of married all this stuff up, did you actually, did you find those recordings from the 12th that you thought might not, that she might not have been telling you about?
JACOBSON: Yes, sir.
DISTASO: So she actually, there actually were recordings from those calls that were turned into law enforcement?
JACOBSON: Yes, sir.
DISTASO: So your belief at that time was maybe she was being --
GERAGOS: Objection, leading.
JUDGE: Sustained.
DISTASO: So your belief at the time was incorrect?
JACOBSON: Yes, it was.

Wow, that was anti-climactic. Why couldn't they have cleared that up in a day or two? Why did it take 19 months? Jacobson had the list of conversations between Scott and Amber recorded by the wiretap, and Buehler had all of the tapes Amber turned over.

Seems like if it was a big enough deal to cause Jacobson to suspect Amber was a co-conspirator and use that as justification for various warrants, someone would have followed up on it after that big meeting on Jan 13th. Jacobson was swearing that the statements he made in those affidavits were true statements. Seems like he would have made at least one follow-up call to Buehler. After all, Jacobson's personal integrity was on the line. Amber testified that neither Buehler nor anyone else ever asked her if she was recording all the conversations and turning over all the tapes.

GERAGOS: Okay. So what I'm asking you now is are you aware that the detectives believed that you were not reporting calls because they compared the wiretap information with what you were telling them? Did they ever confront you with that?
FREY: No, they did not.

Quite frankly, I don't believe it was just a matter of them thinking she wasn't recording all the conversations with Scott and then discovered that she was. The State produced recordings and transcripts of 2 calls on the 12th: 6:04 p.m and 7:19 p.m. It's unlikely Geragos would have asked, "Where is the call" if the call that required that meeting were one of those two calls. So, where is this call that Jacobson, Buehler, Grogan, Brocchini, and 3 guys from the SDEA listened to together, and which they subsequently on August 17, 2004, on the 5th day of Amber's testimony and just one week before Jacobson was to testify, decided it wasn't any big deal and didn't impugn Frey's credibility?

I bolded and italicized one sentence of Jacobson's testimony in particular because I think it's the crux of the matter. Jacobson held a long-standing suspicion of Amber Frey, that comes through in all of his reports, affidavits, and testimony, but in a single conversation, apparently on August 17, 2004, just one week before Jacobson is to testify, Buehler is able to convince him that the suspicion was unfounded. What did Buehler really tell Jacobson? I suspect it was to tow the line, memorize the talking points, and backpedal everything he'd written in reports and affidavits that cast suspicion on Amber Frey. Jacobson did his best, but back pedaling is hard to do when there is so much on the record.

1 comment:

Burkey said...

Yet another tape recorded phone call that somehow can't be found.

Amber's book would have been a whole lot more interesting if she'd been a little more inclusive about stuff like this. I find it hard to believe she didn't know police were questioning her integrity. I mean, she had law enforcement friends, and people talk. The thing about her I can't get over is that she wants us to believe she didn't know Scott Peterson was "her" Scott Peterson until the 30th...and also, testifying without letting on that she had a book deal contingent on conviction really seems like a serious ethical lapse to me. Geragos should have had a second chair atty cross examine her firmly and persistently. Too many unanswered questions from the "star" witness and another perspective on those phone calls and the person on them might have helped Peterson. Maybe she'll write another one and be more honest this time. I'd buy that book. I won't hold my breath.