Tuesday, November 13, 2012

More on Nancy Grace's "re-investigation"

There is a transcript available for last Friday night's show.  Reviewing that transcript, I noticed Grace mentions her extensive coverage of the case.  I know that she was a daily guest and/or co-host on Larry King Live commenting on the show, but was shocked to see these claims by her:
GRACE: Being in that courtroom in Redwood City -- I was out in California for I don`t even know how long anymore, months, covering the trial. And I saw jurors come and go. That jury was like a revolving door. I watched everything that happened in the courtroom, every nuance, every move a juror or a witness or the defendant, Scott Peterson, or his lawyer would make.
What?  Nancy Grace was every day in the courtroom, saw every nuance, every move anyone made?  I attended the trial every day, except for the first 2 weeks or so of August when I was recovering from the stroke.  I didn't get into the courtroom every day, but I was there every day to get a lottery ticket hoping to get in.  Several of the other frequent attenders were avid Nancy Grace fans, and it was a very big deal the few days that she was there.  She was very amicable, friendly, talked to anyone that wished to talk, graciously mingling with the trial watchers.  In fact, I was surprised at how gracious a personality she is in person.  But she simply was not there every day.  And the trial was not televised.  What she saw every day was the media coverage, with a few days of personal attendance.

Grace talks about her experience when Sharon testified during the penalty phase.  Grace may well have been in the courtroom that day -- I don't remember.
GRACE: I was sitting in the very back of the courtroom. And I finally had taken off my backpack and set it on the pew and was sitting on top of it so I could see Sharon Rocha. And now I wish I hadn`t -- I hadn`t seen it because I will always remember her raw grief when she described those bones in the coffin of her child, Laci, holding her grandson in death. And that is how they were buried.
And then everyone just looked over at Scott Peterson, and he looked as if Sharon Rocha were talking about somebody he had never met. He had absolutely a blank expression on his face. I will never forget it as long as I live.
However, Grace is not much taller than I am.  And you could not be sitting on the back row, even sitting on a backpack, and see Scott Peterson's face.  Not even remotely possible.  The jurors of course could see him, as could Sharon as she testified.  The people sitting in the family rows on the DA/Rocha side of the courtroom, those sitting in the very first seats, would have been able to see a side-view.  But by the time you get to the public section on that side, you could not see his face -- and Grace was on the very back row of the courthouse.  And if she was sitting on the defense side of the courtroom, she couldn't have seen his face at all.

Grace's lack of honesty is quite alarming because a lot of people got much of the information they had on this case from Grace -- as they do about many other cases.  She appears to feel no obligation to accurately and objectively report the facts of the case.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nancy Grace -- true to form!

Nancy Grace was true to form last night -- big on opinion and misinformation, short on real facts.  

Opinion -- okay, we get it, Grace has a manual for how people should obey when a loved one goes missing, and anyone that fails to act accordingly is guilty.  However, it would be nice for any "investigation" to actually include some facts.

Misinformation -- what she gave last night is particularly inexcusable.  She has staff to fact-check things for her.  Unfortunately, we don't have the benefit of a transcript of the show, so we have to rely on what people recorded as they listened.  Most of the inaccuracies are simply instances of exaggerating the truth.  But why is it necessary to exaggerate the truth?  Why isn't the truth good enough all by itself?  Is that the way she got all those convictions, by exaggerating the truth?

Laci was just about to give birth - the delivery of her unborn son Conner was imminent.  Laci was 32 or 33 weeks pregnant on December 23.  Her original due date was February 10.  So she had 7 weeks remaining.   

There was a big get together planned for that evening and she had worked so hard on it - her whole family was coming.  The get-together was at Sharon's, it was a small get-together, the whole family wasn't coming, and Laci's only responsibility was to bring whipped cream, and she was only asked to do that at the last minute.  Laci was hosting a brunch on Christmas Day and was going to serve french toast.  

It was the night of Laci’s vigil and he was leaving this preposterous message to Amber Frey about where he was on vacation or out of town or some lie and it wasn’t just one – it was call after call after call.  This is the record of phone calls between Scott and Amber on December 31.  

11:35 a.m. Scott Cell 2 called Amber <1 min="min">
11:42 a.m. Amber called Scott Cell 2 <5 min="min">
2:59 p.m. Amber called Scott Cell 2 <2 min="min">
3:05 p.m. Scott Cell 2 called Amber <2 min="min"> 195D
4:18 p.m. Scott Cell 2 called Amber <4 min="min"> 195E
4:20 p.m. Scott Cell 2 called Amber <1 min="min"> 195F

The body of her baby, Conner, there was only 24 hours difference in them washing ashore – I remember that the pedestrian out walking his dog as I recall saw little Conner and thought it was a baby doll  it was so perfect.   There is no reference at all to Conner looking like a baby doll in Looby's testimony.  Dr. Peterson's descriptions of the babies decomposed condition would hardly fit the "so perfect" description.  Did Grace ever see any of those autopsy photos?  In fact, Looby's wife didn't even recognize Conner as a baby at first. 

If Scott Peterson had really been looking for his wife why would he be arrested enroute to Mexico with his hair died another color, false i.d., thousands in cash.  He was set to go, set to leave the jurisdiction.  He had survival gear with him he was headed to Mexico and planned a life there.  Scott was not "enroute to Mexico."  He was living in San Diego, which has a historic reality of being next door to Mexico.  What a great life that would be living on "survival gear" in Mexico.  Apparently Grace isn't aware that Scott was in Mexico in January, and was told by Ted Rowlands that an arrest was imminent, and yet Scott returned to Modesto.  She also must be unaware that the bodies were found on Sunday and Monday and was all over the news, but Scott made no attempt to escape to Mexico or anywhere else during that week while the police waited for the bodies to be ID'd.  

Peterson and his whole camp came into the game ya know snake pit because they had a reason to lie.  And that is something that I’ve long argued to juries, when I assess a case, I look at the potential witnesses to determine their credibility.  What if anything do they have to win or lose based on the outcome of the trial.  Many of them have nothing to gain or to lose, for instance the police, the crime lab analysts, they’re not going to get a raise or a promotion if there’s a conviction.  They’ll be on to the next case the next week.  But Scott Peterson and his family had a lot to lose based on the outcome of the trial.  Well, duh, of course Scott and his family had a lot to lose based on the outcome of the trial -- his whole life.  Grace's reasoning seems to be that no defendant, or anyone testifying on his behalf, can be believed because they have something to lose.  I didn't realize her anti-defendant bias was that radical.  Even more radical is her statement that no one from the prosecution side has anything to gain.  Of course the MPD had something to gain from a conviction and a lot to lose from an acquittal - their reputations.  They had contributed significantly to making this a national media case, and everyone would know exactly who to blame if the case wasn't strong enough to convict.  They would have had to face a very angry Modesto community on their arrival home.  Same with the DAs.  

Furthermore, a lot of people did gain from Scott's conviction -- lots of books sold that wouldn't have had a market if he had been acquitted.  And there were some promotions, according to this ModBee article:

Rick Distaso: Appointed to be a Superior Court Judge in June 2005.

Dave Harris: Promoted to chief deputy district attorney in fall 2005
Birgit Fladager: Elected as District Attorney in June 2006

Allen Brocchini:  promoted to sergeant, leaving investigative services for the operations division

Joh Buehler:   promoted to sergeant, leaving investigative services for the operations division
Craig Grogan: Reassigned to investigate cold cases

Scott referred to Laci in the past tense.  And so did everyone else.

GERAGOS: Now, one of the things that you specifically had mentioned, I think it was you, in one of the interviews that Scott had referred to Laci in the past tense; is that correct?
GROGAN: Talking about the media interviews?
GROGAN: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Okay. I'm looking at 14751. You got a call from a Marna Davis, who is a reporter from Sacramento, correct?
GERAGOS: And Marna Davis reported that she was a reporter from Sacramento who had spoken to Brent Rocha, and she thought it was odd that Brent Rocha had spoken about his sister in the past tense; is that correct?
GROGAN: That's what this tip says.
GERAGOS: And that she had interviewed Brent Rocha on the day after Christmas and he had referred to Laci in the past tense and she thought that was odd, correct?
GROGAN: That's what the tip says, yes, sir.
GERAGOS: Okay. Now, the, did you, to the best of your knowledge, did anybody follow-up with this reporter, Marna Davis, to see what, what interview she had done with Brent Rocha where he had referred to Laci in the past tense?
GROGAN: No. That's the first I've seen that.
GERAGOS: Okay. That's in the, it is in the discovery in the tips line that comes in; isn't that correct?
GROGAN: It does have a Bates stamp number, so it should be in the discovery.
GERAGOS: Yeah. 14751, correct?
GROGAN: Correct, yes.
GERAGOS: Now, you've also seen a number of the, well, you've got one report here that is, I can't quite, it says page six of six. Is that 142?
GROGAN: I don't know.
GERAGOS: Okay. And is this an interview with Amy?
GROGAN: Yeah, it appears to be.
GERAGOS: You've got some quotation marks around something Amy said; is that correct?
GROGAN: Correct.
GERAGOS: And this is a January 5th report? That you prepared?
GERAGOS: Does Amy refer to Laci in the past tense on January 5th? In your quote?
GROGAN: Talking about, yeah, it's talking about jewelry and whether Laci would have set any aside or if it would all be in the jewelry box, and she said: Laci was not that way, she would have shared all of it.
GERAGOS: Okay. Did you find that odd that Amy had spoken about Laci in the past tense?
GROGAN: At the time, no.
GERAGOS: Okay. I've got, you, there were also other interviews that were done on Larry King, on The Early Show, and Good Morning America. And in, you would periodically, I'm sorry, look at those interviews, as well, of the families, correct?
GROGAN: Actually, not very often. I didn't watch very much of the media in this. I was occasionally told about it.
GERAGOS: Okay. Were you aware that in an interview on The Early Show on December 30th that Sharon Rocha spoke about Laci in the past tense?
GERAGOS: Were you aware that on Good Morning America, on December 27th, that Sharon Rocha spoke about Laci in the past tense?
FLADAGER: Your Honor, I would object as (inaudible).
JUDGE: I can't hear you, Ms. Fladager.
FLADAGER: I object to this, your Honor. The detective's indicated he's not watched these programs.
JUDGE: The objection's sustained.
GERAGOS: Did you do any, did you look at who other family members were speaking about the, about Laci on TV?
GROGAN: No. I rarely watched any media reports related to this case.
GERAGOS: Okay. If I were to show you, are you aware of how to obtain transcripts from the shows? Either by a Lexis search?
GROGAN: I know it can be done.
GERAGOS: If I were to tell you during the break to take a look at the Good Morning America transcript from December 27th, or The Early Show from December 30th, or the, specifically the Connie Chung Show, which I guess no longer exists, and they have family members speaking in the past tense; that in and of itself was really indicative of nothing, is it?
GROGAN: I don't know if it's indicative of nothing. Maybe it's when someone has decided that there's a possibility that Laci may not be coming back.
GERAGOS: Okay. As far as you know, it appears, at least, however, that virtually everybody who was close to her at one time or another in the media referred to Laci in the past tense within the first week; isn't that correct?
GROGAN: Based on the documents that you showed me, some of those people, if those quotes are correct, said things similar to that, yes.

Probably the biggest mistake Grace made is when she said Laci was found first, then the baby.  She obviously is not keen on details -- at least not on factual details.  Perhaps that's because she focuses so much on irrelevant, exaggerated, and incorrect details that she doesn't have any attention span left for reality. 

All in all, it was much ado about nothing -- a re-investigation that merely regurgitated old myths and misinformation.  No new evidence; no new insight.  Just the same ole, same ole. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Nancy Grace re-investigates the Scott Peterson case

Tonight, Friday 11-9-12, at 8 pm EST, Nancy Grace will revisit the Scott Peterson case on HLN.
Love, lies, an extramarital affair, a secret life… and murder. The true story of Laci & Scott Peterson. After a seemingly loving husband and expectant father is convicted of murdering his pregnant wife we are still no closer to knowing what really happened that fateful night. Did Laci look into her husbands eyes when he killed her? After living a secret double life for awhile, why did Scott Peterson turn to murder? The truth revealed as Nancy re-investigates one of America’s most infamous crimes.
Here's a tip, Grace -- if after a trial you still don't know what happened, hmmm maybe the wrong person was on trial.  Think so?  Possible?  Nah, you know he's guilty so that ends that.  That leaves only the question of whether you will reveal some new misinformation, or simply regurgitate the same misinformation you have spewed for years?  

The facebook page, Scott Peterson Case - Truth Be Told, will be critiquing Grace's re-investigation.

See you all there . . .

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NOAA does measure storm surge

One of the reasons people reject our evidence that Conner didn't wash ashore is the myth that the April 12 storm surge raised the water levels to unknown heights, and therefore it can't be proven that he didn't wash ashore.

The truth is, the 6-minute water level data collected by the NOAA does capture storm surges.  I've been making this point for years, and Sandy provides another opportunity to hammer it home.  Here are just two examples from NOAA stations in New York.  The red line is the observed water level, and the blue line is the predicted water level.  The green line is the difference between the predicted and the observed.

I had previously commented on the effects of the March 2011 Japan tsunami on the water levels in the San Francisco Bay.  Click here to read the full article.

To review, this is the chart for the Richmond station for April 11-13, 2003, showing the storm surge for the storm that hit the Bay area on April 12.  You can see just when the surge began and how large it was during the high tide on April 13, the day Conner was found.

It is well and good to hypothesize what might have happened on April 13, 2003; but it is necessary to be sure the objective data validates the hypothesis.  And the objective data does not validate the hypothesis that the April 12 storm surge produced unknown water levels.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Why don't these issues matter?

Jane commented:
These are questions that have never been answered by the people who believe Scott Peterson is guilty:
How do you justify the failure of the MPD to promptly investigate:
1. the sightings of Laci walking in the neighborhood on the morning of Dec. 24?
2. the Harshman tip?
3. the Aponte tip?
4. the 3 men with the van seen by Diane Jackson?
5. the Croton watch and the woman who pawned it?
6. the use of the home computer between 8:40-8:45 on the morning of Dec. 24?
Jane, the answer I repeatedly get is, "they got the right man in the end, so it doesn't matter if they made some mistakes during the investigation."  And some praise the MPD for not letting themselves be distracted with this stuff, but keeping their focus on Scott, and it paid off.

These same people refuse to even admit that the Medina burglary occurred on the morning of the 24th.  Perhaps if they could take their blinders off long enough to admit that, they might start to take notice.

However, I have no idea what is necessary to get people to admit that the Medina burglary occurred in the morning of the 24th.  We've proven Todd could not have seen the mail inside the Medina mailbox and that he lied about where he was on the 24th. The Aponte tip links Todd directly with Laci on the morning of the 24th, and there is other evidence that Laci was alive on the 24th.

But because people can't be given a precise timeline when it all happened, and not every detail can be supplied, they refuse to take this evidence seriously.  Which is quite ironic given how many details Distaso flat-out admitted at trial the State couldn't provide.

There is still a $250,000 reward for information leading to Scott's exoneration.  There's also a $5,000 reward for the recovery of Laci's croton watch.  With so many people out there having enough information to benefit from these rewards, it's a real shame to let them go to waste.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What professional literature is there on bodies recovered from salt water?

RoseMontague commeted:
Let’s talk about how long Laci’s corpse was in the water. VOS says in his latest blog entry:“Laci Peterson could not have been in the sea for more than 14 days at the extreme outside. 16 weeks is impossible - there would remain only a few scattered bones of hers and nothing of the baby.” He links to a very good and appropriate study here called TR-09-2002. 
If you read the actual study, you can see it contradicts the claim made in the opening quote. In fact, it even shows a picture from the Fall experiment of a largely intact pig brought out of the water at 35 days. So what other literature is out there on time of death determination in bodies recovered from saltwater?
I don't agree with VOS that Laci was in the water 14 days at the extreme.  Evelyn Hernandez was missing 85 days and her remains were much more disarticulated than Laci's (112 days post mortem).  Both women had adipose tissue on the thighs and buttocks.  VOS seems to be ignoring the adipocere which takes weeks or months to form.

Estimating the post-mortem time period is by no means an exact science -- only a range can be determined, and that might not be 100% accurate as all conditions to which the body was subjected might not be known.  Galloway gave a 3-6 month estimate.  Interestingly, 3 months allows for Laci to still be alive as late as mid-January.

We've consulted a couple of sources to gain an understanding of the decomposition process, and especially for aqueous environments.

Forensic Taphonomy: the Postmortem fate of Human Remains by William Haglund and Marcella Sorg, 1996.  Click here for a list of all the chapters.  Of particular interest are chapters 29, 37 and 38.  You can copy the chapter titles into a google search and then should be able to access the entire chapters.

An Experimental Field Protocol for Investigating the Postmortem Interval Using Multidisciplinary Indicators, by Kenneth Schoenly, Ph.D.; Karen Griest, M. D.; and Stanley Rhine, Ph.D., found in Journal of Forensic Sciences, JFSCA, Vol. 36, No. 5, Sept. 1991, pp. 1395-1415.

Color Atlas of Forensic Pathology by Jay Dix.  It's exactly what it says -- a color atlas, meaning lots and lots of photos that are very gruesome.  Not something to read over lunch.

"Disappearance of Soft Tissue and the Disarticulation of Human Remains from Aqueous Environments," William Haglund, Journal of Forensic Sciences, JFSCA, Vol. 38, No. 4, July 1993, pp. 806-815.

There is some research ongoing on using Accumulative Degree Days (ADD) or Cumulative Degree Hours (CDH).  Click here for the source for the following, which provides information on using the presence of the decomposition chemicals to help determine PMI, but that wasn't done in Laci's case.

Accumulated Degree Days (ADDs), as described by Edwards et
al. (12), have typically been used for PMI determinations and are
determined by taking the sum of the average daily temperatures
(°C) for however long the corpse has been decomposing. For example,
one subject may require 4 days (assuming an average daily
temperature of 25°C) to attain an ADD score of 100, while another
subject, decomposing under cooler temperatures, may also obtain
an ADD score of 100, but which would require 20 days (assuming
a daily average temperature of 5°C) to attain the same decompositional
status and hence the same ratios of biomarkers in specific tissues.
This study indicates that ADDs are no longer sufficient to accurately
describe the narrowing PMIs. A more accurate technique,
based on ADDs, is the use of cumulative degree hours (CDHs).
This uses a twelve hour temperature cycle to describe the decompositional
process. Instead of using daily average temperatures, the
average temperature (°C) for each twelve hour interval is cumulatively
added to attain the CDH. For example, if maximum temperature
(30°C) is reached at noon every day and minimum temperature
(10°C) is reached every day at midnight, then in a 24 h period
(one day) the CDH would be 40 CDHs (30 + 10)/2 = 20 for the
first 12 h -- noon to midnight and (10 + 30)/2 = 20 from midnight
to noon for the second twelve h interval resulting in 20 + 20 = 40

I think these are the major works regarding decomposition, especially in salt water.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The defense boat demonstration - is it credible?

RoseMontague commented:

I think the boat video is pretty silly. Man, motor, and body all in the back of the boat with the guy trying to lift as he is sitting down in the very back of the boat. The prosecution was allowed to show an example of someone fitting into the compartment up from that one which would be in a more stable area.
Conversely, the man is shown in the first part of the video one compartment up standing up and the boat appears stable from that standpoint. He could have done his lifting from the middle of the boat rather than the rear. In addition the fishing expert (and they do catch some very heavy fish) indicated he believed he would not have a problem disposing of a body over the side of such a boat.
I wondered after seeing the video what was cut out of it from the point of the guy standing up to the point where he is being silly.
Can we agree that the Prosecution's demonstration should not have been admitted?  It no way can be considered a replication of the crime:  this was a living woman who was able to crawl into the boat and squirm around until she fit.

Here is the defense demonstration for those who haven't seen it.

There were other boat-dumping experiments.  One of the reporters who attended the trial and had doubts about Scott's guilt did his own experiment and reported that he could not do it without capsizing the boat.  Two brothers who attended the trial and were absolutely convinced Scott was guilty did an experiment.  They did successfully dump the body without capsizing the boat, but the body wouldn't sink.  I'm not sure whether there are videos of these demonstration available or not.  If anyone knows, please leave the information in the comments.

Detective Hendee wanted the MPD to do its own experiment during the investigation.  He seems to have had some question about the boat being stable enough to dump a body from.   The lead detectives said No.  However, Grogan did theorize that Scott would have to stabilize the boat, and they examined the boat for any signs of paint transfer to indicate he had tied the boat to one of the buoys. They did find some red paint on the boat, but it didn't match the paint used for the buoys and the defense suggested that the red paint transfer came from the red dolly where the boat was stored.

The fisherman's testimony -- he does say he believes he could dump a body the size of Laci and weighted down with weights from a boat Scott's size.  I wish he would have been given the opportunity to show that he could do it, alone.  He did say in his testimony that in handling the large fish, he usually had someone along with him, and that they "slid" out of the boat when they put them back into the water.   The other key factor is that we have no evidence that Scott had a similar experience with large fish.  Unless he did, could he match the feat of that fisherman?

So, for boat experiments, we have two that capsized while trying to dump the body, and one that could not get the body to sink.  

And I find it interesting that a lot of people ridicule Scott for taking such a small boat out onto the Bay to fish, but don't have any trouble believing he took it out on the Bay to dispose of Laci.

Let's discuss the exonerating evidence

During jury deliberations, several media focused on what the jury didn't hear, in anticipation of a hung jury or, even worse (from their perspective), an acquittal.  These media wanted to be sure America knew that Scott was really guilty, regardless of a bad jury outcome.  Of course, the jury did as expected and Scott was convicted.

In the years since then, we've attempted to provide information on exonerating evidence that the jury did not hear.  Many resolutely reject such a premise, arguing that if any such evidence existed, Mark Geragos would have presented it.  This is a pretty ridiculous argument, given that most post-conviction exonerations result from evidence not presented at trial.  We're not here to throw stones at Mark Geragos -- 42,000+ pages of discovery turned over piecemeal with no sense of organization was hardly inadvertent.

Others reject our efforts on the argument that we don't have expert witnesses to confirm that our arguments are correct, and therefore they are under no obligation to consider such evidence.  However, this argument is very weak simply because the exonerating evidence in this case doesn't require being an expert to understand -- to put it bluntly, it's not rocket science.  People of average intelligence and good common sense can read the same professional literature that we've read and come to the same conclusions.  And any expert called to testify in the future on Scott's behalf will be trained in the professional literature, or at least very well familiar with it, and may even have written some of it. We know that many think we simply scour the Internet looking for that one obscure source that says what we need it to say to make our arguments.  We ask that those who do not believe that the professional information we provide is representative of the body of literature available, to simply give us the name(s) and publication information of the professional literature that disagrees, and we'll take a good look at it and then discuss it.

Others use anecdotal information to dispute the exonerating evidence.  Anecdotal information can indeed be useful in making us aware of the things that could possibly happen, such as a very large wave propelling Conner to his final resting place 24 feet from the breakwater and well out of the reach of the debris line.  We are eager to discuss any possible explanation for Conner's location, or any of the other exonerating evidence, but we expect that we will be able to find some evidence that the possible explanation actually did occur.

I know there will be a strong response along these lines -- what about all the incriminating evidence, how do you explain all of that?  I don't attempt to explain all of that, except to say that if this body of exonerating evidence is credible, then all of the incriminating evidence simply falls by the wayside.  I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "that's a deal-breaker."  What makes a person look guilty does not win against what proves a person is innocent.  At least it shouldn't.

There also might be some people that think, Even if this exonerating evidence is credible, that doesn't prove Scott is innocent.  So let's discuss your theory of how Scott can still be guilty.

This venue isn't the best for discussions, but I think we can make it work.  You post a question about, or an objection to, or an argument against the exonerating evidence.  I'll copy your comment into a new article, and that will open the discussion, through my reply and through comments posted.  If we keep on subject, we should be able to have a good discussion.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Here we go again . . .

It's quite alarming to see the undue attention I've gotten over the years from a small group of people who are rabid in their hatred towards Scott Peterson and anyone who advocates for his innocence.  The accusations against me over time range from being fired to illegally claiming disability to defrauding Mark Geragos out of money collected for Scott's defense.  Of course, the persons making these accusations never provide evidence -- because none exists.

There is now a person posting on the Facebook page "Scott Peterson Case: Truth be Told" by the name of Howard Gere who is not only repeating all of those age-old unfounded accusations but also claims I have made death threats on SII (pwc-sii.com) and this blog against Sharon, Amber, Distaso, and Sneddon.

Of course, Howard hasn't produced any evidence of either the age-old accusations or these death threats.  That's because there isn't any evidence to produce.  Zip, nothing, nada.

By the way, who is Sneddon?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The size of the uterus during pregnancy

Dr. Brian Peterson, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsies and Conner and Laci, provided some inconvenient objective measurements -- inconvenient because they prove the State's case wrong.

Dr. Peterson measured Conner's CRL (crown-rump-length) to be 32 cm, and his CHL (crown-heel-length) to be 48 cm.  CRL is nearly the shortest length the baby can be in the uterus when it is in fetal position.

Dr. Peterson measured Laci's uterus to be 23 cm, from the top of the fundus to the bottom of the cervix where it attaches to the vagina.  Normally, a baby doesn't occupy any part of the cervix until it descends in preparation for birth.

For my expert witness that a 32 cm CRL could not be housed in a 23 cm top-to-bottom uterus, I call Dr. J. Clifton Edgar, author of The Practice of Obstetrics, published in 1916 as a textbook for midwives.  Dr. Edgar will provide us with a chart which gives the size of the fetus and uterus at the different stages of pregnancy.  Edgar derived his statistics and data from 2200 confinement cases he observed:  1000 from the New York Maternity hospital and 1200 from the Mothers' and Babies' Hospital.  That is not the sum of his experience, however, as he had personally observed over 20,000 confinements by the time the 5th edition of The Practice of Obstetrics was published in 1916.

Dr. Edgar's expert testimony includes the CRL and CHL of fetuses compared to the 3-dimensional measurements for the uteri from which they came.  Many expert sources give us the age of fetuses based on CRL, CHL, or the measurements of one or more bones, but Dr. Edgar is unique in that he gives us the 3-dimensional measurements of the uteri that housed those fetuses.  Some who steadfastly resist any evidence that Scott Peterson is factually innocent argue that since the uterus is 3-dimensional, it can be shorter than the CRL of the  baby.  However, when we look at the 3-dimensional measurements of the uterus as provided by Dr. Edgar, we see that without fail the uterus' longest measurement is always longer than the CRL of the fetus.  That's because the uterus is holding more than just the fetus.  The placenta is often 1/3 the size of the baby, and then of course there is the amniotic fluid that takes up some of that 3-dimensional space.

Dr. Edgar informs us that Dr. Peterson's 48 cm CHL matches the maximum CHL for 9 months, which is what Peterson estimated Conner's age to be.

Dr. Edgar informs us that a 32 cm CRL fits in with the 10th month range.

Pointing specifically at the uterus size for the 9th month, Dr. Edgar notes that we see, in centimeters, 32.50 x 23.25 x 21.25.  32.50 cm - 23 cm for Laci's uterus = 9.5 cm difference, or 3.7 inches.

Dr. Edgar also informs us that the uterus size for 8 months, or 32 weeks, which was Conner's gestational age on December 23, is 28.75 x 21.25 x 17.5.   28.75 cm - 23 cm for Laci's uterus = 5.75 cm difference, or 2.3 inches.

In Dr. Edgar's expert opinion, a 32 cm CRL (48 cm CHL) fetus cannot be housed in a 23 cm top-to-bottom uterus.

Anyone may obtain Dr. Edgar's book from Google Books, entirely free.

If anyone wants to check Dr. Edgar's fetal sizes against "modern" measurements, you can use this chart. You will see that Dr. Edgar's fetal measurements for each age are right in line.


One final note.  Laci had her last prenatal appointment on the afternoon of December 23.  No abnormality was observed in either her fundal height or Conner's development.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Does strangulation leave evidence?

It's indisputable that not a speck of trace evidence was discovered in the Peterson residence at 523 N.  Covena.  The detectives were faced with that reality as test after test on items seized and sent to the Ripon lab came back negative.  Nor was there any evidence of a struggle on Scott's body.  Detectives then reasoned that he drugged Laci to incapacitate her, then strangled her or choked her.  They had to drop the drugged element because their efforts to find evidence that Scott had possession of any drug that would incapacitate Laci were likewise futile.

So this is what Distaso ended up arguing:

It's very simple. The defendant strangled or smothered Laci Peterson the night of February, January, December 23rd, or in the morning while she was getting dressed on the 24th. I can't tell you when he did it. I can't tell you if he did it at night. I can't tell you if he did it in the morning. I'm not going to try to convince you of something that I can't prove. I don't have to prove that to you. I only have to prove that he did it.
What did the doctor tell us about strangling and smothering? It's not going leave a bunch of evidence. Remember this whole, went through all of this evidence. Where's the bloody crime scene? Remember what the doctor said? As crude as this sounds, and I hate to say it: If you don't put another hole in somebody, not going to get a big, bloody crime scene. It's just not going to happen.

Of course,  "a bunch of evidence" and "a big, bloody crime scene" grossly distorts reality -- not a speck of trace evidence was found in that home.

We also heard from Dr. Cyril Wecht that one of the reasons he didn't testify is because he would have had to admit that strangulation can be committed without leaving any evidence.

That's not what a strangulation study conducted by the San Diego District Attorney's office concluded.
The initial study consisted of 100 strangulation cases, which were selected at random from police reports submitted over a five-year period. The first 100 victims were all women who reported being choked by their partners with bare hands, arms, or objects such as electrical cords, belts, rope, bras, or bathing suits. In one case, a victim reported that her boyfriend put a plastic bag over her head and tried to suffocate her.
The purpose of the study was to improve the investigation and prosecution of strangulation cases in the county.
The general clinical sequence of a victim who is being strangled is one of severe pain, followed by unconsciousness, followed by brain death. The victim will lose consciousness by any one or all of the following: blocking of the carotid arteries (depriving the brain of oxygen), blocking of the jugular veins (preventing deoxygenated blood from exiting the brain), and closing off the airway, causing the victim to be unable to breathe.
Only eleven pounds of pressure placed on both carotid arteries for ten seconds is necessary to cause unconsciousness.4 However, if pressure is released immediately, consciousness will be regained within ten seconds.
To completely close off the trachea, three times as much pressure (33 lbs.) is required. Brain death will occur in 4 to 5 minutes, if strangulation persists.
One of the study's observations is that the offender is likely to have more evidence on his body than the victim will have on hers.
Because victims fear for their lives, they may protect themselves by trying to get perpetrators to release their holds by either pushing them back, biting them, scratching their faces, or pulling their hair.
Depending on the method of strangulation being used, the suspect may be the only individual with visible injuries.
For example, if the suspect is strangling the victim from behind and using a chokehold, the victim may protect herself by biting the suspect in the arm.
If the suspect is manually strangling the victim from the front (face to face), she may either push him away, scratch him, or pull his hair.
When officers arrive at the scene, they may find the suspect with visible injuries . . .
Of course, Scott had no such injuries on his body.

Strangulation has a good deal of potential to unwittingly leave forensic evidence at the crime scene.
Objective signs noted in strangulation victims include involuntary urination and defecation.  Miscarriages have been anecdotally reported occurring hours to days later.
And that involuntary urination and defecation is from the women that survive an attempted strangulation -- the possibility from pregnant women that die from the strangulation most assuredly would increase.

Of course, the MPD looked for evidence of involuntary urination and defecation because they sorely wanted to prove Laci was murdered in the home -- but they didn't find any.

So they created the myth that strangulation wouldn't leave any such evidence.  And Distaso distorted reality with his "bunch of evidence" and "a big, bloody crime scene" statement in his Closing Argument.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Experts with no expertise

Truth Be Told facebook page provides a good summary of the points made in Scott's brief about two so-called experts that testified at trial.  If you aren't already following this facebook page, I highly recommend it.


The DAs are not dummies -- they knew, as we now know, that there was a lot of evidence that showed that Laci went into the Bay after December 24, 2002 -- not only did that open the way for someone else to have put her there, it made it virtually impossible for Scott to have done so.  The only way they could cover up, or mitigate this exonerating evidence, was to create the illusion, through phony experts, of a direct link between Scott and the recovery sites.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This isn't "All About Amber"


Hopefully, the 2nd trial judge will be courageous enough to rule that the Amber testimony has nothing of value to explain Laci's disappearance and only served to prejudice the jury against Scott -- so Amber can sit on home on the couch and watch it all on TV.

However, I do hope Ron Frey is right when he said that he hopes that at the 2nd trial, we'll finally learn what happened to Laci.  That will only ensure to win Scott's full acquittal.  Hopefully, we don't find out that somehow his daughter had something to do with it, or some knowledge of what went down.  But it's quite a frequent occurrence that a witness at the trial that convicted an innocent person was actually involved in some manner.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Death penalty tossed in killing of rocker's mom

This is very good news for Scott -- as this is a critical issue in his appeal, as noted in the article.

The California Supreme Court on Monday tossed out the death sentence of a man convicted of murdering rock guitarist Dave Navarro's mother and her friend nearly 30 years ago — a ruling that could affect the cases of Scott Peterson and other death row inmates.
The unanimous court said the trial judge presiding over the trial of John Riccardi improperly dismissed a prospective juror because of her conflicting written responses in a questionnaire asking her views of the death penalty.
The court said the judge was required to delve deeper into the juror's death penalty views and determine if she could impose the death sentence is she believed prosecutors proved their case.
Peterson and a few other California death row inmates are appealing on similar grounds.
Peterson was convicted of killing his wife Laci, who was 8 months pregnant with their son, and dumping her body in San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve 2002. Investigators believe Peterson either strangled or suffocated his wife.
Peterson has always maintained his innocence and claims in his appeal filed earlier this month that the trial judge presiding over his 2004 trial wrongly dismissed 13 jurors who said they opposed the death penalty but could follow the law and impose it if warranted.
In 1984, a narrowly divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled that reversal of the death penalty is automatic when potential jurors are dismissed because of their written answers to questions about their views on capital punishment.
Peterson's attorney Cliff Gardner argued in his appeal that the mistake occurred in the Peterson trial and may be the basis of appeals of a few other death row inmates.
The last California execution occurred in 2006. Lawsuits in federal and state courts have forced a temporary halt to executions.
In its ruling Monday, the state high court upheld Riccardi's murder conviction. Once a noted body builder, he was convicted of killing former girlfriend Connie Navarro in a jealous rage. Her friend Sue Jory also was killed. Navarro's son played guitar for the band "Jane's Addiction."
It's now up the California attorney general to determine if another penalty phase will be held or if Riccardi is taken off death row and sentenced to life in prison.
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said that ruling "compels the reversal of the penalty phase without any inquiry as to whether the error actually" led to an unfair trial. The chief justice wrote separately to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the automatic reversal in such cases.
The juror in question, identified only by the initials "N.K." in the ruling, wrote on the questionnaire that she supported California's reinstatement of the death penalty and stated that it is not used enough.
But later in the questionnaire, the juror gave answers that suggest she opposes capital punishment.
"I'm afraid I could not feel right in imposing the death penalty on someone even though I feel it is nessasary (sic) under some circumstances," N.K. wrote.
Cantil-Sakauye wrote that the trial court judge should have questioned her more instead of dismissing her as he did.
The chief justice said the juror's conflicting answers meant either she "feared that actually being on a death jury would be difficult or uncomfortable, or she was advising the court that she could not impose a decision of death, even if the evidence warranted its application. From the questionnaire alone, we cannot possibly determine which scenario prompted her answers."
Riccardi was arrested in Houston eight years after the killings when "America's Most Wanted" aired a segment on the 1983 crime. A tipster recognized him and alerted authorities.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/07/16/death-penalty-tossed-in-killing-rocker-mom/#ixzz20rPDxMqG

Sunday, July 8, 2012

An Index worth reviewing

Here is an index of articles on SII or this blog that cover many, many aspects of this case.  It's well worth reviewing.


Once convicted, evidence of actual innocence doesn't automatically set you free!

Most people think that if Scott had proof of his actual innocence, he would be free by now.  That's not the way the system works for convicted persons.  And here's another story from Modesto that shows the hoops innocent convicted persons have to jump through to regain their freedom.

Saturday, Jul. 07, 2012
Modesto landlord convicted in fatal fire may now challenge ruling
By Maura Dolan 
Los Angeles Times Saturday, Jul. 07, 2012 Saturday, Jul. 07, 2012 
By Maura Dolan 

FRESNO -- A federal judge has ruled that a Modesto man convicted of setting a fire that killed his tenant and her two children has shown "actual innocence" and may now challenge his conviction on other grounds.
Chief U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii upheld the findings of a magistrate who examined the evidence against George Souliotes, 72, and concluded that no reasonable juror would have convicted him given the state of the evidence today.
But the court's finding will not necessarily free Souliotes, convicted of setting a 1997 fire in a rental home he owned. 

Modesto Bee - George Apostos Souliotes is charged in the arson deaths of Daniel Jones Jr., Amanda Jones and their mother Michelle Jones. Souliotes, a disgruntled landlord set their home ablaze. Retrial sought for '97 Modesto murder 

His lawyers missed a legal filing deadline, and under the law, Souliotes had to prove his innocence before he could appeal his conviction on other grounds, including inadequate legal representation at trial.

In determining actual innocence, the judge considered both old and new evidence, regardless of its admissibility at trial. His decision was based on whether he believed it was "more likely than not" that a reasonable juror with that information would have found the inmate guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Ishii said in his ruling that the appeal should now proceed quickly. Citing Souliotes' age, Ishii said the innocence determination "only heightens" the urgency required.

Fire scientists have discredited evidence that was used to convict Souliotes, and the state has conceded that it no longer can prove that the deadly 1997 blaze was deliberately set. Souliotes has been behind bars for 15 years.

Aleka Pantazis, 64, Souliotes' sister, said attorneys will meet early next week to schedule a hearing.

"My heart is so happy, and I am so touched," said the Glendale resident, who helped persuade the Northern California Innocence Project to represent Souliotes. "I can finally hope." 

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has fought to uphold the conviction that sent the Greek immigrant to prison for life. Lawyers for her office tried to overturn the innocence finding on the grounds that Souliotes has not proved exoneration.

But Ishii said the law does not require exonerating evidence in such cases.

'Shoes tell the tale'

Michelle Jones, 31, and her children, Daniel Jones Jr., 8, and Amanda, 3, perished in the fire.
Modesto fire investigators determined that the blaze was deliberately set, based on a variety of factors that are now known to occur in accidental fires. Prosecutors also presented evidence that a petroleum substance found on Souliotes' shoes matched a compound that ignited the fire and called it "the most conclusive scientific evidence of his guilt." 

"The shoes tell the tale," a prosecutor told the jury in closing arguments.

But a fire scientist later determined that the substance on the shoes was chemically different from the fire debris, a finding that prosecutors did not dispute.

Prosecutors also presented an eyewitness at trial who testified that she saw Souliotes approach the house in the darkness just before flames erupted. But defense lawyers re-enacted the scene and presented the magistrate with a video that showed she could not have seen what she claimed.

That and other evidence led the magistrate who conducted the innocence hearing to conclude that the witness was not credible. 

Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/2012/07/07/2274083....l#storylink=cpy

Friday, July 6, 2012

Next Step: Respondent's Brief is due May 21, 2015

07/06/2012Respondent's brief letter sent; due:    on or before May 21, 2015. (see California Rules of Court, rule 8.630(c)(1)(B), (C))

It appears that 2015 must be a typo.  But let's look at Rule 8.630(c)(1)(B)(C).  The combined record includes 50,347 pages of clerk's transcripts, 21,830 pages or court reporter's transcripts, and another 211 pages or so of unsealed pages.  That brings us to a grand total of 72,177 pages, 62,177 pages over the 10,000 page base.  62x15=930 days added to the 120 day limit in (B) = 1050 days, which is just short of 3 years, and I may have missed some pages.  Hence, the 2015 is correct.  

(c) Time to file 

(1)Except as provided in (2), the times to file briefs in an appeal from a judgment of death are as follows: 

(A)The appellant's opening brief must be served and filed within 210 days after the record is certified as complete or the superior court clerk delivers the completed record to the defendant's appellate counsel, whichever is later. The Supreme Court clerk must promptly notify the defendant's appellate counsel and the Attorney General of the due date for the appellant's opening brief. 

(B)The respondent's brief must be served and filed within 120 days after the appellant's opening brief is filed. The Supreme Court clerk must promptly notify the defendant's appellate counsel and the Attorney General of the due date for the respondent's brief. 

(C)If the clerk's and reporter's transcripts combined exceed 10,000 pages, the time limits stated in (A) and (B) are extended by 15 days for each 1,000 pages of combined transcript over 10,000 pages. 

(D)The appellant must serve and file a reply brief, if any, within 60 days after the respondent files its brief. 

Scott's Brief

The brief has been made available on the Peterson website.  Go to Scott's Brief.

Reminder, if you want to discuss the brief, you can go to SII's chat room at http://pwc-sii.com/forum/index.php.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Great News!!!!!!!

07/05/2012Appellant's opening brief filedAppellant: Peterson, Scott Lee
Attorney: Cliff Gardner     (98, 891 words; 427 pp.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sealed records received by the Court

07/02/2012Received additional record    material under seal, clerk's transcript 2 volumes (211 pp.)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Want to discuss the Direct Appeal process?

This blog allows comments, and sometimes those comments lead to some interesting conversations.  However, as new articles are posted, it's difficult to go back and add to a conversation, much less have anyone else see what you added.

I've had a discussion forum several times before - - which have been closed down because there wasn't anything new to discuss -- only so many times you can beat a dead dog.

Now that the Direct Appeal process is finally out of the starting gate, I've decided to open the SII forum again.  It's old members are still there, so if you try to register and your favorite username is already taken -- yep, it's probably you.  If you can't remember your password, just ask for an email reminder.

I don't expect much participation until the brief is filed and available to the public.  But some of you may have fun trying to predict what will be in the brief.  Remember, though, this is the Direct Appeal, and only certain things go into a direct appeal.  And, I'll keep this forum open as long as there are new things to discuss - - once we start beating dead dogs, I'll shut it down and wait until something comes up again.

Here's the link: http://pwc-sii.com/forum/index.php

I will still be posting articles to this blog, and comments will still be welcome.  The forum is just for those who want a continuous, more intense discussion.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The brief should be filed any day now . . .

Everything now seems to be ready for the brief to be filed.

06/21/2012Record on appeal filed    clerk's transcript 184 volumes (50, 347 pp.) and reporter's transcript 143 volumes (21, 830 pp.), including ASCII discs and material under seal. clerk's transcript includes 36, 361 pp. of juror questionnaires.
06/21/2012Letter sent to:    counsel advising record on appeal certified for accuracy was filed on June 21, 2012.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Scott's appeal brief may be filed later this month . . .

Cliff Gardner, Scott's direct appeals attorney, says in this June 10 article that he expects to file Scott's appeal later this month.  The most recent request for extension of time was because the brief was due by June 1.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

We're moving along . . .

Along with the extension of time, the docket also had this notice:

06/12/2012Note:    corrected portion of record on appeal received from superior court.

Maybe we'll actually see the first brief filed by the new deadline of August 1.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Extension of time granted

Case: S132449, Supreme Court of California

Date (YYYY-MM-DD):                      2012-06-12
Event Description:                           Extension of time granted
On application of appellant and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file appellant's opening brief is extended to and including August 1, 2012. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Another delay . . .

05/11/2012Note:    Portions of the record returned to superior court for corrections.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Great news for Scott!

This is great news, as it unseals these transcripts so the appellate attorneys can know what went on at these hearings -- and it also makes them public record.  One would think the transcripts of all hearings would be automatically available to the appellate attorneys, but such is not the case.  Lots of hoops for them to jump through, which unnecessarily extends the time and increases the costs in filing appeals.

Record ordered unsealed
Appellant's "Application for Order Unsealing Portions of the Record on Appeal," filed on April 3, 2012, is granted. The Clerk is directed to unseal the following portions of the sealed record on appeal in People v. Scott Peterson, S132449, and make them part of the public record: RT 10854-10952 (June 23, 2004); RT 13730 (July 26, 2004); RT 13835-13836 (July 27, 2004); RT 19371 and 19401-19418 (October 19, 2004); RT 19878 (October 25, 2004); RT 20713 (November 9, 2004); RT 20878-20932 and 20960 (November 30, 2004); RT 21021-21023 (December 1, 2004). The Clerk is further directed to send copies of these records to counsel for respondent.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thanks for the well wishes

Some of you have kindly posted comments to other articles wishing me well.  I very much appreciate that.  I apologize for the Investigation series coming to a halt, but I've suffered from severe insomnia since about mid December, and I wasn't able to concentrate on the series enough to give it the attention it deserves.  The insomnia broke about 2 1/2 weeks ago, and I hope to be up to full steam within a few more weeks.

Another Extension of Time granted

Case: S132449, Supreme Court of California

Date (YYYY-MM-DD):                      2012-04-05
Event Description:                           Extension of time granted
On application of appellant and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file appellant's opening brief is extended to and including June 1, 2012.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Updates from Scott's CASC Appeal

03/06/2012 Record arrived from Superior Court 

03/07/2012 Filed: Letter, dated March 7, 2012, from Glenn R. Pruden, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, advising that Donna M. Provezano, Deputy Attorney General is assigned as counsel of record for respondent.

So, it looks like things are finally moving along.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

Such a tragedy!

I don't often use this blog to comment on other cases, unless they have a direct bearing on Scott's case, but this news is so heartbreaking.  Just really heartbreaking.

Police: Missing mom's husband intentionally set fire to home, killing himself and two sons

Published February 06, 2012
| Associated Press
Josh Powell's note was simple and short, a farewell to the world after two years of being scrutinized in the media, hammered by police and questioned by judges, prosecutors and social workers, living his life under a microscope since the day his wife vanished.
Just minutes before authorities say he set fire to his home, killing himself and his two young sons days after he was denied custody and ordered to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation, Powell sent an email to his attorney.
"I'm sorry, goodbye," he wrote.
The Sunday blaze at Powell's home brought yet another twist in the very public scandal that began when Susan Powell vanished in 2009. The case had since spiraled into a salacious saga of finger-pointing and accusations of sex and lies -- and now the unthinkable loss of two young lives caught in the crossfire.
A social worker brought the two boys to Josh Powell's home Sunday for what was to be a supervised visit, and Powell let his sons inside -- but then blocked the social worker from entering, Graham Fire and Rescue Chief Gary Franz told The Associated Press.
The social worker called her supervisors to report that she could smell gas. Moments later, the home burst into flames, igniting an inferno that neighbors said rattled their houses.
Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Ed Troyer said it appeared some sort of accelerant was used to make the house burn faster.
He said emails Powell sent just prior to the explosion that authorities were made aware of seemed to confirm that Powell planned the deadly blast. Troyer didn't elaborate on the content of the emails.
Jeffrey Bassett, who represented Powell in the custody case, said he received an ominous email from his client just minutes before the blast.
"I'm sorry, goodbye," it read.
Susan Powell, a pretty 28-year-old mother of two, was reported missing Dec. 7, 2009, after she failed to show up for her stockbroker job in Utah.
Authorities in the couple's hometown of West Valley City, about 10 miles outside Salt Lake City, quickly turned their attention to Josh Powell. He's been the only "person of interest" in the case, but had repeatedly denied any involvement in her disappearance.
"I would never even hurt her," a tearful, red-eyed Josh Powell told CBS' Early Show in August. "People who know me know that I could never hurt Susan."
About a month later, police spent 12 days in the remote central Utah desert looking for clues, and Josh Powell and his father, Steven, quickly disappeared from the limelight. The search area around Topaz Mountain, a popular spot for rock and gem hunters, was about 30 miles south of where Josh told police he went camping with his two children in the hours before his wife's disappearance -- his steadfast alibi.
On Sunday, the lawyer for Susan Powell's parents, Chuck and Judy Cox, told the AP the children had started talking to their grandparents about things they remembered from the night their mother vanished.
"They were beginning to verbalize more," said attorney Steve Downing, whose clients had custody of the children. "The oldest boy talked about that they went camping and that Mommy was in the trunk. Mom and Dad got out of the car and Mom disappeared."
Police turned up no clues in their desert search, but a day before ending it, Steven Powell, 61, was arrested at his Washington state home and accused of secretly videotaping his daughter-in-law, other women, and young girls taking baths and sitting on the toilet in neighborhood homes.
The elder Powell is now jailed and facing child porn and voyeurism charges. He claimed in previous television interviews that he and Susan Powell were falling in love and even implied a sexual relationship had occurred.
"Susan was very sexual with me," Steven Powell said in one interview at the time. "We interacted in a lot of sexual ways because Susan enjoys doing that."
Susan's father denied the allegations and said Steven Powell had been initiating unwanted sexual advances, and that his daughter had no interest in her father-in-law.
The children, 5-year-old Braden and 7-year-old Charles, were ordered by a judge to then go live with Susan's parents as the parallel cases were investigated.
The custody matter got so heated that at one point a court commissioner in Washington state ordered Chuck Cox and Josh Powell to keep 500 feet apart.
Custody hearings continued, with the latest on Wednesday, during which Josh Powell pleaded with a judge to return his children to him.
"For over four months already, my interactions with my sons and many other aspects of my character have been investigated and documented by" social services, he wrote in an affidavit to the court. "I have proven myself as a fit and loving father who provides a stable home even in the face of great adversity. ... It is time for my sons to come home."
But the judge ruled against him, ordering the children to remain with Susan Powell's parents, at least until Josh Powell underwent a psycho-sexual evaluation in light of the explicit material found on computers inside Steven Powell's home that led to his arrest.
Sherry Hill, a spokeswoman for the Washington state Department of Social and Health Services, said the social worker who was with the children Sunday was not a Child Protective Services employee but a contract worker with a private agency that supervises visits for the state.
"The visit supervisor for this particular agency had taken the children to the home. When she does that, she sits through the visit and might take notes on her observations," Hill said. "She pulled up in the car, and the kids ran out ahead of her. He closed the door and locked it. She wasn't able to get in, and that's when she smelled gas."
Downing called it "the most horrifying thing you can imagine happening ...The Coxes are absolutely devastated. They were always very fearful of him doing something like this, and he did it."
Bassett said he represented Powell free of charge because "every parent deserves the right to an attorney." Powell called or emailed him at least once a day, and often more than that, and in their conversations "he never once admitted doing anything regarding Susan. In fact, he denied it."
Sgt. Mike Powell of the West Valley City Police Department in Utah said it was too soon to say how Josh Powell's death may impact their probe.
"Quite frankly, this has obviously quickly unfolded up in Washington and we're obviously just working through the details ourselves here," said Powell, who is not related to the family.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/02/05/blast-kills-husband-missing-utah-woman-2-boys-734852263/?test=latestnews%3Ftest%3Dlatestnews#ixzz1lbyWM9H1