Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Brocchini hastened to get the Berkeley Marina identified as a crime scene

When we put things in time lines, we can get a better perspective of what happened.

So let's look very closely at other events on December 26th-28th, 2002.

December 26
-----, Ron Grantski told Greta Van Susteren: "I -- I talked to Scott two days after Laci was missing, and I -- I asked him then. I said, you know, if you -- if you had an affair, was seeing somebody, I think this is time to say something because I know the police are going to bug you about your fishing story, and he said, no, no problem. And so I let it drop."  Ron testified that it was the afternoon of the 26th when he quizzed Scott. Ron also testified that it was a day or two after the 24th when he first learned Scott had a boat, because someone asked if he knew about the boat.  Now isn't that curious?  Why didn't Ron tell the police that it was no big deal that Scott went fishing that afternoon because he himself went fishing that same afternoon.  Moreover, as we shall see, Brocchini did believe Scott went to the Berkeley Marina, albeit not to fish, but to dump Laci's body.  Of course, Brocchini knew he would need a motive -- and an affair would be perfect.  Didn't he and Buehler tell Amber Frey when they first met her that they were praying for someone like her to come along?  

4:12 p.m., Susan Medina places a call to her son in Los Angeles.  Susan and Rudy were returning to Modesto from Los Angeles and as they drove past the MPD on G street, they noticed the TV cameras; Susan called her son to find out why Modesto was again on the news.  When they reached Edgebrook and Covena, the entrance onto Covena was blocked by a police barricade, and they had to show identification to prove they lived on the street.  As they drove into their driveway, they noticed the hand truck (dolly) on the front lawn, and when Rudy went into the backyard, he noticed the french doors were wide open, having been kicked open.  Susan went out to the street and got the attention of police officers to report they had been burglarized.

4:45-4:50 p.m., Office Wend, on the scene for the Peterson search warrant execution, responded to the Medinas to investigate the burglary.  Wend said the dolly was approximately 25 feet from the street, and  described the burglary as "a pretty typical door-kick, grab what you can and take off with it. I mean, it wasn't, there was only one room that was really ransacked, and that was the master bedroom. And it wasn't ransacked a lot. Some things were taken off the top shelf in the bedroom, in the bathroom. In the master bedroom a drawer had been opened and a jewelry box had been laid, laid out."  The safe was approximately three feet tall by two and a half feet wide by two and a half feet deep. The point of entry was through a gate on the south side of the Medina property. The clue that it was a forced entry was the boot print by the lock, and the door standing open. The boot print was like moist dirt transferred to the door, but Wend couldn't tell from its composition how long it had been on the door.  Mr. Medina had placed a chair up against the doorknob, as an extra precaution, and the burglars moved the chair out of their way.  A lot of valuables in the house were not touched, such as TVs, VCRs, a vase containing $800 cash and jewelry out on a counter.  The keys to the Mercedes parked in the drive were hanging in the kitchen, but the car was undisturbed.  Wend left the forms for the Medinas to fill out, documenting everything that had been taken, and then had nothing more to do with the investigation of this burglary. 

Wend's description "a pretty typical door-kick, grab what you can and take off with it" doesn't pass the giggle test - one doesn't just grab a 3'x2.5'x2.5' safe and take off with it.  But the fact that valuables out in the open, much easier to grab and take off with, were not taken, suggests to me a robbery interrupted.

So, as the search warrant on the Peterson home was being executed, the MPD knew about the burglary right across the street.  It's unfathomable that both Brocchini and Grogan, who were at the Peterson home at the time Wend responded to the Medina burglary right across the street, could not have known about the burglary.  But they didn't seem to be a bit interested in it.  Not a bit.  Which isn't strange at all when we remember that Brocchini made up his mind what happened to Laci on the night of the 24th; and Grogan concurred on Christmas Day.  So it was just a matter of proving it, and not letting irrelevant stuff like a burglary across the street distract them from their noble cause.

~7:30 p.m..  We don't know exactly what time Cindee Valentin began the dog trailing effort with Merlin, but she did before Skultety arrived at 7:30 to begin the search warrant, which for that night only included a search for forensic evidence and signs of a struggle.  A few stains were probably blood and collected, but certainly nothing to compel any reasonable person to believe Laci had been murdered in that house.  Unless you already were certain she had been.  

~9:30 p.m. The dog trailing that Brocchini manipulated to prove Scott transported Laci's dead body from the house to the warehouse and then headed out of town had already terminated by 9:30 p.m., when Chris Boyer gave the scent items to Brocchini.  Brocchini kept these in his possession to be used for later dog trailing.  

To get the most traction out of the dog trailing on the 26th, Brocchini ensured that the media received only his interpretation, and thus we read in the ModBee:
When Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department deputies brought in a specially trained bloodhound on Thursday [Dec 26] to help in the search, it didn't head into the park.  Instead, it headed to Yosemite Boulevard.  Later, the dog led its handler from the Peterson house all the way to Maze Blvd.  
Which, of course, was a blatant lie.  Merlin led Valentin to the Gallo Winery.

December 27
------.  Rick Armanderiz was sent to the Berkeley Marina to meet with Berkeley police officers to confirm or refute Scott's alibi.  Remember, Scott said he went to the Berkeley Marina and produced a parking receipt.  Mark Geragos was not allowed to ask Armanderiz about his interviews at the Marina, or the media presence there, because Distaso objected on the grounds it was beyond the scope of his direct.  Delucchi ruled in Distaso's favor. However, we found out from a couple of the Marina people he did interview that there indeed was a media presence at the Berkeley Marina, and they were there because of the Laci Peterson investigation.  They hemmed and hawed their way out of saying it was the 27th, but that only confirmed that it was.  This is pretty important information to know -- that on the 27th, the MPD's very first field trip to the Berkeley Marina, there was already a media presence at the Berkeley Marina.  Folks, it was no secret that Scott Peterson went to the Berkeley Marina on December 24th.  

4:10 p.m., Diane Jackson informed Sgt. Ed Steele that she "witnessed the 459 [the California burlgary statute] on Covena on 12-24-02 at 1140 hours. She saw the van and the safe being removed from the house."  Some reports are that Jackson, who lived around the corner from the Petersons, saw the police there that morning for the conclusion of the search warrant, and walked over and told some of the officers about what she saw.  She obviously told the same thing to Sgt. Steele, perhaps at the Volunteer Center as he was the police liaison there.  Surely this should have caught someone's attention and caused someone to re-consider whether they were following the wrong lead in the investigation.  If it did raise any concerns or curiosity, that would soon be quashed.  

6:30 p.m. , Detective Stough was told about Jackson seeing the Medina burglary and he called her for an interview.  For me, I think I'd have gone to her house and had her give me much more information, like the exact location of the van she saw, exactly where she saw the 3 men.  Instead, Stough was content to get a description of the 3 men:  "three short of stature, dark skinned but not African American guys. . . . When asked to further describe the individuals she stated that that's all she could remember as she wasn't thinking about that and hadn't thought about that until she called the police."  The MPD wasn't in much of a hurry to solve this burglary -- it didn't release a description of the 3 men and the van or inform the public about the $1000 reward until the 31st. How did the reporters keep from laughing when Chief Roy Wasden said, on the 31st, "We really feel a compelling need to get the burglary solved to see if that moves us any closer to finding Laci."  Compelling need?  Really!

What do you do when the media, the public, and even some police officers get distracted in a murder investigaton?  You redirect them.  

December 28  
So it is that Brocchini asked Chris Boyer to take trailing dogs to the Berkeley Marina, and he chose Anderson and her dog Trimble and Seitz and his dog TJ.  Brocchini wanted to prove that Laci Peterson was brought to the Berkeley Marina by Scott Peterson.  Brocchini sent the scent items with two detectives to give to Boyer -- scent items he'd had in his possession since the night of the 26th.   

Boyer gave the glasses/case to Anderson, and the pink slipper to Seitz. Anderson's Trimble allegedly followed Laci's scent to the end of the pier and stood gazing out on the water.  Seitz' TJ didn't have any such luck -- he could not pick up Laci's scent at all.

Why the difference?  Perhaps because Seitz wasn't already convinced that Scott was guilty, as Anderson was, and thus wasn't leading TJ to smell something that wasn't there.  Perhaps because the glasses/case Anderson used was contaminated with Scott's scent.  Probably a combination of the two.

What evidence is there of such contamination?  The scent items were compromised from the very beginning. Valentin was the person who collected the scent items at 523 Covena Avenue in the late afternoon on December 26. She collected the items in this order:  pink slipper, brown slipper, sunglass case with sunglasses inside, and a hairbrush.  She did not recall changing gloves between the collection of the items.  For this reason, the scent items were compromised from the very beginning. The only exceptions were the pink slipper which was collected first, and the sunglasses inside the case which had not been opened.  However, he case itself had been inside Laci’s purse; and a number of people had put their hands inside the purse before the scent items were collected:  Boyer, Brocchini, Spurlock and Scott himself when he retrieved Laci’s keys.

All of the scent items were in Brocchini's possession from the night of the 26th to when he gave them to Detectives Stough and Schmierer to take to Boyer at the Berkeley Marina for the dog trailing that was to be done that day.  He sent the pink slipper and the sunglasses/case and the brown slipper.  The brown slipper is important, because it was Scott's brown slipper, with Scott's scent.  Ron Seitz used the pink slipper and found no evidence of Laci’s scent at the Marina.  Anderson used the glasses, and allegedly trailed Laci to the end of the pier and out onto the water.  Moreover, Anderson didn't take much precaution to prevent Trimble from picking up Scott's scent from the glasses case; she just opened the case and had Trimble smell the glasses.  

Noble cause: doing what needs to be done to get the guilty person.  So what if you have to nudge the evidence a little, to make it say what you want it to say. 

At the trial, the State addressed the issue of contamination by saying that if it had been Scott's scent that Trimble picked up, then Trimble would have followed Scott out of the Berkeley Marina back to Modesto, because trailing dogs are trained to pick up the freshest scent.  I'll remind you of this explanation when we get to the trailing that was done on January 4.  But there are other things to discuss in the meantime.

The net result is that by the end of the day on the 28th, Brocchini had his evidence that Scott murdered Laci, transported her to the Berkeley Marina, and brought her out into the Bay in his boat.  Now all that needed to be done was to get the rest of the investigative team and the media on the same page. The burglars were home free. 


LA Curry said...

Oh boy....I might have to stop reading for awhile again....my temper is really getting flared with the newest posts. Thanks, Marlene, for all the info.

Burkey said...

That's the appropriate response, to being lied to.