Monday, January 2, 2012

December 27th search warrant results

On December 25th, while making plans for search warrants to be served on both the Covena residence and the TradeCorp warehouse, Detective Grogan sent a detective to the warehouse to secure it.  It remained secured from that time until its search warrant was served on the afternoon of the 27th.  That meant that Scott Peterson had absolutely no access to the warehouse from that time on.  This was a smart move, since Scott Peterson was their only suspect, to ensure that he didn't destroy evidence.  Brocchini had visually inspected the house, the yard, both vehicles, and the boat, and he had been in the warehouse office the night of the 24th, so there was little chance that anything was moved or disrupted or removed that would have escaped Brocchini's notice.  And Brocchini was on hand for both search warrant executions to be sure everything that he considered suspicious was accounted for.  And it was.  Some of it was moved from the truck to other locations, such as sheds or to the warehouse, but since Scott had not been given any instructions not to move anything, and since those items were easily found, it can hardly be argued that moving them in any way constituted an effort to destroy evidence.


Detective Grogan, who by this time had been appointed lead investigator (though why Brocchini stepped aside is a mystery; Grogan's explanation that he was the next in rotation for a murder investigation doesn't fly as Duerfeldt and Carter already suspected a homicide when they called Brocchini in on the night of the 24th and Grogan was also on call that night), testified about the results of the search warrants, what value the evidence seized had for the investigation.  I've added some numbers next to the items Grogan identifies for easier reference in my discussion.
FLADAGER: And based upon what you have learned from other officers, and what you have learned from the search warrant being served, what are some of the things that you now know and that you rely on for your next steps in your investigation?
GROGAN: Well, we do know at the warehouse (1) there is evidence consistent with something being made with cement, and there is a mess apparently there from something being made. We know there is a boat in the warehouse that there appears to be (2) some water in the boat that can be tested.
FLADAGER: In the bottom of the boat?
GROGAN: Yes. We know that there is some fishing tackle in the boat and a couple of fishing poles. (3) There is no rope found in the boat to be attached to the anchor. That, initially, at least –
FLADAGER: And there is one anchor that's found?
GROGAN: (4) One anchor.
FLADAGER: Within the boat?
GROGAN: Yes.
FLADAGER: All right.
GROGAN: Also at the house we know that (5) small amounts of a substance that could be blood are recovered on the comforter cover in the master bedroom, and that a (6) blue tarp is recovered in the shed on the north side of the house; and that a (7) boat tarp is recovered in a shed on the south side of the house, with a leaf blower on top of it that appears to be leaking gas.
FLADAGER: How about patio umbrellas?
GROGAN: The (8) patio umbrellas apparently had been moved from the back of Mr. Peterson's truck to an area that's an overhang between the north shed and the house.
FLADAGER: Now, the tarp, the boat cover, and the umbrellas that you mentioned, these were all located in various areas in the backyard?
GROGAN: Yes.
FLADAGER: And they previously have been seen where?
GROGAN: The boat cover was seen in the truck. The blue tarp and umbrellas were in the truck.
FLADAGER: All right. As a result of the search warrant, was anything else found in the back of the defendant's truck?
GROGAN: Yes.
FLADAGER: What was that?
GROGAN: Some (9) concrete debris and a tool, I don't know what you call it. It's some sort of gardening tool with three prongs on one side and a hoe blade on the other.
FLADAGER: Was there anything unusual about the condition of that gardening tool?
GROGAN: Had some, had some cement debris on it, yes.
FLADAGER: During the course of the service of the search warrant on in the house, was clothing of, certain types of clothing of Laci Peterson being looked for?
GROGAN: Yes.
FLADAGER: And, to your knowledge, was any of that found?
GROGAN: Yes. I believe there was (10) at least two pairs of black pants that were recovered, and that was something that we were looking for because it was part of the description for Laci Peterson on the morning of December 24th.
FLADAGER: What else?
GROGAN: We were looking for a white shirt, but we didn't find one in the first search warrant, which would have matched her description on December 24th. We were also looking for white tennis shoes. We did find some white shoes, but they were slip on. They looked like tennis shoes from the front, but they slip on from the back. They don't have a standard back that a tennis shoe would have on them. As far as clothing, that's what I recall we recovered there.
FLADAGER: Why is it that you were looking for black pants and a white shirt, and white tennis shoes?
GROGAN: Because that was what the defendant said she was last seen wearing on December 24th when he left the home.
Fladager is trying to show the Jury the logical manner in which Grogan carried on the investigation.  So let's look at them one at a time.


(1) the cement mess.  That is a good description of the condition of the trailer and the surrounding floor area -- a mess.  Grogan said a few lines above the cited lines "it seemed like a tremendous mess for making one eight-pound anchor."  Yes, indeed it would be a big mess for one anchor.  But it wasn't made from making one anchor.  On January 31, they knew that Scott had on the warehouse computer an Excel spreadsheet for the costs of replacing fence posts in the backyard.  That's at http://pwc-sii.com/CourtDocs/Exhibits/D-7A.pdf, but here's a quick photo: 




This Excel file was created September 13, 2002.  Eric Olson testified that he told the MPD that he saw an opened bag of concrete near the flatbed trailer in September.  Doug Phelps, one of Scott's competitors, told the MPD on February 20, 2003 that he saw at least 4 bags of concrete, fence posts, and fence boards on Scott's trailer in September 2002.  Through the various search warrants, they obtained receipts for bags of concrete purchased at Home Depot.  One was even obtained through the search of the warehouse on the 27th (Defense 4K-8, last item), and another through the search of the Ford pickup truck as part of those same search warrants.  But the right hand doesn't seem to know what the left hand is doing.  


I noted in a previous article that Hendee had to painfully admit on the witness stand that the concrete mess on the flatbed trailer really wasn't in circles, after all, http://pwc-consulting.blogspot.com/2010/12/circles-on-trailer-ah-hah-moment-that.html.  When you read the article, be sure to view the photos to remind yourself just how much of a mess bags of concrete make.   


(2) some water in the boat that can be tested.  And what did the tests show?  Salt water.  Just like Scott told them, he took the boat into the Bay.  But what is interesting is that many news stories circulated that there wasn't any salt water found in the boat.  This was part of a bold headline by the National Enquirer, which seemed to have more than its fair share of sources "close to the investigation," or "close to the case," which simply is another way of saying, the cops.  It's hard to read, but the headline is "Cops Rip Hubby Alibi Apart."




Of course, this was all part of the effort to convince the public, especially the jury pool, that Scott was a liar. If you were one of those who believed these headlines, and other fictitious stories, don't you feel a little foolish now?  


(3) There is no rope found in the boat to be attached to the anchor.  Not true.  A rope suitable for attaching to an anchor was found in the boat.  It's "Item 146, A red rope and metal clasp on the ends" on the return for the boat search warrant.  The rope could be used either to tie to a pier or to attach to an anchor.  


 (4) One anchor.  Which is exactly how many Scott made.  Scott told Grogan on the 25th that he purchased a paint bucket to make the anchor, but Grogan didn't believe him.  So they labored for a year with the mistaken notion that the pitcher was used as the mold for the anchor.  


That's all the items Grogan mentioned for the warehouse.  He didn't mention the infamous pair of yellow-handled pliers with the hair.  And Fladager didn't remind him.  That's not so strange when we recall that no one except Hendee knew about those pliers and the hair until February 11, 2003.  However, Hendee said it was a pretty important moment for him to make that discovery, and he even said that others standing around looked at the pliers:
HENDEE: When I picked up the boat, excuse me, when I picked up the pliers, I was standing in the boat and I reached down, I didn't know if this was going to be anything we were going to collect or not, and I noticed what looked like a single hair in the pliers. It was about five to six inches long. It was dark colored. I look at this, I say Hey, there's a hair in here, and everybody else that was standing around the boat at that time stopped and took a look at it.
Where were Grogan and Brocchini when Hendee found the pliers?  They were both on hand for the examination of the concrete mess and Brocchini even fitted the anchor into the pitcher for that oops-not-so-perfect fit.  How could they not have known about the pliers and the hair?  Well, let's play a game of scramble.  It's two words, first word has 8 letters: b, u, l, i, 2 n's and 2 g's.  The second word has 6 letters: d, o, t, s, and 2 i's.  


Now let's get to the important evidence that the search of 523 Covena yielded.  


(5) small amounts of a substance that could be blood are recovered on the comforter cover.  What did the test results show?  First, the blood was Scott's.  Second, each of the stains amounted to no more than a drop.  Third, the stains were so small they wouldn't pick up in photographs, so Pin Kyo had to put sticky-notes by them.  Fourth, the position of the stains is not compatible with Scott having killed Laci on the bed, as was suspected.  You can see the discussion of these points at http://pwc-sii.com/Research/scenes/covena/duvet.htm.  And another important but oft overlooked fact is that Grogan knew that Scott only had a scuffed knuckle on the night of the 24th because Brocchini had observed both of Scott's hands when he did the gun powder residue test.  Also, on January 3 Grogan obtained blood samples, fingerprints, palm prints, saliva samples and photos of Scott front and back. In the photos Scott was down to his underwear, and Grogan confirmed that he did not have any injuries.  


(6) blue tarp is recovered in the shed on the north side of the house.  Isn't that what sheds are for, to store this kind of item.  And what evidentiary value did the blue tarp have?  None. You can read the details at http://pwc-sii.com/Research/scenes/covena/tarp.htm, including photos of the shed and its contents.  


(7) boat tarp is recovered in a shed on the south side of the house.  The details about the boat cover are at http://pwc-sii.com/Research/scenes/covena/cover.htm.  One of the things Geragos specifically asked Pin Kyo about is if there were any gasoline stains.  The MPD described the boat cover as "reeking" with gasoline, and yet there were no stains identified by Kyo.  Gasoline does stain, and the MPD did nothing with the boat cover except to drape it across the fence to air it out.  Much ado about nothing.  


(8) patio umbrellas apparently had been moved from the back of Mr. Peterson's truck to an area that's an overhang between the north shed and the house.  He simply put them back where they were. Why didn't he bring them to the warehouse where he said he intended to store them?  DUH! His wife was missing, he had more important things on his mind.  It was much easier to just remove them from the truck and put them in the back yard.  


(9) concrete debris and a tool, I don't know what you call it. It's some sort of gardening tool with three prongs on one side and a hoe blade on the other.  Why was the gardener's claw covered with concrete debris?  Simple answer, if you can put two and two together.  Scott worked with a lot of cement rebuilding the fence along the back yard line, and he needed a tool to mix the concrete with.  


(10) at least two pairs of black pants.  Grogan is downright deceptive on this one. Yes, there were two pair of black pants found in the house, but neither were the pair that Laci was wearing on the 24th. These 2 pair were found in a white bag in the Nursery, and in Hendee's judgment (he's the one that located the items during the search), they had never been worn. You can see all the details at http://pwc-sii.com/Research/scenes/covena/pants.htm.  Note specifically that Coyle, who searched the master bedroom, specifically said there were no black maternity pants found in the master bedroom closet or anywhere in the master bedroom, putting to rest the lie that black maternity pants were found hanging up in the master bedroom closet, which lie was circulating in at least one police report.
GERAGOS: Okay. Now, at some point were you told that you had found some black maternity pants in the closet of the home hanging on a hanger?
COYLE: Somebody told me apparently according to that report, yes.
GERAGOS: Okay. Well, what I'm asking you is, when you went through, did you not see the black maternity pants hanging on a hanger?
COYLE: I did not find any black maternity pants, no, not in the master bedroom.
GERAGOS: Were you later told that there were some that were hanging up?
COYLE: I believe I was told there were some black maternity pants found, I don't know where they were found.
What was not found during the search of the house?  "We were looking for a white shirt, but we didn't find one in the first search warrant, which would have matched her description on December 24th. We were also looking for white tennis shoes. We did find some white shoes, but they were slip on. They looked like tennis shoes from the front, but they slip on from the back. They don't have a standard back that a tennis shoe would have on them."


They did not find the black pants Scott said Laci was wearing, they did not find the white shirt Scott said Laci was wearing, and they did not find Laci's tennis shoes.


Nor did they find Laci's croton watch, which Scott said Laci was wearing, but we'll discuss the watch later.  


Nor did they find traces of Laci's blood in Scott's truck.  How does it feel, David Wright, to know that you were used to spread such lies?  



5 comments:

Clanton May said...

I remember going through all of this information with you Marlene and I'm still with you100%. To me it seems like only yesterday

Clack

Jane said...

Not only were the mythical concrete circles not circles, but Brocchini was standing on that same trailer on the night of the Dec 24 taking pictures.

(Preliminary hearing testimony)
BROCCHINI: Three and a circle. And I took some more, I might have took one or two, maybe -- I don't know exactly where. I just remember I was on that trailer, and I was taking pictures of the boat.........

McALLISTER: Okay. So what you've got there, one, two, three and four, those would be the areas where you were standing when you took the various pictures that you took?

BROCCHINI: That's what I recall.

McALLISTER: And so the pictures -- the pictures, other than the one from the foot of the boat, the closeup pictures were taken from the vantage point of standing on the trailer adjacent to the boat itself; is that right?

BROCCHINI: That's what I remember

Marlene Newell said...

Thanks, Jane, that's my next post coming up.

Burkey said...

d'oh..

LA Curry said...

Amazing....I never did see any circles.....lol. Brochinni helped us if there ever were any.

I don't know how Scott got convicted in all honesty. The Modesto police had nothing. The jurors claim you put all this circumstantial evidence together and it completes the puzzle. Well, I have been reading about this case for YEARS and the puzzle hasn't been solved for me. There is NO way I could have convicted Scott, even now knowing probably more than the jury knew.