Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The chameleon slipper

There is no doubt that one of Scott's bedroom slippers was collected on the night of December 26, 2002, to assist in the dog trailing.  And Christopher Boyer not only knew it was Scott's slipper, he intentionally asked for an article of Scott's to be collected.

P. HARRIS: Well, what, in actuality when you say she collected another item, the brown slipper, isn't it true that you asked, you specifically asked for one article of clothing belonging to Scott Peterson?
BOYER: That could be true, sir. I don't recall that specifically.
P. HARRIS: I'm going to direct you to the report to refresh your recollection. Take a look at the first paragraph. 
BOYER: Yes, sir.
P. HARRIS: Does that refresh your recollection?
BOYER: Yes, sir, it does.
P. HARRIS: So you specifically asked for an article of clothing belonging to Scott Peterson, correct?
BOYER: Yes, sir.

What is in doubt, however, is the color of Scott's bedroom slipper.  As I scanned the various testimonies on the subject, I was surprised to find some difference in the descriptions.  

First, the Pre-Trial hearings on the dog evidence.  Cindee Valentin, a dog handler, testified first, and the slipper is described as brown 19 times in her testimony.  Notice that Dave Harris is doing the direct examination and he is the one to first name the color of the slipper.  

D. HARRIS: Did you see her with the scent item from the defendant that you had collected on the 26th?
VALENTIN: Yes, I did.
D. HARRIS: And did you,
VALENTIN: I saw her scent her dog with that article.
D. HARRIS: That was the brown slipper?
VALENTIN: That's correct.
P. HARRIS: He identified the articles, correct?
VALENTIN: After I collected them and walked out, he stayed in his chair at the table and asked about, well, he stated that the brown slipper was his, twice. And I asked if the other things were Laci's, and he said yes.
P. HARRIS: Can you describe the tone to me that was so objectionable about the brown slipper?
VALENTIN: I don't think I could imitate Mr. Peterson's tone.
P. HARRIS: Okay. Just seemed like he didn't want to give it up?
VALENTIN: He seemed concerned that I had it, not that he didn't want to give it up.
P. HARRIS: Concern that he had about the brown slippers, Ms. Valentin, is that you had the right item, wasn't it?
D. HARRIS: Objection. Calls for speculation.
JUDGE: The right item.
P. HARRIS: The right item to search, the best possible item to search for his wife, correct?
VALENTIN: He verified that that was him, and I did not use it.
P. HARRIS: Okay. You picked up Mr. Peterson's brown slipper, correct?
VALENTIN: Two slippers.
P. HARRIS: Is that the first article you picked up?
VALENTIN: No. I believe the first article I picked up was the pink slipper. Then the brown slipper. Then the glasses, then the hairbrush.
P. HARRIS: Okay.
VALENTIN: And I was collecting many articles because sometimes you run more than one dog in the search.
P. HARRIS: Uh‑huh. Did you, you wore rubber gloves while you were doing this?
VALENTIN: Yes.P. HARRIS: Okay. And when you first picked up the pink slipper, you were wearing the rubber gloves?
P. HARRIS: Did you change the rubber gloves before you picked up the brown slipper?
VALENTIN: I don't recall.
P. HARRIS: So if you were picking up a brown slipper belonging to Scott Peterson, you would definitely want to change rubber gloves beforehand?
VALENTIN: Yes. If I knew that I was collecting something from Scott Peterson, I would have wanted to change gloves, yes.
P. HARRIS: And you didn't do that, did you? Because you didn't know it was an article belonging to Scott Peterson, did you?
VALENTIN: That's correct.
P. HARRIS: So you didn't change gloves, did you?
P. HARRIS: When you left the premises, did you leave with the brown slipper?
VALENTIN: Yes. After Scott identified that the brown slipper was his, they were going to continue on with some other things, and I skirted out because I wanted to, you know, get things organized with the dog.
P. HARRIS: They were going to continue on with some other things. "They" being?
VALENTIN: I guess continuing to, to finish up with, with Scott.
P. HARRIS: But there would be no reason for you to take the brown slipper because you weren't looking to go after anything with Scott Peterson?
VALENTIN: No, I wasn't looking to go after,
P. HARRIS: So the obviously logical thing to do would be to leave the brown slipper at the house?
VALENTIN: Certainly. I certainly could have.
P. HARRIS: But you didn't do that?
VALENTIN: No, I didn't.
P. HARRIS: Okay. The two articles, scent articles you had, excuse me, there were four, correct?
P. HARRIS: Okay. That included the brown slipper?
VALENTIN: That's correct.
P. HARRIS: Scott Peterson's?
P. HARRIS: So despite the fact you were still not tracing Scott Peterson, you had the brown slipper?
VALENTIN: That's correct.
P. HARRIS: And you took that and put it into a Ziploc bag?
VALENTIN: No, I did not take the slipper and repackage it. I believe I was repackaging a pink slipper and glasses. I wasn't given an assignment to drop trail for Scott Peterson.
JUDGE: Let me ask you a question. When Mr. Peterson told you that the brown slipper was his slipper, did you take it anyway, or did you just leave it there at the residence?
VALENTIN: I had it in my hand. I was on my way out the door. I took it anyway.
JUDGE: You took it anyway?
P. HARRIS: Following up on that, you actually do know the brown slipper was used?
VALENTIN: That day, yes.
P. HARRIS: That day.
P. HARRIS: So you were aware when you left the house that day with the brown slipper, well, let me rephrase that. At what point did you give the brown slipper to Detective Brocchini?
VALENTIN: At the end of the first evening, the 26th, when we finished all three trails, I handed him all, everything that I had.
P. HARRIS: Okay. And you told him that, excuse me, strike that. When you came back on January the 4th, the brown slipper was still in the package there?

Eloise Anderson, another dog handler, was second to testify in the Pre-Trial hearings.  In her testimony, the color brown is mentioned only once - she generally referred to it as a slipper.

Shephard Kopp: Do you remember the brown slipper that was Scott Peterson's that you were using? Do you remember what that was made out of?
Eloise Anderson: I believe it was made out of on the outside almost a, a wool type of textured material, as I recall. And then maybe like a phony sheep skin on the inside? But I'm not positive about that.

Chris Boyer, Captain of the Search and Rescue team to which Valentin and Anderson belonged, testified last.  Brown slipper is mentioned 15 times in his testimony.  After reading Valentin's testimony and Boyer's, it's quite apparent that one of Boyer's primary assignments was damage control.  

BOYER: She actually collected four items. There was also another slipper that was collected. They were placed in plastic individual plastic bags. I believe that she labeled the bags, and then we walked out to the living room.
P. HARRIS: Well, what, in actuality when you say she collected another item, the brown slipper, isn't it true that you asked, you specifically asked for one article of clothing belonging to Scott Peterson?
BOYER: That could be true, sir. I don't recall that specifically.
P. HARRIS: The brown slipper was collected second?
BOYER: No, sir. I believe it was collected last.
P. HARRIS: Then it's your testimony that after you collected those three items, you collected the brown slipper fourth?
BOYER: Yes, sir.
P. HARRIS: And at that point she had already handled the brown slipper, correct?
BOYER: That's not my recollection. That was the last thing we collected.
P. HARRIS: If she testifies, in fact, she had handled the brown slipper first before, would that refresh your recollection?
BOYER: Then one of us is incorrect, sir. My recollection is the brown slippers was last.
P. HARRIS: You did, in fact, see her handle the brown slipper, didn't you.
BOYER: No, sir, I don't believe I did.
P. HARRIS: From your recollection, Miss Valentin didn't search through the purse, didn't pull the sunglasses out of the purse and didn't touch the brown slipper; is that your recollection?
BOYER: She didn't personally search purse. She did not pull the sunglasses case out of the purse. I'm sorry, what was the third part of the question?
P. HARRIS: She never touched the brown slipper?
BOYER: No, sir, I don't believe she ever touched the slipper.
P. HARRIS: He didn't ask you to take the brown slipper, for example, that was Scott Peterson's, scent it, and see if the dog would go to the warehouse?
BOYER: No, sir.
P. HARRIS: I'm referring to the fact that the hairbrush, the brown slipper, and the,
BOYER: Pink slipper.
P. HARRIS: Pink slipper were in your possession when you left that house that day, correct?
BOYER: No, sir.
P. HARRIS: Whose possession were they?
BOYER: We gave them to the, I believe it was Detective Brocchini.
P. HARRIS: You gave the items to Detective Brocchini, including brown slipper, correct?
BOYER: Yes, sir. All, everything except for the glasses case that Miss Valentin used.
P. HARRIS: Miss Valentin purposely kept away from the brown slipper because of the contamination problem, correct? They would not have wanted to have the brown slipper, because that would have possibly contaminated with the items from Laci Peterson, correct?
BOYER: I don't know what you are referring to that she kept away from it.
P. HARRIS: She did not have possession over, excuse me. She did not have possession, specifically, of the brown slipper, because that scented to Scott Peterson, correct?
BOYER: She didn't have possession of,
P. HARRIS: She didn't walk out of the house with it, did she?
BOYER: I don't believe she walked out with that in her hands, no.
P. HARRIS: Detective Brocchini walked out, didn't he, with it?
BOYER: I believe we gave it to him while he was inside the house, yes, sir.

Now let's revisit the trial testimony.  Valentin didn't testify at the trial because her dog trailings were ruled inadmissible by Judge Delucchi, and for good cause.  Anderson testified, but her dog trailing on January 4, 2003, using the brown slipper was likewise ruled inadmissible, so the subject of the brown slipper never came up.  Boyer also testified, but now the slipper is "green and brown."  

D. HARRIS: What were the items that were collected.
BOYER: We collected a hairbrush, we collected a pink slipper, we collected a sunglasses case with a pair of sunglasses on the inside, and we collected a green and brown slipper.
P. HARRIS: And how many scent articles were collected?
BOYER: I covered that with Mr. Harris. It was a hairbrush, that would be one of the articles, the sunglasses and case, which would be a second article, a pink slipper, a third article, and a green and brown slipper, a fourth article.
P. HARRIS: So hairbrush was last, the glasses case, so the two slippers you don't know the order, and the pink slipper, brown slipper?
BOYER: No, sir, they might be in Ms. Valentin's report but I don't recall.
P. HARRIS: It says I collected a brown slipper off of the front floor in front of the dresser, a sunglass case, I collected a sunglass case containing glasses from inside a Louis Vuitton purse hanging in the closet?
BOYER: That doesn't tell me she reached inside it, sir. It just says she reached inside the purse is the way I interpret that.
P. HARRIS: So you came to learn at some point that the green and brown slipper was in fact Scott Peterson's?
BOYER: Yes, sir.
P. HARRIS: And you came to learn that in fact this was the item that, the green and brown slipper was an item that in fact you did want to take from the house, correct?
BOYER: You'd have to characterize that question differently.
P. HARRIS: You choose to take the item even after you found it was Scott Peterson's, correct?
BOYER: Yes, sir.

Perhaps Boyer is a person who pays more attention to detail than Valentin, and he noticed there was some green on the brown slipper, so he called it a "green and brown" slipper.

Detective Brocchini also testified about the scent items collected on the night of December 26th.  Here's how he describes Scott's slipper.

DISTASO: And then after Deputy Boyer, you know, collected those items, or whatever, were they given to you?
DISTASO: I mean at some point later in the evening?
DISTASO: And what time was that?
BROCCHINI: It was about 9:30 at night.
DISTASO: And what condition did they come to you in?
BROCCHINI: They were in separate Ziplocked like one-gallon plastic bags.
DISTASO: Like one-gallon Ziploc storage bags?
DISTASO: And was the Ziploc bag closed?
BROCCHINI: Yes, it was.
DISTASO: And what were those items? What physically were they?
BROCCHINI: There was a pink slipper that belonged to Laci, a gray slipper that belonged to Scott, a hairbrush that belonged to Laci, and Laci's sunglasses and a hard sunglass case.
DISTASO: Yes, your Honor. 75.
JUDGE: What is it?
DISTASO: It is --
JUDGE: Bag and contents. What is it?
DISTASO: It's a gray slipper.
JUDGE: Gray slipper. Okay.
DISTASO: Detective, let me show you 75. And just say -- we'll do them one at a time. Do you recognize that bag and item?
DISTASO: And what is that? What's inside there?
BROCCHINI: This is a gray slipper. Inside a Ziploc bag that is zipped.
DISTASO: And did you give those items to Detective Schmierer who then used them in a further dog tracking event?
BROCCHINI: Not all of them.
DISTASO: Okay. Which ones did you give to Detective Schmierer?
BROCCHINI: Boyer asked me to send the pink slipper, the gray slipper and the sunglasses up with Detective Schmierer and Stough.
DISTASO: And did you give those items to those other detectives?
BROCCHINI: Yes, I did.

Just to be sure Brocchini didn't misspeak and say gray when he really meant to say brown, I viewed People's 75, and sure enough, the description on the envelope is "1 GAP grey slipper," and it's Brocchini that booked the slipper as evidence. 

Whether you spell it "gray" or "grey," it's not that easily confused with brown, as shown by these photos I found on the Internet:

So who are we to believe?

Valentin says the slipper is brown; Boyer says it is green and brown; Brocchini says it is gray.

Valentin says she collected the brown slipper second; Boyer says she collected it last.

Valentin says she did not change gloves before or after collecting the brown slipper; Boyer says she did.

Valentin says she walked out of the house with the slipper in hand; Boyer says he gave it to Brocchini while they were at the house; Brocchini says Boyer gave it to him later that night after the dog trailing was completed.

Is this an anomaly, or a pattern?  

More to come on the dog evidence, but in our next article, we turn our attention to Amber Frey, as her debut was the next big event in the investigation.  


I mentioned in my last report that we didn't know the names of the two detectives who went to the Berkeley Marina on the 28th to do the dog trailing and water dog searches along the route from Berkeley Marina to Brooks Island.  Obviously I was wrong, as Brocchini identified them as Schmierer and Stough, neither of whom testified at anytime -- not at the Prelim, nor the Pre-Trials, nor the Trial.