Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The weather in Modesto on December 24, 2002

Much has been made about the weather in Modesto on December 24, 2002, to discredit some of the sightings of Laci and McKenzie. For example, these excerpts from a ModBee article on June 6, 2003:

Mike Chiavetta, a neighbor of Peterson's in the La Loma district of Modesto, said he told police that he clearly remembers seeing the golden retriever, McKenzie, at about 10:45 a.m. as Chiavetta played catch with his own dog.
He said he cannot be sure, but someone may have been walking the dog along a fence next to an orchard. "I remember looking over, and, in my mind, I see a woman with a big white smock and black leggings."
said he clearly remembers seeing dozens of people in the park that day. He said he ran into an acquaintance and they remarked on the large number of parkgoers who, they surmised, were off work the day before Christmas and enjoying the sunshine.

Others who say they saw Peterson and her dog that day also remembered clear weather. But data at the Western Regional Climate Center show fairly clear weather in Modesto on Dec. 22 and 23, with mist setting in at about 6 p.m. Dec. 23 and lasting at least through Christmas.

I thought it wise to check the weather for Modesto from December 22 through December 25, 2002, so you can judge for yourself whether the ModBee or the witnesses accurately reported the weather, but in my opinion, it definitely was not misty from 6 p.m. on December 23 through Christmas Day. The morning hours on the 24th start out clear, except for scattered clouds at 4:53 and 5:16, followed by more clear skies. Scattered clouds are again present at the hours of 8:53 and 9:53 and the haze is not first reported until 10:53. Chiavetta specifically mentioned the haze in his interview on Larry King Live the same day. And, of course we know that the haze didn't prevent Ron Grantski from enjoying the good ole outdoors by going fishing that afternoon, nor was it too cold for fishing. I guess Ron knows how to suck it up.

My source is Weather Underground (no association with the 1960s radical violent organization). From its "About Us" page, we learn the following: "Weather Underground has developed the world's largest network of personal weather stations (almost 10,000 stations in the US and over 3,000 across the rest of the world) that provides our site's users with the most localized weather conditions available."

Here are the charts of the hourly weather reports for Modesto for each of those days. You can verify the accuracy of the charts by going to Weather Underground, entering Modesto CA as the location, and then select the dates.

The circles on the trailer - the ah-hah moment that fizzled

During the search of the warehouse on December 27, 2003, Detective Dodge Hendee experienced an ah-hah moment. He saw concrete mix powder on the trailer in the shape of circles, a pitcher, and the anchor that Scott said he made at home fitting perfectly into the pitcher. From this, Hendee concluded that Scott made additional anchors that were used to weigh Laci down. In fact, he was so sure about it that he conducted 22 searches of the Bay for those anchors, calling in the most sophisticated side sonar equipment in the US and the most expert FBI dive team, in addition to using the resources of several other agencies in the area.

So what fizzled? Well, the anchor didn't fit perfectly into the pitcher after all, and a concrete expert said the anchor Scott had was not made in that pitcher. Hendee reluctantly almost admitted that he was fooled into thinking that there were actually circles in the concrete mix powder because he mistakenly thought the anchor had been made in the pitcher.

GERAGOS: At the time you thought Ah-hah, I've got some evidence, because the pitcher fits in there, right?
GERAGOS: All right. And that was part of the, it kind of led you to see those circles on the trailer, too, didn't it?
HARRIS: Objection.
GERAGOS: I mean, you thought,
JUDGE: Wait, wait, wait. One at a time. Sustained. Argumentative.
GERAGOS: Okay. Well, your idea was that this, the anchor, was made in this, the pitcher?
HENDEE: That's what we thought.
GERAGOS: And then from there you extrapolated that the pitcher was on the trailer, and therefore, if it was in four locations, there must have been four of these, right?
HENDEE: We felt that was a possibility.
GERAGOS: Okay. You thought it was more than a possibility; you searched the Bay 22 times looking for these, right?
HENDEE: Exactly.
GERAGOS: Okay. And it turns out at the end of the day the pitcher never made it, right?
HENDEE: Right.

He was more forthright about admitting he was mistaken about the anchor being a perfect fit for the pitcher.

GERAGOS: Okay. And as it was on the trailer, he was taking this item, the concrete, right?
HENDEE: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: The anchor, and he was holding it like this?
GERAGOS: As it was inside, right?
GERAGOS: And it was his and your opinion that it was a perfect fit?
HENDEE: Mistakenly so.
GERAGOS: Tell the jury why that was mistakenly so.
HENDEE: Because it was looked at by a concrete expert who determined that this mold was not made in this pitcher.

Here are 3 pictures of the trailer before the MPD marked the "circles" with evidence markers, followed by a series of pictures taken by John and Robyn Ungari at their local Home Depot. Seems like concrete mix bags tend to spread a lot of dust around, some even could be called "circles."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Conner Recovery Site Field Trip - October 6, 2010 PART 16

These are the last of the digital pictures from the Oct 6 field trip.

Click images to enlarge.

This collection of pictures indisputably proves Mr. Rick Distaso's statement in his Closing Argument is absolutely wrong.

"He came ashore. Remember that area where he came ashore is a tidal flat, so at high tide it's covered with water all the way. At low tide it's ground. He came ashore on a heavy storm surge. In fact, when you go back and look at the pictures, you can see the line of debris where the heavier objects settled first and, you know, the lesser heavy objects, as the tide was receding."

You judge for yourself. Is Distaso just ignorant, or intentionally trying to deceive?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Appellate News - Judge rules in Scott's favor

On Friday, December 3, Superior Court Judge Scott Steffen ruled that the court record (a documentary account of what happened in the action or proceeding, which includes the court file, exhibits and transcripts) must include items requested by Scott's appellate attorneys. The requested items include: "jurors' notes to the judge and juror questionnaires, wiretap and other search warrants and sealed courtroom exhibits."

Read the ModBee article at

The request was originally filed on January 22, 2010. The article did not indicate if Judge Steffen gave the State a deadline for producing the requested items.

Conner Recovery Site Field Trip - October 6, 2010 PART 14

Click on images to enlarge.