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Laci’s family seeking belongings

Laci’s family seeking belongings

Laci Peterson’s family has hired attorneys in an attempt to retrieve her wedding dress, a baby crib and other personal items from her Modesto home, according to a statement released Wednesday.

In the murder case against her husband, court documents made available Wednesday assert the defense team’s contention that investigators violated the law by monitoring privileged communications and that Deputy District Attorney Rick Distaso “misled” defense attorneys and the judge about it.

Scott Peterson, 30, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder in the deaths of his 27-year-old wife and their unborn son, Conner.

Scott Peterson’s parents and his attorney have prevented his wife’s family from entering the couple’s Covena Avenue home and retrieving personal items, according to the statement from attorneys Adam J. Stewart and Albert G. Clark.

“The statement that you have is the absolute truth,” said Sharon Rocha, Laci Peterson’s mother. “I’m not going to comment beyond that.”

The statement came with a 22-point list of items that family members want, including Laci’s diplomas and journals, and a watering can that says “Laci’s Garden.”

But family members said that being inside the home that Laci decorated and lived in was more important than retrieving personal items.

Her family members need to “sit in Conner’s room in the rocking chair Laci had purchased to rock him in, and just to have the opportunity to feel her presence,” the statement reads.

According to the statement, lead defense attorney Mark Geragos wrote a letter in response to the request for access. The Laci Peterson family attorneys, in their statement, say that Geragos said it would be “unthinkable to allow anything to be moved or disposed of” until his team had completed its investigation.

Jackie Peterson, Scott’s mother, confirmed that members of her family had been in the house. She said nothing had been disturbed.

“We keep it clean,” she said from her San Diego County home. “It was sitting there for four months getting overrun, and people were taking things from the grounds.”

Missing are two glass hurricane lanterns, loose bricks from a pile near the patio, and a patio chess and checkers board that had marble frog figurines for the playing pieces, she said.

Geragos said in an interview: “It’s an awful situation, and we’re going to work our way through it with as much dignity as we can. There are two families here who have lost a grandson.”

Geragos said he had been working with the Stanislaus County district attorney’s office and police investigators to log evidence and anticipated reaching an “ami-cable solution” about the personal items within 10 days.

Geragos also said that he and prosecutors had agreed on an “accelerated process” to release Laci and Conner’s remains to her family.

The bodies were found last month about a mile apart along the eastern shoreline of San Francisco Bay. A judge has ordered them held in the Contra Costa County coroner’s office until further notice.

According to the statement from the Laci Peterson family attorneys, Jackie Peterson informed Rocha on Sunday that the locks and the alarm code on the house had been changed.

The statement further says that Rocha previously had a key to the house, and requested a new alarm code and a key from Peterson on Sunday, but had yet to receive a response.

Peterson said she previously had left phone messages for Rocha that went unreturned. “She has a lot going on, I can imagine,” Peterson said, lamenting that attorneys were involved.

“Since they initiated going through a lawyer, we were advised to go through a lawyer,” Peterson said. “We hadn’t done that before. We had always talked.”

The Laci Peterson family attorneys, in their statement, say Rocha had been watering the lawn and backyard potted plants for several weeks at the Covena Avenue home.

She arranged to pick up the potted plants on Tuesday and found them on the front lawn, some of them dead. She also found a new padlock on the backyard gate, according to the statement.

The newly available court docu-ments show that defense attorneys have requested a closed hearing to question prosecutors about wiretaps used to intercept calls between Scott Peterson and his defense team.

The defense drafted the documents before Superior Court Judge Al Girolami on Tuesday ordered prosecutors to turn over “all calls intercepted involving defense counsel or the defense investigator.”

Also, the defense has asked for a transcript of a Jan. 17 wiretap discussion among Judge Wray Ladine, prosecutors and investigators, the documents reveal.

Defense attorneys have a Friday deadline to file a motion on the wiretap issue.

Prosecutors intercepted 69 calls between Peterson and attorney Kirk McAllister, and two calls between Peterson and a defense investigator, according to court documents.

Prosecutors contend that they mistak- enly recorded or listened to only portions of two calls between McAllister and his client. They also monitored a call between Peterson and McAllister’s investigator.

Distaso said during a Tuesday hearing that those three calls combined were less than two minutes long.

Defense attorneys contend in the newly released documents that investigators “actively monitored” privileged communications and then “misled” defense attorneys and the judge about it.

Conversations between an attorney and his or her client are protected by law.

“Mr. Distaso assured me that my privileged attorney-client conversations had neither been recorded nor listened to,” McAllister wrote. “It is apparent that Distaso’s statement that attorney-client conversations had not been recorded nor listened to was untrue.”

Chief Deputy District Attorney John Goold, the office’s spokesman on the case, said he was not privy to Distaso’s conversations with McAllister.

Bee staff writer John Coté can be reached at 578-2394 or [email protected]