10/06/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT
A Stool Pigeon's Tale
It isn't the first twist in the Laci Peterson case, and it likely won't be the last. But it stands a good chance of being the most bizarre. On Sept. 20 The Fresno Bee reported that a jail inmate named Cory Lee Carroll, 34, had claimed to authorities that he met Scott Peterson in a Fresno strip club last November, less than two months before his wife, Laci, disappeared. As Carroll told it, Scott asked if he knew someone who could steal his wife's car for an insurance scam. Carroll, who has convictions for grand theft and forgery, offered, for $300, to introduce him to some people who might help.
A day or two after Thanksgiving, Peterson and Carroll supposedly met with two men with the nicknames "Dirty" and "Skeeter," members of a notorious gang called the Nazi Low Riders. Carroll contends that before leaving the room he overheard Peterson ask Dirty and Skeeter about kidnapping his wife. Later, he claims, the two thugs told him they were going to do what Peterson wanted.
So how credible is Carroll? Lee Peterson says his son Scott couldn't have met Carroll and the others because Scott and Laci were then driving home from a trip. Carroll's lawyer Frank Muna insists that his client, who is now in jail on a parole violation, is just looking for a spot in a witness protection program. "The only thing he wants," says Muna, "is to make sure he doesn't get hurt or killed." Perhaps more to the point, Carroll passed a lie-detector test set up by Muna. That result isn't admissible in court, but according to Muna, it has prompted investigators to look into Carroll's story.
The Spector Coroner: It Was Murder
Ever since actress Lana Clarkson was found dead of a gunshot wound in Phil Spector's mansion on Feb. 3, the legendary record producer has insisted on his innocence, claiming Clarkson killed herself. But on Sept. 22 the Los Angeles County coroner ruled the death a homicide. Prosecutors have not yet charged Spector in the killing. But as Lt. Dan Rosenberg of the L.A. County sheriffs department told the New York Post, "How many people were inside that house that night? Two."
An Offer He Refused
On Sept. 22 authorities in L.A. charged Patrick Graber, 31, a Swiss bodybuilder, with offering to murder the Colorado woman who has accused Kobe Bryant of rape. Claiming to have ties to the Russian mob, Graber allegedly sent Bryant a letter saying he could make the Lakers star's "problem" disappear and named a price of $3 million for the job. Bryant's camp turned the note over to police, who nabbed Graber when he came to collect a $1 million down payment. But Graber's lawyer insisted it may have been just a con job and that his client "is not the most intelligent guy in the world."