Murder Trial Begins for Scott Peterson

06/01/2004 at 08:00 AM EDT

Murder Trial Begins for Scott Peterson
Scott Peterson
POOL-Bart Ah You/ZUMA
The double-murder trial of Scott Peterson gets underway in a Redwood City, Calif., courtroom at 9 a.m. Tuesday, more than a year after the bodies of his wife, Laci, and their unborn child washed up off San Francisco Bay.

The trial, which is expected to last six months (jury selection took 12 weeks), will not be televised, though it has already been the subject of intense media scrutiny, as well as the subject of two books – with two more reportedly on the way -- and a cable TV movie.

California's attorney general once described the capital case against Peterson as a "slam dunk," but as news reports on Tuesday point out, legal experts, noting an absence of direct evidence linking Peterson to the disappearance and murder, say that prosecutors appear to be relying on a web of circumstance.

Prosecutors lack a murder weapon or even a cause of death, but are expected to call hundreds of witnesses -- including Peterson's mistress, Amber Frey -- though it remains unclear exactly who will be called, because the list is sealed and attorneys are working under a sweeping gag order, reports the Associated Press.

According to a prosecution filing last week, defense attorney Mark Geragos submitted a list of only18 witnesses.

Authorities allege Peterson, 31, killed his 27-year-old wife in their Modesto home because he was having an affair, then drove her body nearly 100 miles to San Francisco Bay and dumped it from his small boat.

Peterson was arrested near the Mexican border in April 2003. He was carrying $10,000 and his brother's driver's license and had dyed his hair blond.

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