Laci Relative: Peterson Changed His Story
POOL-Bart Ah You/ZUMA
06/09/2004 at 05:00 PM EDT
A relative of Laci Peterson cast doubts on Scott Peterson's alibi Wednesday, as he testified in court that Scott claimed to have gone golfing – not fishing, as Scott later claimed – on the day his pregnant wife vanished.
Harvey Kemple, a construction worker whose wife is a cousin of Laci's mother, Sharon Rocha, said that Scott Peterson told him on Christmas Eve that he was "playing golf" earlier that day, Dec. 24, 2002, the day that Laci was reported missing.
"Scott told me that he went golfing," Kemple said. Emphasizing that Scott's wife had disappeared only hours before, Kemple pointed at Peterson and, with his voice rising, added: "He showed no more emotion than he's showing right now."
Kemple testified that he immediately became suspicious of Peterson – who stands accused of killing wife Laci and their unborn son, Conner – especially because his wife Gwen told him that Peterson said he was fishing that day.
Kemple said he became even more suspicious after Peterson said he was going to hang posters in the Paradise Road area of Modesto, Calif. – but when he followed Peterson out of a Laci-search volunteer center, Scott drove in the opposite direction and ended up stopping in the parking lot of a nearby mall.
Peterson sat in his vehicle for about "45 minutes," Kemple said.
On a subsequent occasion, when Scott said he was going to hang posters, Kemple followed him early in the morning to a local country club, where Scott played a round of golf, he testified.
In other developments Wednesday, the Petersons' neighbor Karen Servas said she carefully calculated the time she discovered the couple's dog outside on the street the morning of Dec. 24, dragging its leash. The time, she determined, was 10:18 a.m., which could undermine defense claims that she found the dog later that morning.
The defense contends that Laci may have been abducted while out walking their dog on Christmas Eve morning. Peterson has pleaded not guilty.
Tensions also were mounting in the courtroom Wednesday. As Scott's father, Lee Peterson, was leaving the courtroom, Gwen Kemple loudly asked him a question. Kemple, who had just left the witness stand after a contentious go-around with defense attorney Mark Geragos, said to Scott's father as he passed near her, "What are you grinning at?"
Turning to her with a look of surprise, he said, "I'm not grinning." He then moved as if he were about to put his arm around her shoulder.
Kemple shrank back and moved away with her husband, Harvey, also a prosecution witness. Peterson and his wife Jackie then continued on down the wide corridor outside the courtroom.
Later, Lee Peterson, whose expression in and around the courthouse is almost always glum, simply shook his head and said, "What was that about? I know I wasn't grinning or smiling. I was just being me."