Peterson Autopsy Reports to Stay Sealed

AP Wire Service

MODESTO, Calif. – A judge ruled Friday that an autopsy report on the deaths of Laci Peterson and her unborn son should remain sealed along with other search warrant and arrest records.

Superior Court Judge Al Girolami said releasing the information could hamper the murder investigation and prejudice public opinion before a trial begins.

Girolami is scheduled to hear more arguments June 6 from prosecutors preparing a murder case against Peterson’s husband, Scott Peterson. Prosecutors on Thursday asked that the autopsy reports be released to the public. They argued that media leaks of the reports are biased toward the defense.

Girolami also ordered that leaks of sealed information stop and indicated he would consider a gag order to stop the prosecution and defense teams from talking to the media.

Scott Peterson, 30, is accused of killing his wife and unborn son, whom the couple had planned to name Conner, last December in their home. Laci, 27, was eight months pregnant at the time. The bodies washed ashore in San Francisco Bay last month.

Contra Costa County authorities concluded their autopsy report earlier this month, but did not disclose the cause of death.

Several media outlets have released details of the coroner’s report, and a spokeswoman for Laci Peterson’s family members said Thursday they were “devastated” at hearing autopsy reports without warning on television.

The leaked reports indicated the unborn son had plastic tape wrapped around his neck and a significant cut across the shoulders.

Meanwhile, friends of Laci Peterson removed several personal articles Friday from the single-story Modesto home where she and Scott Peterson lived.

Lee Peterson, Scott Peterson’s father, told CNN that the defense team wanted to videotape the house before items were removed and that lead attorney Mark Geragos had not agreed to the removal of any items Friday.

Another member of the defense team was at the house when items were removed, and complained to reporters that Laci Peterson’s relatives had no right to enter the home.

The group collecting the items, including Laci Peterson’s brother, Brent Rocha, set off the home’s alarm when they arrived without notice. They dispersed quickly when media crews arrived, driving off with a rocking chair and numerous other belongings.