The two Scott Petersons could be both helpful and detrimental to the prosecution and the defense in the last weeks of his double murder trial.
And if you believe the prosecution, there are two: The plotting, philandering husband who killed his wife Laci and unborn son but left almost no physical evidence tying him to the slayings; and the careless liar whose suspicious actions -- especially just before his arrest -- make him look guilty. Prosecutors have suggested that Peterson killed Laci because he was tired of his marriage, feeling pressure from her pregnancy and wanted to continue his affair with Amber Frey.
Laci Peterson was reported missing on Dec. 24, 2002. Peterson said he had gone fishing alone that day, but investigators believe he killed her and used his boat to dump her body in San Francisco Bay. Laci's remains -- and those of her fetus -- washed ashore separately in April 2003, near the area where Peterson told investigators he had fished.
Peterson's defense has not denied the affair but insists Peterson did not kill his wife. Defense attorney Mark Geragos has argued that someone else killed Laci and investigators failed to follow other leads in her disappearance and slaying.
Prosecutors have little physical evidence connecting Peterson to the slayings. There is no blood evidence and prosecutors argue that hair strands taken from pliers on Peterson's boat belong to Laci and tie him to the slayings. (The defense has disputed the tests on the hair strands and says no physical evidence links Peterson to murder.) Prosecutors seeking to convict Peterson have used the multiple lies he told to conceal his affair and his suspicious actions before his arrest to show his alleged guilt.
Before Laci's disappearance, Peterson told Frey that they could be together and that this would be the first Christmas he would celebrate without his wife. His alibi placed him near the area where she and the remains of their unborn child washed ashore. When he was arrested, the normally dark-haired, clean-shaven Peterson sported bleached blond hair and matching mustache and goatee. Peterson said his hair changed color after he swam in his friend's pool. However, the friend testified that Peterson had never been in his pool.
Peterson's apparent fumbles and his lies to Frey, some experts say, seem laughable and hardly characteristic of someone who could plan a nearly perfect murder and leave no traces of physical evidence.
"He's a liar, he's a cheater, he comes off as sounding dumb, not a bright guy [in his taped conversations with Frey and in interviews]," said California defense attorney Steve Cron. "What you may find the defense say is you can't have it both ways. You can't have this criminal mastermind who seemed to have covered up this crime scene perfectly who also comes off so dumb and does all these things that make him look guilty."
But Geragos may not rely on these two contradictory portrayals because they could also hurt Peterson and emphasize his suspicious behavior.