Peterson Defense Comes Up Short, Legal Experts Say

Scott Peterson's defense may have promised jurors more than it could deliver, and his fate may be decided by closing arguments.

At the beginning of Peterson's double murder trial, defense attorney Mark Geragos promised jurors he would prove his client was "stone-cold innocent" of the slayings of his pregnant wife, Laci, and the unborn son they had planned to name Conner. Prosecutors have suggested Peterson killed Laci because he was tired of his marriage, feeling pressure over her pregnancy and wanted to continue his affair with his mistress, Amber Frey.

Peterson's defense has not denied the affair but insists Peterson did not kill his wife. Geragos told jurors he would prove investigators failed to follow other leads in her disappearance and slaying, and that someone else kidnapped and killed Laci. He rested the defense's case presenting only 14 witnesses over six days of testimony.

Peterson's defense was not expected to be nearly as long as the prosecution's case, which lasted five months and saw 174 witnesses come to the stand. But some observers say Geragos' case may not have been as effective and fell far short of fulfilling his promises to the jury.

"He failed to present evidence that he promised in his opening. … Jurors hold that against lawyers," ABC News legal contributor Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom told "Good Morning America."

She said that while Geragos reinforced prior arguments that investigators did not fully follow all leads, he did not show that someone else kidnapped and killed Laci or that she was seen alive outside her home after Dec. 24, 2002, the day her husband reported her missing.

"If you promise to present evidence or witnesses and fail to follow through, you all but transfer the burden of proof to yourself," she said. "Now a jury that should be focused on what the state proved or didn't prove is more concerned with why you didn't follow through on your promises."

Transparent Explanations?

Peterson did not testify. Through the testimony of his parents, Jackie and Lee Peterson, Geragos attempted to explain behavior the prosecution has called suspicious.

Peterson, prosecutors argue, looked like someone trying to elude authorities when he was arrested on April 18, 2003. Normally clean-shaven and dark-haired, Peterson had grown a mustache and goatee and bleached his hair. In addition, he had purchased a car under his mother's name, had $15,000 cash, a large backpack, and an overnight bag stuffed with hunting knives, a water purifier, snorkeling and fishing equipment, a shovel, and duct tape. Peterson also had several changes of clothes, four cell phones, two driver's licenses and six credit cards.

Geragos argued Peterson normally traveled with camping equipment and, by playing a tape of a phone conversation between Peterson and his brother, tried to show he was trying to evade the media, not police.

Jackie Peterson testified that she had mistakenly withdrawn $10,000 from Scott's account and gave it back to him the day before his arrest. That, she said, explained the large amount of money he was carrying when he was arrested.

She also said she told her son to buy the car in her name because police periodically impounded his vehicles to search for evidence. Lee Peterson testified he told Scott to get his brother's license the day before the arrest so he could get a San Diego resident's discount at a golf course.

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