Why We Were Infatuated With the Peterson Case

Feeding a Public Fixation

The pain of Peterson's trial will remain with the couple's relatives long after a jury recommends the death penalty or life in prison. But there will always be another infamous criminal case to fixate the nation and courtroom observers. In fact, opening statements are scheduled to begin in early December in another celebrity case, the murder trial of Robert Blake.

"It [Robert Blake's trial] comes at a perfect time," said California defense attorney Steve Cron. "It's right after Peterson and right before the [Michael] Jackson trial begins in January. It gives you guys something to write about."

The former "Baretta" star is accused of killing his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, to get out of what some called a loveless marriage. He married Bakley -- who family members said had always wanted to be the wife of a movie star -- after DNA tests showed he was the father of her youngest daughter, Rosie.

Bakley was killed on May 4, 2001, long before anyone had heard of Scott and Laci Peterson and more than two years before Kobe Bryant was arrested for an alleged sexual assault and Michael Jackson's most recent child molestation scandal began. The Sept. 11 attacks and war on terror knocked Blake's story and other scandals off the front pages and it has been overshadowed by Peterson and bigger celebrity-name scandals since.

"Before the Sept. 11 attacks, everyone seemed focused on Robert Blake, the Gary Condit scandal and I was representing Paula Poundstone," said Cron, referring to the comedian who was involved in a child abuse case stemming from a DUI incident. A plea agreement was reached in the case on Sept. 12, 2001.

"And then Sept. 11th happened and we worked out an agreement the day after Sept. 11. No one was paying attention to us, understandably so."

In the shadow of Hollywood, some may have thought there was no better resolution to the Peterson trial than the guilty verdicts. But there was no victory for Scott Peterson's relatives or the Rochas, the family of Laci Peterson, because nothing will bring back Laci and the baby they never knew.

The two-year anniversary of Laci's disappearance is quickly approaching, and no matter what the jury recommends, it's hard to imagine either family giving a "thumbs up" to any ending in their real-life drama.

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