Scott Peterson's lawyers suggest Laci died in satanic ritual, not by husband's hand

Published: May. 16, 2003 at 3:23 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2003 at 1:25 PM EDT
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(Modesto, California) May 16, 2003 - Autopsies on Laci Peterson and her baby have been completed, and the report will be in the hands of the prosecutors and the defense team Friday.

Lawyers for Scott Peterson, Laci's husband, who is charged with her death and the death of their unborn son, will begin reviewing the official report today, which could make or break a theory they have been developing for some time.

NBC News has learned that for almost a week Scott Peterson's defense team has been considering a gruesome possibility: that Laci Peterson was not just killed, but actually carved up, and the son with whom she was eight months pregnant was cut from her body, not separated after death, as prosecutors will likely argue.

In April part of Laci's body was recovered about a mile away from where her baby had been found the day before. One of the theories of the defense is a satanic ritual, possibly at the hands of one of the known Modesto cults.

The defense has said they have a credible suspect they are following. And, as they pore through the first half of the 30,000 documents amassed in this case so far, they are already preparing an attack on the police investigation, saying from day one the authorities only looked at Scott as a possible suspect and arguing some of the evidence may have been tainted.

The defense also claims the only physical evidence is a single hair found on pliers in Scott's boat, a hair the authorities claim is Laci's. The defense says there is no blood evidence at all and they are confident Scott Peterson will not be convicted.

posted 11:38am by Chris Rees