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Detective's Testimony, Contradicting Husband's Account

MODESTO, Calif. (AP) -- A police detective acknowleged Friday that he didn't follow up on a tip from a woman who claimed to have seen someone resembling Laci Peterson in a park on the day her husband says she disappeared.

Under cross-examination by attorneys for Scott Peterson, Detective Philip Owen said he didn't pursue the tip because he didn't think it was "going in the right direction."

Peterson's attorneys have suggested during the preliminary hearing, in its ninth day Friday, that detectives zeroed in on Laci Peterson's husband as a suspect, and ignored other leads.

Owen said he didn't feel the woman's tip was credible because it conflicted with other information detectives had received.

The woman, an employee at the Stanislaus County Hospital, told police she saw a woman who resembled Laci Peterson walking a barking golden retriever in the park near the Peterson home at around 10:45 a.m. on Dec. 24. The tipster reported that two men walking near the woman told her to shut the dog up.

On Thursday, Karen Servas, who lived near the couple, testified that she found Laci Peterson's golden retriever wandering in the street at "approximately 10:18 a.m."

Scott Peterson told police that he last saw his wife, who was eight months pregnant, on the morning of Christmas Eve as he left to go fishing.

Laci Peterson's remains washed ashore in San Francisco Bay in April, just three miles from where her husband said he'd been fishing that day.

On Thursday, Owen said Laci Peterson's body was clad in tan pants -- not the black pants her husband reported she was wearing when he left on his fishing trip.

The pants matched a pair bought on Peterson's account at a Modesto maternity store, Owen said. Her half sister, Amy Rocha, testified she was wearing tan pants Dec. 23 -- the last time anyone other than her husband reported seeing her alive.

Prosecutors contend that Peterson killed his pregnant wife later that night or early the next morning and then dumped her body in San Francisco Bay.

Owen was the third policeman to take the stand in Stanislaus County Superior Court to determine whether the 31-year-old fertilizer salesman is tried on murder charges in the slayings of his wife and unborn son.

Detective Al Brocchini, the first detective on the case, wrapped up his third day of testimony Thursday, revealing more details about what led police to keep their focus on Peterson.

On three days in early January, undercover police officers trailed Peterson to the Berkeley Marina -- the place he said he launched his boat to go fishing when his wife vanished.

Geragos got Brocchini to acknowledge that he wasn't aware that two of Peterson's visits to Berkeley -- 80 miles from Modesto -- were on days that it was reported that police were searching in the bay.

Brocchini also said Peterson had a two-day fishing license for Dec. 23-24. Peterson had told investigators went fishing on the 24th on the spur of the moment.

Peterson's former mistress, Amber Frey, will not testify at the preliminary hearing. Her lawyer, Gloria Allred, said prosecutors "obviously made a determination" they have presented enough evidence without Frey.

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