3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, D, Nonfiction, Read in 2008

Presumed Guilty by Matt Dalton

Presumed Guilty: What the Jury Never Knew About Laci Peterson’s Murder and Why Scott Peterson Should Not Be on Death Row
by Matt Dalton with Bonnie Hearn Hill

Copyright: 2005
Pages: 192
Rating: 3/5
Read: Aug. 9-11, 2008
Challenge: Triple Eight – True Crime Category

First Line: On April 18, 2003, Scott Peterson, a thirty-year-old fertilizer salesman from Modesto, California, was arrested for the murder of his wife, Laci, and their unborn child, whose bodies were identified the same day.

Matt Dalton was involved in the Scott Peterson case as a defense attorney alongside Mark Geragos in the early stages of the investigation. Matt was the attorney that had primary involvement with Scott while he was in jail after being charged. Dalton is convinced that Scott Peterson is stone cold innocent. In this book he goes into a lot of detail as to other explanations for Laci’s murder. He discusses theories such as the satanic cult group and that the burglary of the house across the street was related. He also says that he personally uncovered six witnesses who could place Laci alive on the morning of December 24, 2002. But the question that he really left unanswered is why those witnesses were never called to the stand in the trial. Now, he states somewhere along the way that it is up to the trial attorney to decide who gets called as a witness. And for anyone who watched this trial like I did, they know that Geragos did not exactly prove Scott innocent like he said he would in his opening statement. If I’m not mistaken, I believe Geragos even mentioned those six witnesses in that same opening …. so why were they not called?! If they could swear under oath that Laci Peterson was indeed alive and out and about when Scott Peterson was out fishing, why wouldn’t or couldn’t they testify?! As you can tell from my comments, I didn’t buy into this book whatsoever. If perhaps Geragos had called those witnesses to the stand during the trial, the ending would have been different. But as the jurors stated after the trial was over, there simply was no other alternative as to who could have possibly committed that horrendous crime. Overall, I felt that Dalton made a good case on some of the points that he pointed out, but in the end, he didn’t convince me anymore than Mark Geragos at trial convinced me.

There is one passage that I would like to quote from this book:

I again got the feeling I’d had when I first met him – that he was docile. He certainly didn’t seem to fit the profile of a psychopath, and he didn’t strike me as a killer. I couldn’t imagine this young man doing anything like what he’d been accused of. (p. 30)

The first thing I thought of when I read that ….. people said the same thing about Ted Bundy.