Police tapped murdered woman’s husband’s calls with reporters
- Authorities notified reporters that Scott Peterson’s phone was tapped before his arrest for the killing of his wife and unborn child.
May 14, 2003 — More than a dozen reporters received letters this week notifying them that law enforcement officials had tapped California murder suspect Scott Peterson’s phone before he was arrested and may have monitored calls between Peterson and the reporters, according to news reports.
Stanislaus County prosecutor John Goold told reporters the police had used a wiretap as an “investigative tool” in the case, according to a CBSNews.com report. Goold said calls between Peterson and reporters from NBC and The Modesto Bee had been intercepted.
The Bee said four of its staff had received letters notifying them of the monitoring.
Goold told reporters the journalists’ phones had not been tapped.
The letters sent to reporters said the wiretap of Peterson’s photo was authorized from Jan. 10 to Feb. 4. Officials hoped Peterson might confess to the crime over the phone, according to reports.
A judge can authorize use of a wiretap of a person’s phone if there is probable cause to believe the person is involved in a murder. California law requires law enforcement to notify individuals whose conversations have been intercepted within 90 days of the court’s authorization.
Mark Vasche, executive editor at the Bee, told his newspaper he found the wiretaps disturbing. He said the Bee would seek to hear the tapes of conversations with his reporters.
Scott Peterson was arrested last month after the remains of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son were found on a San Francisco Bay beach. Peterson has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.
© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press