- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 11, 2004

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) — Scott Peterson’s one-time mistress testified yesterday that their first night together included slow-dancing to karaoke and a hotel-room tryst — but no mention of the pregnant wife whom prosecutors say he later murdered.

Amber Frey, the government’s star witness, described a relationship that quickly developed from sex to a serious relationship. A single mother, she almost immediately trusted Mr. Peterson with her young daughter and said he discussed a future with them.

Miss Frey said Mr. Peterson did not wear a wedding ring when they met on Nov. 20, 2002. He poured champagne in his hotel room, putting a strawberry in her glass, and they had sex later that night. The next morning, he left her with his cell-phone number, not his home number.

On their second date, he carried her 22-month-old daughter as they went hiking. Later that day, he gave the girl a children’s book. Then, he cooked seafood lasagna with wine before the couple had sex again.

“He made the comment that there would be many more corks … many more bottles to share,” Miss Frey testified.

The next day, Dec. 3, she gave Mr. Peterson a car seat and the key to her house, and asked him to pick up her daughter from day care.

“He said he would be honored,” recalled Miss Frey, who returned home to find him warming up the previous night’s dinner. Then all three went out to buy a Christmas tree. While trimming the tree, she said, Mr. Peterson denied that he was ever “close to having children” with anyone else.

Prosecutors have spent much of their case trying to establish that Mr. Peterson’s affair with the massage therapist, and hopes for financial gain, were his motives for killing Laci Peterson.

The testimony about the intensity of their early relationship appeared to counter one aspect of Mr. Peterson’s defense — his attorneys have scoffed at the idea that a man would murder his pregnant wife to be with a single mother he had just met.

But Miss Frey said that from the beginning, Mr. Peterson seemed to want a future with her. The next time they saw each other was Dec. 9, Miss Frey testified, when he told her he had lied about never being married.

Then, she said, he began to cry and told her “he had lost his wife.”

“He said this would be the first holidays he would be spending without her,” she said.

At the time, Miss Frey said, she understood Mr. Peterson to mean that his wife was dead. “I thanked him for sharing that with me,” she said, adding that she asked him whether he still wanted to have a serious relationship with her. “He said absolutely,” she said.

Shawn Sibley, the woman who set up Mr. Peterson with Miss Frey, testified earlier that she had confronted Mr. Peterson on Dec. 6 after learning he was married. He had also told her he “lost” his wife, she said. Miss Sibley said Mr. Peterson begged her to let him break the news to Miss Frey.

Prosecutors appear to be trying to show that Mr. Peterson began hatching the murder plot a day later. Evidence shows he searched ads for used boats on Dec. 7-8, as well as numerous Web sites for fishing information, currents in San Francisco Bay and details on boat ramps in the area.

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