REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - The judge in Scott Peterson's murder trial dismissed the jurors for the day Wednesday, saying, "There's been a potential development in this case."
Judge Alfred A. Delucchi said the development has to be checked out before the trial could go any further.
He made the comments after emerging from a 45-minute meeting with attorneys. The judge didn't say what the development was and the lawyers are barred by a gag order from discussing it.
Delucchi had said defense attorneys would begin their cross-examination of star witness Amber Frey, Peterson's former lover, on Wednesday morning. The defense had even set up a big screen with a digital media presentation before the lawyers went behind closed doors.
Frey is now scheduled to take the stand again Monday. Three other witnesses will likely testify Thursday, the judge said. Prosecutors are trying to show jurors that an affair with Frey was Peterson's motive for killing his pregnant wife, Laci, who vanished just before Christmas 2002.
On Tuesday, jurors heard the fifth day of phone conversations between Peterson and Frey that she had taped at the request of police. In all, jurors heard 24 of the more than 200 calls that the two made to each other while authorities searched for Laci between late December 2002 and February 2003.
Under an order from Delucchi, defense attorney Mark Geragos cannot ask Frey during cross-examination about any relationships she had before or after meeting Peterson unless they were discussed on the taped conversations.
In a call Feb. 7, 2003, played in court Tuesday, Peterson tells Frey he is spending the night in Sacramento and will call her the next day from a pay phone.
Frey asks Peterson why he is going to Sacramento.
"I can tell you but not on these phones," Peterson replies, in an apparent reference to his calls being listened to. It was unclear whether Peterson knew Frey was taping him.
In a later call, Peterson expresses frustration that Laci's family "is accusing me of having something to do with it (her disappearance) now."
Prosecutors allege Peterson killed Laci in their Modesto home on or around Dec. 24, 2002, then dumped her weighted body from a small boat into San Francisco Bay. Her badly decomposed remains and the couple's fetus washed up along a bay shore in April 2003, not far from where Peterson said he launched a solo fishing trip the day she vanished.
Geragos argues Peterson was framed after the real killer learned of his widely publicized alibi. The defense concedes Peterson had an extramarital affair but said that fact does not make him a killer.
During one on Feb. 7 played Tuesday, Peterson presses Frey to see him.
"I just know that if we got to sit down ... I think of how both of us could be experiencing something so unbelievable that I think it would help both of us," Peterson says.
"I just don't see how that would be possible," Frey says.
Peterson calls back several minutes later. He can be heard sobbing throughout the call.
"You know I'm not a monster, Amber," he says before suggesting the pair meet at a friend's mountain home about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.