REDWOOD CITY, Calif. -- An aunt and a store clerk testified yesterday about Laci Peterson's recent jewelry inheritance as prosecutors appeared to be trying to establish a monetary motive for Scott Peterson to want his pregnant wife dead.
A jewelry store clerk, Mary Anna Felix, said she remembered Laci Peterson bringing in items to be appraised and saying her husband wanted to know how much the jewelry was worth. When Felix estimated the jewelry to be worth more than $100,000, ''she said that he would be very happy."
Felix also said Laci Peterson wore a diamond pendant, and told her she never took it off, even when she slept, for fear of losing it.
Prosecutors showed a picture of the pendant atop a dresser in the Petersons' home. The photo was taken after Laci Peterson vanished.
In the months before Laci Peterson's disappearance, she and other family members had inherited jewelry from her grandmother.
Robin Rocha, Laci Peterson's aunt, testified that she and Laci inventoried the jewelry and that after Laci disappeared, a watch and a pair of two-carat diamond earrings were missing.
Prosecutors have said Scott Peterson's affair with a massage therapist drove him to murder. Yesterday's questioning introduced another possible motive -- that with Laci out of the way, Scott might have thought that he could profit from the jewelry.
The owners of a Modesto pawn shop testified that Laci Peterson sold some of her grandmother's jewelry on Dec. 10 for $140 and on Dec. 14, Laci and Scott Peterson returned to the store to sell more items for $110.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Mark Geragos displayed a receipt that showed someone sold a watch, identical to the one Rocha claimed was missing after Laci vanished, on Dec. 31, 2002, at another area pawn shop. Geragos didn't say whose name was on the pawn shop receipt, but indicated it wasn't Scott Peterson.
Defense lawyers claim someone else abducted Laci Peterson and dumped her body in San Francisco Bay to frame Peterson after his alibi was widely publicized.
Prosecutors allege Peterson, 31, killed his pregnant wife in their Modesto home on or around Dec. 24, 2002, then dumped her body into the bay.
Peterson could face the death penalty or life without parole if convicted.
Earlier yesterday, Modesto police Sergeant Timothy Helton described how authorities investigated several tips in the days after Laci Peterson vanished.
Prosecutors appeared to use Helton, at least in part, to dispute defense claims that investigators focused solely on Peterson, ignoring other suspects.
Under cross-examination yesterday, Helton said helicopters with heat-seeking devices flew over the Tracy area, but that authorities never searched the buildings on the property.