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Peterson defense phase is delayed

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. -- The judge in the Scott Peterson murder trial yesterday delayed the start of the defense case for a week.

Judge Alfred A. Delucchi said the delay was the result of legal issues. Prosecutors asked for the delay to prepare their rebuttal to photos provided along with the defense's latest list of witnesses, sources familiar with the case told the Associated Press.

The list is said to be unchanged from the one given prosecutors at the start of trial, but the photos were new.

The photos and an expert witness are expected to be used to rebut prosecutors' claims that Peterson used four homemade cement anchors to sink his wife's body in San Francisco Bay.

"I hate to tell you this . . . but we've got some problems that have arisen here. Some legal issues have come up," Delucchi told jurors after a half-hour, closed-door meeting with attorneys. "I know your time is important. This case is important, too."

Delucchi estimated that closing arguments will begin the first week of November.

Prosecutors rested their case Oct. 5 after presenting 174 witnesses over 19 weeks. The defense was to begin its case yesterday.

Prosecutors allege Peterson killed his pregnant wife on or around Dec. 24, 2002, then dumped her body into San Francisco Bay. The bodies of Laci Peterson and the fetus she carried washed up about four months later, a few miles from where Peterson says he was fishing alone the day his wife went missing.

Defense lawyers say someone else abducted Laci and possibly held her captive while police focused on Peterson.

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