By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
"We want it to be a surprise," Smith told them.
It was the most colossal thing that could happen -- something everyone at courttv.com would die to know. Everyone on the boards talked about wanting to make a difference, and here they were doing just that: They were joining the prosecution team!
And they couldn't tell anyone.
One week after the women got Smith's e-mail, the photo became official evidence. Peterson's lawyer, Mark Geragos, was seeking to show that all the cement was accounted for: After making an anchor for his boat, the lawyer claimed, Scott used the rest to repair his driveway. Geragos' expert, Carl Jensen, tested the driveway in September 2004, and Jensen explained that it contained the same material as the anchor.
Prosecutor Dave Harris argued that the Petersons' neighbors had installed an in-ground swimming pool, a sidewalk, and a new concrete footing at their home. Construction workers had used the Petersons' driveway as a storage area. The area had certainly been contaminated.
But Jensen held firm. To his knowledge, he said, cement from the project was never in the driveway.
Harris then pulled out McCallie's photograph. As Harriet Ryan reported that day at www.courttv.com, "Although the prosecutor did not identify the source of the picture, it is identical to the one two courttv.com message board users posted online after an August trip to Modesto."
Ryan reported the subsequent exchange:
"What is that?" the prosecutor asked.
"Concrete mix," Jensen said.
"In the driveway of the Peterson house?"
Jensen paused, then said, "Yeah."
The expert's testimony had been shattered. The photograph proved, beyond a doubt, that cement mix had indeed sat on the Peterson driveway -- and it was there before the defense got around to testing it.
"In the front row of the jury box," Ryan reported, "a male juror smiled and shook his head."
October 18, 2004
CONCERTINA3: They used the cement pic that was just posted on this site!
JEDIMINDTRICKS2: It can't be anyone at this site, unless someone testified as to when the picture was taken.
TANDJ: Way to go Jordy and Katie!
JEDIMINDTRICKS2: If Jordy went to testify Katie would have told us today. Jordy didn't go testify, and it's not her photo. You all can pipe down now.
KATIECOOLADY: All I can say to this thread at this time is that I have no comment. Please don't ask me further questions. Thanks.
Monkman's reticence only fueled the discussion.
"Talk about being gagged," Monkman says. "Not only were they saying it was Jordy's photo, but all the Not Guilties were saying, 'Those two planted that bag of concrete to take the photo.'" Others speculated that they'd trespassed on the Peterson property. ("Have you ever heard of a zoom lens?" Monkman couldn't help but write. After that, she shut up . . . for the most part.)
But the circus had only begun. Peterson supporters claimed the women were on the National Enquirer payroll. (They weren't.) Others accused them of being "carpet munchers." (McCallie is a lesbian. Monkman, who says she is not, just laughs about the comments.) Two women, connecting random dots in the universe, managed to conclude, scientifically, that Monkman was in the employ of the Asian mafia. (She wasn't.)
"There are so many idiots on Court TV," McCallie says, wearily.
When a group of pro-defense posters attacked Monkman, McCallie leapt to her friend's defense. But that earned her a phone call from Lieutenant Smith, who said that attorney Geragos was complaining about her board activity. She'd said nothing about the photo, but she was still warned to pipe down.
(Smith confirms that he had dealt with McCallie on the photo issue, but declined further comment.)
"I felt like I couldn't move," McCallie says. "I couldn't post one word, even if it wasn't about the case, without getting slapped down."
McCallie might have been thrilled to testify. After all, her photo had stopped a defense expert cold. Now all she had to do was explain when and where she'd taken it.
But McCallie had a secret. Years before, in Memphis, she'd co-owned a topless club. After a sting funded by a group called Citizens for Community Values, she and a business partner were indicted on a bevy of charges, including promoting prostitution and public indecency. The judge later tossed out the charges, saying the partners' due process rights had been violated. McCallie had been grateful for the dismissal, but she still deeply regretted that she'd never gotten a chance to prove her innocence.
And she was afraid, more than anything, that Peterson's wily attorney would use the indictment to attack her credibility. The last thing she wanted was to let the prosecutors down.
So she called Gloria Allred.
The lawyer has earned a reputation, and a huge following on Court TV, as a crusader for women's rights -- and one who never saw a TV camera she didn't like. McCallie was a big fan.
Allred called McCallie back later that night, and McCallie's story came tumbling out. Then Allred asked what she could do.
"I don't know . . . I wish I could afford you," McCallie said.