Posted on December 17, 2004

Peterson Case Has Lingering Question

Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times, Dec. 17

Why Scott and Laci?

That’s what I wondered more than once as the drama of the Peterson murder trial played on and on and on and on, reducing death to a prime-time cliche and propping up the careers of countless gasbag pundits, attorneys and other carnies.


Anyone ever hear the names Roger Marquez or Noelle Chagolla?

Of course not. And you may never hear them again.

“I was wondering the same thing about why the Peterson case got a lot of notoriety,” says L.A. County Sheriff’s Det. Rich Ramirez.

He’s the veteran investigator who took the call on the Chagolla slaying on April 14, 2002, drove out to the 21-year-old woman’s East L.A. home and found her body wrapped in bloody blankets. Marquez, now 25, claimed he had come home and discovered his girlfriend’s body, but he later was arrested.

“In all the years I’ve been doing this, it was probably one of the more gruesome cases I’ve handled,” says Ramirez, a homicide detective for six years.

Ramirez gets a new domestic homicide case every four or five months. He says he didn’t want to sound cynical, but he has an opinion about why some murders get press and others don’t.

“We weigh the value of the victim and the defendant, in my estimation,” he says. “And that’s a sad commentary.”

To put it even more bluntly, certain segments of society are expected to kill their loved ones now and again, so when it happens, it’s no big deal.

But Scott Peterson didn’t fit the stereotype. He was white, handsome in a way that still is referred to as “all-American,” and although he might not have had a dream job, the fertilizer salesman seemed to be a reasonably successful suburbanite and golf nut.


If the Petersons were black or Latino, would the case have been on Larry King so often?