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Teen-agers Waive Right to Preliminary Hearing in Newborn’s Death

November 26, 1996

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) _ Two teen-agers charged with murder in the death of a newborn baby have waived their right to a preliminary hearing under an agreement with prosecutors and will likely be indicted in two weeks.

Brian C. Peterson Jr. and Amy Grossberg, both 18, are charged with first-degree murder in the death of the boy, which was wrapped in a plastic bag and dumped in a trash bin shortly after his birth in a motel room.

The 6-pound, 2-ounce boy was born healthy. An autopsy showed he died of multiple skull fractures and brain injuries. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.

The grand jury met Monday, but returned no indictment, and the panel doesn’t meet again until Dec. 9. Meanwhile, defense lawyers waived a Wednesday preliminary hearing for the couple.

``We waived it. Obviously there’s reasons. We can’t comment on what they are. They’re good reasons obviously,″ said one of Peterson’s three lawyers, Joseph A. Hurley, who was insisting on the hearings last week.

It wasn’t clear what the defense may gain from waiving the preliminary hearings, which tend to favor the accused because they force prosecutors to show publicly why they think they have a case. Attorneys are under a gag order and are severely restricted in what they can say.

But one possibility is that the state could drop plans to seek the death penalty. Prosecutors also could pursue lesser charges.

Also Monday, Peterson was released from a prison infirmary and was put in protective custody, segregated from other inmates. Ms. Grossberg also is being held without bond pending trial.

The two high school sweethearts from northern New Jersey grew up in wealthy, suburban neighborhoods. Their dire situation has left neighbors and friends in shock.

``None of the parents knew about the pregnancy,″ said Mark Saperstein, an attorney and friend of Peterson’s mother, Barbara Zuchowski, during a call to a taping of ``The Maury Povich Show″ to be aired Tuesday.

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