Scott Peterson sentenced to life in prison after escaping death penalty



Peterson, 49, was convicted in 2004 of the murders of his wife Laci and their unborn son Conner. Peterson was originally sentenced to death.

In August 2020, the California Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s death sentence after finding that potential jurors were mistakenly dismissed, in part because they expressed general objections to the death penalty in a questionnaire.

Judge Anne-Christine Massullo on Wednesday ordered Peterson to serve a life sentence without parole for Laci’s first degree murder and a concurrent 15-year life sentence for Conner’s second degree murder.

Laci Peterson’s family members tearfully addressed Peterson in court.

“You didn’t want to have the responsibility of being a father. You are a coward,” said Laci’s mother, Sharon Rocha.

She also spoke about the young man Conner never became.

“He would have been 18 now. Ten months ago you would have been released from child support and not have to worry about being responsible for a child,” Rocha said.

But she said two things will never change: “Laci and Conner will always be dead, and you will always be their murderer.”

The legal saga that led to resentment

Laci Peterson, seven months pregnant with Conner, was reported missing on December 24, 2002. Their bodies washed up on shore and were found separately in April 2003.

A jury found Scott guilty of their murders and he was formally sentenced to death in 2005.

Laci Peterson's disappearance has sparked massive public interest in the case.
Prior to Wednesday, Peterson had been in prison limbo since the California Supreme Court overturned his death sentence in August 2020 for the murder of his wife and unborn child.
Stanislaus County Prosecutor Birgit Fladager said earlier this year she would not seek to reinstate the death penalty after consulting with the families of the victims, who said “the process is just too painful to be endured again “.

“The people submit to the Court that the only sentence available for this accused is a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole plus 15 years of life for the murders of Laci and Conner,” said the wife and son. Peterson’s unborn, according to the Dec. 1 prosecutor’s file. declared.

Conviction comes amid another legal tangle in the Peterson case: In October 2020, the California Supreme Court ordered a lower court to reconsider his murder convictions because a juror did not disclose his involvement in other legal proceedings.
A sketch showing Scott Peterson on his re-conviction on December 8, 2021.

“Juror No.7 committed prejudicial misconduct by failing to disclose his prior involvement in other legal proceedings, including, but not limited to, being the victim of a crime,” wrote the court.

Lawyers for Peterson said the juror’s answers to her voir dire were false and that she was at fault, raising the presumption of prejudice.

Peterson was sentenced to death in 2005 for the 2002 Laci and Conner murders in what was arguably one of the most high-profile trials in recent memory. But in 2020, the state’s highest court found that potential jurors were mistakenly dismissed after expressing general objections to the death penalty on a questionnaire.

“Here, the trial court wrongly dismissed many potential jurors because of the written responses to the questionnaire expressing their opposition to the death penalty, even though jurors gave no indication that their opinions would prevent them from following the death penalty. law – and, indeed, specifically attested in their questionnaire responses that they would not have such difficulties, ”the court wrote in its 2020 decision.

California prosecutors will not seek to restore death penalty against Scott Peterson

Prosecutors have accused Scott Peterson of killing her in their Modesto home and then dumping her body in San Francisco Bay from a fishing boat he recently bought.

Peterson has always maintained his innocence, and his appeals have focused on various aspects of the trial, including the publicity surrounding him, how jurors were chosen, evidence admitted and not admitted at trial, and statements by the prosecutor.

A plethora of circumstantial evidence convinced the jury of his guilt, including the testimony of a woman who said she was dating Peterson – who claimed to be single – and the fact that Peterson claimed to fish in the San Francisco Bay area on the day his wife disappeared.

On November 23, the court ordered Peterson’s transport from San Quentin State Prison to San Mateo County Jail for re-conviction.

Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on the death penalty in 2019. The moratorium is only in effect while Newsom is in power.

California has not executed any detainees since 2006.

Correction: This story has been updated with the correct spelling for San Quentin State Prison.

CNN’s Aya Elamroussi, Alexandra Meeks and Stella Chan contributed to this report.

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