Convicted killer Scott Peterson to be re-sentenced for murder of pregnant wife Laci

California

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Scott Peterson will be re-sentenced on Dec. 8, 2021 to life in prison without the possibility of parole, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Peterson will be present in a courtroom at the San Mateo County Courthouse – the same courtroom where his murder trial took place back in 2004 and a jury found him guilty of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci.

The hearing is expected to last two hours, which will allow time for the family of Laci Peterson to make victim impact statements if they wish. Peterson will also be allowed to make a possible statement.

The California Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s death sentence last year because jurors who personally disagreed with the death penalty but were willing to impose it were improperly dismissed.

Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager re-emphasized her commitment to never re-seeking the death penalty against Peterson.

“I have made it very clear that this is no longer a death penalty case. It’s a life without parole case. That’s my position and I’m not going back on it for any reason,” Fladager said.

Peterson’s defense attorney, Pat Harris, responded by saying, “I vehemently disagree. It doesn’t matter what the District Attorney’s Office says.”

Harris has always maintained that Peterson could one day face the death penalty again, because Fladager has the legal authority to change her mind. Harris also noted, the person serving as district attorney also changes. Fladager announced last month that she will not seek another term as district attorney in the 2022 election and she will retire in 2023. Even in retirement, Fladager said she will make herself available for Laci’s family to help with the case in any way she can.

Peterson is seeking a retrial based on potential juror misconduct.

“Our goal is to bring the habeas petition to a successful conclusion as soon as possible,” Fladager said. “If, however, court proceedings continue beyond my last day in office in January 2023, I intend to make myself fully available to assist in ongoing litigation if the next elected District Attorney will allow me to do so. I have already discussed this with Laci’s family.”

A few days before the Dec. 8 sentencing, Peterson has to be transported from San Quentin State Prison to the San Mateo County Jail. The District Attorney said she wants to make sure that, while he’s a San Mateo County Jail inmate, he has no chance of bail.  

The high court found there was considerable circumstantial evidence incriminating him in the first-degree murder of Laci Peterson, 27, who was eight months pregnant, and the second-degree murder of the boy they planned to name Connor.

Prosecutors said Peterson took his wife’s body from their Modesto home on Christmas Eve 2002 and dumped her in San Francisco Bay from his fishing boat. The body of his wife and the boy’s fetus washed ashore in April 2003.

Peterson’s lawyers are seeking a new trial on allegations a juror committed misconduct by falsely answering questions during the selection process.

Defense lawyers said the woman, who co-authored a book on the case, eagerly sought to be a juror in the case and did not disclose she had been a crime victim.

The woman known as Juror 7 did not reveal during jury selection that she had been beaten by a boyfriend while pregnant in 2001. She also didn’t disclose that during another pregnancy she had obtained a restraining order against a boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend, whom she feared would hurt her unborn child.

The judge denied a defense request to take depositions of the juror and witnesses to those crimes against her but said she could be questioned during an evidentiary hearing.

The juror, however, has said she won’t testify at a hearing unless she is granted immunity from prosecution on a possible perjury charge, attorneys said. If not, she will invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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