Northern California prosecutors will again seek the death penalty for Scott Peterson in the slaying of his pregnant wife and unborn son nearly 19 years ago
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Northern California prosecutors said Friday they will again seek the death penalty for Scott Peterson in the slaying of his pregnant wife and unborn son nearly 19 years ago, even as a county judge considers throwing out his underlying conviction because of a tainted juror.
Stanislaus County Assistant District Attorney Dave Harris announced that it is prosecutors’ intention to retry the penalty phase of the case, spokesman John Goold said after a court hearing. He said prosecutors otherwise won’t comment or discuss the decision.
District Attorney Birgit Fladager acted after the California Supreme Court in August overturned Peterson’s 2005 death sentence in a case that attracted worldwide attention.
The state’s high court upheld his conviction in that ruling. But the same justices in October ordered a new hearing in San Mateo Superior Court to determine whether his underlying murder conviction must also be tossed out if a juror committed “prejudicial misconduct.”
“He’s innocent — an innocent man’s been sitting in jail for 15 years. It’s time to get him out,” attorney Pat Harris told reporters outside the courtroom in explaining why he is again taking the case. He also was on Peterson’s original trial team alongside celebrity attorney Mark Geragos.
Janey Peterson, his sister-in-law, said the family is looking forward to his new day in court.
“We still need justice for Laci, Connor and Scott,” she told reporters. “We don’t have justice for Laci with Scott on death row, because Scott is innocent.”
Peterson was convicted in San Mateo Superior Court after his trial was moved from Stanislaus County due to the massive pre-trial publicity that followed the Christmas Eve 2002 disappearance of 27-year-old Laci Peterson, who was eight months pregnant with their unborn son, Connor.
Investigators say Peterson took the bodies from their Modesto home and dumped them from his fishing boat into San Francisco Bay, where they surfaced months later.
The Supreme Court said his death sentence could not stand because potential jurors were improperly dismissed from the jury pool after saying they personally disagreed with the death penalty but would be willing to follow the law and impose it.
In the second ruling, it ordered a San Mateo judge to decide whether the conviction itself must be overturned because one juror failed to disclose that she…