Scott Peterson, a California man who was convicted for the 2002 murder of his pregnant wife, Laci, was resentenced to life in prison Wednesday, according to reports.
Peterson, now 49, was given the death penalty after his conviction in 2004. But the state Supreme Court ruled last year that jurors at his trial were improperly screened, and the sentence was overturned. On Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo ordered that the convicted killer spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Lawyers for Peterson are also appealing to have his 2004 conviction overturned, claiming that at least one juror lied to court officials during the screening process. Hearings on the matter are scheduled for February, after which Judge Massullo will decide whether to grant a new trial, according to local reports.
Life in Prison for Scott Peterson, Judge Rules
At the sentencing hearing Wednesday, loved ones of the slain Laci Peterson and her unborn son Conner told the court they could not forgive her husband for her murder.
“No matter what happens, no matter what transpires in the future, there were two things that will never change: Laci and Conner will always be dead and you will always be their murderer,” Laci’s mother Sharon Rocha said through tears.
“[Conner] would have been 18 years old by now. Ten months ago you would have been free of child support and not have to worry about being responsible for a child,” she told Peterson. “You didn’t want the responsibility of being a father. You’re a coward.”
Brent Rocha, the victim’s brother, said he believed Scott Peterson has “shown absolutely no remorse” in the years since the 2002 killing. He told the court he hoped the 49-year-old received “the most severe sentence possible.”
In the end, Judge Massullo gave Peterson the exact sentence that prosecutors had recommended: life in prison without the possibility of parole for Laci’s murder, and a concurrent sentence of 15 years to life for Conner’s death.
Judge Considering New Trial for Peterson
Peterson spent the year after his death sentence was overturned living in a legal gray area, according to reports. He had been living on death row in San Quentin State Prison, but was told he could not live there after his execution was overturned and after prosecutors said they would not seek the death penalty again.
Moreover, he can’t be sent to prison again until the judge decides whether he gets a new trial. He was reportedly shuttled to a county jail for his re-sentencing hearing, and officials said he will stay there until a decision is made.
Peterson’s lawyers have claimed that a specific juror in the case “committed prejudicial misconduct” during the screening process not disclosing her prior involvement with other legal proceedings, including but not limited to being the victim of a crime.”
Hearings on the matter are scheduled from Feb. 25 through March 4. Afterward, Judge Massullo will issue a ruling within 90 days.
Peterson Accused of Cold-Blooded Murder
Laci Peterson was eight months pregnant when she disappeared on Christmas Eve in 2002.
Scott, who told authorities he was fishing at the Berkeley Marina when his wife went missing, quickly became a person of interest to investigators. Detectives reportedly noted he seemed strangely calm for a man whose pregnant wife had just vanished.
In April 2003, five months after her disappearance, the badly decomposed remains of Laci and Conner were found washed up on a Richmond beach, not far from where Scott said he had gone fishing. When he was arrested days later, he had dyed his hair blond, and police said they found survival gear and $15,000 cash in his vehicle.
Prosecutors later determined that Scott Peterson had killed Laci — and Conner, by extension — at their Modesto home before dumping their bodies in the San Francisco Bay. She was 27.