Almost 17 years after being sentenced to death, Scott Peterson was sentenced to life without parole on Wednesday in a moving hearing in which family members of his pregnant wife, Laci, called him for the Christmas Eve murder in 2002 and his apparent lack of remorse. .
“Scott, 19 years ago today you were planning the murder of Laci,” said his mother, Sharon Rocha, speaking directly to Peterson as he sat expressionless, handcuffed in a red and orange prison uniform.
“I still feel grief every day, after 19 years,” she said. “Your evil, egotistical, unforgivable selfish act ended two beautiful souls. And for what reason ? There was no other reason than that you didn’t want them anymore. You didn’t want a child or the responsibility of being a father. You are a coward. “
California Supreme Court overturns death sentence against Scott Peterson in 2005
“I dream of her,” she added of her daughter, who was 27 and eight months pregnant when she was killed carrying the boy the couple planned to name Connor. “And sometimes when I wake up I cry because they’re so lifelike and I know I’ll never see her again.” “
She also imagines what Connor would look like now, at 18, if he had lived.
The California Supreme Court ruled a year ago that Peterson’s jury had been poorly examined for bias against the death penalty. Stanislaus County Prosecutor Birgit Fladager, who rose to prominence as one of three prosecutors in Peterson’s trial, has this time chosen to settle for life without parole.
Peterson’s attorney, Pat Harris, said his client showed no remorse because he was not guilty. He said, as he has done in the past, that the defense can now prove burglars were nearby on the day Laci went missing – although investigators say they have been excluded as suspects.
Peterson was uniformly portrayed as a loving husband and future father, Harris said, until it became public that he was having an affair around the time of his wife’s disappearance.
Then “he quickly became America’s most hated man,” Harris said, with a notice board outside the courthouse during his trial asking if he was “a man or a man. monster ”.
Peterson was ready to speak, which he did not do at his initial trial and sentencing, Harris said, but Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo did not allow it.
But Harris and Stanislaus County Assistant District Attorney Dave Harris argued over Peterson’s pre-sentence probation report. This has not been made public, but the prosecutor said Peterson “claims he was wrongly convicted, is innocent, and grieves for the loss of his family.”
His defense attorney accused prosecutors of “innuendo” and taking the incidents out of context. Where Peterson lied, he said, was to hide his extramarital affair because he knew it would derail any further investigation.
Laci Peterson’s brother and sister Brent Rocha and Amy Rocha added their own emotional comments during the hearing.
” Because of you. our vacations have never been the same. Every Christmas Eve I relived the nightmare we still live in now, ”said Amy Rocha, sometimes in tears. “Even if the death penalty has been lifted, you will still be punished in this life and after. Massullo resented Peterson without adding his own meaningful comment. She examines separately whether Peterson has been harmed by the misconduct of a juror.
He had been in San Quentin State Prison, home to the death row in California, since he was sentenced to death in March 2005. This followed his conviction in November 2004 during a lawsuit that has been moved 145 kilometers to San Mateo County due to global publicity.
But Massullo said he could not stay on death row once prosecutors said they would no longer demand his execution. He was transferred to the county jail for sentencing and is expected to remain there until Massullo decides whether to get a new trial.
She is planning a week-long hearing from February 25 to March 4 to hear defense allegations that the woman known as Juror 7 falsely answered questions during the selection process.
They say she actively sought to join the jury and later co-wrote a book on the case.
Massullo will have 90 days after next year’s hearing to decide whether Peterson should get a new trial.
Prosecutors said Peterson took his wife’s body to their Modesto home on Christmas Eve 2002 and dumped it from his fishing boat in San Francisco Bay, where it ran aground in April 2003.
“No matter what happens, no matter what happens in the future, there are two things that will never change: Lacey and Connor will always be dead and you will always be their murderer,” Laci’s mother said.
The Supreme Court justices said in their August 2020 decision overturning his death sentence that there was ample circumstantial evidence incriminating Peterson in the first degree murder of Laci and the second degree murder of Connor.
He understood that the bodies washed up near where Peterson admitted he was fishing on the day they went missing. He had researched ocean currents, bought a boat without telling anyone, and couldn’t explain what type of fish he was trying to catch that day.
Additionally, in the weeks following Laci’s disappearance, but before the bodies were washed ashore, he sold his wife’s car, considered selling their house, and turned the nursery into a storage room.
Peterson was eventually arrested after Amber Frey, a massage therapist living in Fresno, told police they started dating a month before his wife died, but told her his wife was dead.
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