Scott Peterson penalty phase to be retried, prosecutors say

Peterson will be represented by attorney Pat Harris, who was involved in the original trial with defense counsel Mark Geragos.

Kate Larsen Image
ByKate Larsen KGO logo
Monday, November 23, 2020
Scott Peterson penalty phase to be retried, prosecutors say
The Stanislaus County District Attorney's office announced in court Friday it will retry the penalty phase in the case of convicted murderer Scott Peterson.

STANISLAUS COUNTY, Calif. -- 18 years after his wife and unborn son were found washed up and mutilated on the shore of the San Francisco Bay, Scott Peterson is looking at the possibility of his murder conviction getting overturned.

Two months after Scott Peterson's capital sentence was overturned, prosecutors in Stanislaus County said Friday that they will ask for the death penalty again for Peterson, who was convicted in 2004, of killing his wife, Laci Peterson and their unborn son.

RELATED: Scott Peterson's murder convictions to be reexamined in California court

Peterson appeared remotely from San Quentin. He was wearing a mask.

Former San Francisco prosecutor, Jim Hammer, covered the Peterson trial on a daily basis as a legal analyst.

"Every death penalty case gets a double and triple scrutiny, so if there's any small error made through all of the appeal processes it will eventually come out and that's what happened in this case," said Hammer.

The California Supreme Court unanimously overturned Peterson's death sentence in August because a judge reportedly dismissed prospective jurors improperly.

However, there's a second issue playing out simultaneously which could result in Peterson's entire conviction getting overturned, making the death penalty issue a moot point.

A juror, Richelle Nice, is being accused of lying her way onto the jury.

VIDEO: How the Laci Peterson Case Unfolded

Laci Peterson, who was 8 months pregnant, went missing from her Modesto home in 2002.

During jury selection, she said she had never been the victim of a crime, when in fact it's alleged she was threatened and assaulted when she herself was four months pregnant.

"That's a serious error," said Hammer."Think to yourself - is that a fair jury? If a juror has lied about her own experience as a victim of crime?"

On Friday in Stanislaus County, Scott Peterson's defense attorney, Pat Harris, said Peterson is happy the court is taking a second look at his case.

"He's innocent. An innocent man's been sitting in jail for 15 years, it's time to get him out," said Harris.

"Am I frustrated, yes? That's the court system for you"

ABC7 News spoke to, John Guinasso, by phone. He was juror number 8 in the Peterson trial.

RELATED: Scott Peterson's death penalty conviction overturned, new trial on penalty phase ordered

"I know he's guilty. That's how all 12 of us voted," said Guinasso.

Guinasso says the jury selection process was thorough and says this about Richelle Nice.

"She didn't present a bias in the jury room when we deliberated," said Guinasso."I don't see why there should be a penalty phase."

Nice's Oakland based attorneys, Elliot Silver and Negad Zaky, released a statement that says in part, "Ms. Nice did not willfully withhold any information, she did not mislead the court, the attorneys, the parties, or anyone involved in the case. They go on to say, "Her decision to vote guilty was based on the evidence presented at the trial and not on any predisposition or desire to punish Peterson as his lawyers are now suggesting."

A judge in San Mateo County, where the Peterson trial took place, will have to decide if there was juror misconduct.

As for the death penalty issue, a new court date is set for Nov. 6 in Stanislaus County.

Read Nice's attorneys' full statement below:

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