Laci Peterson

Convicted wife and baby killer Scott Peterson argues for new trial at California Supreme Court

An attorney for California killer Scott Peterson, convicted of murdering his wife Laci Peterson and their unborn son, asked the state Supreme Court for a new trial on Tuesday, arguing that the trial judge made crucial errors that prevented Peterson from getting a fair trial, the Modesto Bee reported.

Peterson, 47, is currently on death row at San Quentin prison after his 2004 conviction. Peterson’s defense filed a brief in 2012, outlining the details of the appeal.

Attorney Cliff Gardner told the court Tuesday that the publicity of the case threatened the outcome of the trial, arguing that a San Mateo County judge failed to move the trial far enough away to get a fair trial for Peterson.

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Gardner also accused the judge of dismissing jurors who did not believe in the death penalty, which according to the lawyer, prevented from hearing the case fully and following the supposed lack of evidence.

Supervising Deputy Attorney General Donna Provenzano argued that there was no evidence jurors had any bias in the case or that a different location would have brought a different outcome. She also said prosecutors presented a “mountain of evidence” that Peterson was guilty.

Provenzano also said that the trial judge had extensive experience with death penalty cases and that if he had made any errors in excluding jurors, the remedy would be to redo the sentencing phase of the trial only.

Gardner argued that both the sentencing and guilt phases of trial should be redone.

Peterson did not take part in Tuesday’s hearing which was conducted by video conference because of the coronavirus pandemic. The justices have up to 90 days to render a decision.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, prosecutors amassed a collection of circumstantial evidence that convinced a San Mateo County jury that Peterson indeed murdered his wife and son, despite a lack of physical evidence. For instance, according to court documents, the following circumstantial evidence was strong enough to lead to Peterson’s conviction.

  • Trained dogs picked up Laci’s scent at the Berkeley Marina, where Peterson claimed he went fishing when Laci vanished; her remains were later found close to the same area.
  • Peterson visited the crime scene repeatedly.
  • The tarp Peterson used on his fishing trip was covered in gasoline in his shed; gasoline is known to destroy DNA.
  • Another tarp was found buried in fertilizer, also known to destroy DNA, according to Dr. Henry Lee, who testified at Peterson’s trial.
  • Peterson told detectives he stopped fishing because it began to rain, although there was no precipitation at the Berkeley Marina on the day in question, according to the harbor master.
  • Peterson claimed Laci was watching a cooking segment on television when he left their home on December 24, but the show he referenced aired on December 23.
  • Laci wore a diamond necklace, sapphire ring and band each and every time she left her home. On the day she disappeared, the jewelry was left in her bedroom.
  • After the remains were found, authorities caught Peterson close to the Mexico border with his hair and beard dyed blonde, identification that didn’t belong to him, several credit cards, clothes, knives, four cell phones, a rope, camping supplies, and around $15,000 in cash.

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[Feature Photo: Scott Peterson/Police Handout; Laci Peterson/Family Handout]