The California Supreme court has been ordered to re-examine Scott Peterson’s murder convictions. The order comes two months on the heels of his death penalty being overturned in connection with the death of his wife, Laci, and unborn son, Conner.
Fox News reports that during Peterson’s 2004 trial, one of the jurors, Richelle Nice, committed “prejudicial misconduct” when she failed to disclose that she obtained a restraining order against her boyfriend’s former girlfriend in 2000 for harassment. The juror was pregnant at the time of the restraining order but denied any involvement in any crime-related incidents when asked during jury screening.
When all jurors were asked if they were ever victims of crime or involved in a lawsuit, Nice answered “no” to both questions.
“Juror No. 7 committed prejudicial misconduct by not disclosing her prior involvement with other legal proceedings, including but not limited to being the victim of a crime,” the order read.
Nice was initially an alternate juror, but she was given a seat when another juror was discharged. She later wrote a book about her experience.
According to Peterson’s attorneys, Nice “worked hard” to get on the jury, the Los Angeles Times reports. She reportedly claimed she was willing to serve despite her employer telling her she wouldn’t be paid for time missed from work.
In November 2004, Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder with special circumstances for killing Laci, and second-degree murder for killing Conner. He was sentenced to death.
In August, the California state Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s death sentence due to “significant errors” in jury selection.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, although there was no physical evidence, prosecutors amassed a collection of circumstantial evidence that convinced a San Mateo County jury that Peterson murdered his wife and son.
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 harbormaster.
- 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 Laci and Conner’s remains were found, authorities caught Peterson close to the Mexico border with his hair and beard dyed blonde, an 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.
The Murder of Laci Peterson
Laci was eight months pregnant when she disappeared from her Modesto home she shared with her husband. Peterson became the primary suspect after he was caught in numerous lies throughout the investigation. Investigators also uncovered he was having an affair with a woman he met at a party, Amber Frey.
The affair, according to prosecutors, was one of the most damning pieces of evidence against Peterson. Prosecutors argued that the affair alone didn’t automatically mean murder, but the information Peterson told Frey that made him appear culpable.
Prior to Laci’s disappearance, Peterson told Frey that his wife died previously and the upcoming holidays would be the first without her. He also told Frey that he never wanted children and her daughter from a previous relationship would be enough for him.
On December 23, 2002, the day Laci disappeared, Peterson said he went fishing at the Berkeley Marina. In April 2003, investigators found Laci’s deteriorating body near the San Francisco Bay, around eight miles north of Berkeley Marina. Connor’s body was found, with his umbilical cord still attached, nearby.
On April 18, 2003, police officers arrested Peterson near a golf course in La Jolla.
Reports indicate he was carrying $15,000 in cash, hundreds of sleeping pills, about 10 Viagra pills, multiple cellphones, and an identification card belonging to his brother. He was also found in possession of weapons including a firearm and a dagger.
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[Feature Photo: Scott Peterson/Police Handout; Laci Peterson/Family Handout