SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Convicted murderer Scott Peterson, currently serving a life sentence in San Quentin State Prison, appeared in court for back-to-back hearings Tuesday. His legal team went back and forth with California state prosecutors, considering a start date for the retrial in the penalty phase of his case.
Peterson was sentenced to death in 2005 for allegedly killing his wife, Laci, and her unborn child Conner. Prosecutors say Peterson dumped his wife’s body into the San Francisco Bay, weighing it down with anchors after driving from their home in Modesto. Prosecutors allege Peterson killed his wife and son following insurmountable financial problems, impending fatherhood, and a recent affair in a desire to be debt-free and single.
In August, Peterson’s death sentence was overturned in a 7-0 decision by the California Supreme Court, citing “significant errors” in jury selection. Peterson’s trial judge, Alfred Delucchi, dismissed jurors who had opposed capital punishment without asking them if they could set their views aside.
“Jurors may not be excused merely for opposition to the death penalty, but only for views rendering them unable to fairly consider imposing that penalty in accordance with their oath,” Justice Leondra Kruger said. “This is the meaning of the guarantee of an impartial jury.”
The judge in Peterson’s penalty phase retrial granted a motion allowing extended time for attorneys to provide the San Mateo DA’s office with a discovery request, local outlets reported. The lawyers for both sides are set to meet again on June 21, and have until June 28 to obtain a new jury or a waiver for a penalty phase retrial.
Peterson’s second hearing was in relation to a challenge he filed claiming a juror lied during questioning in 2004. His lawyers say the woman failed to disclose the filing of a restraining order against her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend upon being asked if she had ever been the victim of a crime. Investigators for Peterson were granted 60 days to investigate domestic violence committed against the woman when she was pregnant in the early 2000s.
Peterson will return to court for his next hearings in June.