Scott Peterson was sentenced Wednesday to life imprisonment without parole for the 2002 murder of his unborn baby and wife. He had spent more than 10 years on death row.
Peterson’s resentencing came after California’s Supreme Court last year overturned his death sentence for the improper screening of jurors for bias and later said a lower court should determine whether he gets a new trial. The court, however, did not overturn his conviction and said considerable circumstantial evidence incriminated Peterson.
Peterson defense attorney Pat Harris said that Peterson wanted to be present at Wednesday’s hearing. But Superior Court Judge Anne Christine Massullo didn’t allow him. She stated that because Peterson was already sentenced, the judge would not permit an allocution.
Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder in his wife Laci Peterson’s death and second-degree murder in the death of their unborn son, who was to be named Connor.
The high-profile case gripped the nation as prosecutors said Peterson dumped the bodies off a boat on Christmas Eve 2002, and the remains later washed ashore in April 2003 from the San Francisco Bay.
Laci Peterson’s siblings and mother spoke at the sentencing hearing about their grief over losing Laci for 19 years. They also regretted not seeing Connor grow up.
Your selfish, evil and self-centered act of selfishness ended the lives of two wonderful souls.
Why? There was no reason other than you just didn’t want them anymore,” Laci Peterson’s mother, Sharon Rocha, said during the hearing.
Massullo plans to hold a hearing next year to consider whether juror misconduct prejudiced Peterson and if there should be a new trial.
Harris said Wednesday that Peterson had shown no remorse and certain mitigating circumstances supported his innocence.
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Investigators sought out clues in the disappearance of Laci Peterson and gathered thousands of tips. Scott Peterson was finally arrested when a massage therapist informed investigators they started dating one month before Laci Peterson died. Scott Peterson then told Laci Peterson that he had lost his wife.
Peterson was accused of lying to numerous people during the time between Laci Peterson’s death and the hearing. The defense lawyer for Peterson said that the remarks were not true.
Last year, state Supreme Court justices said the trial judge “made a series of clear and significant errors in jury selection that, under long-standing United States Supreme Court precedent, undermined Peterson’s right to an impartial jury at the penalty phase.”
A closer look:Scott Peterson to have murder convictions for wife and unborn child reexamined
Some jurors were improperly dismissed after saying they personally disagreed with the death penalty but could impose it in following the law, the justices ruled.
In deciding whether Peterson is eligible for a new trial the judge will examine whether Peterson was prejudiced by a jury member’s incorrect answers. His defense says she sought to join the jury.
The juror did not disclose that she had been beaten by a boyfriend while pregnant and sought a restraining order against a boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend, in which she said she feared for her unborn child.
Harris stated that Harris would be presenting evidence to support the defense’s claim that Laci Peterson died as a result of a nearby theft that occurred on that same day. But investigators have previously excluded the burglars from being suspects.
Contributing: The Associated Press