San Francisco, CA – Scott Peterson, the man convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and dumping her body into the San Francisco Bay over 15 years ago, could potentially have his conviction overturned due to a recent California Supreme Court decision.
Prosecutors told the trial jury in 2004 that Laci Peterson was either suffocated or strangled by her husband, who then wrapped her in a blue tarp, attached anchors to her body, and dumped her off of his boat into the San Francisco Bay.
Scott Peterson, 47, was convicted of his wife’s murder and sentenced to death by lethal injection in 2005, The New York Times reported.
The California Supreme Court decided on Oct. 14 to send his case back to San Mateo County Superior Court after determining that one of the jurors who found him guilty had allegedly 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 Los Angeles Times reported.
The juror, Richelle Nice, neglected to disclose that while she was pregnant, she had obtained a restraining order against her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend due to harassment.
Nice was originally seated as an alternate, but ended up replacing a discharged juror during the deliberation phase of Peterson’s 2004 murder trial, the Los Angeles Times reported.
She and other jurors later published a book about their experience serving on the jury.
According to Peterson’s attorneys, Nice lied during jury selection when she said she had never been involved in a lawsuit or been the victim of a crime, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Nice had actually filed a lawsuit in 2000 to obtain the restraining order against her boyfriend’s ex and said she believed the woman was a threat to her unborn child.
The woman was charged, convicted, and sentenced to one week in jail based on Nice’s filing, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The order to reexamine Peterson’s case comes approximately two months after the California State Supreme Court overturned the convicted killer’s death sentence.
“Before the trial began, the trial court made a series of clear and significant errors in jury selection,” the court ruled in August.
The court determined that the trial court “erroneously dismissed many prospective jurors” who expressed opposition to the death penalty on written questionnaires, “even though the jurors gave no indication that their views would prevent them from following the law,” according to The New York Times.
In fact, the jurors “specifically attested in their questionnaire responses that they would have no such difficulty,” the court noted.
Attorney Mark Geragos, who represented Scott Peterson during his murder trial, said that dismissing the prospective jurors resulted in “a jury with a pro-prosecution bent,” The New York Times reported.
Geragos further argued that the entire conviction should have been overturned.
“If you say that jury selection is fundamentally flawed, how can you say that the guilty verdict is not fundamentally flawed?” he asked.
Prosecutors are free to seek the death penalty again during a new sentencing hearing, the court added.
Scott Peterson claimed he was fishing in Berkeley on the day Laci Peterson disappeared, and said that he left his pregnant wife at their Modesto home, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The bodies of Laci Peterson and her unborn son washed up in San Francisco Bay four months later, just miles away from where Scott Peterson said he had been fishing.
Conner’s umbilical cord was still attached when his body was discovered by a dogwalker.
Prosecutors alleged that Scott Peterson murdered his wife so he could continue his relationship with his mistress, Amber Frey, The New York Times reported.
Frey said that when she and Scott Peterson began dating in November of 2002, he had told her he was unmarried.
But as news of Laci Peterson’s disappearance spread and the search for the missing woman made national headlines, a friend alerted Frey that the man she was dating was involved in the case, The New York Times reported.
Frey contacted investigators and told them that Scott Peterson told her in early December that his wife had recently died, according to court records.
She subsequently helped investigators by recording various phone conversation she had with Scott Peterson, the Los Angeles Times reported.
When police arrested him in San Diego County on the murder charge, he had changed his appearance and was carrying $15,000 in cash, according to court documents.
Geragos claimed during the trial that strangers framed Scott Peterson for his pregnant wife’s murder.