Penalty phase of Scott Peterson’s murder case to be retried

Local News

STANISLAUS COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — An overturned death sentence — and possibly a new trial: these are the two separate California Supreme Court decisions that have impacted Scott Peterson’s murder case.

The case was back in a Stanislaus County courtroom on Friday, where prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty again for Peterson, who appeared remotely from San Quentin prison.

“We’ve been waiting a long time, and we got a favorable ruling in both his appeal and his habeas petition,” said Janey Peterson, Peterson’s sister-in-law.

His sister-in-law says they’ve waited for more than a decade for a new day in court, and the family is prepared for the long haul.

“We’ve all learned to kind of temper our hope, because none of it moves quickly, but certainly we are very hopeful with the decisions that have been made the last couple of months,” she continued.

Peterson was convicted in 2004 of killing his wife Laci and their unborn son Conner. He was sentenced to death, but that sentence has been reversed by the California Supreme Court. 

In Friday’s hearing, which was limited due to COVID-19 precautions, prosecutors said they want to retry the penalty phase of the case.  

The legal move came as a surprise to Peterson’s legal team.

“They made the decision today on record that they are going to retry the penalty phase. That was not known to any of us,” said Pat Harris, Peterson’s lawyer, who was involved in the initial trial.

Harris will also represent Peterson in Stanislaus County.

“We’re satisfied that we’re gonna get our day in court. If they want to retry it, we’ll be there,” Harris proclaimed. “And, boy, we’ll be there bigger and better than they’ve ever seen.”

Harris says the process will require a whole new jury — and because “they haven’t heard the evidence, you basically have to do the entire trial again.”

There’s also another hearing later this month in San Mateo County Superior Court, where it will be decided if Peterson’s conviction should be tossed out.     

In August, the California Supreme Court overturned his 2005 death sentence, and then in October, the same court ordered a new hearing because of “prejudicial misconduct” by a juror. The juror failed to reveal that while pregnant, she’d sought a restraining order against her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend.

For now, Peterson’s sister-in-law is getting ready for everything, including the possibility of a new trial.

She says her fight for justice is for everyone involved. 

“We still need justice for Laci, Conner and Scott,” she said. “We don’t have justice for Laci with Scott on death row.”

The court proceedings in Stanislaus County will resume Nov. 6, but Harris said he will need to speak to Peterson to find out how exactly he wants to proceed. 

The hearing in San Mateo is set for Nov. 13.

Lara Yeretsian, one of Scott Peterson’s former lawyers, spoke to FOX40 about the latest developments in his case. 

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