White Male Resentenced To Life In Prison For Killing His Pregnant Wife
The family of Laci Peterson — who was brutally murdered by her husband, Scott Peterson, at eight months pregnant — faced her killer for the first time in almost 20 years during his resentencing to life in prison without parole Wednesday, saying he is the one who deserved to die.
Scott Peterson was back in court over the 2002 slayings of his wife and unborn son after the California Supreme Court overturned his death penalty sentence last year.
“Laci’s dead, Scott, because she loved you. She trusted you,” her mother, Sharon Rocha, said on the stand. “And she believed in you, and you betrayed her, and your son, and everybody else.”
Wednesday’s hearing followed the high court’s ruling that the jury wasn’t correctly screened for opinions on capital punishment when convicting Peterson. Judge Anne-Christine Massullo resentenced Peterson to life in prison without parole for the murder of his wife, and 15 years to life for the murder of his unborn child.
The hearing was emotionally wrought, as members of Laci’s family fought through tears to speak, but there was no emotion from Peterson, who sat masked and stone-faced.
“It’s been 19 years, and there’s not a day that doesn’t go by that I don’t think about my sister and the life that she could have had, and the life we could all [have] had with her and Conner,” Laci’s sister Amy Rocha said in her heart-wrenching testimony. “She never got to meet my family, her family and that my boys will never know their aunt and cousin. There have been so many special occasions that Laci and Conner should have been here for. It makes me sick being here today in front of you again.”
Up to 16 of the slain mom-to-be’s family and friends were slated to be seated in the jury box but just three ultimately gave testimony. All three lamented that the death penalty ruling had been overturned.
During Scott’s closely watched first sentencing, Laci’s dad — who died in 2018 — screamed at his daughter’s killer, telling him he was “going to burn in hell for this.”
Peterson did not speak in court Wednesday, although his defense attorney Pat Harris also had said his client might. He also did not take the stand during his 2004 murder trial.
The Petersons became household names when Laci, 27 years old at the time and heavily pregnant with the couple’s son, Conner, disappeared on Christmas Eve in 2002.
Scott was arrested after Laci and her unborn son’s remains washed ashore on the San Francisco Bay in April 2003.
The case received so much media attention that the murder trial had to be moved to a new location 90 miles away. Scott has long maintained his innocence, even after his conviction.
In a searing statement, Laci’s mom spoke to the premeditated nature of the murder and the deep disgust and betrayal she feels toward her son-in-law.
“On December 15 — 19 years ago — one week from today, Ron and I had dinner at your house with you and Laci … all the while we were there that evening, you were already planning her murder,” Rocha said. “You’d already researched where you’re going to dump her body. You’d already bought the boat. You’d already told your girlfriend you’d lost your wife. Clearly premeditated. There’s no doubt about it. How evil you are … and that evening was the last time I ever saw my daughter alive.”
Of the statements, the mother’s was the longest and she spoke with palpable anger in her voice. “Your evil self-centered unforgivable selfish act ended two beautiful souls. And for what reason? There was no reason other than then you just didn’t want them anymore,” she said, then calling him a “coward” who didn’t want to be responsible for a child.
Harris defended his client’s character Wednesday in court, attempting to counter what he said was a false media narrative about him.
“This is a young man who worked from the time he was a teenager, worked his way, paid his way through school. Bought a restaurant with Laci … Far from being some spoiled rich kid,” Harris said. “He pretty much did it on his own with a little help occasionally from his parents. But he was, he was the furthest thing from a spoiled kid.”
Laci would be 46 years old today, and her son would be 18 had they not been murdered. In Sharon Rocha’s testimony, she fantasized about what her grandson would have been like, saying she thinks he would have “dark hair, dark eyes, like his mother, be about six feet tall.”
“He’d be an honest person,” she continued, “a reliable person, inquisitive, a smart person, and a good hearted, young man.
Scott has been on death row in San Quentin State Prison since 2005, but prosecutors had said they would not seek another death penalty sentence, instead opting for life in prison without parole. He will remain in San Mateo County Jail until his evidentiary hearing in February 2022.
The defense is seeking a new trial, claiming that one of the jurors actively sought to get on the jury, deceiving the court in hopes of writing a book about the case, according to the AP.
In October 2020, the California Supreme Court issued an “order to show cause” that requires a San Mateo County judge to examine whether that juror committed misconduct and if Peterson’s guilty verdict should be overturned. The hearing, which is scheduled to take place in February 2022, will be a full-blown trial where witnesses could be called, including the juror in question.
However, the juror, Richelle Nice, is demanding immunity to protect herself against self-incrimination, according to court documents.
Mark Geragos, Scott Peterson’s defense attorney in the first trial, spoke to the Post exclusively after Wednesday’s resentencing and said there is a good chance that Peterson’s guilty verdict could be reversed if Nice does not get immunity.
“If in fact she lied to get on the jury, then the trial judge would have to grant a new trial,” Geragos said. “If she can’t be cross examined on her declaration because she asserts her Fifth Amendment, then the declaration is inadmissible and there is no evidence to oppose the order to show cause.”
Geragos added, “It seems to be a form of Kabuki theater since there is currently an Order to Show Cause as to why the conviction itself shouldn’t be reversed. The juror alleged to have committed the misconduct is invoking her Fifth Amendment rights and demanding immunity, which begs the question what does she need immunity for? With a moratorium on the death penalty in California, it seems like the only possible reason for insisting in resentencing now was to try and get rid of his Habeas Project lawyers since it’s no longer a death penalty case.”
Prosecutors say Scott killed Laci and dumped her in the San Francisco Bay. Before the killing, he had secretly bought a boat and had researched the bay’s currents.
Scott also admitted he was fishing on the day they disappeared, near where their bodies washed ashore, but he couldn’t say what type of fish he wanted to catch.
Also, in the weeks after Laci disappeared, he sold her car, looked into selling their house, and turned the baby nursery into a storage room.