Scott Peterson: California top court orders re-examining of murder conviction after overturning death penalty

Peterson, in November 2004, was convicted of killing his wife Laci and unborn child Conner


                            Scott Peterson: California top court orders re-examining of murder conviction after overturning death penalty
(Getty Images)

Scott Peterson's murder convictions have been ordered to be re-examined by the California Supreme Court. The order from the court comes just two months after his death penalty was overturned in connection to the deaths of his wife Laci, and his unborn son, Conner.

During Peterson's trial in 2004, one of the jurors, Richelle Nice, reportedly committed "prejudicial misconduct" after she did not disclose that she had obtained a restraining order against her boyfriend's former girlfriend in 2000 for harassment. The juror, who was pregnant at the time of the restraining order, denied any involvement in any crime-related incidents when asked during jury screening. Reports state that when all the jurors for the case were asked whether they had ever been victims of crime or involved in a lawsuit, Nice had responded with "no" to both the questions.

The state SC order read: "Juror No. 7 committed prejudicial misconduct by not disclosing her prior involvement with other legal proceedings, including but not limited to being the victim of a crime." Nice was an alternate juror initially. However, she was given a seat on the jury after another jury member was discharged. Nice later wrote about her experience in a book. She claimed that she was willing to serve as a juror despite her employer telling her she wouldn’t be paid for time missed from work. Peterson's attorneys stated that Nice "worked hard" to get on the jury, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Scott Peterson (L) sits with attorney Mark Geragos (Getty Images)

Peterson, in November 2004, was convicted of first-degree murder with special circumstances for killing his wife Laci, and second-degree murder for killing his unborn child Conner. Peterson was sentenced to death. The California Supreme Court, however, in August this year, overturned the death sentence because of "significant errors" in jury selection. Although no physical evidence of the crime was found in the case, prosecutors collected a string of circumstantial evidence, including a strand of hair which linked Peterson to the crime, to convince a jury in San Mateo that Peterson was guilty.

Laci disappeared right before Christmas in 2002 from her home in Modesto which she shared with her husband Scott Peterson. She was eight months pregnant with their son Conner at the time. After a few days into the investigation, Peterson became a primary suspect after investigators found discrepancies in his accounts. It was also discovered that he was having an affair with a woman he had met at a party, Amber Frey.

Peterson, late in November, reportedly told Frey that his wife had died and he would be spending Christmas without her for the first time. He made the statement just days before Laci's disappearance, making authorities suspicious of him. He had also told Frey that he never wanted children and that a daughter from a previous relationship was enough for him. According to the prosecutors, the affair was one of the most damning pieces of evidence against Peterson. 

Investigators, in April 2003, found Laci’s deteriorating body near the San Francisco Bay, around eight miles north of Berkeley Marina. Peterson had told authorities on the day of Laci's disappearance that he had gone fishing that day at the Berkeley Marina. Although Laci's body was unrecognizable with her head, hands and most internal organs missing, her uterus was still intact. Conner's body was found nearby with his umbilical cord still attached. Peterson was arrested on April 18, 2003 near a golf course in La Jolla. Reports state that his car was "overstuffed" and he was carrying $15,000 in cash, hundreds of sleeping pills, viagra pills, multiple cellphones, and had changed his hair color to blonde from brown.

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