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Why was Scott Peterson's death penalty overturned? Convict resentenced to life in prison after years on death row

Scott Peterson was resentenced to life imprisonment after being on death row for 15 years (Image via Getty Images/California Department of Corrections and Twitter/MikeSington)
Scott Peterson was resentenced to life imprisonment after being on death row for 15 years (Image via Getty Images/California Department of Corrections and Twitter/MikeSington)

Scott Peterson, a 49-year-old man convicted for the 2002 murder of his wife and their unborn son, was resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Wednesday, 8 December 2021.

The man was initially arrested in 2004 and spent 15 years on death row until his death penalty was overturned in August 2020 due to improper screening of the jurors. At the time, the California Supreme Court revealed that several jurors were dismissed from the case after expressing their objection to the death penalty.

Scott Peterson has served 6,818 days in prison for the murders of his pregnant wife, Laci, and unborn son, Connor. Moments ago, the judge re-sentenced him to life in prison. https://t.co/qPmK8vzbpg

Meanwhile, juror Richelle Nice was accused of “prejudicial misconduct” for hiding her history of domestic violence and not disclosing a restraining order issued in 2000 against her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend over fears of harming her unborn child.

Although the selection of an impartial jury was questioned, juror Nice denied being influenced by her personal experience. In light of the situation, Scott Peterson’s death penalty was overturned but his conviction remained in place.

Earlier this year, Stanislaus County district attorney Birgit Fladager confirmed she would not request the court to reinstate Peterson’s death penalty after speaking with the victim’s family as the whole process was “too painful [for the family] to endure once again."

Scott Peterson, convicted of murdering his wife Laci Peterson and unborn child, has been sentenced to life in prison after the state Supreme Court had overturned his death sentence. https://t.co/o5t4VFXUCG

On Wednesday, Scott Peterson’s defense attorney Pat Harris mentioned that the former wished to speak in court, but Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo dismissed the request as the sentence was preordained.

As per the latest hearing, Scott Peterson was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment for the first-degree murder of his wife and given another 15 years in prison for the second-degree murder of his unborn child, who was supposed to be named Connor.


A look into the Scott Peterson trial and conviction

Scott Peterson was convicted for the murder of his wife Laci Peterson and their unborn child (Image via Getty Images/Justin Sullivan)
Scott Peterson was convicted for the murder of his wife Laci Peterson and their unborn child (Image via Getty Images/Justin Sullivan)

In December 2002, Laci Peterson was killed on Christmas Eve when she was eight months pregnant with her unborn son. She was initially reported missing, leading to a highly publicized search investigation that garnered national attention.

Prosecutors later charged Scott Peterson based on circumstantial evidence and claimed that he killed his wife and their unborn child at his Modesto residence and later dumped her body in San Francisco Bay from a fishing boat. Laci’s remains were found afloat nearly five months after the incident.

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The accused previously mentioned that he was fishing near San Francisco Bay on the day of Laci’s disappearance. Investigators also received testimony from a massage therapist, who mentioned she started dating Peterson a month before the incident after he told her his wife was already dead.

Scott Peterson was convicted in 2004 and sentenced in 2005. However, he continued to deny his involvement in his wife’s murder. During the latest hearing, Laci Peterson’s mother Sharon Rocha mentioned that she has not seen any sorrow or remorse from Scott in the past 19 years after the former’s death:

"I've seen no sorrow or no remorse from you at all. I know you're going to say you have no remorse because you're innocent, but you haven't shown any grief or sorrow for either of them. I still feel the grief every day after 19 years."

She also called Scott a “murderer” and labeled him a “coward” for not accepting his crime:

"No matter what happens, no matter what transpires in the future, there are two things that will never change: Laci and Conner will always be dead, and you will always be their murderer.”
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The grieving mother was also joined by her two other children, Brent and Amy Rocha. Laci’s brother mentioned that the family was still left “devastated and heartbroken” over her death, while her sister detailed the impact of Scott Peterson’s actions in court:

"You have broken all of our hearts by taking Laci and Conner’s life. I am heartbroken that she never got to meet my family, her family. ... 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. Even though the death penalty has been lifted, you will still be punished in this life and after.”
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On 23 November 2021, Scott Peterson was transported from the San Quentin State Prison to the San Mateo County Jail for his resentencing. He will now serve lifetime imprisonment on charges of murder.

Edited by Siddharth Satish
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