Scott Peterson, who was convicted in 2004 for the murder of his wife, pregnant schoolteacher Laci Peterson, scored an unexpected legal victory in August when the California Supreme Court overturned his death sentence and ordered a new trial.
Now, on Wednesday, October 14, the same court has ruled that a trial judge should examine whether the convictions for murdering Laci and their unborn son should be overturned.
Specifically, a juror in the hearings failed to disclose her involvement with other legal proceedings, including a restraining order that she had obtained against the ex-girlfriend of her boyfriend. The juror was pregnant at the time and reportedly feared for her unborn child as a result of the harassment she allegedly received from the ex-girlfriend.
According to Peterson’s lawyers, all potential jurors were asked whether they had ever been a victim of a crime or involved in a lawsuit; the juror in question said no to both, although she had filed a lawsuit to obtain the restraining order four years before the Peterson trial.
Peterson, 47, has been locked up on San Quentin’s death row since his conviction and was sentenced to death in 2005. His legal team has appealed the conviction. Peterson himself has always maintained his innocence. The extreme interest and resultant publicity of the case has put the fairness of Peterson’s trial in question by his lawyers.
Laci, who was 27 years old at the time, went missing on Christmas Eve in 2002. Peterson told authorities that he went fishing in his new boat and left their Modesto home at 9:30 a.m. When he returned to his house in the late afternoon, he called his mother-in-law and told her that his wife was nowhere to be found.
Laci’s remains and the body of her unborn son were found in the San Francisco Bay — just a few miles from where Peterson said he had gone fishing — by someone walking their dog nearly four months later.