The California Supreme Court on Monday overturned the 2005 death sentence for Scott Peterson for killing his pregnant wife, but said prosecutors could try again for the same sentence if they so wish in the high-profile case.
She upheld her 2004 murder conviction for the murder of Laci Peterson, 27, eight months pregnant with their unborn son, Connor. Investigators said Peterson unloaded the bodies from his fishing boat in San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve 2002, where they emerged months later.
“Peterson argues his trial was flawed for multiple reasons, starting with the unusual amount of preliminary publicity surrounding the case,” the court said. “We reject Peterson’s claim that he received an unfair trial for murder.”
But the judges said the trial judge “made a number of obvious and significant errors in jury selection that, based on the longstanding precedent of the US Supreme Court, undermined Peterson’s right to an impartial jury. in the phase of the sentence “.
He agreed with his argument that potential jurors had been wrongly fired from the jury pool after claiming they personally disagreed with the death penalty, but would have been willing to follow the law and enforce it.
“While a court may fire a potential juror for not being qualified to sit in a capital suit if the juror’s views on the death penalty substantially compromise his ability to follow the law, a juror cannot be fired simply because he has expressed opposition to the death penalty. death penalty as a general issue, ”the judges said with a unanimous decision.
Peterson, now 47, argued on appeal that he could not get a fair trial due to the massive publicity that followed, although the proceedings were moved nearly 90 miles (145 kilometers) from his home in Central Valley. Modesto in San Mateo County, south of San Francisco.
The California Supreme Court overturned the 2005 death sentence for Scott Peterson in the killing of his pregnant wife.
Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager did not immediately say whether she would ask for the death penalty again.
Peterson was convicted of first degree murder for the death of his wife and second degree murder of his unborn child.
Investigators pursued nearly 10,000 tips and considered probation and sex offenders convicted as possible suspects.
Peterson was eventually arrested after Amber Frey, a masseuse who lives in Fresno, told police they had started dating a month before his wife died, but that he had told her his wife was dead.
He had also argued on appeal that the first instance court had made a mistake in deciding whether jurors and the defense were properly authorized to check whether Peterson’s new boat would likely capsize if he dumped the weighted bodies over the edge.
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