The California Supreme Court has overturned Scott Peterson’s death sentence for the 2002 killing of his 27-year-old wife Laci, who was eight months pregnant with their son Connor. While his 2005 first degree murder conviction for both his wife and unborn son still stands, on Aug. 24, 2020, the court cited a trial judge’s error in the jury selection process for tossing now 47-year-old Scott’s death sentence. The prosecution still has the right to try again to obtain the death penalty in Scott’s case.
The court claimed that the trial judge “made a series of clear and significant errors in jury selection that, under long-standing United States Supreme Court precedent, undermined Peterson’s right to an impartial jury at the penalty phase.” Namely, several potential jurors said that they didn’t believe in the death penalty, but that they could still impose the sentence if the evidence warranted. But the trial judge still allowed them to be dismissed. There will have to be a new trial on sentencing if the prosecution wishes to put Scott back on death row, and so far Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager has not announced her decision. Here’s five things to know about Scott.
1. Why is Scott Peterson so famous? Infamous would probably be a better word to describe Scott Peterson, 44. The reason he’s so heavily talked about is because he was convicted of first-degree murder for killing his wife, Laci, who was 8 months pregnant at the time of her death. The couple had planned to name their son, Conner. Scott was arrested in 2003, but the trial itself is an even wilder story!
2. The murder trial was soooo drawn out! Laci was reported missing in December 2002 and it wasn’t until two years later that her husband was convicted of her murder. But here’s the thing, this was one of those cases where people had already made up their minds that Scott did it without hearing any hard facts or evidence. Nearly the entire city of Modesto, California believed he was guilty.
3. Did Scott ever confess? No he didn’t, but it were the inconsistencies in his stories that waved a red flag for police. It was also revealed on Jan. 17 that he had multiple affairs, most recently with Amber Frey. She told police that Scott told her he “lost his wife” — and mentioned nothing about her being missing.
4. Why did he do it? During a previous Dateline special in early 2017, one of Scott’s prosecutors, Birgit Fladager, said, “the reason for the murder was he didn’t want to be married anymore and he didn’t want to have a child. He wanted a different life. He didn’t want what he had.”
5. What happened to Laci and her unborn baby? A female body missing its hands, a foot, and head was found in the San Francisco Bay on April 14, 2003. Police identified it as Laci’s. They also found remains of a late term male pre-born baby in the same area just one day earlier. The San Francisco Bay is where Scott was allegedly boating the day of Laci’s disappearance.