SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California prosecutors said Friday they again will seek the death penalty for Scott Peterson even as a county judge considers throwing out his conviction for murdering his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, because of juror misconduct during a 2005 trial that riveted the nation.
Stanislaus County Assistant District Attorney Dave Harris announced that it is prosecutors' intention to retry the penalty phase of the case, spokesman John Goold said after a court hearing. He said prosecutors otherwise won't comment or discuss the decision.
Peterson, 47, wearing a buzz haircut and a mask designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, appeared remotely in the Modesto courtroom from San Quentin State Prison north of San Francisco, home to the state's death row.
District Attorney Birgit Fladager acted after the California Supreme Court in August overturned Peterson's 2005 death sentence in a case that attracted worldwide attention.
The state's high court upheld his conviction in that ruling. But the same justices in October ordered a new hearing in San Mateo Superior Court to determine whether his underlying murder conviction must also be tossed out if a juror committed "prejudicial misconduct.”
“He’s innocent — an innocent man's been sitting in jail for 15 years. It's time to get him out,” attorney Pat Harris told reporters outside the courtroom in explaining why he is again taking the case. He also was on Peterson’s original trial team alongside celebrity attorney Mark Geragos.
Janey Peterson, his sister-in-law, said the family is looking forward to his new day in court.
“We still need justice for Laci, Connor and Scott,” she told reporters. “We don't have justice for Laci with Scott on death row, because Scott is innocent.”