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LA Innocence Project takes on Scott Peterson's murder case as he seeks new DNA test

LA Innocence Project takes on Scott Peterson's murder case as he seeks new DNA test
LA Innocence Project takes on Scott Peterson's murder case as he seeks new DNA test 03:15

The Los Angeles Innocence Project announced Thursday that it is taking up the Scott Peterson murder case as the convicted killer seeks new DNA testing. 

Pat Harris, Peterson's attorney, announced the news in a statement.

"We are very excited to have the incredibly talented attorneys from the LA Innocence Project lend their considerable expertise to helping prove Scott's innocence," Harris said.

Peterson was convicted in 2004 for the murder of his pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner. He was sentenced to death in 2005.  

The LA Innocence Project works to exonerate those wrongly convicted through forensic and other scientific evidence. 

The organization said it "is investigating his claim of actual innocence" but had no further comment. In documents filed with the San Mateo Superior Court, the nonprofit requested prosecutors and law enforcement hand over evidence that was available during the trial. 

Additionally, lawyers with the LAIP stated that Peterson had an active petition for the writ of Habeas Corpus, which is a legal challenge to a prior criminal conviction. The motion was filed in conjunction with Peterson's motion for DNA testing to prove his innocence. 

"Mr. Peterson respectfully requests that the Court grant this Motion and direct the People provide the requested discovery so that further investigation into the claims set forth in the pending Petition can be conducted," The LA Innocence Project's lawyers wrote in the court documents.

The Los Angeles Innocence Project submitted this motion to San Mateo County Court earlier this week. 

In August 2020, the California Supreme Court reversed the death sentence after finding that jurors were erroneously dismissed, partly because they expressed objections to the death penalty on a questionnaire. He was resentenced in 2021 to life without parole.

Peterson's attorney said at the time of the 2021 resentencing that his client has shown no remorse because he's not guilty. 

One of the jurors in the trial, Mike Belmessieri, said he stands by the jury's initial verdict but believes that if there is new evidence, it must be revealed. 

"If there's something new, it's something we didn't hear," he said. "I think that would be unfortunate. If anybody was manipulating the evidence or not being honest, and Scott ended up spending 20 years in prison, well, there's something wrong with that picture."

LA Innocence Project announces it is taking up Scott Peterson's murder case 02:22

Peterson was uniformly described as a loving husband and expectant father, Harris said, until it became public that he was having an affair with Amber Frey at the time of his wife's disappearance.

Then, "he quickly became the most hated man in America," Harris said in 2021.

Prosecutors said Peterson took his wife's body from their Modesto home on Christmas Eve 2002 and dumped her from his fishing boat into the San Francisco Bay, where they washed ashore in April 2003.

Peterson admitted he was fishing on the day his wife disappeared. He had researched ocean currents, bought a boat without telling anyone, and could not explain what type of fish he was trying to catch that day.

Also, in the weeks after Laci disappeared, he sold his wife's car, looked into selling their house, and turned the baby nursery into a storage room.

Peterson was eventually arrested after Frey, a massage therapist living in Fresno, told police that they had begun dating a month before his wife's death, but that he had told her his wife was dead.

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