Scott Peterson sat defiantly still and tight-jawed throughout a murder trial in which he never spoke. And to hear the jurors tell it, Peterson's apparent lack of emotion — from the day his wife disappeared through the last day of testimony two years later — was the final piece that doomed him to a death sentence.
Upon learning of his death sentence, Peterson clenched his jaw. He leaned over to speak with his attorney, Mark Geragos, but showed no other emotion, reports CBS Radio News Reporter Tim Ryan. Scott Peterson's mother, Jackie, also showed no apparent emotion.
The same six men and six women who convicted Peterson of murdering his pregnant wife recommended Monday that he be sent to death row at San Quentin State Prison outside San Francisco, the infamous lockup overlooking the bay where Laci Peterson's body was discarded.
Inside, Laci Peterson's mother, Sharon Rocha, cried quietly — her lips quivering after the verdict was read.
Jurors said they were unsettled by Peterson's dispassionate demeanor, from the day Laci disappeared Christmas Eve 2002 to the moment he was convicted.
"Scott Peterson is a cold blooded killer. He has no remorse," juror Michael Belmessieri told The Early Show Correspondent Hattie Kauffman. He said Peterson had a loving family but he threw it away, "treated it like garbage."
"I still would have liked to see, I don't know if remorse is the right word," juror Steve Cardosi said. "He lost his wife and his child — it didn't seem to faze him. And while that was going on ... he is romancing a girlfriend. That doesn't make sense to me. At all."
Cardosi told The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith that Peterson's mistress Amber Frey was more significant in the penalty phase of the trial than the guilt phase. "It just showed me a little more of his actual demeanor, what he was feeling regarding his missing wife and son."
Peterson did not testify during the six-month trial. "Anything — a plea for his life, or just his opinion on everything that went on in the last two years. ... I would have liked to have heard his voice on that," said juror Greg Beratlis.
Juror Richelle Nice, an unemployed mother of four, said she found Peterson's silence to be just as profound as anything he might have said.
"We heard from him," she said at a press conference, a look of disgust on her face. "For me, a big part of it was at the end — the verdict — no emotion. No anything. That spoke a thousand words — loud and clear."
Nice even took issue with Peterson's manner Monday in the moments before the sentence was read, chatting casually with his attorneys. "Today — the giggles at the table," she said. "Loud and clear."
Gloria Allred, the lawyer for Frey, told co-anchor Hannah Storm that a call in which Peterson said he was in Paris when he was actually at a vigil for his wife was important because it "showed that he had a cold and a malignant heart towards Laci and Conner. Because less than a week after they disappeared, he's on the telephone talking to Amber, talking pillow talk, talking romantic talk while his pregnant wife is missing."
Peterson was convicted Nov. 12 of one count of first-degree murder in the death of Laci, and one count of second-degree murder for the killing of her eight-month old fetus.
Judge Alfred A. Delucchi will formally sentence Peterson on Feb. 25. The judge will have the option of reducing the sentence to life, but such a move is highly unlikely.
But Peterson still might not be executed for decades — if ever — and it can take years for even the first phase of the appeals process to begin. Since California brought back capital punishment in 1978, only 10 executions have been carried out. The last execution, in 2002, was for a murder committed in 1980. The state's clogged death row houses 641 prisoners.
Defense attorney Mark Geragos said he plans "on pursuing every and all appeals, motions for a new trial and everything else."
The tale of adultery and murder set off a tabloid frenzy as suspicion began to swirl around Scott Peterson in the days and weeks after Laci's disappearance. The heat was turned up when Amber Frey, the massage therapist who Scott Peterson was romancing on the side, came forward.
The case made more People magazine covers than any murder investigation in the publication's history. Court TV thrived on it, providing countless hours of coverage on the investigation and gavel-to-gavel commentary throughout the trial. CNN's Larry King hosted countless shows with pundits picking apart legal strategies, testimony and even Scott Peterson's infamously cold demeanor.
Prosecutors spent months portraying Peterson as a cheating husband and cold-blooded killer who wanted to murder Laci to escape marriage and fatherhood for the pleasures of the freewheeling bachelor life.
Heather Richardson, the maid of honor at the Petersons' wedding, said she thought jurors were right to think Scott Peterson killed his pregnant wife because he wanted freedom.
"The child was the turning point for him," she said in a broadcast interview. "He would have never divorced her."
"They had no reason to doubt it was Scott who did what he did," said Laci Peterson's stepfather, Ron Grantski, the only member of her family to speak to reporters. "He got what he deserved."
Defense attorneys argued during the trial's guilt phase that Peterson was framed and that the real killers dumped Laci's body in the water after learning of Peterson's widely publicized alibi. The defense fought hard to save Peterson's life, calling 39 witnesses over seven days in the penalty phase.
When the time came for a verdict and sentence recommendation, jurors were convinced Peterson desperately wanted out of the married life.
"I don't think divorce was an option," Beratlis said. "I think it was freedom."