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Peterson Jury Ready To Go

Completing an arduous process that began 12 weeks ago, a jury of six men and six women was selected Thursday to decide whether Scott Peterson murdered his pregnant wife, Laci, so that he could carry on an affair.

Opening statements in the former fertilizer salesman's murder trial are set for Tuesday. He could get the death penalty if convicted.

The jurors, who appear to range in age from their 20s to more than 60, include a school coach, a social worker, a firefighter, a former police officer, an adoption worker and a former security guard.

Others include a Teamster who works the graveyard shift and hasn't followed the high-profile case and a woman whose fiancé was convicted of murdering a stranger two decades ago. Six alternates also were chosen.

Before the jurors left the room, Judge Alfred A. Delucchi ordered them to avoid news coverage of the case and told them to hunker down for a trial that could last up to six months.

"Unless you're dead, you're it," Delucchi said.

Jury selection involved nearly 1,600 prospective jurors, all of whom had to fill out long questionnaires. The court twice had to summon additional people. Many were excused because they opposed the death penalty or because they had already concluded Peterson is guilty.

Initially, the jury picked on Thursday consisted of seven men and five women. But one man was excused when he produced a note from his employer saying he would probably lose his salary during the expected six-month trial. He was replaced with a woman.

All said they would be willing to sentence Peterson, 31, to death if they convict him of murdering his wife and their fetus.

Their bodies washed up along San Francisco Bay in April 2003, not far from where Scott Peterson said he spent the morning of Dec. 24, 2002, on his fishing boat.

Prosecutors assert that Peterson killed his wife in their hometown of Modesto and dumped her body in the bay because he was having an affair with massage therapist Amber Frey.

The defense has argued that Scott Peterson returned from the fishing trip to discover his wife was missing.

By Brian Skoloff