Scott Peterson will not be granted new murder trial, judge rules
Scott Peterson, who was convicted by a California jury of killing his pregnant wife Laci Peterson in 2002, has been denied a new trial.
The 50-year-old Peterson and his legal team argued that a juror in his 2004 murder trial committed misconduct and he deserved a new trial. However, on Tuesday a San Mateo County Superior Court judge ruled she had not.
In a statement to CBS News, Peterson's attorney, Pat Harris, said they were "disappointed" by the ruling, but that "this case is not over," adding that they had new evidence that supposedly proves Peterson did not murder his wife.
Laci's disappearance in 2002, and Peterson's subsequent murder conviction, gained widespread media attention. A jury convicted him of first-degree murder of his 27-year-old wife, as well as second-degree murder of their unborn son they had planned to name Conner. Prosecutors said that Peterson dumped Laci's body into San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve of 2002.
Jurors imposed the death penalty after convicting Peterson.
Peterson's attorneys alleged that juror No. 7, Richelle Nice, lied on a pre-trail questionnaire, omitting the fact that she received a restraining order against her then-boyfriend's ex-girlfriend, because she feared for her the safety of her unborn child, according to CBS San Francisco. Peterson's attorneys argued she was biased against him.
San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo allowed Peterson and his attorneys to argue for a new trial in court during several days of testimony in an August hearing. Nice testified she held no ill will toward Peterson, until she heard evidence as a member of the jury.
"The court concludes that Juror No. 7's (Nice) responses (on the questionnaire) were not motivated by pre-existing or improper bias against petitioner (Peterson), but instead were the result of a combination of good faith misunderstanding of the questions and sloppiness in answering," Massullo wrote in Tuesday's ruling.
Harris said in his statement that he "respectfully" disagreed with the judge's decision that Nice did not commit misconduct, claiming that it sets a bad precedent for future cases.
"Jury questionnaires and the attorneys who read them depend on the honesty of the answers in order to get a fair trial. It will make it difficult if jurors believe they can lie and there will be no repercussions," Harris said in his statement.
Peterson was moved off death row in October, more than two years after the California Supreme Court overturned his death sentence, according to CBS San Francisco. He was moved to Mule Creek State Prison, east of Sacramento.
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