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DA To Retry Convicted Murderer Scott Peterson For Death Penalty

MODESTO (CBS13) — Two major movements in the Scott Peterson case are happening at the same time.

peterson courtroom sketch oct 23 2020
Friday's hearing. (Credit: Vicki Behringer, courtroom artist)

Wearing a blue shirt and face mask, Peterson appeared in court for the first time in nearly a decade Friday. This time, he was in front of a judge virtually from San Quentin prison, only speaking to answer the judge. His lawyer, Pat Harris, wants the chance to prove his innocence.

"He's waited 15 years for this opportunity to be heard again," Harris said. "It's been a huge disappointment to myself, to obviously the family, and to Scott himself that we weren't able to prove that the first time. I want to make sure we prove it the second time."

Prosecutors revealed Friday that they will retry the death penalty, but that decision could be moot. The state supreme court ruled that the lower court must consider whether Peterson's murder convictions should be tossed out entirely over possible jury misconduct.

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scott peterson retrial hearing Friday Vicki Behringer
Friday's hearing. (Credit: Vicki Behringer, courtroom artist)

Juror Richelle Nice, nicknamed Strawberry Shortcake, did not tell the court she was the victim of a crime when she was pregnant.

Lara Yeretsian was part of Peterson's original defense team. She believes Nice intentionally withheld information.

"Jurors need to understand that cases need to be decided on the evidence, not based on hatred and not viseral reaction," Yeretsian said.

The examination of the conviction, and whether it will be tossed out, could take up to two months, but jurors who served with Richelle, like Mike Belmessieri, have told CBS13 they still stand by their decision. Belmessieri says a new trial will just bring more hurt to both families.

Laci Peterson's family was not in court Friday and could not be reached for comment.

In a statement, Nice's lawyer, Elliot Silver, said Nice did not willfully withhold information, and her decision to vote guilty was based on evidence at trial and not on any desire to punish Scott Peterson as his lawyers are now suggesting.

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