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Scott Peterson's motion to seal proceedings dismissed; 1st of 3 motions in bid to overturn murder convictions

Los Angeles Innocence Project pushes for DNA testing at Scott Peterson court hearing
Los Angeles Innocence Project pushes for DNA testing at Scott Peterson court hearing 03:10

Scott Peterson appeared remotely in a San Francisco Bay Area courtroom again Tuesday morning in the first of three motion hearings in his bid to have his 2004 murder convictions overturned.

Tuesday's 9 a.m. hearing in Redwood City was on the motion to seal proceedings in the case, which the judge dismissed. Peterson appeared at the brief hearing via Zoom from his location at Mule Creek State Prison in Amador County.

The Los Angeles Innocence Project took up Peterson's case in January, filing three motions to possibly clear Peterson of murdering his pregnant wife Laci and unborn son. The motion to seal proceedings would have shielded the identities of potential witnesses for Peterson's defense.

A second motion for post-conviction DNA testing is scheduled for May 29 and has to do with a burned van found near the Petersons' home that was involved in a burglary at or near the time of Laci's disappearance. A former fire investigator says a blood stain was found on a mattress inside the van and he claims the circumstances surrounding the van and its evidence were not properly investigated.

The third motion scheduled for July 15 seeks post-trial discovery from the case, including evidence of the December 2002 burglary across the street from the Petersons' Modesto home, a missing watch belonging to Laci Peterson, and files and documents from witness interviews.

Peterson was also expected to attend the other two motion hearings remotely. His original status hearing was in March.

Scott Peterson Oct 2022 mug shot
Scott Peterson Oct 2022 mug shot. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

While the case was originally from Stanislaus County, San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City is the venue for Tuesday's hearing as it was during the original trial; the trial was moved because of the pre-trial publicity in Stanislaus County.

Peterson was convicted of murdering Laci Peterson and their unborn son they were going to name Conner in November 2004; their bodies washed ashore in San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve 2002 months after they were reported missing from their Modesto home.

Peterson was arrested in April 2003 and sentenced to death in March 2005. He told police he was fishing on the day his wife disappeared; he had also sold his wife's car, researched selling their house, and turned the baby nursery into a storage room in the weeks after Laci disappeared.

Police arrested him shortly after Fresno massage therapist Amber Frey told investigators the two had begun dating a month before Laci's death and that he had told Frey his wife was dead.

The California Supreme Court overturned Peterson's death sentence in 2020 after finding that potential jurors were improperly dismissed after saying they disagreed with the death penalty but would follow the law and impose it. 

In 2021, Peterson was resentenced to life in prison without parole, and in 2022 a judge denied his plea for a new trial, ruling that a former juror was not guilty of misconduct during the trial.

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