SAN MATEO (CBS SF) -- If convicted killer Scott Peterson is awarded a new trial, the star witness in the case nearly 20 years ago, Amber Frey, is again ready to take the stand, according to her attorney.
Appearing on CNN's HLN, famed attorney Gloria Allred said the woman who was Peterson's unknowing mistress at the time of Laci Peterson's murder in December 2002 will be ready to testify.
Frey testified that she did not know Peterson was married at the time she began dating him. The ruse included a call from Peterson where he claimed he was in Paris celebrating New Year's Eve.
When she saw news reports of Peterson's missing wife, she called Modesto police and began cooperating in their investigation, recording his phone calls to her.
"Amber has said the truth is the truth," Allred said. "So if, as, is when the court decides to grant habeas corpus petition to Scott Peterson and decided there should be a new trial -- in otherwise not only on the death penalty phase but essentially the case in chief. The guilt phase. She's willing to testify and she will testify."
"Is she looking forward to it? No," she continued. "Nobody is looking forward to being a witness to a high-profile case, but she will do it. And she knows it's important to the cause of justice."
Frey's testimony was key to Peterson being convicted in 2004 of murdering his wife and the couple's unborn son, Connor. He was sentenced to death and has been housed on San Quentin's death row.
Peterson appeared via Zoom from San Quentin for a pair of hearings in a San Mateo County courtroom Tuesday morning. The first dealt with the retrial of the penalty phase of his murder conviction. The second had to do has to do with a claim of juror misconduct at his original trial.
During the status conference, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo approved a continuance to June 28 for a further status report and also calendared that date for a hearing on expected discovery issues. In addition, she agreed to rule promptly on the appointment of attorney Pat Harris as Peterson's counsel in the matter.
The second conference came on Peterson's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, a legal procedure used to challenge a conviction after trial. In that matter, the California Supreme Court had instructed the trial court to consider Peterson's claim that his conviction should be set aside because of juror misconduct.
In this status conference, the court granted Peterson's counsel a 60-day extension to continue to investigate an issue involving one of the jurors at the initial trial after his counsel said that COVID-19 protocols had prevented in-person investigation of the matter.
The court pressed Peterson's counsel in the habeas case to complete its investigation. The judge signaled her desire to hold any needed evidentiary hearing in 2021. She set June 21 as a further status conference.
The court was expected to rule later this summer if a complete new trial will be held or if just the penalty phase will be retried.
Peterson has maintained his innocence through the years he has been confined at San Quentin and has mounted several legal challenges to his conviction and sentence. Last November, a judge ruled that Peterson would stay at San Quentin instead of being transferred to the San Mateo County Jail for a possible retrial.
In 2020, Peterson received a pair of favorable rulings in the California Supreme Court.
The first ruling came in Peterson's appeal of his conviction and sentence. Last August, the California State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the judge who sentenced Peterson to death made errors when questioning jurors about the death penalty.
The high court found that the trial judge excluded jurors from the jury pool when they said that they were personally opposed to the death penalty, without first determining whether the prospective jurors would be able to set aside their personal views about capital punishment and follow the law as the trial judge instructed.
The court, therefore, struck the death penalty sentence and sent the case back to the trial court to hold a new penalty trial.
The high court otherwise confirmed the conviction.
In a separate challenge to his conviction, Peterson filed a habeas corpus petition -- a legal procedure frequently used after trial to challenge the lawfulness of the imprisonment of the defendant. In such an action, the petitioner may rely on facts that were not presented to the jury at trial.
In the habeas petition, Peterson's lawyers alleged that one of the jurors who served at trial lied to the court during pre-trial questioning. The juror stated that she had not been a victim of a crime, had not been involved in a lawsuit, and had not participated in a trial as a party or a witness, all of which were allegedly untrue.
The petition argued that the juror would never have been seated on the jury had she disclosed the true facts, and her failure to do so required the conviction to be thrown out.
In a terse order on Oct. 14, the high court directed the trial court to hold hearings on whether relief should be granted "on the ground that Juror No. 7 committed prejudicial misconduct by not disclosing her prior involvement with other legal proceedings."
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