Scott Peterson is slated to be re-sentenced to prison after spending more than 15 years on death row for the 2002 murders of his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son.
On Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo set an October hearing date to re-sentence Peterson to life without parole. In November, Massullo is expected to decide whether Peterson should receive a new trial due to alleged juror misconduct.
In the original case, prosecutors said Peterson killed his 27-year-old wife, who was eight months pregnant with a boy they’d planned to name Connor. Peterson took his wife’s body from their home in California and dumped it into the San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve 2002. The bodies of Laci and their unborn son washed ashore in April 2003.
Peterson, who maintains his innocence, was convicted of first-degree murder of Laci Peterson and second-degree murder of the boy in 2004, and has been on death row since 2005 without the possibility of parole. But last year, the California Supreme Court overturned the sentencing ― while upholding the conviction itself ― due to an issue with the jury.
“Peterson contends his trial was flawed for multiple reasons, beginning with the unusual amount of pretrial publicity that surrounded the case,” the court said in 2020, per NBC News. “We reject Peterson’s claim that he received an unfair trial as to guilt and thus affirm his convictions for murder.”
Justices said the trial judge “made a series of clear and significant errors in jury selection that, under long-standing United States Supreme Court precedent, undermined Peterson’s right to an impartial jury at the penalty phase.”
Should Peterson get a new trial, prosecutors have said they won’t seek the death penalty.
Regarding the jury issue, Peterson’s team claim that one juror co-authored a book on the case, “eagerly sought to be a juror in the case and did not disclose she had been a crime victim,” per The Associated Press.
The woman in question had reportedly been beaten by a boyfriend while pregnant in 2001, and obtained a restraining order against a boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend.