California DA will retry Scott Peterson for death penalty, prosecutors say

Crime

FILE – In this March 17, 2005 file photo Scott Peterson is escorted by two San Mateo County Sheriff deputies to a waiting van in Redwood City, Calif. The California Supreme Court has overturned the 2005 death sentence for Peterson in the slaying of his pregnant wife. The court says prosecutors may try again for the same sentence if they wish in the high-profile case. It upheld his 2004 conviction of murdering Laci Peterson, who was eight months pregnant with their unborn son. (AP Photo/Justin Sullivan, Pool, File)

Calif. (FOX) — Scott Peterson returned to a Stanislaus, California court — albeit virtually — for the first time in more than a decade on Friday for a hearing regarding his murder conviction in the death of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son.

Peterson, 47, wore a blue top and a blue face mask for the 8:30 a.m. PT court appearance at Stanislaus County Superior Court, where prosecutors revealed they intend to retry the death penalty phase of Peterson’s case. Peterson appeared from San Quentin State Prison, but did not speak at all throughout the hearing.

In addition to the death penalty, Friday’s hearing addressed the institution of Peterson’s legal representation. He was represented during the hearing, in part, by his former co-counsel, Pat Harris. Harris said Friday he would be representing Peterson as private counsel.

The hearing was adjourned until Nov. 6.

On Oct. 14, the California Supreme Court ordered his conviction to be reexamined to determine whether Peterson should receive a new trial. And in August, the Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s death sentence, citing “significant errors” in the jury selection process.

Stanislaus District Attorney Birgit Fladager and Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Harris, one of the prosecutors in Peterson’s 2004 case, were also present for the hearing.

On Friday, prior to Peterson’s appearance, his sister-in-law Janey Peterson told Fox News that justice for Laci and Connor remains “most important.”

“As big as a tragedy as this that Scott’s on death row, ultimately we still don’t have justice for Laci and Connor,” she said. “Their murder’s not solved. That’s our goal, to not only free Scott, but solve the crime.”

Mark Geragos, who also represented Peterson at trial, told Fox News on Thursday he was “not surprised” that the case was sent back to San Mateo for review.

“I always thought he would get some relief at some point, and I am gratified to see it happen now,” he said ahead of the hearing.

The case was called to be reexamined after the court said a juror committed “prejudicial misconduct” by failing to disclose that she had been involved with other legal proceedings. According to officials, the juror, Richelle Nice, had filed a lawsuit in 2000 to obtain a restraining order after her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend harassed her while she was pregnant.

Peterson was convicted in 2004 of murdering Laci Peterson, 27 at the time, and their unborn son, Connor. Laci was eight months pregnant at the time of her death.

In 2003, Stanislaus prosecutors charged Peterson with double homicide, but the case was later moved to San Mateo County, nearly 90 miles away from the couple’s Central Valley home in Modesto.

Investigators say Peterson took the bodies from their Modesto home and dumped them from his fishing boat into San Francisco Bay, where they surfaced months later. Peterson was arrested after Amber Frey, a massage therapist living in Fresno, told police that they began dating a month before his wife’s death, but that he had told her his wife was dead.

He has maintained his innocence.

Frey’s attorney, Gloria Allred, told Fox News she was “glad” to learn that the penalty phase of Peterson’s case would be retried.

“It is important that a jury have an opportunity to decide if Scott Peterson should receive the death penalty for the murder of his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson and the second degree murder of her unborn fetus,” Allred wrote in an emailed statement. “Justice must be done. Scott Peterson deserves due process and a fair trial, but so do the victims.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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