REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KRON) — Scott Peterson received a fair murder trial when he was convicted by a San Mateo County jury in 2004 for murdering his pregnant wife and unborn son, a judge ruled on Tuesday.
Judge Anne-Christine Massullo’s ruling struck down Peterson’s writ of habeas corpus petition and rejected his request for a new murder trial.
Peterson’s petition was centered over one juror, Richelle Nice, who was secretly biased against Peterson and “obsessed” with achieving justice for the unborn son, Connor, his defense team claimed. Nice was also known as “Juror No. 7” and “Strawberry Shortcake” during Peterson’s highly publicized murder trial in Redwood City.
Nice was accused by Peterson’s attorneys of committing juror misconduct by intentionally providing false answers during jury selection.
Judge Massullo wrote, “(Peterson’s) theory is that, because of the unmatched pre-trial publicity in the case, prospective jurors were aware of the People’s theory that (Peterson) assaulted his pregnant wife, killing her and their unborn child, while (romantically) cheating on her.”
The judge ruled that Peterson’s petition and an evidentiary hearing failed to show enough proof that misconduct occurred. “The United States Supreme Court has also recognized that jurors are not held to standard of perfection,” the judge noted in her 55-page decision filed in court.
Peterson has maintained his innocence ever since his wife, Laci, was murdered on Christmas Eve in 2002. A private investigator found new evidence that could prove his innocence if he was granted a new murder trial, according to his defense attorneys.
Peterson will remain locked up at Mule Creek State Prison as he appeals Tuesday’s ruling, according to Scott Peterson Appeal, a Facebook group organized by his supporters.
“The next step is for Scott to file a new habeas petition in California. He can either file it in the Courts of Appeal or with the California Supreme Court, but he must do so within 120 days. This new petition will outline new evidence claims that have come about since his last petition was filed in November 2015. Do not be discouraged. We have active leads, we are actively investigating, we will solve this crime, and Scott will be freed,” the group wrote.
Laci’s family believes Peterson is an “evil,” “sociopathic,” and remorseless killer.
Laci was eight months pregnant, excited to become a first-time mother, and preparing for family Christmas celebrations when her husband murdered her inside their Modesto home, according to prosecutors.
The bodies of Laci and her unborn son, Connor, washed up in the San Francisco Bay near where Peterson said he had gone fishing. When Peterson was arrested on murder charges, “he quickly became the most hated man in America,” his defense attorney, Pat Harris, told KRON4.
Peterson was sentenced to death in 2005 and served nearly two decades on death row in San Quentin State Prison. His death sentence was later overturned and he was re-sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2021.
At his 2021 resentencing hearing, Laci’s mother, sister, and brother delivered scathing victim impact statements in court. Peterson chose murder over divorce, Laci’s family said.
Laci’s mother, Sharon Rocha, told Peterson in 2021, “I see no sorrow and no remorse from you at all. Laci’s dead, Scott, because she loved you and trusted you. You betrayed her. Your evil, selfish act ended two beautiful souls. You just didn’t want them anymore. You chose to get rid of her. You didn’t want a baby, nor the responsibility of being a father. You were afraid of being looked on as a failure. It’s unbelievable that you thought you’d get away with it.”
This breaking news story will be updated. Check back for updates.