A December court date has been set for a California judge to announce her decision whether Scott Peterson, the man convicted of killing his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son, will be granted a new trial, Fox News has learned.
Peterson, now 50, is expected to join his attorneys and prosecutors for the Dec. 2 hearing at the San Mateo County Superior Court, where Judge Anne-Christine Massullo will hand down her ruling regarding Peterson’s motion for a new trial, Fox News has learned.
Peterson was transferred last month from California’s San Quentin State Prison to Mule Creek State Prison. He was recently photographed with a salt-and-pepper beard, his typically short haircut and a slight smirk.
Scott Peterson in an Oct. 21, 2022, photo provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
(California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP)
The California Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s death sentence in 2020, after news that prospective jury candidates were improperly dismissed came to light, but maintained his conviction.
Peterson was convicted in 2004 for the murders of his 27-year-old wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner. Prosecutors argued at the time that he killed Laci and disposed of her body on Christmas Eve 2002 in San Francisco Bay.
A child stops to look at a makeshift memorial and a missing person’s banner offering a reward for the safe return of Laci Peterson at the East La Loma Park in Modesto, California, on Jan. 4, 2003.
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
On Aug. 11 of this year, Peterson, his attorneys and Stanislaus County prosecutors delivered their closing arguments for roughly five and a half hours at the San Mateo County Superior Court regarding the potential for a retrial.
Defense attorneys have argued that juror Richelle Nice was biased and lied in her questionnaire to get on the jury.
They pointed to evidence that during jury selection that Nice had neglected to share she had applied for a restraining order in 2000 while she was pregnant, and told authorities at the time that she “fears for her unborn child,” The Associated Press reported at the time.
During his arguments to the court at the time, Peterson attorney Cliff Gardner said Nice contradicted herself in multiple statements and later changed her answers to certain questions regarding her personal experiences and feelings. He argued she was inconsistent and uncooperative.
Gardner said Nice refused to speak to the defense or the prosecution in 2015, and only testified in 2022 because she was granted immunity.
Gardner also said Nice responded “no” to a question asking whether she could base her decision entirely on the evidence produced in court and not from outside or pre-existing opinions or attitudes. However, Peterson’s attorney at the time, who is no longer involved with the case, did not follow up on the answer, the judge said.
However, Massullo questioned why Peterson’s attorneys did not ask follow-up questions to clarify some of Nice’s responses at the time. She noted that there were several inconsistencies in the prospective juror questionnaire in the original trial.
David Harris, a prosecutor with the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office told the court that Nice, when asked why she considered herself a “fair person,” responded, “I know what it’s like to be judged.”
Authorities search the Berkley Marina, where Laci Peterson’s husband Scott said he was fishing when she went missing, in this undated photo.
The prosecution said Nice was a single mom who had never been on a jury before this trial and thought it would be a part of her civic duty.
The 23-page questionnaire had 163 questions, and “she did the best that she could,” he said.
Harris said there was no doubt that Nice made mistakes, but that she was not a liar.
“She’s inconsistent on her answers,” he told the court. “But being wrong does not necessarily make it false or make her a liar. It just might be that she’s really bad at filling out forms.”
Richelle Nice adjusts her hair as members of the jury speak with the media in the Old San Mateo County Courthouse in Redwood City, California, on Dec. 13, 2004.
(AP Photo/Lou Dematteis, Pool, File)
Harris later added, “Nice showed sometimes that she could be a little bit confused about things.”
He further pointed to the evidence police had garnered against Peterson during the course of his investigation into Laci’s and Conner’s deaths.
He explained, “From the simple fact that Laci and Conner, whose bodies washed ashore 90 miles from their home, but within sight of where Peterson admitted he went fishing on the day that they disappeared; to the research Peterson did on bay currents in the weeks preceding her disappearance; and the fishing boat he bought, but mentioned [to] no one; to Peterson’s inability to explain what he was fishing for in the middle of the day; to his repeated subsequent, serendipitous trips to the marina in the weeks after her disappearance; to the many steps he took in the weeks after she went missing — selling her car, exploring sale of the house, turning the nursery into a storage room — that indicated that he already knew Laci and Conner were never coming back.”
Nice previously told a court she did not have any bias against Peterson until after hearing the evidence presented at trial.