I'm torn as to whether I want to see him dead or spending the rest of his life in jail. Now it looks like both -- sentenced to death but he'll probably spend the rest of his life in jail.
Does CA execute?
Jury Sentences Peterson to Death for Murder of Pregnant Wife
By MARIA NEWMAN
Published: December 13, 2004
California jury sentenced Scott Peterson today to death by injection for murdering his pregnant wife two years ago.
The verdict came on the third day of deliberations by the same jury that on Nov. 12 found Mr. Peterson guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Laci, who was eight months pregnant, and of second-degree murder in the death of her unborn child.
With dozens of observers and journalists from around the world awaiting a decision inside and outside the courthouse, the jury of six men and six women, which had taken seven hours to convict Mr. Peterson of murder, reached their decision on the penalty after 12 hours of deliberations. The jurors' only choice was to give Mr. Peterson death or life in prison without possibility of parole.
This morning, just before they came to a final decision, the jurors asked to see 13 pieces of evidence, including autopsy photos and aerial pictures of the bay where prosecutors said Mr. Peterson dumped his wife's body.
They also asked to see a widely publicized photograph of Laci Peterson wearing a red maternity pantsuit with her hands folded across her lap, a smile lighting up her face.
Mr. Peterson will remain at the San Mateo County jail until Feb. 25, when Judge Alfred A. Delucchi, who presided over this trial, will formally impose the sentence.
During the trial's penalty phase, defense lawyers put 39 witnesses on the stand to talk about Mr. Peterson, a 32-year-old fertilizer salesman from Modesto, as an upstanding young man, a far different portrait than prosecutors painted of a manipulative criminal who had hatched a "monstrous plan" to kill his pregnant wife to facilitate an extramarital affair.
The trial, which lasted more than six months, stoked a national appetite for real-life courtroom drama. Images of the well-scrubbed young couple, shown time and again on television and in an array of publications, collided with descriptions by prosecutors of a grisly murder with undertones of betrayal and adultery.
The case entered the national consciousness soon after Dec. 24, 2002, when Mr. Peterson told the police that he had returned home from a solitary fishing trip on San Francisco Bay to discover his 27-year-old wife, who was expecting their first child, was missing.
Ms. Peterson's body was found in the bay nearly four months later, without a head or limbs. But Mr. Peterson was not arrested until weeks later, long after he had been repeatedly shown on television professing sorrow and ignorance about the circumstances of his wife's disappearance.
The prosecution said Mr. Peterson had most likely killed his wife at home, driven to a marina in Berkeley and taken his new 14-foot boat far out into San Francisco Bay. There, they said, he dumped his wife's weighted body into the chilly water.
The first indication that Mr. Peterson might not have been the devoted - and innocent - husband he once appeared to be came on January 2003 with the disclosure of his affair with Amber Frey, a massage therapist he had begun seeing a few weeks before his wife's disappearance. Ms. Frey had gone to the police shortly after seeing the initial news reports about the case and had helped in their investigation.
Tape recordings of telephone conversations between Mr. Peterson and Ms. Frey, which were made by her, were played for jurors at trial. While Mr. Peterson never confessed to killing his wife, the tapes helped portray him as a liar as he was heard telling Ms. Frey that he was in far-off locations when he was really in Modesto.
Last week, in closing arguments in the penalty phase, Mr. Peterson's lawyers, Mark Geragos and Pat Harris, pleaded with the jury to spare Mr. Peterson by sentencing him to life in prison rather than death. Mr. Geragos even offered to get on his knees, if that would make a difference.
"I feel like I let my client down," Mr. Geragos said. In arguing against the death penalty, he told the jury, "There does not need to be any more death in this case."
The prosecutor, Dave Harris, who sought the death penalty, said Mr. Peterson had killed his wife in cold blood. "This is somebody who had everything and threw it away," Mr. Harris said. "He had a plan and he executed it."
The cause of Mrs. Peterson's death was never determined, nor was any murder weapon found. Nevertheless, the prosecution convinced the jury that Mr. Peterson had smothered or strangled Mrs. Peterson in their home on or around Christmas Eve 2002. His motive, they said, was a desire to be unencumbered to continue his affair with Ms. Frey.
Mr. Harris said that the 39 witnesses who had testified on Mr. Peterson's behalf, arguing that he be spared the death penalty, often portraying him as a good neighbor, brother and husband, or a young man who had helped the elderly, "didn't know the real Scott," adding, "that he's a manipulator, that he's a liar."
"He's not a person who deserves your sympathy," Mr. Harris told the jurors.
During the penalty phase of the hearing, which began on the last day of November, the most emotional testimony came from Mr. Peterson's mother, Jackie Peterson, and Laci Peterson's mother, Sharon Rocha, both of whom tearfully expressed sorrow and grief over their children's fates.
Mrs. Peterson spent 40 minutes on the stand on Wednesday urging jurors to sentence her son to life without parole to save the family further pain.
"If you were to take Scott away from us," Jackie Peterson told the jurors, "it would be a whole family wiped off the face of the earth. It would be like Laci never existed."
She beseeched jurors to see the good in her son.
"I beg you to consider that, how he helps people and how he always has," she said.
Mrs. Rocha, one of four relatives who spoke on Laci's behalf in the penalty hearing, lashed out at her son-in-law, sometimes screaming directly at him, sometimes talking to the jury about her heartache after learning of the gruesome discovery of the bodies of her daughter and unborn grandchild months after the disappearance.
"Divorce was always an option, not murder!" she yelled at Mr. Peterson.
"You knew where she was," she continued. "You didn't tell us. Instead you just let us go through this every day."