Archive for Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Scott Peterson gets death penalty for murder

December 14, 2004

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— Repelled by Scott Peterson's seeming lack of sorrow and remorse, a jury decided Monday that he deserved the death penalty for murdering his pregnant wife, Laci, almost exactly two years ago.

Ron Grantski, stepfather to Laci Peterson, holds up a newspaper
after Scott Peterson's death penalty sentence was announced Monday
at the courthouse in Redwood City, Calif.

Ron Grantski, stepfather to Laci Peterson, holds up a newspaper after Scott Peterson's death penalty sentence was announced Monday at the courthouse in Redwood City, Calif.

A cheer went up outside the courthouse as the jury announced its decision after 11 1/2 hours of deliberations over three days. Inside court, Peterson reacted with the same tight-jawed look that some jurors said turned them off after seeing little emotion out of Peterson since his wife's disappearance.

"I still would have liked to see, I don't know if remorse is the right word," juror Steve Cardosi said at a news conference after the sentence. "He lost his wife and his child -- it didn't seem to faze him. While that was going on ... he is romancing a girlfriend."

Laci Peterson's mother, Sharon Rocha, cried quietly -- her lips quivering after the verdict was read. Scott Peterson's mother, Jackie, showed no apparent emotion.

In a brief news conference after the verdict, defense attorney Mark Geragos said he was "very disappointed." "Obviously, we plan on pursuing every and all appeals, motions for a new trial and everything else," he said.

The jury had two options in deciding the 32-year-old former fertilizer salesman's fate: life in prison without parole or death by injection.

Laci's mother, Sharon Rocha, left, and Brent and Rose Marie Mocha,
appear at a news conference after the verdict.

Laci's mother, Sharon Rocha, left, and Brent and Rose Marie Mocha, appear at a news conference after the verdict.

Judge Alfred A. Delucchi will formally sentence Peterson on Feb. 25. The judge will have the option of reducing the sentence to life, but such a move is highly unlikely.

If the judge agrees with the verdict, Peterson will be sent to death row at San Quentin State Prison outside San Francisco, the infamous lockup that overlooks the same bay where Laci Peterson's body was discarded.

But Peterson still might not be executed for decades -- if ever -- and it can take years for even the first phase of the appeals process to begin. Since California brought back capital punishment in 1978, only 10 executions have been carried out; the last execution, in 2002, was for a murder committed in 1980. The state's clogged death row houses 641 people.

The sentence marked one of the final chapters in a soap opera-like saga that began nearly with the Christmas Eve disappearance of Laci Peterson, a 27-year-old substitute teacher who married her college sweetheart and was soon to be the proud mother of a baby boy named Conner.

Scott's parents, Jackie Peterson and Lee Peterson leave the
courthouse after the verdict.

Scott's parents, Jackie Peterson and Lee Peterson leave the courthouse after the verdict.

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