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Laci Peterson's Family Relieved Scott Peterson Won't Get New Trial
Scott Peterson, serving a life sentence for the 2002 murder of his wife Laci and their unborn son, sought a new trial claiming juror misconduct.
Laci Peterson’s family is reportedly feeling “tremendous relief” that her husband and convicted killer will not get a new trial.
“This is the best news we could've gotten,” a source close to the family told People of the decision. “It really felt like next year was going to be very difficult, reliving the whole thing yet again. Now that's not going to happen. This was the best Christmas gift ever.”
The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office also said in a statement obtained by Oxygen.com that they hope Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo’s decision on Tuesday brings Laci’s family some peace as they continue to mourn her death and the death of the couple’s unborn son, Conner.
“The family and friends of Laci have endured what only those who have lost someone to an act of senseless murder can ever begin to know,” they said. “It has taken 20 years to reach this point and we hope that Judge Massullo’s decision will finally bring them some measure of closure. Meanwhile, not a day has gone by that Laci’s family and friends have not thought of her and Conner and missed them with all their hearts. We as a community share in their loss.”
As a result of the judge’s decision, Scott Peterson will continue to serve out his life sentence at a California prison.
Scott had been hoping to receive a new trial based on allegations that juror Richelle Nice had failed to disclose her own past regarding domestic violence during the jury selection process, ultimately tainting the jury’s 2004 decision to convict the former fertilizer salesman for the deaths of his wife and unborn son.
Nice did not divulge on the questionnaire that she had been involved in a domestic violence incident in 2001 and also never told the court at the time that she had previously filed a restraining order against her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend while she was pregnant. She claimed in the restraining order that the ex had vandalized the couple’s home and caused her to be afraid for her unborn baby’s life.
The California Supreme Court had instructed a lower court to consider the possibility of granting a new trial in 2020, but after hearing testimony and arguments earlier this year, Massullo concluded that Nice’s actions did not suggest misconduct severe enough to justify a new trial.
“The Court concludes that Juror No. 7’s responses were not motivated by pre-existing or improper bias against Petitioner, but instead were the result of combination of good faith misunderstanding of the questions and sloppiness in answering,” she wrote in her 55-page decision obtained by Oxygen.com.
She also wrote that she found Nice—who testified earlier this year that she had never considered herself to be a victim of domestic violence and had only filed the restraining order out of “spite”—was credible and forthcoming and “made an honest mistake” when filling out the paperwork.
It’s been nearly 20 years since Laci, then eight months pregnant, disappeared on Christmas Eve 2002. Scott told authorities he spent the day fishing and came home to discover his wife was gone, but suspicion soon turned to the now 50-year-old after it was revealed he was having an affair.
The bodies of his unborn son and wife later washed up onshore near the Berkeley Marina, not far from where Peterson told investigators he had been fishing that day.
For Laci’s family, the decision to keep Scott behind bars means they won’t have to re-live painful aspects of the case.
“It’s a tremendous relief to everyone who loved Laci,” the family source said. “Everyone was so worried that they were going to have to go through the pain of a trial again, and no one wanted to deal with that.”
In a statement of her own, released by the district attorney’s office, Laci’s mother Sharon Rocha said the judge’s decision to deny a new trial confirms the jury’s original guilty verdict in 2004.
“We are thankful for the judge’s decision that confirms Scott DID receive a fair trial,” Rocha said. “We appreciate Juror No. 7 for her courage and honesty during this process. No juror should have to go through what she endured.”
Scott’s defense team has said they plan to appeal the decision, according to The Sacramento Bee.