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Crime News

Scott Peterson Juror Admits Writing Him Letters After His Conviction As Hearing Over Possible New Trial Continues

Richelle Nice said she sent letters to Scott Peterson, then a death row inmate, at the suggestion of her therapist.

By Jax Miller
Juror Admits Writing Scott Peterson Jailhouse Letters

A juror in Scott Peterson’s 2004 murder trial has admitted to writing letters to the defendant, something that might be grounds for an overturned conviction.

On Monday, Richelle Nice testified for a second day at the highly anticipated hearing on Peterson’s bid for a new trial, according to The Mercury News. Peterson was found guilty of killing his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son, Conner, and disposing of their bodies in the San Francisco Bay in 2002.

Nice, dubbed “Strawberry Shortcake” by the media because of her red hair, was "juror number seven" when a California jury convicted Peterson of first- and second-degree murder at the end of a sensationalized trial. During the hearing that began last Friday in a San Mateo County courtroom, Peterson’s defense attorneys claimed Nice was biased for not disclosing her past as an alleged victim of intimate partner violence.

Nice was granted immunity from perjury if she were to admit to lying on the jury questionnaire, according to Fresno’s ABC 30 News.

On day two, Nice admitted to writing 17 letters to Peterson when he was on death row but denied any bias on her part, according to the San Jose outlet. Nice said, “Unfortunately, yeah,” when asked if she’d written the letters, which she began sending six months after Peterson’s conviction. Nice testified that her therapist suggested she write Peterson as a means of coping with her mental health.

According to Peterson’s lawyers, Peterson wrote Nice back eight times.

“What happened that night, Scott?” Nice wrote Peterson in 2005. “What pushed you to the limit, where you felt like you had to kill someone who not only loved you so much, but was carring (sic) a part of you inside of her?”

One letter, dated Dec. 17, 2005, was written by Nice while she was in the care of a hospital's psychiatric ward. Nice claimed she had a “breakdown” and was kept in a “locked ‘crazy’ unit.” According to The Mercury News, Nice detailed that she was haunted by the murder and needed answers.

“I never knew how much this trial had an impact on me,” she wrote Peterson in the letter. “Plus, I never had a great life. All the pressure just hit me … I think it has been the time of year. Our verdict, Laci and Conner.”

In another letter, Nice asked Peterson “why men cheat,” claiming her boyfriend had previously cheated on her, according to ABC 30.

At Monday’s hearing, Nice began crying on the stand.

“She’s sorry she sent the letters to Mr. Peterson,” said Nice’s attorney, Geoff Carr. “She regretted doing that.”

Scott Peterson G

As previously reported, the bid for a new trial largely surrounded reports that Nice failed to disclose her history of domestic violence, which she was questioned about on Friday at the start of the hearing. Peterson’s defense accused Nice of omitting two separate incidents in her jury questionnaire when asked if she had ever been the victim of a crime or subject in a lawsuit. Attorneys noted one 2000 incident when Nice filed a restraining order against her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend when the woman kicked down Nice’s door while Nice was pregnant. Nice claimed she “feared for her unborn child,” according to ABC 30.

On Friday, Nice admitted she hadn’t actually feared for her unborn child and that she filed the restraining order because she was “being spiteful."

In 2001, Nice’s boyfriend allegedly beat her while she was pregnant with another child.

“To be quite honest with you, when I filled out that questionnaire, honestly and truly, nothing of this ever crossed my mind,” Nice said on Monday, according to The Mercury News.

Nice further admitted to punching her boyfriend in his face after what could have been an argument over his infidelity, denying she was the victim of intimate partner violence.

She maintained that she “absolutely” decided Peterson’s case based on the facts and not on a preconceived notion.

Nice’s testimony, which is expected to continue throughout the week, was viewed by several members of Laci Peterson’s family, including the victim’s mother and brother, in the front row of the courthouse. Scott Peterson’s sister-in-law also attended the proceeding.

Peterson was sentenced to death following the 2004 trial. The sentence was overturned in August 2020 when the California Supreme Court agreed that jurors not in favor of the death penalty were improperly excluded from serving on the jury. Peterson was later re-sentenced to life in prison.

The defense plans to call more witnesses to the stand in the coming weeks, including journalists who covered the case back in the 2000s, according to The Mercury News. The presiding judge has three months to rule on whether to overturn Peterson’s conviction and order a new trial.

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