Scott Peterson was sentenced to death for the murder of his wife Lacy Peterson and their unborn son, but now eight years later he is seeking an appeal to the California Supreme Court on the grounds that the intense media attention made jurors biased.
Peterson was convicted by a San Mateo County jury in a 2004 trial that his lawyer said surpassed even the O.J. Simpson trial in terms of media coverage, the Associated Press reported. The lawyer, Cliff Gardner, said there were also incorrect evidentiary rulings and other mistakes that added up to an unfair trial for Peterson.
Peterson has maintained his innocence during his time on Death Row. He claims Lacy was killed someone time Christmas Eve 2002 while he was fishing in the San Francisco Bay. Prosecutors told the jury that the murder took place sometime between the night of Dec. 23 and the morning of Dec. 4, and that Lacy was suffocated in her home.
The trial was actually moved out of the Petersons’ home in Stanislaus County to San Mateo County because of the media attention, but the publicity followed the trial to its new home and drew crowds of more than 1,000 people outside the courtroom. Gardner tells the Associated Press the atmosphere was toxic for his client—there was even a billboard outside the courthouse imploring people to call a radio station and vote whether he was “a man or a monster.”
“Before hearing even a single witness, nearly half of all prospective jurors admitted they had already decided Mr. Peterson was guilty of capital murder,” Gardner said.
Gardner filed a 423-page legal brief that details many other issues including incorrect rulings and juror misconduct, CBS News reported.
Peterson’s appeal is expected to take months, or even years. All of California’s death penalty cases are appealed to the California Supreme Court, which has struggled to keep up with the caseload, the Associated Press reported. The state has 725 prisoners on Death Row but has not had an execution since 2006.
Do you think Scott Peterson got a fair trial?