The California Supreme Court ruled that Scott Peterson’s 2004 murder convictions for his pregnant wife, Laci, and unborn son, Connor, are to be reexamined.
The court ordered, on Wednesday, October 14, that the case get sent back to the San Mateo County Superior Court to determine whether or not Peterson, 47, should receive a new trial on the grounds that a juror “committed prejudicial misconduct by not disclosing her prior involvement with other legal proceedings, including but not limited to being the victim of a crime,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
The newspaper also reported that Juror No. 7 failed to reveal that, in 2000, she filed a lawsuit against her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend and obtained a restraining order after the ex allegedly harassed her while she was pregnant. Peterson’s lawyer Cliff Gardner responded to the news with a statement to In Touch.
“We are certainly pleased that, as it did in reversing Scott’s penalty on direct appeal several weeks ago, the Supreme Court recognized the importance of a fairly selected jury,” he said. “In particular, we agree not only with the Court’s apparent concern about juror candor during the jury selection process, but with its recognition about how central the misconduct was to the ability of the jury to reach a fair decision in this case.”
Laci, 27, went missing on Christmas Eve in 2002. Her body was found in the San Francisco Bay in April 2003, and the cause of death could not be determined. An autopsy of Laci’s body showed that there was a “significant cut” made to the fetus’ body. Peterson was sentenced to death row in 2005 after being convicted of first-degree murder with special circumstances, and second-degree murder for the couple’s unborn child. In August, his death penalty sentence was reversed by the California Supreme Court.
“Peterson contends his trial was flawed for multiple reasons, beginning with the unusual amount of pretrial publicity that surrounded the case,” the court said in its ruling, according to In Touch. “We reject Peterson’s claim that he received an unfair trial as to guilt and thus affirm his convictions for murder.”
The court added that there were “a series of clear and significant errors in jury selection that, under long-standing United States Supreme Court precedent, undermined Peterson’s right to an impartial jury at the penalty phase.”