Scott Peterson, the Modesto-based convicted murderer of his wife Laci Peterson and their unborn son Conner, had his death penalty sentence vacated by the California Supreme Court on Monday.
In its unanimous opinion, the state’s highest court held that the San Mateo County-based court incorrectly dismissed prospective jurors after they wrote – in a pre-trial questionnaire – that they were opposed to the death penalty.
The Court found that dismissing those prospective jurors, without corroborating that their position on capital punishment would impair their ability to be impartial, was improper.
The ruling now gives Stanislaus County prosecutors the ability to re-try the penalty phase of Peterson’s two-year trial spanning 2004 and 2005.
Peterson was convicted of the first-degree murder with special circumstances for the homicide of his wife, Laci. He was also convicted of second-degree murder for killing his unborn child – dubbed Conner – that Laci was carrying at the time of the murder.
The body of Laci Peterson and fetus of Conner were found by search and rescue washed up on the San Francisco Bay.
While married to Laci, Scott Peterson was known to have engaged in multiple extramarital affairs, including one at the time of the murder with then-Fresno resident Amber Frey.
Frey came forward to police to report the affair after discovering Peterson was married to Laci, at the time a missing person.
Read the Court’s ruling