Scott Peterson has been on death row at California’s San Quentin State Prison for the past fifteen years. Now 47, the convicted murderer has spent a decade and a half attempting to appeal his sentence.
This week, the Supreme Court of California ruled 7-0 to uphold his conviction but overturn his death sentence. Although still in prison, Peterson will no longer face the death penalty for the murder of his wife, Laci, and their unborn child.
As a quick refresher, Laci Peterson went missing just before Christmas of 2002. She was 8 months pregnant at the time. The bodies of Laci and her unborn son, Conner, washed up several months later.
The media frenzy around the missing mom-to-be was intense, and things only became worse when the investigation focused on her handsome, yet secretive, husband. Peterson’s mistress eventually worked with police to gain evidence against him, and Amber Frey’s testimony helped get a “guilty” verdict from the jury.
“Peterson contends his trial was flawed for multiple reasons, beginning with the unusual amount of pretrial publicity that surrounded the case,” the court found. “We reject Peterson’s claim that he received an unfair trial as to guilt and thus affirm his convictions for murder.”
Despite believing that Peterson had a fair trial, the Supreme Court found that the judge on the case “made 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.”
The court also ordered a new sentencing trial, which could potentially reinstate the death penalty if prosecutors want to pursue it. Governor Gavin Newsom put all executions on hold while he is in office, beginning in 2019. California has not exercised the death penalty since 2006.
Amber Frey, the woman with whom Peterson was having an affair at the time of the murders, weighed in on the decision. “I think that in making the decision as to whether to seek it again, the District Attorney should consult with Laci’s family and honor that decision,” she told Fox News in an emailed statement.
So what does Laci’s family have to say about it? Her sister-in-law, Anne Bird, “I think that Scott Peterson is where he should be — in prison,” she said. “I lost my sister-in-law, Laci, and my unborn nephew, Conner. I am against the death penalty in principle for everyone. However, I do think that Scott Peterson is guilty and should spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.”
Peterson’s family has continued to insist that he is innocent of the murders.