Scott Peterson will break his silence at sentencing hearing

State News

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KRON) — The man convicted of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, will be speaking out for the first time in 17 years when he receives a new prison sentence.

Scott Peterson’s death sentence was overturned by the California Supreme Court last year and on Dec. 8th, he will be re-sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

At the San Mateo County courthouse Wednesday, a judge denied granting the San Quentin State Prison inmate bail when he was transferred from prison to jail in Redwood City ahead of his sentencing hearing.

Outside the courthouse, Peterson’s defense attorney, Pat Harris, revealed to reporters that Peterson will break his silence for the first time in 17 years. When Peterson speaks at the sentencing hearing, he will be face-to-face with Laci’s family.

Laci Peterson
Laci Peterson

District Attorney Birgit Fladager said as many as 12 of Laci’s family members will be in the courtroom, and some of them will make victim impact statements. Some of Peterson’s family members will also be in the courtroom to show their support, Harris said.

“You always know, at a sentencing hearing, they are very emotional. You have victims that want to be heard,” Harris said.

A court clerk said the media may be allowed to bring cameras into the courtroom.

A San Mateo County jury found Peterson guilty in 2004 of murdering his wife and the couple’s unborn son, Conner, in their Modesto home. When he was sentenced to death in 2005, Laci’s parents and brother had scathing words for their son-in-law.

Laci’s mom, Sharon Rocha, said, “You are going to burn in hell for this.”

Her dad yelled at Peterson, “Your life is done.”

Scott Peterson never spoke during his 2004 trial nor at his 2005 sentencing hearing. (Photo by Fred Larson-Pool/Getty Images)

Laci’s brother, Brent Rocha, said he had bought a gun and had intended to kill Peterson himself, but decided he would rather see him “sweat it out and not take the easy way out.”

Peterson sat stoically in silence. His only reaction was to shake his head in disagreement when Rocha accused him of plotting to murder his pregnant wife for weeks.

Unlike in 2005, Peterson will have something to say this time around.

Peterson has always maintained his innocence. He is on the brink of possibly getting his entire conviction overturned based on legal grounds that are separate from what caused his death sentence to be overturned.

A legal expert who looked closely at Peterson’s habeas corpus petition told KRON4 that he has a strong case for showing he did not receive a fair murder trial based on juror misconduct.

“I think there is a great likelihood that he is going to get a new trial,” legal analyst and former prosecutor Michele Hagan told KRON4.

The juror in question is Richelle Nice. She is accused of being a “stealth juror” who had a hidden agenda.

The retrial decision will be made by Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo. She will base her ruling on an evidentiary hearing where Nice will be called to the witness stand.

Nice’s attorney, Geoffrey Carr, advised his client to plead the fifth.

Harris said if Peterson gets a retrial, the defense team has enough evidence to prove he did not murder his wife. Harris said Laci’s real killers were burglars who targeted a neighbor’s house on Christmas Eve of 2002, the same day Laci vanished from the neighborhood.

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