SAN MATEO COUNTY (CBS SF) — According to published reports, the case of convicted murderer Scott Peterson — who was convicted of killing his wife Laci and their unborn son — will be reexamined in a San Mateo County court due to a potential issue with a juror.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday that the California Supreme Court had ordered a trial judge to consider whether Peterson’s convictions for murdering his wife and their unborn son in December of 2002 should be overturned.
According to the Times, the Supreme Court determined that the San Mateo court should reexamine the impact of a juror who didn’t disclose that she had once feared for her unborn child when being harassed by the ex-girlfriend of her boyfriend.
The Modesto Bee reported that the California Supreme Court made the ruling Tuesday in response to Peterson’s petition for habeas corpus filed in 2015.
The California Supreme Court already overturned Peterson’s death sentence on appeal in August, though court’s decision left the murder conviction in place. In a separate petition, Peterson’s lawyers cited an array of reasons the convictions should be overturned as well.
Since his conviction on Nov. 12, 2004, Peterson has been housed on Death Row at San Quentin State Prison. After his highly publicized trial, a San Mateo County jury convicted him of first-degree murder for his wife’s death and second-degree murder of his unborn son, Conner.
Peterson’s attorney, noted death penalty lawyer Cliff Gardner, filed a 423-page document with the court, appealing the conviction. Peterson has always maintained his innocence and his appeal to the state’s highest court was no different.
Gardner claimed in the appeal that the overwhelming publicity Peterson’s trial received, incorrect evidentiary rulings, and other mistakes deprived him of a fair trial. Peterson was convicted after a trial that his attorney argues surpassed the O.J. Simpson murder trial in terms of publicity.
Peterson claims that Laci was killed sometime after he left their Modesto home on the morning of Dec. 24, 2002, to go fishing in the San Francisco Bay. Gardner noted that Peterson was convicted and sentenced to death even though investigators never directly proved “how, where or when” the murder occurred.
Prosecutors told the jury that Laci was killed sometime between the night of Dec. 23, 2002, and the morning of Dec. 24, 2002. They believed Laci was suffocated in her home, but Gardner argues that there was little evidence collected at the house to support that theory.