SAN QUENTIN (KPIX) — The lawyer who represented convicted murderer Scott Peterson during his 2004 trial on Thursday said he recognized the danger of what he called “stealth jurors” during the high-profile case during an exclusive interview with KPIX.
The case against Peterson — who was convicted of killing his wife Laci and their unborn son — is set to be reexamined by a San Mateo County judge after a ruling earlier this week by the California Supreme Court.
According to reports, 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.
Richelle Nice, who was nicknamed Strawberry Shortcake due to her dyed-red hair, was juror number 7 in the Peterson trial.
She was one of the more outspoken jurors following Peterson’s conviction 16 years ago.
“For me, a big part of it was, at the end — the verdict — no emotion; no anything,” Nice told reporters after Peterson was sentenced to death.
She has not commented publicly since it was revealed that she was the cause behind the State Supreme Court ruling.
On Thursday during an exclusive interview with KPIX, Scott Peterson’s former defense lawyer Mark Geragos said Nice intentionally hid that information from the court.
“One of the great challenges in this case was trying to decipher what I called them back then, ‘stealth jurors.’ We caught a few of them,” explained Geragos.
Geragos said that one of his jobs during the jury selection was to excuse those individuals who were thought to be predisposed against his client in the charged and highly-publicized case.
“We were worried about people lying to get onto this jury because they had an agenda and that agenda unfortunately, to quote one of the other jurors who we identified as a stealth juror, was ‘to fry Scott,'” Geragos said.
Looking back on the trial during the interview, Geragos at one point spoke of a major miscalculation on his part.
“The biggest mistake I made in this case was not allowing the cameras into the courtroom. Everyone thinks they know the evidence. They don’t know the evidence,” Geragos said.
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.
“Clearly, for us, it is a major step and we’re happy to be at point now where we can hopefully get the conviction set aside,” Geragos said.
Lara Yeretsian, another lawyer on the Peterson defense team, agreed that Nice would have likely been disqualified as a juror if her personal history had been revealed.
“Had we known some of that information, she would have been challenged for cause,” Yeretsian said. “[She was] the typical stealth juror who went under the radar. None of us picked up on it.”
KPIX spoke with another lawyer who agreed that the latest development in the Peterson case was an unusual one.
“It’s rare because in a sense there’s almost two reversals. The reversal of the death sentence and sort of a reversal of the guilt phase. Although it hasn’t quite been reversed yet, it’s certainly heading in that direction,” commented criminal defense attorney Jared Winter of Bonjour, Thorman, Burns, & Dahm.
If a new trial is ordered for Peterson, prosecutors would be able to pursue the death penalty which was overturned back in August.