REDWOOD CITY (CBS SF) — Convicted murderer Scott Peterson made a remote appearance in San Mateo County Superior Court on Friday as he moved closer to a possible retrial of his case.
Friday’s hearing was the latest step in a long legal process that could involve resentencing for Peterson or possibly a complete retrial of the case.
Peterson was not physically in court because of COVID restrictions. Instead, he appeared on Zoom from San Quentin, talking through a metal barrier in a darkened room.
Peterson’s lawyers are arguing to keep two of the upcoming cases in San Mateo County where he was originally tried 15 years ago.
The first case involves prejudicial misconduct, where juror Richelle Nice did not reveal that she once took out a restraining order to protect the life of her unborn child, a fact that could have disqualified her for possibly being biased.
Peterson attorney Pat Harris said a retrial is likely.
“I think the issue is extremely strong. Given what happened in the circumstances, I think there is a very good chance it’ll be granted,” said Harris.
The second case involves the sentence Peterson received.
Back in August, the California State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the judge who sentenced Peterson to death made errors when questioning jurors about the death penalty.
Two weeks ago, prosecutors confirmed their plan to retry the penalty phase of Peterson’s case.
Janey Peterson, his sister-in-law, maintained Peterson’s innocence.
“Scott’s innocent, and somebody else committed this crime,” said Janey Peterson. “And we’re going to have an opportunity to not only show that he’s innocent but show the evidence we have a probability of other parties.”
Peterson’s case captivated the nation for months, as details of the murder of his pregnant wife Laci Peterson and his involvement with mistress Amber Frey unfolded in court.
Laci Peterson went missing on Christmas Eve of 2002, her badly decomposed body and that of her fetus, washed up on the shores of Richmond several months later.
During Friday’s hearing, Peterson waved his right to a speedy trial. Otherwise the court would have had to try his case within 60 days of September 29, when the case was initially remanded to Stanislaus Superior Court.
Peterson’s next court date is January 21, 2021, in Redwood City.
Given the deficiencies of the picture and audio quality coming out of San Quintin, the judge told Harris if he wants his client to attend in person, he should make arrangements ahead of time.
“There are going to be a lot of things that were not presented in the first trial that will be presented,” said Harris. “So I think he is very, very optimistic. And I think he feels very excited that he is going to get his day in court.”