STANISLAUS COUNTY (CBS SF) — The Stanislaus County District Attorney will not attempt to retry the penalty phase of Scott Peterson’s trial seeking the death penalty, according to court documents filed on Friday.
Peterson was sentenced to death for the murder of his pregnant wife Laci and their unborn child Connor in 2005. But after appeals last year, his death sentence was overturned.
The Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager and Assistant District Attorney Dave Harris, the attorneys representing the case against Peterson, filed the “Notice of Decision on Retrial Phase” on Friday, May 28 court records show.
Documents indicate that the decision was made following discussions with the family Laci and Connor.
“While the family of Laci and Conner believe there is no doubt that defendant is guilty of these crimes and that his conduct warrants the death penalty and defendant is deserving of the punishment of death, the family has decided this process is simply too painful to endure once again,” the court documents read.
That decision means that, with the DA not retrying the penalty phase, Peterson’s sentence will remain life without the possibility of parole, court documents confirmed.
Peterson’s sentence had reverted to life without parole last August when the California Supreme Court overturned his death sentence because it said the trial judge erred by excluding potential jurors opposed to the death penalty.
In a separate challenge to his conviction last year, Peterson filed a habeas corpus petition — a legal procedure frequently used after trial to challenge the lawfulness of the imprisonment of the defendant. In such an action, the petitioner may rely on facts that were not presented to the jury at trial.
In the habeas petition, Peterson’s lawyers alleged that one of the jurors who served at trial lied to the court during pre-trial questioning. The juror stated that she had not been a victim of a crime, had not been involved in a lawsuit, and had not participated in a trial as a party or a witness, all of which were allegedly untrue.
The petition argued that the juror would never have been seated on the jury had she disclosed the true facts, and her failure to do so required the conviction to be thrown out.
Peterson still may get a whole new trial if his conviction is overturned.