A California judge on Wednesday ruled that Scott Peterson will be re-sentenced to serve life in prison without parole. Peterson, who was convicted for the 2002 murder of his wife Laci Peterson and their unborn son Conner, spent more than 15 years on death row before the California Supreme Court overturned the sentence in August 2020 based on judicial error.
According to KPIX 5, more than a year after that ruling, Peterson, now 48, appeared via Zoom from San Quentin's Death Row, where he has remained since his 2004 conviction, for a hearing in the case. During the hearing, San Mateo County Judge Anne-Christine Massullo ruled there was not enough evidence to hold a new trial on the murder charges and only a re-sentencing. The r-sentencing, during which Peterson will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, is scheduled to take place in November, though an exact date for the re-sentencing has not been announced.
Laci, 27, disappeared on Christmas Eve 2002 when she was seven months pregnant. After reported her missing, the bodies of Laci and her unborn son were found in San Francisco Bay in April 2003. Peterson claimed his wife was killed when she was walking their dog, and the case gained national attention when Peterson's extramarital affairs became public. Peterson was eventually charged with one count of first-degree murder for killing his wife and one count of second-degree murder for killing their unborn son. Investigators said Peterson took the bodies from their Modesto home and dumped them from his fishing boat into San Francisco Bay. After his trial was moved from Stanislaus County due to the massive pre-trial publicity, he was convicted in the San Mateo court in 2004 on the charges and sentenced to death in 2005.
More than a decade after his conviction, the California Supreme Court reversed Peterson's death penalty conviction in 2020, stating the trial judge "made a series of clear and significant errors in jury selection that, under long-standing United States Supreme Court precedent, undermined Peterson's right to an impartial jury at the penalty phase." The court added that after determining that the trial court "erroneously dismissed" prospective jurors who were opposed to the death penalty "even though the jurors gave no indication that their views would prevent them from following the law," it was required to reverse the death sentence. However, the court did not overturn Peterson's murder conviction, stating, "Peterson contends his trial was flawed for multiple reasons, beginning with the unusual amount of pretrial publicity that surrounded the case. We reject Peterson's claim that he received an unfair trial as to guilt and thus affirm his convictions for murder."