Scott Peterson's family is calling for him to be released from prison on the grounds that he is at risk of contracting COVID-19 there. Peterson was convicted of murdering his pregnant wife in 2002, but just last week, his death sentence was officially overturned. Now, his family is pushing harder than ever for him to be released from prison due to the rampant coronavirus outbreaks there.
Peterson is being held in San Quentin State Prison in California, where surges of new COVID-19 cases have torn through the population periodically throughout the last few months. On Saturday, Peterson's attorney Cliff Gardner told TMZ that he and Peterson's family are "majorly concerned" for the felon's health. Gardner is looking for the safest route possible for his client allowed by law, with the hope of getting him out of the general population quickly. So far, the state reportedly has no intention to comply.
California state prison officials said that they have no plans to move Peterson and that he will be held in San Quentin until further notice regardless of the recent developments in his case. Prison officials around the country have been under pressure to protect inmates from the coronavirus, although prison conditions make it difficult to ensure everyone has six feet of distance and proper sanitation supplies. Many activists have called the prison conditions throughout this crisis "inhumane."
Peterson's conviction for murder his pregnant wife still stands, according to a report by The Associated Press. Only his death sentence was overturned, when a California Supreme Court Judge ruled on Monday that "significant errors" had been made in the jury selection process.
"We reject Peterson's claim that he received an unfair trial as to guilt and thus affirm his convictions for murder," the ruling read. It added that 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."
Peterson's wife, Laci, went missing on Christmas Eve in 2002, and her remains were discovered in April of 2003. She had been mutilated and dismembered, as had the fetus of her unborn child, which was found a mile away from her in a wooded area by the shore. Peterson was convicted based partially on forensic evidence, as a pair of plyers in his fishing boat had Laci's hair on them.
While Laci's family eventually came to believe that Peterson was guilty, his own family did not. It is not yet clear what steps the Petersons and Gardner will take to try to get Peterson out of prison amid the coronavirus pandemic.