SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California district attorney said in a court filing Friday that she won’t seek a new death sentence against Scott Peterson, convicted in 2005 of murdering his pregnant wife.
The Stanislaus County district attorney’s office said it would drop efforts to restore the penalty thrown out last year by the state Supreme Court. The DA said the decision was made in consultation with Laci Peterson’s family.
The California justices ruled the death sentence couldn’t stand because potential jurors were excluded after saying they disagreed with the death penalty.
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The family has “no doubt” Peterson killed his wife and unborn son Conner and deserves the death penalty but doesn’t want to pursue that punishment because “this process is simply too painful to endure once again,” District Attorney Birgit Fladager said her filing in San Mateo Superior Court.
Peterson, now 48, was convicted in the San Mateo court after his trial was moved from Stanislaus County due to the massive pre-trial publicity that followed the Christmas Eve 2002 disappearance of 27-year-old Laci, who was eight months pregnant.
Investigators say Peterson took the bodies from their Modesto home and dumped them from his fishing boat into San Francisco Bay, where they surfaced months later.
Peterson maintains his innocence and a judge is considering whether to grant a new trial because a juror failed to disclose that she had sought a restraining order in 2000 against her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. She said in seeking the order that she feared for her unborn child. The judge must decide if that amounted to juror misconduct, and if so, whether it was so prejudicial that a new trial is warranted.
If no new trial is granted, he will be sentenced to life imprisonment.
One of Peterson’s attorneys said the announcement is not a precursor to a plea deal and that his client will seek a new trial if a judge decides his first one was tainted by juror misconduct.
Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo said she hopes to make a decision this year whether Peterson merits a new trial.