A man who was convicted of killing his pregnant wife and their unborn baby has been resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for her death in 2002.
Scott Peterson, 49, was convicted in 2004 for the murders of his wife Laci and their unborn son Conner. Peterson was originally sentenced to death.
According to NBC, the California Supreme Court reversed Peterson’s death sentence in August 2020, after finding that potential jurors were dismissed erroneously, in part because they expressed general objections to the death penalty on a questionnaire.
Judge Anne-Christine Massullo on Wednesday ordered Peterson to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole for the first-degree murder of Laci. The judge also sentenced him to 15 years to life in prison for the death of the unborn baby, Conner. The sentences will run concurrently, the judge said.
Peterson, 49, spent more than 15 years on death row in California after he was found guilty in the murders. The state Supreme Court overturned his sentence last year after it was determined that jurors who disagreed with the death penalty were dismissed improperly.
He was moved to a jail in San Mateo County before his sentencing, the county’s Superior Court told NBC affiliate KCRA of Sacramento.
Before he was sentenced, Laci Peterson’s mother, sister, and brother addressed the court.
Her mother, Sharon Rocha, described in detail the last time she saw and spoke with her daughter.
“I’ve seen no sorrow or no remorse from you at all. I know you’re going to say you have no remorse because you’re innocent, but you haven’t shown any grief or sorrow for either of them,” she said. “I still feel the grief every day after 19 years.”
Rocha called Peterson a “coward” and told him to admit having killed his wife and unborn child.
“No matter what happens, no matter what transpires in the future, there are two things that will never change: Laci and Conner will always be dead, and you will always be their murderer,” she said.
Brent Rocha, Laci Peterson’s brother, said the deaths have “devastated and traumatized” the family. Amy Rocha, her sister, broke down in tears as she read her victim impact statement.
“You have broken all of our hearts by taking Laci and Conner’s life,” she said. “I am heartbroken that she never got to meet my family, her family. … There have been so many special occasions that Laci and Conner should have been here for. It makes me sick being here today in front of you again.
“Even though the death penalty has been lifted, you will still be punished in this life and after,” she concluded.
Laci Peterson, 27, was eight months pregnant with their son, Conner, when she was killed in December 2002, five years after she and Peterson married.
Prosecutors said he dumped his wife’s body in the Berkeley Marina on Christmas Eve and tried to cover up the crime by making it appear as if she was missing, according to online court records. Her body washed ashore later.
A jury convicted Peterson of murder in 2004. He was sentenced the following year.
Peterson has sought to have his conviction overturned, with his attorneys claiming that a juror known as Juror 7 was untruthful and hid details of her personal life that would have presented a conflict.
The juror, Richelle Nice, is accused of “prejudicial misconduct” because she did not disclose that she was the victim of domestic violence and had sought a restraining order in 2000 over fears that her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend would harm her unborn baby.
Peterson’s attorney has said that if he is granted a new trial, he will present new evidence that bolsters his claim that Laci Peterson was killed when she stumbled upon a burglary