Reversible Errors? Scott Peterson Files Death Penalty Appeal

By Robyn Hagan Cain on July 06, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Scott Peterson is appealing his death sentence to the California Supreme Court, reports the Modesto Bee. Peterson's attorney, Cliff Gardner, has filed a 470-page appeal with the state's highest court, arguing that the jurors for the trial were influenced by the media blitz surrounding the case and that the judge made reversible errors regarding the evidence.

Though Peterson was tried in Redwood City instead of Modesto, his hometown, he claims that the media spotlight on the trial swayed the jurors. "It is probably fair to say that there are not many cases in the history of California where the state obtained a guilty verdict and death sentence for murder absent of how, where or when the murder occurred," Gardner told the Bee.

Scott Peterson was sentenced to death after a jury found him guilty of killing his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son. Laci was eight months pregnant at the time of her death. Both bodies washed ashore near Berkeley -- where Peterson said he had been fishing -- in April 2003.

In addition to the publicity concerns, The Associated Press reports that Gardner is arguing that the trial judge made several reversible errors. Among those, he claims:

  • The judge automatically excluded prospective jurors who said they opposed the death penalty.
  • Jurors should have been questioned more about whether they could be impartial.
  • Some of the prosecution's strongest evidence, like police dog tracking reports, should never have been shown to the jury.

Even if the California Supreme Court doesn't spare Scott Peterson's life, the voters could. The SAFE California Act, which would abolish California's death penalty and automatically convert death sentences to life in prison without the possibility of parole, is on the November ballot, reports the AP.

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