Scott Peterson, who is serving a life sentence for the 2002 murder of his pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner, is expected to appear in court in California on Wednesday where a judge will evaluate allegations of juror misconduct and ultimately determine whether to grant a new trial.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys will appear in person at San Mateo County Superior Court at 10 a.m. local time, while Peterson will also participate in the hearing virtually from San Quentin State Prison. His defense team is expected to argue that given the pre-trial publicity, one of the jurors failed to disclose her own history of domestic abuse while pregnant in order to get on the jury to convict him.
Meanwhile, Scott Peterson’s sister-in-law, Janey Peterson, is arguing there is new evidence that proves his innocence, contending in an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show that aired Wednesday that if a new trial is ultimately granted, “I’m confident that Scott will never be convicted again.”
Scott Peterson’s 2004 death sentence was downgraded to life behind bars in August 2020, as the California Supreme Court upheld the murder conviction but concluded that the trial judge in the case “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.”
Janey Peterson, who is married to Scott’s older brother, Joe Peterson, and has known Scott Peterson since he was 13, has repeatedly maintained that he is innocent. She has compiled a war room of what she says includes new evidence and additional witnesses willing to testify if a new trial goes forward.
In the first trial, a neighbor testified seeing the couple’s golden retriever insider their gated yard at 10:15 a.m. the morning of Laci Peterson’s disappearance. After Scott Peterson left for the day, a mailman testified that when he arrived around 10:30 a.m., there was no golden retriever in the yard, which Janey Peterson argues proves that Laci was still alive at that time and was out in the neighborhood walking the dog.
In this March 17, 2005, file photo, Scott Peterson is escorted by two San Mateo County Sheriff deputies to a waiting van in Redwood City, Calif. (AP Photo/Justin Sullivan, File)
“There’s evidence that was completely ignored that showed Laci was alive when he left for the day,” Janey Peterson told NBC’s Natalie Morales in a recent sit-down interview. In trial, prosecutors pointed to Scott Petereson’s affair with massage therapist Amber Frey, who testified she did not know he was married.
“How do you explain that he told Amber that his wife had died?” Morales asked. To that, Janey Peterson said, “There is nothing I can say to justify or explain that statement. But also there was no evidence that he had anything to do with what happened to Laci so…”
“You don’t believe an adulterer makes motive for murder?” Morales pressed.
Janey Peterson contended, “I don’t think you can take that leap.”
She maintains the house across the street was being broken into that morning and Laci Peterson got into a confrontation with the burglars – an argument rejected by the court and which the men denied. A police investigation also cleared the burglars of any wrongdoing.
Investigators said Scott Peterson dumped his wife’s body from his fishing boat into the San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve in 2002. The bodies of Laci Peterson and Conner surfaced months later around the same area. But Scott Peterson’s defense team is expected to argue that the burglars kidnapped Laci Peterson and framed him.
“So your theory is Laci was kidnapped by the men who were robbing the house across the street. And then they disposed of her body 90 miles away where Scott happened to be fishing. A lot of people would say, ‘well, that seem a little farfetched’,” Morales said in her interview with Janey Peterson.
“If you have an opportunity to get away with murder, you’re gonna do it,” Janey Peterson answered.
Janey Peterson, age 53, is back in school getting her law degree so she can participate in Scott Peterson’s defense.
“We don’t have justice,” she said. “This crime is not solved.”