Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Laci Peterson


The jury deliberated for seven days. Two jurors were removed. The first was a woman accused of conducting her own research into the case; the second was the original jury foreman, who was replaced as foreman by the other jurors. The original foreman had degrees in medicine and law and had taken copious notes and requested over a hundred pages of evidence. His replacement, a firefighter and paramedic, reportedly seemed bored during much of the trial.

Scott Peterson
Scott Peterson
Once the apparently bored juror became foreman, though, the jurors needed only seven hours to convict Peterson. They cited Peterson's apparent lack of emotion as a factor in their decision

On November 12, 2004 Scott Peterson was convicted of the first-degree murder of Laci Peterson, and the second-degree murder of unborn Conner Petersononly Laci's murder, not that of the child, was premeditate and deliberate, the jury believed. He was convicted of his son's murder under California's law on fetal homicide. The case would help to inspire the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act.

Many of Laci's family and friends exclaimed or wept when the decision was announced. As usual, Scott Peterson remained calm. The only tears on his side of the courtroom came from Geragos's personal assistant. Geragos, busy with other clients, didn't attend the deliberations himself. Scott's father wasn't there either; friends reported he would have been too upset by the ruling. His mother had to bring her oxygen tank, but she stood by her son.

The court condemned Scott Peterson to death and sent him to San Quentin.

In a 2005 civil suit, Laci's parents sought $25 million in damages for wrongful death. They'd initially planned to ask for $5 million, but looked for more money when they began to fear Geragos's Hollywood contacts would bring Scott a movie or book deal. Until 2002, a law in California had prevented the state's criminals from profiting from their stories; the law had been ruled unconstitutional. The family dropped the suit in 2009.

Peterson is still trying to appeal his case.

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