Scott Peterson, who spent more than 15 years on Death Row in the 2002 murders of his pregnant wife and unborn son, will be sentenced to life in prison this fall, a judge said Wednesday.
Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo said she wants to sentence Peterson in November before deciding whether he deserves a new trial over alleged juror misconduct. She set an Oct. 6 hearing to set a date for resentencing him to a life term with no chance of parole.
The California Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s death sentence last year because jurors who personally disagreed with the death penalty but were willing to impose it were improperly dismissed.
Prosecutors said they won’t seek the death penalty if Peterson gets a new trial.
The high court found there was considerable circumstantial evidence incriminating him in the first-degree murder of Laci Peterson, 27, who was eight months pregnant, and the second-degree murder of the boy they planned to name Connor.
Prosecutors said Peterson took his wife’s body from their Modesto home on Christmas Eve 2002 and dumped her in San Francisco Bay from his fishing boat. The body of his wife and the boy’s fetus washed ashore in April 2003.
Peterson’s lawyers are seeking a new trial on allegations a juror committed misconduct by falsely answering questions during the selection process.
Defense lawyers said the woman, who coauthored a book on the case, eagerly sought to be a juror in the case and did not disclose she had been a crime victim.
The woman known as Juror 7 did not reveal during jury selection that she had been beaten by a boyfriend while pregnant in 2001. She also didn’t disclose that during another pregnancy she had obtained a restraining order against a boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend, whom she feared would hurt her unborn child.
The judge denied a defense request to take depositions of the juror and witnesses to those crimes against her but said she could be questioned during an evidentiary hearing.
The juror, however, has said she won’t testify at a hearing unless she is granted immunity from prosecution on a possible perjury charge, attorneys said. If not, she will invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination.