Scott Peterson refused bail ahead of new murder conviction

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Scott Peterson will remain behind bars.

Peterson, who murdered his pregnant wife and unborn son in 2002, was denied bail ahead of a December hearing where he will again be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, a judge said on Wednesday. .

He has spent the past 15 years on San Quentin death row. But the California Supreme Court overturned his sentence last year, and prosecutors decided they no longer wanted to seek his execution.

Peterson is expected to be transferred to the San Mateo County courthouse on December 8 for a new conviction.

Family members of Laci Peterson, who was eight months pregnant at the time of her death, plan to appear or provide statements to the court at the sentence renewal hearing, the county prosecutor said on Wednesday. Stanislaus, Birgit Fladager. Peterson’s attorneys said they also expect supporters to appear for their client as well.

During the nearly hour-long hearing on Wednesday, Peterson’s attorneys and prosecutors also questioned whether attorneys at the Habeas Corpus Resource Center could remain his attorney for Peterson’s retrial.

A choir sings at a memorial service for Laci Peterson on May 4, 2003.
Debbie Noda, Pool / AP

The California Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s death sentence last year after finding jurors who personally disagreed with the death penalty but were prepared to impose it were inappropriately dismissed . Last year, the High Court also ordered Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo to decide whether Peterson should get a new trial to determine whether juror misconduct occurred in Peterson’s trial in 2004.

Prosecutors said on Wednesday that with Peterson no longer under death threats, his appeal lawyers should no longer be able to represent him because, by law, they only deal with death penalty cases.

This May 11, 2018, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation file photo shows Scott Peterson.
Peterson is set to be convicted again in December.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP, File

“So now we have them saying that even in cases where we don’t have jurisdiction, because we want to stay, the court shouldn’t ask whether we should stay on these cases or not,” said the Stanislaus County Deputy Attorney David Harris. “And I think it’s more of a bad precedent than the tribunal looking at this in the first place to determine what the tribunal should do and what its jurisdiction is. … They are capital habeas litigators, but they want to stay on a non-capital case.

Michael J. Hersek, executive director of the Habeas Corpus Resource Center, which represented Peterson in his appeal, said the lower court judge lacked jurisdiction to determine whether Peterson’s lawyers should be released from the case .

“In our mind, pulling out of the case after a partial win does two things,” Hersek said. “Number one, that would abandon Mr. Peterson in this case, which wouldn’t be fair to him.” Second, it would send a terrible message in all of our other cases because we spend years developing relationships with our clients … relationships of trust that require them to provide us with a lot of information about not only their social history and life issues. , but also the facts of the underlying offense. Not only would we lose the trust of all of our customers because they will see us as a store only in the penalty phase because once we get a partial win they are out of luck. And we can’t have that. It is an institutional concern from our point of view.

The judge ordered Peterson’s attorneys to speak to their client to determine whether he would agree to sign a “irregularities waiver” that could allow them to remain his attorney. The two sides will return on November 10 to discuss the waiver issue.


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