Scott Peterson Double Murder Trial Begins With Jury Selection

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 5, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Scott Peterson Double Murder Trial Begins With Jury Selection

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
March 5, 2004

Modesto, CA ( — Jury selection began Thursday in the trial of Scott Peterson, who is standing charged for the double-murder of his wife and unborn son more than a year ago.

The high-profile case has been of interest to pro-life advocates, as it has drawn attention to the need for Unborn Victims of Violence Laws, such as the California law that has allowed for the murder charge for the death of Laci Peterson’s unborn child, Conner.

The first, and perhaps most difficult aspect of the trial, will be finding an impartial jury of people who haven’t made up their minds about the case after enduring more than a year of intense media coverage and national debate.

"Unless you’ve been on Mars, you all know this particular case has had a lot of media coverage," Judge Alfred A. Delucchi told approximately 200 potential jurors. "You have to scrupulously adhere to this admonition, I can’t hermetically seal you and protect you from society."

In order to bring the almost 200 potential jurors down to only twelve and six alternates, the candidates are required to fill out a questionnaire containing over 100 questions – including what bumper stickers are on their car, whether they’ve lost a child, and their opinions on extramarital affairs and the death penalty. The entire process is expected to last several weeks. Those seeking to be excused for financial, medical, or other reasons are required to bring proof to the court on Monday.

Earlier this week lawyers met with Judge Delucchi to discuss what evidence would be admitted – including testimony from handlers of the rescue dogs used to locate Laci Peterson after her disappearance, and wiretaps that recorded Scott’s phone conversations during the investigation – including ones with his first attorney. Investigators insist they followed federal guidelines while using the listening devices.

Defense attorney ridiculed pretrial hearing testimony regarding the rescue dogs employed to locate Laci, particularly that of a handler who claimed the dog was able to distinguish that Laci was carried, and did not walk, to the shore where Scott’s fishing boat was docked.

Scott has pleaded innocent to charges that he murdered his wife on Christmas Eve 2002, when she was eight months pregnant, and dumped her body into San Francisco Bay. Her body and that of her son washed up on the California coast in April.

Laci’s mother, Susan Rocha, has become and outspoken advocate of Unborn Victims Laws, both for individual states and the entire nation.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a federal bill three times, but it has never come to a vote in the Senate. Rocha publicly scolded members of the Senate last week for their delaying tactics that have prevented the chamber from taking up the bill.

According to the National Right to Life Committee, 29 states have unborn victims laws, most recently Kentucky, and 16 cover mothers and their unborn children throughout pregnancy. None of those laws has ever been successfully challenged in Court.