Jury Selection in Scott Peterson Double Murder Trial Almost Completed
by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
April 13, 2004
Redwood City, CA (LifeNews.com) — The initial jury selection in the Scott Peterson trial is almost halfway completed, but the issues facing both sides are increasing. Peterson is standing trial for the murders of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner.
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 a second murder charge for the death of Laci Peterson’s unborn child, Conner.
Three new potential jurors were added to the pool this week, bringing the total selected to 32. At least 70 must be selected, from which 12 jurors and six alternates will be chosen to serve. Finding impartial jurors to serve, following the media attention the investigation has received, has proved to be difficult. The selection must be completed by May 13, for the trial to proceed as scheduled.
Meanwhile, the possible eyewitness account from a woman who has since died is proving controversial.
One of the witnesses for the defense, Vivian Mitchell, wife of former Modesto politician Bill Mitchell, had told several news organizations she saw Scott’s wife, walking her dog the Christmas Eve morning she disappeared. Her testimony would have shown that Laci was home when Scott went on the fishing trip in which he allegedly dumped his wife’s body into the ocean.
However, Vivian died in February after a short illness, and now her husband, who has said the woman walking the dog may have resembled Laci Peterson, has been subpoenaed by prosecuting attorneys.
Vivian’s accounts to the media and her videotaped testimony may not be admissible, as in both cases prosecuting attorneys were not present to cross-examine her.
Ron Frey, father of Amber Frey, the woman Scott Peterson was allegedly having an affair with, has also been subpoenaed as a witness.
"If asked, I will testify," said Ron Frey. "I will be 100 percent honest, so they should be prepared for the answer; that goes to both sides."
Other troubles for the defense include difficulty in procuring requested documents.
Scott Peterson’s attorney, Mark Geragos, has subpoenaed documents from Cricket Communications, Verizon, SBC, Federal Express and United Parcel Service among others, but some have not yet brought forth the requested records. Judge Alfred Delucchi has issued a new round of subpoenas for the paperwork, along with a warning that arrest warrants will be issued for individuals and organizations that do not respond.
Geragos also hopes that a scheduling conflict with his other high-profile client, singer Michael Jackson, will not occur. Jackson is standing trial in Santa Barbara County on child molestation charges. Geragos told Delucchi that he would work out any scheduling conflicts over the phone.
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, Sharon Rocha, has become and outspoken advocate of Unborn Victims Laws, both for individual states and the entire nation.
President Bush signed a federal Unborn Victims of Violence Law in March. Rocha had voiced her support of the bill, and had criticized members of the Senate, including presidential hopeful John Kerry, who had stalled and opposed 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.