Scott Peterson Trial Begins Today After Months-Long Jury Selection

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 1, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Scott Peterson Trial Begins Today After Months-Long Jury Selection

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
June 1, 2004

Redwood City, CA ( — The trial for Scott Peterson, accused of killing his wife and their unborn child seventeen months ago, begins today. The case against Peterson has received national attention and spurred the passage of numerous unborn victims laws.

It took almost three months to select a jury of twelve and six alternates, who will now have to attend every day of the trial, which analysts believe could last five months or more. If convicted of murder in the deaths of Laci and Conner Peterson, Scott Peterson could face the death penalty or life in prison.

The final selection of jurors includes individuals with very different backgrounds, including a social worker who has worked with child abuse cases, a former police officer once accused of assaulting another officer, and a woman who’s husband was killed in prison while he served a murder sentence.

The twists and turns of proceedings before the trial have kept public interest in the case high.

Peterson’s defense attorney, Mark Geragos, filed a motion alleging misconduct on the part of prosecutors and police.

"Just last week the prosecution turned over reports disclosing an interview with a witness who saw Laci Peterson being pulled into a van by at least two men," states the motion. This eyewitness, who has been a sworn peace officer, has apparently been known to the prosecution since December of 2002 yet he was only interviewed within the last week.

"The witness confirmed his sighting of a woman he identified as Laci and her two abductors. However, the Modesto Police Department chose to ignore this former peace officer’s report," added Geragos. "This … clearly establishes that the prosecution’s conduct was undertaken in bad faith."

Judge Alfred Delucci has allowed testimony to be heard from both the former police officer and Diane Jackson, a neighbor who said she witnessed three men standing near a brown van, testimony that compliments claims from another witness that said they saw three men put Laci in such a van.

Geragos alleged that prosecutors intentionally used an unlicensed psychiatrist to hypnotize Jackson, making her unfit as a witness according to California law.

Due to public interest, news media have been vying for the limited seats in the courtroom. USA Today, People, the National Enquirer, and the New York Post will be present for at least the first week.

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 Conner 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.

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 Virginia, and 17 cover mothers and their unborn children throughout pregnancy. None of those laws has ever been successfully challenged in Court.