by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
November 12, 2004
Redwood City, CA (LifeNews.com) — Scott Peterson has been found guilty on two counts of murder in the deaths of his wife, Laci and unborn son, Conner. In the reading of the verdict Friday afternoon the jury declared Peterson guilty of first-degree murder in his wife’s death, and second-degree murder in his unborn son’s death.
The jury took only eight hours to reach a verdict after two of the jurors were removed earlier this week. No reason was given for the dismissal of the jurors, which included the jury foreman.
Peterson could receive the death penalty or a life sentence, which will be determined during the penalty phase scheduled to begin on November 22.
The first 19 weeks of the trial were used by the prosecution to put forth a case based on Scott Peterson’s erratic behavior, affair, and alleged secret purchase of a fishing boat that could have been used to dump Laci’s body into the San Francisco Bay. Prosecutors called 175 witnesses to argue their case.
Peterson’s defense attorney Mark Geragos claimed that the prosecution has no murder weapon, no eyewitnesses, and a case built entirely on circumstantial evidence. Geragos took only six days and called 14 witnesses to try to establish reasonable doubt.
Geragos also put forth explanations for Peterson’s strange behavior as well as theories that a satanic cult or men with a tan van abducted Laci on the morning of December 24, and attacked investigators for doing sloppy work and focusing on Peterson exclusively.
The Peterson case has received national attention and spurred the passage of numerous unborn victims laws.
Peterson was prosecuted for two murders as California has an unborn victims law. Several states now have similar laws, which allow prosecutors to charge criminals with two crimes when they kill or injure an unborn child as a result of attacking a pregnant woman.
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 candidate John Kerry, who returned to Washington from the campaign trial to vote against the bill.
According to the National Right to Life Committee, 30 states have unborn victims laws, most recently Kentucky and Virginia, and 18 cover mothers and their unborn children throughout pregnancy.