by Steven Ertelt
November 30, 2004
Sacramento, CA (LifeNews.com) — The California Supreme Court on Monday declined to delay the sentencing phase of Scott Peterson, who was convicted on two counts of murder in the deaths of his wife Laci and unborn child Conner.
Peterson’s defense attorneys had hoped to seat a new jury out of concern that the jury which convicted Peterson was biased.
Mark Geragos, Peterson’s lead attorney, also hoped to change the venue claiming that Peterson would not get justice because the of mob mentality against him that has built up in Redwood City, the California town where the trial occurred.
Both a lower court judge and an appeals court also denied the requests.
Now, the same six men and six women who convicted Peterson on November 12 will determine whether he should be sentenced to life in prison or receive the death penalty.
The jury declared Peterson guilty of first-degree murder in his wife’s death, and second-degree murder in his unborn son’s death.
Daniel Horowitz, a criminal defense attorney who has been monitoring the case, said that testimony during the penalty phase will come from Laci Peterson’s family and they will likely discuss "what Laci meant to them and how her absence from their lives will hurt them."
Horowitz said witnesses for the defense will likely try to cast Scott Peterson in a positive light and mention that he has no previous criminal record. Their goal is to spare his life.
Geragos also claims Judge Alfred A. Delucchi wrongly sent jurors home after the verdict and claims they were exposed to outside public opinion, which is very strong against Peterson.
In his appeals, Geragos cites the former jury foreman who was dismissed. The man told the judge he had received threats and talk in the jury room focused on making a "popular verdict" to please the crowds.
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.