by Steven Ertelt
December 2, 2004
Redwood City, CA (LifeNews.com) — Scott Peterson’s father took the witness stand for the defense on Wednesday to plead with jurors to spare his son’s life. Peterson has been charged with the double murders of his wife Laci and unborn child Conner and the jury has entered the sentencing phase of the legal case.
Lee Peterson, who believes his son is innocent, told members of the jury about Scott’s childhood.
He shared personal stories he hopes will prompt members to agree to sentence Scott to life in prison without parole rather than subject him to the death penalty. Peterson described his son as his best friend, kind and generous.
"I love him very much, I have great respect for him," Lee said, looking at his son.
Lee Peterson testified for more than two hours and his face showed the signs of fatigue from enduring the long contentious trial.
He was composed for most of the discussion until he was asked about the death penalty — that’s when his voice quivered and he started to shake.
"Losing someone we love and now having our son in this kind of jeopardy … it’s something I never thought I’d have to go through," he said.
Scott Peterson watched his father and smiled a few times at fond memories of his child and wiped his face and tears with tissues at other times.
However, legal analyst Jim Hammer questioned the defense strategy of attempting to paint Scott’s background as ideal.
"The more you show Scott Peterson to be a man of many good acts and a good background, it shows him to be truly the two-faced sociopath that the prosecution painted (showing that he) murdered Laci and Conner Peterson," Hammer told KCRA-TV.
Peterson’s attorneys also called other friends and Peterson’s half-sister to the stand.
Defense attorney Pat Harris took over from lead attorney Mark Geragos for this stage of the trial. While Geragos sat stoic and watched the proceedings, Harris told the court that they would learn about the real Scott Peterson.
"First of all, it’s clear that the verdict … is not something we agree with. … But it’s time to move forward and put this behind us," Harris said. "We believe this is a life worth saving."
The defense resumes its presentation today.
Earlier this week, Laci Peterson’s mother Sharon Rocha lashed out at Scott Peterson during the testimony.
Rocha blasted Scott for taking away her daughter and denying her the opportunity to have a grandson.
"Divorce is always an option,” she shouted at Peterson, "not murder!”
She tore into Scott Peterson so strongly on several occasions that many in the audience were shocked and gasped.
"There was someone who knew all along and you wouldn’t tell us,” Rocha shouted again at Peterson. "Instead you let us go through this every day!”
The Peterson case 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 provisions, 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.
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.