Scott Peterson Defense Team Has 20 More Witnesses to Stop Death Penalty

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 6, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Scott Peterson Defense Team Has 20 More Witnesses to Stop Death Penalty Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 6, 2004

Redwood City, CA ( — At least 20 more witnesses are expected to take the stand for the defense this week in its attempt to save Scott Peterson from being subjected to the death penalty for his conviction in the double murders of his wife Laci and unborn son Conner.

Jurors have already heard from 14 people, including Scott’s father, brother and sister-in-law, friends and former teachers.

They all talked in very emotional terms about Scott’s upbringing, his friendship and his meaning in their lives.

Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson told the Associated Press that the defense strategy is to ask the jury "to identify not with Peterson but with the people who care about him."

Levenson said the defense is hoping to get members of the jury to question how much the crime was premeditated.

”Defense lawyers are saying, ‘Now that you know more about him, aren’t you questioning a little bit how premeditated this was,”’ Levenson said. ”That alone may save him from the death penalty.”

Taking the stand last week, Scott’s father 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.

The defense is also hoping to align the Peterson family with the victims — both Laci and Conner as well as Laci’s family — with the hopes that jurors will see that killing Scott won’t bring further justice.

Defense attorneys have even lined up pictures showing a smiling Scott and Laci together at their wedding and on other occasions.

"That’s the theory," said Chuck Smith, a former San Mateo County prosecutor following the case told WBEX-TV. "I don’t know if it’s effective, but that’s the theory."

"They’re trying to show that this family loves Laci," Oakland defense attorney Daniel Horowitz, told WBEX. "There’s a shared loss, so the loss doesn’t belong solely to the Rochas."

"I don’t think it’s the right tactic," Horowitz said. "I think they should take it on more directly. Ask them and have them say ‘We loved Laci. It hurt us very, very deeply.’ The way he’s doing it is a little cheesy."

The case has drawn national attention to the light of pregnant women who have suffered from acts of violence.

Most often, a husband or boyfriend wants his partner to have an abortion. When she refuses, many attackers have cited that as the reason for the assault.

Spurned by the epidemic, Congress and many state legislatures have enacted unborn victims laws that charge criminals with two crimes when they attack a pregnant woman and kill or injure her unborn child.