by Steven Ertelt
December 28, 2005
Modesto, CA (LifeNews.com) — The parents of Scott Peterson, convicted in November 2004 of the murders of his pregnant wife, Laci, and her unborn child Conner have hired two noted attorneys to begin his appeals. The Petersons hired attorneys Cliff Gardner and Lawrence Gibbs, who represented the Menendez brothers, convicted of murdering their parents in Southern California in 1989.
Peterson received the death penalty for the crimes and such sentences are automatically appealed under California law. However, it came often take years before inmates can receive a state-appointed attorney.
“Since he is innocent, we don’t want him sitting there any longer than he has to,” his father Lee Peterson said.
Peterson’s famous trial lawyer Mark Geragos could have handled the appeals phase of his case but he withdrew and said he feels it needs a "fresh set of eyes."
Geragos told AP he would offer any help he could to the new attorneys and specifically praised Gardner, who has won three death penalty reversals in the last two years.
"I think the world of him," Geragos said. "He’s a very accomplished attorney."
Gardner cautioned Peterson’s parents that it would take almost a year to review all of the court documents for errors, investigate new leads and write the first of likely numerous appeals.
In California, death penalty appeals take on the form of two different cases with one regarding the appeal itself and another the habeas corpus review where new evidence can be entered for the court to consider.
The case drew national attention to unborn victims laws, which are meant to help obtain justice for pregnant woman and their unborn children who are victims of violence.
Peterson recently spent his first Christmas behind bars on San Quentin’s Death Row. He was convicted of killing Laci and Conner on Christmas Eve of 2003 and dumping their bodies into the San Francisco Bay, which is ironically viewable from San Quentin’s exercise yards.
He spent several months in a prison adjustment center, according the Associated Press, before being moved to a death row prison cell in the spring.