A new series on A&E is calling into question a double-murder case that prompted a number of states to pass laws protecting unborn babies from violence.
California mom Laci Peterson, 27, was 8-months pregnant with her unborn son, Conner, when she went missing on Christmas Eve in 2002. Her mangled body and her baby boy’s later were found washed up in San Francisco Bay. In 2004, a jury convicted her husband, Scott, of murdering both his wife and unborn son due, in part, to California’s unborn victims of violence law.
The Peterson case received national attention and spurred the passage of numerous unborn victims laws. These laws 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 family became outspoken advocates of Unborn Victims Laws.
The new series, however, examines evidence from neighbors and reporters at the scene who say they saw men outside a home across the street from the Petersons’ on the day she went missing, according to the Daily Mail.
Police said the home across the street, owned by Rudy and Susan Medina, was robbed two days after Laci disappeared; however, several witnesses said the robbery appeared to have occurred on Dec. 24, the day when she went missing and the day when neighbor Diane Jackson says she saw three suspicious-looking men at the Medina’s house.
Police later arrested two men in connection to the robbery, but the report suggests that the police should have treated the men as possible suspects in Laci’s and Connor’s murders.
Scott Peterson, who A&E interviewed from prison, contends that he is not guilty and has an alibi for the time when his wife went missing.
“I wasn’t the last one to see Laci that day. There were so many witnesses that saw her walking in the neighborhood after I left,” he said.
He said he went to work and then fishing, and he has a receipt showing that he was at the fishing area before going home. Peterson said he did not discover that his wife was missing until he returned home that evening and called her parents, thinking she was there. When he found out that she was not, he said they called 911 to report a missing person.
A neighborhood resident, Mike Chiavetta, said he thought he saw the Petersons’ dog walking around the neighborhood on its own on Dec. 24 after Scott left for work. According to the report, at least 11 witnesses said they also saw Laci walking the dog that day.
Here’s more from the report:
The only forensic evidence that was found by police was a single strand of hair in a pair of pliers on his boat, which Scott had been on in the hours before he returned home to report his wife missing to police.
Witnesses claimed however that he spoke of his wife in the past tense and questioned his jovial and joking nature during the proceedings, where he could often be seen smiling and joking with his team.
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The defense argued however that Laci’s death was likely connected to a burglary that occurred across the street from the house she shared with Scott.
The series also includes a never-before heard recording of the last phone message that Peterson left for his wife on the day she disappeared. It sounds like a loving, caring message; however, Peterson also later was discovered to have had a mistress at the time when his wife was murdered.
Scott Peterson was sentenced to death by lethal injection. However, he is appealing the sentence.
The Peterson case sparked a renewed debate about violence against pregnant women and prompted the passage of a Congressional measure allowing federal prosecutors to punish criminals when they attack a pregnant woman and kill or injure the unborn child.
Currently, 37 states currently have laws that recognize the unborn child as second victim in such attacks, according to the National Right to Life Committee.
The TV documentary series “The Murder of Laci Peterson” currently is running on A&E.