REDWOOD CITY -- Scott Peterson's sister-in-law said he and their family remain "hopeful" after final arguments concluded for a hearing that will determine whether the convicted killer receives a new trial.
After about four hours of arguments by attorneys representing Scott Peterson and the Stanislaus County District Attorney's office, Janey Peterson briefly spoke to a crowd of media from about a dozen news outlets outside the San Mateo Superior Court Thursday afternoon.
She praised San Mateo Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo, who has presided over the hearing, calling her "a very thorough judge, and I think that's a good thing."
Scott Peterson's attorneys have argued that juror Richelle Nice, who served on the jury for his murder trial in 2004, had failed to disclose information on her jury questionnaire about being the victim of a crime and a party in a lawsuit. Attorney Cliff Gardner argued during the hearing that proved misconduct, and that a new trial should be granted.
In 2004, Scott Peterson was convicted of killing his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner. On Christmas Eve 2020, Laci disappeared from their Modesto home while eight months pregnant. Four months later, her and Conner's bodies were found in the San Francisco Bay. The case was moved from Stanislaus County to San Mateo County due to pretrial publicity.
"I think what we heard today is that Scott did not have an impartial juror," Janey Peterson said. "The constitution guarantees the defendant an impartial jury…He did not have a fair trial and it's time for him to be granted a new trial."
Much of the final arguments focused on Nice's mindset, her past history with domestic abuse, and her ability to fill out forms correctly.
Here's what happened at Scott Peterson's latest hearing on his appeal for a retrial
"What's the point of having somebody sign something under penalty of perjury if you are not going to be truthful. If you need clarification you need to ask for clarification," Janey Peterson said.
The hearing also touched on the performance of Scott Peterson's lead attorney during his murder trial, Mark Geragos. He has not been part of Peterson's legal team for the new hearing. But Janey Peterson declined to criticize his work, saying the jury selection process was a long, four-month process and that the team had taken "what was put in the jury questionnaire under penalty of perjury at face value."
Scott Peterson, who was present during the hearing and sat intently listening during arguments, is still housed at San Quentin prison. An earlier ruling last December sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole, taking him off death row after his death sentence was overturned by the California Supreme Court in 2020. He was also still wearing an orthopedic boot on his left leg, "the result of a long-term injury that's getting better," Janey Peterson said. He was also seen wearing the boot in March during the evidentiary hearing.
When asked about seeing Laci Peterson's family in court, were seated in the jury box while his family sat behind him, she said they've grown accustomed to seeing each other over the years. Laci Peterson's family has not spoken to the media during the course of the hearings.
"There's no animosity. We have care and respect for each other," Janey Peterson said.
The judge will have 90 days to make her decision after the final legal briefs are filed Sept. 16. Janey Peterson indicated that whatever her decision, the hearing is the beginning and not the end of their quest to overturn his 2004 conviction.
"Scott is hopeful, as are we as a family. This has been a very long road," she said. "This is actually just the very beginning of the appellate process, so we are very grateful that this day has finally come and these hearings are happening and we're looking forward to him being granted a new trial."
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy contributed to this report.