Scott Peterson — the man accused of murdering his wife and unborn child in California in 2002 — will appear in court for a hearing Thursday as he prepares for his new trial.
In November 2020, Peterson waived the right to a speedy trial, just weeks after prosecutors revealed they plan to retry the death penalty phase of Peterson’s case.
On Oct. 14 last year, the California Supreme Court ordered his conviction be reexamined to determine whether Peterson should receive a new trial. In August 2020, the Supreme Court had overturned Peterson’s death sentence, citing “significant errors” in the jury selection process.
The case was called to be re-examined after the court said a juror committed “prejudicial misconduct” by failing to disclose that she had been involved with other legal proceedings.
According to officials, the juror, Richelle Nice, had filed a lawsuit in 2000 to obtain a restraining order after her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend harassed her while she was pregnant.
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Peterson was convicted in 2004 of murdering Laci Peterson, 27 at the time, and their unborn son, Connor. Laci was eight months pregnant at the time of her death.
In 2003, Stanislaus County prosecutors charged Peterson with double homicide, but the case was later moved to San Mateo County, nearly 90 miles away from the couple’s Central Valley home in Modesto.
Investigators say Peterson took the bodies from their Modesto home and dumped them from his fishing boat into San Francisco Bay, where they surfaced months later. Peterson was arrested after Amber Frey, a massage therapist living in Fresno, told police that they began dating a month before his wife’s death, but that he had told her his wife was dead.
He has maintained his innocence.
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Despite initial reports that Peterson’s new trial would start on Jan. 21, the date was later designated as a status conference.
The 2021 trial will also feature a host of new star witnesses, according to KRON4.
The local news station cited sources in listing the new witnesses as being Dr. Phillipe Jeanty; the Petersons’ mailman, Russell Graybill; and neighbors who reported seeing someone who looked like Laci walking what appeared to be the Petersons’ dog around the time that prosecutors say she was abducted or killed.
“The thing to understand is, there is a whole new case out there to defend Scott Peterson,” Dean Johnson, a former San Mateo County prosecutor, told KRON4. “There is much more powerful testimony out there.”
According to Johnson, Jeanty “invented a protocol for estimating — if you have a stillborn child — for estimating how old the fetus was” and how long it had been in the womb, the report states.
“A prosecution witness testified, based on allegedly the Jeanty protocol, that Scott’s unborn son … was a certain age,” Johnson reportedly continued.
But, according to Johnson, the expert who testified during Peterson’s first trial applied Jeanty’s formula incorrectly.
According to a writ of habeas corpus from 2015, “based on the length of Conner’s long bones, Conner did not die on December 24, 2002, the date Laci disappeared, but lived until as late as January 3, 2003.”
Graybill, the Petersons’ mail-carrier, was familiar with the family’s dog, McKenzi, and told police that the dog would bark at him “no matter where on the property the dog happened to be” — but did not bark on the day Laci disappeared when he showed up between 10:35 a.m. and 10:50 a.m.
“This was some 15 to 30 minutes after [a neighbor, Karen Servas] had put the dog back into the yard and closed the gate, indicating Laci had gone on her walk after Servas put the dog away,” the court papers state.
Despite being interviewed on Dec. 27, Graybill never testified before the jury.
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“Graybill’s statements strongly suggested that Laci had taken McKenzi for a walk after Servas had put the dog back in the backyard. If this were true, the timeline was much, much longer than ten minutes as the prosecutor claimed,” Peterson’s writ states.
“Instead, Laci could have been abducted anytime between 10:18 a.m. (when Servas put the dog inside and drove away) and 5:15 p.m., when petitioner returned home and found McKenzi with his leash on.”
Peterson is scheduled to appear in San Mateo County Superior Court in California at 10 a.m. local time.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.