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Scott Peterson denied new trial for murdering wife, unborn child

Convicted murderer Scott Peterson is escorted by two San Mateo County Sheriff deputies on March 17, 2005. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A judge denied Scott Lee Peterson’s request for retrial in the 2002 murders of his wife and unborn child.

Judge Anne-Christine Massulo ruled on the matter in San Mateo Superior Court Tuesday, rejecting the Habeas Corpus petition that argued Peterson deserved a new trial because of a juror’s bias. 

Peterson was convicted in 2004 for killing his wife Laci Peterson, 27, and the unborn child they planned to name Conner and then dumping them into the San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve 2002. 

Jurors handed down the death penalty for first-degree murder the following year.

But the California Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s sentence after learning how some prospective jurors were turned away because they said they would impose the death penalty despite their principled stance against it.

The case began when Laci Peterson was reported missing on Christmas Eve 2002. Peterson told police he last saw his pregnant wife that morning at their Modesto home and then went fishing at the Berkeley Marina.

In January 2003, a massage therapist from Fresno named Amber Frey came forward to describe how Peterson introduced himself as a widower when she first met him a couple months prior. Meanwhile, authorities learned that Peterson had taken out a $250,000 life insurance policy on his wife.

In April 2002, the bodies of Laci Peterson and the unborn baby were found.
Peterson was arrested in San Diego, where he had tried disguising himself by dying his dark hair blond and growing a mustache.

Murder charges were filed in Stanislaus County and then transferred after a gag order and massive media attention brought it to San Mateo County.

In late 2004, a jury handed down a guilty verdict. But the court battles continued when Laci Peterson’s family filed a $25 million wrongful death suit, which they later dropped.

Peterson filed his appeal in 2012.

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at

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