Scott Peterson has been resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the deaths of his wife and unborn child, a California judge ruled Wednesday. Peterson was convicted in 2005 of two counts of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to death row, where he remained for years. Brent Rocha, Laci Peterson’s brother, said the deaths have “devastated and traumatized” the family. Amy Rocha, her sister, broke down in tears as she read her victim impact statement.
Prosecutors said he dumped his wife’s body in the Berkeley Marina on Christmas Eve and tried to cover up the crime by making it appear as if she was missing, according to online court records. Her body washed ashore later. Peterson was uniformly described as a loving husband and expectant father, Harris said, until it became public that he was having an affair at the time of his wife’s disappearance.
The California Supreme Court ruled a year ago that Peterson’s jury was improperly screened for bias against the death penalty. Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager, who came to fame as one of three prosecutors in Peterson’s trial, opted this time to settle for life without parole. Peterson’s attorney, Pat Harris, said his client has shown no remorse because he’s not guilty. He said, as he has in the past, that the defense can now prove that burglars were nearby on the day Laci disappeared – though investigators say they were ruled out as suspects. Massullo resentenced Peterson without adding her own significant comment. She is separately considering if Peterson was prejudiced by juror misconduct.
Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo will have 90 days after next year’s hearing to decide if Peterson should get a new trial. Peterson was prepared to speak, something he didn’t do during his initial trial and sentencing, Harris said, but Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo didn’t allow it. Prosecutors say Peterson took his wife’s body from their Modesto home on Christmas Eve 2002 and dumped her from his fishing boat into the San Francisco Bay, where they washed ashore in April 2003.