On Monday, California Supreme Court reversed Peterson’s death sentence in the case of the deaths of his wife Laci and unborn son in 2002. The high court found that the murder convictions still stand, and the trail was extremely fair.
The automatic appeal that was initially filed with the Supreme court in 2012, the court findings, was that the possible jurors were dismissed clumsily in part as they objected to the death sentence on a questionnaire.
The opinion says, “While a court may dismiss a prospective juror as unqualified to sit on a capital case if the juror’s views on capital punishment would substantially impair his or her ability to follow the law, a juror may not be dismissed merely because he or she has expressed opposition to the death penalty as a general matter.”
The justice said nothing in the questionnaire shows that the dismissed jurors were unable to vote for the death penalty if circumstances change. The opinion said, “The death sentence must begaversed, and the People given another opportunity to seek that penalty before a properly selected jury if they so choose.”
The case was then remanded for handling the penalties to Stanislaus County Superior Court.
Some Background to the Murder Case of Laci and her Unborn Son
Laci disappeared just before Christmas in 2002 from her Modesto home when she was seven months pregnant, and her husband reported this.
A woman who was having an affair with Peterson came up in April 2003 in the early days of the extended search for Laci. Laci and her son’s body was washed up in San Francisco Bay after this Peterson was arrested within a short time.
Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder for the death of Laci and second-degree murder for the death of his son Conner by the jury in November 2004. Peterson, now 47, was pronounced death s penalty on December 13, 2004. The attorney of Peterson, Cliff Gardner, then showed gratitude to the Supreme Court for its decision.
California Supreme Court Hasn’t Executed any of Inmates since 2006
Gardner said, “We are grateful for the California Supreme Court’s public recognition that if the state wishes to put someone to death, it must proceed to trial only with a fairly selected jury. Prosecutors may not rely on a jury specifically organized by the state to return a verdict of death.”
He further added, “In deciding whether to seek a new death sentence, the question for prosecutors now is whether they can prove Mr. Peterson culpable for this crime to even a single juror seated through a fair jury selection process.”
The spokesperson for Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, John Goold, said, “We are reviewing the decision and will discuss with the victim’s family.” Whether the death penalty will be investigated again or the attorney’s office has not confirmed it.
Attorney Mark Geragos, who initially represented Peterson, said, “if the state wishes to put someone to death, it must proceed to trial only with a fairly selected jury.”
In 2019, a suspension on the death penalty was issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom, and it will only be in effect till Newsom is in office. No inmate has been issued by California since 2006.