Scott Peterson denied new trial for 2002 murder of wife, unborn son

(WASHINGTON) — Scott Peterson will not be granted a new trial over the murder of his wife, Laci, and unborn son, a California judge has ruled.

Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo denied Peterson, 50, “relief” in his appeal based on stealth juror accusations. He will not get a new trial. He cannot appeal and now has 120 days to submit any new evidence.

Massullo said earlier this month she would issue a written decision on a new trial by Dec. 16, though subsequently suspended that timeline.

The latest development in the case comes nearly 20 years after Laci Peterson, who was 27 years old and eight months pregnant, disappeared on Christmas Eve in 2002. Their remains were found in the San Francisco Bay four months later.

Scott Peterson was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife and second-degree murder in the death of their unborn son, pleading not guilty.

A jury convicted him in 2004 and he was sentenced to death by lethal injection in 2005.

Peterson and his legal team have maintained his innocence and claimed he received an unfair trial based on possible jury misconduct. Peterson’s lawyers claim that a woman, known as Juror 7, had not disclosed involvement in other legal proceedings, ABC News previously reported.

In a 2000 legal proceeding, the juror, identified in court papers as Richelle Nice, alleged that her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend “committed acts of violence against her” and prompted “fears for her unborn child,” ABC News reported previously.

During the jury selection process, Nice told attorneys she had never been the victim of a crime or involved in a lawsuit. In a 2017 interview with “20/20,” she said her situation never came to mind when she had filled out the application.

“The Court concludes that Juror No. 7’s responses were not motivated by pre-existing or improper bias against Petitioner, but instead were the result of a combination of good faith misunderstanding of the questions and sloppiness in answering,” Tuesday’s ruling stated.

In 2020, the California Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s death sentence, citing that his jury was improperly screened for bias against the death penalty, according to court documents. He was moved off death row in October.

Scott Peterson was resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in December 2021, while Judge Massullo was also considering whether he deserved a new trial.

Laci Peterson’s mother, Sharon Rocha, told ABC News’ “20/20” that another trial would be painful, but would likely result in the same outcome.

“To have to go through a trial again, of course, would be excruciating. But if that’s what it takes, I’ll be there,” Rocha said in May 2021. “And I’m sure they’ll find him guilty again.”

ABC News’ Haley Yamada, Mike Gudgell and Lisa Sivertsen contributed to this report.

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