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Scott Peterson appeared in a California court on Thursday Prosecutors and lawyers to argue their cases on whether a convicted murderer deserves a new trial in the 2002 murders of his wife and unborn son.
Peterson, now 49, wore a blue coronavirus face mask, handcuffs and dark orange, prison-issued clothing for a hearing Thursday morning regarding the potential for a retrial in a 20-year-old case that sent shock waves across the nation: the murders of his wife, Lacy, and their unborn child, Connor.
The trial stems from defense attorneys’ contention that Judge Rachel Nice was biased. They argued that Nice lied to get a jury that convicted Peterson in 2004 and sentenced her to death for the murders of Lacy, 27, and the unborn child she planned to name Connor.
The California Supreme Court Peterson’s death sentence was overturned in 2020 and it was left to Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo to decide whether he would receive a fair trial.
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In March, Masullo ordered Stanislaus County prosecutors and Peterson’s attorneys to file written arguments by May 25 and respond by June 9.
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Nice was an alternate juror who joined the jury deliberations after the two original jurors were removed. The panel ultimately found Peterson guilty of first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his wife and second-degree murder of his unborn son. He was sentenced to death in 2005.
Peterson’s lawyers argue that, among other things, Nice tried to be a judge because he wanted notoriety and for financial reasons. He has argued that he lied about his lack of bias to get a jury and lied again in a sworn statement in 2020.
Peterson’s attorneys say Nice referred to Connor as a “little man” during jury deliberations, which they argue was one of several indications he was biased against his client.
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And a former fellow juror testified in March that Nice walked into the jury room during deliberations in 2004 and blurted out, “They basically have to pay.” Killing the little man.'”
Nice previously testified that she had no bias against Peterson until she heard evidence that Peterson dumped his wife’s body in San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve 2002.
Nice failed to disclose during jury selection that she sought the restraining order when she was pregnant in 2000, saying she was “really scared for her unborn child” because of threats from her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend.
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He said in his sworn statement 20 years later that he “did not think of ‘victim’ as the law defines that term.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.