SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. — A judge resentenced Scott Peterson to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Wednesday for the 2002 murder of his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son, Connor.
The new sentence was handed down in accordance with California’s sentencing guidelines after the state’s Supreme Court ruled that jurors who disagreed with the death penalty had been improperly dismissed during the penalty phase of Peterson’s trial, CNN and The Mercury News reported.
“I still feel the grief every day, after 19 years,” Laci Peterson’s mother, Sharon Rocha, said Wednesday in court, according to The Associated Press. “Your evil, self-centered, unforgiveable selfish act ended two beautiful souls. And for what reason? There was no reason other than that you just didn’t want them anymore. You didn’t want a baby nor the responsibility of being a father. You’re a coward.”
Authorities found Laci Peterson’s body in April 2003, weeks after the 27-year-old vanished while she was eight months pregnant. Prosecutors said Scott 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. He was subsequently convicted of first-degree murder for his wife’s death and second-degree murder for the death of their unborn child.
“I have dreams about her,” Rocha said Wednesday, according to the AP. “And sometimes when I wake up, I cry because they’re so realistic and I know I’ll never see her again.”
In a unanimous decision last year, the California Supreme Court found that 13 prospective jurors had been wrongfully dismissed during the penalty phase of Scott Peterson’s trial in a move that “undermined Peterson’s right to an impartial jury.”
“Peterson contends that, absent any indication these jurors would be unable to faithfully and impartially apply the law, it was error to remove them from the juror pool,” Justice Leondra Kruger wrote in the court’s opinion. “On this initial point, Peterson is correct.”
Although justices overturned Scott Peterson’s sentence, his conviction still stands. A hearing is set for next year to determine whether to grant the 49-year-old a new hearing based on allegations that a juror failed to mention that she had been beaten by a boyfriend while she was pregnant in 2001, according to the News.
Peterson had been transferred from death row to a San Mateo County jail late last month, according to KRCA-TV.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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