DA to drop death penalty retrial against Scott Peterson, his attorney says
Category: News & PoliticsVia: sister-mary-agnes-ample-bottom • 3 weeks ago • 10 comments
By: Erin Tracy, The Modesto Bee (MSN)
May 28—In an about-face, the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office informed one of Scott Peterson's attorneys on Friday that they no longer plan to pursue the death penalty against him, another of Peterson's attorneys said.
Pat Harris said the District Attorney's Office served Peterson's attorney, Andras Farkas, with the notice on Friday and a third attorney notified Harris.
Farkas, an attorney with the Habeas Corpus Resource Center, who worked on Peterson's death penalty appeal, could not be reached for comment.
District Attorney Birgit Fladager and Assistant District Attorney Dave Harris did not respond to several attempts by The Bee to reach them Friday.
Online court records for the case show a 'Notice of Decision on Retrial Phase' was entered into the system on Friday.
The decision would mean that Scott Peterson's sentence would remain life without the possibility of parole. It was reverted to that in August when the California Supreme Court overturned his death sentence for the murder of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner, because it said the trial judge erred by excluding potential jurors opposed to the death penalty.
Peterson still has a chance to get a whole new trial if his conviction is overturned.
In a separate matter, the California Supreme Court in October also ruled that a trial court must decide whether one of the jurors intentionally withheld information on a questionnaire in order to get on the jury.
The case was remanded back to San Mateo Superior Court where the original trial was held.
Scott's sister-in-law Janey Peterson said in a text that she is "Grateful that they are no longer seeking to take Scott's life, but still looking forward to getting back into the courtroom."
She said the family had not yet given the news to Scott but will talk to him Saturday. Janey Peterson posted about the apparent decision on the Scott Peterson Appeal Facebook page.
Asked whether the DA gave a reason for changing course, Pat Harris said, "I don't think they gave the reasons but I think it is obvious. They see the writing on the wall that if there is a fair and impartial jury they are going to lose."
Pat Harris said by phone Friday he has new evidence to prove Scott Peterson innocent.
"We want to show in a court of law before an unbiased jury, without all the headlines and the craziness that went into the first trial, we want to show the evidence of who committed this murder," he said.
He said the new evidence will focus on burglars who investigators said committed a break-in across the street from the Peterson house after Laci's disappearance. Harris said he can prove that the burglary was committed the day Laci disappeared.
"He deserves another day in court," Harris said.