In San Mateo County Superior Court on Wednesday, Dec. 8, Scott Lee Peterson, age 49, was resentenced for the Christmas Eve 2002 murders of his wife Laci and their unborn son, Conner. Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager and Special Assistant District Attorney David P. Harris appeared at the hearing in Redwood City on behalf of the People.
On Nov. 12, 2004, Peterson was convicted by a San Mateo County Superior Court jury of the murders of his pregnant wife Laci and her unborn son Conner. The jury also found true the special allegation that Peterson committed multiple murders, making him eligible for the death penalty. During the penalty phase of the trial, the jury recommended Peterson be sentenced to death and, in March of 2005, Judge Alfred Delucchi accepted that recommendation and formally sentenced Peterson to die by lethal injection.
In August of 2020, the California Supreme Court reversed the death sentence but upheld the murder convictions and special circumstance. The Court found error with Judge Delucchi’s summary dismissal of potential jurors who stated on the juror questionnaire that they would not be able to sentence anyone to death. The law requires that each juror be questioned individually regarding the issue of death. The Supreme Court had no problem upholding Peterson’s murder convictions and remanded the case back to court in Redwood City for a re-trial of the penalty phase.
After further review and discussions with Laci’s family, on May 28, 2021 the District Attorney withdrew their request to seek the death penalty in a re-trial leaving the case in a posture requiring re-sentencing on the trial convictions.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Anne-Christine Massullo noted that Peterson stood convicted of First Degree Murder in the death of his pregnant wife Laci as well as convicted of Second Degree Murder in the death of his unborn son Conner. The jury also found true the special circumstance of multiple murders making Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP) the only possible sentence to impose.
Sharon Rocha, Laci’s mother’ Brent Rocha, Laci’s brother’ and her sister Amy Rocha gave powerful and poignant victim impact statements before the court detailing how the last 19 years have taken a huge emotional toll on each one of them. None of the victim’s family believed Peterson ever showed the slightest remorse for what he did.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Massullo sentenced Peterson to Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP) on Count I for the murder of Laci and 15 years to life on Count II for the murder of Baby Conner. Count II was ordered to run concurrently to Count I.
Judge Massullo then ordered that Peterson be held in San Mateo County jail pending the outcome of a Habeas Corpus proceeding regarding possible juror misconduct that is to be held Feb. 25, 2022.