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Peterson Sentence Remains; Petition For New Trial Rejected

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo has rejected convicted murderer Scott Peterson’s petition for habeas corpus; he will now serve out his previously imposed sentence of “life without parole” for the murders of his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn child, Conner, whom he reported missing on Christmas Eve 2002. The Petersons lived in Modesto at the time.

Judge Massullo was appointed by the California Supreme Court on Nov. 5, 2020 to preside over an evidentiary hearing in San Mateo County – where the trial was originally held following a change of venue due to pretrial publicity – to determine whether juror misconduct had occurred during the trial of Peterson as claimed by the defense.

Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager on Tuesday noted that, after several court hearings and a multi-day evidentiary hearing in San Mateo County, Judge Massullo found that Peterson had not met the legal threshold for relief under habeas corpus and, instead, found that the juror in question was credible and her nondisclosures were honest mistakes.

The defense sought a new trial on the basis of juror bias.

“Judge Massullo was exceptionally thorough and eminently fair to both sides throughout the proceedings,” Fladager indicated in a release from the District Attorney’s office. “Laci’s family, friends and the citizens of Stanislaus County are very grateful to her for her professionalism and consideration during this difficult process.”

Sharon Rocha, Laci’s mother, offered the following statement:

“On behalf of Laci’s family and friends, we are grateful for all the hard work and long hours the District Attorney’s office spent on prosecuting this case and addressing the appellate and habeas corpus issues. We especially want to thank District Attorney Birgit Fladager, Special Assistant Attorney Dave Harris, Deputy District Attorney Victoria Vasquez and Detective Craig Grogan.

We are thankful for the judge’s decision that confirms Scott DID receive a fair trial. We appreciate Juror No. 7 for her courage and honesty during this process. No juror should have to go through what she endured. A special thank you to EVERYONE involved in this case.

Laci and Conner are with us every day. We love you.”