Scott Peterson’s Death Sentence Overturned by California Supreme Court

In 2004, Scott Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder of his pregnant wife, Laci, and of second-degree murder of his unborn son, Conner in California. In 2005, he was sentenced to death by lethal injection. His case was put on automatic appeal to the Supreme Court of California and on August 24, 2002 the death penalty for him was overturned by the court. However, his murder convictions were not overturned.

Imparial Jury at Sentencing

The court said that the judge’s mistakes led to an impartial jury during sentencing. Some jurors had views on capital punishment that would impair their ability to follow the law, so they could be dismissed and replaced. They remarked that potential jurors were improperly dismissed when they said they didn’t agree with the death penalty, but would be willing to impose it and follow the law as needed. They also contended whether jurors and the defense were allowed to test whether Peterson’s boat would capsize if it had dumped the bodies. Ultimately, Peterson can still argue that he was unfairly convicted and bring forth new evidence. If that fails, they can bring it to federal court.

“We reject Peterson’s claim that he received an unfair trial as to guilt and thus affirm his convictions for murder,” the court said. “But before the trial began, the trial court made a series of clear and significant errors in jury selection.” The court however could again seek the death penalty for Peterson at a new hearing.

Scott Peterson Trial

During his trial, the prosecution argued that he killed his wife to continue a relationship he had with a woman, Amber Frey. She started dating him a month before the murder. She reportedly was the one who called the police after a friend told her that he was connected to the disappearance. He had told her in early December that he had recently lost his wife and would be alone for the holidays, two weeks before they actually disappeared.

California & Executions

In the State of California, executions have declined significantly as well as throughout the United States. The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, granted a temporary reprieve to 737 inmates who are currently on death row. The state last carried out an execution in 2006.The governor strongly opposes the death penalty mostly because of its high cost and the potential for wrongful convictions.