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Eighteen years ago on Christmas Eve, Laci Peterson disappeared from her Modesto, CA, home with no explanation. Laci’s body was found months later in the San Francisco Bay. Laci’s husband, Scott Peterson, was found guilty of her murder in 2004. But this year is different because Scott has had two significant legal victories.
These critical legal battles could potentially see to the overturning of Scott’s conviction. And Laci’s family fears this outcome more than anything as they once again mourn the day they lost her forever.
A source close to the family said the following. “This Christmas is different than last Christmas. The holidays are always hard for them because Laci was taken from them on Christmas Eve. But now, with the thought that Scott could eventually go free? That’s devastating. The family is really worried.”
The Laci Peterson Case
Laci Peterson was eight-months pregnant when she disappeared. She was excited to meet her son, Conner, but she never made it to Christmas. At the time of her disappearance, Scott Peterson claimed he last saw Laci Christmas Eve morning. He left that morning to go on a solo fishing trip and believed Laci was murdered when she walked their dog.
Scott reported Laci missing to the police a few hours after he returned home from his fishing trip when he realized she did not return home. In his initial statements to the police, Scott said he had been golfing that day but later admitted to having gone fishing.
Jon Buehler and Allen Brocchini were the lead detectives in Laci’s disappearance and questioned Scott that night. Buehler stated he was immediately suspicious of Scott because of his peculiar behavior. In an interview, Buehler said, “I suspected Scott when I first met him.” The detective clarified, “Didn’t mean he did it, but I was a little bit thrown off by his calm, cool demeanor and his lack of questioning.” Throughout the process Scott did not appear worried about Laci or his baby. Instead, he was completely calm.
Evidence came to light
The police were right to be suspicious because soon after Laci disappeared new evidence surfaced validating their suspicions. A woman named Amber Frey contacted the Modesto police and informed them that she and Scott were having an affair. Frey claimed that she was unaware Scott was married at the time of their affair. Then after learning of Laci’s disappearance she became suspicious of Scott and went to the police. Amber worked with the police and prosecutor’s office to record phone conversations between herself and Scott. These phone calls and Frey’s testimony in court proved to be damning for Scott Peterson.
Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder for the death of Laci and second-degree murder for the death of their unborn son. Then in 2005, a judge sentenced Scott to death. Peterson has been on death row ever since.
The Supreme Court of California handed down a verdict on August 24th to uphold Peterson’s conviction. But they chose to overturn his death sentence, and Scott will now have a new penalty phase trial. The next Supreme Court decision came down two months later in October. In this decision, the court ordered a review of Peterson’s conviction on the basis of prejudicial juror misconduct.
One of the jurors in the case had filed a lawsuit in 2000 in an attempt to obtain a restraining order. The restraining order was against her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend; who had allegedly been harassing her. The defense attorneys asked the jurors to disclose any prior involvement in other legal proceedings or if they had been the victim of a crime. The juror failed to disclose the lawsuit, thereby committing prejudicial misconduct, despite there being no relation between the cases.
With Peterson’s conviction being uncertain; Laci’s family faces new challenges this Christmas. The same source admitted, “They’re sad and concerned. This is the nightmare without end.”