REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KRON) — A woman accused of being a “stealth juror” in Scott Peterson’s murder trial will be granted immunity when she testifies in a San Mateo County courtroom later this month.
Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager announced Monday that she will grant juror Richelle Nice immunity from self-incrimination for Peterson’s hearing.
The Feb. 25 hearing will be a make-or-break moment in Peterson’s battle for a new murder trial.
Judge Anne Christine Massullo will listen to five days of testimony to make her ruling. If the judge decides Nice committed juror misconduct and was bias against Peterson, his murder conviction will be overturned.
Peterson claims he did not receive a fair trial.
Nice was one of 12 jurors who convicted Peterson in 2004 of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci, and unborn son, Connor.
Nice was known as Juror No. 7, and nicknamed “Strawberry Shortcake,” during the highly-publicized trial in Redwood City. According to defense attorney Pat Harris, Nice lied during jury selection because she wanted to ensure Peterson was sentenced to death.
Nice planned to plead the Fifth at Peterson’s upcoming hearing.
On Monday Fladager said she will grant immunity so that Nice can testify without incriminating herself.
If Nice refuses to answer questions on the stand even after the district attorney grants immunity, Nice would be held in contempt of court, legal analyst Michele Hagan said.
“We’re definitely going to be hearing from Strawberry Shortcake,” Hagan said.
Nice has denied any wrongdoing, and Fladager blasted Peterson’s defense attorneys for staging a “witch hunt” against the juror.
Harris said if Nice had been truthful during jury selection, she would have never been picked to serve on the jury. Nice was pregnant when she was the victim of domestic violence, according to court records. But during jury selection, she claimed she had never been the victim of a crime.
“This is a wake up call for all jurors out there,” Hagan said. “You need to answer (voir dire) questions honestly and completely.”
The hearing is solely focused on Nice’s role as a juror. The judge will not take into consideration whether she believes Peterson murdered his wife.
Hagan said every defendant has a Constitutional right to a fair and impartial jury, “regardless of whether we think he did it.”
Nice co-authored a book titled, “We, The Jury” with other jurors after the trial was over.
She also wrote dozens of prison letters to Peterson while he was an inmate on Death Row in San Quentin State Prison. The book and letters will be presented as evidence for the hearing.
In one prison letter, Nice wrote to Peterson, “Your beautiful wife washed ashore…and YOU robbed her & your beautiful son of a life with each other and the rest of the family who loved and cared about them so much! What pushed you so far to the limit, where you felt that you needed to kill someone?”
Mark Geragos, the lead defense attorney for Peterson’s murder trial, and Juror No. 5, Justin Falconer, are also slated to testify at the hearing.