REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KRON) — Scott Peterson’s appeal for a retrial is quite a saga to read through. Thousands of pages of documents have been filed in San Mateo County Superior Court by his habeas corpus defense team, and they filed the final piece on Friday.
The newly filed document, in legal terms called a denial, is the last piece that a judge will read and consider to make a ruling for either granting or denying Peterson a new trial. Peterson has been fighting for over a decade to reach this critical point.
The judge has to decide if one juror, Richelle Nice, committed misconduct during jury selection and while serving on a jury that ultimately convicted Peterson of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci, in 2002. Peterson’s defense team says Nice lied about her past so that she’d be picked for the jury and make sure Peterson was found guilty.
One of Peterson’s attorneys, Pat Harris, told KRON4 that Nice “flatly lied to our face” when she was being questioned as a potential juror. Nice was a “stealth juror,” Harris said.
After Peterson was sent to Death Row in San Quentin State Prison, Nice exchanged dozens of prison letters with him. The letters are now being used by the defense to show that Nice had a pre-conceived agenda and bias.
In one letter Nice wrote to Peterson, “The spot where 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 who not only loved you so much, but someone who was carring [sic] part of you inside her?”
Prosecutors argue that the letters do not show bias. Instead, they illustrate how traumatized Nice was from seeing evidence and hearing testimony detailing a gruesome murder.
“These letters demonstrate only that Juror No. 7 (Nice) was as traumatized,” the Stanislaus County District Attorney wrote.
“Even if Juror No. 7 may be reasonably characterized as unsophisticated or somewhat naïve when it comes to legal matters, (Peterson) has failed to demonstrate that she committed prejudicial misconduct,” the District Attorney wrote.
Nice’s attorneys told KRON4 that their client denies any wrongdoing and is unfairly being painted as a “monster.”
Judge Anne-Christine Massullo said if Peterson’s habeas corpus petition is strong enough to merit a retrial, she will announce her decision at an August 25 hearing. If she’s not convinced based on the court filings, she will request an evidentiary hearing that will include new witnesses testifying.
Harris said if Peterson gets a retrial, the defense team has enough evidence to prove that Laci Peterson’s real killers were burglars who targeted a neighbor’s house on the same day that she vanished.