REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KRON) — A woman accused by Scott Peterson of being a “stealth juror” at his 2004 murder trial broke down in tears on the witness stand Monday.
Richelle Nice, also known as Juror No. 7 and Strawberry Shortcake, is under immense pressure because she is the primary target of Peterson’s legal battle for a retrial.
According to Peterson’s defense team, Nice lied about her past to be picked for the jury. The defense is attempting to prove Nice’s personal history made her allegedly bias against men like Peterson.
Nice was grilled on the witness stand for two days about her personal life, prison letters she penned to Peterson, and a book she co-authored with fellow jurors.
Nice was one of 12 jurors who convicted Peterson of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Connor.
Peterson’s defense attorney, Pat Harris, said it was impossible for Nice to be unbiased in the Peterson case because, just like Laci, she was the victim of domestic violence while pregnant.
Nice testified that she was pregnant when her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend threatened, stalked, and harassed her. The ex-girlfriend challenged Nice to a fight and kicked in the door to Nice’s home.
Nice obtained a restraining order against the ex-girlfriend to protect herself and her unborn baby.
“I was in fear we were going to fight during my pregnancy. I knew I could lose my baby,” Nice testified.
Nice testified that she did not intentionally lie during jury selection when she claimed she had never been the victim of a crime. She has a different definition of what a “crime victim” is compared to most people, Nice testified.
“I did not do it intentionally. I don’t consider myself a victim. I’ve been in many fights,” Nice testified.
Nice exchanged several prison letters with Peterson while he was a death row inmate in San Quentin State Prison.
Nice testified that she deeply regrets writing prison letters to Peterson.
“How many letters did you write?” Harris asked.
“Too many,” Nice answered.
Nice wrote letters to Peterson because it was suggested by her therapist, she testified.
According to Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager, Nice was traumatized from seeing grisly evidence shown during Peterson’s murder trial.
Peterson stopped responding to Nice’s prison letters after some of the letters were printed in a “People” magazine article.
Nice broke down into tears twice on the stand Monday. She cried once while attorneys were meeting privately with Judge Anne Christine Massullo in the judge’s chamber.
Nice cried a second time and became too distraught to speak after prosecutor David Harris asked her, “Did you hope to accomplish something with those letters?”
After she regained composure, Nice testified that in her letters, she asked Peterson “about men in general, why they cheat.”
Pat Harris probed Nice about former boyfriends who cheated on her with other women. Nice said she punched the father of her children after she found out he was cheating.
Pat Harris told the judge, “Miss Nice seemed to be obsessed with Connor. Now, from her testimony about her ex cheating on her, this appears to be yet another thing that Miss Nice was obsessed (with).”
The murder investigation into Peterson and his trial largely hinged on information revealed by his mistress, Amber Frey.
Frey contacted police after Laci vanished from her Modesto home on Christmas Eve 2002.
Frey told detectives that she was dating Peterson in the weeks before and after Laci disappeared. Frey became a police informant, and recorded phone calls with Peterson to catch him lying about his wife. For the 2004 trial, Frey was the prosecution’s star witness for establishing a motive.
On Monday, Pat Harris played a video clip of Nice speaking to reporters outside the courthouse moments after Nice and the rest of the jury convicted Peterson of murdering his wife and unborn child.
“San Quentin is your new home,” Nice declared.
The hearing is scheduled to continue with testimony from more than a dozen witnesses through Thursday.
Based on evidence and testimony presented at the hearing, Judge Anne-Christine Massullo will rule whether Nice committed juror misconduct. If Massullo decides Peterson received an unfair trial due to a bias juror, she will overturn his murder conviction and grant him a new murder trial.
Legal analyst Steve Clark said, “His conviction would be overturned. He would probably remain in custody because it’s a zero bail case. The prosecution would have to start from scratch. Trying a case 20 years (after a murder) is very difficult.”