In 2004, he was convicted of the first-degree murder of his wife, Laci, who was pregnant at the time, and the second-degree murder of their unborn son, Conner, in Modesto, California.
On December 23, 2002, at 5:45 pm, Peterson and Laci went to Salon—the workplace of Laci’s sister Amy Rocha—for a monthly scheduled haircut. As they spoke, Rocha said Peterson offered to pick up a fruit basket that she had ordered for her grandfather as a Christmas gift the next day because he would be playing golf at a course nearby. Prosecutors say Peterson also told other people he would be playing golf on the day of Christmas Eve. Later that evening, Sharon Rocha, Laci’s mother, spoke with Laci on the telephone around 8:30 pm.
Peterson later told police that he last saw his wife about 9:30 a.m. on December 24, 2002, when he left to go fishing at the Berkeley Marina. He said Laci was watching a cooking television show but was preparing to mop the floor, bake cookies, and walk the family dog to a nearby park.
Later that morning a female neighbor of the Petersons says she found the Petersons’ dog, a Golden Retriever named McKenzie, and returned him to the Petersons’ back yard between 10:10 and 10:17 a.m. About a half hour later, shortly after 10:45 am, another neighbor named Mike Chiavetta said he found McKenzie wandering the neighborhood with a muddy leash, and also returned him to the Petersons’ yard. Peterson said he returned home that afternoon to find it empty. Peterson found McKenzie in their back yard, and Laci’s 1996 Land Rover Discovery SE was in the driveway. He showered and washed his clothes because he got wet from fishing.
On April 13, 2003, a couple walking their dog found the decomposing body of a small baby, in a marshy area of the San Francisco Bay shore in Richmond’s Point Isabel Regional Shoreline park, north of Berkeley. Although a judge sealed autopsy results, an anonymous Associated Press source revealed that 1.5 loops of nylon tape were found around the fetus’s neck and a significant cut was on the fetus’s body.
One day later, a passerby found the torso of a recently pregnant woman, wearing beige pants and a maternity bra, on the eastern shore of the bay, along a rocky shoreline of the same park, one mile away from where the baby’s body was found. The corpse was decomposed to the point of being almost unrecognizable as a human body since the head, arms, most of the legs and all the internal organs except for the uterus were missing.
On April 18, 2003, the results of DNA tests verified that the bodies were Laci Peterson and her son, who was to be named Conner. The autopsy on both bodies was performed by forensic pathologist Dr. Brian Peterson (no relation). Conner’s skin was not decomposed at all, though the right side of his body was mutilated. An April 24 ABC News report stated his umbilical cord was still attached, and the San Francisco Chronicle reported that it appeared torn, rather than cut or clamped, as is the normal practice following birth. However, ABC News later reported on May 30 that according to the autopsy, the placenta and umbilical cord were not found with the body.
The exact date and cause of Laci’s death were never determined. Her cervix was intact.She had suffered two cracked ribs, but Dr. Peterson could not determine if this occurred before or after her death. Laci’s upper torso had been emptied of internal organs except for the uterus, which protected the fetus, explaining the lower level of decomposition it experienced. Dr. Peterson concluded that the fetus had died in utero, and determined he had been expelled from Laci’s decaying body, though when cross-examined in court the following year, he conceded that he could not determine whether he had been born alive when this occurred. Dr. Peterson also found meconium in the fetus’s bowels, which is the first stool passed after birth. Wikipedia
Peterson’s 2004 death sentence was overturned after the California Supreme Court ruled last year that the jury in his first trial was not properly screened for bias against the death penalty. Prosecutors and Laci’s family opted to settle for life without parole instead of retrying the case.
However, Peterson, 49, still could get a new trial if a judge finds one of the jurors actively sought to be a part of the case. A hearing to determine that will take place from Feb. 25 through March 4 at San Mateo Superior Court.
At Thursday’s press conference, Allred also read a statement from Amber Frey, who did not appear. The attorney called Frey “a true hero” who provided evidence and testimony that led to Peterson’s arrest and prosecution.
“Amber is very brave to be willing to undergo testifying and cross examination after so many years,” Allred said of her client. “She’s willing to do it if necessary, because as Amber has said, ‘The truth is truth,’ and she feels it is her duty to assist in the cause of justice if the prosecution asks her to testify.”
In the statement read by Allred, Frey said she understood why Laci’s family did not want to fight Peterson’s resentencing.
“They are the living victims of Scott Peterson, and their feelings and their decision should be respected,” Frey said in the statement. “They have been very courageous throughout the many years since this tragedy. I wish them the best and hope that they find peace in the future.”
Bird, who wrote a book titled, “Blood Brother: 33 Reasons My Brother Scott Peterson Is Guilty,” said Peterson’s behavior while he lived at her home when Laci was still missing was oftentimes bizarre.
Bird said instead of looking for his missing wife, Peterson flirted with other women, including their babysitter.
“I thought he was looking for his missing wife, but he went to the store and got a cocktail mix to make something called ‘sextinis’ and he was serving them to our babysitter,” Bird recalled. “And things just started to trigger after that — just the lack of interest and looking for Laci was very apparent. It took me a while to kind of put these little pieces together because they say people grieve differently … so I just kind of watched, you know, things layered up and then I started thinking something’s really not right here.”
Bird said she and Peterson share the same mother, but she was adopted by another family. She didn’t find her biological family until she was in her 30s.
Bird said she wants her brother to finally tell the truth and show the Rocha family some remorse.