SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Scott Peterson on Thursday filed the automatic appeal of his 2004 death sentence to the California Supreme Court, maintaining as he always has that he had nothing to do with the murders of his wife Laci and unborn son Conner.
Peterson's attorney, noted death penalty lawyer Cliff Gardner, filed the 423-page document eight years after a San Mateo County jury found the former fertilizer salesman guilty of suffocating Laci and dumping her in the San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve 2002.
Peterson has always maintained his innocence and his appeal to the Supreme Court is no different. Gardner claims that the overwhelming publicity Peterson's trial received, incorrect evidentiary rulings and other mistakes deprived him of a fair trial. Peterson was convicted in 2004 after a trial that his attorney argues surpassed the O.J. Simpson murder trial in terms of publicity.
Peterson claims that Laci was killed sometime after he left their Modesto home the morning of Dec. 24, 2002 to go fishing in the San Francisco Bay. Gardner notes that Peterson was convicted and sentenced to death even though investigators never directly proving "how, where or when" the murder occurred.
Prosecutors told the jury that Laci was killed sometime between the night of Dec. 23, 2002 and the morning of Dec. 24, 2002. They believed Laci was suffocated in her home, but Gardner argues that there was little direct evidence collected at the house to support that theory.
Gardner argues that the intense publicity the case generated almost from the moment Laci disappeared deprived Peterson of a fair trial. The trial was ordered moved from Stanislaus County of the Petersons' home, to San Mateo County. Gardner argued that the trial should have been moved yet again because of the crush of publicity in San Mateo County.
"Before hearing even a single witness, nearly half of all prospective jurors admitted they had already decided Mr. Peterson was guilty of capital murder,' Gardner argues. And in what may be a first for the American system of justice, outside the courthouse in which the parties would try to select a fair jury, a radio station posted a large billboard which had a telephone number for people to call in and vote" whether Peterson was a "man or monster." Peterson was pictured in an orange jailhouse jumpsuit.
"The publicity continued throughout trial," Gardner argued. "A mob estimated at more than 1,000 people gathered at the courthouse to await the guilt phase verdict. After the guilty verdict was announced, the 12 jurors departing to await the beginning of the penalty phase — and decide whether Mr. Peterson would live or die — were met with wild applause and cheering."
Beyond issues with the publicity, Gardner argues the judge made several erroneous evidentiary decisions and other rulings that led to Peterson receiving an unfair trial. Gardner complains the judge automatically excluded prospective jurors who said they opposed the death penalty. Gardner argued that those jurors should have been questioned more about whether they could still decide the case fairly.
Gardner also argues that some of the prosecution's strongest evidence should never have been shown to the jury. For instance, Gardner alleges that the police dog who picked up Laci's scent at the Berkeley Marina "even though the dog had a dismal record of being wrong a remarkable 66 percent of the time."
The thick legal brief delves into numerous other issues alleging incorrect rulings, juror misconduct and other errors.
All death penalty cases are appealed to the California Supreme Court, which is struggling to keep up with the pace of cases. There are 725 inmates on Death Row and no prisoner has been executed in California since January 2006. Lawsuits in federal and state courts have temporarily halted executions.
The appeal is expected to take months, if not years, to be resolved.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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