Scott Peterson, who was convicted in 2004 of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, will no longer receive the death penalty—at least for now.
CNN reports that California’s Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s death sentence on Monday. The court found that potential jurors had been wrongly dismissed ahead of the trial, which rendered the death sentence unfair. Jurors were reportedly dismissed just for saying they generally did not agree with the death penalty, which is apparently not something that would make a juror unqualified in a death penalty case.
“While a court may dismiss a prospective juror as unqualified to sit on a capital case if the juror’s views on capital punishment would substantially impair his or her ability to follow the law, a juror may not be dismissed merely because he or she has expressed opposition to the death penalty as a general matter,” the opinion states.
The court did rule that prosecutors could re-argue in favor of the death penalty, meaning Peterson could still face capital punishment. The conviction otherwise stands.
Laci Peterson disappeared in 2002; she was eight months pregnant at the time. Her remains and the remains of her fetus were found in 2003, and in 2004, Peterson was convicted on first degree murder for her death and the second degree murder of their fetus.
In 2019, California governor Gavin Newsom issued a moratorium on executions. There has not been an execution in the state since 2006.