Scott Peterson Gets Death Penalty
The decision by the six men and six women of the jury took about 12 hours of deliberation over three days. The announcement was met by cheers outside the courtroom.
TV news outlets were permitted audio but not video feeds from the courtroom, where the mood was described as somber. CNN reported that Peterson gave his family a small smile before sitting down to learn his fate, and was described as showing no emotion when the decision was announced. His lawyer, Mark Geragos, put his arm on Peterson's shoulder and spoke into his client's ear.
While deliberating earlier Monday morning, jurors asked to review 13 pieces of evidence including aerial photographs of San Francisco Bay and the widely publicized picture of Laci Peterson wearing a red maternity pantsuit with her hands folded across her lap, the Associated Press reports.
Peterson was convicted Nov. 12 of one count of first-degree murder in the death of his wife and one count of second-degree murder for killing their unborn son. Prosecutors contend that Peterson killed Laci on or around Christmas Eve 2002, then dumped her body into San Francisco Bay.
After the sentencing was read, Judge Alfred A. Delucchi thanked the jurors for their hard work and noted the difficulty they had in reaching their decisions. Delucchi will ultimately decide on the sentence, which he'll formally hand down Feb. 25.
Last Thursday, prosecutors had called Peterson, 32, "the worst kind of monster" during the closing arguments of the penalty phase of the double-murder trial. "This is somebody who had everything and threw it away," prosecutor Dave Harris said. "He had a plan and he executed it."
Harris asked the jury to deliver the death sentence. "Leaving his wife's body to rot on the bottom of the ocean. Leaving his son to be found as trash in the debris – that is not something that should be rewarded by sparing his life," he said.
The defense, however, begged the jury to let Peterson live. "I wish there was a phrase that I could give you that could turn this around and make you believe there is good, there is real, real good in this person," defense lawyer Pat Harris said. "But I don't have that phrase ... that's up to you to decide.
"I'm going to beg you, begging you to go back there and please spare his life," he added.
Perhaps the most dramatic testimony of the penalty phase came from Laci's mother, Sharon Rocha, and Scott's mother, Jackie Peterson.
Rocha sobbed and screamed at Peterson: "Divorce is always an option, not murder!"
Scott's mother, on the other hand, pleaded for her son's life: "We would lose a whole family, both Sharon (Laci's mother) and I. What a waste. It's irreversible."
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