'You Deserve to Burn in Hell'
But the March 16 session offered a final heartbreaking glimpse into a family's unbearable grief. One after another—in front of a courtroom packed with spectators, family and 10 of the original jurors—six members of the Rocha clan got up to deliver searing denunciations of Peterson that were sometimes laced with obscenities. But none was as emotional as the outpouring of pain and anger from Laci's mom, Sharon Rocha (see box), who brought many in the audience to tears—at one point even Delucchi appeared to be welling up—with her portrayal of Peterson as "nothing but an empty, hollow shell" who had cold-bloodedly murdered "my daughter, my baby."
The first one to have his say was Laci's brother Brent Rocha, who stood at the lectern and declared, "It's difficult, Scott, to get up here and speak to you of what you've done." But he soon got over his difficulty and began to tear into Peterson with lines such as, "Anytime I'm in the Bay Area I think, 'Oh, my sister's head is rolling around at the bottom of the Bay' " Brent also mentioned that in early January 2003, only a few weeks after Laci's disappearance, he had bought a gun with the intention of killing Peterson himself because he had already become convinced that his brother-in-law was responsible. However, in the end, he said, he had decided not to use the weapon because he thought that he would get even more satisfaction seeing Scott "sweat it out" during the inevitable trial to come.
As Brent spoke, the Peterson family, which included Scott's mother, Jackie, and father, Lee, became increasingly agitated. At one point Jackie yelled out, "He didn't do it!" A moment later Lee shouted, "You're a liar." A court deputy told them both to be quiet. Soon, muttering an expletive, Lee walked out of the courtroom, followed a few minutes later by Jackie, who nodded politely to deputies and kept smiling despite the hateful comments being hurled at her son.
As usual, Peterson himself maintained an icy calm, even when Laci's sister Amy intoned, "No punishment you will receive on earth will ever compare to the punishment God will give you." The next day, a Rocha family friend said that both Sharon and Laci's stepfather Ron Grantski were "exhausted, both emotionally and physically" by the experience and wanted to unwind for a while. Says Jim Brazelton, Stanislaus County district attorney: "Those people are hurting badly, and they will be hurting badly for years. There isn't any closure for that family, and there never will be."