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Convicted murderer Scott Peterson granted new hearing

Peterson gained new counsel just weeks ago, and his attorneys believe evidence may point to his innocence in his wife's murder.
Convicted murderer Scott Peterson granted new hearing
Posted at 2:09 PM, Mar 08, 2024

It's been nearly 21 years since Scott Peterson was arrested for the murder of his wife Laci and their unborn son, and next week, he'll go before a judge with the intent to clear his name.

According to court records, a judge in San Mateo County, California, has scheduled a status hearing in Peterson's case for March 12, which will include a remote appearance from the convicted murder while his counsel, the Los Angeles Innocent Project, will appear in person.

The Los Angeles Innocence Project confirmed just under two months ago that it had taken up Peterson's case to investigate "his claim of actual innocence," it said in a statement to Scripps News at the time. And per court filings since then, including a motion for DNA testing, it appears the nonprofit found what it needed to support that claim.

"New evidence now supports Mr. Peterson's longstanding claim of innocence and raises many questions into who abducted and killed Laci and Conner Peterson," the filings, obtained by ABC News, state.

Laci was eight months pregnant when she disappeared on Christmas Eve in 2002. Then four months later, the decomposed bodies of the 27-year-old and their unborn son, whom they named Conner, were found in the San Francisco Bay.

Peterson, who had told authorities he was fishing at the time of his wife's disappearance, was arrested days later and soon after pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of murder with premeditation and special circumstances.

The prosecution's case relied much on Peterson's extramarital affairs and alleged his motive was to collect his wife's $250,000 life insurance policy. The jury agreed, convicting him on the murder charges and later sentencing him to death. 

SEE MORE: Scott Peterson claims new evidence exonerates him in 2002 murder

In 2020, the California Supreme Court, citing the trial judge's improper jury selection bias screenings, overturned Peterson's death penalty sentence, and later that year, it ruled a lower court should look again at his case to decide whether his convictions should be overturned. The following year, Peterson was resentenced to life in prison. 

Peterson has maintained his innocence and alleged that possible jury misconduct led to the verdict in his case. His previous attempt for a new trial was denied by a San Mateo County judge in December, but when the Los Angeles Innocence Project took up his case, it said he deserved the second chance due to the original trial violating the now-51-year-old's state and federal constitutional rights.

In their January court filing, Peterson's attorneys say they're seeking evidence from multiple points of interest in the investigation, including a December 2002 burglary across the street from his and Laci's home and documents from witness interviews, according to ABC News. 

The publication says the director of the Los Angeles Innocence Project, Paula Mitchell, said she found "deficiencies" while reviewing the discovery of Peterson's case, including "sensitive investigative leads relating to Mr. Peterson's claim of innocence — information that was referenced throughout various police reports, tip sheets, and other investigative materials from both the prosecution and the defense that I reviewed."

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