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Scott Peterson Guilty of First-Degree Murder

Verdict Comes in 7th Day of Deliberations

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Scott Peterson has been found guilty of of first-degree murder in the death of his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, and second-degree murder in the death of his unborn son Conner. The jury reached a verdict in the case in its seventh day of deliberations, after three jurors were replaced during the trial, including the first foreman.

The jury will now hear evidence in the sentencing phase of the trial beginning Nov. 22 before deciding whether Peterson will be sentenced to death or life without parole for his first-degree conviction for killing Laci.

The verdict came only eight hours after Judge Delucchi dismissed the first foreman of jury, who was replaced by a male alternate. The new foreman was juror No. 6, a firefighter and paramedic.

On Tuesday, Nov. 9, Judge Delucchi replaced juror No. 7, who reportedly did her own independent research or investigation into the case, contrary to court rules. The judge told the jury they had to "start over" in their deliberations. They responded by electing a new foreman.

The following day, the judge dismissed juror No. 5, the former foreman of the jury, who reportedly asked to be removed from the case. The jury deliberated all day Wednesday with the new foreman in place, took the day off Thursday due to the Veterans Day holiday, and deliberated only a few hours Friday before announcing they had a verdict.

The total deliberations lasted almost 44 hours, after the jury heard five months of testimony from 184 witnesses. The jury has been sequestered since deliberations began Nov. 3. The jury did not deliberate during the weekend of Nov. 6-7.

Scott Peterson was charged with the murder of his pregnant wife Laci Denise Peterson and their unborn son Conner Peterson who disappeared sometime between Dec. 23 and Dec. 24, 2002. The badly decomposed remains of Laci Peterson and the couple's fetus washed ashore in April 2003, not far from where Peterson said he went on a solo fishing trip the day she vanished.

Peterson was arrested April 18, 2003 in San Diego, the day that the remains of Laci and Conner were officially identified.

The Prosecution's Theory

The prosecution believed that Scott Peterson meticulously planned the murder of his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson because he did not want to give up his lifestyle to be tied down to a wife and baby.

They believe that he purchased the 14-foot Gamefisher fishing boat two weeks before she disappeared for the sole purpose of using it to dispose of her body in the San Francisco Bay.

Prosecutor Rick Distaso told the jury that Peterson used a 80-pound bag of cement he purchased to make anchors to weigh down Laci's body at the bottom of the bay. They showed jurors photographs of five round impressions in the cement dust on the floor of Peterson's warehouse. Only one anchor was found in the boat.

Prosecutors also believe that Peterson originally planned to use a golfing outing as his alibi for the day that Laci disappeared, but for some reason dumping her body into the San Francisco Bay took longer than he planned and he was stuck with using the fishing trip as his alibi.

The problem the prosecution had was there was no direct evidence proving that Peterson murdered his wife, much less disposed of her body. Their case was constructed totally on circumstantial evidence.

The Defense of Scott Peterson

Defense attorney Mark Geragos promised the jury in his opening statement that he would present evidence that would show that Scott Peterson was innocent of the charges, but in the end the defense could not produce any direct evidence pointing to any other suspect.

Geragos mostly used the prosecution's own witnesses to offer the jury alternative explanations of the state's circumstantial case. He brought Scott Peterson's father to the stand to explain that Scott had been an avid fisherman since an early age and that it was not unusual for Scott not to "brag" about major purchases, like the fishing boat.

Geragos also offered testimony that indicated that Peterson used the remainder of the 80-pound bag of cement to repair his driveway. He also tried to explain his client's erratic behavior after Laci's disappearance to being hunted by the media, not because he was trying to allude or deceive the police.

The defense case took a major setback when an expert witness, who testified that Conner Peterson was still alive after Dec. 23, did not stand up to cross-examination which brought out that he had made a huge assumption in his calculations.

Many courtroom observers, even those with backgrounds in criminal prosecution, agreed that Mark Geragos did an excellent job during the prosecution's case in offering the jury alternate explanations for almost every aspect of the circumstantial evidence.

In the end, the jury believed the prosecution proved its case that Scott Peterson premeditated the death of his pregnant wife.

See Also: The Peterson Verdict: Special Circumstances

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