Scott Peterson Resentenced to Life in Prison Without Parole for Killing Pregnant Wife

Scott Peterson has been resentenced to life in prison for the 2002 killing of his wife Laci and their unborn son. He will not be able to be granted parole.

The verdict was announced as Laci's family was in attendance. Some had given testimonies before the verdict was decided, and they did not hold back against the convicted murderer.

"Nineteen years ago today you were in the midst of planning Laci's murder," said Sharon Rocha, Laci's mother. "You can bat your eyes but that's the truth."

During her testimony, Mrs. Rocha described how she would have envisioned Connor, the couple's eight-month-old fetus who was also slain by Peterson. She said that Connor would have dark eyes and dark hair, but most importantly, he would have been a good 18-year-old with a loving mother.

Along with Mrs. Rocha, Laci's siblings took to the stand ahead of the sentencing. Her brother Brent said that Peterson has "shown absolutely no remorse" for the killings.

"There are no words to express the pain associated with not being able to share our lives together," he said.

Laci's sister Amy also condemned Peterson for killing her sister and soon-to-be nephew. "I always think of how unfair it is that I don't have a sister anymore," she said. "You took that away from me. I honestly don't know how you go on living, knowing you have taken two beautiful lives."

In 2002, Laci was reported as missing, the bodies of both her and Connor being found in April 2003. Peterson was found guilty of the killings and was originally sentenced to death in 2005. However, the California Supreme Court ordered a resentencing in August 2020 after discovering evidence that the bias screening against the death penalty was flawed. Peterson will remain in the San Mateo County Jail until the juror misconduct trial of Richelle Nice, who co-wrote a book on the case, concludes next spring.

Laci Peterson
This undated photo shows Laci Peterson who, along with her unborn child, was killed by her husband Scott. His resentencing hearing was held on Wednesday, December 8, 2021. Photo by Getty Images

"You are going to burn in hell for this," Laci's father, Dennis Rocha, who died in 2018, yelled at Peterson during his first sentencing. "Your life is done."

Up to 16 of her family and friends are to be seated in the jury box, and up to 16 of his supporters elsewhere in the courtroom.

Defense attorney Pat Harris said Tuesday that Peterson is prepared to speak if the judge allows it, something Peterson didn't do during his initial trial and sentencing.

"This would be the first (time) that he speaks substantively about the case," said Harris, who also participated in the original trial. He expects Peterson's supporters to also be in the courtroom to show their support, but they are not allowed to speak.

Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo, who will resentence Peterson, is separately considering if Peterson was prejudiced by juror misconduct.

But she opted to resentence Peterson first, over the objections of his lawyers, to resolve a problem with his status.

He has since been moved to the county jail for resentencing and is expected to remain there until Massullo decides on whether he should get a new trial.

She plans about a weeklong hearing from February 25 through March 4 to hear defense claims that the woman known as Juror 7 falsely answered questions during the selection process.

They say she actively sought to join the jury and later co-authored a book on the case. Richelle Nice has not been named in court papers but co-authored the book with six other jurors.

Defense lawyers contend she was biased because she had been a crime victim, which she did not disclose during jury selection. They learned only later that she had been beaten by a boyfriend in 2001 while she was pregnant. She obtained a restraining order during another pregnancy against a boyfriend's ex-girlfriend because she was fearful the woman would harm her unborn child.

Nice said in a court filing that she didn't think the restraining order was a lawsuit that she had to disclose on her jury form, nor did she "feel 'victimized' the way the law might define that term."

Massullo will have 90 days after next year's hearing to decide if Peterson should get a new trial.

Prosecutors say Peterson took his wife's body from their Modesto home on Christmas Eve 2002 and dumped her from his fishing boat into the San Francisco Bay, where they washed ashore in April 2003.

Defense attorneys say new evidence points to nearby burglars, though investigators say they were ruled out as suspects.

Supreme Court justices said in their August 2020 decision overturning his death sentence that there was considerable circumstantial evidence incriminating Peterson in the first-degree murder of Laci and the second-degree murder of Connor.

It included that the bodies washed ashore near where Peterson admitted he was fishing on the day they disappeared. He had researched ocean currents, bought a boat without telling anyone, and couldn't explain what type of fish he was trying to catch that day.

Also, in the weeks after Laci disappeared but before the bodies washed ashore, he sold his wife's car, looked into selling their house, and turned the baby nursery into a storage room.

Peterson was eventually arrested after Amber Frey, a massage therapist living in Fresno, told police that they had begun dating a month before his wife's death, but that he had told her his wife was dead.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Scott Peterson 2021
Scott Peterson has been resentenced to life in prison for the 2002 killing of his wife Laci and their unborn son. Above, a November 29, 2021, photo from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, shows inmate Scott Peterson. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP, File