A murder trial that captivated the country more than a decade ago is headed back to a Bay Area courtroom.
Scott Peterson was back in a Redwood City courtroom Friday, virtually, in hopes of getting a new trial. His attorneys claim juror misconduct and new evidence all justify their call for a new trial.
Judge Anne-Christine Massullo conducted a hearing with a masked Peterson on a video monitor from San Quentin with two separate issues before the court.
In August, the California Supreme Court overturned his death sentence citing improper jury instructions and prosecutors were ready to try to get it reinstated later this month.
But the second issue is what’s attracting attention now. Judge Massullo will decide if Peterson should get a new trial altogether because of juror misconduct.
Peterson waived his right to a speedy trial for the death penalty case Friday in order to get more time to see if he can get a new trial.
Peterson’s sister in law, Janey Peterson, as well as his Attorney Pat Harris, say jury misconduct and what they called “new evidence” will lead to a new trial and a different verdict.
“Scott’s innocent, and somebody else committed this crime, and we’re going to have an opportunity to not only show he is innocent but also show evidence of culpability of other parties,” said Janey.
Legal analyst Dean Johnson, a longtime observer of the Peterson case, says it’s quite possible the defense can generate reasonable doubt.
“The nature of the new evidence is that there are a number of witnesses, for a lot of reasons, weren’t called at the original trial who can credibly say that they saw Laci Peterson walking the dog after Scott Peterson went to San Francisco Bay to go fishing,” said Johnson.
The real possibility that Peterson could not only get a new trial but also be set free could put the one high-profile case back in the spotlight when both sides return to court Jan. 21.