The California Supreme Court on Monday overturned the death penalty sentence for Scott Peterson, who was convicted in 2005 for murdering his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son. The ruling still upholds Peterson’s murder conviction for the slaying of his 27-year-old pregnant wife. Authorities say that on Christmas Eve 2002, Peterson dumped their bodies in the San Fransisco Bay from his fishing boat. Months later, their bodies surfaced and jumpstarted a case that garnered nationwide attention.
“Peterson contends his trial was flawed for multiple reasons, beginning with the unusual amount of pretrial publicity that surrounded the case,” the court said, noting that prosecutors are able to try again for the same sentence. “We reject Peterson’s claim that he received an unfair trial as to guilt and thus affirm his convictions for murder.” The court, however, did agree that the trial judge in the case “made a series of clear and significant errors in jury selection that, under long-standing United States Supreme Court precedent, undermined Peterson’s right to an impartial jury at the penalty phase.” The ruling also found that potential jurors in Peterson’s case were improperly dismissed after saying they disagreed with the death penalty but would be willing to impose it under the law. In May 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom suspended the death penalty in the state.