Scott Peterson loses new trial bid; convicted killer to remain behind bars for life

Scott Peterson’s bid for a new trial was denied on Tuesday, when a judge ruled that the man convicted of murdering his wife and unborn son was not warranted a new trial despite allegations of a biased and deceptive juror.

Judge Anne-Christine Massullo issued the long-awaited ruling on Tuesday, when she wrote in her 55-page decision that the juror accused of wrongdoing – Richelle Nice, otherwise known as “Juror No. 7” – had acted out of emotion, rather said a bias against Peterson, and she had made “honest mistakes.”

“The Court finds that several of the answers provided by Juror No. 7 on her juror questionnaire were false in certain respects,” Massullo wrote. “The Court concludes that Juror No. 7’s responses were not motivated by pre-existing or improper bias against [Peterson]but instead were the result of a combination of good faith misunderstanding of the questions and sloppiness in answering.”

Massullo was originally scheduled to release her ruling by Dec. 16 regarding whether Peterson would be granted a new trial. But she suspended the deadline on Dec. 8, until attorneys could fix errors related to personal information that was left unredacted in recent exhibits.

Last Friday, she wrote that the issue was resolved after four exhibits were fixed to redact personal information.

Dec. 24 will mark 20 years to the day since Laci Peterson disappeared.

Meanwhile, Peterson, now 50, is currently serving a life sentence at California’s Mule Creek State Prison.

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He was convicted in 2004 in the murders of his 27-year-old wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner. Prosecutors argued at the time that he killed Laci and disposed of her body on Christmas Eve 2002 in San Francisco Bay.

Laci Peterson before she disappeared in 2002.

Laci Peterson before she disappeared in 2002.
(AP, File)

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The California Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s death sentence in 2020 after news that prospective jury candidates were improperly dismissed came to light, but the court maintained his conviction.

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Peterson was transferred from California’s San Quentin State Prison to Mule Creek State Prison in October as he awaits his fate.

Scott Peterson is seeking a new trial after being convicted in 2004 of killing his pregnant wife, Laci, in California.

Scott Peterson is seeking a new trial after being convicted in 2004 of killing his pregnant wife, Laci, in California.

Peterson’s attorneys have argued that a new trial is warranted because Nice was biased and lied in her questionnaire to get on the jury. Meanwhile, prosecutors have argued that Nice “did the best that she could when faced with a 23-page questionnaire that had 163 questions.

“She’s inconsistent on her answers,” prosecutor David Harris previously told the court. “But being wrong does not necessarily make it false or make her a liar. It just might be that she’s really bad at filling out forms.”

A child looks at a memorial and missing person's banner offering a reward for the safe return of Laci Peterson at East La Loma Park, Jan.  4, 2003, in Modesto, California.

A child looks at a memorial and missing person’s banner offering a reward for the safe return of Laci Peterson at East La Loma Park, Jan. 4, 2003, in Modesto, California.
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Nice previously testified that she did not have any bias against Peterson until after hearing the evidence presented at trial.

This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.