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xx End of Peterson trial leaves void
« Reply #60 on: Nov 15th, 2004, 05:13am »

REDWOOD CITY — Now that Scott Peterson has been convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and her fetus, some people in this city where he was tried are feeling a void: emotional in some cases, financial in others.

Some residents who regularly attended the trial say the conclusion of the real-life soap opera drama leaves a void in their lives.

Linda Torgeson didn’t know anyone directly involved in the case but attended just about every day of the trial.

“I am going to miss it,” the 54-year-old teacher said.

The announcement early last year that Peterson’s trial would be moved to Redwood City, a sleepy bedroom community just south of San Francisco, brought a touch of excitement to tourism officials.

“We’re ecstatic,” Anne LeClair, president of the San Mateo County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said at the time. “The economic impact is tremendous.”

The trial was moved because a judge found the attention given the case meant Peterson couldn’t get a fair trial in his hometown of Modesto, about 90 miles east, and LeClair predicted the media crowds expected to flood this town of about 75,000 would bring an economic windfall of $8 million to $16 million.

But 10 months later, that windfall appears to have been a whimper, with Redwood City spokesman Malcolm Smith saying the effect on local businesses was “negligible.”

A steady number of reporters did stay for months covering the trial, but the expected crowds came only at key times, such as the days when Peterson’s lover, Amber Frey, took the witness stand.

The cost to the county for the trial could top $1 million, although much of that is expected to be billed to Stanislaus County, where the case originated, according to court officials.

Media organizations have put some money into local coffers. The California Broadcasters Association paid the county $60,000 for use of a listening room near the courthouse where the trial was broadcast over an audio feed, said Peter Shaplen, hired by the television networks to coordinate the media. Television stations paid Redwood City $550 a month for parking. More than $13,750 was paid in November alone, Shaplen said.

Friday’s conviction doesn’t mean that the county’s link to Peterson is over. He will remain in the county jail until jurors arrive at a sentence — life in prison or the death penalty — for first-degree murder in the death of his wife and one count of second-degree murder for the killing of their fetus. She was eight months pregnant.

A sentencing hearing, expected to take a week, begins Nov. 22
http://www.smdailyjournal.org/article.cfm?issue=11-15-04&storyID=36666
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xx Family pays emotional visit
« Reply #61 on: Nov 16th, 2004, 10:11am »

REDWOOD CITY — Laci Peterson's mother, brother and other family members spent emotional moments Monday at the slain woman's Modesto home, removing stuffed animals and flowers left outside by well-wishers since Scott Peterson's double-murder conviction Friday.
Sharon Rocha and her longtime companion, Ron Grantski, and others opened a gate and walked around their daughter's home, Grantski said, "just to look and get a feel." He said their loss has been eased by the outpouring of support from a "great community."

They threw away some deteriorating flowers and planned to give others to a care home for the elderly, Grantski said. Teddy bears would go to abused children via the Modesto Police Department and First Baptist Church, he said.

But he said he was keeping a toy apparently left by one of Laci Peterson's former pupils. Peterson was a substitute teacher before she was slain at Christmastime 2002.

"It said, 'To the best teacher,'" Grantski said, his voice quivering. "Things like that smart.

"It touches us a lot," he continued, referring to the shrine that sprouted on the lawn at 523 Covena Ave. soon after news of Friday's conviction spread. "The whole community has been fantastic. I don't know how the Petersons get through it. They don't have near the support we do and it's hell for us."

The Covena Avenue home has played a significant role in the case. Jurors agreed with prosecutors that Scott Peterson strangled or smothered his wife there on or just before Christmas Eve 2002.

Five months later, Laci Peterson's loved ones entered the home without the permission of her husband's relatives and removed pickup loads of items, including her wedding dress, a crib and a rocking chair. Scott Peterson's father, Lee, on national television, equated the action with burglary — and a public debate ensued.

Grantski said no one in his group entered the home Monday.

"They have a legal right to be there," said Adam Stewart, a Modesto attorney handling civil lawsuits for Rocha against her son-in-law. "It's all part of the healing."

Family and friends on both sides of the case watched most of the five-month trial and are expected to attend the penalty phase set to begin Monday.

The six-woman, six-man jury that handed down the guilty verdict will be asked to decide if Peterson should die by lethal injection or spend his life in prison
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/9436551p-10345659c.html
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xx Geragos faces complaint over boat
« Reply #62 on: Nov 17th, 2004, 11:21am »

REDWOOD CITY, California (AP) -- An attorney with a penchant for attention-getting litigation has filed a complaint against Scott Peterson's lawyer for apparently parking a replica of his client's fishing boat two blocks from the courthouse last week.

In a complaint filed Friday with the California Bar Association, attorney John B. Thompson accuses Mark Geragos of trying to "engage in nonverbal communication" with jurors deliberating Peterson's guilt.

"I believe (Geragos) violated the bar rules," said Thompson, a Florida attorney who has filed complaints against radio "shock jocks," graphic rap music and violent video games.

Under a court-imposed gag order, Geragos is prevented from speaking about any aspect of the Peterson case.

The open boat, which contained homemade concrete anchors and a dummy, was set in a parking lot after the trial judge decided not to allow jurors see a videotaped experiment performed by the defense during which the craft apparently filled with water. The tape could have bolstered the defense's argument that it would have been nearly impossible for Peterson to heave his wife overboard, as prosecutors contended, without tipping.

Thompson said the boat display was an unethical way to embarrass the judge and attempt to influence the jury.

An analyst at the California Bar Association will examine the complaint and then refer it to an attorney to decide whether to pursue an investigation, which could lead to disciplinary action, spokesman E.J. Bernacki said.

On Friday, the jury convicted Peterson of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci, and her fetus. The penalty phase is set to start Monday to determine whether Peterson will be executed or face life in prison.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/11/17/peterson.case.ap/
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xx Defense Seeks New Jury, Different Venue For ....
« Reply #63 on: Nov 18th, 2004, 06:34am »

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) _ Scott Peterson's defense wants to seat a new jury in another county to weigh whether Peterson deserves to die for the murders of his pregnant wife and the fetus she carried, according to a motion filed Wednesday.

Defense lawyer Mark Geragos filed the motion Wednesday in San Mateo County Superior Court. Specific details will not be made public until after Judge Alfred A. Delucchi reviews the file Monday morning before the scheduled start of the penalty phase.

The 32-year-old former fertilizer salesman was convicted Friday on one count of first-degree murder in the death of Laci Peterson and one count of second-degree murder for the killing of the fetus.

Jurors must decide whether to sentence Peterson to life in prison or death. The penalty phase is expected to last about four days.

Beyond the change in venue, Geragos is seeking to empanel an entirely new jury to decide Peterson's fate.

In February, Geragos also sought to have two juries seated for the trial, one for the guilt phase and one for the penalty phase.

At the time, he contended that ``the vast adverse publicity, the abnormally high prejudging of guilt and the strong statistical
http://www.kotv.com/main/home/stories.asp?whichpage=1&id=72745
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xx Peterson case costs surpass $2.1 million
« Reply #64 on: Nov 19th, 2004, 05:06am »

SACRAMENTO -- Costs to investigate, arrest and prosecute Scott Peterson for the murder of his wife, Laci, have topped $2.1 million in the couple's hometown of Modesto and in Stanislaus County, government officials estimated this week as they try to have state taxpayers pay the bill.

Acrimony over costs is also growing between Stanislaus County and San Mateo County, where Peterson was convicted last week of first-degree murder in the 2002 death of his wife.

The Bay Area county just south of San Francisco says Stanislaus County still owes it more than $250,000 for jailing Peterson through most of 2004, using a county courtroom for five months and keeping jurors in $135-a-night hotel rooms. The county seat of Redwood City also claims that controlling traffic, media and crowds outside its downtown courthouse have cost city taxpayers more than $70,000 since the trial began.

Frustrated with the slow pace of reimbursement, San Mateo officials said Thursday they want a court order compelling Stanislaus to pay.

Stanislaus County Auditor-Controller Larry Haugh said the county has already paid $67,000 and will pay more. "Things are tight," he added.

If Stanislaus doesn't move faster, San Mateo wants legislation to have the state pay the bills.

In a letter to the county's state Assembly member, San Mateo Supervisor Mark Church said it's "imperative" the county be reimbursed to avoid cuts in other county services. San Mateo, Church said, shouldn't be penalized for its willingness to conduct the trial after it was moved from Stanislaus.

Combined, the still-rising costs faced by both counties seem certain to make the Peterson case the most expensive in California since 2002, when a Santa Clara County jury convicted and sentenced to death Mariposa County handyman Cary Stayner for murdering three women in Yosemite National Park in February 1999.

Estimating that costs could reach $5 million with appeals, Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Salinas, said he'll introduce a new bill to get the state to pay 100 percent of the bills when the Legislature reconvenes Dec. 6.

Denham's first bill died in the final minutes of this year's legislative session that ended in August.

http://www.dailybreeze.com/news/regstate/articles/1202701.html
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xx Legalities hold site captive
« Reply #65 on: Nov 20th, 2004, 08:35am »

Legalities hold site captive
Scott Peterson still retains stake, but mother-in-law's lawsuit, loan cloud division



The Peterson home in the La Loma neighborhood is in joint custody, and it cannot be sold unless both parties agree.
AL GOLUB AND ADRIAN MENDOZA/THE BEE









AL GOLUB AND ADRIAN MENDOZA/THE BEE



Evidence photos from the trial show the inside of the single-story, 1,770-square-foot home. The crime-scene stigma could lower its market value, an agent says.
BEE FILE




BEE FILE







By JOHN COTÉ
BEE STAFF WRITER


Last Updated: November 20, 2004, 05:12:50 AM PST


It was where she planned to start a family, and where prosecutors say he killed her.
And now that a jury has convicted Scott Peterson of murdering his pregnant wife and unborn son, questions swirl around what will become of the couple's Covena Avenue home in Modesto.

Once the site of media stakeouts, 24-hour police surveillance and impromptu shrines for Laci Peterson and the son the couple planned to name Conner, the house now lies at the heart of a legal morass involving criminal convictions, lawsuits and a loan.

The single-story 1,770-square-foot home in the La Loma neighborhood was the joint property of two people once described as the perfect couple.

It normally would have gone to Scott Peterson after his wife's death. But under the state law, someone who murders a co-owner "has no rights by survivorship."

Following his murder convictions, Peterson retains his stake in the home, but his wife's half transfers to her mother, Sharon Rocha, attorneys specializing in probate and real estate law said. Last year, a judge appointed her administrator of Laci Peterson's estate.

Both must agree to sell

At his point, the house cannot be sold unless both parties agree.

"Scott Peterson may want to sell it to pay off attorneys or whatever needs he has for money," said Matthew Pacher, an attorney specializing in real estate matters for Modesto law firm Damrell, Nelson, Schrimp, Pallios, Pacher & Silva.

"He will not be able to, under the circumstances, sell the property himself," Pacher said. "He will need to have the signature of the representative of Laci Peterson's estate."

Rocha has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Peterson as an individual and, as the administrator of her daughter's estate, has brought an action against him.

The lawsuits seek in excess of $5 million in damages, as well as reimbursement for funeral expenses, burial costs, legal fees and other compensation.

Since civil cases carry lower standards of proof than criminal cases, Peterson's conviction of first-degree murder in the death of his wife and second-degree murder in the death of his unborn son negates the need to prove they died wrongfully, attorneys said.

A trial in the civil case would therefore only be used to determine any damages awarded to Laci Peterson's estate.

Scott Peterson, now facing either the death penalty or life in prison without parole, apparently has few assets to pay any damages awarded.

"Depending on the outcome of the civil case, it should extinguish his interest in the home," said Modesto attorney Adam Stewart, who represents Rocha. "That's our intention."

Selling book or movie rights in a case that has garnered international attention is another revenue option for Peterson. A Stanislaus County Superior Court judge earlier this year — citing a California Supreme Court ruling — determined a Rocha lawsuit seeking to prevent Peterson from selling his story was an unconstitutional restraint of free speech.

Petersons keep finances private

Peterson initially was assigned a public defender in his criminal case after saying he couldn't afford an attorney. Prominent Los Angeles defense attorney Mark Geragos took over his case a short time later, after being retained by Peterson's parents.

Geragos and the Peterson family have refused to divulge details of their financial arrangements, although Lee Peterson said in April he had "adequate resources" to fund the defense.

During trial, though, two expert witnesses for the defense acknowledged in October that they were being paid by court-approved public funds, possible only if a court found the defendant indigent.

Rocha would face multiple hurdles to gaining any civil damages by tapping into Peterson's stake from a sale of the home, attorneys said.

"The mortgage company is in first position," said Steven A. Smith, a Modesto attorney specializing in estate planning, trust and probate law.

The Petersons purchased the home in 2000 for $177,000 after securing a mortgage of $141,600, according to real estate documents.

The home's assessed value in 2004 was $195,901, although the average selling price of five houses of comparable size in the same neighborhood, all with pools, was $308,000 in 2003, according to figures prepared by a Huntington Beach title research company.

With a sale, the mortgage company, title company and real estate broker deduct their fees off the top, Smith said.

The balance would be split between Scott Peterson and Laci Peterson's estate.

House used as collateral for loan

The next claim on Scott Peterson's share appears to be his parents, Lee and Jackie Peterson, who loaned him $100,000 in October 2003, according to documents filed with the Stanislaus County Clerk-Recorder's Office.

Scott Peterson used his stake in the home as collateral for the loan, according to the documents. That transaction predates any potential judgment for Rocha and would take precedence if the property were sold, some attorneys said.

"Scott's parents are in second position," Smith said. "He's always entitled to do what he wants with his half. … If they actually gave him the money, then it's an arms-length transaction. It's as if he did it with a stranger. There's no monkey business as to what happened."

Stewart, however, maintains the loan "over-encumbered" the property, arguing its dollar value was more than Peterson's share of the equity in the home, so it was secured against property that was not his.

"It's a sham transaction," Stewart said. "There's a strong indication that he could not have obtained that loan other than through his parents."

The market value of the home would likely be diminished because of its notoriety, said Randall Bell, a nationally known appraiser who specializes in properties where crimes have occurred.

"The conviction is certainly not good news in terms of the property value," said Bell, a partner in Bell Anderson & Sanders, LLC in Laguna Beach. "It doesn't take a lot of imagination to believe that Laci Peterson was murdered in her house."

Bell appraised the Los Angeles condominium of O.J. Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, who was slain outside the home. And he appraised the Colorado home where 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was killed. In both cases, the slayings cut into the appraised values.

"You're going to see the classic elements of crime-scene stigma," Bell said. "The first thing is to discount, to entice a buyer to buy a house. … The crime-scene stigma does diminish over time. The more time goes by before the property is sold, the better it is for real estate values."

http://www.modbee.com/local/story/9461943p-10368417c.html
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xx Scott Peterson Judge Rules Out New Jury
« Reply #66 on: Nov 23rd, 2004, 06:07am »

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - A judge has ruled that the same jury that convicted Scott Peterson of killing his pregnant wife and the fetus she was carrying also will determine whether he lives or dies for his crimes.

Judge Alfred A. Delucchi on Monday denied defense motions for a new jury and a move to another county, saying he knew of no place where potential jurors have not heard of the case.

"Where could I send this case in the state of California that hasn't been inundated with the media coverage?" Delucchi asked. "There's no place to send this case.

"My wife knows somebody who just came back from Rome, Italy and they had the verdict on the radio in Rome, Italy," the judge added. "I've never seen anything like it before."

Defense lawyer Mark Geragos filed a motion Wednesday, seeking a new jury in San Mateo County or a new jury somewhere else, such as Los Angeles County.

He argued a new jury was needed after panelists were released from sequestration and sent out into the community, where he said they have been tainted by intense media coverage.

Complete Article:
http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/1-11232004-405345.html
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xx Sentencing delayed
« Reply #67 on: Nov 23rd, 2004, 1:39pm »

REDWOOD CITY -- The judge in the Scott Peterson trial Monday rejected a defense request to move the case to another community and pick a whole new jury to decide whether Peterson should get the death penalty for killing his pregnant wife.

Judge Alfred A. Delucci delayed the start of the penalty phase, which had been set for Monday, until Nov. 30 to allow the sides time to exchange evidence.

Peterson was found guilty Nov. 12 of murdering his wife, Laci, and the unborn child she was carrying. He could get the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

Defense attorney Mark Geragos asked that a new jury be seated, either here or somewhere else such as Los Angeles County, contending that the jurors who convicted Peterson were tainted by the public reaction after they were released into the community.

He noted that a cheer went up from the more than 1,000 people outside the courthouse when the guilty verdicts were read.

Geragos also cited the ousting of two jurors during deliberations for undisclosed reasons, saying one, the jury foreman, told the judge there had been threats to his safety and talk in the jury room of the "popular verdict, the expected verdict."

Prosecutor Dave Harris argued that there was "absolutely no showing" that this jury had been prejudiced. Geragos said he will appeal the ruling
http://www.sfexaminer.com/article/index.cfm/i/112304n_peterson
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xx Scott Peterson's Lawyer Seeks Jury Change
« Reply #68 on: Nov 25th, 2004, 09:32am »

SAN FRANCISCO - Rejected by the trial judge and an appeals court, Scott Peterson's lawyer asked the California Supreme Court on Wednesday for a new jury and a change of venue for the trial's penalty phase.

Attorney Mark Geragos filed the motion a day after a state appeals court ruled Peterson's sentencing will be decided by the same jury that convicted him of murder Nov. 12. The three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeals denied the petition just hours after Geragos filed it.

After a five-month trial, Peterson, 32, was convicted of one count of first-degree murder in the death of his pregnant wife, Laci, and one count of second-degree murder for the death of her fetus. The penalty phase is scheduled to begin in Redwood City on Tuesday.

Geragos claims the jury that found Peterson guilty is now tainted by public opinion, citing a frenzied mob who cheered outside the courthouse as the guilty verdicts were read and "abnormally huge" newspaper headlines.

"The question is not whether there is some perfect venue untouched by the media coverage of this case, but whether there is a venue within which it is more likely that defendant could obtain a fair penalty jury," the defense filing said.

Legal experts say the request for a new jury is a standard strategy in a death penalty case. Defense attorneys often seek to insert as much time as possible between a guilty verdict and a penalty phase to allow for jurors' emotions to subside.

http://www.cumberlink.com/articles/2004/11/24/ap/headlines/d86iuh500.txt
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xx Thousands Gather In Honor Of Laci, Conner
« Reply #69 on: Nov 25th, 2004, 11:17pm »

Within the space of 30 minutes, Escalon's population increased by one-third.

An estimated 1,700 motorcycles roared into town Saturday morning as a crowd of roughly 2,000 gathered at the city's Main Street Park for a special dedication.

That dedication saw the unveiling of a new bench at the park, dedicated to the memory of Laci and Conner Peterson. Laci spent much of her childhood in Escalon before moving to Modesto. She and her unborn son Conner were victims in a double murder; murders of which her husband Scott Peterson stands convicted. He is currently awaiting sentencing, to come after completion of the penalty phase of his trial.

But Saturday's gathering dealt little with the trial and subsequent conviction of Scott Peterson. The focus was on Laci and Conner, as friends, family and those touched by the story turned out to share a smile, a tear, a hug, a tender moment of remembrance.

Motorcyclists gathered in Modesto for the ride to Escalon, stopping first for a memorial at Burwood Cemetery on River Road, where both Laci and Conner are buried. Then the procession moved to Escalon for the park bench dedication.

The event was coordinated by Shawn Rocha, Laci's cousin, who worked with Escalon city officials and local businessman Mark Hogan to secure the park bench and find a suitable location for it.

Among those attending were Laci's mother Sharon Rocha and her companion Ron Grantski, and Laci's father Dennis Rocha, who still lives in the Escalon area. Well-wishers greeted them and other family members, turning out in droves to support them.

Shawn Rocha said last year, about 500 motorcyclists gathered for the memorial ride as a way to thank the many people that had been involved in the search for Laci following her December, 2002 disappearance. This year, it grew in size and scope.

"Family members have been overwhelmed," Shawn told the crowd Saturday. "We thank you. God bless you all."

A yellow ribbon adorned the bench prior to the dedication on Saturday, with people also laying single flowers or bouquets nearby, along with a small evergreen tree, a rock painted with flowers and an angel lawn ornament. The bench is near the historic caboose in the Main Street Park.

A plaque in the concrete slab securing the bench simply states "In Loving Memory of Laci and Conner".

And despite a crush of 2,000 people, Escalon Police Chief Doug Dunford said the event went off flawlessly.

"We couldn't have asked for a better group of people," he said. "It went from a prediction of 500 motorcycles to an estimated 1,700 that day so the city of Escalon grew by one-third in just a mere 30 minutes."

The police department did have an operational plan for bringing the motorcycles in and a portion of Main Street was closed to all traffic except the motorcycles for a period of time on Saturday.

"We had no problems at all, the motorcycle riders parked themselves, they were helpful, appreciative of what we were doing...it was a fantastic moment for the city," said Dunford.

Shawn Rocha said it's likely the memorial ride to Escalon will become an annual event, based on how well it was received this year by the community and participants. Dunford said though the actual dedication and remarks from family members took less than an hour, many of those in the crowd lingered by the bench or in the park for some time afterward, reflecting on the event.

"Everyone pulled together for a remembrance, in tremendous respect and tribute to Laci and Conner," Dunford noted.

Laci's family members and grand marshal Mickey Jones, a character actor, greeted the crowd with brief remarks of thanks and Mayor Pro Tem Ed Alves also spoke at the memorial.

"Laci is, and always will be, a daughter of Escalon," Alves said.

Times staff reporter Jenni Little contributed to this report.
http://www.mantecabulletin.com/articles/2004/11/25/escalon/local_news/news01.txt
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xx Murder Was Not Their Fault
« Reply #70 on: Nov 27th, 2004, 10:02am »

Scott Peterson's parents chose to drain their resources to save their son from punishment. A public defender would have sufficed to defend truth and justice. Regardless, the Petersons should concede that even their son is not above the law and deserves to be punished for taking two precious lives. Fortunately, the jury wasn't duped by an attorney who tried to obstruct justice for the purpose of lining his pockets.
However, booing Jackie Peterson after the verdict was cruel, indeed. While their son's heinous crime left two families utterly devastated, they are definitely not responsible for his actions. Like Laci's parents, they are innocent victims of circumstances beyond their control and deserve utmost compassion
http://www.modbee.com/opinion/letters/story/9511653p-10404718c.html
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xx Peterson Jurors Face Wrenching Choice
« Reply #71 on: Nov 27th, 2004, 8:11pm »

SAN FRANCISCO - If the experience of those involved in past death penalty cases is any guide, the jurors in Scott Peterson's murder trial will have to grapple with raw and deep religious, moral and legal issues as they decide whether he lives or dies.

Arguments in the penalty phase are scheduled to begin Tuesday, but experts say many of the jurors may already have made up their minds about what punishment the 32-year-old former fertilizer salesman deserves.

In 2001, a California jury faced a case that holds some similarities to the Peterson trial. Todd Garton was a philandering husband convicted of the shocking murder of his young and very pregnant wife. Jurors said he deserved to die.

"I signed the document that the jury found for death and I think about that a lot," said Fred Castagna, who served as jury foreman. "It was emotional during deliberations, but I don't lose sleep over it."

Jurors who have sent people to death row say even though they were overwhelmingly convinced of their guilt, settling on the death penalty was one of the toughest decisions of their lives.

"I have strong religious beliefs and this wasn't like I had to decide what kind of ice cream to buy," said Brian Bianco, who served as foreman of the jury that convicted Richard Allen Davis of kidnapping and killing 12-year-old Polly Klaas.

Nevertheless, like Castagna, Bianco said he has never doubted that he made the right decision in sending Davis to death row after four agonizing days of deliberations.

It took a jury just 70 minutes to condemn Garton, who was convicted of hiring a hit man to kill his 29-year-old pregnant wife.

"There wasn't any real reason to mull it over," Castagna said. "It was pretty clear that this guy was evil, that he had concocted this scheme to get his wife killed. "

Garton, convicted of two first-degree murder charges, is one of three men in California sentenced to die because a fetus perished during a slaying. Peterson could be the fourth.

Castagna said the five months of sometimes graphic testimony during the guilt phase of the trial "pretty much drove" the death verdict.

"You can't help but consider the fact that you'll have to decide punishment if you find him guilty," Castagna said. "That's always in the back of your mind, but you try not to let it influence you."

Determining punishment before deliberations in the penalty phase is a common experience for many death penalty jurors, according to an ongoing study by the Capital Jury Project at Northeastern University. About half the 1,300 capital case jurors questioned for the study said they had made their sentencing decisions during the guilt phase of the trial, according to chief investigator William Bowers.

"That's perhaps the most profound thing we found," said Bowers, who sometimes serves as an expert witness for those facing the death penalty. "That's a major departure of how it's supposed to work. You're supposed to wait for instructions."

What's more, Bowers said that many jurors vote for death because they fear the killer will someday be set free, even if a sentence of life without parole is an option, as it is in the Peterson case.

"There's a pervasive anxiety that the defendant will be back on the streets," Bowers said.

That anxiety played a major role in the 1988 death sentence of William Dennis, who was convicted of the Halloween night machete slashing of his ex-wife and her eight-month-old fetus as the victim's 4-year-old daughter cowered behind a couch.

"What it came down to for us was that we were not convinced that life without the possibility of parole meant that," said jury foreman Forrester Sinclair. "We decided we had to have him removed from society forever."

Peterson faces death or life in prison without parole for the murders of his wife Laci and the fetus she carried. His lawyer has asked the California Supreme Court for a new jury and a change of venue for the trial's penalty phase. An appeals court turned down the request last week.
http://www.cumberlink.com/articles/2004/11/27/ap/headlines/d86kgjr80.txt

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xx Peterson memorabilia does brisk business on Intern
« Reply #72 on: Nov 29th, 2004, 05:24am »

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - (KRT) - Being a part of history for many people often means buying a piece of history.

Be it a chunk of the Berlin Wall or ash from the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption, anyone and everyone, it seems, can have a mantletop connection to world events.

The trial of Scott Peterson has been no exception.

Capitalists and the compassionate alike are auctioning on eBay memorabilia related to the ongoing legal saga. Newspapers, memorial cards, missing person fliers and even artwork are up for sale online.

People are taking advantage of a trial that has captured the hearts and fury of a worldwide audience.

Incessant media coverage from nearly the first day Laci Peterson vanished from her Modesto home two years ago created a publicity frenzy that continues Monday. Tabloids, magazines, newspapers and, of course, cable television shows have fed monstrous hunger for anything and everything Peterson-related.

Peterson was convicted Nov. 12 of killing his pregnant wife and unborn son, Conner. Jurors are scheduled to begin hearing testimony Tuesday to determine whether he should be executed for the crimes.

The trial began in June and drew people from around the country to the courthouse in Redwood City. Several dozen people each court day were selected through lottery to see the action firsthand.

The passes allowing those court watchers inside can now be yours if the price is right.

Shelly Cook's pass from the June 29 session had attracted 18 bids by Wednesday, the highest ringing in at $49. The opening bid six days prior was 1 cent.

"Personally, I got up and drove over five hours to test my luck," Cook wrote in her description of the item. "Needless to say, I got in, saw the man guilty of murder, and now you can win my ticket. These tickets are now a keepsake memento of the trial that made national headlines."

But money was not the motivator for Cook, she said.

"I put the pass on eBay once I saw that others were selling theirs," Cook said. "And yes, it is my only one. Whatever value the trial pass (sells) for, I will be greatly appreciative, as the proceeds are going towards Laci's (and Conner's) Memorial Fund. The more money raised for the fund, the better."

Others also were altruistic.

Oakland artist Stacy Alexander said Laci's plight drove her to create a painting in the spirit of pop culture icon Andy Warhol. In blinding colors, Laci's image is repeated four times across a 4-foot-by-4-foot canvas that can be bought for $1,500.

The idea, she said, was to highlight domestic violence using a woman whose case had been sensationalized in the news media because she was pretty. Indeed, Alexander jotted scores of domestic violence statistics in her eBay description and promised to give up 10 percent of the sale price to a domestic violence charity of the buyer's choice.

"I'm just real angry about the people who are selling Laci memorial cards and Laci pins," Alexander said in a telephone interview. "I'm not one of those people. I want to make that clear.

"I think people take every opportunity to capitalize on people's misfortune, and that's too bad."

Among the auctioned items making Alexander wince were programs from a May 4, 2003, memorial service for Laci in Modesto, Calif. Someone from the San Joaquin Valley city of Ceres even posted a missing person flier that after eight bids was fetching $14.50.

The person, identified only by the eBay user name "milzlong," was hoping to cash in on the stock during high times.

"Why do you think I listed this item?" milzlong responded to a query about the poster. "Isn't it obvious? There is a demand for them. I happen to have them. You may have heard of this idea called supply and demand."

Incidentally, eight versions of the flier can be downloaded free at lacipeterson.com.

By far the most popular items listed were newspapers announcing the guilty verdict. Special editions doled out about an hour after the verdicts were read seemed to be attracting the most interest.

Still, other items - such as the magnets showing Judge Alfred Delucchi with the message: "I'm Judge Delucchi and I approved this message: `Guilty!,'" left much to be desired by bidders.

For some, the Peterson case has touched a nerve or their hearts. And perhaps the memorabilia it left behind allows them to touch history
http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/nation/10294685.htm
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xx Court Clears Way Peterson Penalty Phase
« Reply #73 on: Nov 30th, 2004, 06:18am »

Scott Peterson's defense team appealed for a new jury and change of venue in the penalty phase of his high-profile murder case. Instead, the state Supreme Court cleared the way for the same jurors who convicted Peterson to determine whether he is executed for his crimes.

Peterson was convicted earlier this month of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci, and the fetus she carried. Jurors were scheduled to begin hearing testimony Tuesday as to whether he should get life in prison or death. A judge will issue the final sentence.

Defense attorney Mark Geragos had sought relief from the high court after a lower court judge, and subsequently an appeals court, denied his motion.

In its ruling Monday, the California Supreme Court rejected the petition to select a new jury and delay the penalty phase of the trial.


Geragos claims that, among other things, the jury that found Peterson guilty is now tainted by public opinion. The appeals court denied his bid within hours of the filing.

Peterson was convicted on one count of first-degree murder in the death of his pregnant wife, Laci, and one count of second-degree murder for the killing of her fetus.

In his appeal for a new jury, Geragos also cited the ousting of two jurors during deliberations. Both ex-jurors remain bound by a gag order.

Daniel Horowitz, a criminal defense attorney, said testimony from prosecution witnesses during the penalty phase "is limited to their loss in terms of Laci, what Laci meant to them and how her absence from their lives will hurt them."

Horowitz said testimony will likely only come from Laci's immediate family members.

Prosecutors will also show jurors photographs of Laci throughout her life, "the kinds of things Scott would have imagined he was robbing from the family," Horowitz said.

Witnesses testifying on Peterson's behalf can speak about anything that might show him in a favorable light as his attorneys try to convince jurors his life is worth sparing, Horowitz said.

"It can simply be that Scott was a nice little child," Horowitz said.

He said the judge has likely already ruled on evidence allowed in the penalty phase since attorneys on both sides must view the items before they are presented at trial.

Meanwhile, the judge ruled Monday that jury instructions and the reading of the panel's sentence recommendation will be broadcast live on an audio feed. The judge will also allow still pictures of Peterson while he issues his instructions.

http://www.xposed.com/headline_news/55_ds_1298386.aspx
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xx Laci Peterson's Mom to Take Stand
« Reply #74 on: Dec 1st, 2004, 07:30am »

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) — Scott Peterson simply watched as his former mother-in-law rose out of the witness chair and screamed at him for killing his pregnant wife, Laci.

Sharon Rocha, wearing a gold heart-shaped pendent with a picture of her daughter in it, took the stand Tuesday in the penalty phase of Peterson's murder trial. She wrapped up the state's case the same day it began, giving the most emotional testimony of four family members called to the stand. Laci's older brother, younger sister and stepfather also spoke.

"She wanted to be a mother. That was taken away from her," Rocha said to Peterson, who was convicted Nov. 12 for the 2002 murders of his wife and the 8-month-old fetus she was carrying.

Rocha went on, her voice cracking.

"Divorce was always an option — not murder," Rocha said in a voice so loud that some jurors jumped.

At one point, Peterson dabbed his eyes with a tissue. Jurors will recommend whether the 32-year-old former fertilizer salesman should be executed or get life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2002 murders.

Throughout the testimony, prosecutors displayed photographs of Laci, including one from Mother's Day 2002. Taken a week after Laci's 27th birthday, the picture showed Laci, her mother and her grandmother.

Mother's Day, Rocha told the jury, would never be the same.

"The first Mother's Day (after her death) I laid on the floor and I cried most of the day because she should have been there," she sobbed, her chest heaving.

"I can hear her giggling," Rocha said, gazing at a larger-than-life image of her daughter displayed on a white wall screen. "She didn't just smile, she would giggle. She would kind of bend over when she would laugh."

Earlier, prosecutor Dave Harris said Laci's death left a hole in her family's hearts "that can never be repaired."

"When the defendant dumped the bodies of his wife and unborn son into the bay, those ripples spread out and they touched many, many lives," Harris told jurors.

The only appropriate punishment, he said, is death.

Prosecutors had argued at trial that Peterson strangled or smothered his wife in their Modesto home on or around Christmas Eve 2002, then dumped her body into San Francisco Bay. The remains were discovered four months later a few miles from where Scott Peterson claims to have been fishing the day his wife vanished.

"It was just the worst thing you could think about, like a nightmare," Amy Rocha, Laci's younger sister, said, describing how she felt as she helped search for her sister.

Brent Rocha, Laci's older brother, said he tries to remember the good times they shared, but those memories are "overshadowed all the time by how she died ... and maybe her knowing who did it."

"I don't think I've ever heard her be more excited than the day she called me up to tell me she was pregnant," he said. "She was going to be a great mother."

The defense was expected to begin presenting its case Wednesday. Witnesses testifying on Peterson's behalf can speak about anything that might show him in a favorable light as his attorneys try to convince jurors his life is worth sparing.

http://www.nola.com/newsflash/topstories/index.ssf?/base/national-34/1101906848141560.xml&storylist=topstories
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