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Inside the Challenge of Finding a Jury to Try Scott Peterson for Murder

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By the time Scott Peterson was set to stand trial for murder in California in the deaths of his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, and unborn son Conner, the case had dominated local and national crime news coverage for more than a year.

As detailed in the fourth episode of A&E’s The Murder of Laci Peterson, airing Tuesday night and exclusively previewed in a clip above, the media saturation made finding a jury challenging.

A&E’s docuseries traces Scott’s crimes and murder conviction following Laci’s December 2002 disappearance and the discovery of her remains four months later.

Scott remains on death row for murdering Laci and their son, though his appeal is ongoing.

As retired police detective Jon Buehler, who worked on the investigation, explains in the clip above, “This case was all over the place. I don’t know where you would go to find people that didn’t know about it — maybe Burma.”

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Scott Peterson in 2005
Justin Sullivan/AP
Laci Peterson
Family photo via The Modesto Bee/AP

In acknowledgement of that widespread public awareness, Scott’s 2004 trial was moved about 90 miles from Modesto, California, where he and Laci lived, to Redwood City, California, which is about 25 miles from San Francisco.

In the preview of episode four, defense attorney Mark Geragos (who has remained vocal about his belief in Scott’s innocence) implies how futile he believes such a move was, given Redwood’s proximity to such a big media market.

As one example, a prospective juror is shown in the clip in news footage at the time saying of Scott, “I just have this feeling that he’s guilty.”

Attorney and legal analyst Paula Canny describes the issue at that time another way, saying in the A&E series, “The question really is: In that atmosphere, could any defense attorney pick a fair jury for Scott?”

The Murder of Laci Peterson continues on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET) on A&E.