December 01, 2004 08:10 AM

It was an emotional day in court Tuesday as the penalty phase began and Scott Peterson simply watched as his former mother-in-law screamed at him from the witness stand for killing his pregnant wife, Laci.

Throughout Sharon Rocha’s 45-minute testimony, she often broke down in tears, especially when she talked about her daughter being buried with her unborn son, Conner. The image she painted of an armless mother who would “never hold her child” left many in the courtroom sobbing – including several jurors.

Laci’s older brother Brent, younger sister Amy and stepfather Ron Grantski also took the stand, and all testified about Laci’s captivating smile. “She lit up every room,” said Grantski. “She always, always had a smile.”

Scott Peterson, 32 was convicted Nov. 12 for the 2002 murders of his wife and the 8-month-old fetus she was carrying. During this new phase of the trial, jurors will recommend whether the former fertilizer salesman should be put to death or receive life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jim Hammer, a former San Francisco prosecutor, called Sharon Rocha’s testimony the most powerful that he has ever heard at a murder trial and that it would be difficult to rebut on Wednesday.

“This crime is without excuse,” he told reporters. “It is the ultimate betrayal, and your heart goes out to her. Not only did Scott kill his wife but also his own son.”

Hammer noted that the impact of Laci’s mother’s remarks could be visibly seen on the six women of the jury. “Every mother would have felt this way,” he said. “Scott was the key to all this and he inflicted more pain on them.”

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