The judge denies a defense request for a new jury and postpones the penalty phase until Nov. 30

By Ron Arias
Updated November 22, 2004 03:00 PM

The judge in the Scott Peterson case denied the defense’s request for a new jury and change of venue, and he also delayed the beginning of the penalty phase until Nov. 30.

Peterson, a former fertilizer salesman, was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing his wife Laci Peterson and second-degree murder for killing their unborn child, Conner. Peterson’s defense lawyer, Mark Geragos said Monday that the unprecedented public sentiment against his client was reason enough to have a new jury decide Peterson’s fate.

“This court has never seen such hostility in this case against my client,” said Geragos, referring to a crowd of people who cheered outside the courthouse when the guilty verdict was announced on Nov. 12.

“I fully expected people to start building the gallows somewhere in the parking lot across the street,” he said.

Geragos also noted that the jury was allowed to go home after the verdict was read and therefore could easily be influenced by community sentiment and media coverage.

Prosecutor Dave Harris argued, however, that “there is no evidence this particular jury is prejudiced.”

Judge Alfred A. Delucchi agreed, saying: “Anywhere else we’d run into the same process. … We’re going to have to go with this jury. We can only assume that the jury followed the court’s instructions.”

The penalty phase, in which emotional testimonials are expected from both Scott and Laci Peterson’s family members, is scheduled to begin Nov. 30. Peterson could face the death penalty.