While prosecutors push for the death penalty, the defense begs jurors to spare his life

By Marla Lehner
Updated December 09, 2004 04:00 PM
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Prosecutors called Scott Peterson “the worst kind of monster” in the closing arguments delivered during the final day of the penalty phase of the double-murder trial Thursday, the Associated Press reports.

“This is somebody who had everything and threw it away,” prosecutor Dave Harris said of Peterson, 32. “He had a plan and he executed it.”

Harris also pointed out to jurors that Thursday is the two-year anniversary of Peterson’s “monstrous plan” to murder his wife, Laci. “Two years ago today, the defendant, Scott Peterson, bought a boat. He told (his mistress) Amber Frey his wife was ‘lost.'”

Peterson was convicted Nov. 12 of one count of first-degree murder in the death of his wife and one count of second-degree murder for killing her unborn baby.

Harris asked the jury to deliver the ultimate penalty on Peterson. “Leaving his wife’s body to rot on the bottom of the ocean. Leaving his son to be found as trash in the debris,” said Harris. “That is not something that should be rewarded by sparing his life.”

But the defense literally begged the jury to do just that.

“I wish there was a phrase that I could give you that could turn this around and make you believe there is good, there is real, real good in this person,” defense lawyer Pat Harris said to the jury. “But I don’t have that phrase … that’s up to you to decide.

“I’m going to beg you, begging you to go back there and please spare his life,” Pat Harris added.

The jury, who will decide Peterson’s fate, has two options: death or life in prison without parole. During the seven days of the penalty phase of the trial, defense attorneys called 39 witnesses, while prosecutors called just four of Laci’s family members.

Perhaps the most dramatic testimony came from Laci’s mother and Scott’s mother.

Laci’s mother, Sharon Rocha, sobbed on the stand and screamed at Peterson: “Divorce is always an option, not murder!”

On Wednesday, Scott’s mother pleaded with the jury to spare her son. Jackie Peterson said that if Scott were put to death, “We would lose a whole family, both Sharon (Laci’s mother) and I. What a waste. It’s irreversible.”

The jurors are to be sequestered in a hotel for deliberations.