"There is no end to the pain that Scott Peterson has put this family through," says a source close to Laci Peterson's family

By Steve Helling
August 26, 2020 03:32 PM
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ZUMA Press

When Scott Peterson's death penalty sentence was overturned earlier this week, the news was a blow to his slain wife's family.

"The family is in pain again," says a source close to Laci Peterson's family. "It’s not even so much that’s he’s getting off death row for the time being, but now there will be another trial and they’re going to have to sit through it and possibly testify."

Peterson, now 47, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in the 2002 death of wife Laci and their unborn son, Conner. He was sentenced to death in 2005.

After his appeals, the California Supreme Court reversed Peterson's death penalty conviction and on Monday ordered a new sentencing trial for him.

In its ruling, the court said Peterson's guilty verdict will stay in place.

"Peterson contends his trial was flawed for multiple reasons, beginning with the unusual amount of pretrial publicity that surrounded the case," the court said in its ruling. "We reject Peterson’s claim that he received an unfair trial as to guilt and thus affirm his convictions for murder."

But the court went on to say that the trial judge "made a series of clear and significant errors in jury selection that, under long-standing United States Supreme Court precedent, undermined Peterson’s right to an impartial jury at the penalty phase."

Prosecutors can opt to try Peterson again for the death penalty in the high-profile case.

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Scott Peterson

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Laci Peterson was eight months pregnant when she disappeared from her Modesto home during the day of Christmas Eve, 2002. Her body was found in April 2003 in the San Francisco Bay. Peterson claimed that Laci was killed as she walked the couple’s dog after Peterson left to go on a solo fishing trip on Christmas Eve morning.

But as the case moved forward, jurors heard about Peterson's dark secrets, including a months-long affair with a woman named Amber Frey, who was unaware that Peterson was married when she started dating him.

Frey later worked with prosecutors, taping damning phone calls with Peterson. During trial, she testified for several days about her relationship with Peterson, her realization that he was still married and that his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, had vanished. Frey first called police in Modesto, California, in late December 2002 to disclose the affair.

Frey's testimony proved crucial in the court proceedings. Peterson was convicted by a Redwood City jury in 2004 and in 2005 was sentenced to death. He has remained on death row while his appeal worked its way through the courts.

Now as Peterson's future is uncertain, Laci's family is processing the newest development -- and steeling themselves for difficult days ahead.

"The old wounds are being reopened yet again," says the family source. "There is no end to the pain that Scott Peterson has put this family through."