Laci Peterson's Family Are 'Bracing Themselves' for a Possible New Scott Peterson Trial

Photo: Al Golub-POOL/Getty

Scott Peterson will have another day in court later this year to find out if he will be granted a new trial — and the family of his slain wife, Laci Peterson, are dreading having to face him again.

"They're bracing themselves like you'd brace for a punch," a source close to Laci's family tells PEOPLE. "The last few years have been better, because he was where he belongs. But the idea of him being released from prison is devastating to them — and there's a chance it could happen."

Laci was pregnant when she vanished on Christmas Eve in 2002. While Scott initially helped look for her, it soon came out that he had been having an affair, and he became the prime suspect.

Four months later, Laci's body was found in San Francisco Bay, just a mile away from where her unborn baby's body was found.

Scott, now 49, was convicted in 2005 of two counts of first-degree murder in the death of Laci and their unborn son, who was to be named Conner.

He was sentenced to death row, where he remained for about 15 years.

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But Scott scored two major legal victories in 2020. The first victory was in August, when his death penalty sentence was overturned, meaning that he would face a new penalty phase trial. The second victory came in October, when the California Supreme Court ruled that a lower court should take a second look at his case to determine whether his guilty verdict should be overturned.

In court last month, Scott's death sentence was officially vacated. He was resentenced to life in prison.

Laci Peterson, Scott Peterson. ZUMA Press

The decision outraged Laci's family.

In court last month, Laci's family addressed him, calling him a murderer and saying that he should never be let out of jail.

"Two things will never change," Laci's mother, Sharon Rocha, told Scott in court. "Laci and Connor will always be dead and you will always be their murderer. You betrayed her, your son and everyone else. You ended two beautiful souls."

Laci's siblings also expressed anger at Scott.

"Nineteen years, and there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about my sister," Amy Rocha said from the witness stand. Added her brother, Brent Rocha: "There are no words able to express the pain associated with not being able to experience life together."

Family photo via The Modesto Bee/AP.

While it's unclear whether Scott is going to be granted a new trial — and whether he'd be acquitted — Laci's family is preparing themselves for the possibility.

"Scott has had some victories lately, and each one of them has been beyond painful for Laci's family," says the family friend. "Just opening up old wounds and pouring salt in them. So they know that more could come. They're preparing themselves for whatever is coming next, and they know it's going to be painful either way."

"One thing that Laci's family will have for the rest of their life is their unbreakable bond," the friend says. "And no matter what happens, they'll rely on each other. They suffered something unspeakable in 2002, and they got through it. They'll get through this as well."

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