In a case thrust to the national stage by cable news channels, a jury in Redwood City, Calif., found Scott Peterson guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his wife and second-degree murder for death of his unborn child.
The first-degree murder conviction makes him eligible for the death penalty under California law.
A pregnant Laci Peterson, 27, disappeared on Christmas Eve two years ago from her Modesto home. Her body and the body of her unborn son, named Conner, washed ashore four months later in San Francisco Bay, in the area where her husband said he was fishing.
Today’s verdict came after the dismissal of two jurors, requiring the panel to restart its deliberations each time.
The original jury began deliberating Nov. 3 after two days of final arguments.
Prosecutors claimed Peterson killed his wife then dumped her weighted body into the bay.
The jurors unanimously agreed Peterson planned the murder of his wife and found him guilty, without premeditation, in the murder of his son.
Family members of both Laci and Scott Peterson were in the courtroom. As the verdict was read, Laci’s mother, Sharon Rocha, broke into sobs.
Although hampered by little physical evidence, the prosecution successfully argued Scott Peterson, 32, killed his wife so he could be with his mistress, 28-year-old Amber Frey.
The defense insisted someone else could have kidnapped Laci and killed her, pointing to a mysterious van seen in the neighborhood on the day she disappeared.
Prosecutor Rick Distaso told the jury Scott Peterson could not stand the thought of being trapped in a “dull, boring, married life with kids.”
“He wants to live the rich, successful, freewheeling bachelor life,” Distaso said. “He can’t do that when he’s paying child support, alimony and everything else. He didn’t want to be tied to this kid the rest of his life. He didn’t want to be tied to Laci for the rest of his life. So he killed her.”
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