If I never hear the name Scott Peterson again, it’ll be too soon.
Last week, the killers’ friends and family told of his “virtues” as though that lessens his guilt.
We’re told he “broke down sobbing” in court and cries in his cell. This is the man who showed no emotion as the grisly death description of his pregnant wife and unborn son was read into the court record.
As I write, the jury deliberates his fate: execution, or life without parole. He was found guilty of first-degree murder of his 8-months-pregnant wife, Laci, and second-degree murder of their unborn son, Connor – and I’m sick of the endless media coverage.
Ever since Laci Peterson disappeared on Dec. 24, 2002, it’s been a headline story. Staid news outlets became elaborate tabloids covering the search, insinuations about Scott and speculation.
When her body washed up along San Francisco Bay in April 2003, the media feeding frenzy took on new energy and never let up. There was the discovery of the baby’s body, Scott’s actions, his affair with Amber Frey, tape-recording and lies, and family reactions.
The media never stopped. Finally, a jury was selected and the trial began. It became a media battle of the lawyers – with Marc Geragos, representing Scott, doing what he always does, relishing the cameras.
High profile, media-savvy lawyer Gloria Allred, representing Amber, was no slouch. She was at the trial daily, and again on evening news shows.
At least Judge Alfred DeLucchi had the good sense to ban cameras from the courtroom. It would have become an “O.J.” circus. It was bad enough as it was.
An army of “legal experts” turned up each day and night to expound on what they thought Scott or the jury were thinking, second-guessing the prosecutors, police and defense. All speculation!
Then there was Scott, who, after the bodies were found, never said a word. He didn’t testify. Reporters say he never showed emotion. Never cried. Well, almost never – until last week when the waterworks turned on as his family and friends said what a great guy he was, what a sweet child he was and how he isn’t guilty.
He cried at that, but not when Laci’s mother, his mother-in-law, shouted at him during her allotted time to address the court, that “Divorce is always an option – not murder!” and described the parts of Laci’s body which were found.
Almost lost in all of this, is the fact that his guilt of murdering what mainstream media likes to call a “fetus,” is a precedent that sets the teeth of pro-choicers on edge.
The jury is now deciding Scott’s fate. Allegedly to help, the jury was subjected to what has to be the most ludicrous, and sad, aspect of the law. Prosecution and defense are each allowed to address the jury to tell how they “feel” about the crime, how they “feel” about the victims, how they “feel” about the accused.
It was exhausting and demeaning to read of the tearful accounts of lovely memories of Laci by her friends and family, and insulting to hear from Scott’s side that he was a terrific little boy who saved a bunny’s life and helped old people.
Reporters say the purpose is to affect the emotions of the jurors and to influence their decisions.
When did emotion become part of a legal decision? Why should it be? Facts speak for themselves. Emotions can excuse anything. I thought that justice was blind – to make fair and, if you’ll excuse the redundancy, “just” decisions.
We hear it after every grisly murder or after umpteen bodies are discovered. Reporters swarm to neighbors and friends for a reaction about the accused. The answers are always the same.
“We got along great.”
“He couldn’t have done it.”
“He was such a nice kid – never a problem.”
Hitler was an artist, a vegetarian and loved animals – a real mellow guy, except he planned the destruction of an entire people and world subjugation.
Ted Bundy was handsome and charming yet tortured and murdered at least 36 women, but probably hundreds.
John Wayne Gacy was an engaging sort who performed as a clown at children’s parties – 33 bodies of young boys were discovered under his house.
Richard Speck wasn’t such a bad guy until he murdered eight nurses.
Jeffrey Dahmer, another “nice” guy, was guilty of doing horrible things to 34 people before and after he killed them.
Crime annals are filled with such horrors, whether about mass killers or those who kill just one.
The comments of friends follow the pattern, as do the actions of the murderer’s parents. They tend to support their children, regardless of the criminal horrors. In their minds, that adult, who chose to commit murder, has nothing to do with their innocent child who didn’t have a bad bone in his body.
We all were cute babies, once. But time passes and if we take the wrong path, society needs to punish us. Sometimes the only right thing is execution.
It seems to me a jury can reach that decision without having to reduce parents and families to begging for justice for the victims or asking that jurors forget what an adult did and make an emotional decision based on the child, who is no more.
If nothing more is gained from this trial, it should be that this part of the trial-game is ended.
If the emotions of Scott Peterson’s parents and family mean he isn’t executed, then Laci and Connor will not receive the justice due them.