Judge grants Scott Peterson’s request to retest duct tape

Posted at 11:08 AM, May 30, 2024

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (Court TV) — A judge has denied Scott Peterson’s request for DNA testing on all but one of 14 items presented in the defense’s original motion.

During a hearing Wednesday, Judge Hill ordered the retesting of a “15.5-inch length of duct tape” that was “recovered from Laci Peterson’s pants at the time of autopsy.” Judge Hill also partially granted discovery related to the prior DNA testing of that item.

Scott Peterson's status hearing at San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City, Calif., Tues., March 12, 2024.

Scott Peterson appears via video call for a status hearing at San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City, Calif., Tuesday, March 12, 2024. (Andy Alfaro/The Modesto Bee via AP, Pool)

Peterson, who is now represented by the Los Angeles Innocence Project, has filed numerous motions, but Wednesday’s hearing specifically addressed his request that items from the original 2002 murder investigation undergo DNA testing. Those items include a bloody mattress found inside a burned-out van found near the Petersons’ Modesto home and a tarp found in San Francisco Bay near where his wife’s body washed ashore.

Laci, 27, was eight months pregnant when she disappeared on Christmas Eve 2002. Her body, and that of the unborn child she was carrying, washed up off San Francisco Bay in April 2003. Peterson, now 51, has long maintained that he went fishing at the Berkeley Marina on Dec. 24, 2002, and that when he returned home, Laci had vanished.

Peterson maintains he is innocent. In 2005, he was sentenced to death, but that punishment was overturned by the California Supreme Court in 2020 when it was revealed that potential jurors at trial were improperly dismissed.

In 2021, Peterson was resentenced to life without parole. In 2022, he was moved off death row. That same year, Peterson’s bid for a new trial was unsuccessful when his defense argued he deserved a new trial based on allegations of juror misconduct.

Peterson’s case is due back in court July 1 for a hearing to resolve any outstanding disputes regarding the identity of the DNA testing lab and who shall bear the burden of the cost of DNA testing.

A motion set for July 15 seeks post-trial discovery, including evidence regarding the Dec. 2022 burglary, a missing watch that had belonged to Laci, and various documents.