Scott Peterson back in court in bid for new trial

Posted at 3:11 PM, April 16, 2024 and last updated 12:56 PM, April 16, 2024

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (Court TV) — Scott Peterson appeared in court today in the first step on the long road to a new trial.

Peterson appeared via Zoom from Mule Creek State Prison in Amador County, California. The judge promptly dismissed his motion to seal proceedings in the case.

Scott Peterson appears in court via Zoom on April 16, 2024.

Scott Peterson appears in court via Zoom on April 16, 2024. He is now being represented by the Los Angeles Innocence Project, which is working to exonerate Peterson. (Court TV)

The Los Angeles Innocence Project is now representing Peterson, who’s currently serving life without parole for the Christmas Eve 2002 murders of his pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son.

Attorneys for the L.A. Innocence Project have requested a review of evidence that was not presented at Peterson’s 2004 trial. One of their arguments is that Laci might have been killed by burglars who broke into a home across the street from the Petersons in Modesto, California in Dec. 2022.

The LAIP is also asking the court for the opportunity to have a blood stained mattress tested for Laci’s DNA. That mattress was found in a burned out orange van parked about a mile from the Peterson home the morning after Laci vanished.

Peterson’s initial status hearing was held in March. At today’s hearing, they asked that the record be sealed in order to protect the identities of witnesses who might be called. Because court records are open to the public, they argued that witnesses might not want to come forward. Their request was denied.

Regardless, it is going to be difficult for Peterson to get his conviction overturned. The bar is high, and there are no guarantees he’ll be granted a new trial. In fact, Peterson’s 2022 bid for a new trial was unsuccessful. His defense team argued at the time that he should get a new trial due to allegations of juror misconduct by an alternate juror by the name of Richelle Nice, who had been dubbed “Strawberry Shortcake” because of her unique shade of hair.

L to R: Laci Peterson, Scott Peterson (FILE)

MORE: Revisiting the Scott Peterson case 20 years later

The prosecution’s circumstantial evidence against Peterson remains overwhelming: Peterson lied to investigators about having a mistress, Amber Frey. Peterson also told Frey, weeks before Laci’s death, that it was his first holiday season without his wife. Additionally, the bodies of Laci and her fetus washed up off San Francisco Bay, the same body of water Peterson claimed to have been fishing the day Laci was reported missing.

Today’s hearing was the first of three motions hearings. On May 29, Peterson’s attorneys will present their crucial argument in the hopes that the court will grant their DNA request. 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.