After Scott Peterson’s death penalty sentence was reversed on Monday, August 24, it’s possible the convicted murderer could walk free again, although it is “unlikely,” Beverly Hills legal analyst Jeffrey W. Steinberger exclusively tells In Touch.
“The court could grant Scott Peterson’s pending writ of habeas corpus to have a hearing to determine whether his arrest, detention, hearing was legal in the first place,” Steinberger explains, and if it’s granted, it could allow Peterson to be released. However, Steinberger says, “A writ of habeas corpus is rarely granted in a murder case.”
While the supreme court ruled to overturn Peterson’s death sentence, “That means he’s still guilty of murder but he’s not going to get the death penalty so it’s life imprisonment,” Steinberger adds.
According to Steinberger, “The remedy, generally in this situation (when the jury is prejudice) is to allow either a new trial, or to reduce the sentence or have the case heard in another jurisdiction.”
Peterson’s death sentence was reversed after the California supreme court determined his trial for the murder of wife Laci Peterson and their unborn child had “a series of clear and significant errors.”
During jury selection, “several jurors expressed their opposition to the death penalty, but said they could still carry out the task,” Lou Shapiro, state and federal criminal legal expert and former L.A. County deputy public defender exclusively explains to In Touch. “The trial judge excused those jurors for cause, but the California supreme court ruled that the prosecution should have had to exhaust their peremptory challenges on them.”
Shapiro states Peterson’s murder conviction “still stands,” so the 47-year-old “will remain in custody” while he awaits a verdict in his appeal for a retrial.
While the court will be determining if Peterson’s conviction is lawful, his retrial “will be based on evidence that was not presented” in 2004. “If Peterson loses that challenge, he can appeal in the federal court. It’s a last-ditch effort,” Shapiro adds. “The likelihood of success in a habeas petition is generally extremely unlikely.”
In 2004, Peterson was convicted of two counts of murder in the disappearance and death of his 27-year-old wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner. Laci went missing in December 2002 and her body was discovered four months later in 2003. Peterson was found guilty of first-degree murder with special circumstances, and second-degree murder for the couple’s fetus. He is currently serving time in San Quentin State Prison.
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