Scott Peterson Trial Fast Facts

Here is some background information about the Scott Peterson trial. He was convicted in November 2004 of murdering hi...

Posted: Apr 16, 2018 6:31 AM
Updated: Apr 16, 2018 6:31 AM

Here is some background information about the Scott Peterson trial. He was convicted in November 2004 of murdering his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner, in 2002. Prosecutors alleged that Scott's motive for the two murders was to escape married life and upcoming fatherhood. Peterson is on death row at San Quentin State Prison near San Francisco.

Timeline: December 24, 2002 - Laci Peterson is initially reported missing from their home in Modesto, California.

January 24, 2003 - Amber Frey, a Fresno massage therapist, comes forward at a police news conference and says she was having an affair with Peterson. She says the affair began November 20, after Peterson told her he was single.

April 18, 2003 - California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, confirms a body found on April 13 on the San Francisco Bay area shore is that of baby Conner and a body found in the same location on April 14 is that of Laci Peterson.

April 18, 2003 - Peterson is arrested in San Diego, pending capital murder/double homicide charges, and is held without bail.

April 21, 2003 - Arraignment in Stanislaus County Superior Court before Judge Nancy Ashley. Peterson is charged with 2 felony counts of murder with premeditation and special circumstances. Peterson pleads not guilty.
- Under California law, the special circumstance allows the prosecution to seek the death penalty. There are 2 counts because of California's fetal homicide statute, any fetus -- meaning eight weeks of development and onward -- is considered an equal victim.

May 2, 2003 - Mark Geragos becomes Peterson's attorney.

June 12, 2003 - A gag order is placed on participants, saying the restrictions were necessary to preserve Peterson's right to a fair trial amid "massive" publicity.

August 18, 2003 - Judge Al Girolami rules that news cameras will not be allowed in the courtroom at the preliminary hearing.

September 26, 2003 - Laci Peterson's family files a civil lawsuit against Peterson in Stanislaus County Superior Court to prevent him from receiving money for selling his story.

October 29, 2003 - Preliminary hearing - DNA and forensics evidence is presented.

December 3, 2003 - Peterson pleads not guilty at his formal arraignment.

December 19, 2003 - Laci's mother, Sharon Rocha sues Peterson for over $5 million for the deaths of her daughter and unborn grandson. As the executor of Laci's estate, Rocha files two separate lawsuits in the Stanislaus County Superior Court, a wrongful death action and a survival action.

January 20, 2004 - The trial is moved to San Mateo County.

February 2, 2004 - Judge Alfred Delucchi bars cameras from the San Mateo County courtroom for the entire trial.

March 4, 2004 - Jury selection begins.

May 27, 2004 - The six-man, six-woman jury is seated in the case. There are also six alternates.

June 1, 2004 - Trial begins.

June 21, 2004 - Judge Delucchi tells jurors that they must take care to ensure their actions in and around the courtroom are not misconstrued. The warning comes after Juror No. 5 spoke to Laci's brother, Brent Rocha, at a courthouse security checkpoint on June 18.

June 23, 2004 - Juror No. 5, Justin Falconer, is dismissed from the jury.

August 10, 2004 - Frey testifies that Peterson told her he was a widower and lied about where he lived and where he traveled. Jurors hear recordings of Peterson and Frey's conversations, made by police after she discovered the truth.

October 5, 2004 - The prosecution rests.

October 26, 2004 - The defense rests.

November 1, 2004 - The prosecution makes its closing arguments.

November 2, 2004 - The defense starts its closing arguments.

November 3, 2004 - Jury deliberations begin.

November 12, 2004 - Peterson is found guilty of 1st degree murder for Laci's death and 2nd degree murder for son Conner's death.
- The 1st-degree charge usually carries a potential sentence of 25 years to life with the chance of parole but in this case, the jury finds that "special circumstances" apply in Laci's death, and he could face a death sentence or life in prison without parole.
- The second-degree charge carries a potential sentence of 15 years to life.

November 30-December 9, 2004 - Penalty phase. Sharon Rocha testifies, crying and even shouting at Peterson several times. Peterson's parents and half-sister testify for the defense.

December 13, 2004 - The jury recommends that Peterson be sentenced to death.

March 16, 2005 - Judge Alfred Delucchi follows the recommendation of the jury and sentences Peterson to death.

October 21, 2005 - A judge rules that proceeds from a $250,000 life insurance policy Peterson took out on Laci will go to Laci's mother.

July 12, 2006 - Peterson gives a videotaped deposition for a $25 million wrongful death lawsuit filed by Laci's family.

October 31, 2007 - The Fifth District Court of Appeal reaffirms an October 21, 2005 ruling that Sharon Rocha should get the $250,000 life insurance payout for Laci's death.

April 2009 - Laci's parents drop their wrongful death lawsuit against Peterson.

July 5, 2012 - Peterson's automatic appeal is filed in the California Supreme Court.

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