As even the most casual true crime observers know, Scott Peterson is sitting on Death Row for the murders of his eight-months-pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son, Connor Peterson, back on Christmas Eve 2002.
Public fascination and repulsion with Peterson, now 45, began when he play-acted being scared and heartbroken during an initial press conference about Laci’s disappearance.
The relentless interest in the story then carried on throughout Peterson’s trial, guilty verdicts, and sentencing. Even today, after being locked up for 14 years, Scott Peterson remains a hot topic.
Many inquiring minds want more gruesome details about how Peterson slaughtered Laci and sank her remains in the San Francisco Bay. Others are drawn in by his harebrained attempt to elude justice with disguises, fake IDs, multiple cell phones, and cash, only to get busted on a golf course.
Still more observers are compelled by Amber Frey, Peterson’s girlfriend who had no idea he was married, and then bravely proved to be the key prosecution witness that helped put Scott behind bars.
Then there is another group: a cadre of true believers who — despite the massive evidence, publicity, and effort that went into convicting Scott Peterson — insist that this former fertilizer salesman had nothing to do with the deaths of Laci and Connor Peterson.
Perhaps loudest among them is Peterson’s original defense team. Mark Geragos — a “celebrity lawyer” who has also worked high-profile cases for Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder, and Congressman Gary Condit — proclaimed his client “stone cold innocent” in court. He still stands by that notion.
Matt Dalton, another Peterson attorney, went as far as to write an entire book on the topic with the self-explanatory title, Presumed Guilty: What the Jury Never Knew About Laci Peterson’s Murder and Why Scott Peterson Should Not Be on Death Row.
Dalton’s book points out inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case such as witnesses claiming to see Laci alive after the time when Scott supposedly killed her, and a rash of crimes involving other pregnant women in the area at the time.
But it’s not just his legal defenders who doubt Peterson’s role in Laci’s demise — or at the very least about the way he went down for it.
Mark Godsey, author of Blind Injustice: A Former Prosecutor Exposes the Psychology and Politics of Wrongful Convictions, did not participate in Peterson’s trial, but he has expressed some serious questions regarding the outcome.
In a Psychology Today article entitled “Is Scott Peterson Innocent?,” Godsey writes:
“Scott Peterson was convicted primarily because of what we call ‘demeanor evidence.’ Peterson undeniably appeared ‘aloof’ and ‘unemotional’ if not cocky when caught on camera by the paparazzi during the investigation and then at his trial … And the jurors said after the trial that Peterson’s remorseless demeanor was perhaps the most critical factor that caused them to convict.”
Godsey further elaborates on issues brought up by Matt Dalton’s book, pointing out:
“New evidence makes a persuasive case that numerous witnesses saw Laci alive and walking the family dog — after Scott Peterson had left home for the day … The evidence also suggests that Laci, upon returning from her walk, confronted shady characters burglarizing the house across the street from the Peterson’s home … And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
A website by the name of Scott Peterson Appeal delves deep into these and other arguments for Scott’s innocence.
In addition to supposed witnesses who saw Laci alive and the other criminal activity nearby, a post on the Reddit group Unresolved Mysteries catalogs the following claims made around the case:
“1. Several neighbors claim they witnessed Laci Peterson walking her dog AFTER Scott left for work, and there is evidence that once he arrived at work he logged into his computer. If this is true it seems almost impossible he murdered her.
2. The cadaver/tracker dogs that apparently led detectives to the fishing pier where he launched his small boat had expired or invalid training certificates, casting doubt as to how accurate the dogs were.
3. Several people at the boat ramp specifically saw Scott that day and said he had nothing unusual in his boat (which was a small aluminum Jon boat). Someone loading a human sized bag onto such a small boat would have been noticed, say the witness at the marina.
4. The defense team performed tests to see if it would be possible to dump a 150-pound human sized object from such a small boat and all tests indicate that the boat would capsize during something like that.
5. Several witnesses reported seeing someone who looked like Laci being harassed by two men in a park, they were following her while she walked her dog and yelling at her.
6. Scott claimed that he was meeting his brother and father at a golf course [and] had changed his appearance to avoid the press (which is understandable since he was hounded constantly).
7. There was a home broken into across the street from their house the day she disappeared. The police changed dates and claimed that it was irrelevant.”
On top of that, Peterson’s attorneys have filed repeated appeals that site, to various degrees, the above observations, and also claim that one juror lied on her application.
Regardless, Scott Peterson, for now, remains awaiting a state-administered lethal injection among the more than 700 other condemned prisoners in San Quentin’s death wing.
Perhaps one of these agitators will eventually find the piece of proof that can free him. Then again, perhaps not.
Watch “Truth and Lies: The Murder of Laci Peterson” on Friday, April 6 at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery!
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Scott Peterson Appeal — Facebook page
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Presumed Guilty by Matt Dalton and Bonnie Hearn Hill
Blind Injustice by Mark Godsey
Main photos: Scott Peterson [California Department of Corrections]