L.A. Innocence Project Takes Up Scott Peterson Murder Case

The Los Angeles Innocence Project is taking up the infamous case of Scott Peterson, alleging that “newly discovered” and previously undisclosed evidence could support his claim that he was wrongfully convicted in 2004 of murdering his wife and unborn son.

In new court filings Wednesday, lawyers for the L.A. Innocence Project (LAIP) claim that evidence points to other possible suspects in the killing of Laci Peterson, 27, who was eight months pregnant with their son Conner when she disappeared in Modesto, California, just before Christmas 2002.

Laci Peterson was eight months pregnant when she disappeared in December 2002.
Laci Peterson was eight months pregnant when she disappeared in December 2002.

Getty Images

Laci Peterson’s remains and those of her unborn fetus were found a day apart on a San Francisco Bay shore in April 2003. Prosecutors argued that Peterson had dumped his wife’s weighted-down body overboard from his fishing boat. At the time, he was having an affair, telling his girlfriend weeks before Laci Peterson went missing that his wife had died.

When Peterson was arrested near San Diego in 2003, he had dyed his hair blond and was carrying $15,000 in cash. Authorities tracking him said they feared he might flee to Mexico.

The LAIP, a nonprofit devoted to exonerating wrongfully incarcerated people in California prisons, is based at California State University, Los Angeles, and is not affiliated with the national Innocence Project. In a statement shared with HuffPost, the LAIP confirmed it is representing Scott Peterson “and is investigating his claim of actual innocence.”

Peterson’s attorney Pat Harris said his team welcomed the assistance of the LAIP.

“We are very excited to have the incredible attorneys from the LA Innocence Project lend their considerable expertise to helping prove Scott Peterson’s innocence,” he said in a statement shared with HuffPost.

Scott Peterson and his defense attorney Mark Geragos (left) listen during prosecution rebuttal closing arguments on Nov. 3, 2004, in Peterson's capital murder trial for the killing of his wife, Laci, and their unborn child.
Scott Peterson and his defense attorney Mark Geragos (left) listen during prosecution rebuttal closing arguments on Nov. 3, 2004, in Peterson’s capital murder trial for the killing of his wife, Laci, and their unborn child.

Al Golub. Pool via Getty Images

Peterson’s initial death sentence was overturned in 2020, and he was resentenced to life in prison without parole in 2021. A judge denied his request for a new trial in 2022, and he is currently appealing that decision.

In its motion for post-conviction discovery, the LAIP alleges that Peterson’s “claim of actual innocence” could be supported by its own review and evidence that was not shared with his defense before trial. It is requesting records of police interviews with potential witnesses, photographs and video, and tips shared with investigators, according to ABC News, which first reported the new motion.

Peterson’s attorneys contend that a burglary across the street from the couple’s home at the time of his wife’s disappearance may be linked to her murder, and the filing also seeks information about whether a burned-out van found near the Modesto airport was connected to the burglary. In a separate motion, the LAIP requested that DNA testing be performed on bloodstains found on a mattress in the van.

Authorities still have not been able to determine how, where or when Laci Peterson was killed. Peterson’s trial lasted for more than five months, and the jury deliberated for more than seven days. One of the jurors was replaced during the deliberations. In the end, jurors cited Peterson’s lies and inconsistencies as driving factors in reaching a guilty verdict.

“There is unbearable sadness in my life,” Laci’s mother, Sharon Rocha, said in a victim’s impact statement before Peterson was sentenced to death.

“The Scott I knew is the one Laci loved and I entrusted him with her. You made a conscious decision to kill Laci and Conner. You planned and executed their murders. … You threw them away like a piece of garbage.”

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