Scott Peterson’s sister-in-law has said that he has been ‘failed’ by the Justice Department, insisting that she has new evidence that says he could not have murdered his wife.
Peterson was found guilty in 2004 for the Christmas Eve murders of his wife Laci and unborn child.
He was sentenced to death, but in August had his death penalty overturned by the California Supreme Court. A hearing was held on Tuesday to discuss a new sentencing hearing: his supporters and legal team are hoping to overturn the conviction entirely.
Janey Peterson, who has spent years investigating the case, said police in Modesto, 90 miles east of San Francisco, ignored tips and leads in this case.
‘There is no series of circumstances that fits the evidence where he could possibly have done it,’ she told CBS 13.
Janey Peterson said her brother-in-law had been failed by the justice system
Her husband led the search for her for months but was arrested after Laci’s badly decomposed body washed up on a San Francisco shoreline in April 2003. The couple married in 1997
‘The justice system has failed here, and a lot of aspects have failed.
‘And it started with the Modesto Police Department. And it started with the fact that they didn’t follow up on evidence that showed Laci was alive the morning of December 24.’
Peterson, now 47, continues to maintain his innocence.
Laci disappeared on Christmas Eve in 2002. Peterson told police that he had been fishing in Berkeley that day, and when he came back home to Modesto, his pregnant wife was gone.
He led the search for her for months but was arrested after Laci’s badly decomposed body and the fetus of their son washed up on a San Francisco shoreline in April 2003.
Peterson, who authorities say dumped the bodies off the side of his fishing boat, was on death row since 2005. He is now awaiting sentencing.
Janey Peterson said that she believed Laci had been killed after confronting burglars at a neighboring property.
‘There was an anonymous tip that came in that named five people being involved in the burglary, but only two of those people were arrested and questioned,’ Janey Peterson said.
‘A Lt. Aponte who worked at Norco Prison in California called the Modesto police in January and said they had an inmate at their prison who was overheard discussing exactly that, that Laci had confronted the burglars at the Medina home.’
Prosecutors say that the burglary did not happen until two days after Laci disappeared.
They insist that the right conclusion was reached at trial, 18 years ago.
On Tuesday the defense disclosed their intent to send a request for discovery to the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office.
The judge agreed that both sides will meet in 60 days on June 28 to discuss the status of the discovery request.
The California Supreme Court in August overturned Peterson’s planned death by lethal injection, owing to errors in the trial.
Scott Peterson and his wife Laci are pictured in 2002, before her Christmas Eve disappearance
Peterson was convicted of her murder in November 2004 and sentenced to death in 2005
In their ruling, the court said Peterson’s death penalty conviction was being removed because the trial judge made ‘clear and significant errors’ in jury selection that meant Peterson did not receive an impartial trial.
The court agreed with Peterson’s argument that potential jurors were improperly dismissed from the jury pool after saying they personally disagreed with the death penalty but would be willing to follow the law and impose it.
‘While a court may dismiss a prospective juror as unqualified to sit on a capital case if the juror’s views on capital punishment would substantially impair his or her ability to follow the law, a juror may not be dismissed merely because he or she has expressed opposition to the death penalty as a general matter,’ the justices said in a unanimous decision.
Laci was reported missing on Christmas Eve in 2002 when she was eight months pregnant
Peterson contended on appeal that he could not get a fair trial because of the massive publicity that followed, although the proceedings were moved nearly 90 miles away from his Central Valley home of Modesto to San Mateo County, south of San Francisco.
He also had contended on appeal that the trial court erred in deciding whether jurors and the defense were properly allowed to test whether Peterson’s new boat would likely have capsized if he dumped the weighted bodies over the side.