Video: Jurors react

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 3/16/2005 4:25:49 PM ET 2005-03-16T21:25:49

Judge Alfred A. Delucchi formally sentenced Scott Peterson to death on Wednesday for the murder of his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn child, Conner. NBC News' James Hattori was at the courthouse in Redwood City, California, and reports on the reaction to the death sentence.

What was the reaction outside the courthouse to Peterson’s death sentence?
The reaction was very different from when the original verdict was announced. There wasn’t as big a crowd outside the courtside. So, there was no discernible gasp.

Plus, reports were not coming out as quickly since there was no camera in the court. The judge sort of  hinted at the verdict early on, before he actually formally imposed it at the end, so there wasn’t really one event that the crowd could react to. And there was not a big crowd anyway, it was mostly media. There was no cheer or anything like that.

Why were jurors present at the sentencing?
The jurors were there of their own will. Some said afterwards that they wanted to be there to see the process through.They felt they had invested so much time in the trial that they wanted to see it to the very end.

A majority of the jurors were there, a few were not, but I believe some of the alternates were here as well. Almost all of the jurors were there to witness it and they talked about it afterwards.

What was their reaction to the sentence?
There was a sense that the jurors really wanted to see the final phase of the trial. That they had invested so much time in it that they just wanted to complete the process.

One juror did talk about how there was a cheer that went through the crowd when the verdict was announced at the end of the trial.

He remarked that he thought it was kind of strange that people would react that way because they were talking about the death of a woman and her unborn child and it seemed a little morbid to him. After he thought about it a little more, he decided that maybe they were cheering about the fact that judicial process worked. And he felt it did, that the process worked.

What happens to Peterson now?  What’s next for him?
The judge in court said that they have up to ten days to transport him. But, I think there is a feeling that he will be transported directly to San Quentin State Prison very quickly.

Will Peterson appeal this sentence?
I think that death sentences are always appealed automatically to the state Supreme Court and there will be a whole review process. It will inevitably drag on for years before the penalty is carried out. I don’t know what the average is, but it will probably go on for years and years in the appeals process.

Is Peterson already appealing the original guilty verdict?
What happened today in court, was that Peterson’s attorneys filed a motion for a new trial, but it was sort of a pro forma thing.

The defense argued that they believe that the judge erred in some cases in his rulings and that the jury was allowed to improperly hear some things during the trial.

They also asserted that there was a bit of evidence, some testimony, that the police did not follow up on, that was not fully addressed in court. The evidence the defense was referring to was a tip that was apparently received that indicated, or suggested, that Laci Peterson was in the house when a burglary was taking place. Such evidence would, in the defense’s view, suggest that maybe someone else killed her.

The judge in court said that the witness was not credible who made that remark. So, that was one of the reasons why the judge denied the defense motions for a retrial.

Not sure whether those issues will be the same as the defense goes forward in their appeal to the state Supreme Court, but that paperwork will be filed later.

James Hattori is an NBC News correspondent.


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