Jurors in Scott Peterson's murder trial resumed deliberations Wednesday following the dismissal of a second juror for misconduct, and they were under orders from the judge to "start all over again" in deciding whether the former fertilizer salesman killed his pregnant wife and dumped her body in the San Francisco Bay.
Does this development benefit the prosecution or the defense? 'The Abrams Report' discussed this Tuesday, below are excerpts from the show:
Dan Abrams, "The Abrams Report" host: The juror who was released will now be replaced by alternate. The new juror is a white woman in her 30s, a mother of four. She was working at a bank when she was selected, a job she said she was willing to quit in order to serve. She also told the court her brother had been in and out of prison for most of his life on drug related offenses and as a result that her mother became a drug counselor. It seems to me that's a positive for the defense.
How does it affect the case? Does dropping a regular juror for an particular alternate do anything for Scott Peterson's chances? Might it help the prosecution? It seems to me that this alternate juror really could be good for the defense. The new juror said that she likes to debate. She was also in tears when Scott Peterson was crying in that interview with “Good Morning America,” which many have said they thought were "crocodile tears." Apparently, she found it to be so emotional that she started crying herself.
Daniel Horowitz, criminal defense attorney: I agree this is pro-defense, even if the dismissed juror was a pro-defense juror. The reasons that you just gave are among them, but also this jury is going to have to start from square one. As you said earlier today, usually that's pro forma.
I've been watching the alternate the whole trial. She is independent. At the last day of testimony she dyed her hair bright red and I took that as a message that "I'm going to stand out, send a message to all of you. I'm my own person."
If so, Dan, welcome to Redwood City. We're glad you're here in California. You're going to be around for a while.
Former San Mateo County prosecutor Dean Johnson: I've got to disagree completely. I think this is a one-two blow for the defense. They lost probably the most pro-defense juror and now we have this new juror, code name, “Strawberry shortcake.” She is very, very emotional. And remember Mark Geragos' closing argument, "You've got to separate emotion from the evidence. You cannot decide this case you're your emotion." And I can tell you that prosecution team, which is usually fairly stoic in the courtroom, was grinning ear-to-ear and rightly so.
Justin Falconer, first dismissed juror: I think it helps the defense. I think [the booted juror] is an emotional person, but I do think after speaking to her and getting to know her a little bit, she's really open-minded. I'm really surprised that she was booted. When I was in the jury she was one of the people I talked to every single day. She seemed really friendly and I'm really surprised that she would take this in her own hands and jeopardize the case like this.
If you told me that any of these jurors did their own investigation, it wouldn't surprise me. You have a lot of people who are "investigators" on this jury. You had a doctor/lawyer, a retired police officer, and a fireman [among others]. These people have been sitting on this jury for five and a half months. They are lucky it wasn't a mistrial. And I tell you something, if a juror screwed up like that and then got a mistrial after I had been sitting there on that jury for five months, I'd be livid.
Leslie Crocker Synder, former N.Y. state judge: Although we're speculating, this really increases the possibility of a hung jury.
This new woman is going to come in now—the jurors are probably already at each other's throats, based on what we've heard. And now they theoretically have to start all over again. They certainly have to review what they've reviewed because she's coming in later on. I don't think that it's very likely from what we're hearing about her that it's going to increase the odds of a unanimous verdict. This is again, speculation.