Rejected by the trial judge and an appeals court, Scott Peterson’s lawyer asked the California Supreme Court on Wednesday for a new jury and a change of venue for the trial’s penalty phase.
Attorney Mark Geragos filed the motion a day after a state appeals court ruled Peterson’s sentencing will be decided by the same jury that convicted him of murder Nov. 12. The three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeals denied the petition just hours after Geragos filed it.
After a five-month trial, Peterson, 32, was convicted of one count of first-degree murder in the death of his pregnant wife, Laci, and one count of second-degree murder for the death of her fetus. The penalty phase is scheduled to begin in Redwood City on Tuesday.
Geragos claims the jury that found Peterson guilty is now tainted by public opinion, citing a frenzied mob who cheered outside the courthouse as the guilty verdicts were read and “abnormally huge” newspaper headlines.
“The question is not whether there is some perfect venue untouched by the media coverage of this case, but whether there is a venue within which it is more likely that defendant could obtain a fair penalty jury,” the defense filing said.
Legal experts say the request for a new jury is a standard strategy in a death penalty case. Defense attorneys often seek to insert as much time as possible between a guilty verdict and a penalty phase to allow for jurors’ emotions to subside.