There was no murder weapon and no witness. But in the end, the jurors who decided Scott Peterson’s fate said his seeming lack of sorrow and the circumstantial evidence were enough to convict and send him to death row.
“I still would have liked to see, I don’t know if ‘remorse’ is the right word,” said Stephen Cardosi, the jury foreman. “He lost his wife and his child and he’s romancing a girlfriend. That doesn’t make sense to me — at all.”
Peterson’s unemotional demeanor during his trial, when the guilty verdicts against him were read last month and during Monday’s sentencing recommendation, convinced jurors that they made the right decision.
Peterson, 32, a former fertilizer salesman, did not testify at his trial, and jurors said pointedly that he did not need to.
“We heard from him,” said Richelle Nice, an unemployed mother of four. “For me, a big part of it was at the end — the verdict — no emotion. No anything. That spoke a thousand words — loud and clear.”
Cardosi, Nice and Gregory Beratlis were the only members of the 12-person panel to discuss the case Monday with reporters. The others declined to be interviewed.
Three jurors were replaced during the course of the five-month trial, one in June and two after deliberations in the guilt phase had started. One of those was the jury’s previous foreman.
“We went through quite a bit of time that was very ineffective,” Cardosi said. “The group unanimously agreed to change the foreperson to become a little more effective in deliberating.”
The three who spoke Monday said there was no one thing among the volumes of evidence presented by the prosecution that led to their guilty verdicts Nov. 12. They convicted Peterson of first-degree murder in the killing of his wife, Laci, and second-degree murder in the death of her fetus.
But the jurors were quick to point out Peterson’s alibi. He said he went fishing Christmas Eve day by himself in San Francisco Bay with a newly purchased boat, and four months later his wife’s body and fetus were found there.
“Those bodies were found in the same place,” Beratlis said. “That played in my mind, over and over.”
Cardosi said, “The bodies washed up where he was.”
Peterson’s attorneys conceded that he was a cheating and lying husband but tried to convince jurors that that did not equate to being a murderer. With his mistress on the stand, however, prosecutors played audiotapes showing how Peterson appeared uncaring about the fate of his wife.
Nice said he seemed more interested in romancing his mistress, Amber Frey, than in helping with the search.
“When you put it all together, it spoke for itself,” Nice said.