LA Innocence Project investigates Scott Peterson’s case

Convicted murderer Scott Peterson is escorted by San Mateo County Sheriff deputies as he is walked from the jail to an awaiting van, March 17, 2005, in Redwood City, California. — Reuters
Convicted murderer Scott Peterson is escorted by San Mateo County Sheriff deputies as he is walked from the jail to an awaiting van, March 17, 2005, in Redwood City, California. — Reuters

The Los Angeles Innocence Project (LAIP), a nonprofit organisation which works to exonerate people who are wrongly convicted and incarcerated, is now representing Scott Peterson, who allegedly killed wife and child.

Peterson, now 51, was sentenced to death in 2005 after his 2004 conviction in the murders of his wife, Laci Peterson, and their son, Conner, CNN reported.

LAIP is currently investigating his “claim of actual innocence”.

Peterson reported Laci, who was more than seven months pregnant at the time, missing from the couple’s home in Modesto, California, in December 2002.

In April 2003, the bodies of Laci and Conner were found separately washed up in San Francisco Bay, police said.

In 2020, the California Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s death sentence due to the erroneous dismissal of potential jurors who expressed general objections to the death penalty.

However, the high court upheld the convictions, deeming the trial fair. Peterson was sentenced to life without parole in 2021.

In a motion for post-conviction discovery filed Wednesday, the LAIP said that in April 2023, Peterson’s attorneys filed a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, claiming “violations of state and federal constitutional rights and state statutory rights, including … a claim of actual innocence that is supported by newly discovered evidence.”

The LAIP requested that evidence and documents from the investigation be handed over to Peterson’s attorneys.

“In the course of LAIP’s review and after some preliminary investigation, it became apparent to me that numerous items referred to throughout the police reports in Mr Peterson’s case were not included in the discovery that was provided to the defence at the time of trial,” Paula Mitchell, director of the LAIP said in the filing.

Peterson’s former attorney Cliff Gardner said that the organisation has taken the case because the overturning of Peterson’s death sentence meant he no longer qualified for a court-appointed attorney for habeas proceedings.

In a statement on Friday, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s office said Peterson “is afforded the legal right to appeal his conviction with representation of his choosing.”

“We respect his right to challenge his conviction and the appellate process and accordingly cannot comment on the most recent filings as litigation is pending,” the statement reads.

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