Scott Peterson, killer of pregnant wife, sports new look in court in latest bid for freedom

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California killer Scott Peterson returned to court Tuesday with his new lawyers as he seeks to overturn his 2004 conviction for the murders of his pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn child – a crime he maintains he did not commit.

Peterson, 51, appeared remotely from Ione, California’s Mule Creek State Prison wearing a blue button-down shirt and asked the court for permission to appear remotely in future proceedings.

He was initially sentenced to death for the murders, and while the sentence was later overturned, his appeal for a new trial has failed in the past.

Peterson, whose look has changed repeatedly over the two decades he has been behind bars, traded in his slicked hair and salt-and-pepper stubble for a clean shave, and he had his hair pulled back in a short ponytail.

SCOTT PETERSON’S CONVICTION FACES SURPRISING CHALLENGE 20 YEARS LATER

Key evidence against Scott Peterson:

  • Peter was having an affair with a woman named Amber Frey, who testified against him and cooperated with law enforcement
  • Frey told police in April 2003 that Peterson told her his wife was dead a month before she actually went missing
  • In recorded calls, he told her he didn’t want to be a father, CBS News reported in 2004
  • Peterson, who lived in Modesto at the time of the murders, told police he was fishing in Berkeley the day his wife disappeared
  • Her remains and the remains of their son Conner were discovered in the San Francisco Bay
  • Peterson had bleached his hair blonde and was carrying $15,000 cash en route to Mexico when he was arrested after Frey came forward, NBC News reported at the time

The hearing largely addressed scheduling for a number of upcoming hearings – on motions to seal documents, conduct new DNA testing and post-conviction discovery.

The judge first set a hearing on Peterson’s motion to seal on April 16, followed by the DNA hearing on May 29 and July 15 for discovery. 

Peterson and his supporters have long focused on suspects who allegedly burglarized a house across the street from his home, alleging they could have killed his wife. 

laci peterson smiling for photo

The Los Angeles Innocence Project announced in January it would seek new DNA testing on a hammer linked to a burglary across the street from the Peterson family home as well as a stained mattress found in a burned-out van parked less than a mile away.

His motion for discovery includes evidence connected with the so-called Medina burglary, the van fire and information on eyewitnesses who claimed to have seen Laci Peterson after Dec. 24, 2003, the day she was reported missing.

Judge Elizabeth Hill in court

While Peterson has previously raised issues of juror misconduct and the potential that the burglars could have abducted and killed his wife, the new appeal hinges on conducting new DNA testing on the mattress with present-day technology.

TIMELINE: THE LACI PETERSON CASE

Scott Peterson addresses the appeals court over Zoom

SCOTT PETERSON FAMILY PHOTO REVEALED AS HE FILES NEW APPEAL IN MURDERS OF WIFE, UNBORN CHILD

“The Los Angeles Innocence Project filed motions in January asking the Court to order further discovery of evidence and allow new DNA testing to support our investigation into Mr. Peterson’s claim of actual innocence,” the Innocence Project said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “Today’s hearing was just the first step in a long process. We have not commented on our motions, and we will continue to present our case in court – where it should be adjudicated.”

Boats search for Laci Peterson in San Francisco Bay

Peterson initially received a death sentence, which was commuted to life in prison without parole in 2020 after a prior appeal.

His stint in state prison began in March 2005.

Peterson has always maintained his innocence. 

Paula Mitchell, his attorney from the Los Angeles Innocence Project, wrote to the court that she compiled more than 40,000 pages of documents while reviewing his case before requesting additional discovery from the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office.

Fox News’ Melissa Chrise and Louis Casiano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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