Laci Peterson and her unborn son were murdered Christmas Eve 2002, and husband Scott Peterson was convicted. Now, the L.A. Innocence Project says he may be innocent
Scott Peterson was convicted of his wife’s and unborn son’s murder in 2004 and placed on death row the following year.
In 2021, Peterson’s death sentence was vacated and he was re-sentenced to life behind bars.
With the Los Angeles Innocence Project saying they are “investigating” Peterson’s “claim of actual innocence,” family members react to the possibility that Scott could go free decades after his conviction.
At the 2004 murder trial, Scott Peterson claimed through his lawyers that he had been on a lone fishing trip when his eight-months pregnant wife disappeared from their Modesto, Calif., home Christmas Eve 2002. Scott was later convicted of the murder of Laci Peterson and their unborn son and sentenced to death row.
But in recent years, Scott has scored some legal victories, and new developments have opened the door to the possibility that Scott's fate isn't sealed.
In 2021 Scott was taken off death row and later, he was re-sentenced to life in prison.
Then, last week, the Los Angeles Innocence Project said in a statement to PEOPLE that it was "investigating” Scott's “claim of actual innocence."
And now, in interviews with PEOPLE, family members on both sides of the couple, are reacting to the news that Scott's case could be reopened.
“They’re barking up the wrong tree trying to set that criminal loose,” says Stan Bonds, a cousin by marriage to Laci. He adds: “Scott was a spoiled rich boy that got caught.”
Bonds recalls a candlelight vigil shortly after Laci’s death in which he approached Scott to speak, only to find the man on his phone throughout the service.
“As far as we’re concerned it’s a done deal: He killed Laci,” says Bonds. “I say turn him loose: We’ll take him on a one-way fishing trip.”
Scott, now 51, who has always maintained his innocence, claimed at the time that he believed his wife to have been killed after witnessing a home invasion next door.
The L.A. Innocence Project argues that Scott's state and federal rights were violated in the original case, alleging deficiencies in police reports, tip sheets and other evidentiary material at trial.
“This thing just keeps rearing its head, doesn’t it?” Karin Bird says in an interview with PEOPLE. (Bird is related by marriage to Scott’s birth half-sister, Anne, who was placed for adoption as a child but later reconnected with her birth family.)
Bird met the young Laci and Scott at a family wedding, which she described as “a little Hallmark-y.”
Bird noted that the L.A. Innocence Project is known for working on cases of low-income defendants, and says for the organization taking on Scott's case is “huge.”
“I found it interesting that an organization as credible as the Innocence Project was getting involved,” Bird says. “There's a ton of people who are reaching out for help — the kind that get railroaded, and Scott just doesn't seem to fit.”
“Maybe that’s because I believe he’s guilty,” she adds. “Maybe that’s the problem.”
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