'The Murder Of Laci Peterson' Addresses All Sides Of The Trial

by Victoria McNally
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In 2002, a young pregnant woman named Laci Peterson went missing from her home in Modesto California and found dead a few months later; her husband Scott was convicted of the murder in a highly publicized trial that shocked the nation. Now, A&E plans to revisit the case on the 15th anniversary of Peterson’s death in the series The Murder Of Laci Peterson. But in the wake of this newfound interest in Laci’s murder, true crime enthusiasts might be left wondering: is Scott Peterson ever going to get out of jail?

Most murder trials that receive national press coverage end up having some pretty gruesome details, and the Peterson case is no different. According to a timeline maintained by The Modesto Bee, Laci disappeared on Christmas Eve in 2002; almost immediately the local community rallied around the family, organizing a volunteer-driven search party and a candlelight vigil attended by at least 1,000 people.

Initially Scott was not considered a suspect in his wife’s disappearance, based on what police told CNN at the time, but that soon changed. A month into the investigation, police discovered that Scott Peterson had engaged in an extramarital affair with a woman named Amber Frey, who later helped the police gather evidence against him. Then, In April, the LA Times reported that the remains of a woman and a full-term fetus had washed up on the shore of the San Francisco Bay; a few days later, Scott was arrested.

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The ensuing court case was closely followed by the media when it began in 2004; in 2012, the LA Times called it “one of the most watched trials in modern times.” By the end of the year, the jury not only found Scott Peterson guilty of murder, but eligible for a death sentence. He’s been on death row awaiting lethal injection ever since, although he has attempted to appeal the sentence as recently as 2015.

In an early look at the upcoming Murder Of Laci Peterson series, Inside Edition reported that the series will show never-before-seen footage and phone calls from Scott Peterson’s perspective — including a call he made to his sister in which he said he was “staggered” by the guilty verdict.

Recent docuseries about prominent murder cases have led to changes in the past — most notably, the popularity of NPR’s crime podcast Serial may have convinced the the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to reopen the case against Adnan Syed, and Brendan Dassey of Netflix’s Making A Murderer series recently won a Federal Appeals court case that declared his confession to Wisconsin police involuntary. (The state of Wisconsin will likely appeal what they call an "erroneous decision.")

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However, Scott Peterson’s case was much more high-profile than that of Syed or Dassey, and while much of the evidence in the prosecution’s argument was circumstantial in nature, it might be difficult for audiences to forgo the idea of the murder that they have in their heads from watching the trial on TV a little more than a decade ago.

ABC 10 recently reported that the state responded to Peterson's 2015 appeal with a 150-page letter refuting Peterson's appeal claims. "Peterson offers no persuasive reason to have the court reconsider its prior decisions," the state's brief reads, per ABC 10.

So, for now, Peterson will remain in prison awaiting the conclusion to his sentence.