Skip to comments.Peterson Judge Reschedules Penalty Phase
Posted on 11/22/2004 12:01:25 PM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
The judge in the Scott Peterson murder trial denied defense motions Monday for a new jury and a new venue for the penalty phase of the case, and rescheduled the process to begin Nov. 30.
The penalty phase had been set to begin Monday, 10 days after Peterson was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing Laci Peterson and second-degree murder for killing her fetus. Jurors must choose between a life sentence or execution.
"We're going to have to go with this jury," Judge Alfred A. Delucci said in rejecting the defense arguments.
Defense lawyer Mark Geragos argued that a new jury was needed because the outcome would be tainted by the ousting of two jurors during deliberations and the outpouring of community support for the guilty verdict.
Geragos said one of the ousted jurors, the panel's foreman, told the judge there had been threats to his safety and talk in the jury room of the "popular verdict, the expected verdict."
Details of the juror's dismissal have been sealed by the judge.
Geragos also noted that more than 1,000 people cheered outside the courthouse when the verdict was read Nov. 12.
"This court knows the atmosphere surrounding the courthouse as the cheering section ... charitably described as a mob scene, obviously cheering the fact that the jury reached the verdict that they did," he argued. "I fully expected people to start building the gallows somewhere in the parking lot across the street."
"Any lingering doubt they (jurors) may have had essentially is extinguished by the cheering masses," said Geragos, who wanted the penalty phase moved to Los Angeles County.
The judge said moving the case elsewhere would be impossible. "Where could I send this case in the state of California that hasn't been inundated with the media coverage?" Delucci asked.
"My wife knows somebody who just came back from Rome, Italy, and they had the verdict on the radio in Rome, Italy," the judge added. "I've never seen anything like it before."
Prosecutor Dave Harris argued that there was "absolutely no showing" that this jury had been prejudiced.
The jurors are expected to hear testimony much more laden with emotion than they did during the five-month guilt phase of the trial.
The penalty phase is like a miniature trial, but absent most of the typical rules of evidence. It allows jurors to hear pleas for leniency and heartfelt recollections of the victim.
It will begin with opening statements from both sides, followed by testimony from friends and family members and closing arguments, before the jurors are once again sequestered for deliberations.
"Witnesses are pretty much allowed to say whatever they want," said Robert Talbot, a University of San Francisco School of Law professor who has observed the trial. "Laci's family will be talking about the impact on their lives without Laci there and not having a grandchild. The Petersons are going to attempt to show there is something of value in him that shouldn't be destroyed by the death penalty."
Talbot said defense lawyers also are allowed to "argue lingering doubt," playing to jurors who may still be somewhat uncertain about the prosecution's case.
bla bla bal Geragos, get on with it, you're guy's going to rot in jail
Too bad 'Bunga' isn't an option.
Another parasite on civilization lawyer pronouncing to the world what a sh*t-hole place America is. But, that's how lawyers earn a 'living'.
They could not build the gallows because the boat that Geragoes had parked in the lot was taking up too much room.