Judge authorizes new DNA testing on single item in Scott Peterson case

A California judge ruled Wednesday that only one item from a list of evidence collected in the case of Scott Peterson, the man convicted 20 years ago of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci, must undergo further DNA testing .

The Los Angeles Innocence Project argued in court that several pieces of evidence were suppressed during Peterson’s trial. However, the judge ruled that only a piece of duct tape found on Laci Peterson’s pants needed to be retested.

The defense had argued that the tape contained human DNA that could point to someone other than Peterson as the perpetrator of his wife’s death. A hearing is scheduled for July 1 to discuss the conditions of the tests.

Prosecutors rebuffed testing requests telling the court that the evidence had already been tested in 2019, but Peterson’s lawyers argued that the limited testing yielded inconclusive results.

They also requested new tests on a bloody mattress discovered in a burned van the day after Laci Peterson’s disappearance.

The judge ruled that tests conducted in 2019 showed there was no blood on the fabric of the mattress that Scott Peterson’s team requested be retested. The judge also agreed with the prosecution’s argument that the van was not connected to the Peterson case and that the defense had failed to prove it.

Likewise, the judge ruled that the defense failed to prove that items found near where Laci Peterson’s body washed up were directly associated with her and her unborn child.

The judge said a glove and hammer found in the home of one of the Petersons’ neighbors were never taken into custody and therefore could not be retested.

A jury found Peterson guilty in the death of his wife, who was eight months pregnant with their son when her body washed ashore. Prosecutors at the time said Peterson faked her disappearance to cover up the fact that he dumped her body in the Berkeley Marina on Christmas Eve 2002.

He was initially sentenced to death, but the California Supreme Court overturned the sentence in 2020. He was re-sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Peterson has always maintained his innocence, and his defense at trial suggested his wife was killed after being the victim of a burglary.

Last year, he asked to be seen by a judge based on new evidence and possible juror misconduct, arguing that one of the jurors withheld details and lied about his personal life .

Peterson’s legal team argued that the juror’s failure to disclose that she had been a victim of domestic violence led to “prejudicial misconduct.” The woman co-wrote a book about the case with other jurors and has been denied she was influenced by her personal experiences.

Peterson was denied a new trial in 2022 based on the allegation of juror misconduct. Superior Court Justice Anne-Christine Massullo ruled that although the woman had made false statements in her jury questionnaire, the responses were the result of “a combination of a misunderstanding of the questions in good faith and negligence in the responses.”

The Los Angeles Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization known for its mission to exonerate the wrongly convicted, took on Peterson’s case.

He filed a post-conviction discovery request as well as a request for new DNA testing in an effort to overturn Peterson’s conviction.

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