Scott Peterson juror denies bias in 2004 trial

By DON THOMPSON Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The juror at the heart of convicted murderer Scott Peterson’s bid for a new trial swore Friday that she held no animosity toward him until she heard evidence that he was convicted. killed his pregnant wife in a case that drew worldwide attention in 2004.

“Before the trial, I had no anger or resentment towards Scott. After the trial, it was kind of true, because I attended the trial and listened to the evidence,” testified former juror Richelle Nice .

Scott Peterson listens during a hearing in San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City, Calif., Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, Pool)

Peterson’s lawyers want to prove that she had a secret bias against him that prevented him from having a fair trial, and that she lied on her questionnaire to the jury to get there.

But she generally stuck to her prior written statements during interrogations. She said she did not see herself as a victim of domestic violence, did not directly fear for her own unborn child and relied on the evidence at trial.

Nice helped convict Peterson in 2004 for the murders of his wife, Laci Peterson, 27, who was eight months pregnant, and the unborn son they planned to name Conner. Prosecutors say he dumped his wife’s body in San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve 2002. The remains resurfaced months later.

Nice did not testify until after she was granted immunity from prosecution for perjury for misrepresentations she may have made in the previous affidavit.

In it, and in Friday’s testimony, she explained why she did not reveal in a pre-jury questionnaire that she had applied for a restraining order while pregnant in 2000, claiming that she “really feared for her unborn child”.

She also took to the stand to challenge court documents showing that her resident boyfriend assaulted her when she was pregnant again, testifying that she was the one who hit him.

FILE – In this December 13, 2004 file photo, juror number 7 Richelle Nice adjusts her hair as members of the jury speak with the media at the Old San Mateo County Courthouse in Redwood City, California. Nice, a former juror who helped convict Scott Peterson and send him to death row, is expected to testify under immunity as she begins a week-long hearing from Friday, February 25, 2022, centered on whether she lied about her history of domestic violence. (AP Photo/Lou Dematteis, Pool, File)

Nice first invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on Friday on the advice of his new attorney. She testified once she was granted immunity from prosecution.

Nice is referred to in court by name, although she was previously referred to as Juror 7. She also used her name in post-trial media interviews and when she co-wrote a book about the case with six other jurors.

She was nicknamed “Strawberry Shortcake” during the trial for her bright red dyed hair, which is now brown at the top and blonde at the bottom.

Peterson appeared in court wearing a San Mateo County Jail uniform after Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo denied his request to wear street clothes for what is expected to be a court hearing. one week.

Massullo is tasked by the California Supreme Court with deciding whether Nice was wrongful in not disclosing her own story before becoming a juror, and whether she had a bias that denied Peterson a fair trial.

Nice generally said his previous sworn denials were true, but with some nuance.

She did not consider herself a victim of domestic violence because in the 2000 case, her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend did not directly threaten her unborn child – despite the wording of her request for a restraining order. no communication at the time.

“She didn’t threaten my baby,” Nice said, saying she included her unborn child in her request because “I was being mean.”

“I was scared if we fought. She wasn’t going to deliberately hurt my child, but if we were fighting and rolling around like mannequins on the floor…I was afraid I’d lose my child by doing something stupid like that,” Nice testified.

And although her resident boyfriend in 2001 was arrested, pleaded guilty and given a restraining order not to stay 100 yards (91 yards) from her, Nice said the truth was that she had him hit and not the other way around.

“Eddie never hit me, so I was not a victim of domestic violence,” she testified. “I hit him, yes.”

It was her boyfriend who then called the police, but she was uncooperative and it backfired when he was arrested instead, Nice testified.

She said police may have been misled into arresting the wrong person because she inadvertently cut her lip on the braces she was wearing at the time.

Nice generally stuck to her answer to a jury questionnaire when she answered “no” to having ever been a victim of a crime or involved in a trial.

She also stood by her 2020 affidavit that she did not “feel ‘victimized’ in any way the law might define that term”, and did not believe the restraining order was a trial.

“I’ve been in a lot of fights and I don’t see myself as a victim. It may be different for you or for someone else,” she responded to questioning by Pat Harris, one of Petersons’ attorneys.

She again denied being biased against Peterson, as she previously said in her 2020 statement.

Nice swore her statement was then “absolutely true” when she said in the written statement that she had “not made any findings regarding the evidence in the case until I was summoned to the jury deliberation room.

She also said her earlier written statement was true when she swore when she had “an unshakable belief that the charges are true based on the evidence presented at trial. This enduring conviction is based solely on the strength of the evidence presented at trial.

Peterson’s attorneys plan to call other witnesses who they say show Nice entered the trial biased because she could identify as a mother to the death of Peterson’s unborn baby. whom Nice called a “little man”.

Another former juror could also testify that Nice said she was in financial trouble and that they joked about book and movie deals after the trial.

The judge will have up to 90 days after the hearing to announce his decision, which can be appealed by either side.

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