NewsCrime

District attorney opposes Scott Peterson defense motion for DNA testing

Peterson's defense claimed DNA on a blood-stained mattress found near the convicted murderer's neighborhood would help exonerate him.
Scott Peterson
Posted at 6:43 PM, Apr 24, 2024

The district attorney in Stanislaus County, California, has filed papers outlining why the office is opposed to a motion filed by Scott Peterson's defense team requesting DNA testing.

Peterson, who is now represented by the Los Angeles Innocence Project, is currently serving life without parole for the murders of his wife, Laci, and the couple's unborn son. Laci was eight months pregnant when she disappeared on Christmas Eve 2002. The 27-year-old's body, and that of the fetus she was carrying, washed up off San Francisco Bay in April 2003.

Peterson, now 51, appeared in court virtually at hearings earlier this year as the LA Innocence Project presented several motions on his behalf.

In the 300-plus page filing, the DA argues that the 14 items the defense wants to be tested have either already been tested, are unrelated to the case or the burden to have them retested has not been met.

The LAIP, which took on Peterson's case back in January, maintains that Peterson's state and federal constitutional rights were violated. They claim he is innocent and that newly discovered evidence supports that claim.

Items that the LAIP wants DNA tested include a blood-stained mattress found in a burned-out orange van discovered in the Petersons' neighborhood, as well as items from a burglary that took place across the street from the Peterson home.

At a motions hearing last week, the judge dismissed Peterson's motion to seal proceedings in the case. The court will take up the DNA request on May 29. Another hearing will take place on July 15 at which the defense will seek post-trial discovery, including evidence regarding the December 2002 burglary, a missing watch that belonged to Laci and various documents.

Peterson, who has never wavered from his claim that he is innocent, is currently incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison in San Mateo County. He was formally sentenced to death back in 2005, but in 2020, the California Supreme Court, citing the trial judge's improper jury-selection bias screenings, overturned the sentence.

In 2021, Peterson was resentenced to life without parole and moved off San Quentin's death row in 2022. That same year, Peterson's bid for a new trial was unsuccessful when his defense argued that he deserved a new trial based on allegations of juror misconduct.