MODESTO, Calif. – Scott Peterson's (search) lawyer filed a motion Monday to move his double-murder trial out of the county, saying that news coverage of the case has vilified the former fertilizer salesman.
"The lynch mob atmosphere that has been created in this case has become so poisonous that the nature of the news coverage has in many instances been reduced to nothing more than vilification," defense lawyer Mark Geragos (search) said in the motion filed in Stanislaus County Superior Court.
Peterson, 31, has pleaded innocent to charges of murdering his wife, Laci Peterson (search), and unborn son nearly a year ago. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
He claims he was fishing in San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve when his wife vanished from their home. The remains of the 27-year-old substitute teacher and the unborn child washed ashore in April about two miles from where Peterson said he was fishing.
The defense said Peterson cannot get a fair trial in Stanislaus County because widespread and negative reports have made it impossible to seat an unbiased jury in the region.
It also cites the county's small size and the characterization of Laci Peterson as a "posthumous celebrity, loved and cherished by the community" while Peterson has been "demonized as an evil outsider."