REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Scott Peterson's (search) defense wants to seat a new jury in another county to weigh whether Peterson deserves to die for the murders of his pregnant wife and the fetus she carried, according to a motion filed Wednesday.
Defense lawyer Mark Geragos (search) filed the motion Wednesday in San Mateo County Superior Court. Specific details will not be made public until after Judge Alfred A. Delucchi reviews the file Monday morning before the scheduled start of the penalty phase.
The 32-year-old former fertilizer salesman was convicted Friday on one count of first-degree murder in the death of Laci Peterson (search) and one count of second-degree murder for the killing of the fetus.
Jurors must decide whether to sentence Peterson to life in prison or death. The penalty phase is expected to last about four days.
Beyond the change in venue, Geragos is seeking to empanel an entirely new jury to decide Peterson's fate.
In February, Geragos also sought to have two juries seated for the trial, one for the guilt phase and one for the penalty phase.
At the time, he contended that "the vast adverse publicity, the abnormally high prejudging of guilt and the strong statistical showings that a death-qualified jury tilts in the favor of the prosecution" supported his request.
The judge denied that motion and let the trial move forward with just one jury.
Delucchi has ordered that all filings in the case remain sealed until he has had a chance to review them. But Geragos' motion was not surprising, a law professor said.
"I think the basis for the change of venue is that they simply didn't move the trial far enough away in the first place," said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson.
The case was moved from Modesto after a judge there found Peterson couldn't get a fair trial in the couple's hometown. Redwood City, where the five-month trial was eventually held, is 90 miles away.
Levenson also noted the cheering crowd of more than 1,000 gathered outside the courthouse when the guilty verdict was read.
"His [Geragos'] argument would be that it's impossible to have a jury that isn't personally and emotionally involved in this penalty phase," Levenson said.
Jurors were sequestered during deliberations but were sent home pending the start of the penalty phase. They will be sequestered again as they determine Peterson's fate.