Peterson Defense Seeks New Jury for Penalty Phase

Scott Peterson's (search ) attorney wants a new jury in a different county to decide whether the former fertilizer salesman gets the death penalty or life in prison without parole for killing his wife and the fetus she carried.

Defense lawyer Mark Geragos (search ) made the request in a motion filed Wednesday in San Mateo County Superior Court. The details will not be made public until after Judge Alfred A. Delucchi reviews the file before the scheduled start of the penalty phase Monday morning, which could now be delayed.

Photos: Guilty Verdict

The motion marks the second time Geragos has sought to have two juries seated for the trial, one for the guilt phase and one to determine the penalty.

In the first request, filed in February, Geragos 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.

Peterson, 32, was convicted Friday of first-degree murder in the death of Laci Peterson (search ) and of second-degree murder in the death of the fetus. Laci Peterson vanished just before Christmas 2002; her remains and that of the male fetus turned up on the shore of San Francisco Bay four months later.

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 held, is 90 miles away.

The jurors who convicted Peterson on Friday were sequestered during deliberations but were sent home pending the start of the penalty phase.

If the judge turns aside the defense request for a separate penalty phase jury, the old panel will resume next week by hearing testimony on exacerbating and mitigating factors to be weighed to determine punishment. The penalty phase is expected to take several days, and jurors are to be sequestered once again during deliberations.