REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – The California Supreme Court on Monday rejected a request from Scott Peterson's (search) lawyers that a new jury be selected to decide whether he should get the death penalty. The ruling clears the way for the penalty phase to start on Tuesday.
The same six-man, six-woman jury that convicted Peterson on Nov. 12 of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci, and the fetus she carried will decide whether he should get life in prison or death.
Defense attorney Mark Geragos (search) had argued that the jurors were tainted by the public's reaction to the verdict. When the verdict was announced, a big cheer went up from a crowd outside the courthouse, and spectators pumped their fists approvingly.
Geragos claims the trial judge wrongly sent jurors home after they reached a verdict, exposing them to outside influences, instead of keeping the panel sequestered through the penalty phase.
He also cited the ousting of two jurors in two days during deliberations, noting that one, the foreman, told the judge there had been threats to his safety and talk in the jury room of the "popular verdict."
Geragos wanted the case moved, perhaps to Los Angeles County, and a new jury selected for the penalty phase — a request that was previously turned down by the trial judge and an appeals court.
Meanwhile, the trial judge ruled Monday that jury instructions and the reading of the panel's sentence will be broadcast live on an audio feed. A similar arrangement was made when the verdict was read.