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Peterson Faces Death; Jurors Speak Out

The jury that convicted Scott Peterson (search) of murdering his wife and unborn baby recommended Monday that he get the death penalty.

The verdict was read just before 5 p.m. EST (2 p.m. PST) Monday and broadcast via audio feed, after about 11½ hours over three days of deliberations.

Peterson clenched his jaw when the verdict was read and leaned over to speak with his attorney, Mark Geragos, but showed no other emotion.

As the death recommendation was read, Laci Peterson's (search) mother, Sharon Rocha, cried, her lips quivering. Scott Peterson's mother, Jackie, showed no apparent emotion.

"I can't think of anything that could be worse," Stephen Cardosi, the jury's foreman, told FOX News in an exclusive interview with Greta Van Susteren. Cardosi said what sealed the recommendation for death from him was, "The extreme, personal nature of the crime itself ... This wasn't a random act of violence."

"This was the person that he took vows with, the person with whom he said 'til death do us part," Cardosi added.

Laci's stepfather, Ron Grantski, appeared at a news conference after the jury announced its decision. He said justice was served.

"There was no reason to doubt it was Scott who did what he did," Grantski said. "He got what he deserved."

He asked reporters to respect his family's privacy in the coming weeks.

"We’ve got a lot of holidays and dates coming up that are going to be very hard on us," Grantski said. "Dec. 15 [2002] was the last time Sharon and I saw Laci alive. I’m hoping you’ll all just give us some time. We’ll be happy to give more interviews after the first of the year."

Geragos spoke briefly to reporters after the recommendation was handed down.

"Obviously, we're very disappointed," said Geragos. "Obviously, we plan on pursuing ... all appeals, motions for a new trial and everything else. All I ask is that you respect Jackie and Lee's [Peterson's] and the family’s privacy for the next week or so. At some point, they'll make a statement. At that time, they'll field questions. In the interim, I hope you can understand that it's a very difficult time."

All 12 jurors made an appearance at a press conference Monday afternoon. Three stayed on to speak to reporters: Richelle Nice, an unemployed mother of four from East Palo Alto; Cardosi, a firefighter and paramedic from Half Moon Bay; and Gregory Beratlis, a coach of youth football and baseball.

All three said it wasn't one factor that led to their decision to convict Peterson and recommend the death penalty; it was all the evidence considered together — even though the prosecution's case was circumstantial.

"It’s hard to narrow it down to one specific topic — there are many," Cardosi said. "Collaboratively, when you add it all up, there doesn’t seem to be any other possibility."

"There are so many things, so many things," added Nice. "Scott Peterson was Laci's husband, Conner's daddy — the one person that should have protected them."

Beratlis said he went into the process believing Peterson was innocent, but the facts of the case just didn't point that way.

"Those bodies were found in the one place he went prior to her being missing," he said. "I played in my mind over and over conspiracies: Was somebody trying to set up Scott? Was somebody after Laci? It didn't add up for me."

All three were frequently on the verge of tears during the news conference.

"It’s very difficult for us to sit up here and talk about this," Cardosi said. "We’re very choked up."

In the end, jurors were swayed as much by Peterson's emotions — or lack thereof — as by any of the testimony during the five-month trial.

"For me, a big part of it was at the end — the verdict — no emotion. No anything. That spoke a thousand words — loud and clear," Nice said, responding to a reporter's question about whether they wanted to hear a statement from Peterson. "I heard enough from him."

Cardosi said he wanted some kind of reaction from Peterson.

"I still would have liked to see, I don't know if remorse is the right word," he said. "He lost his wife and his child — it didn't seem to faze him. While that was going on ... he is romancing a girlfriend."

The six-man, six-woman jury found Peterson guilty Nov. 12 of first-degree murder in the killing of his pregnant wife Laci and second-degree murder in the death of the fetus she was carrying.

The same panel had to choose between life in prison without parole or death by lethal injection.

Judge Alfred A. Delucchi (search) will formally impose a sentence on Peterson, 32, on Feb. 25 and can choose to downgrade the punishment to life in prison without parole, though it's rare for judges to reduce a jury's verdict in a capital murder case.

Had the jury recommended life behind bars, Delucchi wouldn't have been able to change it to the death penalty.

The recommendation was delivered after the jury returned from a lunch break.

A crowd of several hundred gathered outside the San Mateo County Courthouse broke out in cheers and scattered applause after the sentencing verdict was broadcast. The scene was reminiscent of the guilty verdicts on Nov. 12, when about 1,000 people descended on the streets outside, most of them erupting in support of the jury's decision.

Peterson's defense team plans to appeal his conviction.

The announcement of a verdict in the penalty phase of the murder trial followed the jury's request to review some evidence and capped a chaotic morning for the panel.

Only a couple of hours into their third day of deliberations Monday, jurors gave a note to the judge asking to review more than a dozen pieces of evidence.

Among the 13 items requested, jurors asked for several of the grim autopsy photographs of the remains of Laci and her nearly full-term fetus; aerial pictures of San Francisco Bay, where the bodies were found; a widely publicized photo of Laci wearing a red maternity pantsuit with her hands folded across her lap; and Laci's OB/GYN medical files.

Also Monday, Delucchi called jurors into chambers one by one for questioning, with Peterson present, because something happened over the weekend while they were sequestered that forced him to poll them individually.

It wasn't known what the reason behind the individual interrogations was, but the matter was resolved and the jury resumed deliberations Monday after the 20-minute break.

The request to review evidence came after about two hours of discussions; about half of the items remain under seal. It was not immediately clear what the rest of the evidence was, although 12 of the items requested were presented by the prosecution at trial.

The autopsy photos were shown to the jury during trial but remain out of public view. The aerial photographs and candid picture of Laci are public.

The jury was sequestered all weekend at a hotel after an 8 1/2 hour deliberation session Friday about whether to recommend life in prison or the death penalty for Peterson.

The jurors had to unanimously agree to recommend the death penalty.

In arguing for death, prosecutors called Peterson "the worst kind of monster" and said he was undeserving of sympathy. The defense begged jurors to "go back there and please spare his life."

Defense attorneys called 39 witnesses over seven days in the penalty phase of Peterson's double-murder trial. Prosecutors called just four of Laci's family members, all on the first day, Nov. 30

Prosecutors say Peterson strangled or smothered his wife on or around Christmas Eve 2002 and dumped the body in San Francisco Bay (search).

Peterson claims he was fishing alone that day.

If jurors had been unable to agree on a sentence, prosecutors would have had to decide whether to retry just the penalty phase or to accept a default sentence of life in prison.

The decision came almost two years to the date after the disappearance of Laci Peterson, a 27-year-old substitute teacher who married her college sweetheart and was soon to be the proud mother of a baby boy named Conner. The story set off a tabloid frenzy as suspicion began to swirl around Scott Peterson, who claimed to have been fishing by himself on Christmas Eve and was carrying on an affair with a massage therapist at the time.

The remains of Laci and the fetus washed ashore about four months later, just a few miles from where Peterson claims to have gone fishing in San Francisco Bay. The case went to trial in June, and Peterson was convicted Nov. 12 of two counts of murder.

All the while, the case never stopped making headlines.

The case graced more People magazine covers than any murder investigation in the publication's history. Court TV thrived during the case, providing countless hours of coverage on the investigation and gavel-to-gavel commentary throughout the trial. Cable networks broadcast show after show with pundits picking apart legal strategies, testimony and even Scott Peterson's demeanor.

Trial regulars showed up by the hundreds to participate in the daily lottery for the coveted 27 public seats inside the courtroom.

Peterson will now be sent to death row at San Quentin State Prison outside San Francisco, the infamous lockup where prisoners gaze out small cell windows overlooking the same bay where Laci Peterson's body was discarded.

Peterson still might not be executed for decades, if ever. That is because California's death row has grown to house more than 640 condemned men and women since the state brought back capital punishment in 1978. Since then, only 10 executions have been carried out. It can take years for even the first phase of the appeals process to begin.

California's last execution was on Jan. 29, 2002, when Stephen Wayne Anderson — described by supporters as the poet laureate of Death Row — was put to death by lethal injection for the Memorial Day 1980 murder of 81-year-old Elizabeth Lyman during a break-in at her home.

As many as three murderers face possible execution in 2005, said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Margot Bach.

FOX News' Adam Housley, Claudia Cowan, Catherine Donaldson-Evans and The Associated Press contributed to this report.