Last Friday Scott Peterson (search) was found guilty of murdering his wife Laci and their unborn son and, according to a new FOX poll, most Americans agree with his conviction. On the question of the appropriate penalty, however, there is more division.
A large majority of the public agrees with the guilty verdicts (80 percent), with only 4 percent disagreeing and 16 percent unsure. In an August survey, 73 percent of Americans said they believed Peterson to be guilty, although significantly fewer — 41 percent — thought he would be convicted.
Opinion Dynamics Corporation (search) conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News on November 16-17.
As jurors decide whether Peterson should be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole or death by lethal injection, the public is divided on which is the appropriate penalty. Generally over two-thirds of Americans favor the death penalty for a person convicted of premeditated murder, but the poll finds just over a third (35 percent) say Peterson should be sentenced to death. Half think Peterson should get life in prison and 15 percent are unsure which punishment he should receive.
Women favor sentencing Peterson to life in prison by nearly two-to-one, but men are split, choosing life without parole by a slim two-percentage-point margin (43 percent to 41 percent). Married men and women are slightly more likely than those who are single to support giving Peterson the death penalty (37 percent to 31 percent respectively).
Polling was conducted by telephone November 16-17, 2004 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. Results are of registered voters, unless otherwise noted. LV = likely voters.
1. Last week Scott Peterson was found guilty of murdering his wife and unborn son. Do you agree or disagree with the guilty verdicts?
2. What do you think is the appropriate penalty for Scott Peterson — should he be sentenced to death or sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole?
Based on what you know right now, do you think Scott Peterson was involved in the murder of his pregnant wife Laci? Is that definitely (involved/not involved) or probably (involved/not involved)?
SCALE: 1. Yes, definitely involved 2. Yes, probably involved 3. No, probably not involved 4. No, definitely not involved 5. (Not sure)
Regardless of how you feel about Scott Peterson's guilt or innocence, do you think he will or will not be convicted of murdering his wife?
SCALE: 1. Will be convicted 2. Will not be convicted 3. (Not sure)