Modesto Residents Celebrate

In the city where Laci Peterson (search) and her husband once planned to raise a family, residents cheered, clapped and honked their car horns as they got word of Scott Peterson's murder conviction Friday.

A crowd of more than 30 people pressed into a television van downtown to listen for the verdict. A woman inside loudly recited a word-by-word replay to those who couldn't hear the broadcast.

When word reached Mary Putrus in the rear, she phoned her mother.

"It's about time. He's finally going to face something he deserves," Putrus said.

It didn't take long for the curious to return to the suspected scene of the crime — the couple's modest ranch house that became a shrine of flowers, candles and stuffed animals in the weeks after a pregnant Laci Peterson vanished on Christmas Eve two years ago.

As the crowd grew, police strung yellow crime-scene tape around the home and began directing traffic. People managed to crawl beneath the tape to leave flowers.

"Justice has been served. She can rest now," said Bertha Garcia, who brought a vase of white flowers to the front door.

In Redwood City (search), cheers broke out among hundreds of onlookers who gathered outside the courthouse where the trial was held. They cheered Laci Peterson's family and booed Scott's as they left court.

The predominantly female crowd clapped its approval as the jury emerged from the courthouse. A mob of 70 or more trailed prosecutors down the sidewalk, shouting "Thank you!"

Lawyer Gloria Allred (search), who represented Peterson's mistress, got a huge ovation and flashed a thumbs-up sign.

With more than 200,000 people, Modesto has grown rapidly in recent years but still views itself as a small town amid the vast farmland of the California's fertile Central Valley.

People who never met the couple speak of them by first name. Expectant mothers talk of their bond with Laci Peterson. Others measure their connection by proximity, counting out how many blocks they live from the couple's home.

Monique Padron, 14, went to the house after school at Laci Peterson's alma mater. She said high school students who had followed the ordeal since the beginning were in tears when the verdict was announced.