REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – The fact that jurors did not immediately return a sentence recommendation for Scott Peterson (search) bodes well for the man convicted of murdering his wife and her fetus, legal observers said.
Jurors resume deliberations Monday on whether Peterson should be sentenced to death or life in prison. They took the weekend off following 81/2 hours of deliberations ending Friday afternoon.
"It was a good sign for Peterson that they didn't come back immediately," said Loyola Law School (search) professor Laurie Levenson. "It makes a lot of sense to me that frankly they wanted to take the weekend ... Because I think in the amount of time they've deliberated, about the only thing they've been able to do is hear each other out."
The jurors will remain sequestered in a hotel until they reach a unanimous agreement on a punishment. The judge will formally sentence Peterson on Feb. 25.
The same jury of six men and six women found Peterson guilty Nov. 12.
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
Peterson, 32, was convicted Nov. 12 of murder in the deaths of his wife, Laci, and her fetus. Prosecutors say he 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 are unable to agree on a sentence, prosecutors must decide whether to retry just the penalty phase or to accept a default sentence of life in prison.