REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – The judge in the Scott Peterson (search) trial says one more defense witness may testify Thursday morning before closing arguments in the penalty phase. Jurors will then be sequestered in a hotel to decide whether he should get the death penalty or life in prison for the murder of his wife and their unborn child.
Peterson's mother testified on Wednesday that Laci "became like a daughter to us," adding that the 27-year-old schoolteacher was a perfect match for her son.
"The two of them were inseparable," Jackie Peterson (search) said. "I loved Laci as much as Sharon (Laci's mother) loved Scott."
Her tearful plea to save her son's life moved at least two jurors.
While defense lawyers flashed Peterson family photographs on a large screen, Jackie Peterson, who uses a portable oxygen tank for a lung ailment, begged jurors to see the good in her son.
"He's an exceptional young man and he's my son," Jackie Peterson said during about 40 minutes of testimony. "I know he's not perfect ... but he is genuinely a loving, caring, nurturing, kind, gentle person."
Defense lawyers are trying to convince jurors that Scott Peterson deserves life in prison, not the death penalty. The 32-year-old former fertilizer salesman was convicted Nov. 12 of two counts of murder for killing Laci and her fetus.
Prosecutors say he killed Laci in their Modesto home on or around Dec. 24, 2002, then dumped her body into San Francisco Bay. The remains of Laci and the fetus were discovered about four months later a few miles from where Peterson claims to have been fishing alone the day his wife vanished.
Defense attorneys have called 39 witnesses over seven days in the penalty phase of the trial. Prosecutors called just four of Laci's family members on the first day, Nov. 30.
Earlier Wednesday, a family friend broke down in tears when asked how a death sentence for Peterson would affect her life.
"It's just going to be an extremely sad day if that's what happens. It's not going to bring back Laci and it's not going to bring back Conner. All it's going to do is add another tragedy," said Shelly Reiman, who met Scott and Laci Peterson while the couple attended college in San Luis Obispo.