Peterson Should Get Two Counts of Murder

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There is widespread belief among Americans that Scott Peterson was involved in the murder of his pregnant wife Laci, and most think he should be charged not only with her murder, but also with the murder of their unborn son.

A FOX News poll, conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation the week after Scott Peterson was arrested, finds that 69 percent of Americans think he was involved in the murder of his wife. More specifically, 43 percent think he was “definitely involved” and 26 percent say “probably involved.” Only two percent think Peterson was “probably not involved” in Laci’s murder, and the remaining 29 percent are unsure. Almost no one — less than half of one percent — think Peterson was “definitely not involved.”

While there is little difference among most groups on the question of Scott Peterson’s involvement, there is a gender gap. Women are more likely than men to think Peterson was involved in his wife’s murder — 74 percent believe he was involved (46 percent say “definitely”), compared to 62 percent of men who think he was (38 percent “definitely”).

Laci Peterson, who was eight months pregnant at the time of her disappearance, had been missing since late December 2002. Her body and the body of her unborn son were discovered in a California marina last week, and Scott Peterson was arrested days later.

If Peterson were to be convicted, should it be for one count of murder (Laci Peterson), or for two counts (the unborn baby also)? A large majority (84 percent) says it should be two counts. Only seven percent of respondents think the charge should be just one count for Laci’s death.

Pro-life respondents are much more likely than pro-choicers to say Peterson should be charged with both the murder of Laci and the baby (92 percent to 76 percent respectively).

The number of pro-life and pro-choice Americans has held steady for over two years. Today, about half of Americans (49 percent) say they are pro-choice on the issue of abortion and 41 percent say they are pro-life.

Polling was conducted by telephone April 22-23, 2003 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.

1. On the issue of abortion, would you say you are more pro-life or more pro-choice?

2. 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)?

3. If Scott Peterson is convicted of killing his pregnant wife Laci, do you think he should be charged with: