Scott Peterson case: New trial decision looms as families mark 20 years since murder

Convicted killer Scott Peterson awaits decision from California judge over whether he will be granted new trial for murders of wife Laci, unborn son

A decision over whether Scott Peterson will be granted a new trial – or will spend the rest of his life in prison – for the murders of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, looms as families prepare to mark 20 years since the case sent shock waves through the nation.

California Judge Anne-Christine Massullo gave attorneys until Friday to correct errors related to personal information that was left unredacted in recent exhibits, which will eventually be unsealed.

The jurist was scheduled to release her announcement by Friday regarding whether Peterson would be granted a new trial but suspended the deadline on Dec. 8 until attorneys could meet for the Wednesday status conference. At the time, Massullo had eight days left to reach a decision, which she said she had not finalized as of Wednesday.

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It was not clear if Massullo planned to release her final decision immediately after the court was notified of the clerical fixes this week or whether she planned to take the remaining eight days to mull her decision.

If Massullo does lift the suspension on Friday without a ruling, and uses the remaining eight days, her deadline would fall on Dec. 24 – 20 years to the day since Laci Peterson disappeared, a relative noted to Fox News Digital.

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Pat Harris, Peterson’s attorney, said there was some confusion regarding when the decision would come.

"It sounds like the decision may come down Friday," Harris wrote in an email Thursday, "but since she stopped the calendar then maybe not."

He added, "We just don’t know."

Peterson, now 50, joined the Wednesday morning status conference from California’s Mule Creek State Prison, where he is serving his life sentence. During the hearing, Massullo specified that court filings in question included an unredacted Social Security number and driver's license information.

Peterson’s sister-in-law, Janey Peterson, told Fox News Digital via text message that she was expecting Massullo to release her decision as planned on Friday, considering the number of times the ruling has been delayed thus far.

Laci Peterson before she vanished in 2002.

Laci Peterson before she vanished in 2002. (AP, File)

 "There’s no way to know at this point," she wrote. "If she lifts the suspension on Friday, she will have until December 24th to issue her ruling."

Peterson added that details regarding "how and when" the ruling would come had changed five times in the past 90 days.

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This undated photo shows Laci Peterson, who has not been seen since Dec. 24, 2002.

This undated photo shows Laci Peterson, who has not been seen since Dec. 24, 2002. (Getty Images/File)

"It’s been a little nerve-wracking, however with each day that passes we know we are one day closer to justice for Laci, Conner, and Scott," she wrote. "Post conviction law moves very slow, but we are confident that Scott will be granted a new trial."

Peterson was convicted in 2004 in the murders of his 27-year-old wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner. Prosecutors argued at the time that he killed Laci and disposed of her body on Christmas Eve 2002 in San Francisco Bay.

A child looks at a memorial and missing person's banner offering a reward for the safe return of Laci Peterson at East La Loma Park, Jan. 4, 2003, in Modesto, California.

A child looks at a memorial and missing person's banner offering a reward for the safe return of Laci Peterson at East La Loma Park, Jan. 4, 2003, in Modesto, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The California Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s death sentence in 2020 after news that prospective jury candidates were improperly dismissed came to light, but the court maintained his conviction.

Peterson was transferred from California's San Quentin State Prison to Mule Creek State Prison in October as he awaits his fate.

Authorities search Berkeley Marina where Laci Peterson's husband, Scott, said he was fishing when she went missing.

Authorities search Berkeley Marina where Laci Peterson's husband, Scott, said he was fishing when she went missing. (AP/File)

Peterson's attorneys have argued that a new trial is warranted because juror Richelle Nice was biased and lied in her questionnaire to get on the jury. Meanwhile, prosecutors have argued that Nice "did the best that she could when faced with a 23-page questionnaire that had 163 questions.

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Juror Richelle Nice, center, hugs attorney Gloria Allred after speaking at a news conference after the formal sentencing of Scott Peterson in Redwood City, California, on March 16, 2005.

Juror Richelle Nice, center, hugs attorney Gloria Allred after speaking at a news conference after the formal sentencing of Scott Peterson in Redwood City, California, on March 16, 2005. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

"She's inconsistent on her answers," prosecutor David Harris previously told the court. "But being wrong does not necessarily make it false or make her a liar. It just might be that she's really bad at filling out forms."

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Nice previously testified that she did not have any bias against Peterson until after hearing the evidence presented at trial.