A California juror in Scott Peterson’s 2004 murder trial has denied lying on a jury questionnaire despite conceding she may have filled it out improperly as the convicted killer’s lawyers are asking a judge to throw out his conviction because she may have been biased.
Peterson was convicted of killing his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son, then dumping them in the San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve in 2002. They washed up separately months later.
Richelle Nice, who served as Juror No. 7 in the original trial, agreed to testify earlier this month after prosecutors offered her immunity. The hearing began Friday and was expected to last a week.
In her jury questionnaire, Nice denied having been the victim of a crime or having been involved in a prior lawsuit, according to Peterson’s defense team. But they say she hid the fact that she had been beaten while pregnant by a boyfriend in 2001 and that on another occasion, pregnant with a different child, she obtained a restraining order against a boyfriend’s ex – which Peterson’s lawyers say amounts to a type of lawsuit.
They argued that Nice’s status as a domestic violence survivor biased her in the case and that she purposely tried to get onto the jury.
Nice has maintained for years that she was not biased and did not lie in order to try and get on the jury.
In sworn testimony on Friday and again on Monday, she said she was truthful on the jury questionnaire, even if she answered improperly.
"When I filled out that questionnaire, honestly and truly, nothing of this ever crossed my mind, ever," she said Monday.
Prosecutors also disputed the defense team’s assertion that Nice went out of her way to get onto the jury – pulling out a transcript of the selection process that showed she’d initially been dismissed from the jury pool without complaint.
She only came back upon the request of Peterson’s attorney, Mark Geragos. Geragos has separately said in court filings that if he’d known about Nice’s history he would have sought to have her removed from the jury. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment but is expected to testify on the case.
Peterson originally received a death sentence in 2005 – but in December a resentencing changed that to life without parole.
His defense team is attempting to convince California Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo that he didn’t receive a fair trial because of Nice’s alleged lie and bias.
Peterson’s current attorney, Pat Harris, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.