After an extensive trial, Scott Peterson was convicted of two counts of murder in the deaths of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner. The verdict was announced Nov. 12. Peterson was found guilty of first-degree murder of Laci and of second-degree murder of Conner.
In a trial that lasted over four months, a total of 175 witnesses were called to the stand by the prosecutors to attest to Peterson’s erratic behaviour, his affair and to the alleged secret purchase of a fishing boat that could have been used to dump Laci’s body. Peterson’s defence attorney, Mark Geragos, only called 14 witnesses in order to try to establish a reasonable doubt. The defence claimed that the prosecution had no murder weapon, no eyewitnesses and a case that was built entirely on circumstantial evidence. However, despite the defence’s claims, the jury deliberated for merely eight hours before reaching a decision.
Pro-life groups applauded the guilty verdict. The Peterson case, pro-life groups said, has generated increased support for laws protecting pregnant women from acts of violence. As a result of the tremendous outcry against Scott Peterson, Congress was prompted to pass the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, sometimes dubbed Laci and Conner’s Law, which was signed into law by President Bush this past April. In addition, California and other states also have a law that allows prosecutors to charge criminals with two crimes when they kill or injure an unborn child in the course of an attack against a pregnant mother.
Pro-abortion lobbyists are agitated with the verdict. Many are trying to downplay the significance of the murder conviction against Peterson for the killing of his unborn son. Throughout the entire trial, they were noticeably silent on the case. An editorial in the Washington Times explained the “deafening” silence. “Giving an unborn child the same legal status on a federal level as a person does indeed create problems for the pro-choice lobby’s argument.” The editorial went on to state that anti-life advocates dare not comment either for or against the verdict “lest they reveal the depths of their own hypocrisy.”
The paper also said the Peterson trial has “propelled the necessity for protecting the unborn back into the public domain.” Carrie Gordon Earll of Focus on the Family agreed, remarking of the verdict that it was “further evidence of the growing shift in U.S. law regarding protection for all human life, including young humans who still reside in their mothers’ wombs.”
A sentence was to be rendered after The Interim went to press. Peterson could receive the death penalty or a life sentence for his crimes.