Judge Allows New DNA Testing in Scott Peterson Murder Case


Redwood City, Calif. — A judge agreed Wednesday to allow new DNA testing on one of the 14 pieces of evidence in the Scott Peterson murder case but rejected most of the defense’s requests after determining the sought-after analyses were unlikely to exonerate him.

San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Hill ruled that a piece of tape found on Laci Peterson’s pants could be reexamined using modern DNA technology. The item previously underwent DNA testing in 2004 but yielded only traces of genetic material too small for conclusive results.

Hill said with the advances in DNA testing, there could be a different outcome now.

Hill denied retesting requests for a host of other items after prosecutors argued the “overwhelming” evidence of Peterson’s guilt makes additional testing irrelevant.

Peterson, 51, returned to court Wednesday seeking new DNA testing that his attorneys claim could prove his innocence 20 years after he was convicted of killing his wife and unborn son.

The formerly high-profile case that once captivated the nation took another twist as the Los Angeles Innocence Project pushed for modern DNA analysis on several pieces of evidence from the 2002 crime scene.

Among the requests rejected were two items from Peterson’s vehicle that were previously tested and showed no new DNA and a hammer and glove from an unrelated burglary that lacked proper chain of custody documentation.

The judge also denied testing a strand of twine found around the couple’s unborn son, agreeing with prosecutors that an autopsy showed the fetus had emerged from Laci Peterson’s decaying body after their deaths in the San Francisco Bay.

Peterson appeared via a live video feed from Mule Creek State Prison where he is serving a life sentence.

The court recessed briefly after Hill approved testing on the tape amid a dispute over which lab should conduct the analysis. The defense wants its testing done at a facility it regularly uses, while prosecutors want the state attorney general’s office to weigh in on the lab choice.

The next hearing in this case will be held July 1.

Defense attorneys contend the twine may indicate the baby was strangled, contradicting the medical examiner’s finding he died from placental detachment after his mother’s death.

“To my mind, there was nothing that showed you when this would have occurred, how it would have occurred, where it would have occurred,” said Mark Geragos, one of Peterson’s original defense attorneys. “With the absence of those things, that’s a traditional case that should have been a ‘not guilty.’”

However, prosecutors vehemently object to the DNA testing, calling it a “waste of time” that would only retraumatize Laci Peterson’s family.

In a 350-page filing, they outlined the overwhelming evidence of Peterson’s guilt, including his lies, suspicious behavior after the bodies were found and an apparent attempt to flee to Mexico.

“Defendant Peterson’s lies in this case were extensive, presented to the jury through statements and captured recordings previously reviewed by multiple courts, and clearly preclude any support for additional DNA testing,” prosecutors wrote.

Damita Menezes
Damita Menezes
Digital Content Producer.

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