The mother of Laci Peterson had sharp words for Scott Peterson, the convicted murderer who on Wednesday was re-sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the deaths of his wife and their unborn child.
“No matter what happens, no matter what transpires in the future, there are two things that will never change,” Sharon Rocha said during a victim impact statement. “Laci and Connor will always be dead. And you will always be their murderer.”
The condemned man will die in prison, but his death will now come uneventfully — as more or less the result of natural causes, in a liberal sense of the term. He was previously sentenced to death over the 2002 murder of his wife and their son Conner Peterson.
The resentencing transpired in a Northern California court after Peterson had his previous sentenced tossed on due process grounds.
After being convicted of murder in the first and second degrees in 2004, the highest court in the Golden State found the defendant’s sentencing unconstitutional because several jurors opposed to capital punishment were not allowed to consider Peterson’s fate. The guilty verdicts, however, remained. And it was only a matter of time before the state was allowed to seek a new writ of death or simply push for the mandatory minimum sentence of life behind bars.
In September of this year, citing the deep pain of the victim’s family and the prospect of reopening old wounds, the prosecutor in the case decided against trying for the death penalty a second time.
That pain, however, was clear during the proceedings before San Mateo County Judge Anne-Christine Massullo on Wednesday. Laci’s mother spoke sadly about the last time she saw her young daughter alive: Dec. 15, 2002.
“Later that evening, when she and I were sitting on the sofa and I had my hand on Laci’s stomach waiting for the baby to move, and she looked at me and said, ‘Scott doesn’t want to do that,'” Rocha recalled. “‘He doesn’t want to feel the baby move.’ And then she said, ‘But he’ll come around someday.’ I could see the hurt in her eyes and that just broke my heart.”
Directly addressing her daughter’s convicted killer, Rocha then cast her comments in particularly bitter tones about the detailed planning that Peterson was said by prosecutors to have employed while committing and then covering up the grisly murders.
“I thought about all the while we were there that evening, you were already planning her murder,” she said. “You had already researched where you were gonna dump her body. You’d already bought the boat. You’d already told your girlfriend you’d lost your wife. It was clearly premeditated. There’s no doubt about it. How evil you are.”
The late-term fetus that would have been Conner Peterson was found decomposing in a marshy part of the San Francisco Bay by two dog walkers on April 13, 2003. His umbilical cord had been ripped. There was nylon tape around his neck. His body also suffered a large cut.
Laci Peterson was discovered one mile away the very next day. Her corpse had decomposed substantially. She was barely recognizable as a human being but for the pants and the maternity bra on her mutilated body. She had been decapitated and her limbs were missing.
“Scott, 19 years ago today you were in the midst of planning Laci’s murder,” Rocha went on. “You can bat your eyes, but it is the truth. I see no sorrow, no remorse from you at all. I think about Laci every single day. She would have been 46 years old today, but she’ll always be 27 to me. I miss her so much. I miss her friendship. I miss her laughter. I miss her personality, her humor, her companionship. I miss my daughter. Something that obviously you don’t miss.”
The deceased woman’s sister and brother also both addressed the reaction-less convicted killer and the court.
“There have been so, so many special occasions that Laci and Conner should’ve been here for,” Amy Rocha said, staring at Peterson. “I honestly don’t know how you go on living.”
“Because of you, our holidays have never been the same,” she went on. “Every Christmas Eve I realize the nightmare we still all live in now. After becoming a mom myself I think of how she was robbed of that most wonderful experience. She would have been the best mom. You have broken all of our hearts.”
“There are no words to express the pain,” Brent Rocha said through tears. “We have been devastated and traumatized.”
“There are no words able to express the pain associated with not being able to experience life together,” he added. “The sociopathic actions of Scott Peterson and the disregard for Laci and Connor’s lives warrant the most severe punishment. He has shown absolutely no remorse and continues not to accept responsibility for his actions.”
Scott Peterson was arrested in San Diego on April 21, 2003 — presumed by authorities to be on his way to Mexico. After being arraigned in Stanislaus County, the trial was moved to San Mateo County due to the massive amount of pretrial publicity which surrounded proceedings.
The case has captivated the nation for over two decades but is not quite over yet. The defendant has requested a new trial due to alleged juror misconduct based on the notion that a female juror known as Juror 7 had failed to disclose her own past as a domestic violence victim. The hearing over that matter is scheduled for February 2022.
[image via San Quentin State Prison]
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