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Watch: Scott Peterson Appeal Hearing

Attorneys for convicted murderer Scott Peterson are set to argue his appeal on Tuesday before the California Supreme Court. The Law&Crime Network will provide live coverage beginning at 4 p.m. EST / 1 p.m. PST.

The hearing is an automatic appeal under California law:  every defendant is eligible to get one after being sentenced to death.

The Peterson case captured national attention almost two decades ago. The defendant’s pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, went missing from her home in Modesto, California on December 24, 2002. There was a striking development the next month:  a woman named Amber Frey publicly admittedly that she had had an affair with Scott Peterson. He had told her he was single. The bodies of Laci and her unborn son Conner were found in mid-April of 2003 in San Francisco Bay. The defendant, who admitted to the affair, was arrested for murder.

Scott Peterson was found guilty on November 12, 2004 of first-degree murder with special circumstances in the death of his wife. He was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of his unborn son. Peterson was sentenced to death on March 16, 2005.

Based on recent court documents, expect to see both sides discuss these matters during oral arguments:

  1. Whether the court properly excused potential jurors who voiced objections to the death penalty, but otherwise showed they might have been willing to hand down a death sentence; and
  2. Whether the defense’s motion for another change of venue should have been granted.

The case sparked outrage across the country. After all, what kind of man would kill his wife and unborn child? Peterson’s defense managed to get an initial change of venue out of Stanislaus County into San Mateo County at the time of the case. The defense said that the case should have been moved again, considering the enormous pre-trial publicity and that, as they cite, not only had exposed all of the actual jurors to the facts of the case, but half of the prospective jurors also thought Peterson was guilty. Despite the defense’s pleas of unfairness, the state counters that Peterson’s case was heard by an impartial jury and San Mateo was in fact the best venue for the trial.

Win or lose, Scott Peterson might never get executed. There’s a moratorium on capital punishment in California, and the state hasn’t put anyone to death since 2006.

Jesse Weber contributed to this report.

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