LA Innocence Project helps Scott Peterson fight murder conviction

For nearly two decades, Scott Peterson has maintained he did not murder his pregnant wife. Attorneys with the Los Angeles Innocence Project in a San Mateo court filing Thursday said Peterson’s constitutional rights may have been violated during his initial trial, and that his case needs a second look.

"There are many people who believe Scott Peterson is innocent," said Steven Clark, a South Bay legal defense attorney and former Santa Clara County prosecutor. "And for the Innocence Project to step up and say we’re going to take a look at this case, is a huge win for the Peterson defense team."

Peterson was charged in 2003 with the Christmas 2002 disappearance and murder of his wife Laci, and their unborn son, Connor. With evidence mounting against him, Peterson did a sit-down with Court TV Anchor and former KTVU Reporter Ted Rowlands and pleaded his case to the public.

"Now we can really focus on what we need to be doing, which is a missing part of our family. Two people that should be here with our families," Peterson said at the time.

Two decades ago, Stanislaus County prosecutors said Peterson killed Laci at their Modesto home. He then dumped her body in San Francisco Bay. Her remains were found in 2003, in the waters near Point Richmond, an area where Scott had told investigators he had gone fishing.

He was convicted in 2004 of one count of first-degree murder for her death, and one count of second-degree murder for the death of their unborn child. But all the while, Peterson maintained someone else was responsible.

"It’s my objective by doing these media interviews to get people to start looking for her again. And I’m not going to waste the time defending myself," he told reporter Rowlands during their 30-minute session. "I don’t really care what those people out there think. When people accuse me of her disappearance. People still accuse me, but I had nothing to do with it."

In an email statement to KTVU, his current defense lawyer Pat Harris said, "We are very excited that the incredibly talented attorneys at the LA Innocence Project are lending their expertise to help us prove Scott’s innocence."

Clark believes the Innocence Proect will be deliberate and diligent in its search of records, with upwards of 2,000 pages of information already released by the court.

"If there’s information that wasn’t provided to the defense that could have affected Scott Peterson’s right to a fair trial, they’re going to bring this motion to get him a new trial," said Clark. "This may not change the result of the case. But at the same time, the public also wants to know that the jurors got this right."

Lawyers for the LA Innocence Project will pour over every piece of evidence, and do a meticulous search that will include using current DNA testing on items from the original trial. The process could take months or years to complete. Peterson is serving a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter), @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv