Killer Scott Peterson's Hopes Rest on 'Strawberry Shortcake'

He wants a new trial, and he alleges that juror Richelle Nice was biased
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 25, 2022 9:31 AM CST
Killer Scott Peterson's Hopes Rest on 'Strawberry Shortcake'
Scott Peterson listens to Stanislaus County Deputy District attorney Dave Harris speak during a hearing at the San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City, Calif., on Dec. 8, 2021.   (Andy Alfaro/The Modesto Bee via AP, Pool, File)

Convicted killer Scott Peterson's chance for a new trial in the murders of his pregnant wife and unborn son 20 years ago hinges on whether a California juror who helped send him to prison in 2004 amid worldwide publicity was biased because she was a domestic violence victim. Though she is identified in court documents only as Juror 7, Richelle Nice used her name when she co-authored a book about the case with six other jurors. During the trial, her dyed red hair made her recognizable and earned her the nickname “Strawberry Shortcake," per the AP.

She is expected to testify Friday under a grant of immunity from prosecution. Her appearance will come at the start of a weeklong hearing centered on whether she lied about her history with domestic violence to get on a jury so she could vote to convict Peterson. "This hearing is critical," said Pat Harris, one of Peterson's attorneys. "This is his chance to show that she did commit misconduct and to have the whole thing thrown out." Nice failed to disclose during jury selection that she sought a restraining order while pregnant in 2000, saying she "really fears for her unborn child" because of threats from her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. She also failed to disclose that her boyfriend beat her in 2001 while she was pregnant with another child.

Laci Peterson, 27, was killed when she was eight months pregnant with a son, whom the Petersons planned to name Conner. Investigators said that on Christmas Eve 2002, Scott Peterson dumped his wife's body from his fishing boat into San Francisco Bay. Peterson was eventually arrested after Amber Frey, a massage therapist living in Fresno, told police they had begun dating a month before Laci Peterson's death. She said he had told her his wife was dead. Peterson has maintained his innocence throughout. Although the state Supreme Court threw out Peterson’s death sentence and ordered Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo to decide if Nice tainted his trial, it said "there was considerable other circumstantial evidence incriminating Peterson."

(More Scott Peterson stories.)

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