Convicted murderer Scott Peterson is bucking for a new trial in the Christmas Eve 2002 slaying of his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son. First, his lawyers must convince a judge at an upcoming evidentiary hearing that Juror 7, Richelle Nice—dubbed “Strawberry Shortcake” by reporters for her bright red locks—may have lied about being the victim of abuse on a jury questionnaire.
As KTLA reports, Peterson’s attorneys want to overturn his conviction on the grounds of bias and misconduct, claiming Nice lied when she denied having been the victim of a crime or involved in a lawsuit. Peterson’s team say that during jury selection Nice failed to disclose that she had been beaten by a boyfriend while pregnant in 2001, and that she had obtained a restraining order—considered a type of lawsuit—against a boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend during another pregnancy, fearing the woman would hurt her unborn child.
Nice denies the allegations, but has said she would exercise her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if called to testify, avoiding a potential perjury charge. To eliminate that prospect, prosecutors are granting Nice immunity for the February 25 evidentiary hearing, Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager announced Monday.
If Nice still refuses to testify despite her immunity, she could be hit with contempt of court charges.
Peterson’s lawyers contend that Nice actively pursued a spot on the jury because she wanted to punish him. She also wrote Peterson dozens of letters while he was on death row, co-authored the book We, the Jury with other Peterson jurors, and has discussed the trial on 20/20, NewsNation with Tamron Hall, American Justice, E! True Hollywood Story and the TV documentary The Murder of Laci Peterson.
In 2017, Nice told the Modesto Bee, “I did not lie to get on this trial to fry Scott.”
Peterson’s lawyer, Pat Harris, tells KTLA, “I don’t think you can make a cogent argument that somebody who is pregnant and has been the victim of violence can go into a trial and at the very least not feel some bias towards a circumstance where a victim is a pregnant woman who basically had violence occur.”
Peterson was given the death sentence in 2005 but was resentenced to life without parole last December after the California Supreme Court tossed his sentence in 2020 on the grounds that the jury had been improperly screened for bias against the death penalty.
The evidentiary hearing is expected to last about a week, after which the judge will have 90 days to decide whether Peterson will get a new trial.
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