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Last Updated: Monday, 13 December, 2004, 23:15 GMT
Jury says wife killer should die
Scott Peterson in court
Peterson said he was fishing when his wife disappeared
A California jury has recommended that a man convicted of murdering his wife and unborn son should be executed.

Scott Peterson, 32, reported his wife Laci missing on Christmas Eve, 2002. She was eight months pregnant.

Her headless and limbless body, and the decomposed remains of her foetus, were later found washed up on a San Francisco Bay beach in April 2003.

The judge could still opt to give Peterson life in prison when he passes sentence on 25 February.

In November, Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder for killing his wife and second-degree murder for the death of his unborn child, who was to be named Conner.


The jury then deliberated for nearly 12 hours before reaching its recommendation.

Peterson did not flinch when the decision was delivered.

A crowd outside the court in Redwood City, near San Francisco, cheered when they heard the announcement.

Laci Peterson
Laci Peterson was eight months pregnant when she disappeared
Judges in California rarely overturn death penalty recommendations.

But the state rarely carries them out. Only 10 people have been executed since capital punishment was brought back in 1978. About 650 convicts are on death row.

Peterson, a former fertiliser salesman, said he had been out fishing when his wife disappeared.

Prosecutors told the court he had strangled or smothered Laci, 27, and dumped her weighted body over the side of his fishing boat.


"He wants to live the rich, successful, freewheeling bachelor life," Mr Distaso said.

"He didn't want to be tied to this kid the rest of his life. He didn't want to be tied to Laci for the rest of his life."

Mr Distaso argued that he killed his wife for money and to be with his mistress, Amber Frey.

Defence lawyers argued that Mrs Peterson was abducted by strangers who murdered her. They said the prosecution's case was built on circumstantial evidence.

The five-month trial attracted widespread media attention and fuelled the abortion issue because of the debate over whether Peterson could be charged for the murder of a technically unborn child.

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