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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 March, 2005, 21:32 GMT
Scott Peterson sentenced to death
Scott Peterson in court
The case attracted huge nationwide media attention
A California judge has sentenced Scott Peterson to death for murdering his wife Laci, 27, and their unborn son.

Judge Alfred Delucchi backed the jury's recommendation that the 32-year-old salesman should be executed for the crime that dominated US headlines.

The body of Laci and her eight-month foetus Conner were found on a San Francisco Bay beach in April 2003.

The case sparked a debate over whether someone could be charged with two murders for killing a pregnant woman.

An act brought in last April to expand the rights of the unborn child became known as Laci and Conner's law.

"The court is satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant, Scott Lee Peterson, is guilty" of first and second-degree murder, the Associated Press quoted Judge Delucchi as saying.

He added that he found the killings "were cruel, uncaring, heartless and callous" and denied a defence request for a new trial.

Peterson, a former fertiliser salesman, showed no emotion during the hearing at the court in Redwood City, near San Francisco.

He is due to go to death row at San Quentin State Prison in the next 48 hours, the county sheriff's spokesperson said.

Bachelor life

The judge had the option to give Peterson life in prison but chose to go with the trial jury's recommendation of the death sentence handed down in December.

They convicted Peterson in November of first-degree murder for killing his wife and second-degree murder for the death of Conner.

Laci Peterson
Laci Peterson was eight months pregnant when she disappeared

Peterson reported his wife missing on Christmas Eve, 2002. He had been out fishing at the time of her disappearance.

Her headless and limbless body, and the decomposed remains of her foetus, were found washed up on the beach four months later.

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

They said he wanted the life of a rich bachelor, without the ties of a wife and child, and killed his wife for money.

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

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