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Death Penalty Overturned In Scott Peterson Conviction
A story and photos from the front page of The Escalon Times of Nov. 24, 2004 included information about the dedication of a park bench in memory of Laci and Conner Peterson. The state’s Supreme Court has overturned the death sentence originally handed down to Scott Peterson, convicted of murder in their deaths.

Sentenced to death in connection with the deaths of his wife and unborn son in 2002, convicted murderer Scott Peterson has seen that death penalty sentence overturned by the California Supreme Court.

It was announced on Monday, Aug. 24 that the state’s Supreme Court had reversed the death sentence. It did uphold his conviction but prosecutors would have to try the penalty phase of the trial again if they want to seek a reinstatement of the death penalty. Otherwise, said officials, Peterson’s sentence will be life in prison.

Peterson was convicted in 2004 in the deaths two years earlier of his wife, Laci Rocha Peterson, and the couple’s unborn son, Conner. Scott and Laci Peterson lived in Modesto. Laci was the daughter of the late Dennis Rocha and Sharon Rocha of Escalon.

Several months pregnant, Laci was reported missing by Peterson just before Christmas in 2002; her body washed up in the San Francisco Bay in April of 2003. Authorities arrested Scott Peterson shortly thereafter and he was convicted of first degree murder in Laci’s death as well as second degree murder for their unborn son. The death sentence was imposed in December of 2004.

Shortly before the imposition of the death sentence, thousands of people gathered in Escalon for the dedication of a bench in Laci and Conner’s honor at the city’s Main Street Park. The dedication took place on Nov. 20, 2004 and the bench is one of two that flank the entrance to the Main Street Park. The bench for Laci and Conner is situated in front of the historic caboose.

An automatic appeal of the death sentence was initially filed in 2012. The case now goes back to Stanislaus County Superior Court; officials with the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s office said they will review the decision and talk with Laci Peterson’s family members before determining their next course of action.