- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2004

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) — Scott Peterson’s sister-in-law and friends yesterday described the convicted murderer as friendly, thoughtful and sincere as his attorneys tried to persuade jurors to spare his life.

Peterson appeared to weep softly at the defense table as his sister-in-law, Janey Peterson, testified. She told jurors about the first time she met his wife, Laci, whom Peterson was convicted Nov. 12 of murdering.

“She took my breath away. She was just bubbly and fun and energetic and beautiful,” she testified, while Peterson’s mother and sister also sobbed in the gallery.

The defendant, who maintained a stoic presence through much of the five-month-long trial, also appeared to cry when Janey Peterson tearfully recalled a pair of “fuzzy bear slippers” he gave her as a gift one Christmas.

She said the family is devastated by Mrs. Peterson’s death and the possibility that her killer could also die.

“I think the one thing we’ve all learned in all of this is how important life is,” she said. “I think every one of us would give up everything we have, whether it’s money, our homes, every stitch of clothing, because that’s how important life is.”

The testimony came on the third day of the trial’s penalty phase, where the jury will decide whether the 32-year-old Peterson should be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole for the 2002 murders of his wife and the unborn child she was carrying.

Defense attorneys are trying to persuade jurors to spare Peterson’s life with testimony about his childhood years and how a death sentence would affect his family members’ lives. Peterson’s father testified Wednesday.

A high school friend testified that Peterson was “truly sincere, very, very gracious and very, very thoughtful.”

Aaron Fritz said he first met Peterson about 17 years ago when he moved from Indiana to San Diego to begin high school and joined the golf team.

“I think he realized I was new to the area and new to the school. … He was very gracious and very welcoming and always invited me to have lunch with his friends and just kind of made me feel welcome,” Mr. Fritz said.

Britton Scheibe, who met Scott Peterson in sixth grade, told jurors his heart “just absolutely sank” when he heard Peterson had been arrested for the killings.

“Of all the people I grew up with and I knew, he would be the absolute last person that I would ever expect to be involved in something like this,” Mr. Scheibe said.

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