- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 8, 2004

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) — A frail-looking Jackie Peterson tearfully pleaded with jurors yesterday to spare her son’s life, saying, “If you were to take Scott away from us … we would lose a whole family.”

“It would be like Laci never existed,” she said, crying so hard at times that she was unintelligible.

While defense lawyers flashed Peterson family photographs on a large screen, Mrs. Peterson, who uses a portable oxygen tank for a lung ailment, begged jurors to see the good in her son.

“He’s an exceptional young man, and he’s my son,” she said. “I know he’s not perfect … but he is genuinely a loving, caring, nurturing, kind, gentle person.”

Scott Peterson wiped tears from his eyes as his mother testified.

Defense lawyers are trying to convince jurors that Peterson deserves life in prison, not the death penalty.

The 32-year-old former fertilizer salesman was convicted Nov. 12 of two counts of murder for killing his pregnant wife, Laci, and her unborn child, whom the couple planned to name Conner.

Prosecutors say he killed his wife in their Modesto home on or around Christmas Eve 2002, then dumped her body into San Francisco Bay. The remains of Laci and the unborn child were discovered about four months later near where Peterson said he was fishing alone the day his wife vanished.

During her 40-minute testimony, Mrs. Peterson also described for jurors how her father was slain when she was a child and how her mother was an invalid who couldn’t take care of her and her two brothers, so they were sent to an orphanage.

“We knew that God loved us, and that just took over everything,” she said, adding that her own health has deteriorated in recent years because of stress.

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