- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 16, 2005

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) — A judge formally sentenced Scott Peterson to death yesterday after family members got into a shouting match and Laci Peterson’s mother sobbed as she called her son-in-law “an evil murderer.”

Judge Alfred A. Delucchi allowed only Mrs. Peterson’s family members to speak at the hearing after indicating that he thought the death penalty was warranted.

Peterson’s father, Lee, yelled from the audience as Mrs. Peterson’s brother, Brent Rocha, spoke to the court, saying, “Laci and Conner are the true victims here.”

“What a liar,” Mr. Peterson shouted before the judge admonished him and he walked out of the courtroom. Jackie Peterson, Scott Peterson’s mother, also interrupted Mr. Rocha, but her voice was inaudible.

Peterson, 32, was invited to make a statement, but declined after several minutes of discussion with his attorneys.

Judge Delucchi denied a defense request for a new trial before upholding the jury’s recommendation that Peterson be sentenced to death.

“The court is satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant, Scott Lee Peterson, is guilty of first-degree murder” and second degree murder, the judge said, adding that he found the killings “were cruel, uncaring, heartless and callous.”

Peterson, shackled at the waist and wearing a dark suit, showed no emotion throughout the hearing.

Peterson probably will be sent to death row at San Quentin State Prison within 48 hours, said San Mateo County Sheriff’s Lt. Lisa Williams. The infamous lockup overlooks the bay where Mrs. Peterson’s body was discarded.

Mrs. Peterson’s mother, Sharon Rocha, sobbed and trembled from a podium as she lashed out at her son-in-law.

“You decided to throw Laci and Conner away, dispose of them like they were just a piece of garbage,” she said. “You were wrong, dead wrong.”

Dabbing at her eyes with tissues, she called him “an evil murderer.”

“The fact that you no longer wanted Laci did not give you the right to murder her,” Mrs. Rocha said. “She was my daughter. … I trusted you, and you betrayed me. … You betrayed everybody.”

Peterson was convicted in November of first-degree murder in the killing of his wife and second-degree murder for the slaying of their unborn child. A jury recommended the death penalty a month later.

Peterson’s attorney, Mark Geragos, tried to get Judge Delucchi to allow Peterson’s parents to speak, on the basis that they were related to the unborn child, Conner, but the judge refused.

He ordered Peterson to pay $10,000 restitution for funeral expenses and an additional $5,000 for reasons that were not explained.

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