Salesman gets death sentence for murder of pregnant wife

A CALIFORNIA judge yesterday sentenced former fertiliser salesman Scott Peterson to death for the murder of his wife and unborn son in a case that gripped the US.

Superior Court Judge Alfred Delucchi sentenced Peterson after calling him “cruel, uncaring, heartless and callous”.

Earlier, the family of his wife, Laci, condemned the prisoner emotionally, prompting Peterson’s parents to leave the court.

“Now, Scott Peterson, I say this to you: you deserve to burn in hell for all eternity,” Laci Peterson’s mother Sharon Rocha told Peterson during her victim-impact testimony. “You deserve to be put to death as soon as possible.”

After a half-year trial, a jury in November convicted Peterson, of Modesto, California, of killing his pregnant, 27-year-old wife and their unborn son on Christmas Eve 2002.

The case, with revelations of Peterson’s extramarital trysts, deception and cold-blooded murder, generated saturation cable and local television coverage as well as related books.

Peterson, 32, showed little emotion yesterday, a cool composure he maintained throughout the trial. At one point he shook his head from side to side to indicate “no” when his mother-

in-law said he had murdered Laci Peterson. Reporters, attorneys, members of the jury and law enforcement officials fought back tears as family members openly sobbed during the 80-minute proceedings.

At one point Sharon Rocha told Peterson what she imagined were the dying thoughts of her daughter and grandson.

Prosecutors say Peterson murdered his eight-months pregnant wife and dumped her body into the San Francisco Bay to maintain his independent lifestyle.

Authorities will transfer Peterson within 10 days to the state’s only death row at San Quentin Prison, north of San Francisco, where he will join 643 others awaiting execution.

The lengthy appeals process in California means it could take two decades before Peterson is executed by lethal injection.

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