The Los Angeles Innocence Project is now representing Scott Peterson, who was convicted of murder in 2004 in the deaths of his wife and their unborn son, the group said Thursday.
The nonprofit organization, which works to exonerate people who are wrongly convicted and incarcerated, said it is investigating Peterson’s “claim of actual innocence.”
ABC News was first to report the group’s representation of Peterson.
Peterson, now 51, was sentenced to death in 2005 after his conviction in the murders of his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son, Conner.
Peterson reported his wife missing from the couple’s Modesto, California, home in December 2002. Laci Peterson was more than seven months pregnant when she disappeared. In April 2003, the bodies of Laci and Conner were found separately washed up in San Francisco Bay, police said.
In 2020, the California Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s death sentence after finding that potential jurors were erroneously dismissed, partly because they expressed general objections to the death penalty on a questionnaire.
But the state’s high court upheld the convictions, finding the trial itself was fair. In 2021, Peterson was resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In April 2023, Peterson’s attorneys filed a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus in which they alleged “violations of state and federal constitutional rights and state statutory rights, including … a claim of actual innocence that is supported by newly discovered evidence,” the Los Angeles Innocence Project said in a motion for post-conviction discovery filed Wednesday.
The filing requests evidence and documents from the investigation be turned over to Peterson’s attorneys.
“In the course of LAIP’s review and after some preliminary investigation, it became apparent to me that numerous items referred to throughout the police reports in Mr. Peterson’s case were not included in the discovery that was provided to the defense at the time of trial,” Paula Mitchell, director of the Los Angeles Innocence Project said in the filing.
The organization has taken the case because the overturning of Peterson’s death sentence meant he no longer qualified for a court-appointed attorney for habeas proceedings, Peterson’s former attorney Cliff Gardner told CNN.
In a statement on Friday, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s office said Peterson “is afforded the legal right to appeal his conviction with representation of his choosing.”
“We respect his right to challenge his conviction and the appellate process and accordingly cannot comment on the most recent filings as litigation is pending,” the statement reads.
CNN’s Aya Elamroussi and Jean Casarez contributed to this report.
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