Peterson sentence may face 2nd delay

Grantski asks lawmakers in Oregon to pass laws that would protect fetuses

February 24, 2005 

  • Since jurors' Dec. 13 vote to execute Scott Peterson:

    Dec. 17: The last juror to make up his mind that Peterson's crime warranted a death sentence told The Bee he had no regrets or second thoughts.

    Dec. 19: A woman juror said in a Bee exclusive that she had run over and killed her toddler 18 years before. Both sides of the Peterson case wanted her to remain on the panel after she revealed the tragedy privately before the trial began.

    Dec 21: Sharon Rocha posted an Internet message thanking authorities and others for their support. Defense attorneys, also using the Internet, asked for donations "to help continue the search for the murderer of Laci and Conner Peterson."

    Dec 24: Trial consultant Edward Bronson of Chico, who briefly worked for Peterson's team, sued lead defense attorney Mark Geragos for breach of contract. A judge has yet to issue a ruling.

    Jan. 1: The Bee reviewed a book by Amber Frey when a Modesto grocery store accidently sold it three days ahead of its scheduled release. Frey, who was having an affair with Peterson when his wife disappeared, wrote that Laci Peterson's image appeared to her in a nightmare about the time she was murdered.

    Jan. 7: The Carole Sund-Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation handed out $50,000 in rewards to people who found decomposed remains of mother and son. A recipient said part of the money would be contributed to a Bay Area agency helping victims of domestic violence.

    Jan. 8: CBS announced its intent to make a TV movie based on Frey's book, "Witness: For the Prosecution of Scott Peterson." Days later, the book topped a best seller's list compiled by Publishers Weekly.

    Jan. 25: Defense lawyers persuaded Judge Alfred Delucchi to push his formal sentencing, initially set for Feb. 25, to March 11.

    Jan. 25: Professor Stephen Schoenthaler committed academic and scientific misconduct, a California State University, Stanislaus, investigations committee determined. The Bee obtained the committee report after filing an official request with the university. Schoenthaler had overseen a bogus survey that factored into a judge's decision to move the trial from Modesto.

    Jan. 26: A&E Network aired "American Justice: The Scott Peterson Trial."

    Jan. 31: Stanislaus County courts paid $400,000 on a bill of nearly $775,000, said court officials from San Mateo County, where the trial was held.

    Feb. 3: The publisher of Frey's book announced a release date of March 1 for a book written by the killer's half-sister. It will be called "Blood Brother: 33 Reasons My Brother, Scott Peterson, is Guilty."

    Feb 19: CBS announced that Janel Moloney, who plays former White House aide Donna Moss on "The West Wing," will portray Frey in the network's TV movie.

    Monday: Ron Grantski, longtime companion of Laci Peterson's mother, testified at Oregon's Capitol in support of a fetal protection bill.

A judge's final word on whether Scott Peterson should be executed could be delayed again at a hearing Friday, sources said.

Formal sentencing for the Modesto man, convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and their unborn child, previously was changed from Friday to March 11. A possible scheduling conflict could push that back again, sources said Wednesday.

Friday's hearing in Redwood City is expected to be brief. Attorneys on both sides will be asked to approve transcriptions of court proceedings, which stretched from June 1 to Dec. 13, when jurors returned a death-sentence recommendation.

They earlier had convicted the 32-year-old fertilizer salesman of killing Laci Peterson around Christmas Eve 2002 and dumping her in San Francisco Bay. The bodies of mother and son washed ashore nearly four months later.

Judge Alfred Delucchi can change the punishment to life in prison without parole, though reducing capital sentences is not common.

Documents filed under seal by attorneys on both sides since the jury's Dec. 13 sentence might be released Friday.

In related news, the man who raised Laci Peterson as his daughter testified this week in favor of fetal protection legislation in a state where his future grandchildren could live.

Ron Grantski, the longtime companion of the victim's mother, Sharon Rocha, on Monday told Oregon legislators they should pass a law creating separate charges for killing a pregnant woman and her unborn child. The legislation is similar to a federal law President Bush signed in April with Rocha at his side. California already has such a law.

Grantski, who lived in Eugene in his youth, read a letter of support he and Rocha received from a Portland resident. "I told them, 'The people of your state want this law,'" he said.

He has personal reasons as well. His adult son, Darrin, lives in Salem.

"I said, 'Someday he may get married and have a little one,'" Grantski said, "'and I want to make sure that life is protected.'"

Previous commitments kept Rocha in Modesto, he said.

Grantski and Rocha have received thousands of letters and hundreds of thousands of e-mails from throughout the United States, many from people who support their lobbying efforts, he said. Rocha plans to testify soon at the Texas Capitol, he said, adding that both will accommodate as many requests as possible from other states.

Saying he supports abortion rights, Grantski dismisses the notion that such fetal protection laws could erode abortion rights. Oregon's legislation would exempt abortion.

"It should be easy to see that this has nothing to do with abortion," Grantski said. "This is strictly malice aforethought, trying to murder a pregnant woman and kill her baby."

Grantski said reliving the ordeal of Peterson's disappearance and death and her husband's lengthy trial caused him to become emotional Monday after he testified before lawmakers. But he would — and will — do it again, he said, because "I think this is important.

"When you're fighting for something you believe in," he said, "there's nothing scary about that."

Friday's hearing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City. A judge moved the trial there because of pervasive publicity in Modesto.

Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at 578-2390 or gstapley@modbee.com.

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