In danger: Award of Peterson insurance

Court of appeal listens to Rocha lawyer's argument

June 13, 2007 

FRESNO — A Superior Court decision to award proceeds from an insurance policy to the mother-in-law of convicted murderer Scott Peterson appeared to be in jeopardy based on questions Tuesday by a state appeal court panel.

In late 2005, Sharon Rocha, the mother of Laci Peterson, was awarded the proceeds of the $250,000 life insurance pol-icy by Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Roger Beauchesne.

Peterson, who has maintained his innocence, appealed the decision, saying his case is on appeal and, therefore, the verdict on his guilt is not final.

A three-judge panel of the 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno made no decision Tuesday, but clearly was skeptical of arguments by Modesto attorney Adam Stewart, who represented Rocha.

Peterson's attorneys argued that Rocha should not receive the insurance proceeds while the case is on appeal, and they objected that Stewart submitted a copy of the jury's judgment to the Super-ior Court as proof of Scott Peterson's guilt.

Rocha declined comment after the hearing, but it was clear she and longtime companion Ron Grantski were unhappy with the tone of the hearing. Grantski yelled that Peterson's "not getting out," a reference to the possibility that the conviction could be overturned and Peterson then could be entitled to collect the insurance settlement.

Authorities say Scott Peterson smothered or strangled his pregnant wife just before Christmas 2002. He was convicted of the murder in November 2004. He remains on death row.

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