Peterson lawyer wants files unsealed

District attorney objects to pre-appeal request

February 5, 2010 

scott

Stanislaus Superior Court Room, department #8, Judge Al Girolami. Scott Peterson during the change of attorey.

AL GOLUB 050203 — Modesto Bee

Scott Peterson's criminal case will return to Stanislaus County this year after his appellate attorney asked the court to unseal evidence used to convict the Modesto man of murder.

Peterson, 37, arrived on death row in March 2005 after being found guilty of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner, in December 2002.

The death sentence levied against Peterson means his case automatically will be appealed to the California Supreme Court.

Oakland-based attorney Cliff Gardner applied for an order Jan. 22 to unseal all trial exhibits so he can review and photograph them. The extensive trial record includes more than 30,000 pages of documents, and the process could take years, court officials said.

Gardner did not respond to a call for comment Thursday.

Peterson will not be transferred from San Quentin State Prison for the hearing, court officials said.

The Stanislaus County district attorney's office objected to the proposal.

"The sealed items were sealed for several reasons and usually with the consent of or at the request of the defense trial team," the district attorney's response read.

Superior Court Judge Scott Steffen will preside over the hearing, but no date has been set.

Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at mbalassone@modbee.com or 578-2337.

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