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February 28, 2008

Peterson trial judge dead at 76

Alfred Delucchi, the judge who sent Modestan Scott Peterson to death row for killing his pregnant wife, has died. He was 76.

OAKLAND — Alfred Delucchi, the judge who sent Modestan Scott Peterson to death row for killing his pregnant wife, has died. He was 76.

Alameda County Superior Court spokesman James Brighton confirmed the death Wednesday, but didn't disclose the cause. Delucchi died Tuesday, a friend said.

California Chief Justice Ron George plucked Delucchi out of retirement in 2004 to preside over the Peterson trial after the original judge was removed from the case.

"I've sentenced seven people to die, and every time I do it, I get a lump in my throat," he said in an online interview with his alma mater, Santa Clara Law School, after the trial. "It's not easy.

"If you're not affected, you're not a human being. You're sitting there condemning somebody to die."

Delucchi retired in 1998 after serving 27 years on the bench. He was originally appointed to the Municipal Court in 1971 by Gov. Reagan and promoted to the Superior Court in 1984 by Gov. Deukmejian.

"He was warm and funny," said defense attorney Daniel Horowitz, who said he handled about 10 trials, including three death cases, in Delucchi's courtrooms. "His secret was that when you were in his courtroom, you were in his house."

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