MODESTO, Calif. Scott Peterson can sell his story, despite the objections of his dead wife’s mother, under a tentative ruling from a Stanislaus County judge.
Sharon Rocha, Laci Peterson’s mother, asked the judge to keep any payments from potential book or movie deals in a trust account until a verdict is reached in Scott Peterson’s double-murder trial.
Jury selection is expected to begin March 4, and the judge estimates the trial will last five months. Peterson could face the death penalty if convicted on charges he killed his wife and unborn child in December 2002.
“It’s a minor setback to victims’ rights,” said Adam Stewart, Rocha’s lawyer. “But it’s certainly not the final word on the issue.”
Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Roger Beauchesne, who said he may change the Feb. 25 ruling, gave Stewart 20 days to return to court with new arguments.
Peterson’s lawyer in this case, Matt Geragos, said Rocha cannot stop Peterson from selling his story even if he’s convicted. Matt Geragos is handling the civil suit against Peterson his brother, Mark Geragos, oversees the criminal defense.
Matt Geragos would not say whether Peterson is negotiating sale of his story.
Matt Geragos said the court must dismiss the case because it was filed under California’s “Son of Sam” law, which was struck down two years ago by the state Supreme Court. That law, named after New York serial killer David Berkowitz, said profits from the sale of a convicted felon’s story must go to the victims.
Meanwhile, another judge ruled yesterday that the jury at Peterson’s murder trial will not be sequestered, despite warnings from the defense about the public’s fascination with the case.
Brushing aside defense warnings that panelists will be bombarded by sensational news coverage, Judge Alfred A. Delucchi said he would admonish jurors before they go home each night not to discuss the case, “and we’ll see what happens.”
Mark Geragos, called it “almost a childlike belief” that jurors would not seek out news coverage or conversations about the high-profile trial.