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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Scott Peterson on Thursday filed the automatic appeal of his 2004 death sentence to the California Supreme Court, maintaining as he always has that he had nothing to do with the murders of his wife Laci and unborn son Conner.
Peterson's attorney, noted death penalty lawyer Cliff Gardner, filed the 423-page document eight years after a San Mateo County jury found the former fertilizer salesman guilty of suffocating a Laci and dumping her in the San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve 2002.
Peterson has always maintained his innocence and his appeal to the Supreme Court is no different. Gardner claims that the overwhelming publicity Peterson's trial received, incorrect evidentiary rulings and other mistakes deprived him of a fair trial. Peterson was convicted in 2004 after a trial that his attorney argues surpassed the O.J. Simpson murder trial in terms of publicity.
Peterson claims that Laci was killed sometime after he left their Modesto home the morning of Dec. 24, 2002 to go fishing in the San Francisco Bay. Gardner notes that Peterson was convicted and sentenced to death even though investigators never directly proving "how, where or when" the murder occurred.
Prosecutors told the jury that Laci was killed sometime between the night of Dec. 23, 2002 and the morning of Dec. 24, 2002. They believed Laci was suffocated in her home, but Gardner argues that there was little direct evidence collected at the house to support that theory.
Gardner argues that the intense publicity the case generated almost from the moment Laci disappeared deprived Peterson of a fair trial. The trial was ordered moved from Stanislaus County of the Petersons' home, to San Mateo County. Gardner argued that the trial should have been moved yet again because of the crush of publicity in San Mateo County.