December 02, 2004

Laci's mother yells at Peterson

An angry, sobbing Sharon Rocha screamed at her former son-in-law Scott Peterson on Tuesday in front of a stunned jury that will decide whether he lives or dies.

Rocha is the mother of the slain Laci Peterson and a prosecution witness in the penalty phase of Scott Peterson's double-murder trial. In an outburst that made several jurors jump, Rocha yelled: "She wanted to be a mother. That was taken away from her."

Rocha was the last of four family members to testify for prosecutors trying to convince the jury to recommend the death penalty for the former fertilizer salesman. California judges rarely reject a jury's recommendation.

Jurors on Nov. 12 found Peterson guilty of first-degree murder in Laci's death and second-degree murder in the death of her 8-month-old unborn son the couple had named Conner.

Today, defense lawyer Mark Geragos will counter with Peterson's family in what amounts to a plea that the jury hand their son a life sentence without parole rather than execution.

Geragos also is expected to play to any lingering doubt the jury may harbor in a case built solely on circumstantial evidence. He declined to cross-examine Laci Peterson's relatives.

Legal analysts doubt that Scott Peterson will take the stand. If he does and claims he is innocent, he'd risk antagonizing jurors satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt with his guilt. If he asks for leniency, he could blow his chances of reversing his conviction on appeal.

Her voice cracking, Rocha cried: "She wanted to be a mother. Divorce was always an option - not murder." Peterson watched with no reaction. Earlier, he had dabbed his eyes with a tissue.

"Every morning when I get up I cry," she said. "It takes me a long time just to get out of the house. I miss her. I want to know my grandson. I want Laci to be a mother. ... I don't sleep well. I think about her all the time."

Rocha's anger was palpable. "She got motion sickness, you knew that," Rocha said, referring to how Peterson dumped his wife's body from a boat in San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve 2002. "You knew she'd be sick for all eternity, and you did that to her anyway."

No comments: