REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - Scott Peterson, who had sat impassively throughout most of his trial, wept as five defense witnesses portrayed him yesterday as a kind and thoughtful man, appealing to any sympathy the jury might have for the convicted murderer's family.
Testifying in the penalty phase of Peterson's murder trial, his brothers and sisters and longtime friends spoke warmly about Peterson's "positive impact" on those around him. They described his ongoing correspondence from behind bars with their children, and their fears for the well-being of his mother and father.
Jurors who convicted Peterson last month of killing his pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son, did not become tearful as they did when Laci's mother testified Tuesday for the prosecution. But they did listen attentively yesterday, often leaning forward during the more emotional comments.
The jurors must now decide Peterson's punishment: life in prison or execution.
Joan Pernicano, a longtime family friend, testified that she has been particularly worried about Peterson's mother, Jackie, who has severe respiratory problems and cannot go anywhere without a portable oxygen tank, worn in a blue satchel slung over her shoulder.
"I'm really concerned about her health," Pernicano said. "I try to put myself in her position, and I can't. It's so horrible."
Janey Peterson, a daughter-in-law of Jackie Peterson and her husband, Lee, described Peterson's kindnesses toward her and talked about photos of family celebrations.
She was so overwhelmed by memories of better times and a pair of fuzzy slippers Peterson once gave her that she broke down in tears, unable to speak.
In a rare show of emotion, Peterson also cried, using a white handkerchief to wipe away tears.
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