REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - The mother of convicted double murderer Scott Peterson tearfully implored a jury yesterday to spare his life, saying he could still do positive things in prison and that execution "would be such a waste, irreversible."
Jackie Peterson, who suffers from respiratory problems, looked frail and spoke for 45 minutes in a soft but steady voice that cracked at times. She paused occasionally to wipe tears from her eyes, and testified without breathing from the oxygen tank she normally uses.
At times, she smiled lovingly at her son, who was convicted of murdering his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner, on Christmas Eve 2002.
Jackie Peterson's testimony ended the defense portion of the penalty phase, and final arguments are scheduled for today.
Judge Alfred A. Delucchi then will give instructions to the jury before it begins deliberating whether to recommend death or life in prison without parole.
Asked by defense attorney Mark Geragos to describe the effect of the case on her family, Jacki Peterson said, "We feel like we're just shells in front of you. Coming here every day; nothing left inside of us."
"I really feel if you were to take Scott away from us," she told the jury, pausing to compose herself. "They were like family, Laci, Conner and Scott. It would be a whole family wiped off the face of the Earth."
In a court face-off that some have dubbed "the battle of tears," her appearance reflected that of Laci's mother, Sharon Rocha, at the start of the penalty phase of Peterson's trial.
Rocha's chilling testimony had at least eight jurors crying. At one point, she yelled through tears at her son-in-law: "Divorce is always an option, not murder!"
The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.