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Scott Peterson's sister-in-law says new evidence proves he's innocent

Janey Peterson says new evidence indicates Scott Peterson, who is serving a life sentence, is innocent of murdering his pregnant wife.
/ Source: TODAY

Scott Peterson's sister-in-law is out to prove he did not murder his pregnant wife in 2002 as Peterson returns to court Wednesday in hopes of getting a new trial due to alleged juror misconduct in his case.

Janey Peterson, 53, who is married to Peterson's older brother Joe, spoke with Natalie Morales in an interview that aired Wednesday on TODAY about new evidence she believes will win him a new trial and eventually set him free. Peterson, 48, is currently serving a life sentence after being convicted in 2004 of the murder of his pregnant wife, Laci, in a lurid case that made national headlines.

"There's evidence that was completely ignored that shows Laci was alive after he left for the day," Janey Peterson said.

At Peterson's trial, a neighbor testified seeing the couple's golden retriever inside the Petersons' gated yard at 10:15 a.m. on the day Laci disappeared, which was Christmas Eve in 2002. Janey Peterson said that when the mailman arrived around 10:30 a.m., he said the dog wasn't there, which was never heard in court. She believes that is proof Laci was out walking the dog after Peterson left the house.

Janey Peterson's theory is that Laci had a confrontation with men whom evidence shows were robbing the house across the street on the morning she went missing. That theory was part of Peterson's trial and his appeal but has previously been rejected by the court.

The burglars denied any involvement in the case and were cleared by a police investigation. Janey Peterson believes they killed Laci and framed Peterson by disposing of her body 90 miles away in an area where Peterson happened to be fishing at the time. Peterson's defense team plans to make this argument.

Morales said some would say that theory sounds far-fetched.

"If you have an opportunity to get away with murder, you're going to do it," Janey Peterson said.

Much of Peterson's case hinged on his affair with massage therapist Amber Frey, who testified that she was unaware that Peterson was married. She also said Peterson told her that his wife had died.

Scott Peterson has spent the last 16 years in California's San Quentin State Prison after being convicted of murdering his wife and their unborn son. Justin Sullivan / Reuters

"There's nothing I can say to justify or explain that statement," Janey Peterson said. "But also, there was no evidence that he had anything to do with what happened to Laci."

Janey Peterson was asked if she believed Peterson being an adulterer could be a motive for murder.

"I don't think you can take that leap," she said.

Scott Peterson will attend court virtually from California's San Quentin State Prison Wednesday as his legal team fights for a new trial. They have argued Peterson's previous trial was flawed, claiming one of the jurors lied about her history of domestic abuse in order to get selected on the case and convict him.

A judge is expected to set a date to hear the allegations of juror misconduct, which could result in a new trial if the judge finds the allegations credible.

He was initially sentenced to death in 2005, but the sentence was reduced to life without parole last year by the California Supreme Court, which cited "significant errors" in jury selection. Peterson's own sister, Anne Bird, agreed with the decision to overturn the death penalty but also said on TODAY last year that her brother is "exactly where he should be" in prison.

Janey Peterson, who says she has known Peterson since he was 13, has been fighting for his innocence for nearly two decades and regularly speaks with him in San Quentin State Prison.

She believes so strongly in her brother-in-law's innocence that she has returned to school to get a law degree so that she can be part of his defense if he is granted a new trial.

"We don't have justice," she said. "This crime is not solved."