Scott Peterson's sister speaks out about his death penalty being overturned

Anne Bird says Peterson is "exactly where he should be" after judges overturned the death penalty but upheld his conviction for killing his wife and unborn child.
/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

Scott Peterson's sister agreed with Monday's decision by the California Supreme Court to overturn his 2005 death penalty sentence for killing his pregnant wife, but also believes he should spend the rest of his life in prison.

Anne Bird shared her feelings after justices overturned the death penalty by ruling that the trial judge "made a series of clear and significant errors in jury selection that, under long-standing United States Supreme Court precedent, undermined Peterson’s right to an impartial jury at the penalty phase."

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"I'm against the death penalty, but I do think he's exactly where he should be," Bird told Miguel Almaguer on TODAY Tuesday. "I lost my sister-in-law Laci and my unborn nephew Connor, and I believe he should remain in prison for the rest of his life without parole."

The court agreed with the argument by Peterson's lawyers that potential jurors should not have been dismissed from the jury pool for saying they personally disagreed with the death penalty but would be willing to impose it by following the law.

“While a court may dismiss a prospective juror as unqualified to sit on a capital case if the juror’s views on capital punishment would substantially impair his or her ability to follow the law, a juror may not be dismissed merely because he or she has expressed opposition to the death penalty as a general matter,” the justices said in a unanimous decision.

"I thought we made a good decision," Greg Beratlis, who was one of the jurors at the 2004 death penalty trial, told Almaguer. "This wasn't just a spur the moment. It wasn't an act of rage or emotion, this was actually thought out and planned."

Peterson's trial attorney, Mark Geragos, believes that prosecutors will not retry the death penalty phase. The court upheld Peterson's conviction for first-degree murder of his wife and second-degree murder of his unborn son.

"I thought it was a miscarriage of justice," Geragos told Almaguer. "I thought I knew that evidence, and I still think that the fact that he's in there with a guilty verdict is still a miscarriage."

Investigators said that Peterson killed his wife, Laci, 27, who was eight months pregnant with their unborn son, and dumped their bodies from a fishing boat into San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve in 2002. Peterson was arrested after girlfriend Amber Frey told police the two were dating a month before Laci Peterson's disappearance and that Peterson had told her his wife was dead.

During Laci Peterson's disappearance, Scott Peterson went to live with Bird and her family. The siblings didn't even know each other until 1997, when Bird, who was adopted as a child, first met Peterson and her biological mother, Jackie Peterson. Bird was in her 30s at the time.

Shetold NBC's "Dateline" in 2005 that she believed Peterson was guilty of the murders.

"You know, it was too hard for me to comprehend that someone who is as courteous, as kind as he is, would kill his wife and unborn child," she said. "It is just something that is so incomprehensible."

Peterson, 47, has spent 15 years on death row at San Quentin State Prison in California since his conviction. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order last year to impose a moratorium on the death penalty in the state, and it's unclear if the district attorney will pursue the death penalty for Peterson again after Monday's ruling.