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Published: Wednesday, 3/16/2005

<font face='verdana' size='1' color =#CC0000><b> * NEW * </b></font> Judge sentences Peterson to death


REDWOOD CITY, Calif. Scott Peterson was sentenced to death today for murdering his pregnant wife, Laci, more than two years ago.

Peterson, shackled at the waist and wearing a dark suit, was escorted into court under heavy security. Judge Alfred A. Delucchi denied a defense request for a new trial and upheld the jury s recommendation that he be sentenced to death.

Ten of the 12 jurors who recommended that he be sentenced to death sat in the jury box.

Hours before the hearing began, Peterson s former mistress, star witness Amber Frey, said she stood by her decision to turn to police. Peterson s lawyer is challenging the use of telephone conversations she recorded for the trial.

As far as having not come forward there may not and certainly in the jurors eyes there would not have been justice, so I stand by my choices and my decisions that I made, Frey told NBC s Today show today.

In asking for a new trial, defense lawyer Mark Geragos said Peterson s telephone calls to Frey should not have been admitted. He said Peterson never implicated himself in the crime during the calls and that authorities should not have tapped his phone.

Geragos also said prosecutors withheld evidence that a state prison inmate claimed he heard that Laci Peterson had interrupted a burglary at a neighbor s home in Modesto on Dec. 24, 2002, the day she was reported missing.

Scott Peterson claims he went fishing that day, and Geragos says the tip points to the conclusion that Laci was alive after Scott left for the day.

If the evidence were presented at a retrial, it is highly probable a different result would have occurred, Geragos wrote.

But prosecutor David Harris said the burglary happened two days after Laci Peterson s disappearance. He said the evidence was handed over a year before the trial started and would not have changed the verdict.

His claim is reminiscent of the boy who cried wolf, Harris said.

The motion for a new trial, filed Feb. 25 in Redwood City, also claimed the judge erroneously dismissed two jurors, and erred in denying Geragos motion for a second change of venue.

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