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Attorney: Juror ‘vilified’ in maneuver to overturn Scott Peterson’s murder conviction

Mercury News logo Mercury News 10/23/2020 Angela Ruggiero
a group of people looking at a cell phone: Jurors Richelle Nice and Michael Belmessieri speak to the media after the formal sentencing of Scott Peterson in Redwood City, California, March 16, 2005. ( LOU DEMATTEIS/REUTERS-POOL) © Provided by Mercury News Jurors Richelle Nice and Michael Belmessieri speak to the media after the formal sentencing of Scott Peterson in Redwood City, California, March 16, 2005. ( LOU DEMATTEIS/REUTERS-POOL)

OAKLAND— The attorney for a former juror accused of stealthily withholding personal information so she could sit on the sensational murder trial of Scott Peterson and vote to convict him said Friday she did no such thing.

In a written statement, Oakland-based lawyer Elliot Silver said  Peterson’s attorneys are trying to “vilify” Richelle Nice in the media as a “rogue juror out on a mission” in their bid to get Perterson’s 2005 murder conviction overturned.

“Ms. Nice did not willfully withhold any information, she did not mislead the court, the attorneys, the parties, or anyone involved in the case.” Silver said.

Nice, nicknamed “Strawberry Shortcake” during the trial for her bright red hair, has been accused of lying on her jury questionnaire to get picked.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Stanislaus County announced Friday they would seek the death penalty again for Peterson, who was convicted of killing his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, 27, in Modesto and their unborn son, Connor, on Christmas Eve 2002. The trial was moved to San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City after the case gathered national media attention.

In August, the California Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s 2005 death sentence but upheld his conviction. Then earlier this month, the Supreme Court ordered a new hearing to be held in San Mateo County to determine whether his conviction should be tossed out because a juror committed “prejudicial misconduct.”

Nice allegedly failed to disclose that she had sought a restraining order in 2000 against her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend when she was pregnant. In a 2017 interview with the Modesto Bee, she said the claims made in Peterson’s appeal were “flat-out wrong.”

“I did not lie to get on this trial to fry Scott (Peterson). I did not,” she told the Bee.

Peterson’s appeal petition claimed that Nice wished to punish Peterson for harming his unborn son, which is what her her own alleged assailant had threatened to do.

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Silver, a criminal defense attorney who has been practicing for 25 years and mostly handles Alameda County cases, said Friday that Nice sat through the Peterson trial for eight months and came to the same conclusion as the 11 other jurors that Peterson was guilty based on the evidence presented.

Nice has worked in the medical field for more than 20 years, and is a mother of four boys and is now a grandmother.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

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