Peterson murder trial forged friendships in jury box


Last Updated: December 11, 2005, 05:58:51 AM PST

Twelve strangers. Six months. One accord.
They weren't allowed to reveal their names, even to each other, during the half-year they spent side by side, weighing gripping testimony that captivated people across the United States and beyond.

Near the end, they spent more than a week cloistered in a well-guarded San Mateo County hotel, unable to see friends or family until they decided whether Modesto's most infamous murderer should go free.

Their own freedom didn't come until they deemed Scott Peterson worthy of death by lethal injection for murdering his pregnant wife and unborn son at Christmastime nearly two years before.

Some of Peterson's jurors, however, say they never will be free of the unthinkable tragedy and the parts they played in its resolution.

"There have been sleepless nights," said John Guinasso, formerly known as Juror No. 8. "Scott Peterson still haunts me."

As Tuesday's one-year anniversary of the death sentence they decreed approaches, most of the 12 former strangers now call themselves friends. Some, friends for life. Because of death.

Many chat with each other frequently on the phone or send e-mails. Some meet at restaurants. Most gathered last summer at the home of one juror for a reunion barbecue. They're planning a holiday get-together in a few days.

Some reflected on the strangeness of the one-year anniversary coinciding with the high-profile scheduled execution of Stanley Tookie Williams, both sharing the date of Dec. 13.

Plans to jointly write a Peterson trial book with the help of a New York true-crime novelist fell apart months ago, though some hold out hope for a resurrection.

None recently contacted by The Bee, however, said they have second thoughts about Peterson's guilt.

"No regrets," said Tom Marino, who consulted with his priest on the sanctity of life before he was picked for the panel.

"At the end of the day, it was the logical conclusion."