Formal Charges Filed Against Scott Peterson


Prosecutors filed charges Monday against Scott Peterson, who faces two counts of murder in the deaths of his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son.  The criminal complaint states the killings were committed at the couple's home in Modesto, where two search warrants were executed -- most recently on February 18 and 19. During that search, authorities removed some 95 items from the premises.

Laci Peterson and her son were killed "on or about and between December 23, 2002, and December 24, 2002," according to the complaint.

Peterson is charged with killing his wife "with malice aforethought" and their unborn son, who was due to be delivered February 10. Laci Peterson was nearly eight months' pregnant when she disappeared December 24.

Regarding the killing of the unborn child, the complaint states: "[D]uring the commission of the murder of Laci Denise Peterson, the defendant with knowledge that [she] was pregnant did inflict injury on [her] resulting in the termination of her pregnancy."

Scott Peterson is expected to be arraigned later Monday. A judge may decide to postpone his arraignment until Tuesday.

A double homicide charge constitutes special circumstances in the case, which could make Peterson eligible for the death penalty, said Stanislaus County District Attorney Jim Brazelton. Brazelton said his office has not decided whether to seek that penalty.

Earlier, police defended their arrest of Peterson in the case after accusations by his parents that authorities are rushing to judge him.

"You have a district attorney calling this a slam-dunk before there's even an arraignment," Scott's mother, Jackie Peterson, said in a Time magazine interview.

Scott's father, Lee Peterson, told Time the police singled out his son early on and "pursued it backward from there."

"If it doesn't fit their theory, by God, they don't want to investigate it," he said.

But officials denied those allegations.

"I know that that is a frustration to Scott's family, but ... the investigation took us where it took us," Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden said in a television interview.

Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department spokesman Kelly Huston said, "Having your son facing capital murder charges is quite a shock."

Police arrested Peterson early Friday in San Diego, the same day authorities announced that DNA testing proved two bodies that washed ashore in San Francisco Bay were Laci Peterson and her unborn child.

According to some reports, Peterson was carrying $10,000 cash at the time of the arrest, but Huston told CNN that Peterson had far less than that in his possession when he was booked.