Scott's family relieved by Juror 5's comments


Diana Walsh and Stacy Finz, Chronicle Staff Writers
Thursday, June 24, 2004

Scott Peterson's sister-in-law said today that family members were relieved to hear an excused member of the jury say he would be unable to convict the former fertilizer salesman in the murder of his wife and unborn son.

"To see that juror walk out yesterday and see that he saw that is such a relief to our family. He's seeing the truth, and the truth is Scott is innocent," said Janey Peterson, who is married to the defendant's brother.

Janey, who often serves as the family's spokesperson, spoke to reporters as she headed into the Redwood City courthouse this morning.

Excused juror Justin Falconer and legal pundits have criticized lead prosecutor Rick Distaso for conducting an unwieldy and confusing case, but Janey Peterson said it's not Distaso's fault that the case is going poorly.

"Nobody can prosecute this case. He's innocent,'' she said, referring to Scott Peterson. "You can bash Distaso all you want, but the man's been handed an impossible case."

Scott Peterson, 31, is standing trial on charges that he killed his pregnant wife, Laci and their unborn child in December 2002. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Falconer spent seven hours outside the courthouse Wednesday afternoon with a swarm of media, first conducting a large press conference and then one-on-one interviews with news media from around the country. On Thursday morning, he woke before dawn to appear on several national network morning news shows.

In the course of his interviews, Falconer, 28, an airport security worker from San Mateo who is on disability, has picked apart almost every aspect of the prosecution's four-week-old case and said there was no way he could possibly vote to convict Peterson.

Without offering a public explanation, Judge Alfred Delucchi excused Falconer from the jury Wednesday morning. Falconer said the judge told him he'd become too much of a distraction in the case after being caught on tape by a cameraman talking to Brent Rocha, the brother of Laci Peterson.

In a hearing Monday, Falconer admitted talking to his girlfriend about comments made about him by the news media.

After hearing Falconer's comments to the media afterward that pregnant women can be crazy at times, Sharon Rocha, Laci Peterson's mother, said she was glad he is no longer serving on the jury.

In several interviews, Falconer, the father of a 9-year-old boy, said pregnant women can behave erratically, feeling sick to their stomach one day and ready to "run a marathon" the next.

"If he thinks that all pregnant women are crazy then he doesn't need to be on this jury," said Rocha as she arrived at the courthouse.

Inside the courtroom, defense attorney Mark Geragos continued his cross examination of Modesto police Detective Al Brochinni.

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