The woman who helped convict Scott Peterson, and whose jury participation is at the center of the retrial request, says she never lied on the jury’s questionnaire about being a victim of domestic violence.
Richelle Nice, nicknamed “Strawberry Cookie” because of her dyed red hair, once received a restraining order against a boyfriend convicted of assaulting her. She did not disclose this information during the 2004 jury selection process for Peterson’s high-profile trial, and it is now one of the reasons his defense is seeking a retrial.
While being questioned by Peterson’s attorney Pat Harris at the booth Friday, Nice said that while her boyfriend was convicted of assaulting her, he never actually did it.
She said her then-boyfriend Eddie Whiteside called the police in November 2001 after she attacked him in their bedroom during a fight. When the police arrived, she said they noticed a cut on her lip caused by braces and arrested him for assault.
“Eddie never hit me,” she told the court on Friday. Now or anytime. Eddie never hit me, so I wasn’t a victim of domestic violence.”
However, Nice admitted during her testimony that she did not disclose that she was the victim of her ex-boyfriend’s girlfriend, who slashed his tires, broke into their home, and threatened her.
Nice’s testimony, which continued Friday, kicked off a week-long hearing over whether she lied about her history of domestic abuse in order to get on a jury so she could vote to convict Peterson.
Peterson, 49, was convicted in 2004 of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son, whom the couple planned to name Conner. He maintained his innocence for a long time.
Nice, who testified with impunity, stated that she never intentionally lied when answering a jury choice question about whether she or her accomplices were ever witnesses to a crime or victims of a crime.
Richelle Nice, the juror who helped convict Scott Peterson of the 2002 murder of his wife and unborn son, is at the center of a retrial request. She is pictured outside the San Mateo County Courthouse in Redwood City, California on December 13, 2004.
Nice was accused of lying during the jury selection process for not reporting that she had experienced domestic violence. She is pictured outside the courthouse after Peterson was sentenced to death on March 16, 2005.
Peterson is pictured in San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City, Calif., Feb. 25 at the start of a hearing that will determine if he gets a new trial.
She replied that she had not been a victim, despite having filed a restraining order during her pregnancy in 2000 against a woman whom she then accused of terrorism.
But she said at a booth Friday that she is “evil” as she seeks an injunction for herself and her unborn son.
When asked if she had ever been afraid that a woman would harm her unborn child, she replied, “No.”
Her latest statement that she was not concerned about her child’s safety contradicted statements she made when seeking a court order. She said at the time that she was worried the woman might harm the fetus.
Now she said she was only worried about what might happen if the two got into a fistfight.
“She didn’t mean to intentionally hurt my baby, but if we were fighting and rolling like dummies on the ground, then yes, I would be afraid of losing my baby doing something like that,” she said.
On Friday, Nice said her boyfriend was falsely convicted of abusing her and that she attacked him. Pictured here, she arrives at the Peterson trial in Redwood City, California on February 25, 2005.
“This hearing is critical,” Peterson’s lawyer Harris said earlier. “This is his chance to show that she really did wrong and put everything out of his head.”
Justin Falconer, a colleague of the jury before he was released, could testify that Nice talked a lot about Conner, calling him “the little man.”
If he were alive today, Conner would be 20 years old.
Peterson’s lawyers said he would also testify that Nice said she was in financial trouble and that they joked about post-trial book and film deals.
For his conviction to be dropped, Peterson’s lawyers must show Massullo that Nice committed a misdemeanor and did so “based on a bias against Scott’s conviction,” Harris said.
Nice answered “no” on the jury’s questionnaire when asked if she had ever been a victim of a crime or involved in a trial.
In a sworn statement last year, she said she does not “feel like a victim” in the sense that the law defines the term, and does not consider the restraining order to be a lawsuit.
Peterson’s pregnant wife Laci (pictured) disappeared on Christmas Eve 2002 and was found floating in San Francisco Bay months later. The mutilated corpse of their unborn son was also found.
Jurors heard Peterson had an affair with masseuse Amber Frey (pictured), who didn’t initially know he was married. She took the podium to testify against him during the trial, which generated international interest.
Harris said that if Peterson is brought to trial again, they can provide new evidence that the robbers were nearby the day Lacey Peterson disappeared, that witnesses saw her alive that day, and that her fetus was “alive for at least five more -six days”. when examining the remains of the fetus.
However, prosecutors said that Peterson’s lawyers did not provide any evidence to support their claims that he deserved a new trial because Nice had “darker motives” for being on the jury, “and, in essence, he was a juror- invisible.”
Depending on Nice’s testimony on Friday, Peterson’s lawyers plan to call witnesses, including fellow jurors and co-authors of their book We the Jury.
They also want People magazine reporter Johnny Dodd to testify about the “extraordinary” 17 letters Nice wrote to Peterson after his conviction and the eight letters Peterson wrote to Nice.
The two directors who worked on the post-trial television documentary The Murder of Laci Peterson must testify that they noticed a photograph of a child in pajamas with the caption “Little Man” on a Nice wall.
If Peterson faces a new trial, his lawyers said they could provide further evidence that the robbers were nearby on the day of Laci Peterson’s disappearance.
They said they could also prove that witnesses saw her alive that day and that her fetus was “alive for at least another five to six days” based on examination of the fetal remains.
Lacey Peterson, 27, was killed while she was eight months pregnant with a son whom the Petersons planned to name Conner. Investigators said that on Christmas Eve 2002, Scott Peterson dumped his wife’s body from his fishing boat into San Francisco Bay.
Peterson was eventually arrested after Amber Frey, a Fresno massage therapist, told police that they had begun dating a month before Laci Peterson’s death.
She said that he told her that his wife had died. Peterson maintained his innocence throughout.
Although in December the state Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s death sentence and ordered Supreme Court Justice Anne-Christine Massullo to decide whether Nice had tarnished his trial, it also stated that “there was plenty of other circumstantial evidence incriminating Peterson.”
Peterson was sentenced to death in 2005 for the 2002 murders of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Connor. Last December, he was re-sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Her new attorney told both prosecutors and defense attorneys that she would invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination until she was granted immunity from any prosecution for perjury.
Nice hugs attorney Gloria Allred after speaking at a press conference following the official sentencing of Scott Peterson in Redwood City, California on March 16, 2005.
Lawyer Geoffrey Carr said he pushed for immunity to protect his client from things that were stated with certainty in last year’s affidavit, but where she could hedge against testimony.
“Most of its content is correct, but not all, and part of it depends on how you interpret the material,” he told The Associated Press. Sometimes in a sworn statement, “the language is more insistent than it actually is.”
“I don’t expect big announcements” or “any surprises about what she’s going to say,” Carr said. He said he tells Nice that “her only obligation at the moment is to tell the damn truth.”
Stanislaus District Attorney’s Office is arguing with Peterson’s lawyers over the importance of Nice’s refusal to testify without immunity.
“The juror’s refusal to cooperate in an investigation into her own misconduct may well be indicative of her bias,” Peterson’s attorneys said in a court filing, adding that “a witness lying under oath is certainly relevant to credibility.”
But prosecutors said that “if Juror No. 7 exercises his privilege against self-incrimination … there will be no conclusions about the credibility of the witness’ testimony.”