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Jurors hear opposing arguments on sentencing Peterson

Prosecutors push for his execution

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. -- Calling him ''the worst kind of monster" and undeserving of sympathy, a prosecutor urged jurors to sentence Scott Peterson to death for murdering his pregnant wife before the panel began deciding his punishment yesterday.

''This is somebody who had everything and threw it away," prosecutor Dave Harris said, pointing at Peterson as the convicted murderer sat stiffly at the defense table and intently watched the jury. ''He had a plan and he executed it."

In his 40-minute closing argument, Harris also reminded jurors that yesterday marked the two-year anniversary of Peterson's ''monstrous plan" to murder his wife, Laci.

''Two years ago today, the defendant, Scott Peterson, bought a boat," Harris said. ''He told [his mistress] Amber Frey his wife was 'lost.' "

But defense lawyer Pat Harris begged jurors to give Peterson the chance to ''do some good for the rest of his life," by sending him to prison instead of death row.

''I wish there was a phrase that I could give you that could turn this around and make you believe there is good, there is real, real good in this person," he said. ''But I don't have that phrase . . . that's up to you to decide.

''So I'm going to ask you . . . I'm going to beg you, begging you to go back there and please spare his life," he added.

In his closing arguments, defense lawyer Mark Geragos told jurors he has been tormented by the Peterson case, and surprised by the guilty verdicts.

''You can't find a more tortured, emotionally charged case than when something like this happens to what I consider to be two very fine families," he said.

Peterson, 32, was convicted Nov. 12 of one count of first-degree murder in the death of his wife and one count of second-degree murder for her fetus. The jury now has two options in deciding Peterson's fate: death or life in prison without parole.

After deliberating for about two hours, the jurors were sequestered at a hotel, as they were during the guilt phase of the trial.

Prosecutors say Peterson killed Laci in their Modesto home on or around Dec. 24, 2002, then dumped her body into San Francisco Bay. The remains of Laci and the fetus were discovered about four months later a few miles from where Peterson said he was fishing alone the day his wife vanished.

Defense attorneys called 39 witnesses over seven days in the penalty phase of the trial. Prosecutors called just four of Laci's family members.

''Thirty-nine witnesses," Dave Harris said. ''And those 39 witnesses pretty much all said the same thing. This man who sits here, this convicted double murderer, is not the man that I know."

The prosecutor walked over to the defense table, stood directly in front of Peterson and pointed at him. ''They didn't know the real Scott. . . . That he's a manipulator. That he's a liar."

But Geragos, in his remarks, reminded jurors that even if they spare Peterson's life, ''He will stay in that cell every single day until he dies."

He added, ''There does not need to be any more death in this case."

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