A juror who served in the infamous 2004 trial of killer hubby Scott Peterson, on Friday tried to shoot down claims she falsified a jury questionnaire during a court hearing that could lead to a possible retrial of the case.
Richelle Nice — who got the nickname “Strawberry Shortcake” because of the bright red hair she sported 18 years ago — got grilled in a San Mateo, Calif. courtroom about allegations that she failed to reveal she had previously been a domestic violence victim and had once taken out a restraining order while pregnant.
Nice testified she hardly remembered taking out the order, which was obtained in 2000. She also said she didn’t consider herself a “victim” of any crime, despite allegedly failing to disclose being beaten by her boyfriend while pregnant another time in 2001.
Nice doubled down on her claim and testified that she was never abused by her then-boyfriend and she was the one who had hit him during that incident.
Peterson’s defense, which is demanding a retrial on the grounds of juror misconduct, has argued that Nice was biased against him and had lied on a questionnaire to get on the jury.
Nice was among the 12 jurors who found Peterson guilty of killing his wife, Laci, who was, herself, pregnant with the couple’s unborn son, Connor, at the time of the murder.
When Peterson’s defense attorney, Pat Harris, asked Nice at Friday’s hearing if her responses to the jury questionnaire were accurate, she responded: “somewhat accurate.”
“I’ve been in many fights and I don’t consider myself a victim,” Nice said. “It might be different from you or someone else. You might consider yourself a victim, but I don’t.”
Harris also asked Nice several questions about the restraining order, which she filed against a woman who had been harassing her and the father of her children.
Nice said she recalled filing a restraining order when she was about five months pregnant, but did not remember if she attended a trial because “it was so long ago.”
Nice, however, said she did recall that the woman was ordered to stay 100 yards away from her and her unborn baby.
“I was in fear that we were gonna fight during my pregnancy and I didn’t want to fight her while I was pregnant because I knew then that, yes, I could lose my baby,” Nice said.
“Do you consider that a minor indignity,” Harris asked Nice.
Nice was not able to answer the question because the judge sustained an objection from Nice’s attorney, Geoff Carr.
Nice answered anyway and said, “Yep, I was being spiteful,” and added she was never afraid that the woman would hurt her unborn baby.
When Harris asked if she had any anger towards Peterson, Nice responded, “Before the trial, I didn’t have any anger or resentment towards Scott at all. After the trial, it was a bit different because I sat through the entire trial and listened to the evidence.”
When Harris asked if she had named the Petersons’ unborn child during the course of the 2004 trial, Nice said, “I believe after the trial was over and the first interview I did. … I believe I referred to him as ‘little man.’”
The evidentiary hearing is expected to last for about a week. Judge Anne-Christine Massullo has to decide if there was juror misconduct in the case, and if so, does it warrant a new trial for Peterson.
Peterson was sent to death row, but he was re-sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in December after a high court’s ruling that the jury wasn’t correctly screened for their opinions on capital punishment before they convicted him.
After the evidentiary hearing, which is scheduled to continue into next week, the judge will have 90 days to make a decision if Peterson will get a new trial or remain behind bars for the rest of his life.
According to a witness list, the prosecution plans to call Nice’s original attorneys, Elliot Silver and Negad Zaky, and several criminal investigators.
Peterson’s defense team has included about a dozen witnesses, including Mark Geragos, Peterson’s former defense attorney, and several members of the jury on Peterson’s initial trial.