Notwithstanding the whooping cheers from the Redwood City crowd at the news of his death sentence, Scott Peterson is unlikely to die by lethal injection soon, if ever. Meanwhile, Monday's feel-good moment will cost Californians millions more than the price of locking Peterson away for life with no possibility of parole.
A jury last month found Peterson, a Modesto fertilizer salesman, guilty of murdering his wife and unborn son. The separate death penalty vote came shortly after jurors asked to again see, up close, large photos of Laci Peterson's mutilated and decomposed remains and those of the fetus. The bodies washed ashore along San Francisco Bay four months after she went missing on Christmas Eve 2002.
The trial drew crowds to the courthouse near San Francisco and a stream of legal experts to the microphone. Police had arrested Peterson after an extramarital affair was confirmed in trembling revelations by his lover. When nabbed on a La Jolla golf course, he had $15,000 in cash, a truck full of camping gear and bleached hair. The case turned into a cable TV and tabloid staple that demeaned the lives lost.
Peterson's death sentence means this perverse reality show will probably play on for many and costly years longer.