Saturday, November 13, 2004

Scott Peterson Guilty

My girlfriend called me for her work at one of Houston's downtown energy trading companies to say that the Peterson verdict was coming in. The guys in her office were making book on the outcome, and would I like a piece of the action?

She wasn't serious, of course, because she knows I don't gamble. (When I have the urge to lose money on a bet I use the stock market.) But, going along with the gag, I said, "Sure, put $100 down on Peterson to be guilty, first degree," which was the line with the best odds.

Too bad she didn't really place the bet, because I would have made $400 on it.

The people outside of the trial following it the most closely were the news people, and most of them seemed to be convinced that Peterson was guilty. That was based on all the circumstancial evidence regarding things Peterson did leading up to and following the murder, which made him look like a creep, a cad, and guilty man.

But the jury deliberated for 6 days without a verdict. Clearly, they didn't see it that way, not the jury as it was originally composed, anyway. And everyone knew it hinged on the lack of physical evidence linking Peterson to the crime. The prosecution's strategy was to paint Peterson as a person who deserved to die even if they couldn't produce evidence proving he actually did the crime.

The circumstances around the trial suggested a conspiracy toward a certain verdict. The jurors holding out for a not guilty verdict, the lawyer/doctor who saw the problem with the evidence, perhaps, the woman smart enough to want to do her own research, were thrown out on vague pretexts, and the jury willing to render the proper verdict was finally seated. And with that jury it only took a few hours more to get the right outcome.

It never really mattered whether Peterson actually did it or not. He was still guilty of failing to protect his wife and unborn child. He was still guilty of failing to grieve their loss with the proper verve. He was still guilty of being a cad. Only one verdict was possible.

I'd be willing to bet that with this jury he gets the death penalty, but I don't think I could get anyone to cover that bet.