Scott Peterson sincere, caring, gracious, friends and family testify

Friday, December 3rd 2004, 8:39 am
By: News On 6

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) _ Scott Peterson's sister-in-law tearfully described the former fertilizer salesman as thoughtful and sincere to the 12 people who must decide his punishment for killing his pregnant wife, Laci.

Janey Peterson took the stand Thursday, the third day in the penalty phase of her brother-in-law's murder trial. She joined other family members and friends in trying to convince jurors that Peterson should not receive the death penalty the 2002 murders of Laci and the 8-month-old fetus she was carrying. The other possible sentence for Peterson is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The defendant wept softly at the defense table much of the time Janey Peterson was on the stand. She talked about her relationship with her brother-in-law as well as with Laci.

``She took my breath away. She was just bubbly and fun and energetic and beautiful,'' Janey Peterson testified.

She said the family is devastated by Laci's loss and the possibility Scott Peterson could also die.

``I think the one thing we've all learned in all of this is how important life is,'' she said. ``I think every one of us would give up everything we have, whether it's money, our homes, every stitch of clothing, because that's how important life is.''

Defense attorneys are trying to persuade jurors to spare Peterson's life with testimony about his childhood years and how a death sentence would affect his family members' lives. Peterson's father testified Wednesday.

The defendant, who maintained a stoic presence through much of the five-month-long guilt phase of the trial, also cried when Janey Peterson tearfully recalled a pair of ``fuzzy bear slippers'' he gave her as a gift one Christmas.

On Thursday, Scott Peterson's half brother, John, told jurors how excited he was when his little brother was born, and how he later taught Scott to ride a bike and build backyard forts.

He said it would devastate him if Scott Peterson was sentenced to die.

``I can't even imagine ... he's my little brother. I love him,'' John Peterson said.

Earlier Thursday, a high school friend described Scott Peterson as ``truly sincere, very, very gracious and very, very thoughtful.''

Aaron Fritz said he met Scott Peterson about 17 years ago when he moved from Indiana to San Diego to begin high school and joined the golf team.

``I think he realized I was new to the area and new to the school ... He was very gracious and very welcoming and always invited me to have lunch with his friends and just kind of made me feel welcome,'' Fritz said.

Laci Peterson's family packed several rows in the gallery for most of the trial, but only her brother was in the courtroom Thursday.

Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday. The defense case is expected to last into next week before jurors begin deliberations.