Peterson- Guilty of the crime and will be found guilty
Bryant- Guilty of the crime but will be found not guilty
Question for the armchair attorneys out there (and practicing ones) - do double jeopardy laws keep the prosecutors from filing a different type of charge against Scott Peterson until they get it right? For example, if he's found not guilty of first degree murder, can they then charge him with manslaughter or second degree murder, or perhaps even kidnapping and keep re-trying him under various charges until they get one to stick?
In other cases juries have been given latitude on what, if anything they find the accused guilty of. Meaning, even though the charge may be murder in the first degree, they've been given the option of finding the defendant guilty of a lesser offense (2nd degree murder, aggravated homicide, manslaughter, etc...). However, from everything I have seen and read pertaining to this case, it appears the prosecution is going for an "all or nothing" verdict. The charges against Peterson are, Count I, the premeditated murder of Laci Peterson and Count 2, the felonious murder of Conner Peterson, the unborn son. While it's possible the jury could find him guilty of Count I but not guilty of Count II
, it's highly unlikely being that I think the prosecution has shown that Scott Peterson knew his wife was pregnant and would, therefore, know that by murdering her he was murdering his unborn son. So, realistically the jury has just 3 options. Guilty, not guilty, or declare themselves hung. Also, with regard to this case, if they find Peterson guilty, the same jury will decide whether or not he will be put to death. During the selection process, all 12 finalists said they would sentence Peterson to death should a guilty verdict be reached. If a not guilty verdict is reached that will be the end of the criminal process but you can bet Laci's family will do as Nicole Brown Simpson's family did and file a multi-million dollar wrongful death suit against Mr. Peterson.