Peterson's Mother Pleads for His Life

A tearful Jackie Peterson testified today that her son, convicted of the murder of his pregnant wife, could still do positive things from prison — but execution is irreversible.

Jacqueline Peterson testified for 45 minutes as the final witness in defense efforts to save Scott Peterson's life.

Defense attorney Mark Geragos said she feels "hollow."

"I do. We feel like we're just shells in front of you. Coming here every day; nothing left inside of us.… Scott has mourned for Laci and Conner. We've lost Scott, and I really feel if you were to take Scott away from us (pause).... They were like family, Laci, Conner and Scott. And it would be a whole family wiped off the face of the Earth."

Peterson's mother looked frail and spoke in a soft but steady voice that cracked at points. She paused occasionally to wipe tears from her eyes. Before she testified, she took the breathing tubes she normally uses from her nose.

Her appearance was a bookend to that of Sharon Rocha at the start of the penalty phase of Peterson's trial.

Rocha's chilling testimony about the impact of the murder of her daughter, Laci, and unborn grandson had at least eight jurors crying. She yelled through tears at her son-in-law: "Divorce is an option, not murder!"

Final arguments were scheduled for Thursday, and then Judge Alfred A. Delucchi will give instructions to the jury that convicted Peterson before it begins its sequestered deliberations.

Early in her testimony, Jackie Peterson chronicled her son's life. She smiled broadly at him as she recounted such memories as planting a garden.

Peterson could continue to do positive things for others from prison if sentenced to life rather than death, she said.

"Such a waste, irreversible. … I beg you to consider that, how he helps people, always has, in this trial you heard about … his wife and baby being ripped from him … All his world taken away, stopped by the media, harassed by the police, and painted as a devil to the public. He's not that, never been that. He's always been nurturing and kind."

The defense effort to persuade the jurors that Peterson's life is worth saving has built slowly through the recollections of more than 30 witnesses, including testimony expressing fears for the health of Scott Peterson's mother, who suffers respiratory problems.

Laci Peterson disappeared on Christmas Eve 2002, weeks after her husband began an affair. Her body was found four months later. Last month, Scott Peterson, 32, was convicted of killing her and her fetus. The same jury will choose between the death penalty and life in prison without parole.

Many of the witnesses in the penalty phase have talked about golf, and Peterson's love of and talent for it. Indeed, references to golf seem to be second only to testimony about the effects of the murders on friends and family.