“The Growing Role of Emotion in Jury Verdicts”

Sappenfeld, Mark

The Christian Science Monitor, December 23, 2004

p. 2

An Oakland, CA jury convicted Scott Peterson of first degree murder in the death of his very pregnant wife Lacey and then set his penalty at death. They did so unanimously and, when polled, with clear, strong voices. Afterwards, three jurors stated that they were much influenced not only by the evidence—virtually all of it circumstantial—but also by the defendant’s demeanor. “Peterson never showed the slightest hint of grief, remorse, or sadness.” The jury found this incriminating. No grief at such serious charges and at horrifying photos of a decaying wife, heavy with child, seemed wholly abnormal to jury members. One expert commentator, a law professor, said that the phenomenon has become a problem for “seemingly remorseless young defendants ‘whose way of dealing with the world is to have bravado.'”