Rachel Nice testifies at Scott Peterson hearing

A juror who served in the infamous 2004 trial of her murderer husband Scott Peterson attempted on Friday to dismiss allegations that she falsified a jury questionnaire during a court hearing that could lead to a possible retrial of the case.

Rachel Nice – who was given the nickname “Strawberry Short Cake” for her bright red hair she wore 18 years ago – was questioned in a San Mateo, California courtroom over allegations that she had failed to disclose that she was once a victim of domestic violence and was merely taking out a warrant restraining during pregnancy.

Ness testified that she could barely remember issuing the order, which was obtained in 2000. She also said that she did not consider herself a “victim” of any crime, although it was not revealed that she had been beaten by her boyfriend while pregnant back in 2001.

Ness doubled down on her claim and testified that she had not been abused by her then-boyfriend and that she had hit him during that incident.

Peterson’s defense, calling for a retrial on jury misconduct, argued that Ness was biased against him and lied on a questionnaire to join the jury.

Richelle Ness
Rachel Nice has been questioned in a courtroom in San Mateo, California over allegations that she failed to disclose that she had previously been a victim of domestic violence.
AP Photo / Paul Sakuma

Ness was among 12 jurors who convicted Peterson of killing his wife, Lacey, who was, herself, pregnant with the couple’s unborn son, Connor, at the time of the murder.

When Peterson’s attorney, Pat Harris, asked Ness at Friday’s hearing whether her responses to the jury questionnaire were accurate, she replied, “Fairly accurate.”

“I’ve been in many fights and I don’t consider myself a victim,” said Ness. “It might be different for you or anyone else. You might consider yourself a victim, but I don’t.”

Harris also asked Ness several questions about the restraining order she had filed against a woman who had been harassing her and the father of her children.

Convicted murderer Scott Peterson, whose death sentence was overturned by the California Supreme Court for the murder of his wife and unborn son last year, stands by his attorney as Judge Anne Christine Masulo enters the room for a reinstatement hearing in the San Mateo County Sheriff.  Court in Redwood City, California, United States December 8, 2021.
Scott Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder of his wife, Lacey, who was pregnant at the time, and second-degree murder of their unborn son in 2004.
via Reuters

Ness said she remembered filing a restraining order when she was about five months pregnant, but does not remember whether she attended the trial because “it was too long ago.”

However, Ness said she remembered that the woman was instructed to stay 100 yards away from her and her unborn fetus.

“I was afraid we were going to fight during my pregnancy and didn’t want to fight it when I was pregnant because I knew then that, yeah, I could lose my baby,” Ness said.

“Do you consider that a slight insult?” Harris asked Ness.

Lacey and Scott Peterson pose in a photo taken during the 2002 Christmas season in Modesto, California.
Lacey and Scott Peterson in 2002 in Modesto, California.
AP Photo / The Modesto Bee, file

Ness was unable to answer the question because the judge objected to Ness’ attorney, Jeff Carr.

Ness responded anyway and said, “Yeah, I was malevolent,” and added that she was never afraid of a woman harming her unborn child.

When asked by Harris if she had any anger toward Peterson, Ness replied, “Before the trial, I had absolutely no anger or resentment toward Scott. After the trial, it was a little different because I sat throughout the trial and listened to the evidence.”

When asked by Harris if she named Peterson’s unborn child during the 2004 trial, Ness said, “I think after the trial was over and my first interview…I think I referred to him as the ‘little guy.'”

The hearing is expected to last about a week. Judge Anne Christine Masulo has to decide whether there was sworn misconduct in the case and, if so, whether to call for a new trial for Peterson.

Richelle Ness
Ness testified that she was not abused by her then-boyfriend.
AP Photo / Lou Dematteis, Pool, File

Peterson was sentenced to death, but was re-sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in December after the Supreme Court ruled that a jury had not properly examined their views on the death penalty before convicting them.

After the evidentiary hearing, which is set to run until next week, the judge will have 90 days to decide whether Peterson will receive a new trial or remain behind bars for the rest of his life.

According to the list of witnesses, the prosecution plans to contact the original Nice attorneys, Elliot Silver and Nigad Zaki, and several criminal investigators.

Peterson’s defense team included about a dozen witnesses, including Mark Geragos, Peterson’s former defense attorney, and several members of the jury in Peterson’s initial trial.


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