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Peterson jurors reach verdict

Decision to be announced around 4 p.m.


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A jury is deliberating Scott Peterson's fate.
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Scott Peterson

REDWOOD CITY, California (CNN) -- The jury in the Scott Peterson double murder trial has reached a verdict, which is expected to be announced later today.

Peterson is accused of killing his pregnant wife Laci Peterson and their unborn child on or around Christmas Eve 2002. Laci Peterson was eight months pregnant when she disappeared.

The verdict was expected to be read at 1 p.m. local time (4 p.m. ET). An audio feed of the verdict will be made available live, but cameras are not allowed in the courtroom.

Peterson has acknowledged that at the time of his wife's disappearance he was having an affair with Amber Frey, who testified during the trial that she did not know he was married.

Defense attorney Mark Geragos argued that investigators ignored leads that would have led them to the real killer.

Prosecutors contend Peterson, 32, dumped his wife's body, weighted down with homemade cement anchors, in San Francisco Bay.

Her body, and that of the fetus, washed ashore in April 2003, near the place Peterson said he had launched his boat during a fishing trip on December 24, 2002.

The verdict comes at the end of a tumultuous week that saw the dismissal of two jurors.

The jury had resumed deliberations Friday morning after taking a day off for the Veterans Day holiday.

The jury started deliberations over again, after the foreman was dismissed preceding the holiday. The new panel deliberated for just a few hours Wednesday before recessing and only hours on Friday morning.

On Wednesday, the judge dismissed juror No. 5, a doctor and lawyer who was the panel's foreman. The reason for his dismissal was not given.

Juror No. 6, a firefighter, is the new foreman.

On Tuesday, Judge Alfred Delucchi had dismissed juror No. 7, a woman who reportedly did her own research on the case.

If convicted of first-degree murder, to which he has pleaded not guilty, Peterson could be sentenced to death.

Jurors have the option of convicting Peterson on the lesser charge of second-degree murder if they decide the slaying was not premeditated. A conviction on that charge could mean a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.


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