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Jurors: Evidence, Peterson's demeanor 'spoke for itself'


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Jury foreman Steve Cardosi
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Some of the 12 jurors say his lack of emotion helped doom him.

Three of the jurors who recommended death speak out.

A California jury decides that Scott Peterson should pay with his life.
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REDWOOD CITY, California (CNN) -- For Richelle Nice and the other jurors in the Scott Peterson trial, the evidence in the case and Peterson's lack of emotion throughout the course of the six-month trial "spoke for itself."

"For me, a big part of it was at the end, the verdict -- no emotion, no anything. That spoke a thousand words," Nice told reporters after the panel of six men and six women sentenced Peterson to death. "I heard enough from him."

Nice, an unemployed mother of four children from East Palo Alto, said she found the crime particularly appalling because Peterson was "Laci's husband, Conner's daddy -- the one person that should have protected them."

"For him to have done that," she said, shaking her head in disgust, unable to finish her sentence.

Nice was one of three jurors the panel selected to speak to members of the news media after they sentenced Peterson to death for killing Laci and the fetus she carried. (Jurors reach decision)

If Judge Alfred Delucchi upholds the jury recommendation, as expected, the 32-year-old Peterson will be sent to death row in San Quentin State Prison. San Quentin overlooks San Francisco Bay, where Peterson dumped the body of his 27-year-old pregnant wife on Christmas Eve 2002.

"We haven't been allowed to speak of these things," said the jury foreman, Steve Cardosi. "We're all kind of choked up."

Judge Alfred A. Delucchi will formally sentence Peterson on February 25. The judge has the option of reducing the sentence to life, but such a move in California is highly unlikely.

Many legal analysts had predicted the jury would recommend life in prison without the possibility of parole because the prosecution's case was based largely on circumstantial evidence.

But the jurors said the prosecution gave a compelling case and when all the pieces were put together, all evidence pointed toward Peterson, the former fertilizer salesman. And each said the death penalty was the appropriate sentence.

"It just seemed to be the appropriate justice for the crime, given the nature and how personal it really was against his wife and child," said Cardosi, who works as a firefighter and paramedic in Half Moon Bay.

Asked if there was a key turning point in the case, Cardosi said, "It's not just one thing in this. It was a circumstantial case. It's everything put together making a whole picture."

Greg Beratlis, a youth football and baseball coach from Belmont, agreed, saying there was "a lot of trust issues in this" -- from Peterson's betrayal as a husband who cheated on his wife to the two bodies washing up on shore near where Peterson said he had gone fishing on Christmas Eve.

"This person, as they stated, was Laci's husband, the person that married her until death do we part," Beratlis said, on the verge of tears. "It wasn't fair."

Beratlis added, "We did what was right ... If this person had been innocent, he would have walked out of there."

He disagreed with Nice on one point, saying he would have liked to have heard Peterson testify.

"I would've liked to have heard something out of his mouth. Yes, anything. A plea for his life or just his opinion on what went on over the last two years," Beratlis said.

But it was Peterson's demeanor in court that sent a chilling message to the jury. The jurors said that through the hundreds of hours of testimony Peterson only cried once or twice.

"In the courtroom for the last six months, I didn't see much emotion at all. When I looked over there, it was a blank stare," Beratlis said.

Cardosi said he would have liked to have seen a little more "expression of caring" from Peterson.

"He lost his wife and his child, and it didn't seem to faze him. And while that was going on -- they're looking for his wife and his child -- he's romancing a girlfriend. That doesn't make sense to me at all. It just doesn't make sense," he said.

He added, "I did see emotions in him, most of which were anger. ... You did know if somebody said something that he didn't like. His facial expressions changed and he looked angry."

Jurors, who were sequestered during deliberations, had to unanimously agree on a death sentence.

"I'm going home and hugging my family," said Beratlis, the father of two teenage sons. "I'm probably going to melt down."


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