The murder trial of Scott Peterson will be shifted to San Mateo County south of San Francisco. Judge Al Girolami in Stanislaus County is asking that another judge be named to hear the case. The trial in the highly-publicized case was scheduled to start next week but is likely to be delayed. Peterson, 31, of Modesto, Ca., is charged with murdering his wife, Laci, and their unborn son. Prosecutors seek the death penalty.
The Modesto Bee reports that defense attorney Mark Geragos and prosecutor Dave Harris agreed that San Mateo County was their second choice for the trial.
Prosecutors asked the judge to reconsider moving the trial because of the scandal over a survey on public bias against Peerson. California State University Prof. Stephen Schoenthaler oversaw a 10-county, 1,175-person survey conducted by about 65 criminal-justice students in November and December. Nine have said they fabricated some or all answers.
The New York Times says that tourism officials in San Mateo County cheered wildly at the news of the trial’s relocation. “You couldn’t hear us screaming?” asked Anne LeClair, president of the San Mateo County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This is wonderful.” She predicted that the news coverage the trial is expected to generate would bring at least $8 million into the county’s economy, which was hurt badly by the dot-com collapse throughout the Silicon Valley.