Even before the start of the jury’s tumultuous deliberations in the Scott Peterson murder trial, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Alfred A. Delucchi was worried. “I feel like I’m sitting on a powder keg,” he said. Some would call that an understatement. In the week and a half since they started, the deliberations have become so contentious that two jurors, including the foreman, have been booted off the panel. Some jurors were scolded by the judge for experimenting with evidence and admonished not to let biases get in the way of their work. On Wednesday, the county’s chief investigator was called in to deal with some additional but unspecified problems involving the jury.
Today, as the sequestered jury resumes deliberations, some legal experts are wondering whether a panel that appears, at least from the outside, divided and surrounded by controversy can reach a unanimous verdict, reports the Los Angeles Times. The stakes could not be higher for Peterson, who could face the death penalty if convicted. “It all puts a really terrible face on our legal system and the way it handles high-profile cases,” said former San Mateo County prosecutor Chuck Smith. And that, the Times reports, is a legacy of the O.J. Simpson fiasco.