Aug. 24 (UPI) -- The California Supreme Court on Monday overturned the death sentence of Modesto husband Scott Peterson, who was convicted in 2004 of killing his wife, Laci, and their unborn son on Christmas Eve 2002.
Peterson, now 47, has been held on Death Row in San Quentin prison since his sentencing in 2005.
A California jury convicted him of killing Laci, a 27-year-old substitute teacher, and the fetus of their son Connor in December 2002, at their Modesto home and dumping their bodies from a boat in San Francisco Bay, where they washed ashore months later.
The court on Monday found errors in the trial judge's jury selection process, including removing potential jurors from the pool because they did not support the death penalty. But the court ruled prosecutors may retry the case, asking again for the death penalty, if they wish.
In 2012, Peterson's lawyers appealed his death sentence, claiming that moving the high-profile trial from Modesto to Redwood City near San Francisco was not enough to ensure that the jury was not swayed by media coverage of the case.
Supreme Court judges Monday upheld Peterson's guilty conviction of first degree murder for the death of Laci and second-degree murder for the death of their unborn son.
"We reject Peterson's claim that he received an unfair trial as to guilt and thus affirm his convictions for murder," Monday's ruling said.
The trial received widespread publicity for years and was the subject of multiple documentaries and true-crime television shows.
Peterson claimed his wife, who was eight months pregnant, disappeared while he was on his boat on a fishing trip. During the trial, prosecutors identified Peterson's motives to kill his wife as an extramarital affair, financial problems and impending fatherhood, which made him want to be single again.
Peterson's girlfriend, message therapist Amber Frey, finally went to police and told them the two were having an affair that began a month before Laci disappeared. Frey worked with police to tape phone conversations with Peterson which were later used in court.
Peterson's in-laws, Dennis and Sharon Rocha, parents of Peterson's slain wife Laci, also sued him in court for Laci and Connor's wrongful deaths.