Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Scott Peterson

  1. Mar 16, 2005 #1
    Do you think Scott Peterson is guilty of murdering his wife and unborn son? Do you think he should get the death penalty?

    Let me know what you think and why.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2005 #2

    loseyourname

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    The justice system generally gets it right. I would imagine he's guilty. I still don't understand how you can "murder" an unborn child that isn't supposed to legally be a person with rights, but whatever.
     
  4. Mar 16, 2005 #3

    Kerrie

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    well, i guess if your wife was expecting a child that you both wanted and planned and then someone took that from you, you may feel different. i am glad he was charged with murder for both, as Sharon Rocha (her mother said), she wanted to be a mother and Scott took that from her.

    as an expecting mother myself, i would hope anyone that took my child from me without consent would also be charged with murder.
     
  5. Mar 16, 2005 #4

    Kerrie

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    to answer your question misskitty, i think without a doubt he's guilty. the fact that he didn't admit to anything probably sealed his fate even worse because it shows no remorse on his part yet all of the clues point to him.
     
  6. Mar 16, 2005 #5
    I would certainly hope they would be charged with murder.
     
  7. Mar 16, 2005 #6

    loseyourname

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    I don't recall indicating that I felt anything about this.

    I'd want the person to be punished, but my desires don't determine the law, nor should they, and the law contradicts itself. For the killing of an organism to be considered murder, that organism must be considered a person - that and intent define the killing as murder. If a fetus can be murdered, then the law is considering it to be a person. Any organism that is considered legally to be a person has the right, given by the government, to not be killed, except in self-defense or if it is guilty of a capital crime. That should apply in any case. If the fetus isn't a person when the doctor kills it, then it isn't a person when Scott Peterson kills it - no matter how satisfied you and Sharon are that he was convicted of double murder (his punishment would have been the same, by the way, had he only been convicted of one murder).
     
  8. Mar 16, 2005 #7
    If a fetus isn't a human being like you or I, then what is it?

    The authorities were right to charge Scott with double murder. You don't know that the outcome and final sentence of the trial would have had the same outcome. That's spectulation and there is no way to know how the trial would have ended. We can make educated guesses, but we can not make that statement with 100% certainty.
     
  9. Mar 16, 2005 #8

    Kerrie

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member


    Notice I did use the word "if" and "may". You haven't experienced (obviously) the road of parenthood, thus your lack of this experience may have a big influence of what you think.

    Scott Peterson was convicted of murder of the baby because the child was desired by the mother. A fetus that reaches 8 months term is very capable of living as a healthy human being, I know of a child born at barely 6 months term that a year later is now as healthy as she can be for her age. Our medical advances are having an influence on the law indirectly as I see it. Also, my state (Oregon) is trying to get "Kerry's law" into effect which elevates the charges if a violent act is committed against a woman and the attacker knows she is pregnant. Not necessarily a separate charge for the fetus, but a more harsh one.

    In this instance, I am truly glad the judges are the ones interpreting the law and not just definitions of what murder is and is not.
     
  10. Mar 16, 2005 #9
    I think its wonderful they are starting to draft and pass laws like that. Judges are judges for a reason. :smile:
     
  11. Mar 16, 2005 #10

    loseyourname

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Judges don't draft laws, legislators do. It was the California state assembly that decided killing an unborn fetus is murder in this state, not the judge who oversaw the Peterson case.

    It's rather condescending to suggest that I cannot think clearly about the issue of whether or not the killing of a fetus is murder because I have never parented a child.

    That's nice, but being desired by its mother isn't enough to confer personhood on a fetus. The fetus is simply not legally considered a person in this country - if it were, then abortion would be murder. It is considered to be an inert body part, a non-person mass of cells that, though human, does not yet have any rights. It is still just an appendage of the mother, which is why she is legally allowed to remove it at any time if she so desires. In being consistent, the best a person that kills a fetus should be charged with is mutilation.

    You value retribution, I value consistency and non-contradiction. I think that laws should agree with each other, even if this agreement is not emotionally satisfying.

    Again, judges don't make charges. The prosecutor brings forth charges, and the judge determines if the prosecutor can legally bring those charges. In the Peterson case, the prosecutor could bring the charge of murder against Peterson for the killing of Connor because, under California law, the killing of a fetus is considered to be murder.

    Being human does not make you a person. Humanity is a biological concept, whereas personhood is a legal construct. Slaves were legally considered 3/5 of a person for many years and, at this point, fetuses are not considered to be persons at all, not even in fractions.

    Scott would have been convicted on the strength of the evidence against him for the killing of Laci. That murder alone carries a possible death sentence with a minimum life sentence. Adding a second murder doesn't mean they can kill him twice. They could have sentenced him to multiple life sentences, but he's only going to live one life, so that wouldn't have made a difference. It could affect parole, but I would imagine in a case like this, no possibility of parole would have been granted anyway.
     
  12. Mar 16, 2005 #11
    Loseyourname, the first part of my earlier statement concerning the laws was directed at the legistlators. I know judges don't draft and pass laws, their job is merely to interpret and uphold those laws.

    I would consider abortion murder. I can't see how a fetus isn't a person/human whatever you would like to call it. It's not like an arms or a leg. Its a tiny person that will grow and mature into a bigger person. How can you and I call ourselves people and not call a fetus/baby a person?
     
  13. Mar 16, 2005 #12

    loseyourname

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    I actually agree with you. I'm just stating the official position of US law, and that is that the fetus is not a person and that it has no rights. I agree that Peterson should have been charged with double murder (morally, not legally), and that any woman or doctor that kills a fetus should be charged with murder as well.
     
  14. Mar 16, 2005 #13
    Oh, sorry misunderstood how you were saying it...I thought you disagreed with his double murder charge. :redface:

    I think abortion should be illegal, but thats a different subject for a different poll.

    Why did Peterson even murder Laci? When I was following this case, everytime there were pictures of him in court, he was completely unremorseful and indifferent. It disgusted me and disturbed me to the point where I don't really want to follow the case. How can you be so cold? People like that aren't people, they're monsters.
     
  15. Mar 16, 2005 #14

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I would have preferred that they used the fact that Laci was pregnant at the time of her murder as a contributing factor to Scott's sentencing rather than calling it a double murder. In other words, he still should have been given the death penalty because of how heinous the crime against Laci was rather than because it was a double murder.

    As for calling it a murder because Laci wanted to have the baby, I'm not so sure, because Scott was the father, and he clearly didn't want it. If you are going to use the desires of the mother to claim the fetus is a person with its own rights, rather than an extension of the mother's body with a disposition determined by the mother's rights, then don't you also need to consider the father's desires? It's all very contradictory and circular to argue it is the mother's right to choose whether she wants or doesn't want the fetus and at the same time to argue the fetus is a separate person with its own rights.

    I'm not saying I don't think it should be a crime, I just don't think the crime is murder. Let's assume Laci survived and it was only the fetus that did not survive. I would want to consider the crime to be one against the mother, not against the fetus. Call it forced abortion or aggravated abortion; much the same way intercourse is legal but forced intercourse is illegal and called rape. This way, abortion is not made illegal, but if the mother did not choose the abortion and someone forcibly causes an abortion, it is a crime. You can then still tack on all the other charges that are applicable, murder of the mother, or if the mother survived, attempted murder of the mother, aggravated assault, battery, etc.

    In other words, if it is only a crime if it is the mother's choice to keep the baby, then it is a crime against that woman's right to that choice, not a crime against a fetus that has no inherent rights.

    All that said, I still agree with the decision to sentence Scott to death.
     
  16. Mar 16, 2005 #15
    Its a good explanation about the fetus. I just have trouble trying to get my mind around it.
     
  17. Mar 16, 2005 #16

    Kerrie

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Take what I said how you choose, but I did state a fact.



    Who considers this? Men who make a lot of the laws? I feel my baby moving inside me, it's pretty difficult to convince me that my baby is a "non-person mass of cells".


    Notice that I said judges interpret the law, I said nothing about them making charges or the laws. Interesting you first refer to Laci's baby as a mass of cells, and then use the name given to him.



    I hardly think you can make a comparison between a fetus and slavery that has been outlawed for over 100 years. If you look at the long road ahead, and not just today, it is possible that this case is a step in the direction towards fetal rights. Where to draw the lines and make boundaries is what would have to be hammered out.

    Logically, I think Scott was given a "double-murder" sentence mostly to appease the outraged who had been heavily exposed to this story by the media. My point on this however is not just the harm done to a mother-to-be, but the fact that her right was taken away to bear her child, just like taking away her right to abort her child.
     
  18. Mar 16, 2005 #17

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Due to the large number of death sentences that have been overturned because of the new DNA technologies, I have no faith in the justice system. We know with near certainty that many, many innocent people have been put to death. That said, I think this scumbag is guilty as hell, and even though I don't support the death penalty, when I heard the news today I couldn't help but feel a sense of...good!!! ...street justice, and all that I guess. Still, I doubt he will ever be killed. But then again, with the heavy swing right in this country right now they might start frying them suckers like eggs on a Texas road. Just like they do in Texas. :wink:
     
  19. Mar 16, 2005 #18
    I don't like the death penalty really at all. I kinda think we ought try harder to just rehabilitate people, especially like people who seem like there's a chance they could still function in society. hmm,

    ... i had this really great anectdote about chickens, but suddenly i don't think its appropriate...

    Anyways, i do think he's guilty at any rate. And really, he seemed kinda erm.... normal? which is weird to me. Cause thats a really nasty thing he did... and to be so... "whatever," about it seems weird. Like, you'd think only psycho's would be so nonchalant about it... so maybe he is a pyscho. i dunno, he seemed pretty average though....
     
  20. Mar 17, 2005 #19
    How is partial birth abortion not considered murder then, if Scott Peterson killed an unborn 8 month old child and it is considered murder? So what if the child was desired? Orphaned children aren't desired by their mothers, does this not make them a living being?
     
  21. Mar 17, 2005 #20
    Partial birth abortions are considered murder thats why they are illegal. I don't really think Peterson is all that 'normal'. There was no display of any kind of emotion during his trial...you would think he would change his expression or feel remorseful or cry or something. There was nothing. I would hardly call that normal.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Scott Peterson
Loading...