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Jury foreman dismissed in Peterson case

Deliberations start over again after third juror is removed

Juror No. 7, identified as Fran Gorman, was dismissed Tuesday.
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Scott Peterson
Crime, Law and Justice

REDWOOD CITY, California (CNN) -- The foreman of the jury deliberating the fate of Scott Peterson was dismissed Wednesday, the second juror in two days to be tossed from the panel.

Judge Alfred Delucchi did not give an explanation for why juror No. 5, identified as Gregory Jackson, was let go. A doctor and a lawyer, Jackson is the third juror to be dismissed in the case.

He was replaced on the jury by a 53-year-old alternate whose son-in-law once worked for the Petersons.

Meanwhile, juror No. 6, who has taken few notes throughout the five-month trial, took over as foreman when the jury started deliberations anew for the third time.

The tumultuous jury deliberations began a week ago but were restarted Tuesday after the judge dismissed a female juror. Now, the jurors are deliberating from scratch yet again.

They are to decide whether Peterson killed his pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son.

The jury will have Thursday off for Veterans Day and resume deliberations Friday.

Judge determined to avoid mistrial

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said of the latest dismissal: "The point is that the judge is determined to keep this thing moving, and he's getting rid of jurors who are impediments."

Considering the months of time and effort put into the trial, Toobin said, Delucchi obviously wants to avoid declaring a mistrial.

Defense attorney Mark Geragos smiled and put his arm around Peterson after the judge's announcement. One juror was seen mouthing the words, "Oh, man."

"Excitement is bad for the prosecution. They want two to three days of quiet deliberations and one note that says we have a verdict," said legal analyst Jim Hammer, a former prosecutor. "Anything short of that is bad news."

Legal analyst Robert Talbot said the dismissed foreman must have "violated the judge's instructions."

"Maybe it came out during deliberations or maybe he decided to bring it out himself," Talbot said.

Alternate has loose ties to Petersons

Jackson, who appears to be in his late 30s or early 40s, had been an alternate until June, when Justin Falconer became the first juror dismissed from the panel four weeks into the trial.

Jackson took more notes than any of his colleagues on the jury, carrying a stack of about 12 spiral-bound memo pads into the deliberation room.

During jury selection, Jackson's 53-year-old replacement -- the new juror No. 5 -- said his son-in-law worked for the Petersons for about six weeks at a restaurant they owned in San Luis Obispo, where the couple met while attending California Polytechnic State University.

He said the son-in-law didn't know Scott Peterson very well. The juror said he has eaten at the restaurant many times, but he never met Scott Peterson.

He also said he owns a boat and has enjoyed boating for years. He said he had followed the case a little, mostly reading the headlines while scanning the articles.

Meanwhile, the new foreman, a man in his 30s, is a firefighter and a paramedic who said during jury selection that he is skeptical of media reports, according to He said his fire captain told him he thought Peterson was innocent, but the juror said he could disregard that opinion.

"He's a good guy. He's strong-willed. He's very fair. And I think he's a calming force in that room," said Falconer, the first juror dismissed.

Three alternates remain available in the case.

On Tuesday, juror No. 7, a woman from San Mateo County, California, was taken off the jury and deliberations started anew. Sources close to the trial identified the juror as Fran Gorman, a woman in her 40s who works as an auditor at Pacific Gas and Electric.

No explanation was given for her dismissal either, but sources said she was accused of conducting independent research -- conduct that is forbidden. Jurors are supposed to consider only the information they hear presented in court.

Under the judge's gag order, Gorman and Jackson are not allowed to speak publicly about the case for the duration of the deliberations.

Peterson is accused of killing his pregnant wife on December 23 or 24, 2002, and dumping her body, weighted with homemade cement anchors, into San Francisco Bay.

The bodies washed ashore separately in April 2003, near where Peterson said he had launched his boat during a fishing trip the day his wife disappeared.

If convicted of first-degree murder, to which he has pleaded not guilty, Peterson could be sentenced to death.

Jurors have the option of convicting him on the lesser charge of second-degree murder if they decide the slaying was not premeditated. A conviction on that charge could mean a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.

The option of the lesser charge was a victory for prosecutors because evidence against Peterson was largely circumstantial, and undecided jurors might have an easier time returning a second-degree conviction.

Boat draws attention

In another strange turn, a 14-foot boat similar to the one owned by Peterson has appeared in a parking lot about two blocks from the courthouse on property that CNN contributor Nancy Grace said is owned by Geragos.

Inside the boat, there are four cement weights, a weight belt and a headless dummy. Signs have been taped to the side of the boat -- one says, "RIP Laci and Conner You Are Missed," while another reads, "Murderer! Murderer!"

Some residents have stopped to place flowers at the base of the boat.

Sources close to the case told CNN the boat is the same one used by the defense in a videotaped demonstration that the defense claims proves the boat would have capsized if a body were dumped overboard, as prosecutors contend happened. The judge denied the defense request to have the video shown in the trial.

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