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Judge Grants Hearing to Scott Peterson Weeks After L.A. Innocence Project Takes Up Case

Laci Peterson was eight months pregnant with their son Conner when she vanished on Christmas Eve in 2002

<p>Bart Ah You-Pool/Getty</p> Scott Peterson in 2004

Bart Ah You-Pool/Getty

Scott Peterson in 2004

A status hearing has been scheduled for Scott Peterson, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of his pregnant wife over 20 years ago.

The hearing was scheduled a few weeks after the Los Angeles Innocence Project announced they would represent Peterson and are "investigating his claim of actual innocence," ABC News reported.

The status hearing will be held before California Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Hill, per ABC News.

The hearing is scheduled for March 12, according to a San Mateo County Superior Court representative. The representative tells PEOPLE that Peterson is scheduled to appear via Zoom.

Laci Peterson, 27, was eight months pregnant with their son Conner when she vanished on Christmas Eve in 2002, just five years after she and Peterson had married. While Peterson initially aided in her search, it came out that he had been having an affair and became a prime suspect in Laci's disappearance.

Four months later, Laci's body was found in San Francisco Bay, just a mile away from where her unborn baby's body was found.

Related: L.A. Innocence Project Takes Scott Peterson's Case, Says New Evidence 'Supports' Claim He Didn't Kill Wife Laci

Peterson — who is 51 now — was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in 2004 and sentenced to death row in 2005. He remained there for about 15 years.

But in 2020, Peterson scored two major legal victories. The first came in August, when he was given the chance to face a new penalty phase trial after his death penalty sentence was overturned by the California Supreme Court, which cited jury selection errors by the trial judge.

The second victory came in October when the California Supreme Court ruled that a lower court should take a second look at his case to determine whether his guilty verdict should be overturned.

<p>ZUMA Press/ZUMAPRESS.com</p> Laci Peterson and Scott Peterson

ZUMA Press/ZUMAPRESS.com

Laci Peterson and Scott Peterson

In court in 2021, Peterson's death sentence was officially vacated, resentencing him to life in prison. The following year, a San Mateo County Superior Court Judge denied Peterson's bid for a new trial.

Now, the L.A. Innocence Project is seeking new evidence in Peterson's original trial, saying that Peterson's state and federal constitutional rights were violated, according to ABC News.

Filings entered on Wednesday and first obtained by the outlet say that "new evidence now supports Mr. Peterson's longstanding claim of innocence and raises many questions into who abducted and killed Laci and Conner Peterson."

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Attorneys for the organization are quoting updated witness statements that point to multiple areas of interest, including a December 2002 burglary of a Modesto home across the street from the Petersons. Peterson’s attorneys have previously argued his wife was killed after she witnessed the men breaking into the neighbor's house during a dog walk while Peterson was on a solo fishing trip Christmas Eve morning.

The L.A. Innocence Project is also hoping to conduct new DNA testing on a blood-stained mattress found on Dec. 25 in a burned-out orange van discovered nearby. The investigation, they say, will determine if the item contained Laci's blood, which could be argued links her back to the burglars.

Other evidence being sought out by the L.A. Innocence Project, according to the filings obtained by ABC News, includes dozens of items unable to be found "after a thorough search" of trial files from his prior counsel.

Peterson's family has long believed his claim of innocence and supported his efforts for freedom.

"There is no forensic evidence, there is no timeline to this crime," his sister-in-law Janey Peterson said in 2021. "Scott Peterson is innocent, and we are now trying to reverse that."

Pat Harris, Scott’s defense attorney, previously told PEOPLE, “We are very excited to have the incredible attorneys at the L.A. Innocence Project lend their considerable expertise to helping prove Scott Peterson's innocence."

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