Jennifer William's wrote
some bad checks and it cost her time in jail, Jennifer was in jail in
December of 2006 and would stay there for a year. Jennifer lost a year
of her life, Jennifer's daughter, lost her entire life. Trista Michelle
Peterson's grandmother reported her missing in January of 2007.
Lucas J. Peterson had been arrested in March on a warrant and at that
time he told Police he didn't know where his daughter was. Just two
weeks later, he would take Police to her body which he had buried in a
shallow grave. In April of 2007, Lucas Peterson was charged with child
abuse, death of
a child and tampering with physical evidence in the death of Trista.
Trista's had been dressed in a clean diaper and pajamas and then
wrapped in a blanket before Lucas buried her, her body stayed there for
over three months, Police believe she had been buried on January 4, the
day after she died and her body was found on April 12, 2007. An autopsy
revealed that Trista had suffered severe, multiple blunt force trauma
to her head, neck and body.
In court, Lucas entered the room wearing wrist and angle shackles and
would only stare at the table in front of him. Sheriff Joe Yocum had
been one of the officers who found Trista's body:
"You could feel the
officers anguish, the sense of loss. We had hope, against all odds,
that she was
somewhere and that somebody was taking care of her"
Lucas said nothing more than he needed to and spoke in soft whispers
answering yes or no to questions asked by the judge. Judge Curtis Evans
set bond at $1 million and a date was set for Lucas to be back in
court. Lucas had admitted that he was the last person to see Trista
alive. Lucas said that he had become angry with her and that he picked
her up and then threw her into her play pen:
"The defendant left the
bedroom and when he returned, Trista Michelle Peterson was
not breathing and dead"
Prosecutor Wendy Elston came from the courtroom and answered some
questions including questions about the charged of tampering with
"Basically, he covered
up the evidence"
Joe Yocum said that in 23 years of service, having seen Trista's body
being lifted out of the shallow grave had been one of the toughest
times of his career:
"We couldn't have asked
for better hands handling her then the members of the major crimes
with the state patrol. Those guys are true professionals. We go home
and we hug our kids
like everyone else does. And I know our guys did that at the end of
this one. They held them
little bit closer"
guilty to manslaughter and unlawful burial of human remains:
"Mr. Peterson has
finally been brought to justice for killing little Trista. Now those
can begin the healing process"
General - Jon Burning
A manslaughter charge could bring a maximum term of 20 years in prison
and up to a $25,000. fine. Unlawful burial of a human is a class four
felony with a maximum sentence of five years and a $10,000. fine.
In May of 2011, Lucas J. Peterson was sentenced to the maximum of 20
years in prison by Judge Alan Gless, on the manslaughter charge and 20
months to five years on the unlawful burial of a human. Todd Lancaster,
defense attorney for Lucas, read a statement from him:
"I know my actions were
inexcusable and I can't express the depths of the remorse
feel every day"
"I think it was a just
sentence, considering the circumstances of this case and the fact that
is responsible for his daughters death, which is something, obviously,
that he will
with for the rest of his life"
- Joe Yocum
Todd Lancaster said that Lucas had been remorseful from the start and
that he had never expected to get a plea deal when he lead Police to
his daughters grave:
"He collapsed against
the Police car, crying and he said "God will never forgive me
what I've done". He's not just somebody who said "There she is. I want
my deal now"
Sheriff Joe Yocum agreed with what was said and commented on the
circumstances that had lead to Lucas being the custodial parent after
her mother went to jail:
"But the sad fact is
that all those things came together as they did, to the reality that she
up being cared for by him and of course we all know the unfortunate
Jennifer Negron was in court that days, she is a family friend who wore
ribbons that had been made when Trista first went missing:
"These ribbons are in
Trista's memory. She at least deserves that"
It bothers me, the site
creator, that Lucas seems to get "points" for not expecting a plea
deal. Why should a man who abuses and kills his child, get points for ANYTHING
he does no matter how
positive it appears to be? If he had not killed his daughter, he
wouldn't be in trouble to begin with. Getting 20 years maximum for
taking the life of a child is NOT
a "just" sentence, in my opinion, it's like saying Trista's life wasn't
worth much and that's simply not true. I beleive in a life for a life
and while I don't agree with the death penalty, I believe that life in
prison without parole is the sentence that ANYONE
who kills a child while
abusing that child, should get, no matter if they were "nice enough" to
lead Police to the body or not.