Peterson trial judge dies at 76

February 27, 2008 11:45:27 PM PST
Retired Alameda County Superior Court Judge Alfred Delucchi, who was best known for presiding over Scott Peterson's murder trial in 2004, died from a long illness on Tuesday at the age of 76, according to Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff.

Delucchi was born in Oakland on May 27, 1931, and graduated from Oakland Technical High School, the University of California, Berkeley, and Santa Clara University Law School.

After graduating from law school, Delucchi worked from the Alameda County District Attorney's office from September 1961 to December 1966. Delucchi went into private practice in Hayward before being appointed a judge on the county's municipal court bench in November of 1971.

He was elevated to a superior court judge in January of 1984 and retired in 1998.

The Peterson case originated in Stanislaus County but was moved to San Mateo County because of extensive pretrial publicity. Delucchi was appointed by California Supreme Court Judge Ronald George to preside over Peterson's case on Jan. 27, 2004.

After a five-month trial, jurors convicted Peterson on Nov. 12, 2004, of murdering his pregnant wife Laci and the couple's unborn son. On Dec. 13, 2004, at the end of the penalty phase in the trial, the same jurors recommended the death penalty.

Delucchi formally sentenced Peterson to the death penalty on March 16, 2005. Peterson's case is currently under appeal.

Delucchi continued to serve on assignment on a full-time basis until about two years ago, when his illness worsened.

Orloff today recalled Delucchi as "a wonderful guy who was a very good judge and an even better person."

Orloff said Delucchi "loved the people in the system" and was equally comfortable talking to prosecutors, defense attorneys and reporters. "He would talk to you about anything, whether it was a legal issue or a personal issue," Orloff said.

Before the Peterson trial, Delucchi presided over a number of high-profile cases in Alameda County, including many death penalty cases. When Delucchi was assigned to handle the Peterson trial, veteran Oakland criminal defense lawyer James Giller said Delucchi is "a wonderful judge and a delightful human being."

Giller said Delucchi "handles lawyers well" and was nice to defendants.

"He doesn't treat them like thugs and punks," Giller said. A service for Delucchi will be held in Castro Valley on Friday, court officials said.