First degree murder is defined by federal and state laws as a killing which is deliberate and premeditated. Many states define it as a killing committed in connection with felonies such as rape, burglary, arson or involving multiple deaths, the killing of certain types of people ( such as a child or police officer), or certain weapons particularly a gun. First and second degree murder are distinguishable by the fact that second degree murder usually does not require premeditation.
Under federal law each of the following elements must be met: The defendant unlawfully killed the victim. The defendant killed with malice and aforethought (either deliberately and intentionally or recklessly with extreme disregard for human life). The killing was premeditated. The killing occurred at the location stated in the indictment. On December 24, 2002 Laci Peterson, pregnant wife of Scott Peterson, was reported missing in Modesto, California. Her husband was reportedly the last person to see her alive.
After months of searching on April 14, 2003 the body of a fetus washed ashore in the San Francisco Bay. The next day a partial torso washed ashore around the same area as the fetus. They were identified as Laci and Conner Peterson.  On April 18, 2003 after a long investigation, Scott Peterson was arrested after a single piece of hair found in a pair of pliers on Mr. Peterson’s boat were identified as belonging to Laci Peterson. In his possession were four cell phones, approximately $15,000. 0 in cash, multiple credit cards belonging to various family members, and a shovel. Mr. Peterson had dyed his hair blonde and grew facial hair to change his appearance. He was charged with first degree murder of his wife Laci and second degree murder of his child Conner. As part of the investigation it was discovered that Mr. Peterson had lied about his whereabouts on the night in question and was in fact in the same area as where the bodies were found on the date in question. It was also revealed that Mr.
Peterson had an adulterous affair during the time of Laci’s disappearance. On March 16, 2005 Mr. Peterson was found guilty on both counts and was sentenced to death by lethal injection by the State of California. He was also ordered to pay $10,000. 00 toward Laci and Conner’s funeral expenses. He was taken to San Quentin Correctional Institution where he is currently on death row. His lawyer has started the process of appeals with the Supreme Court.