The judge in the Scott Peterson case ruled Friday that the jury will be allowed to consider a lesser murder charge that would spare Peterson a possible death sentence if convicted.
Experts said the ruling is a prosecution victory because allowing lesser charges may make it easier for jurors to convict Peterson if they are not sure the killing was premeditated, as required for first-degree murder convictions.
Peterson already faces two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his pregnant wife and the fetus she was carrying. Prosecutors are seeking life without parole or the death penalty under those charges.
But the judge ruled that jurors also will have the choice of second-degree murder charges, which could bring two sentences of 15 years to life in prison.
The jury is expected to start deliberating next week.