LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The mother of Laci Peterson has filed two lawsuits against Scott Peterson, seeking more than $5 million and accusing him of killing her daughter and unborn grandson in an act of "vicious and outrageous savagery."
The lawsuits were filed on Friday, four days before the anniversary of the evening Laci Peterson's family last saw her alive.
Along with seeking more than $5 million in damages, the lawsuits by Sharon Rocha ask for reimbursement for funeral expenses, burial costs, legal fees and other compensation.
After Scott Peterson was arrested April 18 on double-murder charges, Rocha initially kept silent about her suspicions about the fertilizer salesman's involvement in her daughter's disappearance.
Scott Peterson reported his eight-months' pregnant wife missing last Christmas Eve, touching off a massive and nationally publicized search for the Modesto, California woman.
Laci Peterson's remains and those of her unborn son washed ashore in San Francisco Bay in April, near where Peterson said he had been fishing.
Peterson, 31, has pleaded innocent. He could get the death penalty if convicted. His trial is scheduled to start Jan. 26, although it could be delayed for months if the defense is granted a change of venue from Modesto.
In the lawsuit, Rocha alleges that Peterson "planned and prepared to assault, batter and murder Laci D. Peterson," then killed her and their unborn son in the couple's home.
"The imposition of substantial punitive and exemplary damages will in this case be both justified and necessary in order to send out a message from this court to all persons in the United States and throughout the world that such vicious and outrageous savagery inflicted by one human being upon another shall be met with the severest of civil penalties," the lawsuit says.
The filings mark the second round of litigation initiated by Rocha, who filed a lawsuit on Sept. 26 seeking to bar Scott Peterson from profiting if found guilty.
Peterson's defense attorney, Mark Geragos, could not be reached for comment. A case management conference has been scheduled for April 22, but the lawsuits will likely be delayed pending Peterson's criminal trial.