The 14 statements supposedly spoken by Drew Peterson's dead third wife and missing fourth wife can be used against him at his murder trial.
The Third District Appellate Court in Ottawa handed down its decision on the Peterson case Thursday.
The matter has been under appeal since the day before Peterson’s murder trial was to start in July 2010. The appellate court declined to decide the matter, prompting Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow to take the case to the Illinois Supreme Court.
In November, the supreme court sent the case back to the appellate court and charged them with settling it.
Prosecutors sought to use 11 statements attributed to Peterson’s third wife, Kathleen Savio, and three said to have been made by his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson. Savio was found drowned in a dry bathtub in March 2004. Stacy Peterson mysteriously vanished in October 2007 and remains missing.
Drew Peterson, a 58-year-old former Bolingbrook cop, was arrested and charged with murdering Savio in May 2009. The state police also say he is the sole suspect in the investigation of Stacy Peterson’s disappearance, a case they have termed a “potential homicide.”
Stacy Peterson, the mother of two of Drew Peterson’s six children, was 23 when she vanished.
In the period between Stacy Peterson’s disappearance and Drew Peterson’s arrest, Glasgow worked to pass a new state law to allow hearsay evidence.
Following Drew Peterson’s arrest, a landmark, month-long hearing was convened in January 2010 to determine what statements could be used against Drew Peterson. Will County Judge Stephen White ruled that only six of the 14 statements would be permitted at trial.
Charles B. Pelkie, the spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office, applauded the appellate court’s decision.
“The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office argued from the beginning that all of the statements it presented from Stacy Peterson and Kathleen Savio should be admitted as evidence at trial in the case of People v. Drew Peterson,” Pelkie said, pegging the start of the trial for late spring or early summer.
Whenever the trial does start, Joseph “Shark” Lopez, one member of the shifting team of lawyers defending Drew Peterson in the nearly three years since he was charged with murder, doesn’t think it will be greatly affected by the hearsay statements.
“So what? It still doesn’t mean anything,” Lopez said.
The statements that can be used against Drew Peterson were testified to by a range of witnesses including a minister, Savio’s sisters, her divorce attorney and a male nurse from Stacy Peterson’s past.
The various witnesses testified to Savio fearing for her life, telling how Drew Peterson threatened her at knife-point, and of Stacy Peterson relating how Drew Peterson coached her to give a cover story to police after Savio’s body was found.
Drew Peterson’s longest serving lawyer, self-proclaimed “lead attorney” Joel Brodsky, failed to return calls for comment on what impact this evidence might have on the case. But Lopez was dismissive of what difference it will make.
“If they prosecuted every person who said they wanted something bad to happen to their ex-spouse, there would be such a backlog it would be incredible,” Lopez said. “They still don’t have any evidence.”