Drew Peterson left the Will County jail for the first time in nearly a year and a half as his murder case resumed with a pair of brief court hearings Friday morning.
In the first, Judge Sarah Jones passed the case off to Judge Edward Burmilla, who accepted motions presented by the defense and scheduled a May 17 court date.
Burmilla was the Will County State's Attorney until he was defeated by the current state's attorney, James Glasgow, in 1992. Burmilla has been a judge since 2004, the same year Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio, was found drowned in a dry bathtub.
The state police investigated Savio's death and concluded that she perished in a freak bathtub accident. But three and a half years later, after Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, vanished, the state police abruptly changed course and decided Savio had been slain.
The state police eventually arrested Drew Peterson on charges he murdered Savio. The state police continue to investigate Stacy Peterson's disappearance but have failed to find her or charge anyone with harming her.
Drew Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant who resigned in disgrace soon after his wife disappeared, has been jailed in lieu of $20 million bond since May 2009.
Four of Peterson's five defense attorneys appeared at Friday's hearing. They tendered four motions to Burmilla and defense attorney Joel Brodsky said there would be more to come before the May 17 hearing.
One motion asks the court to forbid any mention of Stacy Peterson during the murder trial. Another calls for the case to be dismissed due to the testimony of a Wheaton attorney who represented Savio in her divorce from Drew Peterson and who also claims he was visited by Stacy Peterson just before she vanished.
Smith testified to a grand jury and also took the stand during a month-long pretrial hearing in 2010 to determine what hearsay evidence could be used against Peterson.
The motion accuses Smith of violating attorney-client privilege. Steve Greenberg, another lawyer representing Peterson, called it the "worst breach of attorney ethics."
Greenberg went on to disparage the state's case, saying, "We can't prove anyone else did it, so he must have done it. That's a ridiculous theory."
Yet another Peterson attorney, Joseph "Shark" Lopez, suggested the state police got things right the first time with Savio.
"There's no evidence there was a homicide," Lopez said. "It was an accident. She slipped, she fell, she hit her head. End of story."
Glasgow was dismissive of the claims made by Peterson's attorneys.
"The defense lawyers have said how many things to you and how many things have been right?" Glasgow said. "Count them."