Drew Peterson's murder trial lasted 24 days. Now the wife-killer's looking forward to a two-day hearing to see if he gets to do the whole thing over again.
Judge Edward Burmila scheduled the hearing for Feb. 19 and 20. If the judge decides after those two days not give Peterson a new hearing after all, Burmila said he will head straight to sentencing.
Peterson, 59, faces up to 60 years in prison for the March 2004 murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Prosecutors have subpoenaed Peterson's second wife, Victoria Connolly, and one of his five sons, Eric Peterson, to testify against him at the sentencing hearing.
Connolly has said Peterson threatened to kill her and make her death look like an accident. She also told of Drew Peterson holding a gun to her head and breaking into her locked house while she slept. Eric Peterson, who is one of two sons born to Peterson's first wife, Carol Hamilton, testified during a pretrial hearing that he witnessed his father viciously attack Savio.
Prosecutor Marie Czech argued during Thursday's hearing that Peterson's attorneys should not be allowed to call witnesses when they make their case that a new trial is needed.
"They should be required to substantiate their allegations more than they have," Czech said. She also questioned how attorneys Steve Greenberg and Joseph "Shark" Lopez, who defended Peterson at the murder trial, can serve as both his lawyers and as witnesses to the claim he received ineffective counsel.
"We're allowed to act as advocates and witnesses," Lopez said after the hearing, adding, "Obviously Steve can't question himself and I can't ask myself questions."
Attorney David Peilet, who was not working for Peterson during the trial but represents him now, said the key issue in the bid for a new trial was the decision to call Savio's divorce attorney, Harry Smith, to the witness stand. After returning their guilty verdict, several jurors said Smith's testimony convinced them to convict Peterson.
"That probably is the issue that is first and foremost in the public eye," Peilet said. "We saw what verdict it led to."
In what turned out to be a disastrous move, attorney Joel Brodsky called Smith to testify. Brodsky no longer represents Peterson. Greenberg has blamed Brodsky for blowing the case. The allegations of ineffective counsel have all been leveled against Brodsky, who is expected to testify at the February hearing.
Peterson has spent nearly four years in the Will County jail waiting for his case to play out. Cassandra Cales, the sister of Peterson's missing fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, attended Thursday's hearing and said life behind bars has not been kind to her brother-in-law.
"I like to see Drew and the effect jail is having on him," Cales said. "Today he was really old looking."