The jury in the Drew Peterson murder trial was sent off to deliberate whether the disgraced ex-cop murdered his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
The jury left the courtroom shortly after 9:30 a.m.
The four alternates were taken to a separate courtroom. They are being held in the event one of the first 12 jurors is taken off the panel due to illness or some other emergency.
One of the six attorneys representing Peterson quibbled with Judge Edward Burmila over the way he was handling the alternate jurors.
The attorney, Steve Greenberg, wanted the four alternates released from service and sent on their way.
Judge Burmila asked what he was supposed to do if one fo the 12 jurors needed to be replaced, and suggested Greenberg wanted him to summon an alternate from home.
Greenberg claimed to have seen that happen before, but that made no difference to Burmila, who put forth another alternative.
"Are you telling me if one (juror) becomes ill, Mr. Peterson will accept a jury of 11?" Judge Burmila asked.
"I think it results in a mistrial," Greenberg said.
"That's what you think," the judge said.
The judge decided to keep the alternates in a separate courtroom.
The deliberations mark the impending conclusion of the five-week trial. More than three dozen witnesses testified over the course of 21 days. Jury selection was completed after two days.