Drew Peterson might be a lonely guy while he's locked away by himself in the , but he has plenty of people to talk to every time he goes to court. And the family of the disgraced ex-cop's slain third wife isn't happy about that at all.
"He's getting preferential treatment," said Mitch Doman, the brother-in-law of Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio.
Prosecutors say Peterson drowned Savio in March 2004 and staged her death scene to make it look like she perished in a freak bathtub accident. He wasn't charged with her murder until May 2009, and is still awaiting trial.
During Peterson's numerous appearances in the past three years, Savio's sister, Sue Doman and her husband Mitch have taken offense to the companionable way courthouse personnel treat Peterson, especially compared to other inmates.
"Does he get preferential treatment because he's an ex-cop?" Mitch Doman wondered. "It's not right."
And Mitch Doman went so far as to point his finger at Sheriff Paul Kaupas for being what he feels is too chummy with the accused wife-killer.
"The sheriff's yakety-yaking with him," Doman said of Kaupas, who worked as an undercover drug agent with Peterson in the Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad in the 1980s.
While working undercover on the special team, Peterson was fired from his cop job and indicted on charges of official misconduct and failure to report a bribe.
The criminal charges were eventually dropped and Peterson ended up getting his job back. Sources have said the special prosecutor assigned to the case blew the speedy trial term.
But Kaupas said this history he shares with Peterson has nothing to do with the conversations they have in court when his old colleague is brought over for hearings leading up to his July 23 murder trial.
"Drew's not the only inmate I talk to in that place," the sheriff said, pointing out that when he takes tours of the county jail he will "talk to all the inmates. Ain't nothing wrong with that."
But Sue Doman finds quite a bit wrong with it. While she confided that the friendly relationship Peterson seems to have with courthouse personnel upsets her, she declined to discuss it since she will be called as a witness at the murder trial.
But that hasn't stopped her husband from speaking up.
"The fact that he gets preferential treatment is, pardon my French, s---," said Mitch Doman, who pointed out that it is hard for his wife to have to watch the man accused of murdering her sister laughing and talking in court.
"I see it with my own eyes," Mitch Doman said. "He's, 'Blah blah blah' with the bailiffs and 'blah blah blah' with the deputies. I don't care if he's friends with the sheriff. It's ridiculous."
And Joliet resident Mike Ferguson, who was locked up at the county jail along with Peterson for three months in 2010, also said the former cop was treated differently than other inmates.
"Any time Drew Peterson had any type of movement, the whole jail would go on lockdown," said Ferguson, telling how jail staff acted as if they were transporting Hannibal Lecter or the Count of Monte Cristo when Peterson had to be taken someplace.
Peterson's attorney, Joseph "Shark" Lopez, disputed the Domans' claims that his client was being handled with kid gloves by the county.
"That's a figment of their imagination," Lopez said, noting that he does not understand why the Domans are so upset.
"I don't know what to tell them—they should be upset maybe because Kathy married him," Lopez said, insisting that Peterson gets treated no better than anybody else brought over to court from the county jail.
"I have other clients in custody there and it's the same thing," Lopez said. "The deputies are just nice. There's no rule that says deputies have to be mean. It's not like they're going to Starbucks and getting him apple fritters and grande lattes."