Judge rejects Drew Peterson defense motion to throw out the case
BY DAN ROZEK Staff Reporteremail@example.com August 31, 2012 1:24PM
Drew Peterson defense attorneys (from left to right) Joseph Lopez, Lisa Lopez and Joel Brodsky address the media during lunch break during the Drew Peterson murder trial at the Will County Courthouse Wednesday, August 29, 2012, in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 2, 2012 6:07AM
Drew Peterson’s judge rejected a final request Friday from defense attorneys to summarily acquit the Bolingbrook cop of charges that he murdered his third wife.
The ruling by Will County Judge Edward Burmila clears the way for critical closing arguments on Tuesday, with jurors likely to begin deliberating Peterson’s fate later that day.
Defense attorneys said outside the courtroom that a key portion of their argument will include attacking the credibility of Peterson’s missing fourth wife, Stacy—a potentially risky move in a trial already rife with missteps by both sides.
Two witnesses who testified during Peterson’s five-week trial recounted statements purportedly made to them by Stacy Peterson that tie Peterson to Kathleen Savio’s 2004 drowning death.
One crucial statement came earlier this week when Savio’s divorce attorney testified Stacy Peterson told him in an October 2007 phone call she could provide information about how Peterson allegedly killed Savio.
But attorney Harry Smith—who surprisingly was called to testify by defense attorneys--said Stacy Peterson asked him if she could use those alleged details to get more money from Peterson when she divorced him.
“What we know about her is she’s an extortionist. That goes right to her credibility,” defense attorney Joe Lopez said of Stacy Peterson, who vanished four days after first contacting Smith.
A statement allegedly made by Stacy Peterson to her pastor, Neil Schori, also figured prominently in Peterson’s trial.
Schori testified she told him in August 2007 that Peterson ordered her to lie to police questioning her about Savio’s death. Stacy Peterson also said she had seen her husband—dress in black clothing--slip into their house late on the night authorities contend Savio was drowned in her bathtub.
Defense attorneys have contended the 40-year-old Savio drowned accidentally after a fall.
Peterson, who has been jailed since his May 2009 arrest, is relieved his grueling trial is nearly done, his attorneys said.
“He’s looking forward to getting this over,” defense attorney Joel Brodsky said.
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow also expressed satisfaction that case soon will go to the jurors.
“We’re looking forward to the end of the case,” he said.
Burmila rejected the last-ditch request from Peterson’s attorneys for a directed verdict, ruling prosecutors have presented enough evidence for jurors to conceivably find Peterson killed Savio.
“A reasonable person could return such a verdict,” Burmila said.
But Burmila called it “unusual” that a key portion of the state’s critical evidence came from Smith—a defense witness who was the second-to-last person called by Peterson’s attorneys.