Drew Peterson, Christopher Vaughn cases focus of Will County state’s attorney race
BY JANET LUNDQUIST firstname.lastname@example.org October 29, 2012 4:28PM
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow addresses the media after a jury found Drew Peterson guilty of murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Photographed September 6, 2012 in Chicago. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
Updated: December 1, 2012 6:10AM
The race for Will County’s top prosecutor’s seat has been contentious, with the two candidates trading accusations of mistakes and inexperience.
In the heat of the election season, a man who is arguably one of the most hated criminals in Will County, possibly the nation — convicted wife-killer Drew Peterson — may have provided a pre-election boost for incumbent Jim Glasgow.
Glasgow personally led the prosecution of Peterson for his third wife’s murder. It was a gamble so close to the election, but it was something Glasgow said he vowed to do when Peterson was first charged in 2009.
After the guilty verdict came in Sept. 6, television cameras captured Glasgow as he was feverishly cheered by “Drewpies,” the trial-watchers who partied outside the courthouse, chanting “Four more years!”
While he believes justice was served for Peterson, Glasgow’s opponent, Dave Carlson, doesn’t believe it was because of Glasgow. It was in spite of Glasgow, he said.
“In the opening statement he could have jeopardized the conviction,” Carlson said, referring to Glasgow’s mention during openings of Peterson’s attempt to hire a hitman to kill his wife, which prompted defense attorneys to call for a mistrial.
Judge Edward Burmila — who Glasgow defeated in the 1992 state’s attorney race — ultimately allowed the potential hitman, Jeffrey Pachter, to testify.
Carlson also pointed out that Glasgow gave Burmila the excuse that he was “woozy” while apologizing for allowing a witness to testify about a topic that was banned by Burmila.
“What Jim did as the state’s attorney was irresponsible and may cause (the case) to come back on appeal,” Carlson said.
Glasgow said he ignored the criticism of his performance — as well as the television cameras — during the trial.
Soon after the Peterson case was decided, Glasgow’s office got another boost with the conviction of Christopher Vaughn. Vaughn, of Oswego, was found guilty of killing his wife and three children in 2007.
“I can’t worry about somebody criticizing me if I feel I’m doing the right thing,” Glasgow said. “I do my job, I do it aggressively, and I hope the voters take note.”
Glasgow is seeking a fifth term in office. Carlson, a Joliet attorney who defended a man wrongly charged with murder by Glasgow’s office, believes he should be the one in charge.
Glasgow and Carlson earned their law degrees 20 years apart at Northern Illinois University. But that’s where the similarity ends.
Carlson believes his fresh eyes will offer a new perspective that will get to the root of problems such as the heroin epidemic, domestic violence and elder abuse.
Glasgow can point to a list of accomplishments from his years in office — creating a drug court and a domestic violence court, opening an advocacy center for children who are victims of abuse, among other things — that he says are fighting crime and helping people.
Carlson has the backing of several area police departments, including the city of Joliet’s force. Glasgow said those endorsements were earned while he was busy working on Peterson’s trial.
Carlson said the police support shows local cops want a change in the top prosecutor’s office.
Will County has a reputation for fumbling criminal cases, Carlson said, and blames Glasgow for a couple of doozies.
In 2010, Carlson defended Brian Dorian, a Lynwood police officer who was wrongly charged with murder and attempted murder.
Authorities alleged Dorian was the “Honeybee Killer,” who shot three people, killing one. Days after Dorian’s arrest and charging by Glasgow’s office, records showed he was using his home computer at the time of the shootings.
Glasgow said the sheriff’s office arrested Dorian after a witness and circumstantial evidence pointed to him as the shooter — and after a judge signed an arrest warrant.
“This was a public safety emergency. We had two incidents of random shootings,” Glasgow said. “We acted conscientiously and aggressively to protect the public.”
Carlson also puts some blame on Glasgow in the Riley Fox murder case, even though Glasgow was not the one who wrongly charged her father, Kevin Fox.
Kevin Fox, who lived in Wilmington at the time, was arrested in 2004 and charged with the murder of 3-year-old Riley by then-state’s attorney Jeff Tomczak — just days before Tomczak lost the election to Glasgow.
Glasgow said as soon as Fox’s lawyer told him there was DNA evidence that would exonerate Fox, he sent the DNA to a lab and immediately dropped the charges when the test results came back.
Fox was cleared in 2005. Riley’s real killer, Scott Eby, was caught six years later when Eby’s ex-girlfriend tipped off authorities.
But Carlson said Glasgow should have actively searched for Riley’s killer after Fox was exonerated.
At the time of his arrest, Eby was serving a 14-year prison term for sexually assaulting a female relative in 2005.
“It’s not on Jeff Tomczak, it’s on Jim Glasgow as to why the real killer was allowed to victimize others,” Carlson said.