The jury selection process for former Chicago police officer and accused murderer Drew Peterson begins today. Peterson, 58, stands accused of killing Kathleen Savio, his third wife. In 2004 Peterson allegedly killed Savio and claimed to find her body in a “dry bathtub” in their home, Fox News reports. Drew Peterson is also a suspect in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, who went missing in 2007.
Appellate court judges ruled statements from friends and family of Drew Peterson’s wives can be heard in court and will not be barred under hearsay rules. A 200-person jury pool has been on hold for three years while awaiting the Peterson trial to get underway. The unusually long delay was due to the battle over the alleged hearsay testimony, according to NBC Chicago.
Drew Peterson’s attorneys claim Savio’s death was an accident and Stacy Peterson “ran off with another man and is still alive,” Fox News notes. Stacy Peterson was 30 years younger than her husband.
“I’ve never heard of anything comparable to this, a jury pool waiting around for so long knowing what case they’re going to be in and the reliance on hearsay. It’s all very unusual,” Chicago defense attorney Gal Pissetzky stated during a Fox News interview. Pissetzky has no connection to the Drew Peterson trial.
Prosecutors believe Drew Peterson used his position as a Chicago area police officer to “get away with murder.” During the long delay between Drew Peterson’s arrest and his trial, a television movie about the alleged murdered aired. Rob Lowe played Peterson in the 2011 TV movie, “Drew Peterson: Untouchable.”
The vetting of potential jurors will reportedly take a little longer than usual to “weed out” those in the jury pool who may already have “well-informed” opinions about Drew Peterson’s guilt or innocence. Jurors were initially ordered to “avoid all news” about Peterson. Drew Peterson’s defense team have raised concerns about would-be jurors watching the “Untouchable” movie. Judge Edward Burmila is expected to ask each prospective juror if they did indeed watch the television movie about Drew Peterson.
Opening statements in the Drew Peterson murder trial are tentatively scheduled for early next week.