Drew Peterson Seeks Appeal From Supreme Court In Conviction Of Killing Third Wife
The Illinois Supreme Court Wednesday allowed the hearing of an appeal in the case of Drew Peterson, a former police officer who was convicted of the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2012. Legal experts say this is a rarity, as Illinois’ highest court rejects over 95 percent of the requests received. Peterson’s lawyers will be asking the court to toss out the murder conviction, because there were crucial errors and a slew of alleged hearsay statements that denied Peterson a fair trial in Will County.
As NBC News reports, an attorney for Peterson, Steven Greenberg, said, “It means that maybe someone’s finally gonna listen. I don’t think they would say, We’re gonna hear the case, if they didn’t think there was a problem. Clearly, they think there was some problem.”
Drew Peterson: Guilty or not guilty? #ChicagoHistory #Crime pic.twitter.com/zjs3laqzUH
— Chicago History (@Chicago_History) March 27, 2016
In 2007, Peterson gained notoriety for the mysterious disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, 23. Stacy planned to help her sister with some painting that day, but she never showed. Peterson said he received a phone call from her saying that she was leaving him for another man. Friends and family rubbished the accusation, saying even though Stacy had told them she was leaving him, she would never leave her two kids behind.
An expansive search has failed to turn up any trace of Stacy. Peterson, the main suspect in the case, did not help his cause as he remained unperturbed about his wife’s disappearance, horsing around with the media and making dismissive remarks that she asked for a divorce whenever her menstrual cycle kicked in.
The disappearance of Stacy Peterson led authorities to revisit the Savio case. Authorities had initially ruled the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, accidental, but after an exhumation, evidence pointed to Peterson, and he was convicted for her death. Peterson and Savio had divorced in 2003 and were working on issues concerning their divorce. She never made it to a divorce hearing in April 2004. She was found dead in a bathtub, it was ruled as an accident, but family members believed that she was killed.
In 2009, Peterson was arraigned on two counts of first-degree murder and taken into custody, remaining behind bars until his trial. In 2012, the prosecution got a conviction without any eyewitness account, time of death, or confession. He was sentenced to 38 years in prison, meaning he was not up for parole until 2047.
Drew Peterson appeals conviction in Kathleen Savio slaying to state high court https://t.co/pjUioudXwh pic.twitter.com/Cb2xWQE2oe
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) January 20, 2016
Jurors later revealed that their verdict had been swayed by damaging statements made by a divorce attorney and Stacy’s pastor. Both men said that Stacy Peterson had confided in them a few days before she vanished that she was so sure that her husband killed Savio and set it up to look like an accident. Kathleen Savio’s family and friends also said she had insisted that if anything ever happened to her, her husband would be the one responsible. Greenberg is arguing that the hearsay statements from the ex-wives helped the jurors make up their minds.
“The statements from the grave, the Kathleen Savio statements that if anything happens to me Drew did it and statements of future behavior are never admissible in this case,” he said.
Greenberg also pointed out that Peterson had an ineffective team representing him at his trial. It is not clear if the Illinois Supreme Court will rescind Peterson’s conviction or keep him in prison. In 2015, Peterson was charged despite being behind bars for trying to hire a hitman to take out James Glasgow, the Will County State’s Attorney who handled the Savio case and got him convicted. He was charged with one count of solicitation of murder and one count of solicitation of murder for hire.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]