Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Anyone doing any holiday shopping today…I’ll be roaming the near west suburbs in search of Black Friday shoppers; fun times.
Thank you to everyone who sent Get Well messages…I’m finally feeling a bit better. I didn’t get a chance to go through the questions that were sent to me or to keep track of the discussion here over the last few days. I’ll try catching up on that today. Have a great Thanksgiving!
Sorry for the cryptic Twitter messages yesterday. Needless to say, it was a bit hectic and difficult to get full sentences out. But, to be fair, Twitter is not exactly the appropriate medium to discuss the nuances of vindictive and selective prosecution defenses
By Danya Hooker
A Will County judge Thursday dismissed two felony gun charges against Drew Peterson after a prosecutor refused to comply with an order to turn state records over to the defense.
“We’re very pleased,” Peterson’s attorney Joel Brodsky said. “We believe the only reason the state didn’t want to turn over the documents is because they would’ve helped us.”
Peterson, the sole suspect in his fourth wife Stacy’s disappearance, had been charged with two felony weapons violations and was scheduled to go to trial for the charges in early December The charges allege he illegally owned an assault rifle with barrel shorter than the state minimum of 16 inches.
The rifle, along with other guns and possessions, were seized last November as part of the investigation into the October 2007 disappearance of Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, and the March 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant, is the sole suspect in his wife’s disappearance, which police are calling a “potential homicide.” Savio’s drowning was ruled a homicide but police have not named a suspect. Peterson has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime.
But he is under investigation for the crimes, and Peterson has often accused state police of harassment. Shortly after the weapons were seized, Peterson asked that the guns be returned. The same day Schoenstedt granted his request, state police revoked Peterson’s right to possess a firearm.
Peterson then asked the judge to allow him to transfer the weapons to his son, Stephen, an Oak Brook police officer. On May 21, the day before Schoenstedt granted the transfer request, police arrested Peterson for the felonies.
That timing was the basis for Peterson’s attorneys Andrew Abood and Brodsky defense tactic of “vindictive prosecution.” The attorneys sought to prove that charges were the result of Peterson’s successful attempt at exercising his constitutional rights to regain his property.
To help prove their case, the attorneys asked Schoenstedt to force the state to turn over any documents, including communications between state police and prosecutors, relating to the state’s decision to charge Peterson. Schoenstedt granted the motion Thursday.
After discussing the issue in chambers, Assistant State’s Atty. John Connor asked Schoenstedt to reconsider the motion, arguing that the ruling would open a floodgate of similar requests by defendants seeking access to normally privileged information.
Schoenstedt upheld his original order and Connor said that he would refuse to comply with the order, saying he did not want Will County to be the first county in the state subjected to the potential onslaught of “vindictive prosecution” defenses. The refusal left Schoenstedt no choice but to either dismiss the charges or hold Connor in contempt, which could lead either to jail time or a fine.
“I believe what he says to this court as to his reasons for refusing to comply with this court,” Schoenstedt said. “However, the state has given me little option…counts one and two are dismissed.”
For the first time in the months-long court battle, Peterson and his attorneys walked out of the Will County Courthouse with smiles.
“I love these guys,” Peterson said as he proceeded to place exaggerated kisses on Abood and Brodsky’s heads.
Charles Pelkie, spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office, said the state plans to appeal the judge’s decision and is confident an appellate court will rule in its favor.
“The judge’s decision in this matter would’ve opened a Pandora’s Box across the state,” Pelkie said. “What (the defense) was asking for was essentially a fishing expedition.”
The victory came just one day after a potential setback for Peterson. On Wednesday, state representatives approved a bill to allow hearsay testimony in first-degree murder trials where the witness was murdered to prevent testimony.
The law, effective immediately, could potentially be used against Peterson in the event he is charged with the murder of his wives. Both women told friends and family they feared their husband.
In December, Stacy Peterson’s pastor Neil Schori told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren that the young mother had confided to him that Drew Peterson told her he had killed Savio.
Brodsky said he does not believe his client will be charged with the murders and that the new law will not affect a potential case against his client.
“I don’t think this law will apply,” Brodsky said. “But I am concerned because this type of law is going to allow rumor and gossip in as evidence.”
A Will County judge Thursday dismissed two felony weapons charges against Drew Peterson.
The decision came after the judge ordered the state to turn over documents relating to its decision to originally charge Peterson.
The state refused to comply with the order, at which point Judge Richard Schoenstedt was forced to choose between either dismissing the charges or holding Assistant States Attorney John Connor in contempt of court.
Hey everyone. I’ll give you all an update as soon as there’s news on the hearing today.
~By posting on this blog you agree to be bound by the rules of this blog.
By Danya Hooker
State lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday that could play a role in the possible murder trial against Drew Peterson.
Sponsored by Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi (D-Joliet) with strong support from Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, the bill would allow judges to admit hearsay testimony in first-degree murder trials if prosecutors prove a witness was murdered to prevent his or her testimony.
House members approved the measure 109-0, with one present vote, Wednesday. The bill had already unanimously passed the Senate on Nov. 12. The House and Senate had previously approved the bill but Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued an amendatory veto because the original bill did not contain a date for which the law would become effective.
The new bill makes the law effective immediately upon approval.
Friends and family of Drew Peterson’s missing fourth wife, Stacy, have been eagerly awaiting the bill’s passage, believing it may help prosecutors convict Peterson of at least one murder.
Stacy Peterson disappeared Oct. 28, 2007. Those close to her said she feared her husband, a Bolingbrook police sergeant at the time, and planned to leave him. After her disappearance, at least one person told police Stacy Peterson confided to him that Drew Peterson had killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
The disappearance moved investigators to reopen Savio’s March 2004 drowning investigation, which had been ruled an accident. Savio’s family has also said she feared Peterson would kill her. The death has since been ruled a homicide but no suspects have been named. Drew Peterson is the sole suspect in Stacy’s disappearance, which police are calling a “potential homicide.”
Peterson has maintained his innocence and has not been charged with a crime in either case.
A special Will County grand jury has been hearing testimony on the cases since November. Last month, Glasgow’s office released a statement saying he was confident an arrest in at least one of the cases would come in the near future.
Glasgow has declined to elaborate on whether his office will use the law if it ever brings homicide charges against Peterson, but said the bill will help the state aggressively prosecute domestic violence and gang activity cases.
I was going through some old photos when I came across these two. They brought to mind a couple of funny stories. They’re both from the barrel cleanup on the Des Plaines River in May. The first one shows the site where my previous cell phone was last seen. As I was taking pictures and videotaping, I decided to step out of the boat to get a closer shot. I got within about ten feet of Roy on the shore to the left when I took a step onto what appeared to be solid ground. It was actually soggy garbage and I ended up in the river. Five minutes later I realized my cell phone was gone, never to be seen again.
The second photo was shot a few minutes before the boat hit a wave and it (along with everything in it, passengers included) went airborne. The barrel at the front of the photo landed squarely on my foot while a drill went flying into the river. Shawn, my video camera and my digital camera, also all nearly ended up going overboard. Lessons learned: Never ride atop barrels in a small boat; package valuables in ziploc baggies with floating peanuts (tip from my aunt, a fishing enthusiast); and never, ever accelerate into an oncoming wave.
And Tuesday’s thread. To everyone that contacted me today, sorry for dropping off the planet while we worked through a deadline. I’ll get through your comments later today.