Oral arguments will be presented to the Third Appellate Court of Illinois next week pertaining to specific hearsay statements that Judge Stephen White decided should not be heard at Drew Peterson‘s murder trial. Each side is usually allotted 15 minutes or so but Peterson’s defense has requested an additional 30 minutes of time for arguments [UPDATE 2/10: The request was denied]. Unlike last year’s hearsay hearings, news cameras will be allowed at the proceedings.
It was a year ago that Judge White was presented with two weeks worth of evidence and hearsay testimony that the State want admitted to help prove that Drew Peterson killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Although his decision on these statements was sealed, it was leaked to the press and while reports varied as to what the final decision was it’s possible to piece together a pretty good guess at which statements passed muster and which were not allowed.
Originally, there were 15 statements being considered. During the first days of the hearsay hearings, the defense challenged the testimony of Pastor Neil Schori and two of his statements were struck down due to the fact that he had served as counselor for both Stacy Peterson and Drew Peterson. The two statements made to Neil Schori while in the Peterson home were not allowed, but he was allowed to testify to what Stacy had told him in a public place.
So this left 13 statements to be considered and according to the Chicago Tribune’s report and others, here they are. The statements that have been struck down and are now being appealed (to the best of our knowledge) have been crossed out:
1. Kathleen Savio’s letter to then-Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Fragale complaining of Drew Peterson’s abuse, including an alleged July 2002 attack when he put a knife to her throat.
Kristin Anderson’s testimony that Savio told of her fears that Peterson would kill her while her family briefly rented Savio’s basement in 2003.
3. A fellow student at Joliet Junior College, Mary Park’s testimony that she saw red marks on Kathleen’s neck that Savio attributed to Peterson in 2003.
Savio’s co-worker, Issam Karam’s testimony that Savio told him Peterson came into her home and held a knife to her throat.
Kathleen’s sister, Susan Savio’s testimony about her sister’s fears that Peterson would kill her.
6. Kathleen’s sister, Anna Doman’s testimony that shortly before she died, Savio asked Doman to care for her children if she died, saying Peterson wanted to kill her.
7. Savio’s handwritten statement attached to a Bolingbrook police report on the July 2002 incident.
Six audio excerpts from a June 13, 2003, taped conversation Savio had with an insurance company over a claim she put in for allegedly stolen jewelry.
Savio’s Aug. 6, 2003, statement to the insurance company
Savio’s divorce attorney, Harry Smith’s testimony that Stacy contacted him about divorcing Peterson shortly before she vanished.
Stacy’s friend, Scott Rossetto’s testimony that she told him Peterson coached her as an alibi witness in Savio’s death.
12. The Rev. Neil Schori’s testimony that Stacy told him Peterson returned home dressed completely in black and carrying a bag of women’s clothing in the late morning on the day Savio’s body was found. Stacy also told him Peterson coached her to provide his alibi.
Stacy’s Joliet Junior College classmate, Michael Miles’ testimony that Stacy told him before Savio’s 2004 death that Peterson wanted to kill his ex-wife but that Stacy talked him out of it.
We can’t be completely sure about this list but it’s our best guess.
The State filed three Certificates of Impairment appealing Judge White’s ruling. Besides the hearsay statements above they also appeal the ruling on the admission of testimony from Vicki Connelly, Anna Doman and Eric Peterson pertaining to Drew Peterson’s “prior bad acts”. Also being appealed is the judge’s refusal to allow an attorney, Diane Panos, to testify about how much money Peterson would have lost to Savio in their divorce settlement.
Although the ruling was sealed, the proceedings will be open to the public. Third District Appellate Court clerk, Gist Fleshman has stated that, “the attorneys should avoid discussing in detail anything that is sealed.” It will be interesting to see how that works.
Somewhat to our surprise, ever media-hungry Joel Brodsky will not be presenting arguments for the defense at the proceedings. Fellow Peterson defense team member, Steve Greenberg, will be speaking. The arguments are scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m. on February 16, before the Third Appellate Court in Ottowa.