Drew Peterson loses in last ditch effort to bar hearsay, girlfriend testimony and a letter to Tom Peterson

UPDATE 5:56 CST:

We’re hearing that the defense wants to have pathologist Dr. Vincent DiMaio testify about the “many” cases of healthy adults drowning in bathtubs. The prosecution asked Judge Burmila to compel him to identify even once instance of this, as he would not do it. The State has their own witness they would like to testify about statistics showing that virtually no healthy adults drown in bathtubs without some sort of drug or alcohol component but the judge decided it was too late to add another witness. (BTW, DiMaio’s own book would seem to counter what he would testify to).

UPDATE 2:51 CST:

Next hearing date is scheduled for 7/18 at 10:00 am.

UPDATE 1:40 CST:

In a rather strange ruling, Judge Burmilla has decided that prosecutors cant bring the tub that Savio died in, into the courtroom; but if they have the tub re-installed in the house on Pheasant Chase where she died, that jurors can be brought in to look at it.

UPDATE 12:58 CST:

The defense lost a motion to bar testimony from one of Peterson’s former girlfriends, Susan McCauley, a woman whom he was having a 9-month affair with while he was married to Kathleen Savio. Prosecutors say the former Bolingbrook police sergeant made conflicting comments to her about what happened to Savio and what caused her death. In another motion argued and lost today the defense team had alleged that Will County Sheriff’s deputies violated Peterson’s privacy by intercepting a letter that he sent to his son, Tom Peterson, away at college in Pennsylvania. Prosecutors convinced the judge that the jail was following written policy and within its rights to intercept detainee communications.

UPDATE 11:50 CST:

A Will County judge Tuesday morning shot down a last-ditch defense effort to prohibit jurors from hearing testimony about statements made by Kathleen Savio before she died. Attorneys on both sides are expected to spend much of the day hashing out some half-dozen motions. Reporters were asked to leave the courtroom about 11:30 a.m. so attorneys could discuss one motion behind closed doors.

UPDATE 10:00 CST:

In the last hearing, the defense indicated that one of its motions might require a “Frye hearing”. Frye hearings are generally used for dealing with the admissibility of scientific evidence.

REMINDER: According to the Court Administrator, Drew Peterson’s murder trial will not be broadcast live from inside the courtroom.

The following items are expressly prohibited from the Will County Courthouse:

  • Weapons (or any item that may be used as a weapon in the opinion of Court Security Officers)
  • Cell phones that have a camera and/or recording ability
  • Recording devices
  • Cameras (without the permission of the Chief Judge)
  • Scissors
  • Pepper sprays or Mace
  • Food or beverages

Sources:
Chicago Tribune
Chicago Sun-Times
HLN
Trib Local

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32 thoughts on “Drew Peterson loses in last ditch effort to bar hearsay, girlfriend testimony and a letter to Tom Peterson

  1. Remember Susan McCauley? She testified at the hearsay hearings.

    She testified that she had a 9-month affair with Peterson while he was married to Savio and said that he told her in 1998 that he didn’t want to get divorced because his wife would take half his pension.

    Callahan was followed on the witness stand by a Bolingbrook woman Peterson was romantically involved with in the late 1990s.

    Peterson was married to Savio while he was dating Susan McCauley, a bartender in his Montgomery tavern, Sud’s Pub.

    McCauley recalled a visit to the home of Daniel Harrison, a friend of Peterson, in early 2008. During the visit, Peterson told her “he had some business to take care of, that we’re on the ’street death squad,’” and that he and Harrison went together to the garage.

    McCauley testified that Peterson later told her “that if we ever need anyone taken care of, that they could take care of them.”

    Also she said that the only gift she received during the affair with Drew was a “very cheap necklace.”

    http://petersonstory.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/drew-peterson-hearsay-hearings-day-7/

  2. Prosecutors in the Drew Peterson case cannot bring the bathtub where Kathleen Savio drowned into the courtroom to be inspected by jurors, a Will County judge ruled this morning.

    Prosecutors said they could reinstall the bathtub in Savio’s Bolingbrook home and have jurors visit the scene. Judge Edward Burmila said, depending on the trial testimony regarding Savio’s injuries, he may consider that option.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/bolingbrook/chi-judge-prosecutors-cant-bring-bathtub-kathleen-savio-drowned-in-to-court-20120703,0,4607906.story

    Really? They can’t see the tub unless it’s installed back in the house on Pheasant Chase? That seems bizarre.

  3. Interesting, isn’t it?

    FRYE HEARING: It’s a hearing to decide whether an expert can be heard at trial and its done before hand. The judge decides if the expert can testify and they base their reasoning on whether the testimony is commonly accepted in the scientific community. If its novel or controversial, it is the party who wants the expert to testify’s burden to bring in multiple experts that can state that the information has generally accepted scientific reliability based on genuine scientific principles and tests.

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20091019120644AAzOpZk

  4. Judge Bars ‘Murder Weapon’ Bathtub From Drew Peterson Case Courtroom

    The judge in the Drew Peterson murder case won’t let prosecutors haul a bathtub into court.
    By Joseph Hosey

    Calling the bathtub in which Drew Peterson’s third wife was found drowned a “murder weapon,” a prosecutor argued Tuesday to have the tub hauled into court so the jury could get a look at it.

    Assistant State’s Attorney John Conner failed to convince Will County Judge Edward Burmila that bringing the bathtub before a jury was a good idea. Burmila felt a free-standing tub without the context of a bathroom around it might somehow confuse jurors.

    Burmila refused to allow the bathtub to be brought into his courtroom but did entertain the idea of reinstalling it in the bathroom it was taken out of in 2007 so jurors could get a look at it in its natural setting. Burmila would only do this if circumstances dictate and with the permission of the homeowner, he said.

    The bathtub was removed from the Bolingbrook home of Peterson’s third wife, Kathleen Savio, and placed in storage in late 2007. Conner wants juror to see and feel the tub to refute expected testimony from defense expert witnesses.

    The defense experts are expected to say Savio lacerated her scalp when she slipped and struck her head against the tub, then passed out and drowned.

    That was just what state police investigators believed when they investigated Savio’s death in March 2004, and the state police investigators clung to that notion until October 2007, when Peterson’s next wife, Stacy Peterson, mysteriously vanished.

    The state police then abruptly changed course and declared that Savio was the victim of a homicide. A year and a half later they arrested Drew Peterson and charged him with her murder.

    The state police also believe Drew Peterson may have had a hand in Stacy Peterson’s disappearance but have yet to charge him with harming her.

    The bathtub issue was but one of many raised during the Tuesday court hearing.

    Defense attorney Lisa Lopez opened the session by trying to stop county jail staff from “intercepting” and copying Drew Peterson’s letters. Burmila ruled that the jail staff was within their rights to copy Peterson’s mail. Burmila is also permitting some—but not all—testimony from a Bolingbrook woman who had an affair with Peterson while he was married to Savio.

    Former Peterson mistress Sue McCauley has said Drew Peterson told her Savio was “crazy” and that complications from drinking wine while taking medication contributed to her death.

    Prosecutors are also pushing to get even more hearsay statements admitted as evidence against Peterson.

    These matters were set over for a July 18 hearing.

    http://shorewood-il.patch.com/articles/judge-bars-murder-weapon-bathtub-from-drew-peterson-case

  5. Joe Lopez doesn’t think the prosecution should be allowed to re install the tub at the death scene for the jurors:

    “I wouldn’t support that, because I don’t think the government should be marching into people’s homes reinstalling fixtures that they have out,” said Lopez.

    There’s your LOL quote of the day. Yep – he’s all about protecting people’s rights to keep from having old bathtubs re-installed!

    http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=8723417

  6. Heh. Defense attorneys are not about sending anyone to prison for crimes they commit. They’re all about finding a way to get them off any way they can.

    So, another Peterson defense-team soundbite is just another pile of crap, IMO. Just more face time and name recognition. Isn’t that what these guys are all about? After all, getting their mugs in front of the camera ain’t bad for business.

  7. I sort of agree with Lopez on that issue. If I had bought a home and someone came knocking at my door to “redo” my bathroom to a murder scene, I’m not sure I would cooperate. Especially if I had made my own alterations to the bathroom. But I do think they could construct a bathroom somewhere using the pictures as a guide to make it match.

  8. I’m also a little amused by this “hellcat” persona that they want to plaster Kathleen with. If anyone has the right to be a hellcat it is a women whose husband is cheating on her, but she gave him the divorce without separating the property so that her could marry Stacy and she could have her baby on his insurance…that does not sound like a hellcat to me.

  9. Found on Fox-this is more or less a recap of what Facs and Rescue have reported above, but mentions again the “extremely prejudicial” media appearances by Drewpy. Now if that’s not grounds for sanctions against Brodsky, I don’t know what would be. Hope I haven’t repeated too much, or barged in where I shouldn’t have.
    By NBCChicago.com

    The bathtub in which Drew Peterson’s wife was found dead in 2004 will not be allowed in court during Peterson’s murder trial, a judge ruled Tuesday.
    Prosecutors asked Will County Judge Edward Burmila for permission to bring the bathtub to court so that jurors could inspect it, the Chicago Tribune reports. After being denied prosecutors then asked if they could reinstall the tub in the couple’s Bolingbrook home and invite the jurors to inspect it there. Burmila said he will consider that, but not before hearing some testimony in the trial first, reports the Tribune.
    Read the original report at NBCChicago.com
    The bathtub matter was one of several issues raised by prosecutors and defense attorneys Tuesday morning in court over hearsay evidence in the coming Drew Peterson murder trial.

    Three new motions were filed Friday in the case, and Burmila is expected to address them all today.

    Peterson is charged with murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio, who was found dead in a bathtub in 2004. He also is the prime suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, but has not been charged.

    Burmila already made several rulings on hearsay evidence. He decided he will compel Savio’s divorce attorney to answer questions but won’t allow videos featuring Peterson, including network TV interviews, saying the videos are extremely prejudicial.

    Still at issue is testimony from Peterson’s pastor, Neil Schori, who testified more than two years ago that Stacy Peterson told him she saw something strange the night before Savio’s body was found.

    Schori testified Stacy Peterson saw Drew Peterson dressed in black and putting his clothing and another woman’s clothing into their washing machine.

    Drew Peterson’s trial is set to begin July 31.

    http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/07/03/12548937-judge-bathtub-not-allowed-in-court-for-drew-peterson-trial?lite

  10. I can see leaving off anything done before counsel or without counsel present, but I think anything that Drew did with his attorney present should be allowed. He had legal counsel of his own choice and they made these decisions together. Prejudicial or not, that is who Drew Peterson is. It also shows why a gag order was needed.

  11. Thanks for the story, Cheryl.

    I agree Charmed, and would go even further to say that any media appearance that was brokered by Joel Brodsky should be admissible. Joel said numerous times that it was his strategy to immerse the public in various versions of the facts. Let him face the music!

  12. This whole thing about not allowing prejudicial videos of Peterson is mind boggling. Especially since his lawyer was usually right next to him. The public was saturated with this moron, orchestrated by his lawyer, to keep his mug in the forefront, week after week, for years. Even when things quieted down or tapered off, Brodsky figured out a way to get Drew back in the news. Using his house as a launching site for the media to cover his trial, putting his motorcycle on Ebay, a fake engagement, letters to Sneed.

    Along comes the moral authority, Judge Burmila, who is so smart, he can read the future jurors’ minds and figure out they’ll be too prejudiced by seeing these outragous videos of Peterson sticking his foot in his mouth. Hell, he admitted it. While he was at it, why didn’t he admit that Peterson’s lead attorney is the stupidist f*&k of a lawyer there is, and he is responsible for the worry he has of Peterson being seen as “too coldhearted” by watching him in these videos. Not in his courtroom. Too bad he couldn’t have spared the public from seeing the monster being videoed and recorded of his own free will, to be shared in the media and all over the Internet.

    Watch any video of Brodsky being interviewed lately, and he “hopes” the jurors won’t make up their minds of how Peterson comes in media appearances, as though it’s neither the murder defendant’s fault or his. What a joke.

  13. BTW, JC readers (hope you’re reading here too, Attorneys Abood, Odeh and Lenard), FYI, Brodsky argued only one motion, the last one, in front of Burmila, and his co-counsel had to call him over to the table a few times to help him argue the motion. Fortunately for him, Judge Burmila’s mind must have been made up before he opened his trap, but it still doesn’t detract from the fact that he comes across as anything but a confident, sure-footed lawyer. This guy has become so goofy, he has to post minor cases he has tried on his Facebook page for his two biggest fans to read, Huebl and McPherson, because no news outlet gives a rat’s butt who he represents anymore or what cases he tries.

    I believe the motion dealt with the issues of the defense using an expert witness who claims to have authored, or co-authored, material that provides information and statistics of bath tub drownings. Vincent DiMaio apparently is going to testify that many, many people have drowned accidentally in bath tubs. Those many, many drownings are those that occur in people with no alcohol, drugs, or serious medical issues being involved, according to him. Kathleen had no drugs in her body, no alcohol, and she had no evidence of having died of a massive heart attack or other serious medical issue. Yet, DiMaio has not provided to the prosecution one known example. Not one. The prosecution asked the judge to compel him to provide examples. The judge, I believe, thinks this can be addressed in cross-examination. The prosecution wanted the judge to allow them to have a witness of their own testify, with the opposite opinion, based on her own research. Judge Burmila, I believe said it’s too late in the game for that, and he won’t allow the prosecution’s witness to testify. Even though the prosecution had no idea they’d need a witness to be brought in until the defense came up with this guy.

    If it weren’t for all of the attention the lead attorney brought to himself by using his screwed up client to launch his latest attempt at practicing law, no one would know who the guy even is. Or was. Just what he wants to be. Having to be called over to the defense table so his co-counsel could help him make it through the sole motion he argued doesn’t sound very good for him. The courtroom was packed with people to see it, in all of its glory. Wonder if he’ll put that on his Facebook page? Well, at least it’s here. :-)

    I’m pretty sure no one had to wake him up for his shining moment. Stick that camera and microphone in his puss and he straightens up real fast, though.

    What kind of attorney uses his client over and over, in videos, recordings, appearances, etc., and then spouts off in recent interviews that he hopes the potential jurors don’t judge Peterson based on any of that?

    No wonder people shake their heads at defense attorneys like this. This is justice? Bah!

  14. A few more details are in this updated Tribune story:

    …Prosecutors have long considered Savio’s bathtub a key piece of evidence. “The bathtub is now essentially the murder weapon,” Assistant State’s Attorney John Connor said in court Tuesday.

    A prosecution expert is expected to testify that the injuries Savio suffered could not have been caused by slipping and falling in the tub. Connor said it was important to give jurors a “tactile feel” for the tub rather than have them rely only on death investigation photographs.

    Defense attorney Joseph Lopez argued that bringing in the tub could mislead jurors who would not be able to judge how it fit into Savio’s bathroom.

    “They can’t just roll it in on a dolly and say, ‘Here’s the tub, inspect it,'” he said in court.

    Burmila agreed.

    “As far as the tub being dramatically brought in — that’s not going to happen under any set of circumstances,” he said.

    The judge left open the possibility of allowing jurors to see the tub in Savio’s old home but said he wasn’t sure if he had the authority to order that.

    Prosecutors said the family living in the home now has not installed a new tub in the four years since it was removed. The upstairs bathroom has a separate shower, according to court testimony.

    A spokesman for the Will County state’s attorney’s office said there was no financial arrangement with the family to keep the space open.

    Also on Tuesday, a judge ruled that Susan McCauley, Peterson’s former mistress who worked as a bartender at his Montgomery bar, can testify about a conversation she had with him, after Savio’s death, at a 2004 fundraiser at a Bolingbrook bowling alley.

    McCauley testified earlier that Peterson told her his boys would be fine and that Savio was “crazy.” He allegedly told her Savio drowned in her bathtub after taking antidepressants and drinking wine, saying a wineglass was found on the tub.

    Prosecutors sought to use the statement as an example of Peterson telling different stories about how Savio died.

    Burmila has yet to rule on whether prosecutors can use video that shows a “3-D” rendering, apparently of Savio’s injuries, at trial. He withheld his ruling to give defense attorneys time to view the roughly two-minute video.

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-07-03/news/ct-met-drew-peterson-hearing-20120704_1_state-s-attorney-john-connor-kathleen-savio-tub

  15. I can’t stop giggling sometimes when I hear the name Brodsky, Of course the circumstances are not funny, but if I didn’t know he was rather large of statue, I would say Napoleon complex. He certainly is a man of the insecure sort, and comes across as a complete idiot with some sort of complex. Kind of like that Anthony Lawyer, Baez. I would think that the self proclaimed ‘Leader” of the Defense team will not get any time in court. But then looking at the other “too big for their britches” jokers on that defense team, god only knows what a circus its going to be. Too bad we cannot be privy to it, like the Anthony case

  16. Yeah, LA, it’s all about who can get the most and best mileage out of this case. I mean, let’s think about it. With the number of attorneys involved, do any of us think they’re raking in the paychecks from the coffers of Peterson? His pension is being use to care for his minor children by his adult son, including house maintenance, etc. That son is in the trick bag right now, right or wrong, and doesn’t have his police-job paycheck to rely on himself. Thank’s dad, Drew Peterson.

    That being said, there isn’t a moment when the defense doesn’t line up in front of the microphones to give their soundbites. Assuring everyone that the State’s case sucks, and they’re going to win the day. Until then, Brodsky has to use his Facebook page to post his ideas of what jurors should be required to read before sitting in on a trial, presumed dead people turning up alive, cases he’s turned around and won, and asking McPherson why she didn’t comment on his tie or Attorney Lopez’s hat.

    Now, that’s success!!!

  17. Ah, flashbacks are awesome. Remember this? Credit Joe Hosey with this gem.

    JOLIET – A medical examiner is accusing Drew Peterson defense attorney Joel Brodsky of shafting him on his fee.

    Dr. Brian L. Peterson, the medical examiner for Milwaukee County, Wis., said Brodsky is holding out on paying him for reviewing the autopsy of Drew Peterson’s slain third wife.

    …”They wanted an independent review of the Savio case,” Dr. Peterson wrote in an e-mail. “Joel (Brodsky) even, for the first time in my career, asked that I sign a confidentiality agreement regarding my work. I did. And being an honorable guy, I will not tell you what my opinions were – note, however, that I was not called to testify recently.”…..

    http://petersonstory.wordpress.com/2010/04/30/medical-examiner-says-petersons-defense-stiffed-him/

  18. So apparently, the current owners at 392 Pheasant Chase Drive have never replaced the tub that the State took and the space in their bathroom is still empty.

    I hope that they are still of a mind to help out the prosecution and allow the old tub to be temporarily put back in place so the jurors can see exactly where Kathleen died.

    Anyone want to take up a collection for costs?

  19. It’s all a joke to them, just a need to further their career, and lo and behold, should they win the games, another psychopath is turned loose for the rest of society to deal with, until said Psycho F*** up again. And this one will do just that if they win, as this one is truly scary. I wonder what sort of mentality it takes to become criminal defense lawyer. I can only guess. You cannot tell me that any of those dudes of Petersons defense team really truly believe in his being innocent. Guess it doesn’t matter to those sharks at all. It all seems to be about winning or loosing. Sorry state of affairs this world as it is these days

  20. Facs, this is one issue I would be more then happy to donate to, and I am not a donator type of person

  21. I believe when Dr. Blum testified (he’s the State hired expert who did the second autopsy on Kathleen Savio), besides saying her death in the tub was not accidental, he actually got in the tub to reconstruct the whole scenario.

    Isn’t it reasonable for the jury to want every possible piece of information that is associated with that tub? How she was found, and the minutes leading up to her death, in order to determine if they, in fact, believe her death was either accidental or intentional? Wouldn’t they want to see the edge of whatever it was that supposedly caused the gash in her head if they’re going to conclude she received that gash from the tub or surrounding area? Because, in my humble opinion, smooth surfaced bathtubs and walls don’t create gashes in the head. And, we know for a fact, nothing sitting on the ledge of that tub was overturned, splashed, moved or had blood on it from the head gash.

    If they conclude, after careful consideration of the evidence presented, that her death was NOT an accident, then the rest of the testimony will better serve the State’s case, because Peterson had the most to gain by her death. No one else. The State might not have pictures and video of Peterson murdering Kathleen, but I’m sure we can all agree the defense doesn’t have the same showing him laying in bed next to his wife during the time his ex-wife died.

  22. This is what it seems that the State wants the jurors to be able to see and feel.

    …Kathleen Savio’s 2004 bathtub drowning death was murder, a state-hired pathologist testified Friday, in part because he believed injuries to the front, back and sides of her body could not have been caused accidentally.

    …Blum said the position of Savio’s body in the tub — facedown with both feet pressed hard against the tub wall, her toes hyperextended — made it “highly, highly unlikely” she drowned accidentally.

    Judging from the flow of blood, it appeared a 1-inch gash on the back of her head was inflicted after her body settled in the tub, Blum said.

    He said he also reviewed 43 cases of bathtub fatalities in Illinois and that Savio’s death “falls so far out of the pattern for accidental.”…

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-02-06/news/1002050315_1_kathleen-savio-drew-peterson-tub

  23. Why would poor Kathleen be able to press her feet hard against the tub, but not be able to pick her head up out of the water to save herself? I mean, wouldn’t she have needed to be alert and capable of pushing her legs out? The whole bathtub accident story defies logic.

  24. The way she is laying in the tub defies logic! If she fell and hit her head, rendering her unconscious then how did she get in that perfect fetal position? The position she is in she would of had to tip over sideways hitting the side of her head, and sliding down the tub, and even still wouldn’t of been in a perfect fetal position like in the photograph. If she hit the back of her head she would of slid down on her back, not on her side.

    The photograph alone shows there is no way this was an accident. Kathleen’s height also shows that if she was standing the tub facing the faucet, going to sit down, she would of hit her upper back on the back of the tub, not her head. There is no possible way this could of happened.

    They are trying to say oh, you need to see the whole bathroom , there was things she could of tripped over. Well how many people enter the tub backwards? She would of went face first, not back of the head first. Just doesn’t add up, and no jury is going to see their version either. Doesn’t make sense!

  25. From In Session’s Facebook Page:

    In Session field producer Michael Christian reports, Judge Burmilla issued several rulings in Tuesday’s Drew Peterson hearing:
    The jury could get to hear that Kathleen Savio reportedly told a lawyer Peterson might kill her and make it look like an accident. But prosecutors have to link her words to a specific statement or action by Peterson.
    On the matter of whether the jury can hear that Peterson told a woman he had an affair with that he couldn’t divorce Savio because she’d get half his pension, Burmilla says jurors can hear the statement about the pension, but not that Peterson wouldn’t get a divorce.
    Burmilla also says prosecutors had the right to read a letter Peterson wrote his son from jail June 22.

    Prosecutors won’t be able to call a witness they say studied hundreds of bathtub deaths, and determined none of them were accidental drownings; the State called her their “myth buster.” The defense pointed out that she is neither a pathologist nor a statistician, and referred to her supposed field of expertise as “junk science.” Judge Burmilla said, “I don’t find anything from this witness that would help the jury in the least bit. Her testimony is barred.”

  26. Interesting that on June 21, Tom Peterson posted this status on Facebook, “have I been living a lie?”

    Of course, that could pertain to anything: girlfriend, religion, college major. Could even be a joke.

    But I still found it interesting.

  27. “The jury could get to hear that Kathleen Savio reportedly told a lawyer Peterson might kill her and make it look like an accident. But prosecutors have to link her words to a specific statement or action by Peterson.”

    How ’bout the action that the poor woman is dead and “someone” lead everyone to believe it was an accident until another poor woman went missing.

  28. I just came across this old story about Martin Bashir being subpoenaed to testify. I wonder if this is still the case? You would think that the video of the interviews would be of more use to the jury than Bashir’s testimony about what Peterson told him. However, the video has been barred so would it make sense for him to even testify?

    A source said Bashir had been subpoenaed over his January 2009 interview with Peterson, during which Peterson made comments that allegedly contradicted statements he had given law-enforcement officials.

    Bashir also testified at Michael Jackson’s child-molestation trial in 2005. A rep for ABC said, “the subpoena seeks a copy of the ‘Nightline’ broadcast report, which included Mr. Bashir’s interview with Drew Peterson.”

    http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/on_the_stand_tHuIXcz4kjcsSiUBdcWWmJ

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