Defense atty Lopez begins cross-examination of Nick Pontarelli.
“What time did you make this observation of Mr. Peterson and his son at the house?” “It was early in the morning, probably 9:00 or 10:00?” “Did you see Susan or Anna Doman there?” “No, but I know that they were there that day.” “You never saw Drew and Anna and Susan and Henry that day together?” “Never together.” “Did you know Angela?” “Yes . . . she’s Susan’s daughter.” “Did you see her there?” “No.” “She’s married, right?” “I don’t know.” “You didn’t see her there that day?” “No.”
On cross by Lopez, Pontarelli says his lunch visit with Savio lasted about 45 minutes.
Recounting relationship with family: Lopez: “Drew was fun, wasn’t he?” Pontarelli: “Yes.”
Pontarelli: Kathleen Savio would come over for dinner more frequently after she and Drew Peterson separated.
After his lunch w/ Savio, Pontarelli said he went to a party in Vernon Hills. He left about 4 p.m., didn’t see Savio.
Pontarelli, upon Lopez’s questioning, says neighborhood is a quiet one. Pontarelli says he heard, saw nothing unusual.
He says he never heard anything strange that night. He had a dog and the dog never made any noises that night.
Pontarelli testimony concludes. Court in recess until 9 a.m. Thursday.
Pontarelli had lunch at Savio’s house the weekend of her death. She made him a salad after he helped her carry in groceries.
Pontarelli got home late Saturday night, noticed Savio’s bedroom light was on.
Pontarelli says he called Savio Feb. 28 to invite her for pasta dinner. No answer. He went to her house. No answer.
The next day, Pontarelli says Drew Peterson came to his house, asking if anyone had seen Savio.
Pontarelli: Peterson was trying to drop off kids. Pontarelli supplied Maniaci’s phone number.
Pontarelli says that Savio’s bedroom light was on at midnight Saturday, but the whole house was dark when they entered on March 1, 2004.
In Savio kitchen, Pontarelli said he saw open container of OJ on the counter. He put cap back on and put it in the fridge.
Pontarelli: I opened microwave, saw mug of water. Didn’t touch it. Went to garage. Saw car in garage.
Pontarelli said his father tried to stop him from going upstairs, but he went up anyway. Peterson was still outside the house.
Pontarelli said he heard his mother scream. He followed. Mary Pontarelli tried to stop him, but Pontarelli said he saw Savio in the tub.
Pontarelli said he went into bathroom enough to see Savio in the tub. Then he left the house in shock and went home.
Pontarelli said he had difficulty sleeping that night. He didn’t go to school the next day.
Pontarelli: saw Peterson at Savio’s house the next day, along with Peterson’s son Steve as well as Stacy. They were taking stuff out of the house.
State ends questioning.
Court is in session.
He is 22 years old, and lives with his parents, Tom and Mary Pontarelli. “I’m an I.T. recruiter for Tech Systems . . . this is my second week.”
Pontarelli IDs Drew Peterson in the courtroom.
“Do you recall when Kathleen moved in next door?” “It was in 2000, from what I remember.” “How old would you have been?” “I was ten years old . . . she also lived with her husband, Drew, and their two children, Tom and Kris.” He identifies the defendant in the courtroom. “What type of relationship with you have with Tom and Kris?’ “They were just the boys next door . . . we used to go on family vacations, went camping together . . . I went with the Petersons on one occasion. We also went to Lake Geneva together.” “How often would you see Tom and Kris?’ “Pretty often, a couple of times a week . . . they were good friends.”
Pontarelli is asked if he ever did any work at the house for Savio after Peterson moved out.
Objection. The defense asks for a sidebar.
Peterson trial abruptly breaks after juror said he knows witness Nick Pontarelli, Savio’s neighbor. Juror could be dismissed from case.
Burmila says juror who alerted court that he/she knew/recognized witness will remain seated.
Trial resumes with Pontarelli saying that he helped Savio change the locks after Drew moved out.
Pontarelli remained friends with Savio’s sons after Peterson moved out.
Nick says “Kathy” “was like a second mother to me.”
“Did there come an occasion when you took a photograph of Kathleen Savio?” “Yes . . . it was in 2003 . . . that’s Kathleen Savio.” “Was she working when you took this photograph?” “Yes.” “Why did you take that particular photograph?” “There were just a couple of pictures left on a digital photograph, and I just snapped some pictures.”
Pontarelli describing layout of Savio kitchen, recounting a time he helped her with groceries. He was telling her about recent Florida trip.
Dr. Motiani has been excused from the stand.
Defense seeking permission to quiz Savio lawyer about possibility she lied under oath about incident with Drew and Stacy
Jurors have complained defense team’s in-court printer is too loud and they can’t hear testimony. Judge has barred printing
Prosecutors were going to call Savio divorce atty, then decided to call teen neighbor, Nick Pontarelli.
Court back in session.
Motiani’s first visit with Kathleen Savio was May 8, 1992.
In 1999, tests done on Savio for heart murmur. Motiani ordered an echocardiogram. Tests came back normal.
Motiani repeats what we’ve heard before: Savio did not have MS.
Motiani: Savio gave no indication of concern for dizziness or fainting during June 2003 physical examination.
At a June 2003 physical (her last), Savio did not indicate any dizziness, fainting spells or heart palpitations.
Motiani says Savio “was no more at risk (of falling) than any other person.”
State ends questioning. Defense attorney Darryl Goldberg now cross-examining Motiani.
Montiani acknowledges that symptoms can change rapidly
We’re hearing, again, about Savio taking weight loss supplements. She apparently weighed 124 lbs in May 1992 and 136 lbs in June 2003.
Last contact Motiani had w/ Savio was in Oct. 2003. She asked for Zoloft, apparently unable to get in to see Dr. Neri, her neurologist.
Motiani says that Savio reported feeling depressed and “unsteady in her gait in 1999,” about five years before she died.
Goldberg is asking about previously mentioned ailments described by Dr. Neri: pain in extremities, unsteadiness in gait, diabetes, etc.
Motiani also tells jury that Savio had lingering chest pains in 1995.
Motiani affirms that Savio suffered from GERD, often felt like she had something stuck in her throat.
Motiani says “it’s possible” when asked if inflamed tongue could be indicator of seizure.
Goldberg and Motiani are going over Savio’s medical history, including diabetes tests, complaints of constipation.
March 2003: Motiani ordered blood test because Savio was still complaining of dizziness.
April 2003: Savio left phone message for Motiani “still constipated and feeling bad.”
Attorney Goldberg ends cross-examination of Motiani.
Judge Burmila is back on the bench, calling for the jury and Falat to continue cross-examination.
Prosecutors launch afternoon’s first objection when Lopez asks Falat about a coroner’s jury ruling Savio’s death an accident.
Lopez asking Falat about his note-taking skills and his filing of reports. Falat says he knows they’re important and become part of cases.
Lopez challenges Falat on who was present during interviews with Pontarellis & Maniaci. Lopez asks if there was a baby. Falat doesn’t recall.
Falat denied knowing who placed the blue towel in the Savio bathroom, and said that he never saw Peterson in the house.
“What were you looking for?” “Anything . . .anything that could tell me what happened to Miss Savio . . . we found someone deceased in a bathtub with no water. So it raised my suspicions right away, Sir.”
Falat says he was only in the Savio house for 30 mins. before he was told to go next door and take statements
Falat says it wasn’t necessary to mention Drew Peterson was present at Stacy interview because “the intention was to re-interview Stacy.”
Falat refuses to call it a mistake instead he says it wasnt really relevant.
Dr. Vinod Motiani, Kathleen Savio’s personal physician, will be the state’s next witness.
Defense attorney Lopez begins cross-examination of Falat.
Falat says he never saw Drew Peterson go into the bathroom.
Falat said he was not told scene was a homicide. It was a death investigation.
Falat again describing what he saw in bathroom: one shampoo bottle in tub with Savio. Contact lens case on counter.
Lopez asking Falat about the condom found in the trash. Falat says he told crime scene investigator about it. Condom was not inventoried for evidence or tested.
In master bedroom, Falat notes bedding was disturbed. One window’s blinds were open. Another was closed.
Falat hesitates when asked if he did a thorough investigation.
“I’m sure there was a lot more stuff that could have been looked for that I wasn’t trained on,” Falat says.
Lopez: In tour of home, you didn’t see anything out of the ordinary? Falat: “Aside from Ms. Savio in the bathtub without water in it?”
Jury now breaking for lunch. We’ll be back at 1:15 pm
Falat said he looked around the house for anything that would have caused Savio’s head injury, but he didn’t find anything.
Back upstairs with crime scene investigator who had since arrived, Falat observed what appeared to be a used condom in bathroom garbage.
Falat then went next door to interview neighbor to interview “people who I was told found Ms. Savio.”
Falat met with Mary Pontarelli, Tom Pontarelli and Steve Maniaci. They were crying, at times.
Interview w/ Maniaci ended just before 6 a.m.
After these four people were interviewed, he was told by Sgt. Collins that they needed to go to the Bolingbrook Police Department to interview Drew Peterson. “I told Sgt. Collins that I didn’t think it was a good idea to interview Mr. Peterson at the police headquarters.” However, Sgt. Collins was his boss, and was in charge of the investigation. “Where did you end up going?” “To the Bolingbrook Police Department.”
Falat says the Peterson was “jovial”.
Interview lasted about an hour, ending at about 7:15. Falat says he and Collins then went to ISP HQ.
Falat said he interviewed Stacy Peterson the following day at her home at 3 p.m.
Falat and Stacy went downstairs to basement. At that time, Collins told Falat that DP would be present.
Falat said that Stacy Peterson cried during the interview, when she talked about Savio’s death and how it would impact the children.
Testimony of Dr. Vinod Motiani is delayed. ISP trooper Bryan Falat will be up next.
Court is in session.
Prosecutor Koch will be doing the direct examination.
In Dec. 2002, Falat says he joined an investigative unit. It was a temporary duty assignment, he says.
Assignment lasted approximately from Dec. 2002 – April 2004.
Falat says he was part of two homicide investigations in 2003.
In those, Falat says he was the “low man on the totem pole.” He was there to assist, he says.
Falat says he was called March 1, 2004, while sleeping, to assist in death investigation related to Bolingbrook police officer.
Falat: “I observed Ms. Savio, naked, deceased in the bathtub.”
Falat is describing scene. Says photo he’s being shown is accurate: No water in tub. Drain was down. Parts of her hair were wet.
Falat: Blood was coming from head, going down drain area.
Falat says he looked around the bathroom, was looking for where Savio may have struck her head: hair, blood or any items moved.
Falat says he did not move any items because he’s not a crime scene technician. One was en route.
Falat said he didn’t touch the body. He didn’t want to “contaminate” the scene.
Falat says he didn’t see any visible hair or blood on surrounding tub area.
Falat says he walked around the residence while crime scene technician was on his way. He was looking for an explanation of death, he said.
Pachter says DP didn’t give him specifics about conversation: no name, no address, no photo, no description.
Pachter says he didn’t make much of the request from Peterson. Says Drew was a jokester and never mentioned hit again.
Peterson wanted Savio dead because she “had something on him” and could go to the police.
Pachter gets laughs when asked if he wants to see the court file from his sex crime case. “No, thank you,” he says.
Pachter says he doesn’t know why Drew wanted Savio dead. Lopez pushes on comment that Savio “had something” on Peterson.
Lopez asks Pachter if he knows how to write and suggests witness wants to write a book and make money from case.
Pachter says ride-along with DP took about 30-45 minutes. It was through Bolingbrook. There was no official police activity.
Lopez ends cross-examination. prosecution to begin redirect.
Prosecutor Connor begins his redirect. The witness says that he has “exhausted his memory” as to whether he told the state police that Peterson told him this was a conversation that he was to take to the grave. The attorneys then go to another sidebar.
The witness reads some of his grand jury testimony. “What was your full answer?’” “It was that his demeanor was very laid back… his demeanor never changed, so you didn’t know if he was serious or not.”
“Before the Illinois state police called you, did you have any intention of coming forward?” “No, I did not.”
Lopez then begins his recross. “When you went to the grand jury, the first thing you said was that you didn’t think he was really serious about it?” “Yes.”
The judge excuses the jurors for a five-minute break prior to the next witness
Jurors color choice for the day: Brown
Court is in session.
Prosecutor Connor begins direct examination.
Pachter says cable employees met each morning between 7, 7:30 a.m. at a warehouse in Downers Grove. He IDs Drew Peterson in courtroom.
Due to a sex crime conviction he had trouble getting employment and asked Peterson to run a background check on him to find out what the problem was.
Peterson then helped him get off an FBI list.
Pachter says he had a gambling problem in 2003. Says he was in debt to a bookie for $1000. He asked Peterson for money. Peterson said no.
Pachter says DP once asked him to go for a ride-along with him. He went along. They met at Bolingbrook PD between 10:30, 11p.m.
After signing some sort of form, the pair went to DP’s squad car. Initially, there was small talk, says Pachter.
Lots of objections from defense. The jury is heading out of the courtroom.
They were in their seats less than 15 mins.
Jurors coming back into courtroom.
Pachter says Peterson mentioned $25,000. If Pachter could find someone to “do it for less,” he could keep the remainder.
A secret phrase was established, something to do with cookies.
Peterson wanted an alibi. Either out of the country or at Great America where he would cause a fight so there was record of his presence.
In July 2004, Pachter said he phoned Drew. Call was made from cellphone owned by his employer at the time.
Pachter is shown phone bill with record of call being made.
Pachter asked Drew how the family was doing. All was good. “After that, he said, ‘The favor that I asked of you, I don’t need it anymore.’”
Pachter says that Drew told him that Pachter would take the hit request to “his grave.”
Attorney Lopez begins cross-examination.
Lopez accuses Pachter of making stuff up and lying about things in his past.
Lopez: Sir you came forward in this case because you were expecting to make money, isn’t that true? Pachter: “No.”
Lopez asserts Pachter took part in workman’s comp scam in 2009. Pachter denies it.
Pachter acknowledges there is no documented evidence of the ride along he took with Peterson.
Lopez asks Pachter if he’s part of organized crime or street gang. Pachter says no.
Lopez: How many people have you killed? Pachter: “Zero.”
Pachter says he is not a member of the Chicago outfit, doesn’t know any hit men, doesn’t know how to plan a murder.
Pachter acknowledges Drew made hitman request just that one time: after signing the ID form, in a squad car, while Drew was in uniform.
Did Drew ever use the words ‘kill my wife’? “No, he did not.”
Remember stating to these state police officers, saying Drew asked you to go on a ride-along after you’d gone bowling? “I did not tell them that.”
Is that wrong? “Yes.”
So they didn’t get that right, either, right? “No.”
“I didn’t know what to make of it,” Pachter says of alleged hit man request. Pachter says he did nothing to further plan.
Drew Peterson’s trial for the murder of Kathleen Savio continues today. Yesterday only one witness was called by the prosecution. Dr. Mary Case, a forensic neuropathologist and head injury expert, testified that the injury to Kathleen Savio’s head would not have caused her to lose consciousness, that the bruises to her body were new and that the bathtub could not have caused the kind of wound that she suffered on her head. It was her opinion that the manner of Kathleen Savio’s death was homicide.
As always, I’ll have my eyes and ears open and will be posting updates. Check back throughout the day for the latest news and don’t forget to check the comments thread.