Drew Peterson appeal of murder conviction to be filed soon

UPDATE: 1/13/14: Steven Greenberg reports that he has mailed the appeal.
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Drew Peterson’s attorneys have until January 14, 2014 to file an appeal of his conviction for the murder of Kathleen Savio.

Although limited to 50 pages, they have been asking permission to submit something more along the lines of a novella – 175 pages: 50 pages outlining the facts of the case and another 125 pages of arguments. Apparently they feel that the publicity garnered by the case merits a more verbose appeal. Or perhaps the inflated egos of Peterson’s battling counselors require bloated prose. Whatever the case, the third district appellate court has again shot down the request and they will be obliged to stick to the limit.

Peterson’s appeal is set to be filed within the next three weeks but the oral arguments for and against are not expected to be heard until late 2014.

Attorney Steven Greenberg says that the appeal will focus on hearsay evidence which was admitted to trial and on allegations of ineffective counsel. Motions filed after Peterson’s conviction and prior to his sentencing asked for a re-trial on the same grounds but were denied by Judge Edward Burmila.

Sources:
Chicago Tribune
ABC 7

Three of Drew Peterson’s old attorneys return to his defense – Joel Brodsky calls them a pathological narcissist, an alcoholic, and a novice

The Chicago Tribune reports that attorneys Steve Greenberg, John Heiderscheidt and David Peilet have been rehired to try to overturn Drew Peterson’s murder conviction for the killing of his ex-wife, Kathleen Savio.

The three lawyers turned his appellate case over to the state defender’s office last March but Peterson has now decided he wants the help of his old team. attorney Steve Greenberg says,

After the case was over, he needed to think about what he wanted to do. We needed to let things calm down before making those decisions.

The appeal, which is expected to be filed within the next 90 days, will be based on the admission of hearsay, the admission of testimony by Stacy Peterson’s pastor, a jury pool left in limbo for over two years and the ineffective counsel of Peterson’s lead attorney, Joel Brodsky. Brodsky responded to the news last night in an acerbic Tweet:

joel-comment

The Tribune reports that Peterson is biding his time at Menard Correctional Center, in protective custody. He has no cellmate and no job there. He gets five hours of recreation time each week and is allowed to see visitors twice a month.

Since his sentencing, Peterson’s yearly police pension of almost $80k has been challenged by Bolingbrook Village officials. It may take months before the outside attorney hired by the pension board makes a recommendation.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune

Four years since Drew Peterson’s arrest for murder. What has changed?

another new mugLast Tuesday marked four years since Drew Peterson was arrested and charged with the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. So, what has transpired since then?

Trial Status

Today: Jury selection for Drew Peterson’s trial began on July 23, 2012. Opening statements began on July 31st and the first witness was also called that day. Testimony continued through August 30. Closing arguments were heard on September 4 and jury deliberations began. On September 6, after two days and 14 hours of deliberations, the jury found Drew Peterson guilty in the first degree of murdering Kathleen Savio. On February 21st Drew Peterson was sentenced to 38 years in prison, minus the four years he spent in jail awaiting trial. Peterson was moved from the Will County Adult Detention Center, where he had been living since his arrest, to Stateville Prison and then was transferred shortly thereafter to Pontiac Prison and then Menard Correctional Facility. The City of Bolingbrook is reviewing the status of Peterson’s $79,000/year pension to see if it can be revoked.

Legal Representation

Today: Immediately after Peterson’s murder conviction, his defense team began to publicly point fingers and blame each other for losing the case. Paving the way for an appeal based on ineffective assistance of counsel, Joel Brodsky first got in Drew’s ear and was able to get Steven Greenberg fired from the defense team. But by October, Greenberg had spoken to Drew and was back on the team. Soon after, a team of three attorneys who had not represented Peterson in the murder trial filed a motion of ineffective assistance against Joel Brodsky. After much public and private name calling, letter writing, and motion filingJoel Brodsky withdrew from Peterson’s defense. He then filed a defamation suit against Steve Greenberg, two media outlets and specific reporters. Attorney David Peilet of Clarendon Hills and John Heiderscheidt joined the defense team. At a post-sentencing hearing, Judge Edward Burmila said that he was “shocked” at comments Brodsky had made on TV regarding his representation of Drew Peterson and had a transcript of the hearing sent to the ARDC. In March of 2013, the rest of Peterson’s defense team announced that they were stepping aside and turning over the appellate phase of Peterson’s defense to the state public defender’s office.

One year ago: In September, Attorney Walter Maksym was asked to “step aside” from the legal team after he was criticized by the federal appeals court for filing “unintelligible” court papers that were “riddled with errors”. As the case neared trial, it was announced that Atty Joe Lopez would be presenting closing arguments.

Two years ago: After months of rumors of arguing and even a physical incident, Reem Odeh left the partnership and withdrew from the Peterson defense team in September 2010. In February of 2011, Lisa Lopez, wife of Joe Lopez, assisted with the oral arguments regarding the hearsay decision before the Appellate court, which were presented by Steven Greenberg.

Three years ago: Andrew Abood and George Lenard withdrew from the case in April of 2010, citing irreconcilable differences with Joel Brodsky. John Paul Carroll had a complaint filed against him in September and appears to have left the case. Attorneys from Brodsky & Odeh, Steven A. Greenberg and Associates, Law Offices of Meczyk Goldberg, Joseph R. Lopez, P.C., and Walter P. Maksym Jr. then made up the “Seven Samurai” representing Peterson in court.

Four years ago: Brodsky & Odeh, Abood Law, and John Paul Carroll represented Drew Peterson. George D. Lenard joined the case in December of 2009.

Media Exposure

Today: Drew Peterson was able to address the court and the public with a statement at his sentencing hearing. Rather than expressing remorse, he shouted out “I did not kill Kathleen” and then issued a long self-pitying rant.

One year ago: The Sun-Times continued to shill for Peterson. On April 17 they featured a sympathetic story and cover photo of Drew Peterson after the state won their appeal to get more evidence admitted to his trial for murder.

Two years ago: Despite the gag order prohibiting interviews, Peterson spent 2011 writing letters and statements that were provided to the media, in particular to gossip columnist for the Chicago Sun Times, Michael Sneed.

Three years ago: Drew was prohibited from giving interviews to the press.

Four years ago: Drew’s last interview was given over the phone to a WLS radio show host, Eric Mancow Muller, from jail on May 27, 2009. He also gave one other in-jail phone interview on May 15, to Matt Lauer of the Today show.

Judges

Today: Judge Burmila presided over Peterson’s trial and sentencing.

One year ago: On May 4, 2012, Judge Edward Burmilla was assigned to the case.

Two years ago: Judge Stephen White retired in October 2010.

Three years ago: Judge Stephen White presided over the case.

Four years ago: Judge Richard Schoenstedt was first assigned to the case; then Judge Carla Alessio-Policandriotes and finally Judge Stephen White. Will County Chief Judge Gerald Kinney made the new appointments. Judge Daniel J. Rozak set Peterson’s bond.

Hearsay Evidence

Today: The defense continued to file motions to bar as  much of the hearsay evidence as possible leading up to Peterson’s trial. They were also able to challenge each piece of hearsay evidence as it was introduced at trial and were able to keep out more in that way. At trial Kathleen Savio’s sisters and some friends were allowed to testify to statements she had made to them about fearing Drew Peterson would kill her. Pastor Neil Schori was only allowed to testify to what Stacy had told him alone. The discussions he had with Drew and Stacy in their home were deemed inadmissible. Scott Rossetto’s testimony was also deemed unreliable after the prosecution made some errors with the dates and he didn’t get to take the stand. Although the defense had fought to keep out the testimony of Attorney Harry Smith, whom Stacy Peterson had called with questions about a possible divorce, eventually it was Joel Brodsky who called him to the stand in an attempt to impeach Stacy’s words to Neil Schori. Smith testified that Stacy had asked if she could get more money out of Drew if she threatened to tell “how” he had killed Kathleen Savio. Many believe this to be the evidence that cinched the conviction. A final breakdown of witnesses shows that more than 85% of the evidence presented at Drew Peterson’s trial was physical, forensic and circumstantial. Less than 15% was hearsay. Although media reports were quick to cite “Drew’s Law” as being a factor in the introduction of hearsay to Peterson’s trial, those reports were erroneous as the state had earlier asked the appellate court to reconsider Judge White’s hearsay rulings under the common law rules of forfeiture and they agreed.

One year ago: After the appellate court did not reconsider the barred hearsay statements due to a missed deadline, the State appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court which decided that the appellate court should consider the evidence on its merits. In April the appellate court reversed Judge White’s decision and decided that the hearsay statements were reliable and admissible in court. Peterson’s defense announced that they would not appeal and wanted instead to go to trial.

Two years ago: The judge’s decision regarding the hearsay statements was leaked in July 2010, revealing that possibly fewer than five of the 15 statements being considered were to be allowed. This decision was appealed by the prosecution. During February oral arguments before the appellate justices, States Attorney Jim Glasgow was asked what he now wanted to “hang” his argument on. Glasgow said that he chose “804 (b)” or, in other words the common law doctrine that is part of the Illinois Rules of Evidence (rather than the so-called “Hearsay Law”).

Three years ago: In October 2009, Peterson’s defense lost a motion to declare the act unconstitutional. Hearsay evidence and witnesses were heard during hearings in January 2010.

Four years ago: The Hearsay Statue (Drew;s Law) was passed into legislation November, 2008

Peterson Family

Today: In November 2007, a Federal judge threw out Stephen Peterson’s lawsuit against the Village of Oakbrook and Thomas Sheahan. Peterson then went back to Illinois Circuit court to try to get back his job, but lost that complaint in March of 2013.
Kathleen Savio’s two sons, Thomas and Kristopher are in college. Thomas Peterson testified on his father’s behalf towards the end of his trial.

One year ago: Stephen Peterson was appealing his dismissal and filed a Federal lawsuit in July 2011.

Two years ago: In August 2009, Stephen Peterson was suspended for accepting and hiding weapons for his father, shortly after the disappearance of Stacy Peterson. In February 2010, Peterson was fired from Oak Brook Police Force and appealed his dismissal.  Thomas Peterson wrote a letter and made a filing asking to be removed from the Savio family’s civil suit against Drew Peterson. This has not been granted yet. Tom Peterson was chosen as valedictorian of his graduating class.

Four years ago: Drew’s four youngest children were left in the care of their step-brother, Oak Brook Police Officer, Stephen Peterson.

Savio Family

Today: Sue Savio has continued to make appearances to speak out about her sister and against domestic violence. Anna Savio Doman and Henry Savio are still pursuing a wrongful death suit against Drew Peterson.

Cales Family

Today: Cassandra Cales continues to search for her sister.

Drew’s Love Life

Today: Drew Peterson continues to enjoy correspondence with numerous pen pals.

One year ago: Gossip columnist Michael Sneed reported that Peterson had over 20 pen pals (male and female), at least four of whom contributed to his funds at the commissary so that he could enjoy snacks while he awaited trial.

Two years ago: In August 2010 we heard that Christina Raines was engaged to a new man. In February 2011 we obtained a photo of Chrissy with her fiancé. In April 2011, an old acquaintance of Drew’s, Diana Grandel, released some letters from Drew in which he made sexual comments to her and offered Stacy’s clothing to her.

Three years ago: In January Raines posted a status update on her Facebook page stating, “I met someone who i fell in love with and very happy with. I think i just about gave up on drew with all his lies i dont even really visit him anymore.” and then, “But his kids i love dearly and still visit with them they are good kids”

Four years ago: Christina Raines was at the house that Drew and Stacy Peterson shared at the time or his arrest and was also taken into custody. She removed her belongings from his home shortly afterwards. Raines is on the list to visit Drew in jail.

Stunts

Today: All quiet on the part of Drew Peterson. His legal team seems to have picked up the torch as far as media shenanigans. Restaurateur Jeff Ruby attended Drew Peterson’s trial and was charged with contempt when he reportedly mouthed “Fuck you” at Peterson. Ruby went on to offer a $100,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of Stacy Peterson’s remains.

One year ago: Besides frequent mundane snippets in the gossip columns about Peterson’s life in prison, all has been quiet.

Two years ago: While Drew’s bids for attention were mostly curtailed due to his detention, his lawyer and PR people continued to pepper the news with updates and letters from him detailing everything from his life in jail to his opinions about the legal decisions regarding his children. Kathleen’s oldest son, Tom, was the subject of news stories and wrote his own letters to the press in support of his father.

Three years ago: Soon after Drew’s arrest he attempted to have his motorcycle auctioned off on eBay. He was asking for $50,000 and offered to apply a decal with his signature on the bike. eBay removed the auction for violation of its “murderabilia” rules.

Four years ago: At the time Drew was arrested, he was preparing to fly out to the Bunny Ranch Brothel in Reno, Nevada, to see if he would be a good fit as head of security there.

Stacy Peterson

Today: Areas of Hammel Woods in Shorewood were searched for five days in November 2012, utilizing the FBI and cadaver dogs. Some officials stated that it was a training mission, while others told the press that they were indeed looking for the remains of Stacy Peterson. Nothing was found.

One year ago: Airings of the movie, “Drew Peterson: Untouchable” brought about some new tips and offers of assistance in regards to the search for Stacy Peterson.

Two years ago: In August 2010, based on a tip, searches for Stacy’s remains took place near Peoria. No evidence was found.

Three years ago: Still missing with no sightings or communication from her.

Four years ago: Missing. No communication from her since October 28, 2007. Searches were ongoing.

Interview with State’s Attorney, James Glasgow, on Drew Peterson trial

During Drew Peterson’s trial for murder his defense team never seemed to turn down a chance to be heard and seen in the media, but the prosecution was keeping a low profile. Finally, lead prosecutor, James Glasgow, can speak out about the case, the hearsay, the trial, the defense team, and Drew Peterson; and boy does he have his say! You need to listen to this interview he did yesterday on WLS’s Roe and Roeper show.

[Partial transcript]

ROE: I think there’s been a lot of misunderstanding in the last couple of days. You explained it, I think, very well in your press conference yesterday and we’ve had a lot of people calling in with concerns about that so let’s jump into that for a second. The hearsay law is not as simple as “well now anyone can just say anything about anybody and go to court and get a conviction on somebody that they don’t like because they heard some conversation” right?

GLASGOW: Correct. There’s a very–first of all you have to prove by a preponderance of–if I have preponderance of evidence that you willfully diverted the witness, under the law that I had written, that diversion had to be murder, so I mean it was the ultimate diversion and…

ROE: Hold on. Let me back up a little. Let’s take that out of legalese. So what, basically the law that you guys drafted–and there are some other laws around the country that are similar to this–but the law that you drafted specifically said that if you kill somebody to silence them because they were going to testify against you for another crime, that hearsay evidence surrounding that individual who is now dead can be entered into court, but before you do that a judge has to sign off on this. A judge has to sign off, based on the preponderance of evidence, in kind of a mini-trial in advance.

GLASGOW: Yes. And these statements have to be relevant and probative to the issue at hand. They’re not just any statement, Roe. If someone is murdered in a bathroom and it’s made to look like an accident and they happen to have been told by the murderer, “I could kill you and make it look like an accident” that’s pretty relevant and pretty probative.

ROEPER: Jim, what about the criticism, and I agree, as Roe said, it’s been widely misunderstood and sometimes misreported but some of the defense attorneys were saying yesterday that it’s so specific that it was written for one case.

GLASGOW: Those guys don’t tell the truth about anything, now do they? In Giles v California, which was recently decided by the Supreme Court a couple of years ago–and I actually flew out and watched the argument–Antonin Scalia , who is a very conservative justice and who is a champion of cross-examination and confrontation, found that 400 years ago the concept of forfeiture by wrongdoing was in place in the common law. It was there when the drafters of the constitution wrote the constitution. That’s one of his tests to determine whether or not he’s going to go along with something in the common law. But anyway, the federal government, in 1997, enacted a law that was section 804(b) now adopted in Illinois, January first, 2011, which is basically forfeiture by wrongdoing and it’s “equitable forfeiture”. If you deliberately destroy evidence by getting this witness out of the way, you can’t come in, thumb your nose at the judge, laugh and say, “Ha,ha you can’t get me now!” That’s basically the concept.

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Will late medical examiner, Bryan Mitchell, speak from the grave at Peterson trial?

Yesterday, during an interview with In Session‘s Ted Rowlands, Attorney Steven Greenberg said that the State is going to try to introduce hearsay evidence from the late Dr. Bryan Mitchell into Drew Peterson’s murder trial–evidence that would go against the findings of his own autopsy report.

Mitchell, who passed away in March 2010, was the medical examiner who performed the original autopsy on Kathleen Savio in November 2007. In his report he noted that a 1-inch gash on her scalp might have been caused by a slip or fall.

A second autopsy was done on the exhumed body of Kathleen Savio in November of 2007 by Dr. Larry Blum. Blum believes that Savio’s body was in the tub when her head wound was inflicted, based on the flow of the blood.

It’s now being alleged that shortly before his death, possibly from his deathbed, Dr. Mitchell admitted that he had made a mistake in the Peterson case. This statement could possibly be admitted to Peterson’s trial, but I don’t know exactly which hearsay exception it might fall under. It remains to be seen. Needless to say, the defense does not want this testimony admitted.

Countering the hearsay statements

Attorney Greenberg also indicated how the Peterson defense may argue against some of the hearsay evidence to be introduced by the prosecution.

1. Kathleen’s complaint that Drew confronted her in her home and threatened her.
The defense intends to argue that Kathleen’s complaint was not spontaneous but was made the same day that she was served with papers for battery against Stacy Peterson. They will argue that she only filed the report in retaliation.

2. Savio’s letter sent to Asst. State’s Attorney Elizabeth Fragale and others.
The defense will attempt to demonstrate that the letter went through several versions and that the contents were “embellished”.

3. Testimony of Savio’s friend Mary Susan Parks that Drew had threatened Kathleen.
Defense will confront the witness and ask her why she did not come forward to authorities when Kathleen was found dead. Essentially, they’ll try to show that she is lying.

4. Testimony from Neil Schori that Stacy told him she saw Drew loading the washer with women’s clothing on the night that Kathleen died.
Defense will argue that Pastor Schori has given several different versions of the story. They will ask the jury to consider why an experienced police officer would risk bringing the victim’s clothes home to wash them rather than disposing of them. As for the argument that he wanted to launder the clothes to remove any traces of his own DNA, Greenberg’s response was “That’s why God invented fire”.

According to Attorney Greenberg, the biggest challenges to the defense will be scientific testimony, Neil Schori’s hearsay evidence, and anything that involves Stacy Peterson.

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Drew Peterson pre-trial hearing: The videos

Recently, I spent an afternoon looking back at all the posts and threads from January 19-February 19th, 2010. You’ll remember that this is when Drew Peterson’s pre-trial hearings took place. The prosecution called over 60 witnesses to testify about not only the Kathleen Savio murder case, but Stacy Peterson‘s disappearance. Judge Stephen White used the evidence presented during these hearings to decide which if any hearsay evidence could be admitted in Peterson’s murder trial (the judge’s decision barring some testimony was overturned in April).

Specifically, I watched all the youtube video clips from the news during the hearings. One thing that struck me was that the formula for most clips is pretty much the same. A reporter gives a run-down of the day’s events and then Joel Brodsky gets some face time to refute the testimony and/or attack the witnesses’ credibility. Although Brodsky starts sounding like a broken record (especially after watching a few clips in succession) it certainly clears away any question of “media bias”. As far as the news goes, the coverage was undeniably fair.

A lot of the evidence presented had to do with the disappearance of Stacy Peterson. It’s highly likely that none of that testimony will be heard in the trial for Kathleen Savio’s murder. But it was presented at the pre-trial hearing in order to convince the judge that Drew made Stacy unavailable to testify, and so forfeited his right to confront, which cleared the way for her hearsay evidence (what she told her pastor, a friend and attorney Harry Smith about Drew killing Kathleen) to be admitted.

I don’t think any of us can predict exactly what will end up being presented in the upcoming trial–the defense is filing motions to bar as much as they can–but the videos are an excellent refresher on the State’s witnesses (at least those available in the Winter of 2010), and the evidence against Drew Peterson. I decided to embed all the videos in one post for easy viewing.  They are in chronological order.

There are a LOT of them so pace yourself!

Drew Peterson hearsay testimony begins

Stacy Peterson’s Uncle, former boss testify at hearsay hearing

Drew Peterson’s stepbrother testifies in hearsay hearing

Continue reading

Drew Peterson trial and hearsay evidence. What you need to know.

The public: Three years smirk and swagger free

It’s been almost three years since Drew Peterson was arrested and charged with the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

From the moment that the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy, was reported in the fall of 2007, Peterson alienated the public. Rather than using media coverage to help find his missing wife, he first insisted that he was a jilted husband and then assumed the persona of a bad-boy celebrity. He did the morning radio show circuit joking distastefully and disparaging his wives and their families. A year later, with his current wife still missing, Peterson was engaged to a 23-year-old and offered video packages to the media for a price. He shopped around for an opportunity to appear on a reality TV show and was about to audition for one based on a Las Vegas brothel, “Cathouse”. At the time of his arrest, Drew Peterson’s popularity was at an all-time low. The public couldn’t wait to see the smirk removed from his face at trial. But that was three years ago.

For the last three years, Peterson has remained in the medical unit of the Will County Adult Detention center. Unable to pay his $2 million bail or to win motions that would let him wait out his time to trial at home, he’s been housed away from the general population for his own safety in a solitary cell. During this time his defense team and the prosecutors for the state have prepared for his trial – a lengthy process of appeals, motions and hearings. The most contentious part of these preparations has been in regards to hearsay testimony, or rather statements made by Stacy Peterson and Kathleen Savio to other people or in writing that could point to Peterson being responsible for Savio’s death.

While the prosecution has battled in court to get these statements admitted, Peterson’s defense and PR people have peppered the gossip columns and news shows with misleading statements about “gossip, rumor and innuendo”. These statements coupled with the “poor me” letters from Peterson that are published along with pro-Peterson editorials in a certain less-than-respected paper (Chicago Sun-Times), plus the long wait to trial have led to a measure of turn-about in the public’s feelings about Drew Peterson. As the memory of Peterson’s smirk and swagger fade, the comments threads following news stories have begun to include a number of sympathetic sentiments about the father of six, locked away so long to await his trial. A common thread in these sympathetic comments is a total misunderstanding of the hearsay evidence to be admitted.

Let’s address some of the misconceptions:

“Hearsay sucks! It means that any Tom Dick or Harry can say that someone told them something bad about me and it will be admissible in court! That’s not constitutional!”

Under the hearsay rule, Tom, Dick or Harry’s second-hand statement would not be admissible. Why? Because it would be considered unreliable evidence as it was not stated under oath, cannot be observed by the jury and judge, and cannot be cross-examined and questioned for inaccuracy and ambiguity. However, first-hand testimony from the “someone” who talked to Tom, Dick or Harry would be far more reliable and the court might want them to testify and be cross-examined.

But what if for some reason that person couldn’t testify because the accused did something to make sure that “someone” wasn’t available to testify? Well, the court makes an exception for that and perhaps Tom, Dick or Harry will get to testify after all. It’s called “Forfeiture by Wrongdoing” and it means that the accused forfeits their right to confront a witness if they themselves have done something to keep that person from testifying.

In other words:

The Constitution does not guarantee an accused person against the legitimate consequences of his own wrongful acts. It grants him the privilege of being confronted with the witnesses against him; but if he voluntary keeps the witnesses away, he cannot insist on the privilege. If, therefore, when absent by his procurement, their evidence is supplied in some lawful way, he is in no condition to assert that his constitutional rights have been violated.

Kathleen and Stacy’s comments to others are being admitted because the judge believes to a sufficient degree of certainty that Drew Peterson made them unavailable to testify.

“But hearsay is always wrong! There’s a rule against it!”

One major misconception about the hearsay rule is that hearsay is never admissible in court.

The Hearsay Rule prevents most out of court statements from being used as evidence in court. Hearsay can be written, spoken, or even gestures… There are numerous exceptions to the Hearsay Rule, including dying declarations, spontaneous statements, descriptions of medical history, official records, and reputation of a person’s character…

Despite what a Sun-Times editorial might say there is no “nearly universal prohibition against hearsay evidence”.

“The prosecution made up a new law to go after Drew Peterson and that’s the only reason this hearsay is getting in to his trial!”

In November 2008 Public Act 095-1004 was passed into Illinois Law. Dubbed “Drew’s Law” by the media, it addressed a certain kind of hearsay exception. In essence it made an exception for hearsay statements when it could be shown to a reasonable extent that the accused had killed a witness in order to keep them from testifying at a trial.

Glasgow relied heavily on this statute in trying to get evidence admitted to Peterson’s trial but when eight statements were deemed unreliable due to the higher standards of reliability that the statute required, he then asked the court to consider the evidence under the common law hearsay exceptions. Ultimately the eight statements were considered “on their own merits” by a panel of three appellate justices and were deemed reliable and admissible. The new statute was not the criteria for their decision. Ironically, “Drew’s law” almost kept a majority of the hearsay evidence out of the trial.

“They are trying to get all this hearsay evidence into the trial because they don’t have any concrete evidence!”

Sadly, Kathleen Savio’s death scene was not treated as a crime scene. Those first on the scene didn’t follow the protocol for the possibility of a homicide. Beyond that, Drew Peterson was given special consideration as a police officer. His body was never examined for bruises or scratches. He was interviewed in the lunch-room of the police station where he worked. At Kathleen’s inquest, the jurors were not given the option of “undecided” as manner of death, one member of the coroner’s jury knew Peterson and told the others that he was a great guy, the ISP officer who testified was never present at the scene of Kathleen’s death. He even took it upon himself to inform the jurors of the exact location where Savio had hit her head on the tub (when it’s never been proven that she did hit her head on the tub). Kathleen Savio’s death investigation was mishandled and bungled in every possible way.

As the State’s prosecutor in this case, James Glasgow has done what he can to get as much evidence admitted to this trial as he can. If this was your mother, your daughter or your friend wouldn’t you want to see a prosecutor fight for every shred of evidence that might convict her murderer?

Possibly the strangest thing to me in regard to the opposition against these 13 hearsay statements is that those who seem the most incensed over them, never make any specific references to them. Do the opponents know what they are railing against or are they just having a knee-jerk reaction against hearsay, in general?

I have printed this list before, but I think it’s really important that people realize these are not the typical statements that are made during contentious divorces, as Peterson’s attorneys would have you believe.

So, once more here are the hearsay statements that have been deemed reliable and admissible (to the best of our knowledge):

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.

2. 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.

4. Savio’s co-worker, Issam Karam’s testimony that Savio told him Peterson came into her home and held a knife to her throat.

5. 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.

8. 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.

9. Savio’s Aug. 6, 2003, statement to the insurance company.

10. Savio’s divorce attorney, Harry Smith’s testimony that Stacy contacted him about divorcing Peterson shortly before she vanished.

11. 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 early hours of Sunday morning. Stacy also told him Peterson coached her to provide his alibi.

13. 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.

So, if you want to support Drew Peterson, go nuts. But please don’t pretend that he’s not getting a fair deal legally. Hearsay evidence is evidence and there are no precedents being set here (scary or otherwise).  Peterson has the benefit of a six-man legal team all working hard to make sure that Peterson gets a fair shake–something most defendants can only dream about.

Sources:
Forfeiture By Wrongdoing: An Evidence Concept, by Leonard Birdsong
History of the Hearsay Rule
Hearsay in United States law

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Appellate court overturns hearsay decision. Drew Peterson finally going to trial


The appellate court has finally reconsidered the eight barred hearsay statements on their merits and have decided to reverse the earlier appellate decision to bar them. They have decided that the statements are reliable and admissable at trial which can now go forward. We could be seeing a trial as early as June!

However, this doesn’t mean that the earlier barred evidence will necessarily be heard at trial. In the decision Justice William Holdridge pointed out that,

…We do not mean to suggest, however, that the circuit court is required to admit those eight statements during the trial. Rather, we merely hold that the statements are admissible under Rule of Evidence 804(b)(5) and should be admitted under that rule unless the circuit court finds they are otherwise inadmissible.

In other words, the statements have been ruled admissible under the long-established common laws of forfeiture by wrongdoing, which is what James Glasgow had argued for back in February 2011, but they won’t all necessarily make it into the trial.

Although this decision is a huge win for the state, it did not come without some chastisement over the controversial hearsay statute (which has been referred to as Drew’s Law) that Glasgow first hung his case on but then ultimately begged the court to toss aside:

…one would expect the State either to enforce the statute as written or act to repeal the statute, not urge the courts to ignore it.

These are the hearsay statements that have been deemed reliable (based on our research. The original decision was sealed, but leaked). The statements in red are the ones that were originally barred but are now admissible.

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.

2. 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.

4. Savio’s co-worker, Issam Karam’s testimony that Savio told him Peterson came into her home and held a knife to her throat.

5. 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.

8. 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.

9. Savio’s Aug. 6, 2003, statement to the insurance company

10. Savio’s divorce attorney, Harry Smith’s testimony that Stacy contacted him about divorcing Peterson shortly before she vanished.

11. 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.

13. 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.

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Kathleen Savio death scene photo

It recently came to our attention that a photo of the death scene of Drew Peterson‘s third wife, Kathleen Savio, has been leaked.

Numerous investigators and experts have been given access to the official report of Savio’s death, and photographs of the scene were admitted as evidence in the hearsay hearing in February 2010, but only now has this photo been seen by the public. It shows the body of Kathleen Savio curled up in the bath tub of her home. She is in a semi-fetal position, on her left hip but with her upper torso rotated downwards, an ekg lead still attached to her right shoulder. A blue towel is folded on the tub nearby – a towel that was not present at the scene when neighbors first entered the bathroom, but which was photographed later after Drew Peterson had been left alone with Kathleen’s body.

It’s a heart-wrenching and disturbing photo so we are linking to it in this post rather than embed the picture. We advise you to view at your own discretion by clicking the link below.

[Death Scene photo of Kathleen Savio.]

If Kathleen had slipped and struck her head, might she have fallen in this position? Not according to Dr. Larry Blum’s testimony for the prosecution:

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.

The pathologist 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.”

Documents: Kathleen Savio Murder Case: Death Inquest, Exhumation, and Autopsy Reports

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Hearsay decision going back to appellate court for reconsideration

Today The Illinois Supreme Court ordered a lower court to reconsider whether eight (out of fourteen) hearsay statements should be allowed in Drew Peterson’s trial for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

The prosecution had petitioned the Supreme Court to look at the decision handed down in July, which deemed the state had filed its appeal too late. The state’s position was that a recent decision in the case of People v. Hanson constituted a change in the law which allowed them to appeal beyond the deadline. The state is seeking a decision on the hearsay statements based on common law statutes rather than a more constrictive and recent hearsay statute.

State’s Attorney, James Glasgow says, “I am extraordinarily pleased by Wednesday’s Illinois Supreme Court order in the matter of People v. Peterson. I look forward to receiving an Appellate Court ruling on the merits of our appeal in light of the Illinois Supreme Court’s holdings in People v. Hanson. We anticipate a trial sometime in the spring.”

This will mean a few more months of waiting for the appeal to be reconsidered, and few more months for Drew Peterson to sit in jail.

Gossip columnist Michael Sneed reports that Drew’s teen sons, Kris and Tom, visited him in jail for the first time on Saturday. Tom was home from college for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Watch the video below to see the State’s Attorney’s press conference from July. We’re kind of back there again.

Read more at:
Shorewood Patch
Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Tribune
Hanson Ruling

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