Drew Peterson in court this morning: Updates

UPDATE 10:55 CST:

The proceedings start off with the courtroom being cleared of reporters and spectators.

UPDATE 11:03 CST:

Defense Attorney Joe Lopez tweets that he has arrived in Joliet.

UPDATE 11:32 CST:

WGN reports that Peterson appears confident–gave reporters a “sly smile”.

UPDATE 12:02 CST:

WGN reports that the State wants to produce and present an animated video to show at trial. Peterson’s transportation to court and entry to courthouse has been changed so that the media will only see him once he is in the courtroom. Atty Brodsky says that potential jurors are being asked not only if they saw the Lifetime movie, “Drew Peterson: Untouchable” but whether their spouses have seen the film. There may be additions made to the jury pool since it is down about one third from when it was originally assembled about three years ago.

UPDATE 12:24 CST:

Court breaks for lunch. Media has yet to attend any of today’s proceedings.

UPDATE 12:33 CST:

According to Patch editor, Joe Hosey, defense attorney says a pending ruling may prompt the State to ask for trial delay.

UPDATE 01:50 CST:

Seeing reports that Peterson appears “totally relaxed – joking with attorneys” and a deputy sheriff.

UPDATE 04:17 CST:

It’s being reported that despite the appellate court’s ruling, Judge Burmila may bar some hearsay evidence before trial if he doesn’t deem it reliable enough. He also said that he may not rule until after the trial begins and each of the disputed statements are introduced.

UPDATE 05:52 CST:

Judge Burmilla barred testimony about Peterson wire-tapping Savio’s phone saying that wire-tapping a spouse doesn’t indicate an intention of murder. The judge still has to rule on a sealed motion involving a hearsay statement. He is giving both sides until Saturday to come up with some case law. Jury selection will still go forward on Monday.

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Drew Peterson will be in court this morning for the hearing of motions in advance of his trial, July 30th.

Six motions are before the court; two brought by the defense and four brought by the prosecution. In addition, attorneys are expected to discuss with Judge Burmila jury selection matters and trial details.

HLN is reporting that one of the motions is in regards to a “wound diagram”. A member of the defense team said that the problem is that they have not yet seen this diagram which they assume is a diagram of the wounds to Kathleen Savio’s body and head. They ceded that they may have no issue with the diagram once they see it.

Judge Burmila is also expected to rule on a motion regarding marital privilege. At previous hearings the courtroom has been cleared whenever it is discussed, but it could be related to comments Stacy Peterson made to her counselor, Neil Schori, about a conversation she had with her husband on the night that Kathleen Savio died, when she found him dressed in black, loading women’s clothing into a washing machine at their home.

Read more at:
Chicago Sun-Times
Plainfield Patch
Chicago Tribune
WGN News
ABC 7 news

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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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Drew Peterson says his sons lied under oath. Bye-bye alibi…

At Drew Peterson’s latest hearing Judge Burmila ruled that Kathleen Savio waived her attorney-client privilege when she asked her divorce lawyer, Harry Smith, to speak out in the event that anything happened to her. He is now free to testify that Savio spoke and wrote to him about her fears that her husband would kill her and make it look like an accident–fears that he had dismissed as “paranoia” until she was found dead in the bathtub of the home she had shared with Drew Peterson.

Judge Burmila did cede in part to the defense by deciding that in waiving the privilege, Smith would need to testify as to anything that Kathleen had told him in confidence, including any statements that might be inclulpatory. Specifically, the defense is eager to have Smith testify that Savio may have lied under oath during a battery case involving a 2002 incident wherein Kathleen attempted to grab a camcorder from Stacy Peterson.

Defense attorney, Steve Greenberg is so excited at the prospect of smearing the reputation of the dead woman that he couldn’t help but crow to the press that the State might decide to not have Harry Smith testify at all, but “if they don’t, we might.”

Joel Brodsky excitedly posted about the far-reaching implications of a possible Savio perjury exposure on his Facebook page:

…Indications are that Kathy Savio took the stand and denied her guilt, and if that is the case, then she lied under oath in the battery case. If that is shown to be true then nothing Kathy Savio said can be believed or taken as reliable evidence in a court of law.

That’s a very interesting statement. Interesting because it appears that Kathleen Savio was not the only person who may have lied under oath about the incident of May 26, 2002.

In a recent interview with the Sun-Time’s Michael Sneed, Drew Peterson described how it came about that his ex-wife was acquitted of the battery charge. “She punched Stacy once in the face in front of the kids and was arrested. But she was found not guilty because the kids said she didn’t do it,” he is quoted as saying. So, not only did Kathleen Savio lie under oath about striking Stacy Peterson, but so did Tom and Kris Peterson?

Drew Peterson is saying that his sons Tom and Kris lied under oath to protect their mother. According to Joel Brodsky that means that nothing they said can be believed or taken as reliable evidence in a court of law.

This is bad news for Drew Peterson since those two boys are his only alibi for his whereabouts on the weekend of February 28-29, 2004.

Since his arrest in 2009 Peterson’s attorneys have been trotting out Drew’s kids to vouch for him, calling them his “lock-tight alibi”. Thomas Peterson even appeared on TV with is dad to state his belief that his dad is innocent, claiming “I highly do not believe that my dad had murdered my mom because, first off, he wasn’t there. He was with us during that period of time.”

In no way do I mean to accuse those boys of being bad people, or of being in any way involved in the murder of their mother. But I don’t think anyone would argue with the fact that children will go to great lengths to please a parent and to fight to keep what family they have intact.

However, if those kids lied under oath once before to protect a parent, what would keep them from doing it again? If it’s true that Savio lied about striking Stacy Peterson then it must also be true that Tom and Kris lied as well, and wouldn’t that destroy their credibility as witnesses for the defense?

By the way, I believe that the Will County Adult Detention Facility records all inmate conversations with visitors. Is it too late for the State to subpoena the recordings of Peterson’s conversation with Sneed?

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Drew Peterson hearing: Kathleen Savio’s attorney and Stacy Peterson’s pastor can testify

UPDATE 10:44 CST:

 •  Judge Burmila has ruled to waive Kathleen Savio‘s attorney-client privilege and that Harry Smith must testify about all conversation he had with Savio if he is going to testify at all. So that means he can testify that Savio told him she was afraid that Peterson would kill her and make it look like an accident but if he does, he will also need to testify to what Savio told him about her battery cases.

•  Some videos clips of interviews with Drew Peterson have been barred. Judge Burmila said that Peterson comes across as “cold-hearted” in one clip. Not only is the clip barred, but jurors will not even see a transcript of the exchange between Drew Peterson and reporter, Martin Bashir, from a segment filmed for ABC’s Nightline:

•  If prosecutors can lay a foundation, testimony from Stacy Peterson‘s Pastor, Neil Schori can be admitted. Schori will testify that Stacy told him that on the night Kathleen died, Drew Peterson left the house and returned dressed all in black and with a bag of women’s clothing that he put into a washing machine, telling her it was the “perfect crime” and then coaching her for hours on what to tell the police. The defense may object to Schori’s testimony if it is presented in court.

•  Next court date: 07/03/2012 9:30 am
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Drew Peterson is in court today. The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. CST.

We’ll update this post throughout the day as we receive news.

Make sure to check the comment thread for the latest updates.

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“Emergency Motion” court date tomorrow for Drew Peterson

We noticed a couple of new events for the Drew Peterson murder case and a hearing scheduled for tomorrow, May 25, at 4pm.

EVENTS
05/23/2012 Emergency Notice
05/23/2012 Impounded Document- Motion to Limit Electronic Communication to…

Since that’s all we’ve got from the Will County Circuit Court site, we could only speculate at this point about what the motion entails. It’s impounded which means that the motion isn’t available for public inspection, but we’ll try to find out what it’s about and will update as we learn.

UPDATE NOON CST: Since the motion is impounded we won’t be able to report more about it unless someone else leaks it. We’ll let you know if that happens. It’s likely that there won’t be an actual court appearance by Peterson tomorrow.

UPDATE 6:15 CST: Well, what do you know, information about the impounded motion was leaked after all, along with some tidbits about the defense (which would indicate to me that the source was a member of the defense team). Guess we’re free to write about it now.

The motion to “limit electronic communication” was filed under seal Wednesday. Sources told the Chicago Tribune that the state’s attorneys office was worried that too many conversations about the case were being handled via email and after standard work hours.

UPDATE 5/25/12: After a heated hearing, during which the State complained that the defense was emailing the judge directly in an attempt to make arguments outside of court, Judge Burmila agreed to limit e-mail communications between all parties to business hours. (See ABC video above)

Feel free to discuss the case in the comments thread. We’ll probably see Drew back in court on June 6th.

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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

Michael Baden will testify at Drew Peterson’s trial. Hearsay decision is challenged.

Pathologist, Michael Baden

At a pre-trial hearing this morning Judge Stephen White decided to allow pathologist, Dr. Michael Baden, to testify about the Fox News arranged autopsy of Kathleen Savio‘s remains at Drew Peterson‘s trial for murder.

Preliminary reports indicate that Steph Watts, a former producer who assisted Dr. Baden during the third autopsy, testified to some graphic details of the undertaking. Under questioning by Joel Brodsky, he denied that he was working on an HBO special about the autopsy. Watts also described how at one point Joel Brodsky approached him with a deal for a video package of Peterson at home with his fiancee, Christina Raines.

It’s been reported that the videotape shot by Watts has been produced for review.

Court was closed for arguments about a recent hearsay ruling that could make some of the barred hearsay statements admissible to the trial.

Chicago Tribune Breaking News
Joe Hosey’s Twitter Feed
Daily Herald
PEOPLE v. HANSON ruling filed June 24, 2010

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