Illinois missing persons event to take place tomorrow

Rachel Mellon Skemp

Rachel Mellon Skemp

Rachel Mellon was thirteen years old when she disappeared from her Bolingbrook home. She would be 33 years old now.

Family and friends agree that Rachel was home sick on January 31, 1996. Her stepdad, Vince Mellon, was also home that day. He told police he went out to walk their dog and left Rachel sleeping in her room. Her mother Amy noticed her missing later. She hasn’t been seen since.

Tomorrow will mark the 20th anniversary of her disappearance and the date will be marked by a public memorial and balloon release in honor of not only Rachel, but all of Illinois’ missing persons.

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Rachel’s father, Jeff Skemp, will be speaking at the event; along with Casssandra Cales, sister of Stacy Peterson; Sue Olsen, mother of Bradley Olsen, missing from DeKalb since 2007; Sheila Bradley-Smith, whose two nieces, Diamond and Tionda, have been missing from Chicago since 2001, and others who are still looking for answers about their loved ones.

In all, the names of 213 will be read and 200 balloons will be released – each containing a note with information about a missing person.

Please come out and show your support for these families and friends!

When: January 31 at 2:00
Where: Bernard J. Ward Elementary School, 200 Recreation Drive, Bolingbrook, IL

Drew Peterson takes murder conviction appeal to Illinois Supreme Court. Murder-for-hire trial set for next month.

Drew Peterson's new mug shots for 2016

Drew Peterson’s new mug shots for 2016

UPDATE 1/27/16: Despite having denied a motion to delay the beginning of the trial just last week, after a conference call between Judge Brown and attorneys Walker and Liefer, the judge agreed to continue Drew Peterson’s upcoming murder-for-hire trial in order to give both sides more time to prepare. The trial was originally set to begin the end of next month. The new trial date is May 6.

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Two months after his appeal was denied by the Illinois appellate court, Drew Peterson’s attorneys have taken his case to the state Supreme Court in hopes of overturning his 2012 conviction for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Penned by attorneys Steve Greenberg and Harold Krent, the petition to appeal covers familiar ground, alleging that the admission of hearsay and “former bad acts” evidence to his the trial should not have taken place and resulted in the erroneous conviction of Drew Peterson.

The Illinois Appellate Court is also called out for having not seriously considered all of the arguments raised in the earlier appeal.

The appeal also, once again points the finger at Peterson’s former counsel and friend, Joel Brodsky, who they insist created a conflict of interest when he wrote a contract with Peterson that gave him a percentage of any money earned by media appearances. They also maintain that he erred when calling lawyer Harry Smith to the stand to testify that Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, had asked him if she could get more money from a divorce arrangement if she threatened to tell how he had killed Kathleen Savio.

Interestingly, last week, a former client of Steve Greenberg’s, Albert Domagala, had his sentence overturned and was granted a new trial after a judge agreed that he had been granted ineffective assistance by Greenberg at his 2005 murder trial.

Joel Brodsky, naturally, took to Facebook and called it a case of “the pot calling the kettle black”.

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In Peterson’s case, the filing does not ensure that the Supreme Court will hear the new appeal. The Chicago Tribune points out that the higher court “typically hears a small percentage of such petitions. For example, justices agreed to hear arguments in less than 5 percent of the nearly 1,500 petitions filed in fiscal 2014.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Randolph County Circuit Court Judge Richard A. Brown denied Peterson’s request to delay his trial in the solicitation of murder case.

Peterson’s attorney, Lucas Liefer told the judge that the defense and prosecution were still exchanging discovery in the case, “I don’t think we need a lot of time, but I don’t think it is realistic to say we will be ready to go to trial in a month,” he said.

Judge Brown replied that the calendar for March was already full, telling Leifer, “if you have to move cases aside to get ready for this, then do so.”

At least forty-six witnesses have been subpoenaed in the case, including experts in finger-print and audio recording evidence.

Jury selection for the trial will take place on February 26 and his trial will begin on February 29th in Chester, Illinois where he is incarcerated.

Drew’s prison correspondence continues to be of interest. Joel Brodsky took to Twitter to share his taunting of his former client via the postal service.

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A man (with his own notorious past) who claims to be distantly related to Staacy Peterson, also wrote to Peterson in prison, and claims to have received an acerbic reply.

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Stacy’s sister, Cassandra Cales, continues to search for her sister and to consult those claiming to be psychics for help in locating Stacy Peterson’s remains.

Most recently Stacy’s family has turned to a woman named Sharon Pugh, who calls herself the “Southern Style Medium”. Hugh was provided with items belonging to to Drew and Stacy Peterson, and by holding the items she says that Stacy joined them and told her that she had been wearing a heart shaped necklace when she died, which was removed before the disposal of her body. She hopes to have more sessions with the family.

Drew Peterson's watches

Drew Peterson’s watches

Stacy Peterson's cap

Stacy Peterson’s cap

Today is Stacy Peterson’s birthday. She would have been 32.

 

Her youngest child turned 11 this month and celebrated with a trip to an indoor rock climbing facility and a lobster dinner.
Stacy with the children: Kris, Lacy, Anthony and Tom

Stacy with the children: Kris, Lacy, Anthony and Tom

Appeal denied. Court upholds Drew Peterson’s murder conviction

Almost two years after it was filed, and six months after it was argued,three appellate court justices decided unanimously to deny Drew Peterson’s appeal of his 2012 conviction for the murder of Kathleen Savio.

The justices, led by Justice Robert L. Carter, stated in their 87-page opinion that there were no errors made during Peterson’s trial, that the physical and circumstantial evidence was sufficient for conviction and that Joel Brodsky’s media agreement with Peterson did not constitute a conflict of interest.

State’s Attorney James Glasgow, the target of Peterson’s current murder-for-hire case, states to CBS that “this is the ultimate vindication of this eight-year journey we’ve been on.”

Victims of domestic abuse advocate and sister of Kathleen, Sue Savio says, “He is where he is and I hope he knows he’s never getting out.

Peterson’s attorney, Steven Greenberg has stated both that he will appeal the conviction again and that he will need to talk to his client before deciding what step to take next.

As for former Peterson lead attorney, Joel Brodsky – he sees the denial as a personal victory.

joel

I’m not sure I agree with his assessment of complete vindication. The court didn’t determine whether or not Brodsky had committed an ethical violation. That’s a matter for the ARDC. Rather, they opined only that his questionable media contract with Peterson didn’t fall under the definition of a per se conflict of interest, stating:

Simply put, the alleged conflict created by the media contract in this case does not fall into one of the categories of per se conflicts established by our supreme court. See id. at 143-44. Regardless of whether Brodsky entering into the contract constituted a violation of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, that relationship did not give rise to a per se conflict of interest.

Meanwhile, Peterson’s trial for conspiracy to commit murder is scheduled to begin in February.

Murder-for-hire motions update: physical evidence, clerical errors and conflict of interest

First off, an episode of “Murder Made Me Famous” addresing the Drew Peterson cases premieres on Reelz this Saturday. You’ll see lots of familiar faces and even Cassandra Cales took part in this one. Check your local listings for times and channel.

Meanwhile, preparation for Peterson’s murder-for hire November trial is underway and deep in the motions phase.

On August 21, an order granting the State’s motion for buccal swab and fingerprints was filed. I’m not sure whose mouth and fingerprints are involved, but Judge Richard A. Brown will admit this physical evidence to trial, which is kind of exciting seeing as there was so much made about the lack of physical evidence at Drew Peterson’s last trial.

On Tuesday, the Peterson defense and Illinois State’s attorneys argued a number of motions that were filed last month. The courtroom was closed for about an hour while the states motion to admit prior bad acts was argued. Court was then opened while attorneys argued a defense motion to supress wire tap evidence.

Peterson’s motion argues that the wire tap evidence against him has a number of problems that should keep it from being heard at trial. For one thing, they say that the consent to record form was not filled out or signed properly. The form authorizes eavesdropping on conversations between Peterson and a man named Stephen Nardi, who has nothing to do with the case (the actual informant is alleged to be named Antonio Smith, a former convict now living under an assumed name in a different state). This is most likely a clerical error – but is it bad enough to keep out the wire taps?

The motion also argues that the investigation into the conspiracy charges was initiated by Jame Glasgow, which was a conflict of interest seeing as he was the intended victim of the crime, and further, that Will County Judge, Richard Schoenstedt, interviewed Smith before the consent was given for a wire tap, again creating a conflict of interest.

The Randolph County Herald Tribune reports that:

Illinois Senior Assistant Attorney General Bill Elward said during the hearing that there are “extensive mentions” of Glasgow in the recordings that contain “animosity” regarding why Peterson hates Glasgow and wants to have him killed.

“The defendant makes numerous statements that he wants Jim Glasgow killed,” (Assistant Attorney General Steve) Nate told Brown. “Those are his words. There’s no going around those words.”

The defense also argued that there was no written affidavit provided before the wire tap took place. “Informant A” alleges that he has a letter from Drew Peterson stating that he wants James Glasgow to be killed, but he is not able to provide it.

The state argued to admit evidence about Peterson’s prior attempt to solicit the murder of Kathleen Savio.  Jeffrey Pachter testified at Peterson’s trial for the murder of Savio that in 2003 Drew had asked him to find someone who could kill his wife for $25,000.

“That may have happened in Will County, but they haven’t proven in this county that Drew Peterson hired someone to kill his third wife,” Peterson’s attorney, Lucas Liefer, said.

Brown asked both counsels to submit a “checklist” of issues, stating that he had made some notes during the nearly two-and-a-half hour hearing on what he has to rule on.

“I just want to make sure I cover each one of these trial issues,” he said. “I’ll read all of this and think about it and give a written order. If I miss something, let me know.”

Here’s a rundown of case updates for the month of August:

08/18/2015 Subpoena Duces Tecum issued. People’s Response to the Defendant’s Supplemental Motion for Discovery on file

08/18/2015 Motions argued.

08/21/2015 Order Granting State’s Motion for Buccal Swab and Fingerprints on file.

08/24/2015 Motion to Suppress on file. Motion to Suppress Evidence on file. Petition for Expert Fees on file. Notice of Hearing on file. (Hearing on petition for expert fees 9-29-15, 11am) Proof of Service on file,

08/24/2015 Order Granting Defense Request to File Exhibits Under Seal on file. Exhibits filed under seal. (Filed in locked exhibit cabinet 1A)

08/28/2015 Reply to Defendant’s Motion to Suppress Evidence on file.

08/31/2015 Reply to People’s Motion in Limine to Admit Evidence of Other Crimes on file. Reply to People’s Motion to Admit Relevant Evidence of Defendant’s Conduct and Other Acts Evidence on file.

09/01/2015 Order on file. (Rulings on motion for discovery filed 7-23-15)

09/02/2015 Sealed motion to admit relevant evidence was opened and copied for Judge Brown. Sealed exhibits were opened and exhibits d & e were copied for Judge Brown.

I sure would love to have access to exhibit cabinet 1A.

New Drew Peterson documentary

For the last month or so CNN has been working on a new documentary about the Drew Peterson trial, his new conspiracy charges and the lives of Kathleen Savio and Stacy Peterson.

For weeks they were doing research here on the blog and I was contacted by a producer named Max Newfield for help with source materials.

Sue Savio, sister of Peterson’s third wife, was interviewed for the special report and went to Facebook with her hope that her interview will help in her fight against domestic violence.

sue-doc

Pastor Neil Schori, who was the confidant of Stacy Peterson, had a positive experience with the production as well, stating that correspondent Jean Casarez was “great” and that she gave him “a chance to talk about how we can help victims” of domestic violence.

neilschori-doc

Even Joel Brodsky, Peterson’s controversial lawyer,  seemed to have enjoyed his involvement.

joel-doc

But not everyone was thrilled to see the cameras. When Drew’s son, Stephen, spotted them in front of his father’s Bolingbrook house, he referred to the crew from CNN as “F’ing vultures” and bemoaned that “it never ends.”

video-crew-petersons-cropped

From the ad on CNN’s site, it looks as if Stacy’s Aunt Candace Aikin was interviewed as was Joe Hosey, author of the book Fatal Vows: The Tragic Wives of Sergeant Drew Peterson which was adapted for the Lifetime Movie, Drew Peterson:Untouchable.

CNN Special Report, Married to a murderer: The Drew Peterson Story, airs on Tuesday, June 30 at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific time. Check your local listings for channel.

UPDATE JULY 7: Peterson’s trial for the solicitation of murder (of State’s Attorney, James Glasgow) has been rescheduled for November 13. His lawyer wants to hire an expert witness and give them time to research, etc.

06/18/2015 Motion to Continue on file. Petition to Approve Expert Witnes Retention and Funding on file.

07/07/2015 Parties appear; motion hearings continued to 9-1-15, 9am; case set for jury trial selection on 11-13-15, 9am; jury trial set 11-16-15, 9am. Agreed Case Management Order on file. *copies given to all parties.

Video: Drew Peterson murder conviction appeal oral arguments

Part 1: Argument for the appeal by attorney Steven Greenberg

Part 2: Argument for the appeal by attorney Harold Krent

Part 3: Argument against the appeal by assistant state’s attorney Marie Czech (1)

Part 4: Argument against the appeal by assistant state’s attorney Marie Czech (2)

Part 5: Rebuttal by attorney Steven Greenberg

Last week Drew Peterson attorneys Steve Greenberg and Harold Krent presented arguments to three Illinois appellate justices in hopes of overturning Peterson’s 2012 conviction for the murder of Kathleen Savio.

The appeal centered around a number of points – namely the admittance of hearsay statements under the forfeiture by wrongdoing exception, the question of counselor-client and lawyer-client privilege and allegations of conflict and ineffective counsel on the part of Joel Brodsky.

Last week also saw a change in date for Peterson’s murder-for-hire trial. Originally he had asked for a speedy trial and the date was set for July, but his attorney, Lucas Liefer, decided that they could not be ready by then. The trial is now set for August 28th.

Attorney Steven Greenberg who unsuccessfully defended Peterson against murder charges at trial in 2012, and is now one of his appellate lawyers, was interviewed about the oral arguments as well as Drew’s more recent murder case

Attorney Joel Brodsky, who is named in Peterson’s appeal as providing ineffective assistance and having a per se conflict of interest, replied to the charges via “The Publicity Agency”. The PR firm is run by Glenn Selig who is also named in Peterson’s appeal.

“I was amazed and shocked at the flagrant lies told, and the blatant hypocrisy demonstrated by Attorney Steve Greenberg during oral arguments before the Illinois Appellate Court on Drew Peterson’s appeal of his murder conviction. As to the accusations about my seeking publicity during the Peterson case, Steve Greenberg’s hypocrisy is beyond all bounds. The provable truth is that Attorney Steve Greenberg begged me to let him come onto the Peterson case to work for free and he wanted to do so for the publicity. He certainly did not want to work for free out of the goodness of his heart. Further, for Greenberg to complain about me seeking publicity from the Peterson case is the height of dishonesty when the provable fact is that I had to stop him from appearing on a truTV segment called “Karas v. Greenberg”, which he attempted to do during the trial! Rather than preparing for the days hearing or appearing in the courtroom during the trial, Greenberg was on truTV giving away the defense’s strategy while seeking publicity for himself. During the trial, he even used his daughter to set up his own personal media interviews. It is the height of hypocrisy for Attorney Greenberg to accuse me of wanting publicity.

Furthermore, Attorney Steve Greenberg told blatant lies during the oral argument. He stated that Drew Peterson’s media interviews were played during the trial and were used as evidence against him. Perhaps Greenberg was too busy doing the “Karas v. Greenberg” TV bits during the trial to remember, but not one video of Drew giving a media interview was ever played at trial. Not one. The only thing related to Mr. Peterson’s interviews that was used as evidence was a written transcript of three (3) questions that Drew was asked during interviews. The questions were as follows: (1) what happened to Kathy” (Drew said “I don’t know”), (2) Were you surprised that Kathy’s body was exhumed (Drew said “yes”), and (3) Were you separated at the time? (Drew said ‘yes”). Hardly evidence against Drew. This shows that Attorney Steve Greenberg lacks any credibility and engaged in gross misrepresentations and hypocrisy during his oral argument to the appellate court.”

Oral arguments presented today in appeal of Drew Peterson’s murder conviction

Drew Peterson attorneys Steve Greenberg and Harold Krent presented arguments today to three Illinois appellate justices in hopes of overturning Peterson’s 2012 conviction for the murder of Kathleen Savio.

The appeal centered around a number of points – namely the admittance of hearsay statements, the question of counselor-client privilege and allegations of ineffective counsel on the part of Joel Brodsky.

The Chicago Tribune reported that,

A three-member panel of the 3rd District Appellate Court frequently interrupted the attorneys with questions about why the rest of Peterson’s legal team did not intervene if they disagreed with Brodsky’s actions and trial strategy.

They also appeared skeptical of claims that Peterson’s rights were violated when Burmila allowed Savio’s divorce attorney, Harry Smith, to testify that Stacy Peterson had called to ask what would happen if she did not reveal her husband’s role in Savio’s death.

Greenberg and Krent argued that Smith should never have been allowed to testify, because it violated attorney-client privilege.

But Justice Daniel Schmidt appeared skeptical.

“Is the privilege designed to protect the client or the person that killed the client?” Schmidt asked. “My guess is if I’m dead, I’m not going to mind if my attorney testifies about the guy that killed me.”

Also,

Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Marie Czech argued that the media rights agreement had expired before Peterson’s 2012 trial, and said Brodsky had nothing to gain by calling a witness that could sink his client’s case.

“There is absolutely no benefit to Mr. Brodsky for losing this case,” Czech said. “Winning this case brings new clients, brings fame. Losing the case, as we’ve seen with Mr. Brodsky, brings a loss of clients, ignominy.”

She also reminded the panel that Smith was called by the defense, not the prosecution.

After the nearly hourlong argument, Justice Mary K. O’Brien said the court would take the matter under advisement and would later issue a written decision. She did not say when that decision would be released.

Pastor Neil Schori attended today’s proceedings, commenting afterward about the allegation that his testimony violated Stacy Peterson’s right to privacy he said, “The defense continues to try to make this an issue. That Stacy wanted me to be quiet makes no sense.”