Judge holds off decision on whether to return Peterson’s property

By Danya Hooker
dhooker@mysuburbanlife.com

Drew Peterson will have to wait at least another week before getting back property seized by the state during a Nov. 1 search.

Will County Judge Richard Schoenstedt was scheduled to hear evidence Friday from prosecutors and investigators in a closed hearing before he makes a decision on whether the state is justified in keeping the items, which include Peterson’s two vehicles, computers and 11 guns.

The items were seized as part of a Nov. 1 search warrant execution in which police collected dozens of items from Peterson’s home as part of their investigation into the Oct. 28 disappearance of his wife, Stacy Peterson.

Judge Daniel Rozak ruled in mid-December that the state must return certain items such as iPods and compact discs but could retain others. As part of his decision, Rozak said the court would periodically review the ruling, including Friday’s hearing.

Drew Peterson’s attorney Joel Brodsky spoke to reporters in the bitter cold outside the courthouse Friday and said his client has a right to his own property.

“They’re his property and he hasn’t been charged with a crime,” Brodsky said. “The cars are most important because he’s paying rental on the car.”

In postponing his decision, Schoenstedt said he would conduct a closed hearing Friday to allow Will County Assistant State’s Attorney John Connor and District 5 State Police Cmdr. Ken Kaupas to show him evidence and argue they have just cause to keep the property. The records of the hearing will be sealed.

“They’re only going to give behind closed doors what would be privileged or confidential,” Brodsky said, adding that he is not allowed to see the state’s evidence either.

All parties will meet again at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 1 where Brodsky will present counter-arguments and may even introduce evidence of his own. The judge is then expected to make a ruling.

“This is the next logical step,” Brodsky said.

Brodsky also responded to allegations that Peterson forged his third wife’s signature so that he could buy a house for himself and his then-girlfriend Stacy Cales. Kathleen Savio’s family members have questioned the validity of the signature but a handwriting expert hired by the Chicago Sun-Times could not determine whether the signature was real or forged.

Brodsky said he has dealt with signature disputes many times throughout his career and has found that people’s signatures can change drastically depending on their mood or how hurried they are.

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