By Danya Hooker, firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Peterson’s attorney, Joel Brodsky, filed an appeal Tuesday against a Will County judge’s decision to reopen the estate of Peterson’s third wife, Kathleen Savio, Brodsky confirmed Wednesday.
Judge Carmen Goodman granted a petition by Savio’s family and ordered the estate reopened April 17. The decision opened the door for Savio’s family to investigate whether there is enough evidence to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against Peterson.
Immediately after the judge’s ruling, Brodsky said he would consider an appeal. On Tuesday, he filed notice of the appeal.
“Appellate courts reverse trial court [decisions] every day,” Brodsky said. “Trial courts are not infallible. They make mistakes every day.”
Brodsky said he is appealing the decision on the grounds that the two-year statute of limitations on filing wrongful death lawsuits has passed and that the Savio family’s request does not meet the legal requirements for reopening an estate.
Lawyers for Savio’s family say they had no way to file a lawsuit because Peterson’s uncle was in control of the estate. On April 17, Goodman agreed and reopened the estate.
Savio was found drowned in a dry bathtub in March 2004. At the time, her death was ruled an accident but the Oct. 28 disappearance of Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, led investigators to re-examine Savio’s drowning.
Savio’s body was exhumed in November 2007 and two pathologists, one at the request of her family and one on behalf of Will County, performed separate autopsies. Each recently ruled the death a homicide.
Drew Peterson has been named a suspect in Stacy’s disappearance, which police have a labeled a “potential homicide.” Police have not named a suspect in Savio’s homicide.
Peterson has denied any wrongdoing in either case and has not been charged with a crime.
Marty Glink, an attorney for Savio’s family, has not said who would be the target of a possible wrongful death lawsuit, but has mentioned Drew Peterson as a possible defendant.
“We all know that one person will be a defendant,” Glink said.
Despite Brodsky’s appeal, Glink said he believes Goodman’s original ruling will stand.
“I’m confident she did the right thing,” Glink said. “As far as I’m concerned, [the appeal] is only one more road block.”
Also Wednesday, Brodsky said that Drew Peterson has legally transferred the ownership of 11 firearms to his son Stephen, an Oak Brook police officer.
The move came just days after Will County Judge Richard Schoenstedt denied Peterson’s request to let his son hold onto the items, which are currently being held by Illinois State Police.
Schoenstedt had previously ordered police to return the seized firearms, provided Peterson maintained a valid firearm owner’s identification card. State police revoked the card the next day, rendering Schoenstedt’s decision moot. Brodsky asked the court to allow Stephen Peterson to take the items.
But Schoenstedt denied that request on April 17, saying Drew Peterson’s right to his property did not outweigh the state’s right to retain possible evidence. Without an FOID card, Peterson would have had to prove he intended to utilize the property in some way, such as selling the guns to his son, in order for his property rights to trump the state’s rights.
Brodsky said he intends file another motion within two weeks on behalf of Stephen Peterson because the guns now legally belong to him.