Weapons charges against Drew Peterson dismissed

Today Judge Richard Schoenstedt agreed with Drew Peterson‘s defense that the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act cleared the way for him to possess a semiautomatic rifle with a shortened barrel.  It is unknown at this point whether or not the State will appeal the decision.

Peterson was originally charged with possession of an illegally altered weapon in May of 2008. The case was dismissed once already but that decision was reversed and remanded by an appellate court in July of this year.

Also today, attorney Reem Odeh officially submitted her request to withdraw as counsel for Drew Peterson citing irreconcilable differences with co-counsel, Joel Brodsky. Brodsky challenged her withdrawal, wishing to have Peterson terminate her.

Read more at ABC 7
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22 thoughts on “Weapons charges against Drew Peterson dismissed

  1. So apparently, Drew was craning his neck around to smile at anyone in the courtroom who would acknowledge him. Too bad his biggest fan chose to skip court today. She missed the chance to share a “moment” with the Drew.

  2. Another Illinois murder case involving hearsay testimony. This might be one to follow…

    Coleman, a 33-year-old former security chief for international televangelist Joyce Meyer, is accused of killing his family at their home in Columbia, Ill. Police allege Coleman killed his family to escape his marriage without a divorce, to be with a girlfriend in Florida. He has pleaded not guilty.

    Defense attorneys said they would seek to bar any hearsay testimony. Civil attorneys for Sheri Coleman’s family made public this year a police statement from Kathy LaPlante, a former Joyce Meyer Ministry secretary. In the document, LaPlante told police Sheri Coleman was afraid of her husband, and that she often tearfully told her details of the couple’s stormy marriage.

    She wrote in one passage that in February last year, “Sheri called me at 7 a.m. and she was again hysterically crying and said that if anything happened to her, Chris did it.”

    http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/article_171a74c4-cd69-11df-8cc5-0017a4a78c22.html

  3. Drew Peterson gun charge dismissed
    October 1, 2010
    By DAN ROZEK Staff Reporter / drozek@suntimes.com

    For the second time, a Will County judge dismissed a felony weapons charge against former Bolingbrook police Sgt. Drew Peterson.

    Peterson grinned in the Joliet courtroom as Judge Richard Schoenstedt ruled in his favor, though it won’t immediately change his circumstances. He remains jailed while awaiting trial on charges he murdered his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

    On the gun charge, though, Schoenstedt ruled that prosecutors hadn’t shown the 56-year-old Peterson shouldn’t have been allowed to own the short-barreled AR-15 rifle that was seized by police in November 2007.

    “Under different circumstances, the officers of the Bolingbrook Police Department would have been able to possess and conceal carry this very weapon,” Schoenstedt wrote in his ruling.

    Peterson’s lawyers had argued that, as a police officer, he was allowed by federal law to own the weapon, which they said he used in his law enforcement duties.

    “It was absolutely the correct decision to make,” said Joel Brodsky, one of Peterson’s attorneys, contending that the law allows police officers to “carry almost any type of weapon.”

    The weapon originally was confiscated by police investigating the October 2007 disappearance of Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy.

    Will County prosecutors charged Peterson in May 2008 with felony unlawful use of a weapon, contending that he had illegally modified the assault-style rifel by shortening the barrel.

    Schoenstedt dismissed that charge in November 2008, but prosecutors appealed, and an appellate court reinstated the charge and sent the case back to Schoenstedt.

    Prosecutors could still appeal the judge’s latest dismissal of the charge. A spokesman for Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said no decision has been made.

    “We disagree with the judge’s ruling, but we respect the judge’s ruling,” said spokesman Charles Pelkie.

    Peterson’s pending murder trial has been delayed by an appeal from prosecutors seeking to admit secondhand, or hearsay, statements against Peterson from several key witnesses, including comments that Savio had made.

    Peterson remains a suspect in Stacy Peterson’s still-unsolved disappearance but has not been charged.

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/peterson/2763812,drew-peterson-gun-charge-dismissed-100110.article

  4. Judge: Prosecutors failed to prove Peterson’s guns were illegal
    October 1, 2010 12:02 PM

    A judge this morning dismissed the illegal-gun charge against Drew Peterson, a decision his attorneys believe could also help his son, an Oak Brook police officer who’s been suspended after testifying he took in Peterson’s guns.

    Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant, is currently being held on $20 million bond on charges he drowned his third wife in 2004.

    Judge Richard Schoenstedt ruled today prosecutors had failed to prove that Peterson’s semiautomatic rifle wasn’t protected under a federal law giving police officers general immunity to own weapons that are illegal under state law.

    In fact, it is possible to assume or infer the opposite,” Schoenstedt wrote in his opinion, because Bolingbrook police officers were allowed to carry Colt AR-15s with 11½-inch barrels that would be considered illegally short under state law.

    Peterson’s attorney Joel Brodsky said it was “absolutely the correct decision to make.”

    Steven Greenberg, another Peterson attorney, said the decision shows that “the laws apply to Drew Peterson just like everybody else” even if “some people think he did some bad things.”

    Assistant State’s Attorney John Connor said in court prosecutors would appeal the ruling. A state’s attorney’s spokesman said a decision would be made within 30 days.

    Stephen Peterson, an Oak Brook police officer, was suspended from this job in August, a few days after he testified before the grand jury that he hid his father’s weapons at this house shortly after his father’s fourth wife Stacy disappeared in October 2007.

    Authorities consider Drew Peterson a suspect in Stacy Peterson’ disappearance, but he has not been charged.

    Stephen Peterson testified he held his father’s guns because they were his favorite and he didn’t want anything to happen to them. The younger Peterson later turned the weapons over to Illinois State Police.

    Oak Brook officials have said Stephen Peterson was put on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal personnel investigation. Brodsky and Greenberg said that now that the prosecution’s gun case against their client, it would appear Stephen Peterson did nothing inappropriate in holding his father’s guns.

    — Steve Schmadeke

    http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/10/drew-peterson-stephen-stacy-kathleen-savio-guns-oak-brook-bolingbrook-will-county.html

  5. “In fact, it is possible to assume or infer the opposite,” Schoenstedt wrote in his opinion, because Bolingbrook police officers were allowed to carry Colt AR-15s with 11½-inch barrels that would be considered illegally short under state law.
    —–
    Did the judge forget that they had to have a written permission of the chief and that the rifle should have been registered with BAFTE?

    BTW, I would like to know who was personally allowed to carry such a gun at the BBPD. As far as I can remember there was ony one witnesses stating that and no names were given. And this witness was not talking about shorter barrel but private guns in possession of a police officers on duty.
    The Chief said it was not allowed to.
    Sorry, but it is rediculous to me. As if the judge forgot that the barrel was shorter and was concealed before investigators.
    That is my opinion only.

    Now, I guess, other police officers in IL can follow Drew without any problems.

  6. The rumormill (Drew’s biggest fan) is a-rumorin’ that Reem Odeh now doesn’t want to leave the case at all. She’s telling people that Drew “didn’t write that letter” firing her and that he “absolutely” does NOT want her to leave his defense team.

  7. widebirth :

    The rumormill (Drew’s biggest fan) is a-rumorin’ that Reem Odeh now doesn’t want to leave the case at all. She’s telling people that Drew “didn’t write that letter” firing her and that he “absolutely” does NOT want her to leave his defense team.

    So, WB, what about the request to withdraw? Is she going to tell the judge she didn’t mean it? Can you do that?

  8. Dammit, dammit, dammit! I was so afraid of this, since Judge Schoenstdt made the same ruling originally.
    Although I usually see everything in shades of gray, w/compromises and working things out as the way to be, but it sure seems to me that this gun law should either be one way or the other, not ruled both ways.
    I know-I need to learn patience and/or have some faith. Right now I’m running low on both in this case.

  9. Heh. Reem Odeh filed a Motion to Withdraw and her Motion was not disputed by Drew Peterson. He did not request a hearing to address this Motion if he did not want her to withdraw from the case. Besides, with all due respect to Reem Odeh, why would Drew not dispute Andrew Abood or George Lenard withdrawing, both being competent attorneys themselves?

    Also, if I am not mistaken, Brodsky had Reem Odeh’s name removed from the Peterson lawyers’ visiting list, as well as the ability to contact him.

    So, rumor or fact, someone is not accurate in their rendition of the issues in the Peterson-Brodsky/Odeh lawyer situation. Either Reem Odeh filed her Motion to Withdraw and it was accepted, or she didn’t.

  10. Exceprt

    Stephen Peterson’s attorney Tamara Cummings said the ruling upholds the defense’s position that Stephen Peterson, a police officer, did nothing wrong. Cummings said her client is scheduled to be questioned formally next week by the Oak Brook police chief and an attorney.

    They then will decide whether to file charges before the town’s police board. Stephen Peterson remains on paid administrative leave.

    Tribune reporter Stacy St. Clair contributed to this report.

    sschmadeke@tribune.com

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/southsouthwest/ct-met-drew-peterson-guns-1002-20101001,0,5350631.story

  11. Peterson weapons charge tossed — again

    By Joe Hosey jhosey@stmedianetwork.com Oct 1, 2010 06:38PM

    JOLIET — Drew Peterson is again off the hook of the felony gun charge prosecutors slapped him with nearly two and a half years ago.

    In dismissing the charge Friday, Judge Richard Schoenstedt cited a federal provision that allows police officers to carry concealed weapons regardless of local laws.

    Peterson’s attorneys pointed to both the federal law and the Second Amendment as reasons for tossing the case. Schoenstedt did not buy the Second Amendment argument, which claimed that the weapon Peterson was arrested for possessing, a Colt AR-15 assault rifle he supposedly carried while working for the Bolingbrook Police Department’s SWAT team, was similar to the firearms used in 1791, when the Bill of Rights was adopted.

    “The Colt AR-15 is not like any weapon in use 200 years ago,” Schoenstedt said in his written decision.

    Prosecutors claimed Peterson could not legally possess the rifle because its barrel was shorter than the state-mandated 16 inches.

    Peterson always wins?

    One of the two attorneys representing Peterson in the gun case, Joel Brodsky, crowed about his client coming out ahead in the gun case.

    “He’s Drew Peterson,” Brodsky said. “He always wins in the long run.”

    That may be, but Peterson’s run on the murder charge hanging over his head since May 2009 has already been pretty long, and the finish line — at its closest — appears month away.

    Peterson has been jailed throughout that time while he waits to go to trial for allegedly drowning his third wife, Kathleen Savio. State police also suspect Peterson killed his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, who vanished in October 2007 and remains missing.

    While Peterson faces no charges in connection with harming Stacy, it was her disappearance that landed him in trouble over the gun.

    State police searched Peterson’s home in the days after Stacy was reported missing and seized numerous firearms. They failed to find Peterson’s allegedly illegal assault weapon, however, as he had smuggled it to the home of his son, Oak Brook cop Stephen Peterson.

    Three days after getting the gun from his father, Stephen Peterson surrendered it to state police, and now is in a jam of his own over the weapon.

    Just days after testifying in a late August hearing for his father’s felony weapon case, Stephen Peterson was suspended with pay from the Oak Brook Police Department pending an investigation of his involvement in the gun affair. Another Peterson attorney, Steven Greenberg, claimed that the dismissal of the gun case against Drew Peterson bodes well for Stephen Peterson in his struggle with the Oak Brook Police Department.

    Second appeal possible

    Friday marked the second time in less than two years that Schoenstedt tossed out the case. In November 2008, he dismissed the charge after prosecutors defied his order to turn over internal documents and communications to Peterson’s attorneys.

    Prosecutors appealed the dismissal — and Schoenstedt’s order — and prevailed, with the case coming back on Peterson.

    And prosecutors may appeal this time too.

    “The judge has dismissed the case and we’ll make the determination at some point whether we’ll appeal,” said Charles B. Pelkie, the spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office.

    Prosecutors have 30 days to file an appeal.

    Odeh withdraws

    A third Peterson lawyer, Reem Odeh, who filed to quit the murder case Monday, showed up Friday to make it official.

    Odeh’s motion to withdraw noted irreconcilable differences with co-counsel Brodsky, who was also her law partner until an acrimonious split in August. On Friday, she spoke of how happy she was to get away from Brodsky for good and complained about having to keep their firm afloat while Brodsky defended Peterson for free.

    “I supported the entire firm while we worked pro bono on the case,” she said, adding, “I’m very relieved to be disassociated from my former colleague in any context whatsoever.”

    http://heraldnews.suntimes.com/news/1825184-417/peterson-case-gun-police-prosecutors.html

  12. On Friday, she spoke of how happy she was to get away from Brodsky for good and complained about having to keep their firm afloat while Brodsky defended Peterson for free.

    That’s just peachy, isn’t it?

  13. IMO that judge was always in JB’s pocket,maybe they are carved from the same cloth…Don’t worry Drew and Joel, you will be tried and found guilty. Schoenstadt is a piece of work Good Luck Boys

  14. To support my opinion in #5, I wanted to add that:

    “On July 22, 2004, the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) of 2004, also commonly called “HR 218,” became law. (18 U.S.C. §§, 926B, 926C.) This federal law allows “a qualified law enforcement officer” or “a qualified retired law enforcement officer” with identification that meets specified criteria to carry a concealed firearm anywhere in the nation, notwithstanding most other state and local laws which restrict the possession of concealed weapons.

    In order to be “a qualified law enforcement officer” under the LEOSA, a person must meet the following requirements:
    1.Be an employee of a governmental agency who is authorized by law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of, or the incarceration of any person for any violation of law;
    2.Have the statutory powers of arrest;
    3.Be authorized by the agency to carry a firearm;
    4.Not be the subject of any disciplinary action by the agency;
    5.Meet the standards, if any, established by the agency that require employees to regularly qualify in the use of a firearm;
    6. Not be under the influence of alcohol or any intoxicating or hallucinatory drug;
    7. Not be prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms;
    8. Be carrying photographic identification issued by the governmental agency identifying the individual as a law enforcement officer.
    ——–

    Additionally, by its nature, no rifle can be treated as a concealed firearm.
    It is simply to big!

    As I said before, the procedutors are right and they should appeal the decission. I am sure they will and they will win. Brodsky, enjoy this short period of satisfaction. I won’t last long. 🙂

  15. I hate to have worst suspicions confirmed. 😦 IMO there’s something fishy about RS’s 2xdismissals, though I don’t think it’s JB’s pocket he’s in. They are both terrible rulings, and certainly hope prosecutors appeal. They are bound to win, I feel, and they really shouldn’t allow that decision to stand unchallenged. A bit scary, really. It’s a public safety issue!

  16. Wasn’t this case about an illegally shortened fire arm found in possession of a Police Officer, with the emphasis on “illegally shortened”, rather than semantics re LEOSA ??

  17. A police law blog take on the decision in this case:

    ANALYSIS OF NEW LEOSA DECISION

    While this is a state decision, which would apply only in a limited area of Illinois, unless an appeal is taken by prosecutors, it appears that the case could have a number of LEOSA implications towards various state weapons laws taken in this type of context. It is expected that these types of cases will begin to come to the forefront as the law in this area continues to be tested, analyzed and interpreted by the courts. For now, this kind of decision leaves open the possibility that law enforcement officers might be able to argue a wider application of LEOSA in defensive unlawful possession cases in the future. It is definitely an opinion for legal practitioners in this area of law, like myself, to keep in mind as these issues continue to arise under LEOSA.

    http://www.policelawblog.com/blog/2010/10/leosa-ruling-in-the-context-of-officer-felony-weapons-charge.html

  18. Don’t get too full of yourself, Brodsky-you know that even the blind hog accidentally finds an acorn once in a while-and so far, you’re oblivious to the oak tree.

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