Drew Peterson case back in Will County. Trial soon?

UPDATE MAY 4: This morning in court Judge Edward Burmila was assigned to Drew Peterson’s murder case. Peterson’s defense is attempting to bar Attorney Harry Smith’s testimony on grounds that he would violate a lawyer’s code of ethics by testifying. Joel Brodsky told reporters that the defense could be ready for trial in 60-90 days. Next hearing is set for the 17th of this month.

The Third District Appellate Court has sent Drew Peterson‘s murder case back to the Joliet Courthouse this week, moving the case just that much closer to trial.

Peterson’s defense indicated last week that they would not appeal the appellate court’s latest decision which reversed the trial judge’s decision about some contested hearsay statements, and made them admissible in court, choosing instead to address them with the trial judge or the jury if it comes to that.

The next status hearing for the case is set for Friday morning. Judge Sarah Jones will preside. Also Fox News Chicago reports that CNN has requested special permission to televise the trial nationally.

While we wait for a trial date to be set, why not weigh in on our poll? When do you think the trial will begin?

We’ll keep you updated as we learn more in coming days. Make sure to check the comment section for most recent news and discussion.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune
Read more at the Shorewood-Patch

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44 thoughts on “Drew Peterson case back in Will County. Trial soon?

  1. I’m still waiting for information about who the remains belong to that were discovered along I-55 and LaGrange Rd. I’m surprised that it’s gotten little attention. The prospect that it’s either Stacy or Lisa Stebic may be farfetched, but those remains belong to someone, and it’s probably someone local…..

  2. BTW, one more County applying to take part in the camera program:

    “Cameras could soon be coming to DeKalb County courtrooms.

    Sixteenth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Robert Spence announced Thursday that the circuit will apply to join the Illinois Supreme Court’s pilot program to allow cameras in courtrooms.”


    This may happen too late for the Toni Keller/William Curl trial to be televised. It begins June 11.

  3. Hey I justr wanted to say I just notice in my last post I misspelled evidence LOL believe it or not I can actually spell …but I got side track with my parrots wanting to play with me at the sametime i was trying to write that LOL

  4. Drew Peterson Murder Case Returns to Will County: Update!

    Drew Peterson’s case is back on and headed to trial.

    By Joseph Hosey

    After two years of appeals and legal arguments the Drew Peterson murder case has returned to the Will County courthouse.

    The Third District Appellate Court sent the case back after agreeing with an appeal by Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow. Glasgow had fought a protracted battle to get hearsay statements allowed at Peterson’s murder trial.

    Glasgow’s spokesman, Charles B. Pelkie, said a status hearing has been set for Friday morning in front of Judge Sarah Jones.

    Joseph “Shark” Lopez, a Chicago attorney representing Peterson, said a hearing date for arguments or possibly even a trial date will be set during the Friday morning appearance.

    Peterson was arrested and jailed in May 2009 on charges he murdered his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

    Savio was found drowned in her dry bathtub in March 2004.

    Peterson is also the sole suspect in the October 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson. The state police have labeled Stacy Peterson’s case a “potential homicide” but have yet to charge anyone with harming her.


  5. State’s Attorney’s Press Release:

    May 3, 2012

    Mandate returned to Will County Circuit Court in People V. Peterson, status hearing set for 9:30 a.m. Friday May 4

    The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office has been informed that the mandate from the Third District Appellate Court in the case of People V. Drew Peterson was received by the Twelfth Judicial Circuit on Thursday, May 3, 2012.

    The Court has scheduled a status hearing on the return of the mandate before Circuit Judge Sarah Jones at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom 402 at the Will County Courthouse, 14 W. Jefferson Street, in Joliet.

  6. Weird how Peterson’s attorneys never fail to tell the media how isolated Drew is (poor Drew!) and how his interactions are limited to Brodsky and his immediate family and yet every time I search Twitter I see posts from high school kids who have toured the WCADF and not only have seen but spoken to him.

    And please not to forget his 20+ pen-pals writing him and sending gifts of $.

    Case Number: 2009CF001048
    Case Status: Mandate
    05/03/2012 Return of Mandate

  8. Drew Peterson return to Will County court, gets new judge
    BY JON SEIDEL Sun-Times Media

    As Drew Peterson was brought into a Will County courtroom Friday morning for his first court appearance in 1-1/2 years, a bailiff gave the standard admonition that no one in the gallery was to communicate with anyone in custody.

    Remaining true to character, Peterson waved his arm and said, “That would be me.”

    The quip earned him an admonition from the judge, and made for a moment of levity in a brief hearing to assign a new judge to handle Peterson’s murder case.

    Peterson, 58, has been in jail since his 2009 arrest on murder charges for the drowning death of his third wife, 40-year-old Kathleen Savio. Since his last appearance in a Will County courtroom, a made-for-TV movie starring Rob Lowe as Peterson has only enhanced his notoriety.

    Peterson said he was ready to get on with his highly anticipated trial when an Illinois appellate court ruled against him last month. Judge Sarah Jones presided over the hearing briefly before the case was assigned to Will County Associate Judge Edward Burmila. The judge who previously handled the case has retired.

    Peterson was serious while making only perfunctory statements to Burmila, but could be seen smiling and joking with members of his defense team. Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow attended the proceedings in the packed courtroom, and deputies had to open the doors to the hallway to accommodate the crowd.

    Earlier Peterson made a quiet entrance to the courthouse, in contrast to some previous appearances in which he engaged in wisecracking banter with the news media and others present to watch him enter and leave.

    A transport van backed up close to the rear door of the courthouse Friday, and deputies used their bodies and the door to try to shield the former Bolingbrook cop from the view of onlookers.

    Burmila is a former state’s attorney unseated 20 years ago by Glasgow. His high-profile cases just last year included the trials of a drunken driver from Steger who killed his girlfriend’s 5-year-old son and a woman who threw a fatal but consensual punch in a $5 Crest Hill party bet.

    Some legal scholars questioned the reckless battery charges filed against Tiffany Startz, the woman who threw the punch in the latter case. Burmila let Glasgow take her to trial but found her not guilty by directed verdict after hearing the evidence. Startz never even put on a defense.

    Meanwhile Burmila let another former state’s attorney, Jeff Tomczak, angle for a new trial after a jury convicted Cecil Conner, the drunken driver in the former case. Tomczak sought jailhouse recordings of Conner, his client, and Burmila frustrated Glasgow’s staff when he said Tomczak could have some. The Illinois Supreme Court overruled Burmila before things could go much further, and Burmila denied Conner a new trial in the end.

    In Peterson’s case, the appellate court said prosecutors can use additional hearsay evidence against him as he’s prosecuted for Savio’s death. The disputed evidence includes statements purportedly made to other people by Savio and Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy. She vanished from their Bolingbrook home in 2007 and hasn’t been seen since. Peterson is still a suspect.

    Prosecutors said the evidence ties Drew Peterson to Savio’s death. At least some of the purported statements are explosive, including claims Stacy Peterson made to a friend and to her minister that Drew Peterson coaxed her to provide an alibi for him on the night Savio drowned.

    A Will County judge in 2010 agreed six of the disputed hearsay statements were admissible as evidence, but he blocked eight other statements, ruling their reliability was too suspect.

    The appellate court first upheld that decision, but prosecutors asked the Illinois Supreme Court to intervene. The Supreme Court sent the matter back to the appellate court, which reversed itself and ruled the statements could not be barred as evidence over questions of their reliability.

    Peterson is scheduled to return to court May 17.


  9. Nancy Loo ‏ @NancyLoo

    #DrewPeterson hearing over. No trial date. His lawyers plan to file more motions. Next hearing 5/17. More deets @WGNNews Midday.

  10. Ted Rowlands from CNN was asked to describe the courtoom scene. He commented that Peterson is as jovial as usual, he even nodded at him, and that he doesn’t seem to be much concerned about what’s going on with any of this that’s leading up to his trial.

  11. I’m very interested in seeing the defense’s argument for keeping Atty Smith from testifying. I know that ethically a lawyer can not testify against his client, but that isn’t what is going on here. Drew is the accused and Smith is essentially testifying in lieu of Stacy Peterson, who the court believes is unable to testify due to Drew’s actions.

    I’d love to hear about any cases with a precedence of this particular situation.

    As I remember, the defense was able to bar some of Neil Schori’s testimony because it would be in violation of Drew’s right to confidentiality (since Schori was Drew’s counselor as well as Stacys’) but the court nevertheless did allow his testimony from when he and Stacy spoke about things alone, since in that situation he was not acting as Drew’s counselor.

  12. I agree with you, Facs. 60-90 days! I keep saying this, but I have to say it again…if I were Drewpy, I would have fired Brodsky, et al long before this. No matter what his exterior demeanor is, he’s GOT to be frustrated beyond belief.
    Now…my other concern is this Judge Edward Burmila. Sure sounds like a lot of water has flooded this bridge between Burmila and Glasgow, not any of it good. Does Burmila not seem to favor the defense? I bet this defense team will be having another congratulatory dinner. Immediately.
    Rescue, as always, thank you for all of your information, and I, too, have wondered about that person that was found. It’s so nice to know that you’ll keep us informed.

  13. Back in 2009 when a judge was first being assigned to the murder case, someone had this to say about Burmila:

    Edward Burmila
    A former State’s Attorney who lost re-election to Glasgow in 1994. Judge Burmila’s knowledge of criminal procedure is very solid despite years in private practice.

    Appointed as an Associate Judge. Burmila is a Republican.

  14. Cheryljones – YW. We appreciate those of you who come to read after all that’s put into Justice Cafe. Facs is a phenomenal blog admin with all the bells and whistles you see here!!!

    Drew Peterson Back in Court

    The former Bolingbrook police sergeant charged with killing one wife and suspected in the disappearance of another appeared in court for the first time in nearly a year and a half.
    By Joseph Hosey

    Drew Peterson left the Will County jail for the first time in nearly a year and a half as his murder case resumed with a pair of brief court hearings Friday morning.

    In the first, Judge Sarah Jones passed the case off to Judge Edward Burmilla, who accepted motions presented by the defense and scheduled a May 17 court date.

    Burmilla was the Will County State’s Attorney until he was defeated by the current state’s attorney, James Glasgow, in 1992. Burmilla has been a judge since 2004, the same year Peterson’s third wife, Kathleen Savio, was found drowned in a dry bathtub.

    The state police investigated Savio’s death and concluded that she perished in a freak bathtub accident. But three and a half years later, after Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, vanished, the state police abruptly changed course and decided Savio had been slain.

    The state police eventually arrested Drew Peterson on charges he murdered Savio. The state police continue to investigate Stacy Peterson’s disappearance but have failed to find her or charge anyone with harming her.

    Drew Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant who resigned in disgrace soon after his wife disappeared, has been jailed in lieu of $20 million bond since May 2009.

    Four of Peterson’s five defense attorneys appeared at Friday’s hearing. They tendered four motions to Burmilla and defense attorney Joel Brodsky said there would be more to come before the May 17 hearing.

    One motion asks the court to forbid any mention of Stacy Peterson during the murder trial. Another calls for the case to be dismissed due to the testimony of a Wheaton attorney who represented Savio in her divorce from Drew Peterson and who also claims he was visited by Stacy Peterson just before she vanished.

    Smith testified to a grand jury and also took the stand during a month-long pretrial hearing in 2010 to determine what hearsay evidence could be used against Peterson.

    The motion accuses Smith of violating attorney-client privilege. Steve Greenberg, another lawyer representing Peterson, called it the “worst breach of attorney ethics.”

    Greenberg went on to disparage the state’s case, saying, “We can’t prove anyone else did it, so he must have done it. That’s a ridiculous theory.”

    Yet another Peterson attorney, Joseph “Shark” Lopez, suggested the state police got things right the first time with Savio.

    “There’s no evidence there was a homicide,” Lopez said. “It was an accident. She slipped, she fell, she hit her head. End of story.”

    Glasgow was dismissive of the claims made by Peterson’s attorneys.

    “The defense lawyers have said how many things to you and how many things have been right?” Glasgow said. “Count them.”


  15. The motion accuses Smith of violating attorney-client privilege. Steve Greenberg, another lawyer representing Peterson, called it the “worst breach of attorney ethics.”

    Yeah, but what attorney-client privilege did he violate? Stacy’s? She’s no where to be found. Kathleen was his client, but she’s deceased. I’m wondering which client’s privilege has been violated. Guess we’ll find out.

  16. I’m baffled as well, Rescue. Are they really going to try to argue on Stacy’s behalf to keep Atty Smith’s testimony out? That seems ridiculous.

    Maybe they should try to file a complaint with the ARDC if they are so bothered. AFAIK you can’t complain on someone else’s behalf there either.

  17. Thanks for the replies, Facs and Rescue!
    I guess I’m just confused…his knowledge of criminal procedure just doesn’t seem to be the issue, here. Our friend Joe Hosey has some pretty eye-opening stuff, here. But maybe I’m just not seeing the big picture?

  18. “The defense lawyers have said how many things to you and how many things have been right?” Glasgow said. “Count them.”

    Gotta love it!

  19. Seems like we’re back to the one thing Brodsky is good at: scraping together motions and flinging them at the judge in hopes that something sticks.

    He’s just not very good at making them stick.

  20. I asked Joe Hosey if there was any mention of a motion by CNN that requests a camera in the courtroom. He said there was not.

    So, now that the trial judge has been appointed, I wonder if that motion, or a formal request, will be made upon Judge Burmila either prior to or at the next hearing.

    Also, there did not appear to be any family or other familiar faces at the hearing today.

  21. FYI, the motions are “impounded”. Impoundment prevents the public, but not the parties, from gaining access to the material.

    05/04/2012 Impounded Document-Motion To Dismiss, Motion In Limine, Motion To…

    05/04/2012 CF – Minute Entry

  22. Not sure if everyone recognizes the fourth defense atty who was at the podium with Joel Brodsky, Joe Lopez and Steve Greenberg. It was Darryl Goldberg.

  23. Newest judge in Drew Peterson case has spent decades in Will County courtrooms

    Judge Edward Burmila hailed as a legal scholar skilled at handling difficulties

    By Steve Schmadeke, Chicago Tribune reporter – May 6, 2012

    When a man entered Judge Edward Burmila’s courtroom on crutches earlier this year, muttering about being unable to take a drug test because he’d recently been shot in the bladder, court personnel didn’t seem to know what to make of him.

    They and other observers seemed frozen in shock as the man began urinating on the courtroom floor, but Burmila halted his crowded court and in a loud voice restored order by directing deputies to get medical help.

    Burmila, 61, is hailed by experienced Will County attorneys as a master at handling unexpected difficulties, with knowledge gained from decades of legal experience as a prosecutor, defense attorney and judge.

    It may prove useful now that he is presiding over the high-profile Drew Peterson murder trial. Burmila was assigned to the case Friday. The trial is expected to begin within months after being put on hold for almost two years during appeals over whether jurors could hear hearsay statements from Peterson’s dead or missing wives.

    Peterson, 58, is charged with drowning his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004. He is also the sole suspect in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy, in 2007, but he hasn’t been charged.

    Burmila started as a Will County prosecutor in 1977 after graduating from DePaul University law school. In about 10 years, he rose from handling traffic cases to taking on death penalty cases as the first assistant state’s attorney.

    “He’s a scholar of the law,” said Edward Masters, a former Will County state’s attorney for whom Burmila worked. “He was always well prepared, knew the law, knew what the situation was.”

    Just getting up to speed on the complex Peterson case will be a daunting task. A defense attorney told Burmila on Friday that the transcripts from a roughly monthlong pretrial hearing in 2010 spanned five CDs.

    But attorneys said Burmila, who also has some appellate experience, enjoys diving into cases. Burmila was in private practice for about 11 years before being appointed to the bench in 2003.

    “I would guess that his hobby would be legal research,” said Steven Haney, a Joliet attorney with a busy criminal practice. “Most judges will rely on the lawyers to do the research … but that doesn’t happen with Judge Burmila.”

    Burmila was elected as a Republican candidate for Will County state’s attorney in 1988. He was defeated by his Democratic opponent in 1992 after serving a single term.

    His opponent? Current State’s Attorney James Glasgow.

    The two men have tangled a few times since. Burmila represented former state’s attorney Judy DeVriendt, who was suspended by Glasgow in 1998 for her involvement in a case in which an infant was removed from his parent’s custody and turned over to a U.S. Marine in South Carolina for a paternity test.

    Glasgow initially defended the decision to remove the child but later changed course and blamed DeVriendt. Burmila called the move “classic Jim Glasgow scapegoatism,” while Glasgow said Burmila was still sore about losing in 1992.

    “This is a continuation of a personal vendetta by Ed Burmila against me,” Glasgow said then.

    But judging by Glasgow’s comments on Friday, all that is water under the bridge.

    “We’ve got a judge who truly understands criminal law,” Glasgow said. “We’re going to get a nice, fair trial and we’re anxious to have it start.”

    Peterson’s lawyers also were pleased by Burmila’s selection. “He has an excellent reputation as a fine judge and … somebody who’s a straight shooter,” said Peterson’s attorney Joel Brodsky.

    Attorneys for both sides may want to wear a White Sox hat during their closing arguments. Burmila can sometimes be heard discussing games or players while off the bench and enjoys kidding attorneys about their clients’ baseball allegiance.

    “If someone comes in wearing a White Sox shirt, he will say, let the record show that the defendant is properly attired,” said Joliet attorney Chuck Bretz. “He’s loosening things up a little bit.”

    Tribune reporter Matthew Walberg contributed.


  24. Notice that in the video above it’s mentioned that Stacy wanted Harry Smith to be her lawyer but that he declined. Sounds as if there was no attorney-client situation.

  25. I like your last comment, Facs. Just the point. Again, whose attorney-client pnrivilege did he violate? Kathleen is dead, and now that you mention it, regardless of where Stacy is, he declined to represent her. AAMOF, maybe he was thinking back to his client, Kathleen, and wanted to do whatever he could to finally get the authorities to listen to what he had to say. He attempted to at one point and got no where. Now, he’s being called unethical by his contemporaries.

    Why doesn’t Greenberg go to the media and spew about all of the crap that Brodsky did leading up to this point? Dates for Drew, murderabelia on Ebay, hawking his private business via his client. Talk about unethical.

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