Proceedings got off to a late start this morning in Joliet, with Drew Peterson displaying a change in demeanor from his last court appearance. As pre-trial motions were argued, Peterson sat calmly and refrained from openly joking with the court or reporters.
Before the noon break, Judge Edward Burmila decided that the State would not be allowed to suggest that a witness is more credible based on their profession. In other words, although Pastor Neil Schori will be allowed to testify as to what missing fourth wife Stacy Peterson told him, and he can be identified as a pastor, the State can’t ask the jury to weigh his testimony more strongly simply because of his role as clergy.
The prosecution also argued that defense request to bar mention of Stacy’s disappearance from trial is “premature”.
During the lunch break, attorney Joel Brodsky phoned In Session and told Vinnie Politan that Judge Burmila has set the trial date with jury selection beginning July 23rd and opening arguments starting July 31. He also stated that he does not expect Peterson to take the stand. He also laid out how the defense team is splitting up responsibilities for the trial:
Darryl Goldberg and Ralph E. Meczyk: Forensics
Joel Brodsky: Opening statements and witnesses questioned during pre-trial hearing (Andrew Abood questioned most of them originally but he has since left the team)
Joe Lopez: Law enforcement witnesses and closing statement
Steve Greenberg: Legal objections and motions
This afternoon the judge ruled that the prosecution will not be allowed to mention that Stacy Peterson is dead, is presumed dead or was killed by Drew Peterson. However, prosecutors may ask a witness a question in such a way that it could come out that Stacy Peterson is missing. For instance, Neil Schori might be asked why he didn’t talk to police immediately after Stacy told him that Drew had killed Kathleen, and he might reply that he was motivated to say something after Stacy suddenly disappeared.
Joe Hosey tweeted that it looked as if Harry Smith’s conversations with Stacy Peterson would be barred from evidence, and that the judge was as yet undecided about his conversations with Kathleen Savio.
Looks like the defense filed a few more motions today and another hearing is set for June 6th.
Please check out the comments thread for updates.