A peek inside the Drew Peterson court room: An observer’s account.

Observers line up to get inside the Will County Courthouse.

For most of the country, Drew Peterson’s trial is being watched via social media. As rapid-fire updates are being tweeted and posted to Facebook from the overflow room at the Will County Courthouse, we read the feeds, study the courtroom artist’s sketches and wait for the news stories and pundits to pull it all together for us at the end of the day.

But a few hardy souls are getting up early and standing in line for a chance to sit in on this historic trial. Unlike the press in the overflow room, they aren’t allowed to carry in cell phones and laptops so, like the jurors, their only take-aways are the hand-written notes they’ve made and their first-hand impressions from seeing and hearing the proceedings play out in person.

I noticed that Twitter follower, Sas (@sasscatgal1), had attended court on Friday and I asked her to pull together her impressions of the day, because I think other people would be interested in reading what it’s like to experience the proceedings in person. These are her own musings on the day, what she saw and how she feels:

Observations from a court room

Drew Peterson: Felony (that’s what it said on the door)

I was alternative number 34, and I was ushered into a shoebox of a room for the first half of the hearing. I was to be tucked up in the back of the court room.

From my vantage point I could see Christine Cornell setting up her charcoal pictures. Then I saw him. Well, the back of his head. Drew Peterson was sitting there. From the back I couldn’t see facial expressions but I saw his body language.

If I peered round the corner I saw Beth Karas, Pam Bosco, Joe Hosey and a few other media persons.

(Attorney Steven) Greenberg was introducing his son to everyone (I think it was his son).

Then the jury walked in. My first impression of the jury was they were normal people–they looked around. Pad and pencils were ready.

The doctor (forensic pathologist, Larry Blum) walked in and he was a character. He kept unhinging the defense–like the defense asking him a question and him shooting back, “I don’t know. Do you?” Things like that. You could tell he wasn’t gonna let the defense get the best of him.

I watched the jury. Every time the prosecution would be up they were writing and when the defense was up they would put their pens down.

There were so many objections…sustaineds…I lost count and gave up and as for side bars, well the jury was getting a work out. I have never seen anything like it before in my life.

The Judge seemed to be writing something. As they objected he’d throw out a “sustained” or “overruled”. It was like he wasn’t even listening. And when it came to Stacy you could just feel the bias coming out. Especially when he was dealing with Glasgow.

I watched the defense very carefully, and out of all of them I’d say Greenberg was on the ball. In the beginning Greenberg was snappy with Joel Brodsky. “Ooh”, I thought. A tiff perhaps? Then as the day rolled on it was evident that he didn’t like Joel’s waffling. Joel looked like he was half asleep when he approached the judge and he’d mumble on. He looked like he just didn’t want to be there. Tired? Maybe…

Then there was the prosecution. It seemed to me that (Will County State’s Attorney) Glasgow is taking the load of the hearsay evidence. WHAT a screw up with the dates–but what’s in a date (as someone said to me)? Any mention of Stacy and BAM it’s shut down .

I kept whispering, “Come on Stacy, walk through that door.” I was so pissed that she didn’t.

For the second half I sat in the reporter’s side. I was surrounded with Beth Karas, Joe Hosey and a few others, plus Pam Bosco was right in front of me. Now, from this side I got a full view of Drew.

He walked through the door shackled, joking as per usual. I kept staring ’cause his nose was so big but I guess that’s because he shaved his mustache off. They undid his shackles. He stood up, (he’s put on a lot of weight ’round his middle) and walked towards the desk–one guard in front of him and one back of him. He put on his tie and belt. The second guard was glaring at him–didn’t move till he sat down.

He then looked around the court room. The lady beside me said “Watch him stare round the court room.” To my surprise he was waiting to catch someone’s eyes. I glared at him as he looked round. His eyes settled on Beth Karas who was in the seat one down from me.

Then court was in session again. Jury pulled in. (Stacy Peterson’s friend, Scott) Rossetto answered two questions then BAM out went the jury and out went the witness. Greenberg got up and in a loud booming voice started yelling about dates–for the second time in the day. One of the prosecution got up and started arguing. Then Glasgow got up and tried to clear it all up. But the judge wasn’t having it.

Witness denied testifying. Next witness. I was gonna scream! Will Stacy ever have her say? Will she get her day in court?

So when the jury came back Rossetto was gone and the insurance guy (Joseph Steadman) was up. Wonder what the jury thought of that? Then the young lady that was staying with Drew and Stacy (Jennifer Schoon) was testifying. Brodsky was trying to impeach her testimony. When it was done court was adjourned but I stayed to hear arguments.

So I wonder if Stacy will ever walk through the court or will she be shut down?

The prosecution needs to know we’re behind him (Glasgow) 100%, and not to get worn down–to keep going. Stacy will have her day.

Have you sat in during the trial as a court room observer? If you would like to share your experience here on the blog shoot me an email at petersonstory@gmail.com.

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32 thoughts on “A peek inside the Drew Peterson court room: An observer’s account.

  1. Thanks for this insight. I wonder what I would do if I were in the couttroom and made eye contact with Drew. Probably roll my eyes and mutter ‘asshole.”

    Re my comment on previous thread about Drew’s alibi and his sons…

    https://petersonstory.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/drew-peterson-says-his-sons-lied-under-oath-there-goes-his-alibi/

    it was Abood who referred to “lock-tight alibi” Drew had because according to Drew’s son Tom, Drew was with him/family when Kathleen was killed.

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/LawPolitics/story?id=7532828&page=1#.UDEEfqEtEZ8

  2. Do you mean in interviews, on camera? I don’t know about that but I know that Collins testified Drew told him that in their initial interview after Kathleen’s death. Stacy also told Collins that Drew went out for doughnuts at about 10 a.m. on Sunday morning.

    He also saved the receipt for the donuts in a folder with the receipt for the Shedd Aquarium tickets — his red “alibi folder” as the ISP called it.

  3. Thank you so much SAS, and sharp-eyed Facs for getting this information to us! Now I feel like I’ve been there. No wonder the judge didn’t want this shown live! Maybe he thought no one would follow it if it weren’t on Tru-TV? Ha! Need to think again, Judge…Facs will find a way!

  4. Thanks for all your hard work bringing this case to the public.

    One question..While I recognize Mr Peterson’s right not to testify, I am surprised by the judge blocking the prosecution inquiring of attendees at Ms, Savio’s murder scene whether they placed a blue towel in the bathroom.

    While I understand the judge fears that, effectively by process of elimination, this could lead the jury to infer that Peterson was the person that placed the blue towel in order to the “stage” the crime scene…and as a result this would effectively compel Peterson to testify in order to deny he did not do so …I am struggling to understand why this particular inference, and in particular the manner in which it is being developed by the prosecution is of special concern to the judge.

    Am i not correct in saying that as there is no eye-witness or forensics tying Peterson to the murder, all evidence presented by this prosecution will INFER Peterson’s guilt? Each of these inferences will present Peterson with the dilemma of whether or not to testify on his own behalf in order to rebut them.

    So why is the judge singling out the placement of the blue towel among all the other inferences being made for special treatment?
    Which legal rule is he following in making this decision?

    Thanks in advance .

  5. Hi oxymoran. I’d say you have a perfect grasp of the situation with the blue towel and the question you’re asking is what i would like to know as well.

    The judge says that the accumulative testimony by every one else who was at that scene that they did not place the towel somehow infringes on Drew’s right to remain silent. But is the jury not allowed to deduce? He calls it speculation…but I guess I just don’t agree. It’s simple math.

    At any rate, here is how the argument went down in court. If anyone could explain to me how this is different from other circumstantial evidence (which Drew could testify against, if he chooses) please let me know.

    Brodsky: “Witness after witness after witness has testified about a blue towel. Fine. The EMTs testified that the towel wasn’t there…The inference is that somehow Drew Peterson would have moved the towel to cover up the crime scene. Nobody can put Drew Peterson in the bathroom after the EMTs arrived, and didn’t see the blue towel . . . so why does the State now want to call witnesses to say they were in the house and didn’t see the blue towel? Of what relevance is this? It’s of absolutely no relevance. They’re going to be asking the jury to speculate. There has to be evidence putting him with that towel, or giving him the opportunity to move it. It’s another attempt to make something insignificant significant. There’s absolutely nothing to connect Drew Peterson with that towel. I ask you to bar the witnesses, and, in fact, anything to do with that towel.”

    Glasgow responds: “It’s the intent of the State to call every witness who could have placed that towel there.”

    Judge: “You absolutely cannot do that . .. that’s a direct comment on the defendant’s right to remain silent. You cannot do that. You CANNOT do that. That’s a direct reflection on his right to remain silent. I’m sorry, but you cannot do that.”

    Glasgow: “He had opportunity, knowledge of the towel, and the motive to place it.”

    Judge: “I tell you right now, if the aim of the State is to ask every single person who could have moved that towel, I cannot allow that . .. you will not be able to call a series of witness, have them all say they did not do it, and then point a finger at the defendant and say he must have done it because we didn’t hear from him. It’s absolutely impermissible.”

  6. I mean, consider the testimony of the guy who said that he heard Drew say his life would be easier if Kathleen Savio was dead.

    Isn’t Drew Peterson the only person who could get on the stand and rebut that statement and say, “No, I never said that.”? So why is that evidence allowed but not the blue towel? If the towel evidence reflects on his right to remains silent, why doesn’t that overheard statement…or any other other statement that only Drew could argue against?

  7. I really do not know what to think anymore about the proceedings in the court. It all points to him, every damn thing. Yet….

  8. It just seems bizarre that you can introduce a series of testimony that as a whole points to there being only one person who could have possibly done something suspect, but it isn’t allowed.

  9. Thanks Facsmiley for posting the court room observer’s account of attending the trial for a day.

    I think these court room observations are important as they give us a glimpse into the reactions of the jury and attorneys. Even when there’s cameras in the court room, we don’t get to see the jurors and their reactions. During the Casey Anthony trial, it was the observations of those who attended that

    I love the description of the jurors taking notes when the prosecution was questioning a witness, but put their pens and pads down when the defense was up………….that tells me the jury doesn’t expect anything from the defense worthy of making notes.

    From a very basic point of view, the jury has to know that the evidence in the case is going to be presented to them by the prosecution, and the job of the defense is to refute the evidence presented by offering an alternate explanation or evidence that contradicts what the prosecution has presented.

    So far, the defense has only belittled and intimidated witnesses, and raised so many objections to testimony that it seems desperate to quash the evidence.

    I hope we’ll have some court room observations when the defense presents their case. Will the jurors be taking notes then?

  10. I’ll tell you why the blue towel is different from other bits of evidence….it’s cuz Burmila has a ‘bug up his a$$’ about it. I think for some reason that the judge is using the blue towel as a way to show the prosecution that “this is his court”, and don’t you forget it! Burmila is a real piece of work, if you ask me.

  11. Facs, I’d love to see other comments from courtroom observers. This was a good insight.

    It seems as though there is a good bit of unprofessional drama between the judge, the Prosecution and the Defense. I can see now why the judges don’t want cameras in the courtroom. They would look ridiculous and have to clean up their act.

  12. Carol, from what I hear, some of the defense team have other trials lined up and have indicated that they would not be staying on if this were to go to a mistrial, or if he were charged with anything involving Stacy Peterson.

    That may not be the only reason that they would not stay on, but that is the reason they gave.

  13. Thank you facs. You mean like making a decision not to make a decision until testimony comes up in trial? LOL

  14. Yeah, it’s interesting. Joe Lopez said that if Drew were to be acquitted of Kathleen’s murder only to be charged with Stacy’s, that he wouldn’t be representing him at that trial. He didn’t give a reason, though…

  15. Personally, I don’t think Joel would ever stop representing Drew. He doesn’t have a long successful career in criminal law like Greenberg and Lopez. Drew is kind of his only claim to fame.

  16. Interesting point on In Session…. They are talking about the jury. The judge NEVER admonishes them to not watch any news or talk to the media. He also never speaks to them PERIOD. Never says hello, hope you had a good weekend, or hope you had a good lunch break. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

    I’m just not sure what to think about that. :???:

  17. I was just coming here to write that, Harley!

    The courtroom observer, Tony Quilico, said that she thinks the jurors are wearing the same colors every day because they need some attention – they’re being ignored by the judge!

    I haven’t watched too many trials, but I have noticed that the judge usually addresses the jury at least twice a day, thanks them for their service and admonishes them not to talk to anyone or read anything.

    Right?

  18. Tony, who has sat in at court for eight days of testimony, wonders why it is that Drew has been allowed to turn around and stare at the gallery. He attempts eye contact with anyone who will give it to him and one observer was admonished for locking eyes with him twice. The bailiff told her that if she did it again, she would be tossed out.

    So why is the judge not telling Drew Peterson to stop staring at the gallery? It’s been done before in other trials.

  19. Right Facs. The judge should at least thank them for their service.

    He really seems to be a grump. Is it so hard to just be polite?

    I don’t get it. I have wondered why this jury wasn’t sequestered. Now on top of that, they aren’t even reminded not to watch or read anything!!!

    What the heck?

  20. According to Lopez, the jury isn’t sequestered because Drew didn’t request them to be (I’m sure he had some advice from his lawyers on this).

  21. Sheesh, this judge really comes across as totally inept. Most trials would find the jury pretty well aware of what’s going on minute-by-minute. However, this poor jury has been taken out so many times every day that it’s inevitable that they’d want to know what the heck is going on that’s so important. If ever there was a jury that SHOULD be sequestered, it’s this one. To not even admonish them strongly to stay away from news broadcasts and not discuss the case with friends and family is just plain stupid on his part. I know that the cases I’ve seen and been involved in had the judge giving the jury instructions every single night not to talk with anyone or watch the news.

    I wonder if this would be one more way that the losing party could demand a new trial.

  22. One of our most famous trials in recent years was the Brian Nichols trial. He was the guy who gunned down the judge and court reporter in the courtroom during his own trial for beating up his girlfriend. He went on to kill two more people before he was captured.

    That trial was televised and the judge was James Bodiford, who is from my county outside Atlanta. (The local judges had all recused themselves.) That’s the same judge that heard the “Black Widow” trial and then another one outside his jurisdiction which was the mortician who ended up dumping hundreds of bodies on his property rather than cremate them properly.

    He is a strong judge who doesn’t cotton to any shenanigans — not even from the jury. But, they all love him because he is fair across the board. The jury wasn’t sequestered, but he made sure they knew he’d toss them in jail if he found out they’d been discussing the trial outside the courtroom. He’s not the only judge like this — he is just a good example. (And I never think of Atlanta as being at the forefront of anything — we are “The South,” after all.) It’s just that if we can figure out how to have fair and strong trials here, there’s no excuse not to have them Chicago’s suburbs.

    Here is one recording from the beginning of the trial. (I can’t see the video, but I can hear the words of the reporter.) In this recording they talk about how an alternate juror told the judge the day that the trial was starting that he didn’t feel he could be impartial any more. Judge Bodiford told him that was fine — he wouldn’t have to vote on anything or be involved in deliberations — but he would be required to sit in the courtroom every single day of the trial — or go to jail. Guess which option he picked? :-)

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xgsodq_brian-nichols-trial-gets-underway_news

  23. In Session’s Mike Brooks was again shilling for the defense today. He refuses to believe the testimony of Dr. Blum and said that it was good for the defense that the jury was “left with the word ‘vertigo’” on Friday. Apparently, Brooks believes that this one word outweighs anything and everything Dr. Blum said.

    Of course, Brooks is leaving out certain important factors about this word and about the testimony of Dr. Blum. Dr, Neri testified that Kathleen had “cervical vertigo”, not vertigo; cervical vertigo is a condition that does not cause one to lose one’s balance.He also stated that this is a kind of vertigo that arises from tension and that he successfully treated Kathleen for this condition.

    Dr Blum made it clear to any reasonable person that Kathleen’s death was NOT an accident, and he gave very valid testimony to prove that it could not have been. Just looking at how the body is positioned in the tub should make any reasonable person to question this accident hypothesis; people just don’t end up in a position like that after falling, hitting their head, and drowning. Bluim provided solid evidence in the way of lividity and the fact that there would not have been dried, clotted blood on her body if it was exposed to the bath water.

    Brooks is drinking the defense’s Kool-Aid, and that is painfully evident in his evaluation of the testimony in this trial. He accepts the defense’s version of events and disregards solid evidence that the defense’s claims are just plain bogus. He focuses on one word to the exclusion of all other evidence that proves that this word is largely meaningless in the context of this homicide.

    (facs, I believe I have the testimony of these two doctors correct. Unfortunately, because I cannot seen the actual testimony, I can’t be 100% certain and have to rely on what is reported in the media. If I am in error as to any of this, please feel free to correct it).

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