Why Drew Peterson can be charged for the murder of his missing wife, Stacy

Stacy Peterson: Missing for over five years.

Stacy Peterson: Missing for over five years.

A very good read by blogger Dorothy, at Chicago Now about the concept of “Corpus Delicti” and how Drew Peterson could be charged for the murder of Stacy Peterson:

Some criminals think that if they can get rid of a body that they can’t be charged with murder. They misinterpret the Latin word
“corpus” as a literal dead body (a corpse) rather than a figurative one. That is an erroneous belief!!! I think the only reason I know what it means is ‘cause I took Latin in high school.

Yes, ‘corpus’ means body in Latin. But the word delecti (Latin: delicti) means the crime &/or evidence. In other words, there has to actually be a crime before you can accuse someone of committing the crime and a prosecutor has to provide a ‘body of evidence’ in order to make a charge against that person and take the person to criminal Court.

Corpus Delicti is one of the most important concepts in a murder investigation. When a person disappears and
cannot be contacted, many police agencies usually start a missing person case. If, during the course of the investigation, detectives believe that he/she has been murdered, then a “body” of evidentiary items, including, but not limited to, physical and empirical evidence, must be obtained to establish that the missing individual has indeed been murdered before a suspect can be charged with homicide. The best and easiest evidence establishment in these cases is the physical body of the deceased. However, in the event that a physical body is not obviously present or has not yet been discovered, it is possible to prove a crime took place if sufficient circumstantial evidence is presented to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt…

Read the full story at Chicago Now.

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13 thoughts on “Why Drew Peterson can be charged for the murder of his missing wife, Stacy

  1. Off topic but as there’s no Peterson news to report:

    Friends of Kasandra Perkins ‘don’t want her to be overshadowed’

    “…They’re like every couple, they argued,” said Kelsie Hoberg, 23, VanCompernolle’s older sister and also a close friend of Perkins. “Nothing we thought was ever super-unhealthy. … I don’t know how it got to where it did — why he thought he needed to get a gun.”

    For friends, what’s important now is the young woman they called Kasi. People need to know about her, they insist, and how she hoped to be a teacher one day. How if friends were having a bad time, she’d ask them out to lunch or sit and listen to their problems.

    The young woman also volunteered in the community as part of the Chiefs Women’s Organization, and Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said Sunday she was well known and loved and considered a part of the team’s family. Cornerback Brandon Flowers added: “Kasandra was like a sister to us.”

    And as more details about the tragedy are likely to come, friends say what can’t get lost is how Perkins loved her life as a mother. A life that ended just as it was beginning.

    “I don’t want her to get overshadowed by who he was,” VanCompernolle said. “I know he was a Chiefs player and a lot of people know him, but she deserves recognition, too.”


  2. I know that more people were familiar with the man who killed her (and then committed suicide), but I just don’t get memorial shrines and honorifics for a guy who chose to murder the mother of his child. I don’t care who he was or what he did for a living. I also can’t excuse his actions because of head injuries, alcohol or drug abuse. Nothing excuses the violence he unleashed on this woman.

  3. Came across this entertaining blog post about George Lenard’s 51-point motion to reverse Vaughn’s conviction. Definitely worth a read:

    The Chicago Tribune reports (via Jonathan Turley) that the lawyer for convicted quadruple murderer Christopher Vaughn argued that his client was entitled to a new trial because of the conduct of lawyers for Drew Peterson, who was on trial in the courtroom next door for murdering one of his four wives. Vaughn’s lawyer reportedly criticized Peterson’s defense team for holding press conferences, during one of which they referred to the fact that Peterson’s fourth wife is missing (Peterson was convicted of murdering his third). The “show” they put on was so distasteful, he argued, that it “gave criminal-defense attorneys—all of us—a black eye,” and could have prejudiced Vaughn’s jury against his lawyer and thus weakened his defense.

    But as the ABA Journal reports, the judge found this argument had significant problems, such as the lack of any evidence that the jurors in Vaughn’s trial were even aware of the press conferences, let alone that they had developed a general distaste for criminal-defense attorneys or that, if they had, it would have affected their decision in Vaughn’s case. This is not to say that the judge was impressed with Peterson’s lawyers. Quite the contrary. But this didn’t help Vaughn’s position because it only made his lawyer look better by comparison, the judge said. In fact, if the description was accurate, it would have made him look like “the second coming of Clarence Darrow.” (Maybe he laid it on a little too thick in his motion.)

    So, it is not surprising that some of the additional 50 provide additional entertainment. Here’s one: the fact that the jury took only 45 minutes to convict and did not ask to review any evidence. “Forty-five minutes and not asking for any exhibits, not wanting to hear any testimony, that’s extremely rare,” Vaughn’s lawyer argued. “I’ve never had that situation before and that’s odd.” Here’s the problem—there are two possible explanations for that: (1) the jury was biased against you and/or your client and so didn’t care about the evidence, or (2) the jury did pay attention to the evidence and thinks your client is guilty as hell. The fact they didn’t even want to hang around for a free meal suggests they really didn’t like the defendant, again possibly because they thought he was clearly guilty of murdering his wife and three young children. I don’t know which explanation is right in this case, but the problem for the defense is that, to get a new trial, it had the burden to show it was the first one.


  4. With all the jails full and I would venture to say 90% are guilty…what makes these killers think their cases are important enought for a rerun….DNA…hearsay…evidence put them there…do they think all that will change with a new attorney or another trial…Peterson would have to go to another country…he put his face out there for 3 years….then the 3 stooges made a circus of the trial..LOL..

  5. If I were Drew Peterson, as soon as I won my appeal, I would get the hell out of the state of Illinois as quick as I could because the state is never going to leave this man alone. They had no evidence that he killed Kathleen, and they have less than no evidence, if possible, that he killed Staci.

  6. Turned on Fox News Friday night and there was Steve Greenberg on a discussion panel. Looks like the media still likes him.

  7. WOW…just about fell off my chair to log in and see Dot’s (Dorothy’s) blog here lol…how did you find her, Facs? I’m so glad you did :)…and by the way, that is a very beautiful picture of Stacy you posted to accompany Dot’s article on Corpus Delicti, thank you for that.

    I’ve known Dot since I was knee high to a grasshopper, her daughter and I grew up together and Dot and I still live within minutes of each other. I never tired of curling up while listening to her many Digressions and I never will :)….she has a wonderfull personality, is highly intelligent and she is retired LE.

    I’m looking forward to Friday to see what else Peterson’s attorneys file in their motions for a new trial. On one hand I’m sure I’m going to shake my head and have a good chuckle over their desperate antics…but on the other, frustration at the seemingly never ending postponement of the inevitable.
    I have more to say but later, need sleep…..

  8. Edward, if Drew Peterson were to actually win an appeal to overturn his conviction (which from all accounts is pretty doubtful) he’d be free to leave the state, but he could still be charged with the murder of Stacy Peterson. Leaving the state doesn’t keep you from being charged with a crime.

    Besides, even if Peterson were to successfully appeal, the result would most likely be a new trial, not an acquittal, and in that case leaving the state would not be an option.

    I get the feeling that Peterson is going to be spending the rest of his life dealing with the consequences of his actions, one way or another…as he should.

    To state that there was no evidence in the case of Kathleen Savio displays either ignorance or a blatant attempt to bait others.

    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you haven’t really followed the case or the trial and therefore are unaware of the 20 days worth of evidence which was heard and convinced a jury to decide on a unanimous verdict of “guilty”.

    If you’d like to learn more about the case, please feel free to spend some time on this blog researching. You can read the complete In Session facebook updates from the trial here. Sorry, but I don’t have the actual court transcripts.

    As for the case against Drew Peterson in the murder of Stacy Peterson, time will tell.

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