Four years since Drew Peterson’s arrest for murder. What has changed?

another new mugLast Tuesday marked four years since Drew Peterson was arrested and charged with the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. So, what has transpired since then?

Trial Status

Today: Jury selection for Drew Peterson’s trial began on July 23, 2012. Opening statements began on July 31st and the first witness was also called that day. Testimony continued through August 30. Closing arguments were heard on September 4 and jury deliberations began. On September 6, after two days and 14 hours of deliberations, the jury found Drew Peterson guilty in the first degree of murdering Kathleen Savio. On February 21st Drew Peterson was sentenced to 38 years in prison, minus the four years he spent in jail awaiting trial. Peterson was moved from the Will County Adult Detention Center, where he had been living since his arrest, to Stateville Prison and then was transferred shortly thereafter to Pontiac Prison and then Menard Correctional Facility. The City of Bolingbrook is reviewing the status of Peterson’s $79,000/year pension to see if it can be revoked.

Legal Representation

Today: Immediately after Peterson’s murder conviction, his defense team began to publicly point fingers and blame each other for losing the case. Paving the way for an appeal based on ineffective assistance of counsel, Joel Brodsky first got in Drew’s ear and was able to get Steven Greenberg fired from the defense team. But by October, Greenberg had spoken to Drew and was back on the team. Soon after, a team of three attorneys who had not represented Peterson in the murder trial filed a motion of ineffective assistance against Joel Brodsky. After much public and private name calling, letter writing, and motion filingJoel Brodsky withdrew from Peterson’s defense. He then filed a defamation suit against Steve Greenberg, two media outlets and specific reporters. Attorney David Peilet of Clarendon Hills and John Heiderscheidt joined the defense team. At a post-sentencing hearing, Judge Edward Burmila said that he was “shocked” at comments Brodsky had made on TV regarding his representation of Drew Peterson and had a transcript of the hearing sent to the ARDC. In March of 2013, the rest of Peterson’s defense team announced that they were stepping aside and turning over the appellate phase of Peterson’s defense to the state public defender’s office.

One year ago: In September, Attorney Walter Maksym was asked to “step aside” from the legal team after he was criticized by the federal appeals court for filing “unintelligible” court papers that were “riddled with errors”. As the case neared trial, it was announced that Atty Joe Lopez would be presenting closing arguments.

Two years ago: After months of rumors of arguing and even a physical incident, Reem Odeh left the partnership and withdrew from the Peterson defense team in September 2010. In February of 2011, Lisa Lopez, wife of Joe Lopez, assisted with the oral arguments regarding the hearsay decision before the Appellate court, which were presented by Steven Greenberg.

Three years ago: Andrew Abood and George Lenard withdrew from the case in April of 2010, citing irreconcilable differences with Joel Brodsky. John Paul Carroll had a complaint filed against him in September and appears to have left the case. Attorneys from Brodsky & Odeh, Steven A. Greenberg and Associates, Law Offices of Meczyk Goldberg, Joseph R. Lopez, P.C., and Walter P. Maksym Jr. then made up the “Seven Samurai” representing Peterson in court.

Four years ago: Brodsky & Odeh, Abood Law, and John Paul Carroll represented Drew Peterson. George D. Lenard joined the case in December of 2009.

Media Exposure

Today: Drew Peterson was able to address the court and the public with a statement at his sentencing hearing. Rather than expressing remorse, he shouted out “I did not kill Kathleen” and then issued a long self-pitying rant.

One year ago: The Sun-Times continued to shill for Peterson. On April 17 they featured a sympathetic story and cover photo of Drew Peterson after the state won their appeal to get more evidence admitted to his trial for murder.

Two years ago: Despite the gag order prohibiting interviews, Peterson spent 2011 writing letters and statements that were provided to the media, in particular to gossip columnist for the Chicago Sun Times, Michael Sneed.

Three years ago: Drew was prohibited from giving interviews to the press.

Four years ago: Drew’s last interview was given over the phone to a WLS radio show host, Eric Mancow Muller, from jail on May 27, 2009. He also gave one other in-jail phone interview on May 15, to Matt Lauer of the Today show.


Today: Judge Burmila presided over Peterson’s trial and sentencing.

One year ago: On May 4, 2012, Judge Edward Burmilla was assigned to the case.

Two years ago: Judge Stephen White retired in October 2010.

Three years ago: Judge Stephen White presided over the case.

Four years ago: Judge Richard Schoenstedt was first assigned to the case; then Judge Carla Alessio-Policandriotes and finally Judge Stephen White. Will County Chief Judge Gerald Kinney made the new appointments. Judge Daniel J. Rozak set Peterson’s bond.

Hearsay Evidence

Today: The defense continued to file motions to bar as  much of the hearsay evidence as possible leading up to Peterson’s trial. They were also able to challenge each piece of hearsay evidence as it was introduced at trial and were able to keep out more in that way. At trial Kathleen Savio’s sisters and some friends were allowed to testify to statements she had made to them about fearing Drew Peterson would kill her. Pastor Neil Schori was only allowed to testify to what Stacy had told him alone. The discussions he had with Drew and Stacy in their home were deemed inadmissible. Scott Rossetto’s testimony was also deemed unreliable after the prosecution made some errors with the dates and he didn’t get to take the stand. Although the defense had fought to keep out the testimony of Attorney Harry Smith, whom Stacy Peterson had called with questions about a possible divorce, eventually it was Joel Brodsky who called him to the stand in an attempt to impeach Stacy’s words to Neil Schori. Smith testified that Stacy had asked if she could get more money out of Drew if she threatened to tell “how” he had killed Kathleen Savio. Many believe this to be the evidence that cinched the conviction. A final breakdown of witnesses shows that more than 85% of the evidence presented at Drew Peterson’s trial was physical, forensic and circumstantial. Less than 15% was hearsay. Although media reports were quick to cite “Drew’s Law” as being a factor in the introduction of hearsay to Peterson’s trial, those reports were erroneous as the state had earlier asked the appellate court to reconsider Judge White’s hearsay rulings under the common law rules of forfeiture and they agreed.

One year ago: After the appellate court did not reconsider the barred hearsay statements due to a missed deadline, the State appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court which decided that the appellate court should consider the evidence on its merits. In April the appellate court reversed Judge White’s decision and decided that the hearsay statements were reliable and admissible in court. Peterson’s defense announced that they would not appeal and wanted instead to go to trial.

Two years ago: The judge’s decision regarding the hearsay statements was leaked in July 2010, revealing that possibly fewer than five of the 15 statements being considered were to be allowed. This decision was appealed by the prosecution. During February oral arguments before the appellate justices, States Attorney Jim Glasgow was asked what he now wanted to “hang” his argument on. Glasgow said that he chose “804 (b)” or, in other words the common law doctrine that is part of the Illinois Rules of Evidence (rather than the so-called “Hearsay Law”).

Three years ago: In October 2009, Peterson’s defense lost a motion to declare the act unconstitutional. Hearsay evidence and witnesses were heard during hearings in January 2010.

Four years ago: The Hearsay Statue (Drew;s Law) was passed into legislation November, 2008

Peterson Family

Today: In November 2007, a Federal judge threw out Stephen Peterson’s lawsuit against the Village of Oakbrook and Thomas Sheahan. Peterson then went back to Illinois Circuit court to try to get back his job, but lost that complaint in March of 2013.
Kathleen Savio’s two sons, Thomas and Kristopher are in college. Thomas Peterson testified on his father’s behalf towards the end of his trial.

One year ago: Stephen Peterson was appealing his dismissal and filed a Federal lawsuit in July 2011.

Two years ago: In August 2009, Stephen Peterson was suspended for accepting and hiding weapons for his father, shortly after the disappearance of Stacy Peterson. In February 2010, Peterson was fired from Oak Brook Police Force and appealed his dismissal.  Thomas Peterson wrote a letter and made a filing asking to be removed from the Savio family’s civil suit against Drew Peterson. This has not been granted yet. Tom Peterson was chosen as valedictorian of his graduating class.

Four years ago: Drew’s four youngest children were left in the care of their step-brother, Oak Brook Police Officer, Stephen Peterson.

Savio Family

Today: Sue Savio has continued to make appearances to speak out about her sister and against domestic violence. Anna Savio Doman and Henry Savio are still pursuing a wrongful death suit against Drew Peterson.

Cales Family

Today: Cassandra Cales continues to search for her sister.

Drew’s Love Life

Today: Drew Peterson continues to enjoy correspondence with numerous pen pals.

One year ago: Gossip columnist Michael Sneed reported that Peterson had over 20 pen pals (male and female), at least four of whom contributed to his funds at the commissary so that he could enjoy snacks while he awaited trial.

Two years ago: In August 2010 we heard that Christina Raines was engaged to a new man. In February 2011 we obtained a photo of Chrissy with her fiancé. In April 2011, an old acquaintance of Drew’s, Diana Grandel, released some letters from Drew in which he made sexual comments to her and offered Stacy’s clothing to her.

Three years ago: In January Raines posted a status update on her Facebook page stating, “I met someone who i fell in love with and very happy with. I think i just about gave up on drew with all his lies i dont even really visit him anymore.” and then, “But his kids i love dearly and still visit with them they are good kids”

Four years ago: Christina Raines was at the house that Drew and Stacy Peterson shared at the time or his arrest and was also taken into custody. She removed her belongings from his home shortly afterwards. Raines is on the list to visit Drew in jail.


Today: All quiet on the part of Drew Peterson. His legal team seems to have picked up the torch as far as media shenanigans. Restaurateur Jeff Ruby attended Drew Peterson’s trial and was charged with contempt when he reportedly mouthed “Fuck you” at Peterson. Ruby went on to offer a $100,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of Stacy Peterson’s remains.

One year ago: Besides frequent mundane snippets in the gossip columns about Peterson’s life in prison, all has been quiet.

Two years ago: While Drew’s bids for attention were mostly curtailed due to his detention, his lawyer and PR people continued to pepper the news with updates and letters from him detailing everything from his life in jail to his opinions about the legal decisions regarding his children. Kathleen’s oldest son, Tom, was the subject of news stories and wrote his own letters to the press in support of his father.

Three years ago: Soon after Drew’s arrest he attempted to have his motorcycle auctioned off on eBay. He was asking for $50,000 and offered to apply a decal with his signature on the bike. eBay removed the auction for violation of its “murderabilia” rules.

Four years ago: At the time Drew was arrested, he was preparing to fly out to the Bunny Ranch Brothel in Reno, Nevada, to see if he would be a good fit as head of security there.

Stacy Peterson

Today: Areas of Hammel Woods in Shorewood were searched for five days in November 2012, utilizing the FBI and cadaver dogs. Some officials stated that it was a training mission, while others told the press that they were indeed looking for the remains of Stacy Peterson. Nothing was found.

One year ago: Airings of the movie, “Drew Peterson: Untouchable” brought about some new tips and offers of assistance in regards to the search for Stacy Peterson.

Two years ago: In August 2010, based on a tip, searches for Stacy’s remains took place near Peoria. No evidence was found.

Three years ago: Still missing with no sightings or communication from her.

Four years ago: Missing. No communication from her since October 28, 2007. Searches were ongoing.


13 thoughts on “Four years since Drew Peterson’s arrest for murder. What has changed?

  1. A lot has happened in four years, considering Drew was originally on his way to Vegas to audition for his new gig, or at least look over the place Guess he ran into a slight detour. Interesting how life works that way. He never expected to be arrested for Kathleen’s death.
    Yes, a lot has changed in four years, but there are still many miles left to travel before this case has complete closure.

    Praying for one of those “unexpected” moments in life when a discovery blows a case wide open.

  2. Will County sheriff passes out annual awards
    By Brian Stanley
    May 17, 2013 7:58PM

    NEW LENOX — From investigating fatal shootings to updating training manuals, Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas on Thursday paid tribute to a wide variety of accomplishments in his department.

    After recognizing retirees and anniversaries, Kaupas began the department’s annual luncheon at the VFW Hall with awards that wouldn’t have been possible without Drew Peterson.

    The “unprecedented” interest in the murder trial of the former Bolingbrook cop last year garnered attention from media worldwide and curious public. Kaupas presented awards to the public affairs and courthouse security divisions.

    “Politely it was just a mess, but they handled it without any major incidents for nine weeks — four of which had the Christopher Vaughn trial running concurrently,” Kaupas said./blockquote>

  3. If you absolutely have to see everything Peterson-related, there is an episode of “Scorned” called “Black Widower” running on the Discovery ID channel. It’s not very good. (Playing up the sexual aspects of the case, same footage over and over, high use of still photos, factual inaccuracies, etc.)

    The guy who plays Drew looks like a cross between Jon Hamm and a 1970’s Robert DeNiro. As was done in “Untouchable”, Neil Schori is depicted as a portly older gentleman.

    Stacy St. Clair, Joe Hosey and Joel Brodsky do narration segments.

    Scorned: Love Kills Season 2 Episode 7 – Black Widower

  4. Angry birds

    While recognizing the efforts of his staff during the Drew Peterson trial last year, Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas told attendees at the annual awards banquet he was surprised by the interest of the national media.

    “After the verdict I was walking out of the courthouse with (television’s) Judge Jeanie and there were six helicopters hovering over the courthouse lawn,” Kaupas said. “She hadn’t seen that many. I had in ’68, and they were firing rockets and machine guns.”

    Speaking of Drew

    Also at the awards banquet a jail supervisor offered Pulse some insight into the former Bolingbrook cop’s “unique” view of the world. “He was back in his cell 20 minutes after being found guilty and I went to check on him. The first thing he said when I walked in was, ‘Did you bring my reprieve?’ ”

  5. Filing in Peterson wrongful death case jabs former attorney
    May 23, 2013 4:06PM

    Drew Peterson’s shot at beating a murder rap was derailed by shoddy legal representation and a trial that was more like a “highly suspect sideshow,” claims a new filing in the wrongful death lawsuit against Peterson brought by the family of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

    The filing, by Chicago attorney John Heiderscheidt, is a response to a motion for a summary judgment filed last year by the Savio family.

    Savio’s sister and father filed the wrongful death lawsuit in April 2009.

    Peterson was charged with his ex-wife’s murder in May 2009, and convicted by a jury in September and sentenced to 38 years in prison.

    In December, the Savios’ attorney filed a motion for summary judgement, asking a judge to find in favor of the Savios not only because Peterson was found guilty of Savio’s murder at his trial but because after a 2010 hearsay hearing, then-Judge Stephen White found that prosecutors established that Peterson likely killed Savio.

    During the hearsay hearing, the Savios say, Peterson’s uncle, James Carroll, admitted he turned all of Savio’s estate assets over to Peterson after she died, at Peterson’s request.

    While Heiderscheidt ultimately points out that a summary judgement wouldn’t be proper as Peterson’s case isn’t through the appeals process, and suggests the matter be put on hold until the criminal appeal is finished, he adds a lot of background on the ins and outs of the Peterson saga.

    He highlights Peterson’s representation by former attorney Joel Brodsky, who, he said, advised Peterson to bask in the media spotlight, then sought to benefit personally from Peterson’s fame.

    “This is curious, because in recent WGN and Fox TV interviews, Brodsky attributed the jury’s guilty verdict … to the media’s creation of Peterson’s negative image,” Heiderscheidt wrote.

    He noted that, in those interviews, Brodsky also conceded that Judge Edward Burmila was right when he said he was “out of his depth” and “not possessing the lawyerly skills to handle” Peterson’s case.

    The prosecution was “underhanded,” nearly drawing a mistrial ruling, Heiderscheidt wrote.

    “… the proceeding used to obtain the verdict could only be characterized as a highly suspect sideshow, created by slow news cycles and an attorney, who, in his own publicly televised words, lacked the skill necessary to represent Peterson at the time he began advising him,” he wrote.

    Heiderscheidt points to the background as support for his claim that Peterson’s case is far from over.

    A hearing on the motion in the wrongful death case is scheduled for June 13 in Will County.

  6. Some more on the filing:

    Peterson’s lawyer, John Heiderscheidt, responded last week to a motion for summary judgment by calling for case to be put on hold.

    Heiderscheidt, who took over after former Peterson attorney Joel Brodsky left both the civil and criminal cases, asked “that the matter be permanently stayed pending the outcome of Mr. Peterson’s appellate case.” Heiderscheidt also wants the motion for summary judgment to be denied.

    Heiderscheidt acknowledged that retired Will County Judge Stephen White found “by a preponderance of the evidence” presented at as 2010 pretrial hearing “that Mr. Peterson murdered Kathleen Savio.” He also conceded that Peterson was found guilty.

    But Heiderscheidt pointed out Peterson’s case is “in the infant stages of an appeal that will likely last a number of years and involve state and federal rulings.”

    Heiderscheidt said it was the 2007 disappearance of Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, that “triggered a media firestorm that was damning in its portrayal of Peterson,” and led public and police interest in Savio’s death.

    To make matters worse, according to Heiderscheidt’s filing, Peterson, 59, “connected” with Brodsky, and they went to work “obliterating Peterson’s public image.”

    When Peterson finally went to trial in 2012, Heiderscheidt said prosecutors went after him “in one of the most underhanded manners possible” and relied heavily on hearsay evidence.

    In a footnote to one of his filings, Heiderscheidt referred to a television interview after the trial in which Brodsky “conceded that Judge (Edward) Burmila’s characterization of (him) as ‘out of his depth’ and ‘not possessing the lawerly skills’ to handle” the murder case” was an “accurate assessment” of his performance.

    “So, it seems, the attorney representing Peterson at the most crucial moments of the murder case’s genesis believed he had no business advising him in the first place,” Heiderscheidt wrote.

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