Video: Oral arguments in appeal of Drew Peterson Murder conviction

Today attorneys for Drew Peterson and the State of Illinois presented their oral arguments to the Supreme Court of the state.

Law professor Harold Krent and long-time Peterson attorney Steve Greenberg argued for Peterson, while assistant attorney general Leah Bendik argued for the state.

Attorneys are hoping for an answer from the court by Spring. Here are the arguments in their entirety.

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7 thoughts on “Video: Oral arguments in appeal of Drew Peterson Murder conviction

  1. “AG: Divorce was motive for Peterson

    By Andrew Maloney
    Law Bulletin staff writer
    SPRINGFIELD — Halfway through arguments to uphold Drew Peterson’s conviction for killing his third wife, Justice Mary Jane Theis wanted clarity.

    Prosecutors had alleged Peterson, the former Bolingbrook police officer who made headlines when his fourth wife went missing in 2007, was motivated to kill his previous wife because of a messy split.

    He wanted to avoid divvying up his property and splitting time with the couple’s children. And he could do that by preventing her from testifying during the divorce case, state lawyers had claimed.

    But Theis’ questioning on that point during oral arguments in the case today suggested some members of the Illinois Supreme Court may not be convinced.

    “So, could you tell us, what is the evidence that you are directing us to, to show not just generally a motive to kill, but specifically, an intent to silence the witness?” Theis asked.

    Assistant Attorney General Leah Myers Bendik replied that Peterson became agitated when he learned his wife, Kathleen Savio, might get their marital house and half their marital property.

    Bendik noted Savio was found dead only about a month before their divorce trial was scheduled to begin, in April 2004. And she noted that Peterson received custody of the children and got his uncle to stand in as administrator of her estate after her death.

    “Are you arguing that if she had appeared to testify, the result of the divorce case would’ve been different?” Theis asked.

    Bendik said that was “definitely true.” She ultimately agreed that it was circumstantial evidence, but that it was still relevant. She said the trial judge in the case, Will County Associate Judge Edward A. Burmila Jr. was in the best position to determine whether Peterson’s intent was clear, and that the Supreme Court shouldn’t alter the decision because it was not an abuse of discretion.

    “What we have here is — defendant completely thwarted the judicial process of the divorce case with Kathy by getting her out of the system and preventing her from continuing to be present to object to his approach to the settlement, to his desire about the custody of the children,” Bendik said.

    Among other things, Peterson’s attorneys, Harold J. Krent, dean of the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, and Steven A. Greenberg, of Steven A. Greenberg Ltd., argued that Peterson’s trial was enormously flawed.

    They argued that statements from divorce attorney Harry C. Smith, in which he claimed Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, said she knew her husband had killed his previous wife, should not have been allowed due to attorney-client privilege.

    “Harry Smith violated the rules on attorney-client privilege,” Greenberg told the justices. “Attorney-client privilege is one of those sacred things that an attorney should never violate.”

    He mentioned that a media contract between Peterson and one of his attorneys, Joel A. Brodsky, who represented him between 2007 and 2012, was a clear conflict of interest.

    The deal allowed them to collect fees along with a media firm that would help them get interviews and book and movie deals as Peterson’s case became more notorious.

    Savio’s death was initially ruled accidental after she was found in a bathtub. But the case was later ruled a homicide, with Peterson being charged in 2009. He was ultimately found guilty in September 2012 and sentenced to 38 years in prison, although there was a lack of physical evidence linking him to the murder.

    A few years into his sentence, Peterson was charged with a murder-for-hire plot aimed at Will County State’s Attorney James W. Glasgow, who had prosecuted him in the Savio case. He was convicted of that crime earlier this year and sentenced to another 40 years.

    No charges were ever filed in Stacy’s 2007 disappearance.

    The case is People v. Drew Peterson, No. 120331.”

    http://www.chicagolawbulletin.com/Articles/2016/11/15/Drew-Peterson-motive-11-15-16.aspx

  2. In Appeal, Drew Peterson Attys Allege Errors In Murder Trial
    By Hannah Meisel

    Law360, Springfield (November 15, 2016, 9:35 PM EST) — Attorneys for Drew Peterson, the former police officer who made headlines when his fourth wife went missing in 2007 and who was later found guilty of killing his third wife, told the Illinois Supreme Court Tuesday that their client’s murder trial was fraught with error.
    In appealing the conviction, Peterson’s side argued that the state used evidence that should have been inadmissible in the 2012 trial, including evidence based on hearsay that incriminated the former Bolingbrook, Illinois, officer.

    Peterson was convicted without a confession or eyewitness and sentenced to 38 years in prison for the 2004 killing of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. The disappearance of Peterson’s fourth wife had prompted a renewed investigation into Savio’s death.

    But the state said on Tuesday that its case against Peterson, though based on circumstantial evidence, was solid. Assistant Attorney General Leah Bendik told the justices Peterson was motivated to kill Savio because of a messy divorce.

    “The judge had given indications about how the divorce would proceed,” Bendik said. “She would get the marital house. She would get full custody of the kids. She would get approximately half of all of the marital property.”

    Savio and Peterson’s divorce trial was set for April 2004, but Savio disappeared the month before, on March 1. Her body was later found in a dry bathtub, with bruises later determined to have been evidence of a struggle.

    Bendik argued that the action of killing Savio meant that Peterson had intended to silence his soon-to-be ex-wife. She said this sequence of motivation to prove guilt is supported by case law. Bendik cited a U.S. Supreme Court case decided in 2006 where the court said hearsay statements made in a 911 call asking for aid were not “testimonial” in nature and thus were admissible into court.

    “‘When defendants seek to undermine the judicial process by procuring or coercing the silence from witnesses and victims, the Sixth Amendment does not require the courts to acquiesce,’” Bendik said, quoting Davis v. Washington. “What we have here is: Defendant completely thwarted the judicial process of the divorce case with Kathy by getting her out of the system and preventing her from continuing to be present to object to his approach to the settlement.”

    Without Savio alive to testify, Peterson was able to get his way in the divorce, Bendik said. But Justice Mary Jane Theis did not seem completely sold on the state’s argument.

    “Are you arguing that if she had appeared to testify, the result of the divorce case would’ve been different?” Theis asked.

    Bendik said that was “definitely true,” citing the outcome of the divorce proceedings. Theis repeatedly asked Bendik if she could prove that Peterson had wanted to kill Savio in order to silence her, and not just to kill as a means to end the divorce.

    “So, could you tell us, what is the evidence that you are directing us to, to show not just generally a motive to kill, but specifically, an intent to silence the witness?” Theis asked.

    Bendik again pointed to Peterson’s custody of the children, house and assets, in addition to citing the disappearance of Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, in 2007. Although Stacy Peterson’s body has never been found and Peterson has not been charged with her murder, prosecutors said they knew Stacy knew about Savio’s murder.

    Earlier this year, Peterson was convicted of a murder-for-hire scheme in a plot to have Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow killed. Glasgow had prosecuted Peterson in the Savio case.

    Peterson’s attorneys, Steven Greenberg and Harold Krent, told the justices Tuesday that Peterson’s trial was flawed, based on even more hearsay and contamination from the Stacy Peterson disappearance.

    Greenberg and Krent argued that statements from divorce attorney Harry Smith should not have been allowed at trial due to attorney-client privilege. Smith said Stacy knew her husband had killed his previous wife.

    “Attorney-client privilege is one of those sacred things that an attorney should never violate,” Greenberg said.

    Peterson’s attorneys then took on the media contract between Peterson and another of his attorneys, Joel Brodsky, who represented him between 2007 and 2012. The contract, which allowed them to profit from book and movie deals as the case became more infamous, was a conflict of interest for Brodsky, Greenberg and Krent argued.

    Peterson is represented by Harold Krent, dean of the Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law, and Steven Greenberg of Steven A. Greenberg Ltd.

    The state is represented by Assistant Attorney General Leah Bendik.

    The case is People v. Drew Peterson, case number 120331, in the Supreme Court of Illinois.

    https://www.law360.com/illinois/articles/862348/in-appeal-drew-peterson-attys-allege-errors-in-murder-trial

  3. On LMN:

    “Monster in My Family” Drew Peterson” Premieres January 3 at 10pm ET/PT

    In an exclusive interview, Drew Peterson’s eldest son shares for the first time his memories of being raised by the man who he once admired above all others, his father. When Drew was arrested for the murder of his third wife and became a suspect in the disappearance of his fourth in 1999, son Stephen raised his 4 half siblings from 2 of his father’s former wives, believing his father was innocent and would soon be released. In the years that followed, Stephen had to come to terms with the fact that the man he idolized was a vicious killer. In a final step towards healing, Stephen reaches out to his former step-mother’s sister, to offer his condolences for his father’s heinous actions.”

  4. Wow! While I’m beyond happy that Stephen is reaching out to Stacy’s family, I’m also in disbelief. I thought Drew had involved his son to such a degree that denial was the only option.

  5. The suspicious side of me ponders whether some type of truce is necessary in order to declare Stacy dead and activate Social Security funds for the kids. The house also has her name on it and would this also be leveraged or held in trust for the children? With Drew’s pension funds revoked and Stephen’s need to find a job, his own public perception will need a make-over.

  6. I have always suspected Stephen knew more than he admitted. This is a step. At some point, I am hopeful remains can be recovered. If they ever go through with a murder trial for Stacy, Stephen will undoubtedly be called to the stand.

  7. All I know about the situation is this little blurb for the show, so I don’t know if it is true. I’ll believe in Stephen’s turn-about when I hear Cass saying that she’s allowed to visit with Anthony and Lacy again.

    I do think that if Stephen is publicly turning on his father, it’s a strategic move connected to finances, and most likely with Drew’s blessings.

    I hate to be cynical but I just don’t see it happening for any other reason.

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