Murder-for-hire motions update: physical evidence, clerical errors and conflict of interest

First off, an episode of “Murder Made Me Famous” addresing the Drew Peterson cases premieres on Reelz this Saturday. You’ll see lots of familiar faces and even Cassandra Cales took part in this one. Check your local listings for times and channel (not available in HD for some reason).

Meanwhile, preparation for Peterson’s murder-for hire November trial is underway and deep in the motions phase.

On August 21, an order granting the State’s motion for buccal swab and fingerprints was filed. I’m not sure whose mouth and fingerprints are involved, but Judge Richard A. Brown will admit this physical evidence to trial, which is kind of exciting seeing as there was so much made about the lack of physical evidence at Drew Peterson’s last trial.

On Tuesday, the Peterson defense and Lisa Madigan’s attorneys argued a number of motions that were filed last month. The courtroom was closed for about an hour so unfortunately, there were no first-hand reports of the proceedings, but Stacy St. Clair of the Chicago Tribune provided some great coverage of a motion filed by the defense, attempting to bar the extremely important wire tap evidence from Drew Peterson’s trial for solicitation of the murder of State’s attorney, James Glasgow.

Peterson’s motion argues that the wire tap evidence against him has a number of problems that should keep it from being heard at trial. For one thing, they say that the consent to record form was not filled out or signed properly. The form authorizes eavesdropping on conversations between Peterson and a man named Stephen Nardi, who has nothing to do with the case (the actual informant is alleged to be named Antonio Smith, a former convict now living under an assumed name in a different state). This is most likely a clerical error – but is it bad enough to keep out the wire taps?

The motion also argues that the investigation into the conspiracy charges was initiated by Jame Glasgow, which was a conflict of interest seeing as he was the intended victim of the crime, and further, that Will County Judge, Richard Schoenstedt, interviewed Smith before the consent was given for a wire tap, again creating a conflict of interest.

The state argued to admit evidence about Peterson’s prior attempt to solicit the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.  Jeffrey Pachter testified at Peterson’s trial for the murder of Savio that in 2003 Drew had asked him to find someone who could kill his wife for $25,000.

Judge Brown did not immediately rule on any of the motions argued.

Here’s a rundown of case updates for the month of August:

08/18/2015 Subpoena Duces Tecum issued. People’s Response to the Defendant’s Supplemental Motion for Discovery on file

08/18/2015 Motions argued.

08/21/2015 Order Granting State’s Motion for Buccal Swab and Fingerprints on file.

08/24/2015 Motion to Suppress on file. Motion to Suppress Evidence on file. Petition for Expert Fees on file. Notice of Hearing on file. (Hearing on petition for expert fees 9-29-15, 11am) Proof of Service on file,

08/24/2015 Order Granting Defense Request to File Exhibits Under Seal on file. Exhibits filed under seal. (Filed in locked exhibit cabinet 1A)

08/28/2015 Reply to Defendant’s Motion to Suppress Evidence on file.

08/31/2015 Reply to People’s Motion in Limine to Admit Evidence of Other Crimes on file. Reply to People’s Motion to Admit Relevant Evidence of Defendant’s Conduct and Other Acts Evidence on file.

09/01/2015 Order on file. (Rulings on motion for discovery filed 7-23-15)

09/02/2015 Sealed motion to admit relevant evidence was opened and copied for Judge Brown. Sealed exhibits were opened and exhibits d & e were copied for Judge Brown.

I sure would love to have access to exhibit cabinet 1A.

New Drew Peterson documentary

For the last month or so CNN has been working on a new documentary about the Drew Peterson trial, his new conspiracy charges and the lives of Kathleen Savio and Stacy Peterson.

For weeks they were doing research here on the blog and I was contacted by a producer named Max Newfield for help with source materials.

Sue Savio, sister of Peterson’s third wife, was interviewed for the special report and went to Facebook with her hope that her interview will help in her fight against domestic violence.

sue-doc

Pastor Neil Schori, who was the confidant of Stacy Peterson, had a positive experience with the production as well, stating that correspondent Jean Casarez was “great” and that she gave him “a chance to talk about how we can help victims” of domestic violence.

neilschori-doc

Even Joel Brodsky, Peterson’s controversial lawyer,  seemed to have enjoyed his involvement.

joel-doc

But not everyone was thrilled to see the cameras. When Drew’s son, Stephen, spotted them in front of his father’s Bolingbrook house, he referred to the crew from CNN as “F’ing vultures” and bemoaned that “it never ends.”

video-crew-petersons-cropped

From the ad on CNN’s site, it looks as if Stacy’s Aunt Candace Aikin was interviewed as was Joe Hosey, author of the book Fatal Vows: The Tragic Wives of Sergeant Drew Peterson which was adapted for the Lifetime Movie, Drew Peterson:Untouchable.

CNN Special Report, Married to a murderer: The Drew Peterson Story, airs on Tuesday, June 30 at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific time. Check your local listings for channel.

UPDATE JULY 7: Peterson’s trial for the solicitation of murder (of State’s Attorney, James Glasgow) has been rescheduled for November 13. His lawyer wants to hire an expert witness and give them time to research, etc.

06/18/2015 Motion to Continue on file. Petition to Approve Expert Witnes Retention and Funding on file.

07/07/2015 Parties appear; motion hearings continued to 9-1-15, 9am; case set for jury trial selection on 11-13-15, 9am; jury trial set 11-16-15, 9am. Agreed Case Management Order on file. *copies given to all parties.

Video: Drew Peterson murder conviction appeal oral arguments

Part 1: Argument for the appeal by attorney Steven Greenberg

Part 2: Argument for the appeal by attorney Harold Krent

Part 3: Argument against the appeal by assistant state’s attorney Marie Czech (1)

Part 4: Argument against the appeal by assistant state’s attorney Marie Czech (2)

Part 5: Rebuttal by attorney Steven Greenberg

Last week Drew Peterson attorneys Steve Greenberg and Harold Krent presented arguments to three Illinois appellate justices in hopes of overturning Peterson’s 2012 conviction for the murder of Kathleen Savio.

The appeal centered around a number of points – namely the admittance of hearsay statements under the forfeiture by wrongdoing exception, the question of counselor-client and lawyer-client privilege and allegations of conflict and ineffective counsel on the part of Joel Brodsky.

Last week also saw a change in date for Peterson’s murder-for-hire trial. Originally he had asked for a speedy trial and the date was set for July, but his attorney, Lucas Liefer, decided that they could not be ready by then. The trial is now set for August 28th.

Attorney Steven Greenberg who unsuccessfully defended Peterson against murder charges at trial in 2012, and is now one of his appellate lawyers, was interviewed about the oral arguments as well as Drew’s more recent murder case

Attorney Joel Brodsky, who is named in Peterson’s appeal as providing ineffective assistance and having a per se conflict of interest, replied to the charges via “The Publicity Agency”. The PR firm is run by Glenn Selig who is also named in Peterson’s appeal.

“I was amazed and shocked at the flagrant lies told, and the blatant hypocrisy demonstrated by Attorney Steve Greenberg during oral arguments before the Illinois Appellate Court on Drew Peterson’s appeal of his murder conviction. As to the accusations about my seeking publicity during the Peterson case, Steve Greenberg’s hypocrisy is beyond all bounds. The provable truth is that Attorney Steve Greenberg begged me to let him come onto the Peterson case to work for free and he wanted to do so for the publicity. He certainly did not want to work for free out of the goodness of his heart. Further, for Greenberg to complain about me seeking publicity from the Peterson case is the height of dishonesty when the provable fact is that I had to stop him from appearing on a truTV segment called “Karas v. Greenberg”, which he attempted to do during the trial! Rather than preparing for the days hearing or appearing in the courtroom during the trial, Greenberg was on truTV giving away the defense’s strategy while seeking publicity for himself. During the trial, he even used his daughter to set up his own personal media interviews. It is the height of hypocrisy for Attorney Greenberg to accuse me of wanting publicity.

Furthermore, Attorney Steve Greenberg told blatant lies during the oral argument. He stated that Drew Peterson’s media interviews were played during the trial and were used as evidence against him. Perhaps Greenberg was too busy doing the “Karas v. Greenberg” TV bits during the trial to remember, but not one video of Drew giving a media interview was ever played at trial. Not one. The only thing related to Mr. Peterson’s interviews that was used as evidence was a written transcript of three (3) questions that Drew was asked during interviews. The questions were as follows: (1) what happened to Kathy” (Drew said “I don’t know”), (2) Were you surprised that Kathy’s body was exhumed (Drew said “yes”), and (3) Were you separated at the time? (Drew said ‘yes”). Hardly evidence against Drew. This shows that Attorney Steve Greenberg lacks any credibility and engaged in gross misrepresentations and hypocrisy during his oral argument to the appellate court.”

Oral arguments presented today in appeal of Drew Peterson’s murder conviction

Drew Peterson attorneys Steve Greenberg and Harold Krent presented arguments today to three Illinois appellate justices in hopes of overturning Peterson’s 2012 conviction for the murder of Kathleen Savio.

The appeal centered around a number of points – namely the admittance of hearsay statements, the question of counselor-client privilege and allegations of ineffective counsel on the part of Joel Brodsky.

The Chicago Tribune reported that,

A three-member panel of the 3rd District Appellate Court frequently interrupted the attorneys with questions about why the rest of Peterson’s legal team did not intervene if they disagreed with Brodsky’s actions and trial strategy.

They also appeared skeptical of claims that Peterson’s rights were violated when Burmila allowed Savio’s divorce attorney, Harry Smith, to testify that Stacy Peterson had called to ask what would happen if she did not reveal her husband’s role in Savio’s death.

Greenberg and Krent argued that Smith should never have been allowed to testify, because it violated attorney-client privilege.

But Justice Daniel Schmidt appeared skeptical.

“Is the privilege designed to protect the client or the person that killed the client?” Schmidt asked. “My guess is if I’m dead, I’m not going to mind if my attorney testifies about the guy that killed me.”

Also,

Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Marie Czech argued that the media rights agreement had expired before Peterson’s 2012 trial, and said Brodsky had nothing to gain by calling a witness that could sink his client’s case.

“There is absolutely no benefit to Mr. Brodsky for losing this case,” Czech said. “Winning this case brings new clients, brings fame. Losing the case, as we’ve seen with Mr. Brodsky, brings a loss of clients, ignominy.”

She also reminded the panel that Smith was called by the defense, not the prosecution.

After the nearly hourlong argument, Justice Mary K. O’Brien said the court would take the matter under advisement and would later issue a written decision. She did not say when that decision would be released.

Pastor Neil Schori attended today’s proceedings, commenting afterward about the allegation that his testimony violated Stacy Peterson’s right to privacy he said, “The defense continues to try to make this an issue. That Stacy wanted me to be quiet makes no sense.”

Drew Peterson pleads Not Guilty to murder-for-hire charges

Artist's drawing shows Peterson in court today with his attorney Lucas Leifer

Artist’s drawing shows Peterson in court today with his attorney Lucas Leifer

This morning at a court appearance in Chester, Illinois, Drew Peterson waived a preliminary hearing and pleaded not guilty to having attempted to arrange the murder of State’s Attorney, James Glasgow.

Peterson appeared in court in a white dress shirt, black pants, dress shoes and leg shackles. He attempted to nod at reporters and joked with sketch artists, asking them to draw him smiling. When admonished by Judge Richard A. Brown he replied, “I understand.”

Two subpoenaed FBI agents (I believe their names to be Brian Clark and Chris Straub) did not testify today since the hearing was waived.

Steve Nate from the Attorney General’s Office argued a motion for an order prohibiting Peterson’s attorneys and prosecutors from disclosing to the public any evidence in the case, which was granted. This was most likely filed to protect the identity of the jailhouse “snitch”, who is reported to have been a fellow inmate of Peterson’s, and outed in letters from another inmate as Antonio Smith. Last month, Peterson’s former attorney, Joel Brodsky, released those letters from inmate Adrian Gabriel, who claimed to have hatched a plan with Smith to set up Peterson with the solicitation charges. Brodsky says that Smith is presently under witness protection and living in Florida under an assumed name.

The state also filed a notice disclosing that Peterson’s case twice involved use of eavesdropping devices.

Peterson is next expected in court on April 14 for a case management conference and the case has also been placed on the July 2015 jury docket in Randolph County.

Stacy Peterson’s sister, Cassandra Cales, was in attendance.

Peterson’s new attorney, Lucas Leifer, says that he and his client do not want to try this case in public.

Sources:
Jon Seidel
Stacy St. Clair
Judici

Read the letters from Adrian Gabriel to Joel Brodsky alleging that he plotted to set up Drew Peterson in murder-for-hire charges

adrian-gabriel

UPDATE 2/26/15: Joel Brodsky has tweeted that Adrian Gabriel’s cell was searched by the Department of Corrections yesterday, and the notes he referenced in his letter, allegedly written by Antonio Smith, were seized.
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Here are the letters that Joel Brodsky posted today on his professional Facebook page. In them, inmate Adrian Gabriel alleges that he and another inmate plotted to set up Drew Peterson with solicitation for murder charges while behind bars.

This is the shorter, initial letter that Gabriel refers to in the longer letter above:

OPINION: Having read the letters my response is that one man’s set-up is another man’s sting.

Also, it seems to me that Mr. Gabriel was all for participating in this sting until he realized that he was not going to benefit the way he had hoped. He then turned and tried to appeal to the other side and when Steve Greenberg wouldn’t indulge him, he then turned to Joel Brodsky, who can always be counted on to go to the media and get his face on the air, and simultaneously trash Steve Greenberg.

BTW, there’s no way I can read all that vitriol flung at Greenberg and not suspect that Brodsky is involved in this beyond simply receiving a couple letters. Funny, he didn’t mention in his WGN interview that he also spoke by phone with Gabriel.

Also, how did Gabriel manage to obtain Steve Greenberg’s personal cell phone number?

A new story by Joe Hosey, details the crimes that put Adrian Gabriel behind bars. This is NOT a nice guy:

Brodsky’s pen pal was sent to prison for a 2002 “horrifying anti-homosexual hate crime,” according to a story in the Northwest Indiana Times. At the age of 15, Gabriel and three others held a gay man and a gay teen at gunpoint and forced them to perform a variety of sexual acts, the story said.

According to a story in the Chicago Tribune, Gabriel and his accomplices also made the man perform sex acts on them. The man was then sodomized with a broomstick.

Subpoenas issued, lawyer assigned in the Drew Peterson murder-for-hire case

Drew Peterson has been charged with attempting to arrange the murder of James Glasgow

Drew Peterson has been charged with attempting to arrange the murder of James Glasgow

UPDATE 3/3/15: It looks as if Chris Straub and Brian Clark may be the names of two FBI agents who participated in the undercover investigation.
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UPDATE 2/25/15: I’m aware of the letters that Joel Brodsky received from disgruntled inmate, Adrian Gabriel, implicating himself and Antonio Smith in a plot that he says he hatched to entrap Drew Peterson. I’ll post something a bit later – probably once Brodsky leaks the letters…stay tuned.
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UPDATE 2/22/15: Peterson’s court-appointed attorney filed a “speedy trial demand” which courthouse officials say is not unusual and should not pose a problem. This means his trial will take place within 160 days. Randolph county has jury availability only five times during the year and officials are aiming for a July trial. The courthouse is small so there will probably be a lottery for media passes.
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Subpoenas have been issued for a Chris Straub and Brian Clark in Drew Peterson’s solicitation of murder case.

There are a Brian Clark and a Chris Straub in the Illinois Department of Corrections system but both men are/were incarcerated in Winnebago county prisons, over 300 miles north of Menard Correctional Center, where Drew Peterson is housed. If either of these men are involved in Drew Peterson’s new charges for solicitation of murder, which are said to involve a prison inmate, it will be interesting to learn how they came into contact with him.

There is a Brian Clark residing in the town of Chester, where Menard CC is located, also both a Brian Clark and a Chris Straub who once lived in Bolingbrook and are Drew’s age, but no idea if any of that is significant or merely coincidental.

I’ll try not to speculate any further at this point, and please don’t post any photos or personal information about any individual with those names in the comment section. As the case proceeds, we will all learn the facts.

Drew has a new court-appointed attorney, Lucas Liefer, who filed a motion for discovery on Wednesday. Here is his bio, courtesy of the Red Bud Chamber of Commerce.

Lucas graduated from Red Bud High School in 2003. He attended Southwestern Illinois College for two years before transferring to Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Lucas graduated magna cum laude in 2008 with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a minor in History. He then attended Southern Illinois University School of law and graduated cum laude in May of 2011. Lucas is now licensed to practice law [in] Illinois and Missouri.

Lucas worked as an associate attorney with Arbeiter & Walker from October 2011 until November 2012. Currently, he is a partner at the law firm of Cooper & Liefer.

He’s a young one!