Drew Peterson murder-for-hire trial: Will these jailbirds sing?

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

Drew Peterson’s latest murder trial is slated to begin in less than a month, and the clock is ticking down on deciding who will testify at trial and what kind of evidence will be allowed.

On April 22, Peterson and attorneys for both sides were back in court to argue three motions.

The first motion seeks to limit the impeachment of a former cellmate of Drew Peterson’s, referred to as “Individual A” in court documents, and earlier identified as a man named Antonio Smith, who is rumored to have been released from prison and now living under an assumed identity.

Assistant Attorney General Bill Elward asked to have Smith’s testimony barred, as well as that of four other inmates, Albert Chavez, Jesus Padilla, Glenn Barrett and Shelly McGree, because Peterson’s attorney, Lucas Liefer, had yet to provide the prosecution with copies of the conversation between Peterson and the other men. “We’re trying this case in the dark because we don’t know what Individual A is going to testify at trial” he stated.

albert-chavez

Elward asked where the reports and summaries of these conversations are and Liefer countered that he had a ton of discovery dumped on him at the beginning of April and was overwhelmed, complaining that he had yet to be paid for his representation of Peterson.

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Brown gave Liefer until April 26, to come up with summaries of the conversations, but Elward stated that the prosecution wants not only that but also what these witnesses told investigators.

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Two of the men are still incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center which houses Peterson, while the other two are now housed at Lawrence Correctional Center.

jesus-padilla

The second motion was in regards to the recordings of conversations between Peterson and other inmates in which he allegedly tried to solicit the murder of Illinois State’s attorney James Glasgow.

Liefer argued that some portions of the recordings are inaudible which makes them untrustworthy on the whole, while Elward pointed out that Liefer has had the recordings for over a year and that 96% of the recordings are fine.

Brown agreed to take a look at the transcripts and then decide.

S.A. James Glasgow does not want to appear as witness at Drew Peterson hearing

S.A. James Glasgow

The last motion involved a clarification on an earlier decision regarding allowing James Glasgow to be used as a witness during the prosecution’s opening statements of the trial.

Elward argued that Glasgow will provide background to the jury on the history between Drew Peterson and himself. “He talks about Savio, he talks about Stacy, he talks about his son losing his job, which he blames Glasgow for” Elward said.

Brown agreed to allow the State’s Attorney to speak, but instructed the prosecution to provide Peterson’s defense with a summary of what he intends to say.

A final pre-trial conference is set for May 13.

Sources:

Randolph County Herald Tribune
Illinois Department of Corrections
Judici

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Illinois Supreme Court to hear Drew Peterson’s appeal. Former attorney intends to sue for defamation

Photo courtesy IDOC

A smiling Drew Peterson in his current mug shot

I apologize for not updating the blog last week but, unlike Drew Peterson, I was sitting by a pool in the shade of a palm tree.

On March 30 the Illinois Supreme Court announced it would hear ex-Bolingbrook cop Drew Peterson’s appeal of his 2012 conviction for killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004.

The decision came as a bit of a surprise to the legal community, as the Illinois appellate court upheld Peterson’s conviction in November, 2015, stating in their opinion that “since we have found that no errors occurred, defendant’s claim of cumulative error must be rejected.” The chances of the appeal making it to Illinois’ highest court also seemed slim because historically only 5% of petitioned cases are heard.

Peterson’s appeal is based on claims of ineffective counsel on the part of attorney, Joel Brodsky, the admission of several hearsay statements admitted under the forfeiture by wrongdoing exception, and that evidence given by Pastor Neil Schori at trial violated confidentiality.

Meanwhile, Peterson’s murder-for-hire trial is amping up for May, based on charges that he solicited an inmate to kill Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, who prosecuted the Savio case.

Peterson appeared in court on Friday for a short case management conference. Randolph County State’s Attorney Jeremy Walker announced the prosecution would tender its official discovery to the defense on that day, and the date of April 22nd was set for the next case management conference.

Reem Odeh posing with a book about the Peterson case

Reem Odeh posing with a book about the Peterson case

In a strange turn of events, former Drew Peterson attorney, Reem Odeh, is asking Cook County to order to Google to supply her with information about the origins of what she says are libelous reviews left on one of her law practice’s social media pages.

According to the petition, Odeh said she intends to sue for defamation the party or parties responsible for the posts, published in January and February 2016.

According to the Cook County Record,

The petition cited one such post, purportedly posted under the alias of “Drea Sanchez,” which called her a “horrible, lying and deceitful woman claiming to be a great lawyer” who “is an embarrassment to all members of The Bar Association.” The post further called on the Illinois Supreme Court to suspend Odeh’s legal license.

Other posts, submitted under other aliases including “Abdullah Mubarak,” “William Levi” and “Nura Galaski,” allegedly accused Odeh of having “a reputation of getting around;” of having come to court “late as usual smelling like cheap beer;” of having made “bad remarks about the Latin/Polish community;” and of never being prepared for court, among other accusations. The post from “Mubarak” also described her using the term “sharamoota,” which the petition said was a derogatory Arabic term for “prostitute.”

Odeh’s petition said the reviews “are rife with false accusations regarding (Odeh), a married woman, including allegations that (Odeh) attends court appearances under the influence of alcohol; that she is adulterous; that she lies to the court and opposing counsel …; and otherwise incompetent at her profession.

Of course I have no idea who is behind the posts but I do remember that Odeh’s break with her former law partner, Joel Brodsky, was acrimonious to say the least and that a spate of negative comments cropped up about her after she testified that Brodsky had attacked her when she left with a copy of a contract between Joel and Drew at Peterson’s pre-sentencing hearings. Brodksy’s wife, Elizabeth, was especially candid when commenting on her husband’s former law partner.

reem-revie3-nura

Whether Mrs. Brodsky still carries a grudge, or Odeh has new enemies remains to be seen. Presumably, all could be revealed if Cook County rules in her favor and Google cooperates.

Illinois missing persons event to take place tomorrow

Rachel Mellon Skemp

Rachel Mellon Skemp

Rachel Mellon was thirteen years old when she disappeared from her Bolingbrook home. She would be 33 years old now.

Family and friends agree that Rachel was home sick on January 31, 1996. Her stepdad, Vince Mellon, was also home that day. He told police he went out to walk their dog and left Rachel sleeping in her room. Her mother Amy noticed her missing later. She hasn’t been seen since.

Tomorrow will mark the 20th anniversary of her disappearance and the date will be marked by a public memorial and balloon release in honor of not only Rachel, but all of Illinois’ missing persons.

bradleyolsen

Rachel’s father, Jeff Skemp, will be speaking at the event; along with Casssandra Cales, sister of Stacy Peterson; Sue Olsen, mother of Bradley Olsen, missing from DeKalb since 2007; Sheila Bradley-Smith, whose two nieces, Diamond and Tionda, have been missing from Chicago since 2001, and others who are still looking for answers about their loved ones.

In all, the names of 213 will be read and 200 balloons will be released – each containing a note with information about a missing person.

Please come out and show your support for these families and friends!

When: January 31 at 2:00
Where: Bernard J. Ward Elementary School, 200 Recreation Drive, Bolingbrook, IL

Drew Peterson takes murder conviction appeal to Illinois Supreme Court. Murder-for-hire trial set for next month.

Drew Peterson's new mug shots for 2016

Drew Peterson’s new mug shots for 2016

UPDATE 1/27/16: Despite having denied a motion to delay the beginning of the trial just last week, after a conference call between Judge Brown and attorneys Walker and Liefer, the judge agreed to continue Drew Peterson’s upcoming murder-for-hire trial in order to give both sides more time to prepare. The trial was originally set to begin the end of next month. The new trial date is May 6.

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Two months after his appeal was denied by the Illinois appellate court, Drew Peterson’s attorneys have taken his case to the state Supreme Court in hopes of overturning his 2012 conviction for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Case No. 120331

People v. Peterson, Defense leave to appeal granted 3/30/16 from 2015 IL App (3d) 130157

Whether the Appellate Court erred by finding that a decision in a prior appeal precluded it from considering whether evidence was properly admitted under the forfeiture by wrongdoing doctrine, where the prior appeal concerned only a different aspect of the doctrine – the possible application of a new statute. (§2-6(a))

Defense counsel: Stephen Greenberg, Chicago

Penned by attorneys Steve Greenberg and Harold Krent, the petition to appeal covers familiar ground, alleging that the admission of hearsay and “former bad acts” evidence to his the trial should not have taken place and resulted in the erroneous conviction of Drew Peterson.

The Illinois Appellate Court is also called out for having not seriously considered all of the arguments raised in the earlier appeal.

The appeal also, once again points the finger at Peterson’s former counsel and friend, Joel Brodsky, who they insist created a conflict of interest when he wrote a contract with Peterson that gave him a percentage of any money earned by media appearances. They also maintain that he erred when calling lawyer Harry Smith to the stand to testify that Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, had asked him if she could get more money from a divorce arrangement if she threatened to tell how he had killed Kathleen Savio.

Interestingly, last week, a former client of Steve Greenberg’s, Albert Domagala, had his sentence overturned and was granted a new trial after a judge agreed that he had been granted ineffective assistance by Greenberg at his 2005 murder trial.

Joel Brodsky, naturally, took to Facebook and called it a case of “the pot calling the kettle black”.

brodsky-greenberg-ineffective

In Peterson’s case, the filing does not ensure that the Supreme Court will hear the new appeal. The Chicago Tribune points out that the higher court “typically hears a small percentage of such petitions. For example, justices agreed to hear arguments in less than 5 percent of the nearly 1,500 petitions filed in fiscal 2014.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Randolph County Circuit Court Judge Richard A. Brown denied Peterson’s request to delay his trial in the solicitation of murder case.

Peterson’s attorney, Lucas Liefer told the judge that the defense and prosecution were still exchanging discovery in the case, “I don’t think we need a lot of time, but I don’t think it is realistic to say we will be ready to go to trial in a month,” he said.

Judge Brown replied that the calendar for March was already full, telling Leifer, “if you have to move cases aside to get ready for this, then do so.”

At least forty-six witnesses have been subpoenaed in the case, including experts in finger-print and audio recording evidence.

Jury selection for the trial will take place on February 26 and his trial will begin on February 29th in Chester, Illinois where he is incarcerated.

Drew’s prison correspondence continues to be of interest. Joel Brodsky took to Twitter to share his taunting of his former client via the postal service.

joeltweet

A man (with his own notorious past) who claims to be distantly related to Staacy Peterson, also wrote to Peterson in prison, and claims to have received an acerbic reply.

golbafagg

Stacy’s sister, Cassandra Cales, continues to search for her sister and to consult those claiming to be psychics for help in locating Stacy Peterson’s remains.

Most recently Stacy’s family has turned to a woman named Sharon Pugh, who calls herself the “Southern Style Medium”. Hugh was provided with items belonging to to Drew and Stacy Peterson, and by holding the items she says that Stacy joined them and told her that she had been wearing a heart shaped necklace when she died, which was removed before the disposal of her body. She hopes to have more sessions with the family.

Drew Peterson's watches

Drew Peterson’s watches

Stacy Peterson's cap

Stacy Peterson’s cap

Today is Stacy Peterson’s birthday. She would have been 32.

 

Her youngest child turned 11 this month and celebrated with a trip to an indoor rock climbing facility and a lobster dinner.
Stacy with the children: Kris, Lacy, Anthony and Tom

Stacy with the children: Kris, Lacy, Anthony and Tom

Appeal denied. Court upholds Drew Peterson’s murder conviction

Almost two years after it was filed, and six months after it was argued,three appellate court justices decided unanimously to deny Drew Peterson’s appeal of his 2012 conviction for the murder of Kathleen Savio.

The justices, led by Justice Robert L. Carter, stated in their 87-page opinion that there were no errors made during Peterson’s trial, that the physical and circumstantial evidence was sufficient for conviction and that Joel Brodsky’s media agreement with Peterson did not constitute a conflict of interest.

State’s Attorney James Glasgow, the target of Peterson’s current murder-for-hire case, states to CBS that “this is the ultimate vindication of this eight-year journey we’ve been on.”

Victims of domestic abuse advocate and sister of Kathleen, Sue Savio says, “He is where he is and I hope he knows he’s never getting out.

Peterson’s attorney, Steven Greenberg has stated both that he will appeal the conviction again and that he will need to talk to his client before deciding what step to take next.

As for former Peterson lead attorney, Joel Brodsky – he sees the denial as a personal victory.

joel

I’m not sure I agree with his assessment of complete vindication. The court didn’t determine whether or not Brodsky had committed an ethical violation. That’s a matter for the ARDC. Rather, they opined only that his questionable media contract with Peterson didn’t fall under the definition of a per se conflict of interest, stating:

Simply put, the alleged conflict created by the media contract in this case does not fall into one of the categories of per se conflicts established by our supreme court. See id. at 143-44. Regardless of whether Brodsky entering into the contract constituted a violation of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, that relationship did not give rise to a per se conflict of interest.

Meanwhile, Peterson’s trial for conspiracy to commit murder is scheduled to begin in February.

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.

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 Illinois State’s attorneys argued a number of motions that were filed last month. The courtroom was closed for about an hour while the states motion to admit prior bad acts was argued. Court was then opened while attorneys argued a defense motion to supress wire tap evidence.

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 Randolph County Herald Tribune reports that:

Illinois Senior Assistant Attorney General Bill Elward said during the hearing that there are “extensive mentions” of Glasgow in the recordings that contain “animosity” regarding why Peterson hates Glasgow and wants to have him killed.

“The defendant makes numerous statements that he wants Jim Glasgow killed,” (Assistant Attorney General Steve) Nate told Brown. “Those are his words. There’s no going around those words.”

The defense also argued that there was no written affidavit provided before the wire tap took place. “Informant A” alleges that he has a letter from Drew Peterson stating that he wants James Glasgow to be killed, but he is not able to provide it.

The state argued to admit evidence about Peterson’s prior attempt to solicit the murder of 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.

“That may have happened in Will County, but they haven’t proven in this county that Drew Peterson hired someone to kill his third wife,” Peterson’s attorney, Lucas Liefer, said.

Brown asked both counsels to submit a “checklist” of issues, stating that he had made some notes during the nearly two-and-a-half hour hearing on what he has to rule on.

“I just want to make sure I cover each one of these trial issues,” he said. “I’ll read all of this and think about it and give a written order. If I miss something, let me know.”

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.