Today the Illinois Supreme Court handed down their opinion on Drew Peterson’s appeal of his 2012 murder conviction.
The court found his allegations of errors of evidence admitted to trial, ineffective counsel, conflicts of interest, and breeches of clergy privilege to be without legal merit.
States Attorney James Glasgow, himself a target of an attempt at murder-for-hire on the part Peterson, released this statement in response to the court’s decision:
Today’s ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously affirming the conviction of Drew Peterson for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, is the ultimate vindication of my decision to pursue a prosecution that had been criticized initially by many legal professionals and those in the media.
Today’s ruling completely affirms my lawful use of relevant and probative hearsay statements against Drew Peterson at his murder trial. Peterson thought the statements and threats he made had died with Kathleen Savio and had vanished with his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson. He never anticipated that I would utilize the constitutionally sound concept of forfeiture by wrongdoing to allow Kathleen to testify from the grave against her murderer, and enable Stacy to bolster her testimony. This legal principle allows prosecutors to use relevant and probative hearsay statements at trial against defendants who kill witnesses to keep them from testifying.
The Illinois Supreme Court today not only affirmed the use of this principle as applied in the Peterson case, but it identified additional avenues that had already been laid out by the U.S. Supreme Court for prosecutors to use in future cases.
Today’s ruling is a victory for the families of Kathleen Savio and Stacy Peterson against a notorious murderer who always felt he could act outside and above the law. It also is a watershed moment for police and prosecutors battling criminals who would twist the law to serve their nefarious purposes by killing the very witnesses who would help bring them to justice.
I expect Steve Greenberg (and possibly law professor Harold Krent) will be arguing for Peterson, while assistant attorneys general Michael Glick and Leah Bendik will most likely be arguing for the state.
If you’ve been following this case since it was first appealed, a lot of it is going to be familiar ground; with hearsay, conflict of interest, ineffective counsel, and attorney-client privileges being some of the points of contention.
If you want to get up to speed on the appeal in advance of tomorrow’s proceedings, then fire up those reading glasses, pop a Tylenol and power through the legal briefs filed by both the appellant and appellee teams:
BTW, Stacy Peterson has now been missing for nine years. Her sister, Cassandra Cales, recently went to Facebook to state that if Stacy’s remains are found she will sue for them. She says she is still denied access to her niece and nephew who are in the custody of their half-brother, Stephen Peterson. Peterson was fired from his position as a law enforcement officer in Oak Park, after it was determined that he accepted guns and money from his father during the investigation of Stacy’s disappearance in 2007.
In a 20-minute address to the judge, Peterson continued his complaints against his attorney. Peterson contended he never truly intended to carry out a plot to kill Glasgow but rather was setting up a scam so his fellow inmate could rat out Peterson and get a reduced sentence. Peterson contended that his attorney failed to call up to 16 fellow inmates at trial who could have testified about the scam.
Peterson also said during his statement to the court that he has been suicidal while behind bars.
On Friday, closing his remarks, Peterson looked over toward Glasgow in the courtroom and said, “I never did try to have you killed. You can think what you want.”
Outside the courtroom, Glasgow said he was not persuaded by the words of a man he called “a patronizing con man.”
“He’s deluded,” Glasgow said.
On Friday, Peterson said he knew he was being recorded the whole time and his words were all part of a scam to help Smith bring the evidence to authorities to get Smith a reduced sentence.
Clad in a ruffled white button-down shirt, black pants and white Nike basketball shoes, Peterson claimed several other inmates were aware of the plan as well. Peterson said at the time of the recordings, over several weeks during November 2014, he was suicidal and didn’t believe he would live to see the scam come to fruition.
Peterson showed no reaction as Brown handed down the sentence. As he left the courtroom, Peterson said something quietly to Cassandra Cales, the sister of Peterson’s missing fourth wife, Stacy.
Cales, who was seated in the gallery, responded to Peterson: “You killed Stacy.”
Reporter Andy Grimm heard the comment a little differently:
“Give up my sister then kill yourself.”
Judge Brown denied a motion for Peterson to get a new attorney, and also denied a motion for a new trial.
State’s Attorney Glasgow Statement on Drew Peterson Sentence
Drew Peterson was convicted in Randolph County earlier this year of the solicitation for hire of my murder. The sentence handed down today by Judge Richard Brown sends a clear message that convicted criminals will be punished severely if they attempt to take revenge on the prosecutors who have placed them behind bars for their crimes.
While I was the target in this case, it is important to note that this crime is not about me. It is about every State’s Attorney and every Assistant State’s Attorney who takes on the important role of prosecuting criminals and protecting our citizens. This was not merely a threat to one prosecutor. It was an attack on our entire criminal justice system by a notorious murderer who always felt he could act outside and above the law. Prosecutors across our state must have assurances that they are safe once these criminal enterprises are uncovered.
Once again I extend my heartfelt thanks to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan for accepting this case for prosecution and to Assistant Attorneys General Steve Nate and Bill Elward who worked alongside Randolph County State’s Attorney Jeremy Walker to secure a guilty verdict and significant sentence. The Illinois Department of Corrections was critical to the execution of the overhears, and the FBI provided the cutting-edge technology that made these recordings possible. Thank you all for protecting the integrity of our criminal justice system.
At 1:00 today Drew Peterson will be in court to be sentenced for his solicitation of murder conviction.
His intended target, State’s Attorney James Glasgow, will make a victim’s impact statement and Peterson may also speak.
Peterson is already serving a 38 year sentence for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, which would have kept him behind bars until the age of 92.
The new sentence could add at least 35 years to his earlier sentence which he has been serving at Menard Correctional Facility in Chester, Illinois.
Peterson recently wrote a letter to Judge Richard Brown, complaining about this representation by his court-appointed defender, Lucas Liefer.
Last week a motion for leave to withdraw was filed for Peterson’s case so it remains to see who will be sitting next to Peterson in court today.
I will update this post later today with news as I hear it. Randolph county does not allow cameras, lap tops or phones in the courtroom and today there is no overflow room available to reporters, so live tweets will not be available. Please check the comment thread for current updates.
In the meantime, Drew can look forward to a continued lifetime of writing letters to women from behind bars, offering signed photos of himself (but not of his kids or wives) and begging for bikini pics of them and their (female) friends.
Yesterday the secretly recorded conversations between Drew Peterson and prison snitch Antonio Smith were made public.
The hours of recordings were played in court last month during Peterson’s trial for solicitation of murder and helped the jurors decide to convict Peterson of attempting to put out a hit on State’s Attorney James Glasgow.
Some audio from Drew Peterson’s 2013 sentencing has been made public.
These clips were played to the jury in Peterson’s solicitation of murder trial last month along with hours of prison conversations between himself and prison snitch, Antonio Smith.
Transcript of Clip One:
THE COURT: Go ahead, sir.
PETERSON: Good day. My name is Drew Peterson. I hope I don’t aggravate the situation,but I have a lot of things that I think need to be said.
THE COURT: Say whatever you choose.
PETERSON: And I have been forced to sit silent since the beginning of all this. I did not kill Kathleen.
SAVIO: Yes, you did.
THE COURT: There won’t be any comments from the audience, or I will have to –
THE COURT: Ma’am, I’d like you to leave the courtroom. Mr. Peterson, don’t make any outbursts which are calculated to irritate anyone in the audience. You are speaking to the Court now.
Please go ahead.
THE DEFENDANT: I am sorry, Your Honor, I just have to apply the affirmative defense for misconduct in your courtroom. I apologize but –
THE COURT: Go right ahead.
PETERSON: I must have been woozy.
Transcript of Clip Two:
PETERSON: Kathy’s death, it was never my intention throughout these proceedings, no one witness, no one juror, not one prosecutor looked me in the eye until today, and I hope Mr. Glasgow looks me in the eye right now; never forget my face; never forget what you have done here.
Originally, I had some cute and funny things to end with but in closing now it’s time to sentence an innocent man to a life of hardship and abuse of prison, and I don’t deserve this. I don’t. Thank you.
Update: 12:45 The jury has reached a verdict. Just waiting on Judge Brown to return to the courtroom.
And the Verdict is…GUILTY on both counts of solicitation of murder and solicitation of murder for hire.
One count carries a mandatory sentence of at least 20 years. The other at least 15 so he’ll get an addition 35 years minimum.
Sentencing will take place July 26.
Today is the last day of Peterson’s trial for allegedly attempting to hire a hit man to kill Illinois State’s Attorney, James Glasgow, while incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center in Chester, Illinois.