Mock trial video: People v. Drew Peterson

The long-awaited trial of Drew Peterson starts tomorrow with opening arguments scheduled to start at 9:30. Unfortunately, the proceedings will not be televised as Will County still does not allow cameras in their criminal courtrooms.

However, back in May of 2009, while Drew Peterson was just beginning what was to be a three-year detainment in a Joliet jail, the cameras were rolling when the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, and WGN Radio’s Legally Speaking presented a mock trial which consisted of closing arguments as they could be presented during Peterson’s actual trial for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Attorney and co-host of Legally Speaking, Attorney Karen Conti presented arguments for the prosecution; while Attorney Joseph Lopez argued for the defense of Peterson. A year later Lopez would join the defense team, but at this time he was not officially representing Drew Peterson.

Quite a bit of time has passed since this mock trial, which ended in a hung jury. We now know that there will be very little mention of Stacy Peterson, and that a fair amount of the hearsay has already been barred from the trial. Nevertheless, it’s fascinating to hear the arguments much as they could very well be presented during the actual trial and to peek into the deliberations of the jury as they weigh the evidence about a possible murder versus the original ruling of a slip and fall that ended in the drowning of Kathleen Savio.

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Drew Peterson on trial: Case Fact Sheet

In May 2009, at the Chicago-Kent College of Law, WGN Radio’s Legally Speaking presented a mock trial of the closing arguments in the prosecution of Drew Peterson for the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Attorney Karen Conti presented closing arguments for the prosecution; while Attorney Joseph Lopez (who had not yet joined the Peterson defense team) argued for the defense of Peterson. The case was presided over by retired Judge Richard E. Neville.

The jurors on the mock trial were given a fact sheet about the case of Kathleen Savio, which we thought might still be useful to have on hand as the trial gets underway.

Also, a few days ago we posted the juror questionnaire that was used last week. Below is the original 11-page questionnaire that the same group filled out when they were first assembled two years ago.

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

On Monday it will be three years since Drew Peterson was arrested and charged with the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Since that day he has resided at the Will County Adult Detention Facility in Joliet awaiting trial. So, what has changed since May 7, 2009?

Trial Status

Today: At a pre-trial hearing on May 4, 2012 Peterson’s defense team indicated that they could be ready to go to trial in 60-90 days.

Legal Representation

Today: 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 nears trial, it has been announced that Atty Joe Lopez will present closing arguments.
One Year 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.
Two 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.
Three 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: The Sun-Times continues 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.
One year 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.
Two years ago: Drew was prohibited from giving interviews to the press.
Three 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: On May 4, 2012, Judge Edward Burmilla was assigned to the case.
One year ago: Judge Stephen White retired in October 2010.
Two years ago: Judge Stephen White presided over the case.
Three 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: 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.
One year 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”).
Two 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.
Three years ago: The Hearsay Statue was passed into legislation November, 2008

Books, Plays and Movies

Today: In June 2011, the Annoyance Theater in Chicago presented a satirical play, Waiting for Drew Peterson, about two sisters obsessed with Drew Peterson. In January of 2012, the Lifetime movie network aired the movie, “Drew Peterson: Untouchable“. Based on Joe Hosey’s book, Fatal Vows, it broke all viewing records for the network. In February of this year, the Raven Theater of Chicago presented, Dating Walter Dante, a play inspired by the love life of Drew Peterson.

Peterson family

Today: Stephen Peterson is still appealing his dismissal. His next court date is scheduled for May 9.
One year 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.
Three years ago: Drew’s four youngest children were left in the care of their step-brother, Oak Brook Police Officer, Stephen Peterson.

Drew’s Love Life

Today: Gossip columnist Michael Sneed reports that Peterson has over 20 pen pals (male and female), at least four of whom contribute to his funds at the commissary so that he can enjoy snacks while he awaits trial.
One year 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.
Two 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”
Three 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: Besides frequent mundane snippets in the gossip columns about Peterson’s life in prison, all has been quiet.
One year ago: While Drew’s bids for attention have been 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.
Two 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.
Three 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: Airings of the movie, “Drew Peterson: Untouchable” brought about some new tips and offers of assistance in regards to the search for Stacy Peterson. She is still missing.
One year ago: In August 2010, based on a tip, searches for Stacy’s remains took place near Peoria. No evidence was found.
Two years ago: Still missing with no sightings or communication from her.
Three years ago: Missing. No communication from her since October 28, 2007. Searches were ongoing.

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Joe “The Shark” Lopez mock trial arguments: a preview of coming attractions?

Last May, at the Chicago-Kent College of Law, WGN Radio’s Legally Speaking presented a mock trial of the closing arguments in the prosecution of Drew Peterson for the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Attorney Karen Conti presented closing arguments for the prosecution; while attorney Joseph Lopez argued for the defense of Peterson. The case was presided over by retired Judge Richard E. Neville.

At the time State’s Attorney James Glasgow took Chicago-Kent College of Law and WGN to task for staging the proceedings, calling it an “abhorrent” event, but since then Joe Lopez has been officially hired on to Peterson’s “Dream Team” in replacement of Andrew Abood. The State may now be interested in what Lopez had to say during what could very well be a preview of coming attractions.

As for Lopez, he’s coming on board having missed out on two year’s worth of pre-trial history, including a historic hearing of hearsay testimony. But he’s not worried about arriving late to the team. He says “It doesn’t matter. This case is not that complicated…This is an accident that happened to this lady. We just have to leave it at that.”





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Hearsay evidence to be aired in Drew Peterson’s “mini trial”

Drew Peterson and the Scheme Team on their way to court

On January 19, 2010 a hearing is scheduled to air the hearsay testimony that may be admitted in Drew Peterson’s trial for the murder of his ex-wife, Kathleen Savio. This “trial before the trial” will be important since so much of the evidence for the prosecution is expected to be circumstantial. This hearing will also be the first time the judge has heard the hearsay testimony that could be admitted under Public Act 095-1004, which makes an exception for hearsay from witnesses who were murdered in order to keep them from testifying. Statements from Savio, her friends and relatives, and a pastor who received the confidences of Peterson’s third wife (missing since October 2007 and presumed dead), could all play a big part in convincing a jury of Peterson’s guilt.

We asked Illinois attorney, Karen Conti of Adamski & Conti LLC, for her take on the upcoming hearing. This is what she had to say:

Karen Conti

We are pretty much on uncharted grounds. This law is new so I am not aware of any such hearing that has ever been conducted. The way the law reads, it seems that the judge here must find that there is a preponderance of evidence that Peterson’s actions silenced Kathleen and whether the hearsay is otherwise reliable. This is a much less rigorous burden than beyond a reasonable doubt. It is used at civil trials and means that if it is more probably true than not true that Peterson killed Kathleen, the burden is met. It seems the prosecution would also have to show that Stacy’s disappearance was caused by Drew in order to use her words which were spoken to the pastor. If allowed in, Stacy’s words would be very compelling to prove that Peterson killed Kathleen as I believe they include Drew’s admission that he killed her in the bathtub after returning home from her house with bloody clothing on. As to how the hearing works, I do not know. It would have to include the prosecution putting on witnesses and allowing Peterson’s lawyers to cross examine them.

This will give Peterson’s lawyers a real advantage at trial in that they will get to hear what the witnesses are going to say ahead of time. There will be a court reporter present and if the witness deviates from that testimony at trial, he can use the prior testimony to impeach.

I am certain that the jury in the full trial will not get to hear that the judge made a ruling that there was a preponderance of evidence that Peterson killed Stacy or Kathleen. The jury will only get to hear the hearsay testimony and will probably know that there was a prior proceeding that caused some of the witnesses to have testified previously.

This hearing will go a long way toward revealing whether the prosecution has good evidence to prove Peterson’s guilt in that they must put on all evidence that is persuasive. They cannot hold anything back because the admission of hearsay testimony at trial is crucial and will probably be the most compelling evidence.

Many thanks as always to Karen for taking the time to help us out!

Greg Adamski and Karen Conti host their own legal talk show, Legally Speaking, on WGN Radio 720 each Sunday from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. They also presented a mock trial of Drew Peterson last Spring which resulted in a hung jury.

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Drew Peterson Trial Questions? Ask a Lawyer!

Karen Conti and Greg Adamski

Karen Conti and Greg Adamski

You may remember Karen Conti as the attorney who presented the prosecution’s closing arguments in The People v. Drew Peterson, the WGN-hosted mock trial of Drew Peterson for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio

Karen Conti and her husband, Greg Adamski, of the law firm Adamski & Conti, host the radio show Legally Speaking on WGN-AM 720, where every Sunday they give their legal insights on current news stories, argue with each other about controversial verdicts, and interview interesting lawyers and litigants.

Karen Conti has appeared on Fox News to comment on the Peterson case, and others. In fact, Ms. Conti was recently featured on the Fox News Chicago morning show discussing Peterson waiving his right to a speedy trial.

Ms. Conti has very graciously agreed to answer the legal questions that we have from time to time. So, if you have a question about the change of venue, the jury, any motions that may be presented, or anything about legal procedure involving this case, just be sure to post it or email it to We’ll send them along and post the answers.

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