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.

shelly-mcgree

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.

glenn-barrett

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.

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.

Drew Peterson Update: Gossip, Rumors and Innuendo

It’s been a while since there’s been any big news to report about the Peterson cases but that doesn’t mean nothing has been going on recently.

This summer there have been a few filings in the Savio’s wrongful death suit against Drew. Attorneys will be back in court on September 26 for Judge Power’s decision on the Savio’s motion for a summary judgement.

In August, prosecutors filed a motion requesting that Steve Greenberg step down from Peterson’s appellate team, claiming that the libel suit brought against Greenberg by Peterson’s ex-counsel, Joel Brodsky, created a conflict of interest for Greenberg. At the time of the filing Greenberg called the claim “absurd”.

Yesterday, Greenberg tweeted that Brodsky had withdrawn the libel complaint because he “didn’t comply with the rules (no surprise) and didn’t state a cause of action”. Greenberg went on to tweet that Brodsky has said he is going to re-file but needs to find an attorney to represent him.

brodsky-drew-kissMeanwhile, Joel Brodsky has shared the contents of some of his letters from Drew Peterson with a local Fox affiliate. He claims to have received nine letters from Peterson and made public a few excerpts from letters he received in March and April (Peterson began his prison sentence in February). The excerpts were complaints about the discomfort of prison life, and worries for his safety. This is consistent with the kind of letters Peterson wrote while in jail while awaiting trial, which he sent to the Sun-Times and other media outlets.

While public response to Peterson’s complaints has been overwhelmingly negative, his defense team questions Joel Brodsky’s decision to share any of the correspondence which was labelled as “legal mail” on the envelopes. In a Facebook comment, Steve Greenberg wrote, “Communications r fine. But keep em private. Don’t read them to a reporter” and Brodsky’s former law partner, Reem Odeh, wrote, “Are you serious? It’s all about integrity and the best interest of your client, respect for the law, justice system and integrity of your practice.”

Attorney Reem Odeh

Attorney Reem Odeh

Speaking of Reem Odeh, has Joel Brodsky really taken to Twitter to insinuate that she has ties to Nidal Hasad, the Fort Hood shooter? “Did you know that Hasan comes from the same village in West Bank as Reem Odeh, the former Drew Peterson atty. Distant cousins” he tweeted. “Odeh’s mother went to Hasan’s mothers home on the day of the shootings to express her sympathy and support. I was shocked.”

As for Peterson, it would appear that he has begun to adjust better to prison life since those April letters. More recently, his correspondents have been reporting that Peterson has started to make use of his popularity as a pen-pal to help out his fellow prisoners by sharing lists of inmates who would like pen-pals and to inquire about correspondence courses.

Cassandra Cales

Cassandra Cales

Lastly, rumor has it that Cassandra Cales, sister of missing Stacy Peterson, has just returned from New York, where she consulted a celebrity medium, possibly to be aired as part of a reality show on TLC.

An appeal of Drew Peterson’s conviction is expected to be filed within the next 30 days.

Three of Drew Peterson’s old attorneys return to his defense – Joel Brodsky calls them a pathological narcissist, an alcoholic, and a novice

The Chicago Tribune reports that attorneys Steve Greenberg, John Heiderscheidt and David Peilet have been rehired to try to overturn Drew Peterson’s murder conviction for the killing of his ex-wife, Kathleen Savio.

The three lawyers turned his appellate case over to the state defender’s office last March but Peterson has now decided he wants the help of his old team. attorney Steve Greenberg says,

After the case was over, he needed to think about what he wanted to do. We needed to let things calm down before making those decisions.

The appeal, which is expected to be filed within the next 90 days, will be based on the admission of hearsay, the admission of testimony by Stacy Peterson’s pastor, a jury pool left in limbo for over two years and the ineffective counsel of Peterson’s lead attorney, Joel Brodsky. Brodsky responded to the news last night in an acerbic Tweet:

joel-comment

The Tribune reports that Peterson is biding his time at Menard Correctional Center, in protective custody. He has no cellmate and no job there. He gets five hours of recreation time each week and is allowed to see visitors twice a month.

Since his sentencing, Peterson’s yearly police pension of almost $80k has been challenged by Bolingbrook Village officials. It may take months before the outside attorney hired by the pension board makes a recommendation.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune

Drew Peterson asks to put wrongful death suit on hold

Kathleen Savio and sons / Henry Savio and Anna Doman

Katleen Savio and sons / Henry Savio and Anna Doman


UPDATE 6/13/2013:
Attorney Edmund Boland who is representing Peterson’s Uncle, James Carroll, was in court today. The hearing was rescheduled for August 15th.
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The attorney representing Drew Peterson in the Savio’s wrongful death suit has filed a motion asking to delay the case “…pending the outcome of Mr. Peterson’s appellate case.” The filing also asks that a motion for summary judgment to be denied.

Henry Savio and Anna Doman filed the civil case against Drew Peterson in April 2009, but for the most part it has been in limbo since Peterson was arrested in May 2009 for the murder of Kathleen Savio.

During the long wait to trial, both of Kathleen Savio’s sons who were named in the law suit reached the age of eighteen and removed themselves from the complaint.

John Heiderscheidt’s filing takes some jabs at Peterson’s former lead counsel, Joel Brodsky, saying that the lawyer’s so-called White Noise strategy of media saturation “obliterat(ed) Peterson’s public image.” He cites an interview Joel Brodsky gave to WGN news, in which the lawyer agreed with Judge Burmila’s assertion that Brodsky was under-qualified to defend the high-profile murder defendant.

The filing also points out that the original investigation into Kathleen Savio’s death deemed her death an accident and alleges that the admission of hearsay into Peterson’s trial was unwarranted.

Fourth Amended Complaint – Wrongful Death of Kathleen Savio:

Tom Peterson’s release of Drew Peterson and James Carrol from civil suit:

Read more at:
Bolingbrook Patch
Herald News

Joel Brodsky booted from case after clashes with yet another attorney

The Chicago Tribune reports that Joel Brodsky and his opposing counsel, Michael Meschino, were both dismissed from a Cook County civil case by Judge Raymond Mitchell.

Joel Brodsky was representing Fahred Salem, Mariam Salem and Jrough Al-Daoud in a civil case against Rabi Nesheiwat and George Nesheiwat. After months of open animosity both in and out of court, the Judge filed an opinion and order booting the two lawyers as a last resort to ensure all parties’ right to a fair trial.

Besides relatively tame allegations of name calling by both lawyers – including “little man”, “fat”, “bald”, and “short” as well as the Brodsky favorites, “moron” and “liar” – there were allegations of physical threats and Mr. Meschino had to be escorted from the courtroom more than once by deputies.

Joel Brodsky filed a motion on Tuesday in which he claimed that Attorney Meschino was obsessed with Brodsky’s role in the high-profile Drew Peterson murder case, and recommended that Meschino undergo a mental evaluation.

In Joel Brodsky’s pending defamation suit filed in February, he makes similar assertions of mental illness about ex co-counsel, Steven Greenberg.

In the motion Judge Mitchell says that Brodsky committed “outright attorney misconduct” by sending two letters complaining about Meschino to a chief judge without copying either Meschino or himself. Copies of the letters were attached to his filing.

As for Meschino, he complained rather comically that Joel Brodsky was:

…constantly shaking his head, his bald head, so that the light is shining on me.

A copy of the Judge Mitchell’s order citing “deplorable behavior” has been sent to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

Last month Judge Edward Burmila chastised Brodsky for statements he made during televised interviews immediately following the sentencing of Drew Peterson. At that time he ordered that a transcript of the day’s proceedings be sent to the Commission.

Earlier this month, Joel Brodsky, distributed a press release to announce his inclusion to the “Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyers in the United States” by The National Trial Lawyers Organization. A little digging reveals that Brodsky has actually been added to the list of Top 100 Trial Lawyers for the state of Illinois – a distinction shared by at least 300 Illinois lawyers (that I counted).

According to the organization’s online FAQ, after being offered an invitation an attorney must pay up front for the honor of inclusion to their list and then cough up yearly dues in order to remain listed. They must also pay additional dues in order to be listed by area of expertise.

I wonder if he’ll get a refund if he ends up being disciplined by the ARDC…