Illinois Supreme Court upholds Drew Peterson conviction for murder of Kathleen Savio

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.

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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.

A mugshot history of Drew Peterson

many-mugs-of-drew
Just for the hell of it, here is a compendium of Drew Peterson’s mugshots over time. Click the link or the image above to see it full size.

The first mugshot is from his 2008 arrest on gun charges (later dropped). The second is from his 2009 arrest for murder. Peterson remained in detention from his arrest until his trial in 2012.

The last mugshot is a new one from the Illinois Department of Corrections. Peterson is currently housed at the Menard Correctional Center where he is serving a 38-year sentence for the 2004 murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. He has filed an appeal of the conviction.

Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy (Cales) Peterson, has been missing since October 2007.

Drew Peterson may lose his $79k pension

Drew Peterson's mugshot February, 2013

Drew Peterson’s mugshot February, 2013


The Bolingbrook pension board has hired an outside lawyer to review the transcripts from Drew Peterson’s murder trial to determine whether or not the convicted killer should lose his pension.

In September of last year, it was reported that it was possible he could lose his $79,000 annual pension from the Bolingbrook Police Department as a result of the guilty verdict.

Under state law governing public employee pensions, a local pension board could revoke Peterson’s pension if it determines he used his police powers or even his skills as a veteran officer in the 2004 murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Shortly after his conviction Peterson’s then attorney, Joel Brodsky, was confident that Drew would be keeping his pension, saying:

“His pension is safe…That money goes to his kids now anyway, even though I’m sure Jim Glasgow would like to see them thrown out in the street. It’s not like the trial. You would have to present actual evidence to the pension board and they don’t have that.”

It appears that now that Peterson has been sentenced, the city is going to see if that evidence exists.

Peterson’s adult son, Stephen Peterson, currently has power of attorney over his father’s affairs. He has also been taking care of his half-siblings, Anthony and Lacy, who are the children of his father and Stacy Peterson, who has been missing since October 2007.

Stacy Peterson has not yet been declared dead so her children do not collect Social Security benefits on her behalf.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune

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Vaughn murders: Finger-pointing former Peterson attorney unsuccessful in bid for mistrial


In a last-ditch effort to reverse Christopher Vaughn’s murder conviction prior to sentencing, ex-Peterson attorney George Lenard filed a motion on Monday listing 51 reasons why his client deserves a new trial. Among those claims was one that the publicity-seeking media antics of Drew Peterson’s defense team had contributed to the jury’s decision to convict Vaughn of murdering his family.

Christopher Vaughn’s trial took place in a neighboring court room at the Will County Courthouse and was partially concurrent to Peterson’s. Lenard’s motion claimed that jurors were exposed to a press conference in which Peterson’s lawyers appeared to mock his missing and deceased wives. The motion posited that the disgust this engendered influenced their feelings about defense attorneys in general, and caused the jury to become biased against Vaughn and his defense.

However, on Tuesday Judge Daniel Rozak denied the motion, saying there is no evidence that jurors were even aware of the other attorneys’ news conferences. Vaughn was sentenced to serve four life sentences for the murder of his family.

Never media-shy, the Peterson team rallied to the cry and responded to reporters and via Twitter to lambaste the efforts of the lawyer who had once represented Drew Peterson.

Steven Greenberg, who was criticized by co-counsel Joel Brodsky after Drew Peterson’s guilty verdict, and briefly fired only to be brought back into the defense fold, joked on Twitter that once again it was not his fault.

Joe Lopez, who replaced George Lenard on the Peterson defense in 2010 after Lenard withdrew citing irreconcilable differences with co-counsel Joel Brodsky, was particularly jovial and compared Lenard’s claim to that of the famous Twinkie Defense (which, although highly criticised, was successful).

Present Peterson team member Steve Greenberg and Joel Brodsky, who withdrew last month and is being accused of providing Peterson with ineffective assistance of counsel, stated that it was just another example of blaming the already highly criticized team.

Joel Brodsky: “I guess if it rains tomorrow, it’s my fault.

Meanwhile, the Peterson defense has been attempting to reverse their own client’s conviction on the grounds of some dubious claims. Already there have been two motions filed asking for a new trial on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel by Peterson’s long-time attorney Joel Brodsky. He’s being accused of being more motivated by media exposure and book deals than in successfully defending his client and of erroneously calling to the stand an adverse witness who gave testimony putting Drew Peterson at the scene of his wife’s murder.

The state has until January tenth to respond to the defense motions.

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