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.

Video: Drew Peterson murder conviction appeal oral arguments

Part 1: Argument for the appeal by attorney Steven Greenberg

Part 2: Argument for the appeal by attorney Harold Krent

Part 3: Argument against the appeal by assistant state’s attorney Marie Czech (1)

Part 4: Argument against the appeal by assistant state’s attorney Marie Czech (2)

Part 5: Rebuttal by attorney Steven Greenberg

Last week Drew Peterson attorneys Steve Greenberg and Harold Krent presented arguments to three Illinois appellate justices in hopes of overturning Peterson’s 2012 conviction for the murder of Kathleen Savio.

The appeal centered around a number of points – namely the admittance of hearsay statements under the forfeiture by wrongdoing exception, the question of counselor-client and lawyer-client privilege and allegations of conflict and ineffective counsel on the part of Joel Brodsky.

Last week also saw a change in date for Peterson’s murder-for-hire trial. Originally he had asked for a speedy trial and the date was set for July, but his attorney, Lucas Liefer, decided that they could not be ready by then. The trial is now set for August 28th.

Attorney Steven Greenberg who unsuccessfully defended Peterson against murder charges at trial in 2012, and is now one of his appellate lawyers, was interviewed about the oral arguments as well as Drew’s more recent murder case

Attorney Joel Brodsky, who is named in Peterson’s appeal as providing ineffective assistance and having a per se conflict of interest, replied to the charges via “The Publicity Agency”. The PR firm is run by Glenn Selig who is also named in Peterson’s appeal.

“I was amazed and shocked at the flagrant lies told, and the blatant hypocrisy demonstrated by Attorney Steve Greenberg during oral arguments before the Illinois Appellate Court on Drew Peterson’s appeal of his murder conviction. As to the accusations about my seeking publicity during the Peterson case, Steve Greenberg’s hypocrisy is beyond all bounds. The provable truth is that Attorney Steve Greenberg begged me to let him come onto the Peterson case to work for free and he wanted to do so for the publicity. He certainly did not want to work for free out of the goodness of his heart. Further, for Greenberg to complain about me seeking publicity from the Peterson case is the height of dishonesty when the provable fact is that I had to stop him from appearing on a truTV segment called “Karas v. Greenberg”, which he attempted to do during the trial! Rather than preparing for the days hearing or appearing in the courtroom during the trial, Greenberg was on truTV giving away the defense’s strategy while seeking publicity for himself. During the trial, he even used his daughter to set up his own personal media interviews. It is the height of hypocrisy for Attorney Greenberg to accuse me of wanting publicity.

Furthermore, Attorney Steve Greenberg told blatant lies during the oral argument. He stated that Drew Peterson’s media interviews were played during the trial and were used as evidence against him. Perhaps Greenberg was too busy doing the “Karas v. Greenberg” TV bits during the trial to remember, but not one video of Drew giving a media interview was ever played at trial. Not one. The only thing related to Mr. Peterson’s interviews that was used as evidence was a written transcript of three (3) questions that Drew was asked during interviews. The questions were as follows: (1) what happened to Kathy” (Drew said “I don’t know”), (2) Were you surprised that Kathy’s body was exhumed (Drew said “yes”), and (3) Were you separated at the time? (Drew said ‘yes”). Hardly evidence against Drew. This shows that Attorney Steve Greenberg lacks any credibility and engaged in gross misrepresentations and hypocrisy during his oral argument to the appellate court.”

Drew Peterson says his sons lied under oath. Bye-bye alibi…

At Drew Peterson’s latest hearing Judge Burmila ruled that Kathleen Savio waived her attorney-client privilege when she asked her divorce lawyer, Harry Smith, to speak out in the event that anything happened to her. He is now free to testify that Savio spoke and wrote to him about her fears that her husband would kill her and make it look like an accident–fears that he had dismissed as “paranoia” until she was found dead in the bathtub of the home she had shared with Drew Peterson.

Judge Burmila did cede in part to the defense by deciding that in waiving the privilege, Smith would need to testify as to anything that Kathleen had told him in confidence, including any statements that might be inclulpatory. Specifically, the defense is eager to have Smith testify that Savio may have lied under oath during a battery case involving a 2002 incident wherein Kathleen attempted to grab a camcorder from Stacy Peterson.

Defense attorney, Steve Greenberg is so excited at the prospect of smearing the reputation of the dead woman that he couldn’t help but crow to the press that the State might decide to not have Harry Smith testify at all, but “if they don’t, we might.”

Joel Brodsky excitedly posted about the far-reaching implications of a possible Savio perjury exposure on his Facebook page:

…Indications are that Kathy Savio took the stand and denied her guilt, and if that is the case, then she lied under oath in the battery case. If that is shown to be true then nothing Kathy Savio said can be believed or taken as reliable evidence in a court of law.

That’s a very interesting statement. Interesting because it appears that Kathleen Savio was not the only person who may have lied under oath about the incident of May 26, 2002.

In a recent interview with the Sun-Time’s Michael Sneed, Drew Peterson described how it came about that his ex-wife was acquitted of the battery charge. “She punched Stacy once in the face in front of the kids and was arrested. But she was found not guilty because the kids said she didn’t do it,” he is quoted as saying. So, not only did Kathleen Savio lie under oath about striking Stacy Peterson, but so did Tom and Kris Peterson?

Drew Peterson is saying that his sons Tom and Kris lied under oath to protect their mother. According to Joel Brodsky that means that nothing they said can be believed or taken as reliable evidence in a court of law.

This is bad news for Drew Peterson since those two boys are his only alibi for his whereabouts on the weekend of February 28-29, 2004.

Since his arrest in 2009 Peterson’s attorneys have been trotting out Drew’s kids to vouch for him, calling them his “lock-tight alibi”. Thomas Peterson even appeared on TV with is dad to state his belief that his dad is innocent, claiming “I highly do not believe that my dad had murdered my mom because, first off, he wasn’t there. He was with us during that period of time.”

In no way do I mean to accuse those boys of being bad people, or of being in any way involved in the murder of their mother. But I don’t think anyone would argue with the fact that children will go to great lengths to please a parent and to fight to keep what family they have intact.

However, if those kids lied under oath once before to protect a parent, what would keep them from doing it again? If it’s true that Savio lied about striking Stacy Peterson then it must also be true that Tom and Kris lied as well, and wouldn’t that destroy their credibility as witnesses for the defense?

By the way, I believe that the Will County Adult Detention Facility records all inmate conversations with visitors. Is it too late for the State to subpoena the recordings of Peterson’s conversation with Sneed?

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Drew Peterson hearing: Kathleen Savio’s attorney and Stacy Peterson’s pastor can testify


 •  Judge Burmila has ruled to waive Kathleen Savio‘s attorney-client privilege and that Harry Smith must testify about all conversation he had with Savio if he is going to testify at all. So that means he can testify that Savio told him she was afraid that Peterson would kill her and make it look like an accident but if he does, he will also need to testify to what Savio told him about her battery cases.

•  Some videos clips of interviews with Drew Peterson have been barred. Judge Burmila said that Peterson comes across as “cold-hearted” in one clip. Not only is the clip barred, but jurors will not even see a transcript of the exchange between Drew Peterson and reporter, Martin Bashir, from a segment filmed for ABC’s Nightline:

•  If prosecutors can lay a foundation, testimony from Stacy Peterson‘s Pastor, Neil Schori can be admitted. Schori will testify that Stacy told him that on the night Kathleen died, Drew Peterson left the house and returned dressed all in black and with a bag of women’s clothing that he put into a washing machine, telling her it was the “perfect crime” and then coaching her for hours on what to tell the police. The defense may object to Schori’s testimony if it is presented in court.

•  Next court date: 07/03/2012 9:30 am
Drew Peterson is in court today. The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. CST.

We’ll update this post throughout the day as we receive news.

Make sure to check the comment thread for the latest updates.

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The schizophrenia of the Drew Peterson pre-trial defense

As the Drew Peterson murder case moves ever closer to trial, a barrage of motions are being filed, argued and decided on a weekly basis. Peterson’s defense is presently concerned with barring as much evidence as possible from his trial. In their fervor to attack the prosecution’s testimony and witnesses the arguments can get downright schizophrenic.

Still to be decided by Judge Burmila is the question of whether Kathleen Savio’s divorce attorney, Harry Smith, will be allowed to testify that she told him she feared her husband would kill her and make it look like an accident.

Smith previously testified at the Grand Jury and also at a pre-trial hearing in February 2010. At the time of that hearing Joel Brodsky attacked his testimony by saying that Savio had lied to Smith–that she would have said anything in order to hurt Peterson.

More recently, the defense has shifted tactics and gone after Attorney Smith by claiming that in speaking out at all he violated the attorney-client privilege and not only should his testimony be barred, but the entire case should be tossed out over such an egregious breach of ethics.

At some point during Wednesday’s proceedings it would appear that Judge Burmila accepted the prosecution’s argument that Savio waived the attorney-client privilege when she asked Attorney Smith to go to authorities and the media if she were to die.

Suddenly, the defense switched from arguing that Smith was wrong for speaking out to now attempting to paint him as a liar who was never told anything by Kathleen Savio and who lied about attempting to contact authorities upon her death. Now in a bizarre 180-turn, Attorney Lopez was reaming Smith because he “sat idle” and “did nothing” when Kathleen Savio was found dead in the bathtub of the house she once shared with Drew Peterson. (For the record, Harry Smith has testified that when Kathleen Savio died, he did contact authorities but his call was not returned. Further, in an interview with Roe Conn, Smith stated that all the documentation he had regarding Kathleen Savio [including written statements from Kathleen about her fear of Peterson] were supplied to ISP for their initial investigation of Savio’s death.) Continue reading

Will Drew Peterson’s murder trial be dismissed because of Harry Smith?

Last Friday, Drew Peterson appeared in court for the first time in almost two years. A new Judge was appointed to his trial for murder and his defense team also filed a number of motions which were then impounded.

One of the motions asked that the murder charges be dropped because of the testimony offered by Wheaton attorney, Harry Smith. Smith testified at the Grand Jury which indicted Peterson, and again later at a pre-trail hearing to test the admissibility of fifteen hearsay statements.

Peterson’s team says that by offering up testimony regarding Kathleen Savio and Stacy Peterson, that Smith violated attorney-client confidentiality and called it the “worst breach of attorney ethics”. They feel the breach is so grievous that not only should Smith not be allowed to testify at Drew’s trial, but that Peterson’s entire case should be thrown out of court.

Since Smith was Savio’s attorney, we can only presume that she is the client in question here, and there is no doubt that Smith represented Kathleen during her divorce from Drew Peterson, but their relationship ended abruptly with her death in the 2004, and he was officially dropped when the executor of Kathleen’s will (Peterson’s Uncle, James Carroll) informed him that his services were no longer needed.

Seeing as Kathleen had asked Smith to go to police in the event that she died and to tell them that Drew had killed her, it would seem that by talking, he is only fulfilling his obligations to his client, rather than breaching any confidentiality.

Of course it’s easy to see why Peterson’s defense would try to keep Harry Smith from testifying. He has a good deal of compelling testimony to deliver on the stand. He will testify that Stacy Peterson (not a client of his) spoke with him twice in the week before her disappearance. She told him that she wanted to divorce Drew Peterson and asked if she could get more money from the divorce if she threatened to tell the police what she knew about Peterson killing his third wife. She told him that “Drew was pissed because he thinks I told (his son) Tom that he killed Kathy”. Peterson told the media that he was “shocked” to learn that Stacy had had discussions with Attorney Smith.

Smith may also testify that at the time of Kathleen’s death, things were not going well for Drew Peterson in the later stages of his contentious divorce from Savio, and that Peterson was aware of it and angry. Smith testified at the pre-trial hearing that shortly before Savio was found dead, a judge had told him and Peterson’s attorney that she was about to recommend that Savio be allowed to keep the couple’s Bolingbrook home, receive a share of his police pension, child support and some money from the sale of a bar the couple had owned.

In march of 2008, Harry Smith gave a lengthy interview to Roe Conn on WLS-AM 890 in Chicago. At that time he could not mention what Stacy had told him about Drew killing Kathleen, but he gave a full account of his dealings with both Kathleen Savio and Stacy Peterson. It’s a good listen.

Acandyrose has a complete transcript of the above interview.

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Stacy inquired about divorce days before disappearance

By Danya Hooker
Days before she went missing, Stacy Peterson spoke with the same lawyer who represented Kathleen Savio in her divorce from Drew Peterson, the attorney revealed Thursday on Roe Conn’s WLS radio show.

Harry Smith said he spoke with Stacy Peterson Oct. 24 and Oct. 26 about filing for divorce. She disappeared Oct. 28.

Continue reading