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

another new mugLast Tuesday marked four years since Drew Peterson was arrested and charged with the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. So, what has transpired since then?

Trial Status

Today: Jury selection for Drew Peterson’s trial began on July 23, 2012. Opening statements began on July 31st and the first witness was also called that day. Testimony continued through August 30. Closing arguments were heard on September 4 and jury deliberations began. On September 6, after two days and 14 hours of deliberations, the jury found Drew Peterson guilty in the first degree of murdering Kathleen Savio. On February 21st Drew Peterson was sentenced to 38 years in prison, minus the four years he spent in jail awaiting trial. Peterson was moved from the Will County Adult Detention Center, where he had been living since his arrest, to Stateville Prison and then was transferred shortly thereafter to Pontiac Prison and then Menard Correctional Facility. The City of Bolingbrook is reviewing the status of Peterson’s $79,000/year pension to see if it can be revoked.

Legal Representation

Today: Immediately after Peterson’s murder conviction, his defense team began to publicly point fingers and blame each other for losing the case. Paving the way for an appeal based on ineffective assistance of counsel, Joel Brodsky first got in Drew’s ear and was able to get Steven Greenberg fired from the defense team. But by October, Greenberg had spoken to Drew and was back on the team. Soon after, a team of three attorneys who had not represented Peterson in the murder trial filed a motion of ineffective assistance against Joel Brodsky. After much public and private name calling, letter writing, and motion filingJoel Brodsky withdrew from Peterson’s defense. He then filed a defamation suit against Steve Greenberg, two media outlets and specific reporters. Attorney David Peilet of Clarendon Hills and John Heiderscheidt joined the defense team. At a post-sentencing hearing, Judge Edward Burmila said that he was “shocked” at comments Brodsky had made on TV regarding his representation of Drew Peterson and had a transcript of the hearing sent to the ARDC. In March of 2013, the rest of Peterson’s defense team announced that they were stepping aside and turning over the appellate phase of Peterson’s defense to the state public defender’s office.

One year ago: 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 neared trial, it was announced that Atty Joe Lopez would be presenting closing arguments.

Two years 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.

Three 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.

Four 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: Drew Peterson was able to address the court and the public with a statement at his sentencing hearing. Rather than expressing remorse, he shouted out “I did not kill Kathleen” and then issued a long self-pitying rant.

One year ago: The Sun-Times continued 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.

Two years 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.

Three years ago: Drew was prohibited from giving interviews to the press.

Four 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.

Judges

Today: Judge Burmila presided over Peterson’s trial and sentencing.

One year ago: On May 4, 2012, Judge Edward Burmilla was assigned to the case.

Two years ago: Judge Stephen White retired in October 2010.

Three years ago: Judge Stephen White presided over the case.

Four 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: The defense continued to file motions to bar as  much of the hearsay evidence as possible leading up to Peterson’s trial. They were also able to challenge each piece of hearsay evidence as it was introduced at trial and were able to keep out more in that way. At trial Kathleen Savio’s sisters and some friends were allowed to testify to statements she had made to them about fearing Drew Peterson would kill her. Pastor Neil Schori was only allowed to testify to what Stacy had told him alone. The discussions he had with Drew and Stacy in their home were deemed inadmissible. Scott Rossetto’s testimony was also deemed unreliable after the prosecution made some errors with the dates and he didn’t get to take the stand. Although the defense had fought to keep out the testimony of Attorney Harry Smith, whom Stacy Peterson had called with questions about a possible divorce, eventually it was Joel Brodsky who called him to the stand in an attempt to impeach Stacy’s words to Neil Schori. Smith testified that Stacy had asked if she could get more money out of Drew if she threatened to tell “how” he had killed Kathleen Savio. Many believe this to be the evidence that cinched the conviction. A final breakdown of witnesses shows that more than 85% of the evidence presented at Drew Peterson’s trial was physical, forensic and circumstantial. Less than 15% was hearsay. Although media reports were quick to cite “Drew’s Law” as being a factor in the introduction of hearsay to Peterson’s trial, those reports were erroneous as the state had earlier asked the appellate court to reconsider Judge White’s hearsay rulings under the common law rules of forfeiture and they agreed.

One year ago: 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.

Two years 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”).

Three 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.

Four years ago: The Hearsay Statue (Drew;s Law) was passed into legislation November, 2008

Peterson Family

Today: In November 2007, a Federal judge threw out Stephen Peterson’s lawsuit against the Village of Oakbrook and Thomas Sheahan. Peterson then went back to Illinois Circuit court to try to get back his job, but lost that complaint in March of 2013.
Kathleen Savio’s two sons, Thomas and Kristopher are in college. Thomas Peterson testified on his father’s behalf towards the end of his trial.

One year ago: Stephen Peterson was appealing his dismissal and filed a Federal lawsuit in July 2011.

Two years 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.

Four years ago: Drew’s four youngest children were left in the care of their step-brother, Oak Brook Police Officer, Stephen Peterson.

Savio Family

Today: Sue Savio has continued to make appearances to speak out about her sister and against domestic violence. Anna Savio Doman and Henry Savio are still pursuing a wrongful death suit against Drew Peterson.

Cales Family

Today: Cassandra Cales continues to search for her sister.

Drew’s Love Life

Today: Drew Peterson continues to enjoy correspondence with numerous pen pals.

One year ago: Gossip columnist Michael Sneed reported that Peterson had over 20 pen pals (male and female), at least four of whom contributed to his funds at the commissary so that he could enjoy snacks while he awaited trial.

Two years 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.

Three 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”

Four 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.

Stunts

Today: All quiet on the part of Drew Peterson. His legal team seems to have picked up the torch as far as media shenanigans. Restaurateur Jeff Ruby attended Drew Peterson’s trial and was charged with contempt when he reportedly mouthed “Fuck you” at Peterson. Ruby went on to offer a $100,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of Stacy Peterson’s remains.

One year ago: Besides frequent mundane snippets in the gossip columns about Peterson’s life in prison, all has been quiet.

Two years ago: While Drew’s bids for attention were 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.

Three 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.

Four 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: Areas of Hammel Woods in Shorewood were searched for five days in November 2012, utilizing the FBI and cadaver dogs. Some officials stated that it was a training mission, while others told the press that they were indeed looking for the remains of Stacy Peterson. Nothing was found.

One year ago: Airings of the movie, “Drew Peterson: Untouchable” brought about some new tips and offers of assistance in regards to the search for Stacy Peterson.

Two years ago: In August 2010, based on a tip, searches for Stacy’s remains took place near Peoria. No evidence was found.

Three years ago: Still missing with no sightings or communication from her.

Four years ago: Missing. No communication from her since October 28, 2007. Searches were ongoing.

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Drew Peterson’s defense steps down from appellate process, ask for public defender

Attorneys Joe Lopez, David Peilet and Steven Greenberg

Attorneys Joe Lopez, David Peilet and Steven Greenberg

CBS Chicago reports that Drew Peterson’s lawyers have stepped down and asked the public appellate defender’s office to take over with the post-sentencing appeals.

This is something that Joel Brodsky had indicated was happening immediately after Peterson’s sentencing on February 22. At the time Attorney Steven Greenberg tweeted that he was staying on board for the appellate process.

“So the record is clear- We are continuing to represent Peterson on appeal-all counsel who finished the case, plus.”

Today on Facebook, Steve Greenberg writes:

“We expect that the appeal will ultimately be handled by either a law professor or a large firm, with our assistance.”

This change occurred in less than two weeks.

Steve Greenberg Tweeted on 9/20/12: "I promised if we lost I would come to a Glasgow fundraiser and I am a man of my word"

Steve Greenberg Tweeted on 9/20/12: “I promised if we lost I would come to a Glasgow fundraiser and I am a man of my word”

Joel Brodsky has written a response to the situation on Facebook:

“Joel A. Brodsky, Attorney at Law
2 hours ago

ATTORNEY STEVE GREENBERG ABANDON’S DREW PETERSON TO THE PUBLIC DEFENDER’S APPELLATE DIVISION:

For some reason it didn’t make the papers, but if you ask me the real big story from Tuesday’s (March 5, 2013) Court appearance in People v. Drew Peterson is that after the Judge rejected Peterson’s motion to reduce his sentence, the Court asked Steve Greenberg he and the other lawyers were going to represent Drew in his appeal. Greenberg’s answer was no, so the Judge appointed the State Appellate Defender (the public defender for appeals) to represent Drew in his appeal.

No wonder Drew was glum and looking at his shoes during Tuesday’s hearing. Like a one night stand, he was used by Greenberg for Greenberg’s own purposes, and then abandoned to the public defender. I bet Drew is sorry he listened to Greenberg’s lies about how making an false ineffective assistance argument would guarantee him a new trial.

Also, Will County States Attorney Jim Glasgow publically showed his disdain for Attorney Greenberg on Tuesday. When it was all over, and Drew was hauled off to his maximum security cell at Mendard Correctional Center (thanks to Greenberg’s incompetent post-trial motion), Steve Greenberg went up to Mr. Glasgow for the traditional handshake that opposing attorneys share after a trial is completed. However, Glasgow refused to shake Greenberg’s hand, turned his back on the backstabbing slanderer, and walked away. Way to go Mr. Glasgow.”

and

“That’s what you get when you have Steve Greenberg as your attorney – a dishonest and ineffective lawyer who throws you out like yesterday’s trash after he messes up your case. He lied to Drew so he could use the case to try to get at me, and then when it was over he abandoned Drew when he had no more use for him.”

Steve Greenberg has responded on Facebook as well to Brodsky’s statements:

“it is not unusual for the State Appellate Defender to be appointed at this stage. We expect that the appeal will ultimately be handled by either a law professor or a large firm, with our assistance. As far as Mr. Glasgow, he is an ungracious winner.”

Read more at CBS Chicago

Post Drew Peterson Sentencing: Joel Brodsky turns on Peterson

Not 24 hours after Drew Peterson was sentenced to 38 years in prison for the killing of Kathleen Savio, Joel Brodsky was taking to the air waves to try to put some distance between himself and his one time partner-in-publicity.

On a local news show Brodsky claimed that he had never seen Peterson act or sound the way he did in court yesterday when he blurted out, “I did not kill Kathleen”, and then launched into a long self-pitying rant in his own defense.

“Maybe he’s right” Brodsky said about his one-time foe, States Attorney Jim Glasgow, who said that the outburst showed us “the real Drew Peterson”.

Brodsky also took to Facebook in an attempt to exonerate himself from claims that he had made a horrific blunder during Peterson’s trial by calling attorney Harry Smith to the witness stand. Even Judge Stephen Burmila had warned the defense that calling this witness could be risky to Peterson’s defense as he was liable to give testimony that put Drew Peterson at the scene of Kathleen’s death.

The decision to call Harry Smith was called out in Peterson’s motion for a new trial which was denied yesterday, shortly before his sentencing. Although Brodsky was took the stand to testify about his financial arrangements with Peterson, he was never questioned about the Harry Smith matter.

Brodsky wrote:

Joel A. Brodsky, Attorney at Law
2 hours ago

Here is the true story on why Harry Smith was called to testify:

Drew Peterson was convinced that we needed to impeach Stacy’s hearsay. He said that we either had to do it in by using Stacy’s alibi statement or by calling Harry Smith to testify that Stacy was trying to extort him. Drew said that if we didn’t do one or the other than he would insist on taking the stand himself. It was Drew’s right to take the stand if he wanted to, it was his decision, and we couldn’t stop him if he wanted to. We all knew that if Drew took the stand it would have been a disaster, 100% guaranteeing a conviction. Therefore if we were to have any chance of winning we had to either get Stacy’s alibi in, or call Smith, risky as calling Smith may be.

First Attorney Steve Greenberg was supposed get the alibi into evidence through one of the state police officers he was designated to call, Sgt. Collins. However, he failed to do it, and that left no choice but to call Harry Smith. I knew that Smith would be a difficult and risky witness , so instead of putting him off on some other lawyer on the team I felt that as lead lawyer I would be the one who called Smith because it was dangerous, and since I was lead it fell on me to take the risk (being a leader isn’t just a title, it means you take responsibility). Therefore, I was the attorney who called Harry Smith.

All of the attorneys on the team agreed that Harry Smith had to be called. I have both documentary and independent eye witness evidence that Steve Greenberg specifically agreed that Harry Smith should be called to testify.

I didn’t disclose this earlier because Drew’s post-trial motions were pending, and as much as I knew the argument being made was wrong, Drew was still my former client, and I didn’t want to take any action that would prejudice his chances for a new trial. Now that the motion for new trial is denied, I can let the truth about this subject be known.

What should make you mad is that Attorney Steve Greenberg knew all this and was still attempted to put the entire loss on me even though he agreed with the decision to call Harry Smith, made calling Harry Smith a certainty by failing to get the Stacy alibi into evidence, and understood that if we didn’t call him that Drew would take the stand. Greenberg’s intentional and knowing lies about me to the public and the court are reprehensible and he will be held to account for them.

Joel Brodsky has also been stating on camera that Peterson’s current defense team is abandoning his case to the State Appellate Defenders – something that Steve Greenberg denies although attorney Joe Lopez stated this morning on that same news show that he will not be a part of the appellate team (go to 03:35):

Joel Brodsky has filed a suit claiming defamation against Steve Greenberg, the Tribune company and AOL Patch.

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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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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

Drew Peterson to remain in jail

Drew Peterson isn’t going home today.

After both prosecution and defense argued their points in a Will County courtroom this morning, Judge Stephen White ruled that Drew Peterson must remain in jail while an appellate court reviews a decision on the hearsay evidence in his upcoming trial for murder.

Peterson has been in jail for 14 months, under a $20 million bail while awaiting trial for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

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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.”

PART I


PART II

PART III

PART IV

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