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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New Drew Peterson documentary

For the last month or so CNN has been working on a new documentary about the Drew Peterson trial, his new conspiracy charges and the lives of Kathleen Savio and Stacy Peterson.

For weeks they were doing research here on the blog and I was contacted by a producer named Max Newfield for help with source materials.

Sue Savio, sister of Peterson’s third wife, was interviewed for the special report and went to Facebook with her hope that her interview will help in her fight against domestic violence.

sue-doc

Pastor Neil Schori, who was the confidant of Stacy Peterson, had a positive experience with the production as well, stating that correspondent Jean Casarez was “great” and that she gave him “a chance to talk about how we can help victims” of domestic violence.

neilschori-doc

Even Joel Brodsky, Peterson’s controversial lawyer,  seemed to have enjoyed his involvement.

joel-doc

But not everyone was thrilled to see the cameras. When Drew’s son, Stephen, spotted them in front of his father’s Bolingbrook house, he referred to the crew from CNN as “F’ing vultures” and bemoaned that “it never ends.”

video-crew-petersons-cropped

From the ad on CNN’s site, it looks as if Stacy’s Aunt Candace Aikin was interviewed as was Joe Hosey, author of the book Fatal Vows: The Tragic Wives of Sergeant Drew Peterson which was adapted for the Lifetime Movie, Drew Peterson:Untouchable.

CNN Special Report, Married to a murderer: The Drew Peterson Story, airs on Tuesday, June 30 at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific time. Check your local listings for channel.

UPDATE JULY 7: Peterson’s trial for the solicitation of murder (of State’s Attorney, James Glasgow) has been rescheduled for November 13. His lawyer wants to hire an expert witness and give them time to research, etc.

06/18/2015 Motion to Continue on file. Petition to Approve Expert Witnes Retention and Funding on file.

07/07/2015 Parties appear; motion hearings continued to 9-1-15, 9am; case set for jury trial selection on 11-13-15, 9am; jury trial set 11-16-15, 9am. Agreed Case Management Order on file. *copies given to all parties.

Would you like to help fight domestic abuse? Message from Pastor Neil Schori

[EXCERPT]

“I believe that it is time to mobilize our communities to make a real difference for women whom are suffering in silence. In order to do that, we must mobilize. Because of my involvement in the Drew Peterson murder trial, I’ve received a lot of media attention, and I’m using it for good.

My desire is for every church in the country to be a safe place for abused women. In order for that to happen, we must have a plan, and pastors and parishioners must respond appropriately to the plan so that abuse victims get the real assistance they need.

The Evidentiary Affidavit of Abuse was created in response to the disappearance of Stacy Peterson. The goal was to eliminate the “hearsay” that Drew Peterson’s team claimed (unsuccessfully) was not legitimate evidence of Drew’s guilt. I’d love it if all of you would go to http://documenttheabuse.com and read about the Evidentiary Affidavit of Abuse. It will bring offenders to justice more quickly than Drew Peterson. It will also empower women and help them to get back their voices. I’ve used it repeatedly in my own church with incredible results. Not one woman has been killed since we started to use this incredible tool.

My goal is for churches and other concerned members of the community to learn to use this tool, but then to offer temporary safe families for victims of domestic violence. If just 5 families in each church in the nation would step up to this challenge, all 1.3 million victims of abuse would be safe from their attackers.

There are many domestic violence shelters out there that are doing tremendous work. But they need more people to step up and do the same kind of work that they are doing. They aren’t funded well enough to do it all, and they need our help.

Breaking the Silence,

Neil Schori”

Here is an example of an evidentiary abuse affidavit.

If you would like to be a partner in this effort, please contact Neil Schori.

Read a story about Neil’s efforts at the Chicago Tribune

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Drew Peterson trial – day fifteen. Pastor Neil Schori on stand. Stacy Peterson “speaks”

UPDATE 03:16:

Court is back in session.
Judge Burmila is back on the bench. He says that the fact that Drew and Stacy’s Nextel phones had a “chirping” feature might be relevant. “My concern, however, is that Mr. Mims may not be the right person to introduce this to the jury . . . if you want to call someone from Nextel, or if the parties want to stipulate, I think that’s all appropriate, and it will be admissible.” Connor: “We would have to produce that witness tomorrow. As far as our witnesses for today, given your rulings, we are at an end of our witnesses.”
The sidebar ends. Judge Burmila announces that he will release the jurors for the day. He wants to have a conference with the attorneys, but that will apparently take place in chambers.

UPDATE 02:00:

Atty Lopez says that the delay is because both sides are hammering out stipulations so prosecutors can rest tomorrow.
Court is now in session.
Defense tries to stop a prosecution investigator from testifying about receipts he found in Drew’s home in 2007.
Brodsky says the state can’t provide evidence of a “false” alibi if defendant hasn’t presented an alibi defense.
Glasgow also says it would back Pachter’s testimony that Drew wanted an ironclad alibi for day of Savio’s death.
Receipts include receipts from Krispy Kreme and the Shedd Aquarium. The receipts were in the only red folder in the drawer.
Prosecutor Connor: “It did not appear from the other items in this file cabinet that he was a compulsive record keeper.”
Burmila says receipts from a Krispy Kreme & Shedd Aquarium are admissible. Receipts were for cash, not credit, and kept in a red folder.
Defense still fighting receipt decision. Glasgow getting animated.
Burmila scolded Glasgow for tone, volume of his voice while stating his case. Glasgow apologized profusely. “It will not happen again.”
Glasgow says Drew Peterson staged scene – complete with OJ on kitchen counter – to make it look like Savio died in morning so kept receipts.
Judge reverses himself, won’t let investigator describe receipts found in Drew’s home that give him alibi for day before Savio.
Court in recess while State decides who to call next. No receipts – no Dave Margliano.

UPDATE 01:30:

Attorney Harry Smith is expected to be the next prosecution witness.

UPDATE 11:30:

“You told the jury that Stacy told you she lived with a murderer?” “Those were not her words, but yes.” “So it was your understanding that Stacy lived with someone who committed a murder?” “Right.” “Of a wife?” “Right.” “And you let her go right back there?” “I didn’t stop her.” “Because you didn’t believe her!” “Not true.”
Lopez finishes on cross. Glasgow begins re-direct
Schori says he did not initially report what Stacy told him because she wanted him to keep it between them.
Schori says he was aware that DP was a police officer. Schori says Stacy asked him not to share the information she gave him with anyone. He complied with her request to maintain “integrity.”
Schori says there was a witness 8-10 ft away during initial mtg w/ Stacy – Marco Macola. Schori said witness sat 8 to 10 feet away and didn’t hear discussion.
Arguments over Schori testifying about coming forward with Stacy’s story in October 2007, the month Stacy disappeared.
Judge: “I think the fact that he told the sergeant in October is appropriate, and it’s admissible.”
Lopez then begins his recross. “You mentioned you needed to bring somebody with you, based on the phone call you received the day before?” “That’s correct.” “You knew she was going to seduce you?” “That’s not correct.”
“When Mr. Glasgow was asking you about you not telling anybody, do you remember that?” “I do.” “Did you appear on a radio show…” Objection/Sustained. That ends the testimony of Rev. Schori, and he is excused from the stand. The judge excuses the jurors for the lunch recess.

UPDATE 11:07:

State ends questioning Schori. Lopez begins cross.
Lopez: “Are you telling us that you engage in marriage counseling with people in public places? Schori: “Absolutely.”
Lopez: You thought it would be better to embarrass your people by having them cry in public.
Schori says he didn’t take notes during SP meeting. “I never take notes.”
Upon questioning, Schori says he didn’t follow-up with Stacy or confirm details with Drew Peterson after initial meeting.
Schori also says he didn’t send any anonymous letters to authorities, news organizations with info SP gave him.
“You didn’t tell anybody about it?” “That’s correct.” “In fact, you were sitting on a grand jury?” “That’s correct.” “Did you speak to somebody in August?” “No.” “September?” “No.” “You didn’t speak to anybody until October?” “That is correct.”
“She also told you that Drew told her that he killed his own men when he was in the Army?” “That is correct.”
Coughing juror is causing a disruption. Jury leaves room.

UPDATE 10:57:

Neil Schori

The prosecution calls Neil Schori to the stand.
Schori says he met Drew and Stacy Peterson at the end of 2005 or beginning of 2006 at Westbrook Christian Church in Bolingbrook.
Schori says his job was to get newcomers acclimated to the church, when he met Stacy and Drew Peterson.
Schori said he received phone call rom Stacy Peterson in Aug. 2007. He met her at a Starbucks the morning after that call.
Schori provided all counseling sessions a public coffee shops because he did not want any suggestions of impropriety with congregants.
Schori: “Stacy appeared to be nervous, tentative, she was sitting alone…I approached and greeted her.”
Schori said SP “silently cried,” indicated she had something to tell him.
Schori says SP told him that one night she and DP went to sleep at the same time. She later awoke and DP wasn’t there.
Schori: SP later saw Drew downstairs, wearing black. He was carrying bag. He put contents of bag into washing machine.
Schori: When DP walked away, Stacy looked inside washer and saw woman’s clothes that weren’t hers.
Schori: SP said DP later told her that police would want to interview her. DP told her what to say.
Schori says Stacy claimed Drew Peterson coached her for hours on what to say to police. A tearful Stacy said she lied to police, he said.
Schori: “She continued to cry. She was very scared,” in retelling tale.

UPDATE 10:26:

Judge says state mislead him about Schori testimony after reviewing transcripts. State still disagrees.
Statement “it’s a perfect crime,” which DP allegedly said to SP, according to Schori, is inadmissible. Prosecution asking judge to reconsider.
Judge: “So with that as our starting point, where are we with the request that I evaluate Rev. Schori’s testimony.”
Prosecutor Griffin: “This was referred to over and over again before Judge White and Your Honor as ‘the lie request’.”
Judge: “Where are we at, then? I’ve made a ruling that he cannot say she said this was going to be the perfect crime.
Judge: “You’re asking me to admit a statement she made to Rev. Schori that she fulfilled the defendant’s wish?”
Griffin: “Yes, without getting into the actual statement that she made to the police.
Judge doesn’t change his prior ruling – statements that Drew Peterson made, with Stacy’s alibi it’d be “the perfect crime” not admissible
The judge will allow state to present that Drew Peterson advised Stacy to lie to police for him, and that she did.
They continue to argue.
Judge Burmila: “The State’s argument is that statement was barred by Judge White as privileged, and that explains the link you now say doesn’t exist . . . the Court’s observations you read from the transcript were in advance of the trial. The issue here is whether or not there’s any testimony presented to this jury that could allow for the inference the State is trying to make . . . but there is some indication that the jury could believe this act happened sometime between midnight Saturday and the time that she was found . . . taking all of that into account, the jury would be able to draw the inferences that the clothing the defendant had with him, if they believe Stacy Peterson’s hearsay statement, could have come from the victim’s home. So that [defense] objection will be overruled.
SA Glasgow asks for a few minutes to talk to Neil Schori. Court is in recess.

UPDATE 9:28:

Attorneys in courtroom. Just waiting on the Judge.
Rumor is jurors will be wearing gray today.
Court is in session. Jury coming in.
Pastor Neil Schori expected to take the stand first today for prosecution.
Attorney Brodsky notes that there are issues of marital and clerical privilege at play with Schori.
Glasgow wants Schori to testify, but parts of his story are not admissible.
Judge: “I don’t think we addressed the issue of ‘no one will ever know’ [which Drew allegedly told Stacy].”
Glasgow claims that “my hands are tied,” based on the judge’s prior rulings. “We have a right to have this witness tell the gist of what he was told . . . the words ‘perfect crime’ were used . . . he [the defendant] coached her for hours.”
Judge: “We’ve revisited this on a number of occasions . . . the issue is what is legally admissible, not what makes the State’s case better, or what makes the witness more believable . . . I was told that the testimony was going to be that she was told to lie. ‘This will be the perfect crime’ is covered by marital privilege. I didn’t make up marital privilege . . . now you’re telling me that’s not really what the statement was. I guess we have to backtrack: did Rev. Schori say that Stacy Peterson told him that she was told to lie to the police?”
Judge left bench, demanding transcript of pre-trial hearing so he can see exactly what prosecution told him.
Court in recess.
BTW: Jeff Ruby mouthed “F— Y–” to Drew Peterson in court. sheriff: “There was direct eye contact made.” Ruby was escorted out of the building and is barred from the trial.
Glasgow: “Judge “we are walking on egg shells”. State is to the point where based on prior missteps they are navigating a mistrial minefield.
The parties are heading back into the courtroom. We should be resuming shortly.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Drew Peterson’s trial for the murder of Kathleen Savio continues today. Yesterday the prosecution managed to put four witnesses on the stand: Jeffrey Pachter, Bryan Falat, Dr. Vinod Motiani, and Nick Pontarelli.

As always, I’ll have my eyes and ears open and will be posting updates. Check back throughout the day for the latest news and don’t forget to check the comments thread.

We’re following:
Jon Seidel
Stacy St. Clair
In Session
Glenn Marshall
Diane Pathieu
Kara Oko
Dan Rozek
Diane Pathieu

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Will late medical examiner, Bryan Mitchell, speak from the grave at Peterson trial?

Yesterday, during an interview with In Session‘s Ted Rowlands, Attorney Steven Greenberg said that the State is going to try to introduce hearsay evidence from the late Dr. Bryan Mitchell into Drew Peterson’s murder trial–evidence that would go against the findings of his own autopsy report.

Mitchell, who passed away in March 2010, was the medical examiner who performed the original autopsy on Kathleen Savio in November 2007. In his report he noted that a 1-inch gash on her scalp might have been caused by a slip or fall.

A second autopsy was done on the exhumed body of Kathleen Savio in November of 2007 by Dr. Larry Blum. Blum believes that Savio’s body was in the tub when her head wound was inflicted, based on the flow of the blood.

It’s now being alleged that shortly before his death, possibly from his deathbed, Dr. Mitchell admitted that he had made a mistake in the Peterson case. This statement could possibly be admitted to Peterson’s trial, but I don’t know exactly which hearsay exception it might fall under. It remains to be seen. Needless to say, the defense does not want this testimony admitted.

Countering the hearsay statements

Attorney Greenberg also indicated how the Peterson defense may argue against some of the hearsay evidence to be introduced by the prosecution.

1. Kathleen’s complaint that Drew confronted her in her home and threatened her.
The defense intends to argue that Kathleen’s complaint was not spontaneous but was made the same day that she was served with papers for battery against Stacy Peterson. They will argue that she only filed the report in retaliation.

2. Savio’s letter sent to Asst. State’s Attorney Elizabeth Fragale and others.
The defense will attempt to demonstrate that the letter went through several versions and that the contents were “embellished”.

3. Testimony of Savio’s friend Mary Susan Parks that Drew had threatened Kathleen.
Defense will confront the witness and ask her why she did not come forward to authorities when Kathleen was found dead. Essentially, they’ll try to show that she is lying.

4. Testimony from Neil Schori that Stacy told him she saw Drew loading the washer with women’s clothing on the night that Kathleen died.
Defense will argue that Pastor Schori has given several different versions of the story. They will ask the jury to consider why an experienced police officer would risk bringing the victim’s clothes home to wash them rather than disposing of them. As for the argument that he wanted to launder the clothes to remove any traces of his own DNA, Greenberg’s response was “That’s why God invented fire”.

According to Attorney Greenberg, the biggest challenges to the defense will be scientific testimony, Neil Schori’s hearsay evidence, and anything that involves Stacy Peterson.

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

UPDATE 10:44 CST:

 •  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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Drew Peterson trial set to begin July 23rd

Proceedings got off to a late start this morning in Joliet, with Drew Peterson displaying a change in demeanor from his last court appearance. As pre-trial motions were argued, Peterson sat calmly and refrained from openly joking with the court or reporters.

Before the noon break, Judge Edward Burmila decided that the State would not be allowed to suggest that a witness is more credible based on their profession. In other words, although Pastor Neil Schori will be allowed to testify as to what missing fourth wife Stacy Peterson told him, and he can be identified as a pastor, the State can’t ask the jury to weigh his testimony more strongly simply because of his role as clergy.

The prosecution also argued that defense request to bar mention of Stacy’s disappearance from trial is “premature”.

During the lunch break, attorney Joel Brodsky phoned In Session and told Vinnie Politan that Judge Burmila has set the trial date with jury selection beginning July 23rd and opening arguments starting July 31. He also stated that he does not expect Peterson to take the stand. He also laid out how the defense team is splitting up responsibilities for the trial:

Darryl Goldberg and Ralph E. Meczyk: Forensics
Joel Brodsky: Opening statements and witnesses questioned during pre-trial hearing (Andrew Abood questioned most of them originally but he has since left the team)
Joe Lopez: Law enforcement witnesses and closing statement
Steve Greenberg: Legal objections and motions

This afternoon the judge ruled that the prosecution will not be allowed to mention that Stacy Peterson is dead, is presumed dead or was killed by Drew Peterson. However, prosecutors may ask a witness a question in such a way that it could come out that Stacy Peterson is missing. For instance, Neil Schori might be asked why he didn’t talk to police immediately after Stacy told him that Drew had killed Kathleen, and he might reply that he was motivated to say something after Stacy suddenly disappeared.

Joe Hosey tweeted that it looked as if Harry Smith’s conversations with Stacy Peterson would be barred from evidence, and that the judge was as yet undecided about his conversations with Kathleen Savio.

Looks like the defense filed a few more motions today and another hearing is set for June 6th.

Please check out the comments thread for updates.

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