Illinois missing persons event to take place tomorrow

Rachel Mellon Skemp

Rachel Mellon Skemp

Rachel Mellon was thirteen years old when she disappeared from her Bolingbrook home. She would be 33 years old now.

Family and friends agree that Rachel was home sick on January 31, 1996. Her stepdad, Vince Mellon, was also home that day. He told police he went out to walk their dog and left Rachel sleeping in her room. Her mother Amy noticed her missing later. She hasn’t been seen since.

Tomorrow will mark the 20th anniversary of her disappearance and the date will be marked by a public memorial and balloon release in honor of not only Rachel, but all of Illinois’ missing persons.

bradleyolsen

Rachel’s father, Jeff Skemp, will be speaking at the event; along with Casssandra Cales, sister of Stacy Peterson; Sue Olsen, mother of Bradley Olsen, missing from DeKalb since 2007; Sheila Bradley-Smith, whose two nieces, Diamond and Tionda, have been missing from Chicago since 2001, and others who are still looking for answers about their loved ones.

In all, the names of 213 will be read and 200 balloons will be released – each containing a note with information about a missing person.

Please come out and show your support for these families and friends!

When: January 31 at 2:00
Where: Bernard J. Ward Elementary School, 200 Recreation Drive, Bolingbrook, IL

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.

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.

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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

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.

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.”

Oral arguments presented today in appeal of Drew Peterson’s murder conviction

Drew Peterson attorneys Steve Greenberg and Harold Krent presented arguments today 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, the question of counselor-client privilege and allegations of ineffective counsel on the part of Joel Brodsky.

The Chicago Tribune reported that,

A three-member panel of the 3rd District Appellate Court frequently interrupted the attorneys with questions about why the rest of Peterson’s legal team did not intervene if they disagreed with Brodsky’s actions and trial strategy.

They also appeared skeptical of claims that Peterson’s rights were violated when Burmila allowed Savio’s divorce attorney, Harry Smith, to testify that Stacy Peterson had called to ask what would happen if she did not reveal her husband’s role in Savio’s death.

Greenberg and Krent argued that Smith should never have been allowed to testify, because it violated attorney-client privilege.

But Justice Daniel Schmidt appeared skeptical.

“Is the privilege designed to protect the client or the person that killed the client?” Schmidt asked. “My guess is if I’m dead, I’m not going to mind if my attorney testifies about the guy that killed me.”

Also,

Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Marie Czech argued that the media rights agreement had expired before Peterson’s 2012 trial, and said Brodsky had nothing to gain by calling a witness that could sink his client’s case.

“There is absolutely no benefit to Mr. Brodsky for losing this case,” Czech said. “Winning this case brings new clients, brings fame. Losing the case, as we’ve seen with Mr. Brodsky, brings a loss of clients, ignominy.”

She also reminded the panel that Smith was called by the defense, not the prosecution.

After the nearly hourlong argument, Justice Mary K. O’Brien said the court would take the matter under advisement and would later issue a written decision. She did not say when that decision would be released.

Pastor Neil Schori attended today’s proceedings, commenting afterward about the allegation that his testimony violated Stacy Peterson’s right to privacy he said, “The defense continues to try to make this an issue. That Stacy wanted me to be quiet makes no sense.”

Drew Peterson pleads Not Guilty to murder-for-hire charges

Artist's drawing shows Peterson in court today with his attorney Lucas Leifer

Artist’s drawing shows Peterson in court today with his attorney Lucas Leifer

This morning at a court appearance in Chester, Illinois, Drew Peterson waived a preliminary hearing and pleaded not guilty to having attempted to arrange the murder of State’s Attorney, James Glasgow.

Peterson appeared in court in a white dress shirt, black pants, dress shoes and leg shackles. He attempted to nod at reporters and joked with sketch artists, asking them to draw him smiling. When admonished by Judge Richard A. Brown he replied, “I understand.”

Two subpoenaed FBI agents (I believe their names to be Brian Clark and Chris Straub) did not testify today since the hearing was waived.

Steve Nate from the Attorney General’s Office argued a motion for an order prohibiting Peterson’s attorneys and prosecutors from disclosing to the public any evidence in the case, which was granted. This was most likely filed to protect the identity of the jailhouse “snitch”, who is reported to have been a fellow inmate of Peterson’s, and outed in letters from another inmate as Antonio Smith. Last month, Peterson’s former attorney, Joel Brodsky, released those letters from inmate Adrian Gabriel, who claimed to have hatched a plan with Smith to set up Peterson with the solicitation charges. Brodsky says that Smith is presently under witness protection and living in Florida under an assumed name.

The state also filed a notice disclosing that Peterson’s case twice involved use of eavesdropping devices.

Peterson is next expected in court on April 14 for a case management conference and the case has also been placed on the July 2015 jury docket in Randolph County.

Stacy Peterson’s sister, Cassandra Cales, was in attendance.

Peterson’s new attorney, Lucas Leifer, says that he and his client do not want to try this case in public.

Sources:
Jon Seidel
Stacy St. Clair
Judici

Read the letters from Adrian Gabriel to Joel Brodsky alleging that he plotted to set up Drew Peterson in murder-for-hire charges

adrian-gabriel

UPDATE 2/26/15: Joel Brodsky has tweeted that Adrian Gabriel’s cell was searched by the Department of Corrections yesterday, and the notes he referenced in his letter, allegedly written by Antonio Smith, were seized.
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Here are the letters that Joel Brodsky posted today on his professional Facebook page. In them, inmate Adrian Gabriel alleges that he and another inmate plotted to set up Drew Peterson with solicitation for murder charges while behind bars.

This is the shorter, initial letter that Gabriel refers to in the longer letter above:

OPINION: Having read the letters my response is that one man’s set-up is another man’s sting.

Also, it seems to me that Mr. Gabriel was all for participating in this sting until he realized that he was not going to benefit the way he had hoped. He then turned and tried to appeal to the other side and when Steve Greenberg wouldn’t indulge him, he then turned to Joel Brodsky, who can always be counted on to go to the media and get his face on the air, and simultaneously trash Steve Greenberg.

BTW, there’s no way I can read all that vitriol flung at Greenberg and not suspect that Brodsky is involved in this beyond simply receiving a couple letters. Funny, he didn’t mention in his WGN interview that he also spoke by phone with Gabriel.

Also, how did Gabriel manage to obtain Steve Greenberg’s personal cell phone number?

A new story by Joe Hosey, details the crimes that put Adrian Gabriel behind bars. This is NOT a nice guy:

Brodsky’s pen pal was sent to prison for a 2002 “horrifying anti-homosexual hate crime,” according to a story in the Northwest Indiana Times. At the age of 15, Gabriel and three others held a gay man and a gay teen at gunpoint and forced them to perform a variety of sexual acts, the story said.

According to a story in the Chicago Tribune, Gabriel and his accomplices also made the man perform sex acts on them. The man was then sodomized with a broomstick.