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Judge bans Stacy Peterson friend’s testimony in Drew Peterson trial

Drew Peterson's defense attorneys Joseph Lopez (left) Joel Brodsky Steve Greenberg laugh as they talk reporters outside Will County Courthouse

Drew Peterson's defense attorneys Joseph Lopez (left), Joel Brodsky and Steve Greenberg laugh as they talk to reporters outside the Will County Courthouse after the 12th day of Peterson's murder trial Friday. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 19, 2012 6:05AM

Scott Rossetto said it will bother him if he doesn’t get to testify against Drew Peterson in his trial for the murder of Kathleen Savio.

Rossetto — a friend of Peterson’s missing fourth wife, Stacy — said it will bother him “a lot.”

“A friend of mine is gone,” he said.

But the U.S. Army captain didn’t seem to know why Judge Edward Burmila turned him away from the courtroom after he traveled all the way from Germany to take the witness stand in Joliet.

Reporters explained he had been barred because of confusion over the exact date of one of his conversations with Stacy — the one in which she told him that Peterson wanted her to lie and give him an alibi for the weekend of Savio’s death.

“Because of the dates?” Rossetto said, adding sarcastically, “That makes a lot of sense.”

Then Rossetto was gone. And Peterson’s trial continued with testimony from an insurance adjuster and the ex-girlfriend of Peterson’s son, Stephen. Neither was quite as key to the case against Peterson as Rossetto, who sat in front of the jury for only a few minutes.

Jurors heard Rossetto say he’s originally from Lockport. That he met Peterson’s fourth wife when she was known as Stacy Cales and dated his identical twin brother, Keith. They heard him say he got a phone call from Stacy in September or October 2007 — after she married Peterson. That he met her one day at a restaurant, and that she visited him at his home on Oct. 25, 2007.

That’s when defense attorneys objected and the judge sent Rossetto and the jurors out of the courtroom. Defense attorney Steven Greenberg told the judge that prosecutors had told him the conversation happened on Oct. 22, 2007. He cited confusing and conflicting reports about when the conversation happened and whether it happened at Rossetto’s apartment or a Denny’s restaurant.

Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow called it all a miscommunication. He blamed long work hours and his 102-degree fever Thursday night. And he said defense attorneys would have a chance to interrogate and discredit Rossetto.

But Burmila, who rejected an earlier Peterson bid to block Rossetto from taking the stand, said that’s not how it works. “The testimony is barred,” Burmila said.

That stopped Peterson’s prosecutors from putting a key witness in front of the jury. Rossetto was to offer one of the few hearsay statements attributed to Peterson’s missing fourth wife.

Glasgow argued it was credible because it matches the claims of the Rev. Neil Schori, who doesn’t know Rossetto and has yet to testify at the trial. Peterson lawyer Joel Brodsky said that Friday was the first time he heard Rossetto mention the Oct. 25 date.

“Twenty-five years I’ve been doing this,” Greenberg said later. “First time a judge ever said a witness was so unreliable the jury ain’t hearing it. That should give you an idea what he would have looked like on the witness stand.”

Glasgow didn’t speak to reporters after court Friday. But a spokeswoman for Stacy Peterson’s relatives blasted Burmila’s decision, saying he seems determined to keep jurors from hearing any mention of Stacy. Her alleged claim to Rossetto could have helped prosecutors show Peterson killed Savio, Pam Bosco said.

“Kathy and Stacy are tied together for a very important reason now,” Bosco said. “I think Kathy does need Stacy today. Her testimony will help her cause, help her find justice in this dumbfounding courtroom.”

Rossetto has testified in the past that Stacy told him that Peterson came home “very, very late” the night Savio died.

“He was dressed all in black,” Rossetto said in 2010, repeating the story Stacy told him. “He said, ‘If anybody asks, I was at home.’ ”

Rossetto also has acknowledged that Stacy tried to kiss him after telling him her “secret.” He also has admitted exchanging “perverted and flirty” text messages with Stacy that Greenberg warned the judge Fridaywere “quite graphic.”

Finally, depending on how Peterson’s attorneys interrogated him, Rossetto’s testimony could have “opened a door.” The jury has heard very little so far about why people like Rossetto went to the police in October 2007. That’s when Stacy disappeared without a trace and triggered the events that led to Peterson’s indictment for the murder of Savio, who was found dead in her dry bathtub March 1, 2004.

Instead, jurors spent Friday morning listening to Gene Neri, Savio’s doctor. He told the jury Savio was “horribly sleep-deprived” and suffered from anxiety and depression. He said she had cervical vertigo, but the unsteady feeling that came with it made her less likely to fall because it would make her “extremely careful.”

Burmila ended the third week of Peterson’s trial by telling prosecutors he would hold a hearing about the “hit man” evidence they want to show the jury. Glasgow mentioned it in his opening statement — telling jurors Peterson offered a co-worker $25,000 to help him get rid of Savio — triggering the first of three mistrial motions in the case so far.

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