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Drew Peterson to stay in jail during appeal, state Supreme Court rules

Drew Peterson

Drew Peterson

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Updated: November 10, 2011 2:08PM

Murder suspect Drew Peterson will remain behind bars while the Illinois Supreme Court weighs a critical appeal from Will County prosecutors.

The court late Monday refused to order his release from the Will County Jail, where he has been detained on $20 million bond since his May 2009 arrest on charges he drowned his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

But the ruling left Peterson’s attorneys “hopeful” the high court will not hear the appeal from prosecutors, which could clear the way for Peterson to stand trial in the next few months.

“We’re obviously disappointed that Mr. Peterson won’t be released but we’re also hopeful that this is an indication that the Supreme Court is not going to hear the state’s appeal,” defense attorney Joel Brodsky said.

Attorneys for the 57-year-old former Bolingbrook cop sought his release after Will County prosecutors in August asked the Supreme Court to consider whether so-called hearsay evidence can be used when Peterson is tried for Savio’s 2004 drowning death. Peterson also remains a suspect in the still-unsolved disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy.

Defense attorneys contended the lengthy delays caused by prosecutors’ appeals over crucial hearsay issues — which first began 14 months ago, stalling Peterson’s scheduled 2010 murder trial — means he should be freed from custody until he is tried.

An Illinois Appellate Court ruling in July limited the amount of hearsay evidence prosecutors can use in court when Peterson stands trial for Savio’s death. Prosecutors contend the secondhand evidence — mostly statements Savio and Stacy Peterson purportedly made to other people — is vital to their case against Peterson.

In challenging that ruling, Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow asked the Supreme Court to allow more extensive hearsay statements to be used against Peterson.

Glagow has argued Peterson should remain behind bars because he could pose a danger if he were released from custody.

The Supreme Court decision released Monday that keeps Peterson behind bars did not address whether the high court will consider the hearsay issue at the heart of the murder charges against him.

“It has nothing to do with the merits of the appeal,” said attorney Steve Greenberg, another member of Peterson’s defense team.

The Supreme Court likely will announce later this year whether it will consider Glasgow’s appeal on the hearsay evidence.

If it chooses not to hear the appeal, Peterson could stand trial “in the next couple months,” Brodsky said.

Glasgow through a spokesman declined to comment on Monday’s ruling.

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