Pastor, attorney testimony might be in, TV interviews out in Drew Peterson trial
BY JON SEIDEL AND DAN ROZEK Sun-Times Media June 14, 2012 10:52AM
Retired Bolingbrook Police Sgt. Drew Peterson arrives at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet on May 8, 2009, for arraignment on charges of first-degree murder in the death of his former wife, Kathleen Savio. | M. Spencer Green~AP file photo
Updated: July 16, 2012 6:20AM
Drew Peterson’s jurors might hear what Stacy Peterson allegedly told her pastor.
And they might hear from Kathleen Savio’s divorce attorney — if they do he’ll tell them more than he planned.
But they will not see Peterson in a collection of nationally broadcast TV interviews, Will County Judge Edward Burmila ruled Thursday. The judge said Peterson’s conversations with well-known reporters come across like cross-examinations.
He said Peterson also comes across as cold-hearted in one.
“The interviews were done in an accusatory manner,” said Joseph Lopez, a Peterson defense attorney, as he praised Burmila’s decision.
Burmila’s order to bar the video of the interviews — prosecutors might still get to use transcripts of all but one — came in a hearing called to resolve three issues as Peterson’s July 23 trial nears. He’s charged in the 2004 drowning death of Savio, his third wife.
Peterson is also a prime suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy.
Burmila said testimony about conversations Stacy had with the Rev. Neil Schori won’t be barred from Peterson’s trial. But the judge said prosecutors will have to first show the conversations are relevant.
They won’t meet that standard, predicted Peterson defense attorney Joel Brodsky.
“After all the fighting that’s been done about Rev. Schori’s testimony,” Brodsky said, “it still may not get in.”
Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow only said he’s “very pleased” with the ruling.
Peterson’s attorneys guessed Glasgow might not be quite so pleased with the judge’s third ruling, though. Burmila said Savio divorce attorney Harry Smith, if he gets on the stand, must testify about a conversation he had with Savio when he represented her in a criminal case.
Burmila heard about that conversation in a private meeting with Smith. He said it’s incriminating, but he didn’t say for whom.
Smith contends Savio repeatedly told him to make sure Peterson didn’t get away with her murder if she turned up dead. But Lopez inferred from Burmila’s ruling that Savio might have lied under oath during a misdemeanor battery case.
Calling Smith to testify, Lopez said, might come with a price.
“If she lied under oath, her credibility is shot,” Lopez said.
Peterson and his attorneys are expected back in the courtroom July 3.