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Pathologist, Savio divorce lawyer on deck in Drew Peterson murder trial

Drew Peters(left) is trial death his third wife Kathleen Savio.

Drew Peterson (left) is on trial in the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

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Updated: September 22, 2012 6:32AM

Drew Peterson’s murder trial is scheduled to resume Tuesday with more crucial medical testimony as Will County prosecutors try to prove Kathleen Savio’s 2004 drowning death wasn’t an accident.

Savio’s former divorce attorney, Harry Smith, also may testify about threats the former Bolingbrook cop allegedly made against his third wife before she was found dead in her empty bathtub.

Dr. Mary Case is expected to testify that an inch-long cut discovered on the back of Savio’s head after her death wasn’t severe enough to have caused the 40-year-old Bolingbrook woman to lose consciousness.

Peterson’s attorneys have argued his third wife drowned in the tub after an accidental fall that might have been caused by medical problems or by medications she had been prescribed, though tests done after her death found no signs of drugs or alcohol in her body.

Case, a pathologist at St. Louis University and an expert in head trauma, is being called by prosecutors to bolster earlier testimony from another pathologist that the laceration and abrasions found on Savio’s body couldn’t have been caused by a fall in the tub.

Dr. Larry Blum, who conducted an autopsy in 2007 after Savio’s body was exhumed, told jurors last week that he believes Savio was murdered.

Defense attorneys, though, have said they might present as many as three pathologists who examined autopsy information and concluded Savio’s death was an accident.

Another key witness expected to testify this week is Smith, who represented Savio during her divorce from Peterson and has testified at pre-trial hearings that Savio said Peterson had threatened to kill her to prevent her from getting a share of his pension.

Smith said Savio told him repeatedly to make sure Peterson didn’t benefit financially if she died before the divorce proceedings were completed.

But Judge Edward Burmila has ruled that Smith will be largely limited in testifying about the financial stakes of the contested divorce.

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