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Alleged hitman testimony allowed in Drew Peterson case

Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow (left) talks with Drew Petersattorney Steven Greenberg (right) as they return from lunch break

Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow (left) talks with Drew Peterson attorney Steven Greenberg (right) as they return from lunch break during the Drew Peterson murder trial at the Will County Courthouse Tuesday, August 21, 2012, in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 23, 2012 6:10AM



Scrapes, bruises and an inch-long cut on her head don’t prove Drew Peterson’s third wife fell and accidentally drowned in her bathtub, a pathologist testified Tuesday.

The injuries weren’t severe enough to knock Kathleen Savio unconscious, and couldn’t have occurred in the tub where she was found, a pathologist said, offering a different conclusion about how the Bolingbrook woman died.

“My opinion is it is a homicide, meaning some other person did this,” Dr. Mary Case said as Peterson’s Will County murder trial moved into its fourth week of testimony.

Her testimony seemingly bolsters the circumstantial case Will County prosecutors are mounting against the 58-year-old former Bolingbrook cop, whose attorneys contend Savio’s bizarre 2004 death was simply an accident.

Prosecutors earlier Tuesday won a key ruling that could help their case when Judge Edward Burmila allowed them to call a former co-worker to testify Peterson allegedly offered him $25,000 to kill Savio — or find someone else to do the job.

That decision means Jeffrey Pachter should testify later this week that Peterson allegedly asked him in late 2003 to carry out the killing — a conversation he claims occurred while Peterson gave him a ride in his squad car.

“We had a very strong day,” State’s Attorney James Glasgow said outside the courtroom, predicting prosecutors could finish presenting their evidence by the end of the week.

That might not be good enough for Burmila, who announced in court he plans to hear testimony on Monday — a day when Peterson’s trial is usually recessed.

Burmila also told attorneys he is considering holding court on Saturday in an effort to speed the pace of the slow-moving trial, which has seen only two dozen witnesses testify in 13 days.

“Hopefully, we won’t be going Saturdays,” Glasgow said. “Monday will be fine, and that way we’ll get in a five-day week and finish this up a little sooner than we thought.”

Peterson’s defense team also expressed an eagerness to finish the trial, then dismissed the medical testimony from Case, who is the second medical expert to testify that Savio was murdered.

“Did you hear anything about Drew Peterson being there?” attorney Joe Lopez asked, scoffing at the circumstantial case by prosecutors which has provided no witnesses to show Peterson was at the house before the 40-year-old Savio was found dead on March 1, 2004.

Case, who has worked as a pathologist for 39 years and performed more than 11,000 autopsies, said Savio’s injuries prove she was killed by someone else.

The bloody laceration on the back of her head wasn’t forceful enough to knock Savio unconscious so she would drown, Case said. The cut couldn’t have been caused by a fall onto the smooth, rounded surfaces of the tub, she told jurors.

“I don’t see anything in that tub that would cause that head injury,” said Case, who reviewed death scene photos and the results of three autopsies performed on Savio.

One was done immediately after her death, the other two were performed in 2007 when her body was exhumed after the disappearance of Peterson’s still-missing fourth wife, Stacy.

She frequently dueled with defense attorney Darryl Goldberg, who at one point questioned her expertise in dealing with living patients — particularly her testimony that deep hip and chest bruises could not have resulted from Savio accidentally bumping into a table or household object.

“They were alive just before they came to me,” Case said of the patients she autopsies. “It is not a common experience to walk around with bruises like that.”

And she brushed off questions about whether fresh abrasions on Savio’s body may have resulted from a “rough” sexual encounter with her boyfriend three nights before she was found dead.

“I do not see this as any sort of consensual activity,” Case said, saying Savio’s injuries resembled those inflicted by a “violent” sexual assault.



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