Drew Peterson case to go to jury Wednesday
BY JON SEIDEL AND DAN ROZEK Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org September 4, 2012 10:45AM
Updated: October 6, 2012 1:45PM
They sat through five “grueling” weeks of testimony in Drew Peterson’s trial, marched in and out of the courtroom while lawyers argued over evidence and — if they’re following orders — avoided the media circus surrounding the sensational trial nearing its end at the Will County courthouse in Joliet.
Now Peterson’s color-coordinating, jersey-wearing jury of seven men and five women is getting ready to decide if the former Bolingbrook cop is guilty of murdering his third wife. Closing arguments went long Tuesday, so Judge Edward Burmila sent jurors home for a “nice night’s rest” before their deliberations begin Wednesday.
That was after they heard defense attorney Joseph “The Shark” Lopez tell them repeatedly that Peterson’s ex-wife, Kathleen Savio, died in a “weird” household accident and that prosecutors failed to prove otherwise.
Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow and Assistant State’s Attorney Chris Koch told them to use their common sense when deciding what happened to Savio. Glasgow said the circumstantial evidence he has built his case upon adds up to a powerful indictment against Peterson.
“It’s solid, it’s real, and it proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Drew Peterson murdered Kathleen Savio in cold blood,” Glasgow said.
Some members of the public camped out overnight to hear the highly anticipated closing arguments, which capped the highest-profile trial in Will County’s history.
Several of the trial’s witnesses also helped fill the courtroom and an overflow room across the hall typically reserved for media. Among those watching was Savio’s sister Sue Doman, who said she has to stay positive as the case heads to the jury.
“This has been a real tough road, a long, long time,” Doman said. “I think things went very well today. I’m looking for the jury to come back, you know, with an answer for my sister. We need closure. I believe justice will prevail.”
Peterson faces two counts of first-degree murder for Savio’s murder. She was found dead in her dry bathtub on March 1, 2004. Her death was originally ruled an accident, but her body was exhumed in 2007 after Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared. Savio’s body was re-examined and her death was labeled a homicide.
Koch started closing arguments dramatically Tuesday, quoting Peterson’s alleged threat to Savio weeks before she died.
“I’m going to kill you,” Koch said. “You’re not going to make it to the divorce settlement.”
Koch turned in the courtroom and pointed repeatedly at Peterson as he recounted what Savio claimed Peterson had said to her.
“That threat became reality when she lay dead in her bathtub at the hands of the defendant,” Koch said.
Peterson just looked back at Koch impassively. His lawyers still say prosecutors have no theory of how Savio was killed.
But Koch said Peterson “forcibly held her down so that she could inhale fluid so she could drown.”
And Glasgow said Savio’s rigor mortis suggests she died the same night Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, purportedly claimed he went missing. That’s the same night she allegedly said he returned home wearing black clothing and put another woman’s clothes in the washing machine.
Lopez mocked the prosecutors’ case, telling jurors it was built on “rumor and innuendo” and “water-cooler talk.” He played to the jurors’ sense of patriotism and told them they don’t have to like Peterson, only that “you’ve got to like America,” where, he said, speculation shouldn’t carry the day.
“You don’t have to believe any of it,” Lopez said.
The defense attorney said Savio’s family and friends waited three years, until national news crews arrived in Bolingbrook in 2007, to report the threats Peterson allegedly made against his ex-wife.
“For three years no one says anything to police about these alleged threats,” said Lopez, who nonetheless admitted Peterson had a rocky relationship with Savio, the mother of his two young boys.
“He loves his children more than he hates his ex-wife,” Lopez said of his client.
Lopez’s closing argument was filled with pop culture nods, including references to “Desperate Housewives,” “King of the Hill,” “The Big Lebowski,” “Cast Away” and “Pulp Fiction.” And he used his time in front of the jury to pick apart the prosecutors’ key witnesses.
He left jurors with the thought of former Savio divorce attorney Harry Smith’s smiling face — and a picture of the purple Cheshire Cat projected in the courtroom — as he made his last pitch on behalf of his client.
Smith told jurors last week that Stacy Peterson told him in 2007 that she knew Peterson had killed Savio and said she could offer details about how he allegedly carried out the murder.
“That lawyer laughed in this courtroom,” Lopez said, telling jurors to “think about that face” as they reach their verdict.
[View the story “Drew Peterson on trial - the closing arguments” on Storify]