Drew Peterson gets 38 years in murder of Kathleen Savio
BY DAN ROZEK, JON SEIDEL AND JANET LUNDQUIST Staff Reporters February 21, 2013 1:30PM
Drew Peterson | Will County Sheriff's Office photo
Updated: March 23, 2013 6:26AM
Drew Peterson barely settled into the witness chair before jolting courtroom spectators out of theirs, bellowing to the world he’d been framed for the murder of his third wife.
“I did not kill Kathleen,” the former Bolingbrook cop yelled in one final outburst before learning his fate, his hands clenched into fists as he leaned toward the microphone in front of him.
The startling outburst came Thursday just before Peterson was sentenced to 38 years in prison for the 2004 murder of Kathleen Savio.
It prompted an immediate response from Savio’s oldest sister.
“Yes, you did. Liar,” shouted Susan Doman, jumping to her feet in the courtroom gallery and pointing at Peterson.
Doman was quickly ordered out of the courtroom by Judge Edward Burmila, who warned Peterson against making “any outbursts that are calculated to irritate anyone in the audience.”
But that’s exactly what Peterson did during a 35-minute rant in which he argued he was framed by Illinois State Police investigators, Will County prosecutors, Savio’s relatives, her divorce attorney, the media and even the minister of his missing fourth wife, Stacy.
Describing his conviction as “the largest railroad job that ever took place in this country” Peterson at times grew so emotional his voice broke. At other points, he coolly made snide comments about Savio’s relatives and soberly ticked off the constitutional rights he said had been violated.
The speech drew gasps from courtroom spectators, grim expressions from Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow and prompted another Savio relative to be removed from the courtroom for yelling at him.
The prison term handed down by Burmila is a virtual death sentence for the 59-year-old ex-cop. Despite already spending almost four years in jail since his 2009 arrest, Peterson — unless he wins an appeal — won’t be released until he is 93 years old.
The bizarre tirade prompted Glasgow outside the courtroom to declare Peterson had clearly shown that he was not only Savio’s killer, but also mentally disturbed.
“We all got an opportunity to see a psychopath reveal himself in court,” Glasgow said, dismissing Peterson’s attacks and even the tone of his voice, calling it a “feminine screech.”
Glasgow was a frequent target during Peterson’s tirade, even after the ex-cop was first warned by Burmila to behave himself.
“I apologize but I must have been woozy,” Peterson replied, in an apparent dig at Glasgow, who used the same word during Peterson’s five-week trial in explaining a courtroom mistake by a prosecutor.
Near the end of his screed, Peterson asked Glasgow to look him in the eye.
“Never forget my face, never forget what you’ve done here,” Peterson said, speaking directly to the prosecutor — who glared back at him.
Glasgow later said he hadn’t looked at Peterson until then because “I never acknowledged his existence.”
But Glasgow said when he looked at Peterson, he had only one thought:
“You’re a cold-blooded murderer, and I’ll stare you down till I die,” Glasgow recounted.
Before erupting, Peterson began his speech by calmly telling the judge “I hope I don’t aggravate the situation here, but I have a lot of things that need to be said.”
He finished on a similar note, turning toward Burmila to complain “I don’t deserve this.”
“Now it’s time to sentence an innocent man to a life of hardship and abuse in prison,” Peterson told the judge. “I don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve this.”
Glasgow and Savio’s relatives bitterly disputed that claim.
“No one more richly deserves it,” Glasgow said at a news conference after the sentencing.
“That’s no lie, Jim,” chimed in Mitch Doman, Savio’s brother-in-law.
But to Savio’s family, Peterson’s tirade wasn’t important, only the final outcome mattered.
“I’m in control now, he’s the one going to jail,” Savio’s sister, Anna Doman said. “I’m in control. He loses. We win.”