Jurors in Drew trial have waited long time
By Jon Seidel Sun-Times Media July 20, 2012 12:30PM
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: August 21, 2012 6:39AM
Jury selection is scheduled to start Monday for the long-awaited trial of Drew Peterson, the former Bolingbrook police sergeant accused of killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in March 2004.
For more than 200 Will County residents, it has been a long time coming. Since August 2009, they’ve lived under a judge’s order not to follow news of one of the most high-profile cases in Will County history.
Defense lawyers tried to persuade the judge to pick jurors from a new group, arguing that no Illinois jury pool has ever been on hold for as long as Peterson’s.
Andrea Lyon, a DePaul University law professor and former attorney for accused Florida killer Casey Anthony, said the use of such an old jury pool invites a reversal in the case by an appellate court.
But Neil Adams, a criminal defense attorney who spent 10 years as a Will County prosecutor, sums up the old pool as another quirk in Peterson’s bizarre five-year legal saga.
“It’s odd,” Adams said. “But this is an odd case.”
Savio, 40, was found dead in a dry bathtub of her Bolingbrook house when she and Peterson were involved in a bitter divorce. Her death was initially ruled an accidental drowning, but her body was exhumed in late 2007 after Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, vanished.
Savio’s death was later reclassified as a homicide, and Peterson was charged with her murder in May 2009. He has been held since at the Will County Jail. Stacy, 23, is still missing, and while Peterson has not been charged, authorities say he is the main suspect in her disappearance.
Will County Court Administrator Kurt Sangmeister said Peterson’s former judge set aside a pool of about 235 potential jurors in 2009. Some have moved away during the lengthy appeal process that put Peterson’s trial on hold. Others have died or have medical problems, but Sangmeister said the pool still includes more than 200 people, though their identities haven’t been released.
Defense attorney Joel Brodsky asked Circuit Court Judge Edward Burmila this spring for a new pool of jurors, saying that he doubted that many in the first pool had obeyed the order not to pay attention to the highly publicized case.
Burmila denied Brodsky’s request, and more than a month later the defense team said it had a change of heart. Its members said Wednesday they don’t think they’ll have any trouble finding jurors from the three-year-old pool.