Prosecution rests its case in Drew Peterson trial
BY JON SEIDEL, JANET LUNDQUIST AND DAN ROZEK Staff Reporters August 27, 2012 12:06PM
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Will County prosecutors are done laying out their circumstantial case against Drew Peterson, the former Bolingbrook cop they’ve accused of murdering his estranged wife in 2004.
“Your honor, the people rest,” Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow said, standing Monday morning in front of Judge Edward Burmila.
Those words came after four weeks of testimony from Kathleen Savio’s friends and neighbors who, along with the pastor of Peterson’s missing fourth wife Stacy, brought two women’s alleged warnings about Peterson into a Will County courtroom when the women themselves could not.
And moments later, Glasgow’s case survived a passionate bid by defense attorney Steve Greenberg to have it thrown out. Greenberg tried to convince Burmila to take the verdict out of the jurors’ hands and find Peterson not guilty. He said prosecutors have failed to explain how they think Peterson killed Savio.
“They don’t have a theory,” Greenberg said.
It didn’t work. Whether Peterson is guilty of Savio’s murder is a question for another day, the judge said. So Peterson’s lawyers began calling their own witnesses to the stand.
Peterson rested his head in his right hand as he watched much of his attorney’s morning argument. Joe Lopez, another member of the defense team, later said he and his co-counsel never expected the judge to toss out the case against Peterson. But he said they’d be remiss if they didn’t try.
“He’s not cocky at all,” Lopez said of his client. “He’s scared to death that this jury’s going to convict him for something he didn’t do.”
Savio was found dead in her dry bathtub March 1, 2004. Investigators originally called her death an accident. When Stacy disappeared in 2007, though, Savio’s body was exhumed and re-examined, and her death was ruled a homicide.
Peterson’s defense is not expected to take nearly as long as the prosecution’s case. Among those likely to testify is Peterson’s eldest son with Savio, Thomas Peterson. The 19-year-old was at the Will County courthouse Monday, but he was never called to testify. He’s expected say he doesn’t believe his father killed his mother.
Also waiting in the wings Monday was former Savio divorce attorney Harry Smith. Defense attorneys wanted Smith to describe a 2007 phone call with Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, in which she allegedly questioned him about getting a better divorce settlement if she threatened to tell police what she knew about Savio’s death.
That call, prosecutors said, occurred only four days before Stacy vanished on Oct. 28, 2007.
Prosecutors objected, saying the purported phone call shouldn’t be allowed to undermine earlier testimony from Stacy’s minister that Peterson ordered her to lie to police investigating Savio’s death.
Burmila didn’t immediately rule on the issue, but he seemed skeptical of prosecutors’ claims that Smith’s testimony would be improper.
The jury, dressed in their favorite sports teams’ jerseys, instead heard again Monday from Savio neighbor Mary Pontarelli, police officers and the insurance adjuster who handled the claim on Savio’s death.
Defense lawyers said they plan to call pathologists Vincent DiMaio and Jeffrey Jentzen to testify Tuesday. Thomas Peterson could testify Wednesday. Drew Peterson himself is not expected to take the stand.
“We’re just looking forward to a strong finish,” Glasgow said. “Hopefully we can finish this week.”