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Ruling may delay Drew Peterson trial

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Illinois Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to rule on whether hearsay evidence can be used at the murder trial of Drew Peterson.

The former Bolingbrook police officer is accused of killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004.

These are the statements prosecutors have been fighting to use since day one, so-called "testimony from the grave" that could show Drew Peterson's late wife feared he might hurt her and had a financial motive to do so.

Prosecutors call the hearsay evidence "critical" in their case against Drew Peterson. That evidence consists of a total of eight statements made at various times by Peterson's late wife Kathleen Savio and missing wife Stacy Peterson.

"The statement from Savio is, she tells people Drew doesn't like me, if anything happens to me, he did it," said Drew Peterson's attorney Steve Greenberg. "Well, how many people can say that in the course of a divorce proceeding?"

While Peterson's attorneys belittle the statements as little more than venting by an angry wife, the Will County state's attorney thought it important enough that he lobbied politicians in Springfield to rewrite state law, allowing for so-called hearsay evidence when it can be shown the witness's disappearance was directly related to the testimony he or she was going to give.

A state court judge refused to admit the statements as evidence. State's Attorney Jim Glasgow personally appealed to a higher court that refused to rule based on a technicality.

Glasgow released a statement Wednesday, saying, "I am extraordinarily pleased by Wednesday's Illinois Supreme Court order... I look forward to receiving an appellate court ruling on the merits of our appeal."

"The case comes to down to these statements. Without the statements, they don't have any case at all," Greenberg said.

While the appellate court considers allowing the statements, Drew Peterson remains locked up. If his trial begins in the spring, he will have been behind bars for nearly three years without a trial.

"I'm sure people are happy he's in jail because they think it will be the only jail time he does, but the reality is the state is supposed to prove someone guilty," said Greenberg.

The statements are so important because there were no witnesses to Kathleen Savio's death and very little in the way of physical evidence. A coroner initially ruled Savio died in an accidental drowning, alone in her bathtub.

The appellate court ruling on whether prosecutors can use that hearsay evidence is likely at least a month away.

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drew peterson, local, ben bradley
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