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Drew's lawyers: Prosecution stalling case to get new judge
By Christy Gutowski | Daily Herald Staff

Drew Peterson, May 2009.

 

Associated Press

Kathleen Savio

 

Savio family

Kathleen Savio

 

Savio family

The Nov. 13, 2007 exhumation of Kathleen Savio's casket from a plot at the Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery in Hillside.

 

Associated Press

Will County Circuit Judge Stephen White

 

Defense attorney Joel Brodsky

 

Associated Press

Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow explains his decision last week seeking an 11th-hour appeal of Judge White's hearsay decision, temporarily delaying the start of Drew Peterson's much-anticipated murder trial.

 

Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

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Published: 7/13/2010 2:08 PM | Updated: 7/13/2010 6:51 PM

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Attorneys for Drew Peterson accused Will County prosecutors Tuesday of intentionally delaying the trial until after the judge overseeing the high-profile case retires.

Late last week, as jury selection was to begin, State's Attorney James Glasgow caused a delay by asking appellate justices to overturn a May 18 hearsay ruling in the former Bolingbrook police sergeant's murder case.

In the sealed ruling, Will County Circuit Judge Stephen White barred the majority of more than a dozen hearsay statements the prosecution argues helps prove Peterson killed third wife Kathleen Savio in 2004.

In his appeal, Glasgow cited a June 24 Illinois Supreme Court decision upholding Eric Hanson's death penalty conviction in DuPage County that he said shows prosecutors are entitled to present additional hearsay evidence at Peterson's trial.

But in the latest twist, lead defense attorney Joel Brodsky said Glasgow is well aware he missed a 30-day appeal deadline, but pursued one anyway as a stalling tactic to push the start of trial beyond White's expected October retirement.

The defense is asking the Third District Appellate Court to dismiss Glasgow's appeal.

"This is pretty open and shut," Brodsky said. "(Glasgow's) either incompetent or he's doing it to intentionally delay the trial because he wants a different trial judge. Judge White was going to give Drew Peterson a fair trial and (Glasgow) doesn't want that."

But the defense team also is fighting one of White's rulings. On Friday, attorney Steven Greenberg will ask White to reconsider keeping Peterson in jail until his trial. White has declared there is "compelling reason" to keep Peterson behind bars on a $20 million bond.

Glasgow said he researched his options after the Illinois Supreme Court decision and, after consulting with other legal experts, such as DuPage State's Attorney Joseph Birkett, opted to appeal to ensure he is best prepared for trial. Birkett agreed.

"(The Hanson decision) is a game changer," Birkett said. "These are unprecedented events."

Charles Pelkie, the Will County state's attorney spokesman, said Brodsky is wrong about the 30-day deadline. Pelkie also noted it was Peterson's lawyers who recently asked for repeated trial delays.

"It's an issue (prosecutors) took under consideration before they made the decision to appeal," Pelkie said. "Perhaps (the defense) should spend more time in a law library then parading their case in the media."

DePaul University College of Law professor Leonard Cavise said the timeliness debate raises a difficult question. At issue, he said, is if the clock starts with White's May 18 decision or on June 24 with Hanson.

"When does the clock start?" Cavise said. "We do not know the answer because the Illinois Supreme Court hasn't been presented with the issue before. It's a very hard issue."

Glasgow argues Peterson faced "financial devastation" from the former couple's divorce as he tried to begin a new life with his bride, Stacy, about 30 years his junior, and their new baby. Peterson owed Savio a lump sum of $200,000, monthly child support and alimony. With Savio dead, Peterson stood to gain all of that plus benefits to raise their two sons, and her $1 million life-insurance policy. But before her death, Savio removed Peterson as the beneficiary and replaced him with their boys.

Authorities initially called the 40-year-old Savio's bathtub drowning an accident, but they exhumed her body and ruled otherwise after suspicions grew about Peterson in light of the October 2007 disappearance of Stacy, who still hasn't been found. Much of the barred hearsay testimony deals with Stacy.

Prosecutors also asked the appellate court to overturn White's June 18 ruling that bars the testimony of three witnesses who accused the defendant of certain prior "bad acts."

Drew Peterson, 56, denies wrongdoing in both cases.