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Peterson prosecution: If we missed deadline, time's still not up
By Christy Gutowski | Daily Herald Staff

Drew Peterson

 

Kathleen Savio

 

COURTESY SAVIO FAMILY

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Published: 7/20/2010 7:40 PM

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Even if the hourglass ran out, Drew Peterson prosecutors argue their 11th-hour appeal regarding barred hearsay statements should be heard because a recent Illinois Supreme Court decision "markedly changed the law."

Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow is asking appellate justices to consider his appeal of Judge Stephen White's May 18 hearsay decision even if they find the defense is correct that prosecutors blew the 30-day deadline.

Glasgow cited a June 24 Illinois Supreme Court decision upholding the DuPage County death penalty conviction of Eric Hanson for the 2005 slayings of four relatives that the prosecutor said shows he is entitled to present additional hearsay evidence.

In its unanimous opinion, the state high court found long-existing common law does not require them to weigh a hearsay statement's reliability for its admissibility.

"The people will argue that a material change in the law is akin to a material change in facts," Glasgow wrote in this week's appellate motion, "and the people will submit that (Hanson) marked a material change in the law."

In response, Peterson's attorneys said Glasgow is now admitting he missed the deadline. Last week, they asked the appellate court to dismiss Glasgow's appeal based on the timeliness issue and accused Glasgow of intentionally stalling the trial until after White retires in October.

Charles Pelkie, a Will County state's attorney spokesman, said prosecutors are confident their appeal is timely, but they also are prepared to argue the Hanson issue provides "a reasonable excuse" should the appellate court rule in the defense's favor. As for the 30-day deadline, prosecutors said, the clock didn't start running until subsequent hearsay filings after White's May 18 sealed ruling.

White barred the majority of more than a dozen hearsay statements the prosecution argues helps prove the retired Bolingbrook police sergeant killed third wife Kathleen Savio in 2004. The statements may prove crucial for the prosecution, which lacks forensics, a confession or concrete medical evidence implicating Peterson.

The defense, which also sought repeated trial delays, has filed its own appeal. They want Peterson freed from jail during the lengthy appellate process. White declared there is "compelling reason" to keep Peterson behind bars on a $20 million bond.

Glasgow argues Peterson faced "financial devastation" from the former couple's upcoming settlement as he tried to begin a new life with his bride, Stacy, about 30 years his junior, and their new baby.

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, 23, who still hasn't been found. Much of the barred hearsay testimony deals with Stacy.

Drew Peterson, 56, denies wrongdoing in both cases.