Peterson appears in court, arraignment postponed

Former cop charged in 3rd wife's 2004 murder
May 8, 2009 8:30:23 PM PDT
Drew Peterson appeared at a Joliet courthouse Friday for an arraignment hearing on murder charges stemming from the death of his third wife.Peterson, 55, cracked jokes as he arrived at the Will county courthouse in handcuffs and shackles.

"Three squares a day and this spiffy outfit. How can you beat that? And look at this bling," Peterson said to reporters, referring to his handcuffs.

The red jail jumpsuit, the handcuffs, shackles and a night behind bars; none of it was enough to wipe the smile off the former Bolingbrook police officer's face.

"He was just being Drew. Trying to make a joke out of everything. Sometimes the joke is just not appropriate, which has been the case for quite a while," said Melissa Doman, niece of Kathleen Savio's, Peterson's late third wife.

"Drew takes these charges seriously that's just the way he deals with stressful situations, wise cracks and comedy. That's just the way he's been trained to deal with those issues," said Joel Brodsky, Drew Peterson's attorney.

Brodsky was in New York Friday, where he made the rounds on the national morning news shows. He did not fly back in time to attend Peterson's first court appearance.

So, in court Friday afternoon, the former Bolingbrook police officer stood alone, smirk gone. He was flanked only by the prosecutors who have pursued him for the past year and a half.

"Obviously, it's a serious matter, and we're going to proceed full speed ahead," Will County state's attorney James Glasgow told reporters Friday

Glasgow wouldn't comment on the 'heresay' law he is using to prosecute Peterson. It was written and adopted specifically for this case and allows prosecutors to use a confession Drew allegedly made to his fourth wife, Stacy, before she disappeared.

"I think, in cases like this, we look to tighten restrictions on evidence?not open it up to hearsay, innuendo, rumor or what a wife may write in anger during a contentious divorce," Brodsky said.

Peterson's sense of humor returned as he left the courthouse for the second half of his roundtrip ticket to jail.

"Chicks in New York are paying top dollar for this stuff," Peterson said as he left the courthouse.

Joking or not, Kathleen Savio's relatives were happy the day in court had arrived.

"It is so satisfying to see him where he should have been five years ago, in my opinion," Doman told ABC7 Chicago.

Because Peterson's legal team was out of town Friday and the judge has a scheduled vacation next week, Peterson is not scheduled to return to court until a week from Monday, which is May 18. Then, he is expected to be arraigned on the murder charges in the death of Kathleen Savio.

It appears Peterson will remain behind bars unless he can find $2 million of the $20 million bond. He is in protective custody, ABC7 Chicago is told, with no contact with other innates.

The Indictment

Peterson now faces two counts of first-degree murder. The indictment alleges that Peterson on or about February 29, 2004, "without lawful justification and with the intent to kill Kathleen Savio caused Kathleen Savio to inhale fluid, thereby causing the death of Kathleen Savio."

Peterson's attorneys say there is no evidence that links him to the deaths.

"Drew took a polygraph exam for that book, 'Drew Peterson Exposed.' He passed that polygraph exam regarding Kathleen's death 100 percent, with flying colors," said attorney Joel Brodsky. "If you put any credence in polygraph exams, then there is already strong evidence that drew is not guilty."

The Will County state's attorney may also be counting on a law recently passed called Forfeiture by Wrongdoing, which could now allow hearsay. Testimony from Savio's friends and family will be admissible, something Peterson's attorneys will challenge.

"An out-of-court statement by someone who was murdered so that they wouldn't testify would be allowed in," said law expert Thomas Glasgow. "This was special legislation that was put before the legislature in order to give us another exception to the hearsay rule."

If Peterson wants to get out of jail, he will have to pay $2 million, or 10 percent of bond. Peterson's attorneys are challenging that $20 million bond. They say it's not fair, having researched other bonds in Will County.

Peterson and Savio family members react to arrest, as does neighborhood

Members of the Bolingbrook community where Peterson lives had varied reactions Friday to the former police officer's arrest and court appearance, ranging from curiosity to surprise.

However, one thing was for sure, his arrest has drawn responses from the families of both Kathleen Savio and Stacy Peterson. Many of Stacy Peterson's friends, as well as some curious onlookers, say it's about time.

" I just feel bad for their families. They've had to wait while, all this is up in the air. I hope whatever happens, justice is served," Rob Wollenzine told ABC7 Chicago.

Some of Kathleen Savio's relatives and Stacy Peterson's family members said they were thrilled by the recent development.

"It made me feel good that he's in custody and he's thinking about what he did," said Cassandra Cales, Stacy Peterson's sister.

Drew Peterson's oldest son arrived at the house Friday to look after the younger kids shortly after Peterson's on-again, off-again fiancee showed up to move her things out.

"We're going to watch as things play out and be there every day. We hope and wait for the grand jury to either continue their investigation or give us information about Stacy," said Pam Bosco, spokesperson for Stacy Peterson's family.

Bosco added that she believed the Savio investigation would not hinder the ongoing search for Stacey Peterson.

Cassandra Cales tells ABC7 Chicago she will now talk to an attorney about her sister's children, whom she says she has not seen for more than a year.

Drew Peterson was arrested Thursday by Illinois State Police just a short distance from his home.

He has yet to be convicted in a court of law, but it is clear that many of his neighbors believe that he is responsible for the death of his third wife and the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson. They have been speaking out since the arrest Thursday, as have the families of both women.

"I think this is step one. I think step two would be a quick. That would be complete justice so my sister could rest in peace," said Nick Savio, victim's brother.

The arrest brought an immediate response from the Petersons' neighbors, many of whom have participated in the ongoing searches for Stacy Peterson's, who disappeared in October of 2007.

"It's not a relief in its entirety because we still don't have Stacy to bring home. It's still a work in progress," said neighbor Sharon Bychowski.

Purple and white ribbons symbolizing the ongoing search for Stacy Peterson were put up Thursday after news of the arrest came.

Volunteer searcher Barb Schett is one of the many who stopped by since. She dropped off flowers at what has become a permanent memorial to Stacy Peterson. She said she is also involved in the search for missing Plainfield woman Lisa Stebic.

"I'm a caseworker at a domestic shelter. My passion is to help women, victims of domestic violence," Schett said.

Even before Thursday's arrest, Kathleen Savio's family had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Drew Peterson in civil court. That suit has been on hold while the criminal investigation unfolded.

Stacy Peterson's sister said that although the arrest doesn't change anything with regard to her sister's investigation, she does expect additional charges to be filed against Drew Peterson sometime in the future.

Twelve days after Stacy Peterson, 23, went missing, Drew Peterson was named a suspect in her disappearance and state police reopened that investigation into Savio's death.

Abbreviated Timeline

On November 13, 2007, Kathleen Savio's body was exhumed and an autopsy was conducted. Then on February 21, 2008, Kathleen Savio's death was officially ruled a homicide. Last month, relatives representing Kathleen Savio's estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Drew Peterson and on Thursday, Drew Peterson was arrested after being indicted on first-degree murder charges.


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