Peterson pleads not guilty in Savio murder

Prosecutors: Judge is prejudiced in Peterson case
May 18, 2009 8:23:34 PM PDT
Drew Peterson pleaded not guilty in the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, as he appeared in court Monday morning. Peterson's bond remains at $20 million. His attorneys must wait until later this week to ask a judge to lower the bond.

Before his attorney could seek a bail reduction, prosecutors in the case requested a new judge in the case.

The Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow wants to bounce Judge Schoenshedt off the case. He didn't give a reason why, only saying he's prejudiced against prosecutors.

Schoenshedt was the judge that dismissed gun charges against Drew Peterson last November.

In the meantime, Peterson was more subdued on Monday as he came into court. Drew Peterson was quickly escorted in and out of the Will County courthouse on Monday morning. There was no time to joke around with reporters watching from above.

Wearing a blue jumpsuit and shackles, the former Bolingbrook cop's attorney entered a not guilty plea.

"The whole time his attorney was talking to him he kept peering around his attorneys and looking at our family. He was curious to see who showed up for Kathleen," said Michael Lisak, Kathleen Savio's nephew.

Peterson's legal team was hoping to take up the bond issue on Monday but never had a chance because the Will County state's attorney, James Glasgow, filed a motion to take Judge Richard Schoenstedt off the case on the grounds of prejudice against prosecutors.

Peterson attorney Joel Brodsky calls it gamesmanship.

"It just indicates to us the weakness of the state's factual position. It shows that they don't want to deal with this case on the facts," said Brodsky.

The Will County state's attorney would not give any details on why they feel the judge is prejudice.

In the meantime, Peterson will have to sit in jail another few days until Brodsky gets a chance to ask the judge to drastically lower Peterson's $20 million bond.

"We've been through five years of suffering and don't want any more. He should sit in jail," said Nick Savio, Kathleen Savio's brother.

Drew Peterson's arrest comes five years after his third wife, Kathleen Savio, was found dead in the bathtub. Originally ruled an accident, her death was ruled a homicide after a second autopsy. The Savio family is convinced the motive for her murder was money.

"There was a lot of money being handled after the divorce and having my aunt out of the way would make it easier for him to make what he wanted to happen," said Nick Savio.

The motion to replace the judge will be taken up Thursday afternoon. When that issue is resolved, then Brodsky will ask to have the bond lowered.

Peterson's numerous media appearances, where he has gained a reputation for making smart-aleck remarks, could play a big role as prosecutors try to lock him up.

Peterson, of suburban Bolingbrook, has never shied from the media, seeming to relish the spotlight and often offering reporters a joke. As he was led to his first court appearance this month, he referred to his prison-issued jumpsuit as a "spiffy outfit" and his handcuffs as "bling."

And that, attorneys say, could be one of Peterson's biggest problems.

"If one wife goes missing and (another) wife is dead, those aren't usually the subject of jokes," said Roy Black, a defense attorney whose clients have included Rush Limbaugh and William Kennedy Smith. "People are going to think this is a very bizarre person, who's more likely to have committed murder than someone who is in mourning."

Even if the videos of Drew Peterson's arrival in court or of his interviews don't make it into trial, they can still have an effect.

"Whether it's admissible or not is one thing ..." said Joe Tacopina, a prominent defense attorney in New York. "But it's certainly admissible in the court of public opinion, which is your jury pool."

Brodsky has said that joking around is how Peterson deals with stress.

His personality is "unique, but he's honest," the lawyer said Monday.

"He doesn't try to act or change the way he is in order to come across and I think that that will resonate with the jury to show his honesty if, in fact, he does choose to testify," Brodsky said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Peterson has said he wouldn't behave any other way.

"Would it be better if I hid my head down and tried to hide my face and hunched and had tears in my eyes?" he asked NBC's Matt Lauer during a telephone interview aired Friday on "Today." "I mean, no, that's just not me."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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