New judge appointed to Peterson case

May 21, 2009 8:56:23 PM PDT
Drew Peterson appeared in court on Thursday in Joliet and learned that a new judge has been appointed to preside over his case. The Will County prosecutors filed a motion earlier this week asking that Will County Judge Richard Schoenstedt be replaced.They claim that the judge was biased against them.

Drew Peterson was quickly escorted out of the sheriff's van and into the courthouse for a hearing about a new judge.

Prosecutors exercised their legal right to switch judges. Will County judge Carla Alessio-Policandriotes will now preside over Peterson's murder trial. Initially, defense lawyers objected, then agreed to allow the judge hear the case.

"What I've been able to find out about her in the short time we've had is that she's fair minded," said Joel Brodsky, Peterson's attorney.

Joel Brodsky's next order of legal business is asking the judge to lower Peterson's $20 million bail.

"When you look at other bonds set in this county, this bond is too high," said Andrew Abood, Peterson's attorney.

Arguing that Peterson is not a flight risk nor a danger to the community, the former Bolingbrook cop's lawyers believe a $500,000 bond is fair and something Peterson can afford. But legal experts doubt the bond will be lowered that much.

"I don't see any precedent for that in murder cases in illinois. It could get reduced but still may be out of his reach," said Kathleen Zellner, attorney.

Attorney Kathleen Zellner says statistics show that half of the people charged with murder in Will Country don't even get a bond and a $20 million bond is not unusual in the county. Zellner' s client Kevin Fox, who was charged with murdering and his three-year old daughter was given a $25 million bond.

Zellner says if Peterson was her client, she would concentrate on pushing the case through as quickly as possible.

"You want to bring this thing to a conclusion if you think the state has a weak case," said Zellner.

Drew Peterson's lawyer said they think the state's case is weak because prosecutors plan to use a new law to allow hearsay evidence. They're also thinking about asking for a special prosecutor to try him.

The Peterson family and the Savio family both object to the bond reduction.


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