Peterson judge questions possible jurors

August 14, 2009 4:21:32 PM PDT
Judge Stephen White is asking hundreds of prospective jurors to fill out questionnaires in the Drew Peterson case, although no trial date has been set. The judge began the process after Peterson's attorneys asked the judge to move the trial from Will County because of publicity surrounding the case.

Peterson has been charged in the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, Kathleen Savio who was found dead in 2004.

Although White is considering moving this trial out of the county, he says he will not make a decision until October. In the meantime, jurors in Will County are being prepared for a possible trial.

Peterson arrived to the court in custody, Friday, for a hearing to determine whether or not to change venue for his trial. He addressed the jury, saying, "Good day folks, how are you?"

Peterson's attorneys argued the publicity and Drew's career as a police officer will make it difficult to find impartial jurors.

"If we can't pick a fair jury in Will County, than it's the government's job to find a county were we can find impartial jurors. They'll have to go out and do whatever work needs to be done to be able to do that," Peterson's attorney Joel Brodsky said.

"Ultimately we'll have to review the questionnaires and have to question the jurors at the time of jury selection," Peterson's attorney Andrew Abood said.

Prospective jurors received questionnaires asking whether they know Drew Peterson, any of the attorneys or any of the witnesses to be called in the case. Judge White also warned the jurors they must not read any newspaper accounts or information about this case.

The Will County State's Attorney would not comment on camera, but in court he argued that it is possible to seat an impartial jury, it is premature to make such a ruling and to wait and see what they find from these questionnaires. He also accused the defense attorneys for making this case so public and allowing the publicity to continue.

Although he did not comment on camera, defense attorneys spoke with the media three times Friday.

Earlier this week, Peterson talked with reporters about his three months in jail. He said fighting boredom is his biggest challenge, saying he hates reading and watches a lot of TV. Peterson also said he does not want his kids to visit him in jail but talks with them twice a week by telephone.

Hearsay Law Constitutionality

Earlier this week, Peterson's attorneys also filed a 29-page motion to have the new Illinois hearsay law - nicknamed "Drew's Law" - declared unconstitutional. The judge said he would rule on the law's constitutionality Oct. 2. Defense attorneys say the state statute cannot be used against Peterson because it was passed four years after the events he is accused of.

"The criminal law cannot relate back. It cannot change the rules of evidence in the middle of the game, so to speak," said Joel Brodsky, Peterson's attorney.

The former Bolingbrook police officer was arrested in May and charged with killing Savio. Her family members claim she once told them Peterson would kill her. She wrote a letter to prosecutors making that same allegation.

The hearsay law makes it easier to use such hearsay statements during a trial. While Peterson's attorney says it's unconstitutional, prosecutors say their case does not hinge on it. They say they have a mountain of evidence against Peterson.


Load Comments