Peterson murder trial delayed -- but not long

June 3, 2010 4:33:40 AM PDT
Drew Peterson's trial in the death of his third wife has been delayed until July, but that's not as long as his defense team had hoped.

A judge Wednesday ordered jury selection to begin next month, not June 14 as originally scheduled. Peterson's lawyers are already suggesting the judge's decision could be grounds for an appeal if the former Bolingbrook police sergeant is convicted.

Peterson has pleaded not guilty to first degree murder in the death of Kathleen Savio in 2004.

Several questions emerged Wednesday:

Drew Peterson talked nearly non-stop in the lead up to his arrest, but will he testify at his trial? Attorneys say it's up to him.

The next question: Who do Drew Peterson and his defense team think would make the ideal juror?

"I don't think we'll find anybody who has not heard of Drew Peterson," said Joseph Lopez, Peterson's attorney.

Two-hundred-forty-six Will County residents have already received notices to report for jury duty. What they haven't yet been told is that that they are being considered to be panelists on Drew Peterson's jury in a trial now set to begin July 8.

"As far as our perfect juror is concerned, it's an idea we have amongst ourselves that we can't discuss in public at this point. But we do have our eyes fixed on numerous different individuals that's in that group," said Lopez.

A judge dealt Drew Peterson's defense team a setback by denying their request to delay the trial until late August. They say they need the time to get two newly recruited attorneys up to speed on forensic evidence to be used from the death of Peterson's third wife Kathleen Savio. She died in a bathtub. It was originally ruled an accident, but after Peterson's fourth wife Stacey vanished, prosecutors reclassified it "murder."

Now, defense attorneys say they have grounds for an instant appeal if Peterson is found guilty. They point out former Chicago city treasurer Miriam Santos got her corruption conviction tossed under similar circumstances.

"She was not granted a continuance because there was a change in her legal team, and that was overturned, so certainly it's a constitutional issue, Sixth Amendment right to counsel," said Joel Brodsky, Peterson's Attorney.

"The people are ready to go anytime Judge White calls this case to trial," said James Glasgow, Will County state's attorney.

One of Peterson's newest defense attorneys is Joe Lopez, nicknamed "The Shark" for his style during a career defending mobsters and other characters downtown in federal court. How does Drew Peterson's case compares to those of previous clients?

"This is another fascinating case. This is a case with no evidence, so it's very fascinating," Lopez said.

Asked which case will be "must-see" viewing this summer, Drew Peterson's in July or Rod Blagojevich's scheduled to begin Thursday, attorney Lopez responded: "The one that will end with a not guilty verdict."


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