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Ruling details Peterson hearsay evidence

July 21, 2010 3:38:12 PM PDT
A written ruling by Judge Stephen White apparently details the judge's reasons for disallowing hearsay evidence in the Drew Peterson murder trial.Peterson's trial, for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, was to begin earlier this month but was delayed while the prosecution appealed.

The judge sealed his ruling on hearsay evidence back in May. However, ABC7's news partner, the Daily Herald, obtained a copy of that written ruling, and it details specific quotes about what Peterson's third and fourth wives told friends, family members and a church pastor.

Drew Peterson remained in custody Wednesday while prosecutors appealed a judge's ruling about what hearsay evidence can be used in his murder trial. That hearsay evidence includes comments that Kathleen Savio, whom Peterson is accused of killing, told others.

In the ruling, the judge barred eight of the 13 hearsay statements, but he did allow comments Savio allegedly told her sister and a college friend. In one of the statements, Savio allegedly told her sister, "Drew said he's going to kill me, and I would not make it to the divorce settlement. I will never get his pension or my children."

"I'm happy with the statements he wants to allow, but you need everything you can get in a murder trial in order to convict a person," said Nick Savio, Kathleen Savio's brother.

Nick Savio says he is pleased Judge White will allow five hearsay statements in the trial. But, he says, he strongly supports prosecutors who are trying to get all 13 statements into the courtroom.

"Let's hear everything. Why only five statements? Let's hear everything, let's bring it all out. This is the one shot you get to get him, and let's just bring out everything," Nick Savio said.

According to the judge's sealed ruling, Savio also told a college friend that Peterson "could kill her and no one would know." It goes on to say that in 2003, Peterson grabbed Savio and said, "Why don't you just die?"

"Those are incredibly powerful comments because they are words brought out from the dead, someone who is not there, who you feel sympathy for, and all of a sudden, you hear their words and it has resonance, it has meaning to the jurors," said legal expert Thomas Glasgow.

The judge also ruled that part of a conversation between Stacy Peterson, Drew Peterson's fourth wife who is missing, and her pastor would be allowed in the trial.

A spokesman for the Will County State's Attorney would not confirm any information about the leaked ruling but did say the office is "outraged" and considering all its legal options.

ABC7 Chicago also reached out to Peterson's attorney, but he did not return phone calls Wednesday.


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