Peterson's attorneys ask for his release

August 30, 2011 4:18:29 PM PDT
Drew Peterson's attorneys are petitioning the Illinois Supreme Court to release him from jail.

The 57-year-old former Bolingbrook police officer has been jailed since 2009. He is accused of killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004.

One of Peterson's attorneys, Joel Brodsky, claims his client's release is a matter of fundamental fairness.

The defense request to the Illinois Supreme Court comes days after the Will County state's attorney filed an appeal with the same court over hearsay evidence. Peterson's attorney says the delay violates his client's right to a speedy trial.

Brodsky says releasing Peterson is a reasonable request while Will County prosecutors wait for the appeal with the Supreme Court over hearsay evidence.

"He should be home with his kids, taking care of them while the state is going through the appellate process," said Brodsky.

Brodsky says holding Peterson is nothing more than pretrial punishment.

"I don't think anybody could disagree that Drew is not a flight risk. I don't think anybody could disagree he is not a danger to anybody. And there's no real valid reason to hold him except to punish him," he said.

Prosecutors say it's not about punishment, it's about the law.

In May of 2009, a trial judge set Peterson's bond at $20 million. That judge denied a defense motion to reduce Peterson's bond as did the appellate court. Then the defense made a request to release Peterson with the Illinois Supreme Court, but the court wouldn't even consider the motion. Legal experts doubt the state's top court will do anything different this time around.

"Fairness has nothing to do with this. The law is quite clear, the judge has discretion to grant bail. The appellate court agrees and there is no reason the Supreme Court is going to change their mind. And that the legal wrangling are issues that lawyers can argue in the court, but bail is not before them," said Professor Richard Kling, Chicago Kent College of Law.

The defense says it is only fair to release Peterson while they say prosecutors drag out the case with appeals.

After filing an appeal with the Supreme Court last week, Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow says the process is moving the way it should.

"We try to move as swiftly as we can in every criminal prosecution, but at the same time, we want to make sure that the concepts of fairness and justice are maintained," said Glasgow.

The Peterson trial has been on hold since last summer after prosecutors filed an appeal over hearsay evidence the trial judge ruled could not be used. Despite that, the same judge said there is enough compelling evidence to keep Peterson in jail while he awaits trial.

ABC7 was unable to reach Kathleen Savio's family for comment. Stacy's Peterson's family says they expected the defense motion and are confident Peterson will remain in jail.

Over the course of two years, this is the fifth defense request for release or a reduction in bond.

Peterson is being held at the Will County Jail in isolation.

"His spirits are good. His sense of humor is intact. He does 500 pushups a day. But you can't be in isolation without having some effect on you," said Brodsky.


Load Comments